§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [29th February.]
§ That this House approves the Report on Defence, 1960, contained in Command Paper No. 952.—[Mr. Watkinson.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
recognising the need for an adequate policy for collective defence and security, has no confidence in the defence policy of Her Majesty's Government which, since 1951, has cost more than twelve thousand, five hundred million pounds and which, as set out in Command Paper No. 952, proposes to continue the vacillations and confusions of the Government's nuclear strategy, thereby involving the nation in further substantially increased expenditure whilst providing no prospect of effective defence".—[Mr. G. Brown.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that the N.A.T.O. alliance has from its foundation been symbolised by the sword and the shield. The sword represented the nuclear deterrent and the shield represented the ground forces drawn up in Europe. Our accusation against the Government on this year's Defence White Paper is that that White Paper reveals that, with a very substantially increased expenditure of public money, the shield is weaker and the sword more brittle.
To drop the symbols, with an expenditure of about £100 million more than before, we are providing a smaller and, above all, less certain contribution to the N.A.T.O. ground forces, and a smaller and, above all, more vulnerable contribution to the deterrent. We put it to the House that, whatever one's political opinions may be, whatever one's military doctrines may be, whether one is for or against a British contribution to the deterrent, whether one is for or against stronger conventional forces, or for or against conscription, this cannot be a satisfactory or tolerable situation for the defences of this country to have been left in after nine years of the defence policies of the Government.
1033 That is why we talk about vacillations and confusion. We think that this sorry pass has been arrived at mainly, if not entirely, because during those nine years we have had nine separate Ministers of Defence with nine separate defence policies—I think that that is an exaggeration; some of them have not had any defence policies at all. But different defence policies or none, there has been no possibility of any steady or constant purpose on which a coherent defence policy could be built. I propose to make good those assertions.
I want, first, to talk about the sword, the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent. Who can deny that though it is costing, and is likely to cost, more and more, it is becoming less certain and, above all, more vulnerable? Except for one hon. Member, no one has asserted, and it is not true, that we do not have any means of delivering the deterrent. We have Bomber Command and a very formidable force it is. But I put it to the Minister, once again, how long will that means of delivering the deterrent remain credible?
As I understood it from him, he does not challenge the statement that that is likely to be about five years. Even if that is stretched by the use of the standoff bomb and other means which the Minister mentioned, we are faced with the necessity of replacing that means of delivery after about five years. If one thing has emerged rainy clearly from the White Paper and from the debate, it is that we can be fairly sure that the replacement of Bomber Command after five years will not now be the ill-fated Blue Streak. That is becoming an open secret, at which the White Paper hints and which is becoming clearer and clearer.
The story of Blue Streak is a sad one. Without claiming to have the secret information which would make one dogmatic on the subject, year after year we have queried Blue Streak and warned against it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has done that continuously from this Box, and it is now becoming perfectly clear that Blue Streak is unlikely ever to go into production.
Something must replace it. The Minister of Defence mentioned, and the White Paper refers to, mobile launchers which, we are told, are being investigated. 1034 The right hon. Gentleman gave the impression that he had plenty of time, and that there were lots of different systems, several of which might be adopted for this purpose. That is not so. If there is to be a credible British contribution to the deterrent five years from now, there is very little time. It is essential to decide soon what the substitute for Bomber Command will be. The idea that we have the resources to develop several alternatives in the way that the Americans do is an impossible proposition.
There is something more serious than that wrong with the Government's policy on the deterrent. There is something profoundly wrong with the present position of the deterrent, which is far more menacing, and far more necessary to put right, than the replacement of it in five years' time. I propose to quote what I thought were very good and wise words from the speech of the Minister of Defence. He said:If that is so, the only other thing we have to try to retain is the position—and I am trying to face these things as frankly as I can—in which a saturation attack"—that is, on us—would not so diminish the power of retaliation held by the West that an aggressor might feel that at least part of his nation could survive a major nuclear exchange. That is why I believe that the West must rely more and more on dispersal, and more and more on the mobile missile, and this largely indestructible deterrent."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 29th February. 1960; Vol. 618, c. 862–3.]Does the Minister of Defence not realise that the deterrent which he and his predecessors have provided has almost exactly the opposite character? It is terrifyingly vulnerable. It is entirely immobile, and it is menacing. It is not true that it could do no damage to Russia. On the contrary, it is menacing, and is trained on the main Russian cities. At the same time, it is extremely vulnerable for a Russian "pre-emptive strike", as it is called in the military jargon of the day.
This is an alarming situation. It is seen at its height in the Thor missiles. They are large, clumsy, slow-firing liquid fuel rockets, which are unprotected. They are scattered all over this highly populated island. They are trained on Russian cities, but, at the same time, they are right under the enemy's guns. They are sitting targets 1035 for a pre-emptive strike. No one pretends that they are not.
I put it to the Minister and to the House that it is asking a good deal of the Russians not to object to this. Is not the decision to install this form of deterrent the very opposite of the form which the Minister told us was the proper form? Is not this one of the most reckless decisions ever taken by a Government in this country? It may be that when the Minister of Defence replies he will say, "Well, there might have been some force in that, but that is to be put right by this early warning system".
The early warning system does not improve the position of the Thors. The Minister of Defence said that if the Russians were obliging enough to fire their missiles from the Urals in Siberia we would get 15 minutes' warning. We ought not to found our defence policy on the Russians adopting the course most convenient to us. What would happen if the Russians decided to fire not from Siberia but from East Germany?
Surely the Minister will not tell us that we will get 15 minutes' warning if that happens. Some people have claimed that we will get four minutes' warning. Some people have claimed that we will get no warning. The suggestions that the Fylingdales early warning system will be of any use for our Thor rockets cannot be sustained.
I was astonished by the statement in the Memorandum issued by the Secretary of State for Air. In paragraph 19, the early warning system is referred to as… precluding surprise attacks with missiles …At best we will get four minutes' warning, yet the system is described as "precluding surprise attacks with missiles" I have never seen a more outrageously untrue statement in a Service memorandum.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman would pay me the courtesy of listening to my speech. I explained that four minutes was enough for Bomber Command to get into the air.
§ Mr. Strachey
How many bombers does the Minister of Defence think that he would get off in four minutes? The United States S.A.C., which is not usually considered to be in a low state of readiness, regards 15 minutes' warning as the minimum. With four minutes' warning we would be lucky if we got off any bombers—and it is doubtful if we shall get four minutes' warning.
The Fylingdales early warning system is not intended for this country. As the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said yesterday, it is intended as a early warning system for America. I have no objection to that. It is right that there should be an installation in Britain which gives that much warning to America. I am not objecting to that. I am objecting to the pretence that it is of the slightest use to this country. That is the position of the Thor missile. It is exactly opposite to what the Minister said was the desired effect of our contribution to the deterrent.
Bomber Command, our other contribution to the deterrent, is certainly better than the Thor missile, but I put it to the Minister that he should also consider making Bomber Command less vulnerable. He should consider very carefully a worldwide dispersal of Bomber Command, or portions of it, and improving the means of protecting bases for it.
The moral of this is that for a given sum of money which we can spend on our contribution to the deterrent it is far better, far safer, and far more reasonable to provide a smaller deterrent smaller, that is to say, in the number of launching sites, whether they be bomber or missile bases, but less vulnerable sites. This is at once very much more reasonable and very much less provocative. Thor, at any rate, provides not so much a deterrent as a provocation. We are pointing a pistol at our opponent's heart, but it is a pistol which it is quite easy for him to knock out of our hands in a moment.
That is the very worst form of deterrent that can be provided. I would ask the Minister of Defence to think of this point very carefully and let no catch-phrases, like "Maginot-mindedness", and the rest, which are often used in this connection, deter him from concentrating his attention on the protection of the deterrent.
1037 It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman's mind is working in this direction, because he went on to talk about the necessity for mobile launchers for our contribution to the deterrent. I was somewhat alarmed when he talked in terms of an airborne mobile launcher. As my right hon. Friend said, this is all in the far future. It may one day be a very practical method, but it is doubtful whether it has much reference to what is needed five years hence.
It is not for the Opposition to be dogmatic on these matters; indeed, it is impossible for them to be so without secret information, but my right hon. Friend was clearly right when he said that to the outside observer, at any rate, everything points more and more obviously to the nuclear rocket-carrying submarine as the obvious successor to Bomber Command as the vehicle for a British deterrent. This is not merely an idea—a gleam in somebody's eye; it has been worked out and is actually in existence in the United States of America. It is not yet perfected, but it is thoroughly realistic in terms of what is likely to be the situation five years hence.
I have heard two views on this matter from the experts. Must a submarine designed for the carrying of rockets for delivery of the deterrent necessarily be nuclearly-propelled? Such a submarine has far more endurance, but is it absolutely necessary? Some experts, at any rate, believe that there is a good case to be made out for a submarine propelled by normal means. It has less endurance, but much greater silence. The Minister should examine the question whether the rôle of the Navy should be changed—I am dealing here with nuclear warfare and not with limited conventional warfare. That is a very large proposition, which I realise would produce much resistance, but the possibility must be faced sooner or later that in nuclear warfare the Navy should be an underwater Navy or nothing.
The Minister of Defence spoke about our new carriers. He said that "Victorious" had an admirable air warning system, and that it had impressed the Americans as being very much better than their own. I was interested to hear that, because last July I happened to be in Norfolk, Virginia, 1038 when "Victorious" arrived and took part in joint exercises with the American fleet. The Minister is quite correct in saying that the Americans were greatly impressed with the air warning radar system of "Victorious", and that many thought it superior to anything they had.
But if the Minister believes that the system of "Victorious", with all its thousands of valves—or the American system, for that matter—will protect a carrier on the high seas against an atomic air attack carried out by aircraft like the Victor II, flying at 600 miles an hour and able to lob a stand-off nuclear bomb at it, I do not. A carrier force of surface ships is just not a credible method of contributing to the deterrent.
A commander of the American Sixth Fleet is attributed with the famous claim that he could do terrible damage if, in a nuclear war, he could keep afloat for an hour—but he went on to say that he was very doubtful whether he could keep afloat for an hour. I say nothing against the commando carriers. But we are spending immense sums of money on surface fleet carriers and that will he a little unfortunate if, in the end, the Minister decides that the submarine is the best replacement for the present form of nuclear deterrent. At any rate, the Minister ought to decide upon something quickly as a replacement for Bomber Command.
I now want to deal with several suggestions which were made during yesterday's debate. There was a suggestion that we should scrap—or half-scrap—the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent. The right hon. Member for Flint, West spoke in that strain and, judging from the Amendment that has been put down by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) we shall have another speech on those lines if he is successful in catching the eye of the Chair. The right hon. Member for Flint, West argued powerfully against having a British contribution to the nuclear deterrent, but at the end of his speech he seemed to draw back and to say that, after all, we must still maintain one. His words were:Nor do I think that we should leave the nuclear Club"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th February, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 926.]He apparently drew back from the idea of entirely scrapping the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent.
1039 I have a suspicion that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington will speak in the same strain. If he tells us that we ought to kep our existing stock of nuclear weapons and our means of delivering them, but that we should spend no money on keeping them up to date, I can only say that he will be putting forward about the most untenable proposition that he has ever put before the House—and that is saying a good deal, because he has put some fairly untenable propositions before the House in the past.
§ Mr. Strachey
I was coming to that.
If we stop spending money on keeping up to date our means of delivering our contribution to the nuclear deterrent, in a few years' time it will simply become scrap iron, in which case we might just as well have scrapped it right away. If this is my right hon. Friend's new view let him have the courage of his convictions and say, "Scrap the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent here and now". I say "his new view", because it is a new view from him. He is one of the fathers of the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent.
I happen to think that my right hon. Friend was right in the past, but if he now thinks that he was wrong he should say "Scrap it; get rid of it," and not attempt to have it both ways by saying that we should preserve what we have got but not spend anything on keeping it up to date. It costs a great deal to keep it up to date. Either it must be scrapped or kept up to date. If we attempt to have it both ways, I can only say that that is neither limited war nor total war, but simply total nonsense.
The only hon. Member who yesterday went the whole way and said that we should simply scrap the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent was the Leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). That was a perfectly possible thing to argue. It was argued powerfully by the right hon. Member for Flint, West, although he retreated from the conclusion in the end. It will be no military catastrophe—of course not—if we scrap 1040 our contribution to the deterrent and concentrate purely on conventional weapons. It is merely a form of extreme integration and extreme specialisation within the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
The objections to it are not essentially military, but political. It means absolute and total dependence upon the United States of America. I do not say that that is fatal, either. There are circumstances in which that could be accepted. To get the enormous advantage of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons round the world, that might well be worth doing, but to do it for no particular advantage whatever would be a mistake. Although it would be no military catastrophe to do it, it would certainly have no moral advantage, either. There is not the slightest pacifist advantage to it.
We all know that the suggestion is being advocated largely for pacifist or semi-pacifist reasons. The truth is that to get that advantage we have to contract out not merely of the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent; we have to scrap that, scrap the N.A.T.O. alliance altogether and, if we can, contract out of the cold war altogether. We have, in fact, to go in for full unilateral nuclear disarmament, and full unilateral disarmament altogether, presumably. That is what my pacifist friends want.
§ Mr. Strachey
I see one of them nodding his agreement. That is a perfectly coherent and logical policy; I have never denied it. All I say to my hon. Friends who take that view is that they have not quite converted everybody to it yet.
I would refer to the recent statements on the subject of disarmament by Mr. Khrushchev. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) referred to them yesterday, but they are worth referring to again because they are rather striking. It will be recalled that in his great speech on disarmament, with much of which I agree very much, to the Supreme Soviet last January, Mr. Khrushchev used, for example, these terms:Soviet scientists, engineers and workers have made it possible to equip our Army with armaments never known to man—atomic, hydrogen, rocket and other modern weapons. … The Soviet Union has stockpiled the 1041 necessary quantities of atomic and hydrogen weapons. Our State possesses powerful rocketry. With the present development of military technique, military aviation and the Navy have lost their former importance. These arms are not reduced, but replaced. Our Armed Forces have been to a considerable degree regeared to rocket and nuclear weapons.Incidentally, that last sentence is the only reason, but a sufficient reason, why our land armed forces on the Continent have to be equipped with some form or other of tactical nuclear weapons.
I have never claimed, and do not claim now—it was a mistake for S.H.A.P.E. and N.A.T.O. ever to claim it—that the tactical nuclear weapons gave any advantage to us. This was a frightful error committed by S.H.A.P.E. and by the Supreme Commander. When, however, the Russians claim—1 expect, quite rightly—that their forces have been "regeared" to rocket and nuclear weapons, it is simply impossible to leave ours without these weapons. That is the simple reason why one cannot oppose having them.
I am not complaining about Mr. Khrushchev's remarks. He has a perfect right to have his deterrents and we have a perfect right to have ours, too. The only point I am making is that Mr. Khrushchev agrees with me and does not agree with my hon. Friends. Mr. Khrushchev is a multilateral disarmament man. He believes that disarmament is highly desirable, but that it must be on both sides. He has not the slightest intention of unilateral disarmament, and he will keep his—
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
Is it not true that the Russians have demobilised between 2 million and 3 million men unilaterally?
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes. That is quite true and I was coming to that. My hon. Friend should, however, note these remarks of Mr. Khrushchev:These arms are not reduced, but replaced.That is what he said and that is the fact. Mr. Khrushchev is coming into the nuclear world, but I do not draw very much consolation from that.
Mr. Khrushchev's position on this matter is perfectly reasonable. I believe that he would be willing to have multilateral disarmament, and it is vitally 1042 important that we take him up on the offers he makes on that. He is certainly not a unilateral disarmament man. If I criticise anything in that speech of his, it is that he seems to me, if I may criticise his military doctrine, to be over-emphasising the nuclear element in his armaments.
If I am not out of order, it seems to me that Mr. Khrushchev is just going into what I would call his "Sandys" period on this matter and that Russian military doctrine, which for years has undoubtedly underestimated nuclear weapons, is now going to the other extreme and greatly overestimating them. It is, apparently, a process through which all Governments go and he will probably come out on the other side and see that there has to be a balance in these things.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
My right hon. Friend's argument is against unilateral disarmament. Can he explain how that fits in with the Labour Party policy of the unilateral ending of hydrogen bomb tests?
§ Mr. Strachey
The Labour Party argument on that took a certain risk, but we thought that that amount of unilateral disarmament was worth while and we advocated it. What has happened, curiously enough, has been that although there is no agreement on the ending of nuclear tests, both sides, as it were, have ended them unilaterally, for the time being at least. That is some advance. I see no other point in my hon. Friend's interjection.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am sorry to be disturbing my hon. Friend so much. That happens annually or biennially. I was talking of Mr. Khrushchev's overemphasis, as I see it, on nuclear weapons. There is, however, the difference between his doctrine and the doctrine of the present Minister of Aviation, that while both of them have reduced conventional forces very drastically indeed, after Mr. Khrushchev had reduced his conventional forces drastically, as he has done, he still has plenty left, but I am not sure that we can say the same for ourselves. That is the next point to which I should like to come. So much, therefore, for the deterrent and the state of things in 1043 which the Government have left us in regard to the deterrent.
The second indictment we make of the Government's defence policy is that they are scraping and scrimping our obligations to N.A.T.O. in regard to conventional forces. I think that there is nothing more deplorable in this deplorable White Paper than paragraph 5. It says:Our concern for maintaining the strength of this country's contribution to N.A.T.O. has recently been shown by the decisions of the Government to retain …and then the words are—for the time being seven brigade groups in the British Army of the Rhine, and to defer …the word is "defer"—the withdrawal of certain fighter squadrons from R.A.F. Germany".The Minister of Defence went out of his way, I thought, to try to counteract the effect of that deplorable paragraph, but what will be read abroad, of course, is the paragraph in the White Paper. It is pouring a jug of cold water, if ever there was one, on our N.A.T.O. obligations. This essentially is an Army question and I shall leave the details of it to our discussions next week on the Army Estimates.
When we advocate a much higher priority within our defence policy for honouring our obligations—and they are obligations—to a contribution to the N.A.T.O. shield, it really is not good enough for hon. Members on either side of the House to tell us that that means reintroducing conscription. I know the right hon. Member for Flint, West and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) both hanker very much indeed after conscription. If it were a question of remaking a mass Army of the old sort with enormous reserves, division after division, which could be sent out to Europe, then, of course, conscription would be the only way to do it, but that is not what is in the question at all. A mass Army of that sort is totally out-of-date in the nuclear age.
It is a question of scale. What is in question is our obligation to keep something like four divisions with their equipment in Germany today and to keep those divisions really well armed and really up to strength. To say that that requires conscription is simply to mistake 1044 the scale of the operation that is necessary, but it is necessary to give that contribution a far higher priority than it is given in this Defence White Paper. If the contribution is not to be bigger than this it has to be of the very highest quality and equipment.
I put it to the House that if we do not do that two consequences of the gravest kind will follow. If our land contribution in Europe gets smaller and smaller, and weaker and weaker, two things will follow. On the one hand, the new German Army will come to dominate Western Europe. Whatever we think about Germans and Germany that, surely, is a very serious consideration. Secondly, we shall very soon be incapable of entering into any conflict or using forces of any kind without using nuclear weapons.
I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Flint, West, in that part of his speech at any rate, that it is the most terrible dilemma in which a Government could put a country to allow its capacity—its capability, as the Americans say—to use non-nuclear forces to become almost negligible. I should have thought that this White Paper was another deplorable step along that road.
I thought that the most deplorable passage of the whole speech of the Minister of Defence was when he described the scatter of the British Army today all over the world. He described—it is only too true—how large parts of the British Army today are scattered over the world, looking after imperial commitments which very largely no longer exist in bases which very soon will no longer exist. That is not the way to deploy an Army. Of course, we need conscription if we use an Army in that way. On another occasion, quite recently, the Minister of Defence talked about stationing 22,000 men in Cyprus. Could any folly be greater than to have 22,000 men in Cyprus?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Member, but I think that we must get the facts clear. I never at any time said "stationing 22,000 men in Cyprus". I said that the size of the Cyprus base had to allow for the possible handling of 22,000 men if it were a staging post for any operation. I never said that it would be a garrison.
§ Mr. Strachey
The right hon. Gentleman did not say anything about a staging post or handling up to 22,000 men. However, we can look at the statement in HANSARD, but it seems to me that any scale of that sort is the old policy of scattered bases. It is the worst and most impracticable policy for the British defence forces today.
What we put to the Minister of Defence is that at the very beginning of his period of office he has to make a series of decisions which will be very difficult and painful decisions. One fully understands that, but, if he does not make them, if he leaves the defence policy to amble on with a division of roughly equal thirds, £500 million for the Army, £500 million for the Navy and £500 million for the Air Force—that, more or less, is what it is—that may be very easy, more agreeable and safer for him, but what it will produce is an ever-greater expenditure of public money for ever less defence.
I put it to him that there are certain decisions he must face, which none of his predecessors faced. The first is that on the size and character of the British contribution to the deterrent, and, in particular, a credible method for its delivery after five years. He has to decide how to make the deterrent here and now—not waiting five years—less terrifyingly vulnerable than it is today. In that connection, I put to him very seriously that he should seriously consider the actual abolition of the Thors. I do not want to be dogmatic on this. I realise the vast sums of money which have been spent on the Thor, but I very much doubt the utility of these weapons, which, admittedly, are purely first-strike weapons. It seems that if and when he can replace them the sooner they are abolished the better.
Lastly, on the deterrent, the right hon. Gentleman should most seriously consider the hardening of his V-bomber bases. He should create a really first-rate contribution to the N.A.T.O. land forces—a little larger, not much larger than the present contribution but somewhat larger—and very much better armed and equipped. He should create a fully mobile British expeditionary force which, with the progressive independence of old bases, he will soon find is the only way in which he can even attempt to meet commitments which 1046 may arise in many parts of the world. If he would take decisions on these points there could be a coherent and steady purpose in the defence policy which would give us a defence policy that would give us some defence for our money.
Finally, we ask how we got this way. We got this way. I repeat, because we have had nine Ministers of Defence in the same number of years, some with one policy and some with no policy at all. The latest change, I am bound to tell him, looks very much to us, so far, at any rate, as if it were a change back from a Minister of Defence with the wrong policy to a Minister of Defence with no policy.
The House will recollect the fable of the frogs and King Log and King Stork. The frogs elected King Log, and that proved unsatisfactory. They then elected King Stork, and that proved still more unsatisfactory, because he began to gobble up the frogs. We had, I think, seven King Logs at the Ministry of Defence in the earlier part of this Government and then, briefly, we had a King Stork; and that was not very satisfactory because he, in the person of the present Minister of Aviation, began to gobble up the Service frogs. Here the Government's record deviates from the fable, because they soon got rid of King Stork. I suspect that we have returned to King Log.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Christopher Soames)
The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) ended with a jolly little story about the frogs and their elections. I intended to begin my speech by congratulating him on his re-election to the seat which he holds on the Labour Party Front Bench.
The burden of the case, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman and by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) yesterday, was an allegation that the Government had not provided value for the money spent on defence over the past years. These arguments call for a reasoned reply, because they will undoubtedly be widely read, and if they were not refuted to the satisfaction of the people of this country who provide the money, they could give rise to a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction 1047 with the Services which would be fatal at a time when we depend upon volunteers to provide the necessary manpower for our commitments.
Whether we are getting value for money has been a perennial question, to a greater or lesser degree, for generations, in our defence debates. It is a question which was far easier to answer fifty years ago than it is today. For example, a fleet of warships which all could see at anchor off Spithead, and on which the ultimate security of our islands was based, was something tangible from which everyone could gain a sense of security.
The capital cost of one new aircraft carrier today, with its complement of modern aircraft, is the equivalent of the cost fifty years ago of no fewer than 17 dreadnoughts or capital ships; and, of course, such a fleet, fifty years ago, made an immeasurably greater contribution to the security of these islands than can one carrier today. Another illustration of the point, not going back fifty years but within the vivid memory of everyone in the House, is that money which provided a number of squadrons of Spitfires in 1940 can today buy one fighter and its armament.
Furthermore, the strategy which rested on the Grand Fleet and on an expeditionary force was very simple and could readily be understood by those who took no more than a passing interest in such matters, but today, with all the ramifications of modern weapons and techniques and the existence of an explosive power which is so great as to be beyond the bounds of the imagination of man, military strategy has become so complicated as to demand from all who endeavour to understand it a close and detailed study. I believe that these are the main factors which prevent sums of money, however large, from being able to buy today that comfortable feeling of security which it was comparatively easy to provide in the first half of this century.
This is not a problem which is peculiar to this country. It is the same in the United States, and I have no doubt that it is the same in Russia, too. It is not the fault of the Armed Forces, or of the Government who control them. It is the inevitable result of the scientific and technological breakthrough of the 1048 last fifteen years, which has been more revolutionary and stunning than in any other period in the history of man.
These technical advances and all that flows from them in the complications of military thought and gradations of strategy have provided massive problems for those who have been responsible for our defence arrangements, but to my mind one of the most worrying features of them is the difficulties which they present in public relations—in persuading the people of the wisdom of defence policies and the heavy expenditure which they involve. Yet if we are to maintain our military strength, the first essential is that we should carry with us the minds of the people.
My purpose this afternoon is to meet the points made by the right hon. Member for Belper and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West on wasteful expenditure and to endeavour to analyse the defence expenditure over the years. I have had the figures for the years covering 1952–53 to 1960–61, inclusive, divided under major headings and totalled. One of the Opposition Amendments on the Order Paper refers to £12,500 million and the other to £13,000 million. I believe that the latter figure to be the more nearly correct. Of this total, about £4,400 million went in pay for Service personnel, reserve forces and civilians; about £500 million in movements; and about £1,400 million in what one might call the inescapable supplies, such as rations, fuel, light and petrol; works, buildings and land account for about £1,200 million; and I have coupled together miscellaneous services and non-effective charges at about £500 million.
I apologise for wearying the House with so many figures, but I do not think that it is possible to answer the Opposition's charges without going into some detail. These figures total about £8,000 million. That is all inescapable expenditure for having kept under arms during those years a figure varying from 900,000 men in the first year to just under 500,000 today. The total of £8,000 million does not include anything for research, development or production of weapons of any kind.
I am not saying that some money out of this vast sum has not been unnecessarily spent. For instance, the major changes 1049 of 1957 inevitably meant that full value could not be derived from some of the money which had been spent in the years just previously, but to some degree that is inescapable, and, in any event, it amounts to only a fraction of the total. I hope that I carry the right hon. Gentlemen with me when I say that the only way to have made a deep incursion into these figures would have been drastically to reduce the number of men under arms, and to the best of my knowledge it has never been the Opposition's contention that we should have done that.
In 1957, my right hon. Friend, now Minister of Aviation and then Minister of Defence, took a fresh look at our defence plans for the years ahead, and he reached two conclusions. The first was that any reasonable sum which the country could provide towards defence in the ensuing years would not be sufficient to maintain forces at anything like the level which then existed, between 700,000 and 800,000, and, at the same time, to provide them with the modern weapons and equipment which they had to have if they were to be able to fulfil the Government's defence policy. His second conclusion was that given the weapons, the striking power and the mobility which we could expect to have by the early 1960s, we should have sufficient military strength to meet our commitments with Armed Forces of a size which could be provided by voluntary recruitment. Accordingly, his plan for the reduction of the forces was announced.
This was a bold decision, because it depended for its success on a considerable increase in the rate of Regular recruitment over what then existed. It was a decision which lesser men might well have feared to take. Had this decision not been taken by the Government, had our forces still been today at the strength they were in 1957, the Defence Estimates for the coming year could hardly have failed to be in the region of £2,000 million, or about £400 million more than they, in fact, are.
Of the many opinions which were expressed at that time, so far as my memory serves me, none, or virtually none, favoured any further reduction. Indeed, so far as there was opposition to our plan for all-Regular forces, it came from those who feared that we would 1050 not get sufficient recruits and who, therefore, thought that the risk was too great. We can take it, therefore, that the Opposition do not criticise the Government on the ground of having kept too many men under arms during these years. The inescapable cost of a force of that size over the period, without the provision of any weapons or equipment of any character, is in the region of £8,000 million.
I turn now to the remaining £5,000 million, which, in round figures, is the cost of having provided those forces with weapons including not only maintenance and new production, but also research and development. It is not easy to divide this money as between the deterrent in the limited sense of the word and the rest. For instance, as the right hon. Member for Belper said yesterday, we would still have needed a strategic bomber force even if we had not contributed to the West's deterrent power. The best figure that can be arrived at, including for the sake of this argument the V-bomber force as an essential part of the deterrent, is that out of the total of our defence expenditure over the whole period about £1,500 million has gone on the deterrent and its means of delivery.
It is interesting to analyse the figures for research and production over the years. When the Conservative Government came to power in 1951 the cost of this element of our defence expenditure was rising and was soon to reach a peak. This was the result of the rearmament programme instituted by the Labour Government at the time of Korea. It takes time for such a programme to reach full flow, and the items which had been ordered in 1949 and 1950 were coming off the production lines from 1952 to 1954. We therefore see that the figures for production and research for those years were rising—£652 million in 1952. £745 million in 1953, and levelling off to £748 million in 1954. That was, broadly speaking, the end of that cycle of production, and there was in the following years a steady falling off in the cost of production and research down to a figure of £534 million in 1958.
It is important to bear in mind that, as there had been virtually no research and development done in the immediate post-war years, the equipment which 1051 had come into service through the Korean rearmament programme was basically of the last war type, and would very soon be hopelessly outdated. The need then was for a large-scale research and development programme which could lead to the production of a modern generation of weapons and equipment for all three Services.
We began to see the equipment which flowed from this research and development programme in the late 1950s, and that is what accounts for the renewed upward turn in the production Vote. From the figure of £534 million in 1958 we had £585 million in 1959, and we now have £651 million in 1960. I admit that a proportion of this money was spent on research and development which led only up blind alleys and from which we got no return. But in view of the startling developments and the speed at which scientists and engineers were opening up new possibilities an element of waste in this is quite inevitable. One may be sure that other countries have found this, too.
The gravamen of the Opposition's case is that we have not had value for the money we have spent on weapons. Here, I think that there is a distinction of degree to be drawn. On the one hand, there is the allegation that the Government have wasted money in this or that field of defence expenditure, either by failing to produce the goods or by producing the wrong goods. To prove that allegation is an essentially healthy exercise. What, on the other hand, is not healthy, and does nothing but harm, both from the point of view of the Services and of the prestige of the country at large, is to overstate the case and to understate the strength and power of the Services and the weapons they have.
I will give a short analysis on the credit side of the balance sheet. I shall not go into great detail, because individual Service Estimates come before the House shortly. I will deal with the Army first. For reasons which I have outlined, it could be argued that the vast expenditure incurred as a result of the crisis which sprang from Korea was wasted, on two grounds. The first is that the equipment which was being bought was of outdated patterns. The second is that the greater part of it 1052 never had to be used. But I do not accept that argument. The hard fact was that there was danger of the war developing into something much larger, and the Army had to be re-equipped with whatever could be obtained in the quickest possible time. We supported the Opposition in their decision, but we have to face the consequences of it.
The programme went on into 1954 and it was using up heavy resources. The Army's Vote 7 during those four years totalled £670 million. Yet as soon as it was completed we had to start from the beginning on a new programme of modern equipment. It is the fruits of that equipment which we are now seeing. I went into it all in considerable detail in last year's Estimates Debate, and I will have more to report to the House this year.
For the purpose of this debate, suffice it to say that much of the equipment is already in service and that when the present programme is completed nearly every item from soldiers' clothing, through small arms, communications, engineer stores, artillery and armoured vehicles, will be of the new generation. The increase in mobility over the past year has been most striking. In simple terms, the number of passenger seats available in R.A.F. transport aircraft has been tripled since 1956.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
The point which the right hon. Gentleman has been making is very interesting. Does he mean the passenger lift under Army or Service control, or are these the civilian aeroplanes to which much of his custom is given?
§ Mr. Soames
I was referring to transport aircraft of the R.A.F. throughout the world.
The accretion of the Navy's strength has also been formidable over these years. I go a long way with what the right hon. Gentleman said on this, that of the three elements in which the Navy operates—under the water, on the surface, and in the air—it is under the water and in the air where the Navy's strength must increasingly lie. Examples of this are the new Porpoise class submarines, the new anti-submarine vessels and equipment, their modernised carriers and their modern aircraft, the Scimitar and the Sea Vixen, shortly to be joined by the NA39 strike aircraft.
1053 Though, like in every other sphere of defence, we cannot pretend that our fleet could alone master the threat posed by the hordes of Russian submarines in particular, let no one underestimate the contribution which the Royal Navy makes to Western sea power, which is reflected in the considerable tasks allotted to it in N.A.T.O. war plans.
I have already touched on the growth of Transport Command. Fighter Command has had two generations of fighters, and the P1, with an infinitely higher order of performance, is shortly coming into service. Then there is Bomber Command, with its fleet of Canberra tactical bombers with a nuclear capability, and the V-bomber force, which in the past few years has made a notable contribution—I beg the House not to underestimate it—to the West's deterrent power and which is capable of continuing to do so for many years yet.
The point made by the right hon. Member for Belper yesterday, whether the equipment and the weapons of the Services represent good value for the money spent upon them is something which, I believe, it is impossible to prove or disprove in times of peace. What I would claim is that the Services today are capable of meeting the commitments that the Government have given them and that, in relation to our wealth, they are making at least a proportionate contribution to Western defensive power.
I now turn to the differences between the two sides of the House on matters of policy. There are many areas of Government in which a clash between the two major parties on basic principles is of positive advantage to the nation, but defence has never been one of them. In spite of Motions of censure, I wonder just how far we are actually apart in our broad approaches. I am not talking about details but about the fundamentals of policy.
In the first place, no one will disagree that a primary purpose of our defence policy must be the protection of British interests throughout the world and the maintenance of law and order in territories for which we are responsible. Secondly, we are all agreed, I think, that we must make a contribution to N.A.T.O., and not many will disagree 1054 that this must include a tactical nuclear element for the Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Army.
Next comes the question of whether we should make our own contribution to the West's strategic nuclear deterrent. On this, the Government have had the support of the official Opposition over the years during which the V-bomber force and its weapons have been built up. We have had arguments from time to time, and strong arguments, on the circumstances in which we should be prepared to use this deterrent power, but from the principle of the deterrent and the V-bombers as the means of delivery, the official Opposition have never dissented.
There is more of this force yet to come off the production line, but we have paid for the larger part of it, and it has reached a high level of efficiency. If we can extend its effective life for some years by modifying its weapons or introducing new ones for it to use then, if I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper aright yesterday, he would agree that it would be militarily wise and economically sound to do so. The main argument between us would seem to rest—and I think that this underlies one of the Labour Party's Amendments and the Liberal Party's Amendment—on whether we should now and in the future be developing a means of delivery that will be credible when the V-bombers have ended their effective life.
There are two legs to the argument The first is whether we should have a successor weapon to the V-bomber force at all, and the second is concerned with what form it should take. The view of the Government is that we can and should continue to make our contribution to the deterrent. As to the means of delivery, our aim must be to have the best available at the right time, and this means that our thought on the subject must be flexible to take advantage of scientific advance.
We have, for some years, been developing Blue Streak, and are continuing to do so, but if, in the meanwhile, the possibility presents itself of our being able to acquire some other form of delivery system which through, for example, mobility, could increase its credibility and make it more effective. 1055 it may well be that, in the event, it will be on that that we will depend.
In short, we are rigid in our view that we should continue to make our contribution to the deterrent, but flexible in our view as to what the instrument will be on which we shall be depending after the V-bombers—
§ Mr. Soames
That is something that the right hon. Gentleman sometimes tries on.
The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that the time is not far distant when we will have to go firm on one delivery system or another. I take that point, but I would add that the actual timing plainly depends on what is the expectation of effective life of the V-bombers with the newer generation of weapons. I think that very few people in full possession of the facts and technicalities involved could say when it is necessary—at what exact moment of time it is necessary—to have to go firm, and commit oneself to a particular weapon.
I come now to the Opposition Amendments on the Order Paper. There are four. The clearest of them all is that put down by the lone figure, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). We all know where he stands on these matters. His Amendment is perfectly clear and understandable. His view is that all arms are bad and, never mind what anybody else has, we should not have any. Although the House as a whole profoundly disagrees with his views he has, at least, shown a consistency of thought and purpose that might well be the envy of his right hon. and hon. Friends.
Then there is the Liberal Amendment, the purpose of which was enlarged on yesterday by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). He was, as usual, totally sincere with the House. He admitted how difficult it is to master the intricacies of these policies. I hope that he will not think that I am meaning him any disrespect when I say that, as he unfolded his thoughts, I found that they reminded me of the Cornish prayer:From ghoulies and ghosties and longleggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us.1056 The Liberal Amendment calls upon the Government to abandon their policy of attempting to create an independent nuclear deterrent. If I understood the hon. Gentleman aright, his difference with the Government lies not in the maintenance of the V-bomber force which we already have, but in our plans to continue to make a contribution to the deterrent on the demise of the bombers. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence told the House yesterday of the developments that looked like enabling the V-bomber force to remain an effective instrument, certainly until the mid-'sixties and, perhaps, even to the end of the decade. Here, for a comparatively small sum of money, we have the possibility of lengthening the life of this valuable and efficient force. Surely, every military and economic argument dictates that we should do this, and I believe that, to this end at least—which, I hope, will be well into the 'sixties—we have the support of the hon. Gentleman.
Then we have the Amendment tabled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). He must have been surprised—and, perhaps, a little embarrassed—at the measure, and the quality, of the support it has attracted. The important words in his Amendment are:deplores a … policy based upon a nuclear strategy which … affords … no effective defence.Of course, the right hon. Gentleman knows that neither the Russians nor the Americans, who have spent on their forces many times more than we have, can provide for their subjects an effective defence in the full sense of the word.
This was so even when the right hon. Gentleman himself was Minister of Defence, in the days of the atomic bomb. Then, and ever since then, the peace of the world has rested to a greater degree year by year, not upon the ability to defend but upon a power of destruction that removes all fruits and advantages from war. The right hon. Gentleman has hitherto always supported nuclear strategy. I am more optimistic than was his right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West as to what his views may be today. We have not yet had the pleasure of hearing them, but I have a hunch that there is more to his Amendment than meets the eye.
1057 The hon. Member for Dudley, the hon. Gentleman's alter ego, yesterday gave us a clue as to why the right hon. Gentleman put down this Amendment. I think that he put it down because he could not bring himself to sign the most spurious Amendment of the official leadership of the Opposition—
§ Mr. Soames
And I must say that I see his point here. The implication of this Amendment is that the nuclear strategy is right, but that there have been vacillations and confusion. I must say that that comes well from the party opposite. One can argue about the Government's defence policy, one can disagree with it, but the one thing that even its severest critics admit is that it has been consistent over the years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes. Hitherto, the main complaint from the Opposition has been that the Government have been too consistent and too rigid.
§ Mr. Strachey
Would the right hon. Gentleman say that the policy of the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) and the policy of the present Minister of Aviation were the same?
§ Mr. Soames
Yes, I certainly would say that they were the same. There have evidently been considerable advances in scientific matters since then. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course, there have been considerable advances. It is a matter of degree and emphasis on strategic or tactical weapons.
The right hon. Member for Belper, if I may say so, made the best of the areas of disagreement which there are bound to be in a subject which is so vital to us and which covers so wide a field, but, in fact, much of his speech yesterday served to underline the wide measure of agreement there is between the thoughts of the official Opposition and the Government on the broad approach to defence policy.
This is the fifth defence debate to which I have listened as a Minister in a Service Department. Every debate has its theme, which is usually set by the Opposition Amendment. The last four years have produced arguments on major points of policy. I believe it is significant 1058 that, this year, the Amendment rests upon the general charge of not enough value for money, and the trend of yesterday's debate was one not of principle but of detail, emphasis and degree.
Indeed, an independent person reading yesterday's debate would find it hard to comprehend why the House was to be divided on the official Opposition's Amendment. He would see that the main field of argument has been between hon. and right hon. Members above and below the Gangway opposite, and he would have been more struck by the high common factor of agreement that there is on the broad lines of defence policy. From that, I think, the Services and the country as a whole can take comfort.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Listening to the speech of the Secretary of State for War, I agreed with him on one simple point, that the biggest issue, the issue of nuclear strategy, was not one which divided the two Front Benches. I think that he was a little unfair to his own back benches when he implied that all the divisions were on this side.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), to the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), and I thought that all three speeches, though they differed in many particulars, carried with them a very great and serious weight of criticism by back benchers of the Government's nuclear strategy. Because I know that many hon. Members wish to take part in the debate today, I shall confine myself solely to this issue of nuclear strategy, and I shall begin by addressing myself to the Opposition Amendment.
When my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) decided, quite rightly, no doubt, to castigate those of us who in any way disagree with him, he must have expected some reply. I should like to put two thoughts to him. I listened very carefully to all his proposals for improving our forces. He put forward, I think, four big things that he thought we ought to do. All of them seemed to me to be extremely 1059 expensive and, therefore, somewhat incompatible with an Amendment which regrets the size of the defence budget.
Frankly, I should have thought that there was overwhelming evidence that we could not, as a country, possibly substantially reduce the arms budget unless we were prepared substantially to reduce either the quality and size of our conventional forces or the quality and size of our nuclear forces.
The notion that we can conceivably go ahead and have better nuclear forces and better conventional forces and reckon to have a smaller bill seems to be quite unrealistic. We must face the fact that if, as I do, we want to have adequate forces in Germany, then we must either pay something approaching £2,000 million, or we must substantially cut something else. As others before me have said, there is nothing else to cut; there is only the possibility of looking at our "great deterrent" and reassessing the value of it to us as a nation and as a member of the Western Alliance.
I criticise our nuclear strategy while making it quite clear that I am not a pacifist and that I recognise the need for a Western deterrent. Of course, so long as we do not have world disarmament, there has to be a Western deterrent, partly nuclear, partly conventional. We are discussing two things: first, the rôle of Britain and whether or not we should contribute to the nuclear deterrent; and, secondly, the relationship between the nuclear and conventional elements in the deterrent. What I mean by nuclear strategy is the decision to substitute nuclear power for conventional forces or, rather, shall I say, to cut our conventional forces in fact while assuring ourselves verbally that we can substitute for them nuclear power.
The adoption of this new Sandys strategy was made perfectly clear in 1957. I remember speaking in the debate when we discussed it then. I will not quote the present Minister of Aviation, but I will quote what was said by the present Prime Minister, who summed up the debate with, I thought, great clarity and put the matter absolutely fairly to the House in his closing speech. He said:There are really three vital aspects to the whole question: the size of the forces; the character of the forces, and the nature of the 1060 weapons. … Upon the decision about the last of the three aspects the first two must necessarily depend … if we are to accept anything like a cut of nearly half in our manpower".In other words, he says that, if we are to have a cut of half in our manpower, this will depend upon the nature of our weapons.
The right hon. Gentleman went on:Therefore, whether we like it or not, the decision upon the weapons—and it is a terrible decision—governs the whole issue. Without the nuclear deterrent it is obvious that a reduction of forces of this kind becomes impossible.A little bit later he said:Short of general disarmament … the end of conscription"—and the reduction of our forces—must depend upon the acceptance of nuclear weapons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th April, 1957; Vol. 568, c. 2039–40.]That is what I opposed in 1957, and I gave reasons why I thought it was a fatal thing to do then. I believe that all the evidence since confirms, not the Government's nuclear strategy, but the criticisms of it.
I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West that he should remember that he is here not arguing with a couple of Members below the Gangway and one of his right hon. Friends, an ex-Minister of Defence, above the Gangway. There are very many people outside the House who have serious doubts about the effectiveness of our nuclear strategy. I read the Economist. I read the Financial Times. I read The Times and the articles of its military correspondent. I even read what General Cowley says when he is allowed to say it. It is not just we here who are saying things. There is a great and growing body of expert opinion which has grave doubts about our nuclear strategy and the rôle of an independent British deterrent.
I indicated what was wrong then and what is wrong today with our nuclear strategy in what I said four years ago. If we make ourselves dependent either on thermonuclear weapons or on atomic tactical weapons to the degree that we cannot even fight a second-class war without relying on nuclear weapons, we make ourselves not strong, but impotent. The main criticism which is directed at the present policy is based upon the increasing impotence not only 1061 of Britain, but of the whole Western Alliance, through our perilous cutting of our conventional forces and the easy substitution of the nuclear threat. This never was credible; and it is now totally incredible since we have been overtaken, equalled and now surpassed, by the Eastern bloc.
Today we have our British deterrent and, combined with it, we have forces totally inadequate to carry out even the minimum functions of the defence of Western Europe. This is the problem of our forces in Germany. No one can really say that we are fulfilling the promise we made five years ago, because we have not four divisions any more. We have not got them. We have cut down far below the agreed minimum, and the French have cut down below it too. We have done it because we are under the illusion that we have a substitute for armies, navies and air forces in the threat to annihilate the other sides nuclear attack.
The first idea was massive retaliation. When that tailed we took to the second delusion, atomic tactical weapons. It surprised me when my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West said that he never thought that there was anything in it. I remember an argument in this House when my right hon. Friend maintained that we should use these weapons as a substitute for conventional fire power. We pointed out that the Russians would have them as well, so they would not be much of a substitute because they would cancel out each other. It did not seem to me that we should be allowed to enjoy a monopoly of tactical weapons for long, so we should be no better off by relying on them.
§ Mr. Strachey
If my hon. Friend looks at my speech, he will find that I said nothing of the sort. I said that we ought to have tactical nuclear weapons because the Russians had them. That was the reason. I have never taken the view that we could have a monopoly in tactical weapons and that the Russians would be obliging enough not to have them.
§ Mr. Crossman
Of course, I am willing to accept that explanation from my right hon. Friend. But, in that case, he will have to explain a great deal, because he accepted the Government view that we could cut our conventional manpower by relying on nuclear weapons. It may 1062 be that he meant thermonuclear weapons and not tactical. But it seems clear to me that he pursued the object along with the Government of abolishing conscription, and said that we could afford to have far fewer conventional forces if we developed nuclear forces instead. And in saying this he did not accept the objection which we advanced that, if the Russians have them as well, we should find ourselves once again at a grave disadvantage.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
My hon. Friend will note the change in the tense which is evident in the statement made now by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey). Two years ago he did not say we had got to have atomic tactical weapons. He said that three battalions in Berlin would be required, at that moment, to defend themselves with atomic tactical weapons which they did not possess.
§ Mr. Crossman
I was trying to keep to the central issue of the debate—I think that it is the one which we want to discuss this afternoon—the pros and cons of having to rely on nuclear strategy—the substitution of nuclear weapons for conventional forces. Whatever any of us thought four years ago the Government's view has not been borne out by the evidence of the last four years. Let us look at it first in terms of defence and let us note what was said by the right hon. Member for Flint, West and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley. They were able to point out that, judged in terms of defence, we were far weaker today than when we started on this defence policy four years ago.
I hesitate to say something as unpleasant as this, but I remember that a few years ago there was a little trouble in Guatemala and I remember how it was smashed. Now I see a little trouble occurring in Cuba, which is much more serious, but which no one dares to smash and I will tell the House why. It is because of a shift in the balance of power owing to the decreasing strength of the West which has recently become so apparent. Now we are relatively weaker, not as a result of our intrinsic weakness but because of the nonsensical strategy we have imposed on ourselves by our refusal to face the fact that the threat of annihilation is no substitute for 1063 the ability to wage war. This is the basic reason.
I cannot believe that the numbers in the Regular forces are really sufficient to provide the minimum which we need to enable us to abolish conscription. Here again, I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West was unfair, and I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley. We do not like conscription; we did not say that we wanted it. We said something a little more responsible. We said that it might be a good thing to cut conscription, but we could not end the call-up until we were absolutely certain that we had sufficient numbers in the Regular Forces.
That is not the same as saying that we like conscription. We said that it was a good thing not to get rid of that legislation before we were certain that the minimum number of men was available. That is something which has been said by hon. Members opposite as well, and it is unfair to spread the "smear" that we did this because we like conscription. I thought that a serious argument and I still think so. Now we have forces well below the minimum figure necessary to carry out our engagements.
I say definitely that the evidence shows that now we are weaker than we were at the time of Suez. Then we demontrated our weakness, and Sir Anthony Eden, in his book, openly writes of the appalling weaknesses at the time of Suez. We have no evidence that since Suez the weaknesses in our conventional forces have been remedied.
The second great argument in favour of nuclear strategy was the economic argument. We were told that it would save money. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West said that nuclear weapons were incredibly cheap. We could be sure, he said, that we could have defence on the cheap by the possession of nuclear weapons or, as I would put it, annihilation on the cheap. It has not turned out to be so. It is beyond the resources of a country of the size of our country to keep in the nuclear club. Whether we want to or not we shall find in the next ten years that we shall not be able to have all these ballistic missiles. Physically, this country is not of sufficient size to keep up with 1064 America and Russia. Already, this view is accepted by most informed opinion outside this House.
Anyone who feels that our prestige as a country would sink if its legislators were willing to accept what everyone outside accepted years ago, misjudges the intelligence of the people outside. People outside Britain know perfectly well that what we are doing is not done for defence reasons, but for prestige reasons, because we think our prestige is in danger. One's prestige is really in danger when one begins to worry about it, when one says, "I must keep up appearances."
When I heard of the explosion of the French bomb in the Sahara I felt that the French achievement represented the reductio ad absurdum of our policy. Do not let us say, "We can do this, but the poor old French cannot." True, we are somewhat more powerful than France and we have somewhat greater resources, but we are not in a different class as a Power; I hope that the French explosion has shown us how we look to other people in making this pretence, for it is a pretence, that we are a nuclear Power, although we contribute less than one-tenth to the Western nuclear deterrent of what is contributed by America.
The economic argument was that we should save money. It was the great pipe-dream of the Premier that there would be a great reduction in expenditure if we concentrated on nuclear weapons. It has not happened. We have not saved money. Defence expenditure is going up, and I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West that we are now getting less for the expenditure of more.
Thirdly, there were the political arguments for the British H-bomb. We were told that even if our own weapon would not defend us, we might want to use it as a deterrent against the Russians when the Americans were otherwise engaged or not concerned. We should be able to threaten the Russians with our deterrent even though the Americans were disengaged at that time. We had a good chance at Suez of seeing if this argument was true. Today, however, I should have thought that no one would put over the argument advanced four years ago—[HON MEMBERS: "Who put it four years ago?"] I think that it was 1065 the Prime Minister, or my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and the Leader of the Opposition. We had people telling us that the point of the deterrent was that in the event of the Americans not being vitally concerned we should be able to have an independent approach in foreign policy.
I am glad to hear that this has been forgotten, like so many delusions which have been conveniently forgotten after people have been interested in them year after year. I am glad to see that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench agree that there is no strategic justification for the British deterrent. That is one great advance of the 1960 defence debate. Here we have it at last—we have no strategic advantage. Anyone who suggests that we have is laughed at. Very good, But what is the advantage if it is not strategic? There is no other except the one which the Prime Minister once mentioned, namely, our influence in Washington. So we must calculate whether our influence in Washington, whatever it may be, is kept up by this nuclear phantasy.
I should have thought that, after four years, it was becoming uncommonly clear that the Americans like allies with real merits who are not solely concerned with prestige. If I were an American, which would I prefer—the British trying to be a nuclear Power and palpably failing, or the British providing a first-rate conventional contribution to the alliance? Which would be more useful to America? Which would I respect the British more for doing—for pretending to do something, or for actually doing something? Who can deny that if we gave up the effort of trying to keep up a nuclear appearance we would have the resources to have first-rate highly mobile conventional forces which could play their part in N.A.T.O. and the United Nations?
I now turn to the effect of our nuclear deterrent on N.A.T.O. I suggest that the effect of the British nuclear deterrent on N.A.T.O. has been one of its most serious disadvantages. It is largely owing to our British nuclear deterrent, that France has gone the way she has gone. If one studies N.A.T.O., one sees that there is a breaking up of N.A.T.O. owing to the imposition on the N.A.T.O. nations in Europe of an Anglo-American 1066 N.A.T.O. nuclear strategy, Hon. Members are terribly upset, legitimately, about the setting up of the four-minute warning system in Yorkshire, because they feel it is part of a purely American defence system which is no good to us.
If one does not like this radar station sited solely for the sake of American protection, one should realise what it would be like to live in Hanover or Hamburg, living under on Anglo-American nuclear strategy which will devastate them in the first minute of a war. The Germans feel as resentful as we feel. Nuclear strategy disunites N.A.T.O. and tears us apart until, legitimately, we come to the conclusion that all of us or none of us should have nuclear weapons.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)
When my hon. Friend says that he is against nuclear weapons, will he make it clear whether he is talking about the British contribution to N.A.T.O., or N.A.T.O. as a whole?
§ Mr. Crossman
I am talking about strategy which makes us dependent on nuclear weapons and incapable of defending ourselves with conventional forces. It is that which is undermining the Western Alliance. I am arguing that if we relied on conventional forces in the defence of Europe our unity would not be undermined because we would not mistrust each other.
N.A.T.O. should also make up its mind on the central issue of who gives the orders. What is the good of piling up these weapons in Europe and having no one to give the order to fire them? We are told that General Norstad is empowered to fire them off, but we think it intolerable that an American general, responsible to the President of the United States, should be able to shoot us to pieces. We insist that each of us must have a veto on the general, so that in four minutes 14 vetoes will be discussed. How completely ridiculous. Yet if we do not have a veto, how can we achieve a command which will give 14 nations control over a weapon of this kind? It cannot be done without a supranational Government.
This is why I have the gravest doubts whether a nuclear strategy is the right strategy for N.A.T.O. Let the Americans have the deterrent in reserve behind, but we should concentrate in 1067 Europe on building up conventional forces. I realise that this is not something which can be done overnight. What we are discussing is the trend of strategy; something which should be done over a period of five years. As the "Sandys" strategy has taken four years to develop, so we should have five years to develop away from it. We say to the Government, "Look where the logic of your strategy is taking you. Stop before it is too late and switch from a nuclear priority to a conventional priority".
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will make a more constructive speech than that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West. I hope that he will say that he also sees the danger of this nuclear strategy. We shall find it very difficult to vote for an Amendment in which the Government nuclear strategy is not censured, but only the confusions and evasions of that strategy. The overwhelming evidence all over the world today shows that it is time that we repudiated this strategy, not dramatically but over a period. We must shift the balance of British defence policy and turn it in a different direction.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
It is an alarming experience to have to make a maiden speech, but I am happy and slightly reassured to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). While at Oxford, I heard him make the same speech on very many subjects at least four times, and every time that he spoke in the Union most speakers in the weeks afterwards used the same mannerisms and almost the same arguments. It is rather like old times to follow the hon. Member's speech.
I think the most reasonable estimation of this White Paper is to try to relate it with the problems which at present face N.A.T.O. For the rest of its nine years, N.A.T.O. will be faced with three specific threats from the Soviet Union—first, the extra-European threat; secondly, it will have the function of trying to prevent and, if necessary, to wage a limited war; and, thirdly, there is the function of N.A.T.O. to maintain and to hold a nuclear strategic balance of power.
1068 Briefly, I should like to analyse these three functions and to relate them to this White Paper. The extra-European threat is one where either Russia or China may exploit situations for which perhaps they may not be, in the first place, immediately responsible—to do it second-hand—situations such as those which occurred at Laos and Algeria and that which is likely to arise in Iraq. This extra-European problem is not solely a military one. It is probably at root an economic problem which demands of the Government a liberal view and the investment of a large part of our surpluses in aid to under-developed countries.
This does not mean that military force has no part to play in this instance. A brigade or a small group of seasoned troops which could be landed within thirty-six hours of a request and followed up at short notice by a sea-borne invasion would be worth sixty brigade groups a month later. It is important to N.A.T.O. that high priority should be given to a mobile reserve, responsibility for which must rest with those nations inside N.A.T.O. who have far-flung responsibilities, such as the United States, France and ourselves. It would be in the interests of N.A.T.O. to spend more money on the United Nations Emergency Force.
The second function of N.A.T.O. in the next nine years concerns the threat of limited war. At present, N.A.T.O. is in an extremely weak position as against the power of the Soviet Union. We are outnumbered on the land front between the North Sea and the Alps by seven divisions to one. The Russian Army, which, we must remember, is not an occupational army in East Germany but an operational force, is highly and superbly equipped with weapons which have been redesigned and manufactured since the war, while the equipment of 60 per cent. of our divisions in Europe is still of the Second World War standard.
As for N.A.T.O., there has been an alteration, as we know, in the philosophy that lies behind the concept of the "shield". Whereas before the West was prepared to shelter behind the nuclear United States power and, therefore, to be happy with a thin skin of divisions across the centre of Europe which would act as an alarm bell, this 1069 concept has now changed. It is now fashionable to suggest that we should have at least thirty divisions in Europe to hold the Russians if they made a conventional attack, and hold them long enough for the West to confer and for the Soviet Union perhaps to have serious second thoughts on the desirability of starting or of stopping the action they had already started.
It is a great pity that the Government have removed from Europe that one division, and I would put high priority on increasing the seven brigade groups, or three divisions, that are in Europe at present, to the four divisions which were behind the spirit of the Western Union agreements. I think that N.A.T.O. should have a reserve in Europe, over and above the thirty divisions, that would be there in order to try to stop a Russian attempt to humiliate N.A.T.O., which might happen by the sudden seizure of places like Schleswig-Holstein and the Skagerrak and thus put before the West a fait accompli.
The third important fact before N.A.T.O. is, of course, the nuclear equation. This is the function of the United States and its Strategic Air Command. How stale is this statemate we hear about? It is getting staler every day. This debate, both yesterday and today, is urgent and important, but in my opinion it is overshadowed by the debate going on in Washington at present between the Eisenhower administration arid the missile lobby, and for the Eisenhower administration to acknowledge that the Soviet Union have a three-year lead in missiles and at the same time still to speak of a stalemate seems to me illogical and a contradiction in terms. The Americans must face the problem of seeing that at least 30 per cent. of the 1,700 strategic planes of the Strategic Air Command, the B52s and the B47s, should be airborne night and day in the short-term in order that the nuclear submarines can then be brought into operation, and the solid fuel missiles that will follow.
This argument seems to lead towards setting up a missile system of our own in Europe under the control of N.A.T.O. This would have at least one dramatic advantage. The more rockets we have at the moment and for the next year or two, even if they are soft-based, spread 1070 across Europe, the chance of there being a knock-out attack is enormously lessened. The advantage at the moment is so much with the Power that determines the first strike or surprise attack that we must do everything to make certain that that tremendous advantage is militated against.
The White Paper is facing up to most of the realities. It speaks of the need for flexibility and mobility. It announces the spending of more rather than of less money. It now lumps all our armed forces together as the deterrent—and not just our V-bombers. It is not yet prepared to reinforce the Army of the Rhine and, incidentally, our influence in Europe. It seems to hint at the end of Blue Streak, and I hope that that is the case. We should replace the V-bombers with a solid fuelled rocket and, when we get the nuclear submarine, fire it from the submarine.
It will be four years before the nuclear submarine is ready as a concept of our own and eighteen months before we can get hold of a solid fuel rocket from America or make it ourselves. It might not be unreasonable, therefore, to suggest that instead of scrapping "Vanguard" we make it into a missile-carrying ship, in the same way as America has under construction a heavy cruiser which carries sixteen solid fuel missiles with a range of 1,500 miles. It is obvious that the missile-carrying—nuclear or conventional—submarine is the future weapon for the West. It would be unseen, wide-ranging and formidable.
The Minister of Defence said yesterday that he had received a postcard from the United States which he quoted. If I may, I will quote it again. It said:Move deterrents out to seaWhere the real estate is freeAnd where they are far away from me.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th February, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 859.]
Copies of that postcard should be in the pocket of every one of us this afternoon.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
If I am correct in the assumption that the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) has addressed the House for the first time, then I offer my cordial 1071 congratulations, with which I am sure the House will fully agree. It seemed to me that the hon. Member's speech was of a thoughtful and constructive character. If the hon. Member continues to make speeches of that nature, he will always find a ready response to any observations which he cares to make.
The Minister of Defence began and ended his speech yesterday on what appeared to me to be an emotional appeal on the subject of disarmament. That appeal did him great credit. I can assure him that his utterances evoked a ready echo on these benches if indeed not in all quarters of the House. It seems to me that much of what has transpired in the course of the debate is unrealistic. Facing the facts as they present themselves to us, surely what the Minister of Defence should do as a member of the Cabinet, possessing considerable influence because he is a member, is to use every available opportunity to impart a sense of urgency on the subject of disarmament.
I recall how the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor made that remarkable and indeed striking utterance on the subject of disarmament on the last two occasions when we debated a Defence White Paper. But now we are discussing not disarmament but the Government's policy on defence. First of all, I should like to say to hon. and right hon. Members that although suggestions have been made that I have deviated from policies and principles which I have adumbrated in the past, both as a member of the Labour Government and also in Opposion, I am within the recollection of at any rate the older Members of the House and, as for new Members, it is contained in the records, that repeatedly I have pleaded with the Government not to put all their eggs into the nuclear basket.
I have always been concerned about the possibility that we may weaken our conventional forces and strike a deadly blow at the N.A.T.O. organisation if we proceed unduly in the direction of a nuclear strategy. I should like to remind hon. Members, and in particular my colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench, that in the course of preceding debates on defence they have argued that the Government should not place an undue reliance on nuclear strategy.
1072 What is the difference between my colleagues and myself and a number of hon. Members who are associated with me in an Amendment which appears on the Order Paper? We have come to the conclusion that nuclear strategy is no longer practical or feasible, so we have placed on the Order Paper an Amendment which, whether hon. Members agree with it or not, has at any rate the merit of clarity. I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the Amendment will not be selected, but as I propose to base my case on items embodied in it, perhaps I might be permitted to read it. It says:This House deplores a defence policy based upon a nuclear strategy which, since 1951, has involved an expenditure of over thirteen thousand million pounds, which proposes to continue such expenditure at an even greater rate, and which affords to Her Majesty's subjects no effective defence.I base myself on the facts. I take the first item. Undoubtedly, the Government's policy is based on a nuclear strategy. That is envisaged in Clause 12 of the Defence White Paper issued in 1958. I have not the least doubt that the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of State for War and the Government themselves continue to rely upon that declaration. There has been no change there. In that respect the Government have been consistent. In other words, Clause 12 was a complete departure from a conventional procedure to a nuclear strategy. That was the policy. I am basing by arguments on the facts. That is the first one.
The second is that that strategy, combined with conventional forces and weapons, has involved an expenditure—and here the Government agree with me—of over £13,000 million. That is a fact. I should like to digress for a moment to say that it is not part of my case that the Government have indulged in wasteful expenditure. I have experience of Service Departments. If I may say so, I have had a longer experience, apart from that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), than anybody in this Assembly.
I made my first contact with a Service Department thirty-one years ago. It does not follow that one is possessed of special knowledge because of an association with a Department, but I know 1073 there is bound to be waste in a Service Department, as indeed there is waste in civil Departments. No Government can escape it, particularly with the shifts in policy and the changes which are inevitable from time to time—research, development and production, the frills and furbelows and the changes in design in aircraft and the like all produce inevitable risks. That is part of my case.
Nevertheless, that has been the expenditure over a period of years. Moreover, the Government apparently propose to continue that expenditure at an even greater rate, which is what we say in this Amendment. Is that denied? Is that not implicit in the agreeable and very pleasant speech—the speech which was apparently intended to lower tension—made by the Minister of Defence yesterday afternoon? The Government intend to increase expenditure for the obvious reason that once we embark on a nuclear strategy it is essential that at the same time—because we must ride two horses; there is no escape—we must maintain conventional forces and weapons, and increased expenditure is inevitable. Finally, all this, this strategy, this expenditure and the intention to increase expenditure, provides no effective defence for Her Majesty's subjects. I base myself on those facts.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was accurate in what he said about public opinion, but I do not take my stand on public opinion. Occasionally, it is fickle; it changes from time to time. I take my stand on a very large section of military opinion—General Cowley's declaration and the discussions now taking place at Washington, as we have just heard from the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham, the disputes between the Pentagon and the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence Committee. Indeed, we have to face the fact which follows from what the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday when he talked about continuing the nuclear strategy policy over a period of years—which is in the recollection of hon. Members when I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman referred to the late sixties and the early seventies—that this policy is to go on throughout the years. In other words, we have to face—and I ask hon. Members to take note—over the next ten 1074 or twelve years, it may be fifteen years or it may be longer, a situation where on both sides there are hostile elements, aggressive elements or, if we wish to modify those terms, elements apprehensive about aggression or attack, facing each other in perpetuity. General Norstad had something to say about that. He said in plain soldier's language that that would be "a hell of a situation to face." Of course it is. Is that what we envisage over a period of years?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I do not want to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, because I agree with many things he has said. He was kind enough in his opening remarks to say that I mentioned disarmament, which, of course, is the alternative to the situation he is outlining.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Of course, it is the alternative. If we could promote disarmament this defence debate would be of little consequence. That is precisely why I urge the right hon. Gentleman to use his influence and power and strength in the Cabinet to impart that sense of urgency which is particulary essential at this time in view of the approaching Summit Conference.
I must say to hon. Members, in case there is any misunderstanding on the matter, that I have not departed from my views about defence. I believe that defence is essential. The policeman at the street corner may nowadays be only five foot seven and a half inches or five foot eight inches—no taller than myself—a very unassuming person with no appearance of remarkable physique, but I feel less apprehensive when I leave the house in which I live, a very modest habitation, and see him at the street corner. Perhaps this is not logical or practical, maybe it is psychological, but it affords me a feeling of security. Therefore, I accept defence because, although it is weak in many respects and inadequate, I have a feeling that it is far better to have that than to have nothing at all. I venture the opinion that this is the conviction of a majority of people in this country.
I am not departing from any principle I have enunciated formerly on the subject of defence. What I am concerned about is the nature of the defence. I endorse every word said by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East 1075 about the need for establishing priorities and getting them right. It is obvious that the reason why we abandoned the need for maintaining and increasing and strengthening conventional forces in Europe was because of our decision on nuclear strategy. What has been the consequence?
I said when I was Minister of Defence that N.A.T.O. was deplorably weak. Then I knew all about it. Since then it is a guess, but I say what I have said over and over again, that N.A.T.O. is deplorably weak. Why is it weak? Not because there is anything inherently wrong in the organisation or in the principle upon which it is based, but because of the French defection; because we have weakened it by withdrawing some of our forces; because of the difficulty about German forces; because the Scandinavian, the Dutch, the Belgian forces and all the rest have reduced the numbers of men available for the service of N.A.T.O. That is the position, and there are many people nowadays in the military sphere who regard N.A.T.O. as of no consequence. They feel that we might as well abandon N.A.T.O. I do not feel that way. I want to retain it and to inject some substance into it. This I believe to be essential.
Now I come to the difference between myself and some of my hon. Friends and some of my colleagues on the Front Bench in respect of the Amendment which appears on the Order Paper in the name of the official Opposition. If I ever wanted a case against that Amendment, it was presented to me on a plate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) this afternoon. It is no secret that I objected to the Amendment when I heard about it last week. I said I could not vote for it.
Having heard the speech of my right hon. Friend, I am more convinced than ever that it is just "phoney". That is plain speaking. I will tell the House why it is "phoney", but before I do so I must tell my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West that he was quite flattering. He made an attack upon me. He implied that I was changing my views, that I had often expressed untenable views in the House and that there had been a change in the presentation of my case in respect of defence. The last 1076 man to speak about changes is my right hon. Friend. When I look back over the years, a matter of a quarter of a century and consider the political and other somersaults in which he has indulged, I really think he should not talk about anybody's inconsistency. I leave it there.
What was my right hon. Friend arguing for? I jotted down what he said. He asked the Minister how long would the present deterrent remain effective? What is the implication of that? Does my right hon. Friend want a less effective deterrent or one more effective? It is not a question of condemning the Government because of alleged waste or of alleged inefficiency; it is a question of what we want. It is all very well to condemn the Government, and I believe the Government deserve a measure of condemnation because of the shifts and the strategems to which they have resorted in bygone years, but we are expected to say what we want.
How are we going to replace the present inefficiency? I want to know what is meant. Do we want more, do we want less or do we wish to remain as we are? My right hon. Friend said nothing about that. He talked about Blue Streak and said it was no good. But how are we going to replace it? "Ah", he said, "let us disperse our bombers all over the world". First, that is not a practical proposition, as I gather the Minister will agree, but if it were practical it would be very expensive, when one thinks of the replacement of spare parts, stores, equipment, and so on. So it is obvious that this will not do.
Then my right hon. Friend told the Government that we must settle what the replacements should be. What did he mean by that? What is the implication of the Amendment when it refers to the vacillations for which the Government are responsible? Vaccilation is subject to varying interpretations. One can say, "You have gone too far" or "You have not gone far enough". I want my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to say what they want categorically, without any equivocation or ambiguity. Do they want the Government to spend more? Do they want more nuclear weapons? If so, let them say so. If they say so, we shall know 1077 exactly where we stand. If they say that, then I shall be all the more convinced that it is impossible to support the official Amendment.
The question we have to consider is what is to be done about N.A.T.O. I can anticipate the argument that will be used against me. I shall be asked, do you propose to maintain the present equipment, the present bombs, the present nuclear weapons and so on? I will go so far as to say that even my pacifist friends, who would like to abolish the lot, would not be prepared to suggest that if the Government accepted even the pacifist Amendment on the Order Paper, they should abolish the whole bag of tricks overnight. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East said, it is something that has to be done progressively. Obviously it must be done progressively. No one expects that the Government will take the lot and dump it in the sea and be done with it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] For the simple reason that it is not a practical proposition, and everyone here knows that it is not. That is not the way to handle a situation of this kind.
Therefore, when I am told that if these weapons are maintained they will be outmoded in the course of three or four years, I say that it is far better that they should be outmoded in the course of three or four years than that we should indulge in considerable expenditure, even reckless expenditure, in support of the nuclear strategy over those years, only to find that after a period of time these weapons become obsolete.
Now I want to turn to the position of the party of which I am a member. [Interruption.] I say that advisedly. It so happens that I can go back longer than anyone else in this Parliamentary Labour Party, but that does not matter, for the longer one is in a party the more trouble one has. [Interruption.] The last fellow who comes in tries to teach his grandmother or grandfather to suck eggs. However, one has to put up with that sort of thing. I am going especially to take my stand on Labour Party declarations. I understand these declarations quite well. They change from time to time. It is an odd time to attack me for changing my mind when attempts are being made to revise the constitution of the Labour Party. There may be 1078 very good reasons for doing that, but let me not be attacked. It is like Satan reproving sin.
Everybody knows that this discussion is being conducted in the most friendly manner. I have not said a word personally about my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West. I know he does not think much about me. He was Secretary of State for War when I was Minister of Defence. He used to get an awful hiding from the generals, and I had to stand at that Box and defend him. He has forgotten about that. If anybody challenges that, it is on the record, and I was very glad to do it. I always defend the underdog.
Here we have a statement of party policy, and I would direct the attention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to this because he himself was responsible for this. At the Scarborough conference, it was stated thatThe next Labour Government must be free, in view of facts which are not available to a party in Opposition, either to modify or reject altogether the nuclear strategy and the defence priorities which it will inherit when it comes to power.That was a fine declaration, and I agree with every word of it. The only trouble was that the Labour Party did not come to power. This is so difficult to handle, because if the Labour Party had come to power we would have been able to handle it more efficiently, in a more practical fashion. But what are the facts the Labour Party desire in order to convince itself that we should modify or reject altogether the nuclear strategy? Do we want to know a little more about the number of bombs we have? The Minister of Defence invited us to see the guns. Would he mind our seeing the bombs at the same time?
§ Mr. Shinwell
The Minister will not have that. Are these the facts my colleagues wish to have provided for them? What difference would that make? We know that we have not got a great stockpile of bombs. We know that on Christmas Island we were engaged in research on certain explosive devices, and we also know that we have a nerve gas which will destroy any tank, including the Centurion. We know that we have 1079 these things. The only thing is that they are never going to be used. Thank Heaven for that.
Therefore, I ask my colleagues, in view of that remarkable declaration, so definitive in its character: what are the facts which we need to ascertain whether we should modify or reject the nuclear strategy? Have we not got all the information we want? If not, surely it is provided in the facts themselves?
The hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham, whose maiden speech I complimented because of its constructive character, talked about bombs and certain types of weapons. The fact is that it does not matter what type of weapon we have, however formidable it may be. At the end of the day it is not going to prove of much value, for the simple reason that what we are hoping is that the deterrent, as we call it, will prevent war. Heaven knows what is going to happen if the deterrent does not work. What then?
All this talk about 200 Vulcan and Victor bombers, and the capacity for delivering the bomb, and the missile we propose to construct—all this means nothing at all, because we are hoping that they are never going to be used. The argument against me is that the Russians will not commit an active aggression because they are afraid. I do not believe anything of the sort. I do not believe it is the fact of having a nuclear deterrent that has prevented the Russians from making war. I do not see that the Russians require to make war; they have much of what they want without engaging in hostilities. It does seem to me, therefore, that the nuclear strategy is no longer of any real value.
What is it then that I am asking the Government to do? It is that they should not spend any more money on devices of this kind. That is fair enough and straight enough—spend no more money until they can prove conclusively that the weapons proposed to be used are to the advantage of the people of this and other countries. Of course the Government cannot do that.
I am not asking for the 200 bombers to be scrapped. I am not even asking that the bombs in our possession should be scrapped. I say that Blue Streak should be scrapped, and I am fortified by Members opposite, including the right 1080 hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). I am also fortified by articles in newspapers—in the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph and other reputable periodicals—about the Defence Paper and about Blue Streak and the waste. It is no use proceeding with that. If we have money to spend, let us build up our conventional forces and inject some content into N.A.T.O.
I want to end as I began. I applauded what the Minister of Defence said about disarmament. I make an appeal to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I do it in all sincerity—I can assure him of that. I am all the more sincere because what I am about to say I believe so profoundly. I wish he would not spend so much time on things that really do not matter. I hope he will forgive me for saying that of the proposed revision of the party's constitution. Here is a topic—disarmament—which he should promote with zeal, with fervour, with unprecedented enthusiasm, with all his heart and soul, and rouse the country. In the next two or three years he would find himself on that side of the House, and possibly some of my colleagues here beside me will be sitting beside him. It will not affect me, for I am not a candidate. I am not even a candidate for his position, quite unlike some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench. I hope that he takes my advice. If he does, we shall be doing something worth while.
As I sit down, I tell the House what I propose to do. I shall vote against the Government's Motion, not because I am against defence as such, but because of the vacillation and because of the considerable changes in policy. Vast mistakes and blunders have been perpetrated. But I do not find it in my heart to vote for the Opposition Amendment, which speaks of vacillation, but which, according to the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West, leave as wide open as it can be the question whether they want more or less, or whether they want things to remain as they are. I cannot support a policy which increases nuclear weapons and conforms to nuclear strategy.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Commander J. W. Maitland (Horncastle)
One of the fascinating aspects 1081 of this fascinating debate is the astonishingly curious alliances which seem to have been formed and the types of civil war which have gone on, not only on one side of the House, but across the Floor. That is a measure of the great difficulties with which the Minister of Defence has to cope.
The speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, particularly that of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), which fascinated the House, have made it clear that there are points in almost every speech with which everyone can agree and also points with which none of us finds anything in common. On the argument about whether we should go ahead with our nuclear programme, if the Front Bench is heaven, I am on the side of the angels. I believe my right hon. Friends are right, because I think that this is the way to preserve peace and to enable disarmament to come about.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), in an excellent speech, perhaps lost sight of one fact which he mentioned several times. However, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are planning and trying to do everything we can to prevent war. We are not trying to win a war, should it break out, because we all know that if a war breaks out it is lost before it starts.
That is why we should go ahead with nuclear development. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley), who made an excellent maiden speech, was wrong when he said that we had already reached stalemate. We cannot reach stalemate until we can say—and it is a terrible thing to say—that even if one side completely wiped out the other, there would still be inevitable destruction and retaliation. We have not quite reached that point.
In all this sad story of armament development, there are moments when an opportunity for real disarmament comes about. Such a situation will arise when there is a true balance of power. That situation arose recently, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Khrushchev and the President of the United States took that opportunity and made great progress. An example is the cessation of nuclear tests by the three possessor nations. I think that may be the cessation of tests 1082 was at least helped forward by the possibility that the great possessor nations did not want to carry out any tests. When we get to the point of nuclear equality, we shall have a chance to go a stage further.
I want here to pay tribute to one of the archangels—my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation. He was a great Minister of Defence because he actually did things, and a Minister cannot do things without becoming extremely unpopular. He did two things which rendered great service to the country. With one some hon. Members may not agree, and I do not know about the other. The first thing he did was to set in motion the idea that we should again have all-Regular Services. That will be enormously helpful and advantageous to the Services themselves, for it will restore their prestige and put them back in the affections of the public, affections which, in circumstances where men are forced to go into the Services, are inevitably lost.
The second thing he did was to get the Services some way back to Parliamentary control. After a great war, it is inevitable that the Services should get away from Parliamentary control—certainly they do not like going back to it. It should not be forgotten what the right hon. Gentleman did in that direction. To technologists, war is a fascinating business. It is terrifyingly fascinating; It is the most fascinating game in the world. It is so easy to get so interested in thinking about strategy and how to win a war that one forgets the vital importance of preventing a war happening—which is the politicians' duty.
Much has been said which seemed to me to denigrate our own nuclear effort. The Leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), and the hon. Member for Coventry, East and others, referred to our own nuclear strength as if it hardly existed. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland spoke of trying to maintain one little nuclear deterrent and, all through his speech, there was a diminution of our effort.
One of our most tiresome national conceits is to imagine ourselves masters of understatement. That cuts no ice with Continental politicians. Continental 1083 politicians are perfectly justified in considering that this country may well have been directly or indirectly largely responsible for the outbreak of two world wars. They can argue that if Hitler or the Kaiser had known that we really intended to fight and if they had really understood our great war potential, humanity might have been spared considerable suffering.
Now that we have pinned our faith to the nuclear deterrent—whatever criticism there may be, and I think that an alternative Government would do the same—it seems a great pity to play it down. When dealing with nuclear matters, it is easy to confuse "enough" with "superfluity." The trouble is that none of us knows what "enough" is. Our V-bomber force today is probably the most effective vehicle in the world for carrying megaton bombs. The right hon. Member for Easington said that we had a small supply of these bombs—he may know more about this than I do—but I believe that there are sufficient to destroy, or paralyse, without the assistance of any other nation, any country on which we used them.
Those are horrible thoughts, but if we are trying to use the deterrent it is no good hiding it under a sort of bushel of security. We should make these matters plainer. We should take a leaf out of the American book. The Americans give accurate details about the effects and abilities of their great and terrible nuclear weapons.
Until we have achieved what I referred to as a nuclear stalemate, which means that both sides know that retaliation would be inevitable and immediate, we must go on and play our part in N.A.T.O. and do all in our power to encourage the self-confidence and mutual trust which is so sadly lacking at the present time.
I was in Paris when General de Gaulle made his famous statement that the time for integration had passed. That was an honest expression of what many French and other politicians had come to think. Nevertheless, I am sure that the policy of integration and interdependence is the correct one, but if we believe in it and preach it, we must act on it. The opportunity to do so is at our elbow at the moment.
1084 Last December, at the Western European Union Assembly, the Assembly passed a recommendation to the Council to create a joint European strategic nuclear force. There was a lot of cross-voting about that, but I supported the resolution. I see that in Mr. Alastair Buchan's interesting book he develops the idea of a N.A.T.O. strategic nuclear force, and there is also an interesting article on it in the Economist this week on the same subject.
In all those plans there is one point of similarity, namely, that the initial force will have to be provided, at least in part, by the R.A.F. Bomber Command. That is the challenge to us, whether we mean what we say when we talk about integration. Do we mean it or do we not?
I supported that proposal in the Assembly. It is a practical one, but it can only work in and the offer can only be made to a Europe with far more clearly defined political objectives and a greater sense of unity.
The lesson to be learned from all this is that one cannot divorce the common defence advantage from the common economic advantage. Both must be related to something at least approaching common political objectives. In times of great fear one can divorce them. One can do these things under a great threat, but one cannot do it in peacetime, even during the uneasy peace in which we are living.
I appeal to the Government to regard the solution of the Free Trade Area dilemma and the common defence dilemma as linked. One cannot be solved without the other. In vulgar terms, my right hon. Friend must impress on the Government that they can get these things only if they make a package deal on the lot.
In conclusion, I want to deal with another matter in which integration and interdependence are involved. We talk about interdependence and integration, but we do not apply it to our forces in this country. For a long time I have believed that we ought to establish a properly integrated mobile reserve of all three Services. I want an immediate reserve which can deal with small outbreaks of lawlessness, not only in the Commonwealth, but which can be used by the United Nations to join up with 1085 other forces and deal with outbreaks elsewhere.
We now have a Commando carrier and we have been promised another one. We are told that we are improving—but it does not seem to be very fast—our capabilities for moving troops quickly by air. But there is no sign of a real inter-Service integrated reserve, living and training together, with landing craft, transports and store vessels working together. Such a force need not be large. There would be economies once such a force was established.
If other nations followed suit, we would go a long way towards putting teeth into U.N.O. and providing a force that would be immediately available to deal with small outbreaks. It is in such cases that one wants to use conventional weapons. I do not believe that they can replace nuclear weapons when one is talking about a direct war with another great Power, but we must improve the efficiency, and perhaps the numbers, of our conventional weapons to deal with these outbreaks which we all know will probably be our greatest problem in the future.
I realise that even if what I am saying is a good idea it is not practicable because of the ridiculous system of having three Service Estimates. If that is so, why not change the financial system? Why not have a Defence Estimate, which I have always thought would be the only way to obtain real integration? I do not mean wearing the same uniform, and not having separate identities, but I want efficient integration between the three Services.
We shall get to this point in the end. We shall muddle along towards it somehow, but that business of muddling along is another of those sentimental ideas which we rather admire in our heart of hearts but which it is about time we dropped. Here is something we really could do in the middle of all these imponderables and differences of opinion which have been expressed. Here is something practical that we could do at once. Why not do it?
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The hon. and gallant Member for Horn-castle (Commander Maitland) covered a 1086 great deal of ground, and made many interesting points. I shall resist the temptation to comment on them because I want to attack the fundamentals of the Government's defence policy, and to some extent the policy expressed in the official Opposition Amendment. I speak as one of the six sponsors of the unofficial Labour Party Amendment, and, like the other hon. Members who have put their names to that Amendment. I shall vote against the Government policy, but I shall not vote on the official Opposition Amendment.
The two Amendments have a good deal in common. They both say that we are spending a vast deal of money without any effective defence. I also agree that there is weakness and vacillation in the Government's nuclear strategy. But I do not agree that it is possible to produce a nuclear strategy which is clear-headed and consistent and which provides an effective defence. To my mind "there ain't no such thing." It is like trying to square the circle, or invent a perpetual motion machine. The thing is an impossibility. I therefore support the unofficial Opposition Amendment, which renounces a nuclear strategy.
The Amendment represents a coalition between the Centre and Left of the Labour Party, and although that combination may as yet be in a minority in the Parliamentary Labour Party I am convinced that it is already in a majority among party members in the country. That fact will become more clear at the next annual conference. I do not envy my right hon. Friends the task of appearing as the last of the Mohicans on nuclear strategy of the Labour Party, because I do not think that it will go down very well, or be easy to defend. I have not been convinced by the speeches of my right hon. Friends that they possess the secret of a nuclear strategy, exempt from vacillation and confusion, and providing effective defence at less cost. I do not think that any fair-minded person could contend that any such case has been substantiated by their interventions to date.
The basic reason why I object to a nuclear strategy is that I believe that in nuclear weapons man's destructive power has outrun his capacity to survive and, therefore, that to use nuclear weapons 1087 today is the worst possible evil in any conceivable circumstances. There is no defence against them. Our people have woken up to that fact since the four minute warning system at the Fylingdales station was announced. I see that the Star ran a competition asking what people would do with the four minutes. Most seemed to favour prayer, but I dare say one or two of my right hon. Friends would use those four minutes to revise Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution. The Home Secretary will have to spend his four minutes evacuating 12 million people—he will have to work fast.
Believe it or not, that is still the official policy of the Government. On 21st November, 1957, I asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the announcement that there would be only five minutes' warning of an atomic attack, he would state how he would carry out the announced policy of the Government to evacuate 40 to 45 per cent. of the population of the highly industrialised areas, amounting to about 12 million people. The Home Secretary said that he thought there would be longer advance notice than I realised, and that in any case the Government were having discussions with local authority associations, and as soon as they had finished their discussions on evacuation policy he would make a report to the House.
That was over two and a quarter years ago. Since then my hon. Friends and I have frequently but vainly pressed the Home Secretary to report the progress of those discussions. So far as I know, they are still going on.
In the meantime, it became clear from the 1957 Defence White Paper onward, that the Government had given up the idea of active civil defence, that is, any attempt to defend the population against nuclear attack. They said, quite bluntly and frankly, that the thing was impossible, and so they would not attempt to do it. Instead, they would concentrate on defending the missile and bomber bases, although they admitted that by stationing those bases here they would attract nuclear attack.
They went further than that. In the 1958 Defence White Paper the Government pinned themselves firmly down to resorting to nuclear weapons first, in 1088 case of an undefined major attack, with conventional arms, upon an Ally, and in the ensuing debate they stressed heavily that either we were prepared to do that or it was no use having nuclear weapons at all.
I then returned to the attack, and on 26th February last year I asked the Home Secretary, in view of the fact that there was no active civil defence, and that the Government would resort to nuclear weapons first in pursuance of their nuclear deterrent strategy, what measures they proposed to take to dispose of the dead resulting from the nuclear counter-attack. I got a reply which, as usual, was what is known in this country as "waffle" and in the United States as "gobbledygook". I therefore asked a supplementary question, in which I said:… is it not the fact that the Government's policy is to resort to nuclear weapons against a major attack on any allied country by conventional arms without any attempt to defend the civil population against the consequences of that policy? Will not the Government make clear the measures they propose to take to burn, bury or otherwise dispose of the tens of millions whom they propose to immolate on the altar of their nuclear deterrent strategy?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1959; Vol. 600, c. 1272.]The Home Secretary replied with some heat that he could not accept the interpretation of the Government's policy contained in my supplementary question.
If that interpretation is incorrect I very much hope that whoever replies to the debate will be good enough to answer three questions. First, do the Government stick to paragraph 12 of the 1958 Defence White Paper? Do they still understand a nuclear deterrent strategy to mean that we must be prepared to use nuclear weapons first in case of a major assault with conventional arms on an allied country? The whole country, and certainly hon. Members on both sides of the House, will be relieved to have a clear and straightforward reply on that issue. I hope that we shall get one, although I rather doubt it.
Secondly, is it still the Government's policy not to attempt any active civil defence, but to say that since it is impossible to defend the civil population against nuclear attack they will confine themselves to trying to defend the bomber and missile bases? I believe 1089 that that still is their policy, but I should like to have a clear answer on that point.
Thirdly, what is the Government's passive civil defence policy? Has the Home Secretary achieved an agreement with the local authority associations about his evacuation policy? If so, will he tell us what that policy is, and how it relates to the four-minute warning of a rocket attack?
The mentality of the Government in this business baffles me. The present Defence Minister, when he was Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, made a statement so fantastic that on 19th November, 1957, I asked the Prime Minister:whether the speech made at Sunningdale last July by the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to the effect that it was essential to resume the life of the country as quickly and smoothly as possible after a hydrogen bomb attack represents the policy of the Government.The Prime Minister replied:
Either way it is an intolerable situation. The Government's deterrent strategy means that they are prepared to plunge the population of this country into annihilation at short notice or with no notice whatever. They make no attempt at any policy for preserving the lives of the people. At the same time, in order to keep the people happy about this suicidal nuclear deterrent strategy, the Government go in for what the defence correspondent of The Times last year called a token civil defence policy. That is to keep the people happy with a lot of fun and games. I think that represents the acme of cynical frivolity and irresponsibility. I think it is quite wicked.
The whole of this defence debate has been appalling in its unreality. As I listened to the Minister of Defence making his speech it seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman was mouthing clichès, platitudes and exploded fallacies with all the aplomb and assurance of a bishop uttering the eternal verities to 1090 his congregation. One exploded fallacy I find most difficult to endure is the crazy pretence that we shall prevent war by preparing for war—to deter war is the new phrase. We hear a lot about the great deterrent which will preserve the peace.
A perfectly adequate comment on this nonsense was contained in the speech made by Sir Anthony Eden in this House on 17th November, 1954, when he was the Foreign Secretary. That was at an earlier stage in this policy. The debate was on the subject of the inclusion in N.A.T.O. and the rearming of Germany. This is what Sir Anthony Eden said on that occasion:It seems to me that we are here engaged upon what has been for many of us, certainly for my generation in the House, a continuing task virtually all our lives. It is an effort to build an effective deterrent in Europe to any aggression. That was attempted before the 1914 war by the Entente, an act of statesmanship which, however, failed to prevent the First World War, … Again, after the First World War, … by what I suppose it would be right to describe as a revival of the Anglo-French alliance,by a Freudian slip he said "Anglo-German alliance" and had to be corrected—… we tried again to create a deterrent and once again we failed. This is yet another attempt to bring about the same result …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 397.]It will fail again. But whereas the deterrent on which we relied before the First World War was the dreadnought and the deterrent on which we relied before the Second World War was the bombing plane, today the deterrent, reliance upon which will land us in a third world war, is the hydrogen bomb. While we could survive the failure of the first two deterrent policies, there will not be many people left around to realise that they were wrong when the present deterrent policy brings about the inevitable result for the third time. Preparing for war is not the way to prevent war. It is a way to make war inevitable sooner or later, even when no one wants a war.
This deterrent policy is part of the policy of the balance of power, the policy of assuming that the vital interests of the other fellow are incompatible with your own, that he intends to try to impose his will on you by force and you intend to do the same thing to him. 1091 What we mean by "defence" is backing our own rights and interests by force and imposing our will on the other chap—"negotiation from strength" is what it used to be called. "Aggression" is when the other fellow tries to do the same thing to you. That is the classic ideology underlying every arms race. It underlay the last two. Every dispute becomes a diplomatic crisis, every diplomatic crisis becomes a threat to peace, and sooner or later there is a fatal incident. Sooner or later there is too much bluff and counter-bluff, someone's bluff is called too late for him to withdraw, and we are plunged into war.
That has been said by the Prime Minister and many other people. The right hon. Gentleman said it during his television interview with President Eisenhower on 1st September. He said that the danger was that in this situation of bluff and counter-bluff there would be a clash by mistake. The more we go on with this policy and build up a so-called deterrent which may be hair-triggered off, the easier it is for an accident to happen. Of course, an accident with nuclear weapons will be immediately fatal and irrevocable.
Is this appalling, futile and suicidal policy really necessary? Here is another extraordinary thing about this defence policy. There seems to be a new kind of Parkinson's Law operating—a sort of inverted one—that the bigger, the more tremendous, costly and deadly the military superstructure, the more puny the political reasons justifying it and the more contemptible are those reasons in terms of logic or reality. In Russian fairy stories one often hears of a witch dwelling in a cottage standing on chickens' legs. I believe that the fortress in which the witch doctors of N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., and CENTO reside is resting on pipe stems, on justifications so flimsy, so baseless and foolish that they would be unbelievable if we had not actually heard them.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what are the legs of the Warsaw Pact?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The Warsaw Pact was a reply to N.A.T.O. and I am for winding up both. That is what the Russians have suggested more than once, if I may say so.
1092 In the latest defence White Paper we are told that N.A.T.O., CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. are necessary to defend us against "the continuing military threat of Communism." On 25th February I asked the Prime Minister please to supply a little corroborative detail to support this otherwise bald and unconvincing assertion. The right hon. Gentleman refused to do so. He said that the military threat had been made amply clear by the Communist leaders themselves. That, of course, was an echo of a more elaborate pretence on the same lines brought back by Sir Anthony Eden when he was Prime Minister, in the shape of the Washington Declaration of 1st February, 1956. It had been penned by Mr. Dulles and signed by the President and himself, and this is what it said:The Communist rulers have expressed in numerous documents and manifestos their purpose to extend the practice of Communism, by every possible means, until it encompasses the world. To this end they have used military and political force in the past. They continue to seek the same goals, and they have now added economic inducements to their other methods of penetration.On 14th February I asked the Prime Minister to givedates, titles and authors of the documents and manifestos in which, according to the Declaration of Washington, Communist rulers have announced their intention to spread Communism over the whole world by military, among other, means.The Prime Minister replied:The hon. Member must be well aware of the facts of Communist doctrine and propaganda, and I see no need on this occasion to reproduce them all in a White Paper."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 14th February, 1956; Vol. 548, c. 2169–70.]I am familiar with the facts of Communist doctrine and propaganda. I was intelligence officer for two years with the British Military Mission in Siberia, and for nineteen years in the League Secretariat in Geneva my job, among other things, was to follow Soviet affairs. So I know the position. It simply is not true that any Communist leader has said anything of the sort. On the contrary, what they have said—this has been corroborated by people like George F. Kennan, an authority on Russian affairs—is that in their view Communism is to be spread by the workers in each country actuated by the example of the Soviet Union.
Communism, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale 1093 (Mr. Bevan), is a social challenge not a military threat. There was a rather remarkable article in the Sunday Times on 2nd August last by its Washington correspondent, Henry Brandon, who had just returned from a visit to the Soviet Union The article said:As to the basic question whether the Soviet Union would be prepared to use her military force for ideological purposes, all foreign observers…note that, "all foreign observers". In Moscow that means the diplomats and journalists stationed in Moscow, who are the men on the spot, the best source we can get—agree that she will use them only to protect her national security. … Mr. Khrushchev believes that Russia's growing prosperity and power will become sufficiently contagious to promote world revolution by peaceful means.That is what I have been saying for a long time repeatedly in this House. I have quoted all sorts of people like George F. Kennan in support of my view. Brandon goes on to say:But with the growth of Soviet power the Russians' concept of what engages their national security has also grown. In the Syrian-Lebanese crisis, for instance, Mr. Khrushchev used his military power to halt developments which he believed could have injured Russia's national interests.In the same way, Russia intervened in Hungary. On 19th December, 1956, I condemned that in the House on exactly the same grounds on which I later condemned our intervention, on very much the same plea, in Jordan, although there was no bloodshed as in the Russian case. This was a matter of power politics and national security, in the conditions of the cold war. The tensions of the cold war had been considerably increased by the Anglo-French attack in Suez. What I am saying now is not that Soviet foreign policy is any better or any worse than any other country's foreign policy or that its readiness to use national military power to defend its own view of vital national interests is any less reprehensible than the similar conduct of any other great Power.
The crucial point about this is that if Soviet foreign policy were ideological and they were really thinking of imposing Communism by force of arms on other countries, there would really be no alternative to the policies of N.A.T.O. and the rest. But if it is true—as I have contended all along it is true— 1094 that they are thinking in terms of national interests, it is possible to make arrangements which will safeguard their national interests and our own.
In the Middle East, for instance, the Russians have themselves proposed policies, which are very close to those proposed by the Opposition, of co-operation through the United Nations in controlling the traffic in arms, in keeping peace and giving joint economic and technical aid to Middle Eastern countries. In Europe there are the policies of disengagement, the Rapacki Plan, the Soviet proposals, the East German proposals, the German Social Democratic Party plan for Germany and the Labour Party disengagement proposals. There is a strong family resemblance between them all, and it is certain that on these lines we could work out an agreement which would involve the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Poland and Hungary.
In other words, if what is between us is national security considerations, we could meet that by international political arrangements, by compromise and negotiation. All this hullabaloo of piling up arms is entirely irrelevant, indeed counter-relevant, because it creates fears and tensions which make negotiations increasingly difficult. Against this background let us look at what the Government mean by defence. We get nearer to the Government's meaning by studying the Defence White Papers. The 1955 Defence White Paper said:The consciences of civilised nations must naturally recoil from the prospect of using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, in the last resort, most of us must feel that determination to face the threat of physical devastation, even on the immense scale which must now be foreseen, is manifestly preferable to an attitude of subservience to militant Communism. …Two questions arise from that in connection with what the Government mean by defence. In the first place, what arrangements to end the cold war and the arms race do the Government reject as constituting "subservience to militant Communism" and therefore, manifestly a fate worse than atomic death? Contrariwise, in defence of what causes are they prepared to expose the people of this country to atomic death?
In Europe the Government have rejected any form of disengagement whatever and have stuck firmly to the policy outlined in the N.A.T.O. Foreign Minister's Report of last May, which 1095 insists on a united Germany being free to join N.A.T.O. The Government know, and we all know, that it is utterly impossible to get any agreement on that basis.
Again, in the Middle East they are equally categorical about rejecting any form of co-operation through the United Nations with the Soviet Union. They stick to what remains of the Bagdad Pact, re-christened, since Bagdad dropped out, "CENTO". The Government have rejected any possibility of an agreement which would wind up, and insist on arrangements which will perpetuate, the cold war and the arms race in that part of the world. Finally, in the Far East the Government have shown they are prepared to underwrite the status quo created by the United States in Formosa, Quemoy, Matsu, Vietnam, Laos and Southern Korea, a status quo which I regard as a state of chronic United States cold aggression against the peoples of those countries and against the Chinese People's Republic.
For what are they prepared to risk war? I have just said for what they are prepared to risk war in the Far East. When the Labour Opposition demanded that the Government should warn the United States that we would not support a war over Quemoy, the Prime Minister refused to give that warning and said it was better to be wrong with America than right and standing alone. In the Middle East we know exactly what the Government are prepared to risk war for by studying the Defence White Papers. In the 1955 White Paper it is stated that in order to discourage theindirect approach of Communism through infiltration and subversionwe must, in parallel with our effort to develop the deterrent and prepare against a major war, strengthen by all means at our disposal, including where necessary the maintenance of adequate conventional forces, our defence against this method of attack. This means we are to use conventional forces in the Middle East against what the Government describe as the… indirect approach of Communism through infiltration and subversion …Of course, too much resistance to this would be met by the threat of strategic nuclear weapons. The 1956 White 1096 Paper made that a little clearer. It said that we want conventional weapons in the Middle East to deal withsubversion, whether overtly Communist or masquerading as nationalism.That leaves a good wide field open. The 1957 White Paper confirmed that in the execution of this policy:British forces in the Middle East area would be made available. … These would include bomber squadrons based in Cyprus capable of delivering nuclear weapons.Now we know why the Government want bases of their own in Cyprus. They want them in pursuance of this policy of using armed force to intervene against what they describe as "Communist infiltration and subversion".
We have seen it in action. First we had the Suez affair, which was straight aggression against the Charter and condemned as such in the United Nations. The Government are quite unrepentant about that and still consider that they were entitled to do it. Next, there was the American invasion of Lebanon at the request of the President of Lebanon, who was an American puppet and who made his request unconstitutionally, because under the constitution the Lebanese Assembly must approve any such appeal to a foreign Power, and this was not done. The American action was taken, too, in the teeth of the Report of the United Nations Commission on the spot, which said that all the stories about massive infiltration from outside were untrue.
Next, we went into Jordan at the request of a king who at that time had two-thirds of his population against him, according to the report of The Times correspondent on the spot. This was followed on 17th July, 1958, by the Prime Minister's amazing claim in the House that there was nothing in the Charter to forbid the Government from going to the assistance, by armed intervention, of any Government which asked for such assistance on the ground that it was a victim of Communist subversion. As the Spectator pointed out at the time, this indicates that what the Government mean by defence is a policy of armed intervention on behalf of régimes so dictatorial that they cannot be removed by democratic means, so oppressive that their own peoples rise against them, and so unpopular that when the rising occurs they cannot even rely on their own 1097 armed forces and have to call in foreign forces to see them through. On top of that, this whole policy is contrary to the Charter, which certainly is not a licence for armed intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, but which, on the contrary, expressly forbids such intervention.
What the Government mean by defence in Europe has a family resemblance to the other forms of defence. We are heading for another crisis over Eastern Germany. The Government stick to the policy of not recognising Eastern Germany and not recognising the Polish frontier. I see that the Americans are taking the bit between their teeth, have refused to recognise the new form of identity cards issued by the Russian authorities and have resumed high flights to Berlin in the teeth of Russian protests. All this is boiling up to the sort of crisis which we had two years ago when there was talk about being ready to start a third world war rather than give in on those points.
If we go into the Summit Conference with a policy which makes agreement impossible—and that is the case as long as we stick to the N.A.T.O. Declaration of last May—then the failure of the Conference will be followed by a peace treaty with Eastern Germany by Russia, and that again, if the Government mean what they say, will result in our being in an atmosphere of diplomatic crisis with threats to peace and all the rest of it.
When it comes to the more basic issue of what the Government mean by N.A.T.O. in that part of the world, we have the declaration made on 12th December, 1955, by the present Prime Minister, then Foreign Secretary. This was confirmed by the present Foreign Secretary on 4th December, 1957, as constituting Government policy. The Prime Minister claimed in 1955 that the westward march of Communism had been arrested by N.A.T.O.,covered by the protecting shield of American atomic power. Now the Soviets are held in the West. … We believe that they may, with steady pressure upon them, be forced sooner or later to give ground in Eastern Germany."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th December, 1955; Vol. 547, c. 827.]That is an echo of the policy of rolling back Communism, and it is a muted echo of Dr. Adenauer's policy, 1098 which is, frankly, to hold up any settlement over Germany until such time as he is strong enough to extort a settlement, with the support of his allies, he hopes, which will give him frontiers far better for Germany than the existing frontiers.
The interesting point is that in the recent Foreign Affairs debate no attempt was made on the Government benches to refute the facts and arguments about the growing danger of arming a Germany with irredentist demands, and a more and more reactionary and militarist régime, with nuclear weapons. This is a repetition of the old policy of making an ally of German nationalism, militarism and irredentism against the Soviet Union, using Germany as a bulwark against Communism. If we swallowed Hitler, then why strain at Adenauer now? He is no Hitler, of course, but in his internal policies he is something like a combination of Stresemann and von Papen, and in his international policy he is a European Syngman Rhee. He is becoming a danger to peace, and he is certainly an obstacle to any political settlement. On the Foreign Secretary's principle that if we take a decision we must accept the logical and natural consequences of it, then if the German Government are capable of the kind of initiative which they have taken in Spain, I wonder what they will do after they get nuclear weapons. I think that it will be a very serious business.
In conclusion, I propose to deal realistically with that Ark of the Cold War Covenant, N.A.T.O. In the first place, I believe that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was quite right when he claimed in the House, on the day that N.A.T.O. was formed, that it was logically carrying out the policy which he had outlined in Fulton in March, 1946.
For all practical purposes, the decision to treat the Soviet Union as a potential enemy after the war was taken before the war was over. It had nothing to do with post-war Soviet policies. I do not want to weary the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "You have done."]—by giving the evidence, but I must point out that Lieut.-General Sir Leslie Groves, who was in charge of the Manhattan project manufacturing the first atomic bomb, testified in the Oppenheimer 1099 loyalty trial in 1954 that within a fortnight of taking over his job in September, 1942, he was quite clear in his own mind that the Power against which the atom bomb was being manufactured was not Japan but the Soviet Union, that that was the true object of the operation.
For the first period after the war it was believed that the atomic bomb was the absolute weapon which had reduced the Soviet Union to a second-class Power and enabled the West to impose their will on her. Professor Blackett, in his book "Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations", published in 1956, gives a very clear and detailed picture of the development of that delusion, its gradual perishing and the reactions of the Russians to it.
The reactions of the Russians were, first of all, to increase their land forces. They then went in for an atomic programme. When the Americans started on an H-bomb programme, the Russians went in for H-bombs. When the Americans built strategic bombers, the Russians built a strategic bombing force. The Russians then went over to rockets before the Americans did, and they have now achieved a considerable lead in rockets. We are far worse off than when we started this business. In addition, the Russians tightened their hold on the satellites for military and security reasons as part of that operation.
We had some confirmation of this in Mr. Khrushchev's speech in the middle of January when he said that after the war Soviet forces had been reduced to 2,874,000 and then,as a result of the formation of the aggressive bloc of N.A.T.O. and atomic bomb blackmail at a time when we did not have the bomb,the Soviet Union was forced to strengthen her defences and by 1955 had increased her forces to 5,763,000.
That is how it looked from Moscow. As the Observer defence correspondent pointed out on 7th December, 1958:In the past, the deterrent strategy of the West has been absolute because it represented a one-sided mortal threat to the homeland of the U.S.S.R.From our point of view that looked like defence. But from the other fellow's point of view it looked like something a little different.
1100 N.A.T.O. was born of the policy of negotiation from strength. When N.A.T.O. was introduced into the House I rejected it. I spoke against it, and I voted against it. I said of N.A.T.O.:It scraps the Charter and returns to the balance of power. It commits us to a new arms race".That is exactly what happened. I rejected the claim that this policy was necessary because there was danger of an attack from the Soviet Union. I said:The argument from necessity depends for its validity upon the view that every possible means of reaching agreement by the methods prescribed in the Charter has been exhausted, that the Soviet Union is solely to blame for the deadlocks, and, thirdly, that the Soviet Union has aggressive intentions. I cannot accept any one of these contentions. I do not believe that Soviet statesmanship has been any better inspired than our own; indeed, sometimes, it has been less well inspired. But I do not doubt the Soviet will to peace any more than I doubt that of the United States or of this country"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1949; Vol. 414, cc. 2079 and 2081.]I stand by that declaration. I think that time has brought out its truth.
The practical conclusion I draw is this. I believe that we are coming to the end of the policy of building up nuclear strength and nuclear deterrents. The means are so terrible that they are swallowing up any possible ends they could achieve, and there is greater and greater scepticism about whether all the tremendous effort and fearful danger represent any rational need whatsoever.
The time has come when we must say that we shall reject the risks of hydrogen-bomb power-politics and the balance of power in our relations with the Soviet Union, and we accept the risks of basing our relations with that country on the Charter of the United Nations. We have a common interest in preserving peace and dealing co-operatively with threats of war. Through the Charter we can work out policies and arrangements to correspond to that and to underpin disarmament.
However, the choice must be made right at the beginning. We must decide whether we want to defend this country against what I regard as the mythical danger of a deliberate attack, or whether we want to defend ourselves and the world against the real and increasing danger of an accidental clash between these hair-triggered deadly defence systems.
1101 If, as I think that we must, we make the latter choice, obviously anything which diminishes the danger of an accidental clash increases the strength of our defence against war. We should deter war by political East-West arrangements, and not by rival military alliances.
That consideration arises when speaking of any control system. If the view is taken of the motives of the Soviet Union that they are fearful and suspicious, but that basically they want disarmament and peace, the same as we do, obviously an imperfect control system which will enable us to stop tests and end the weapons race is much safer than to demand perfection, which is unattainable as between sovereign States and means going on with the arms race. There can never be a completely effective control system. Any form of control can always be opposed in the name of perfectionism. Anything of the sort I have suggested is a first step in advance.
Similarly, anything which will withdraw troops who are in danger of clashing with each other increases safety all round and is a defence measure—a deterrence of war measure. Whether it is the modest step that the Prime Minister proposed in Moscow and later dropped, whether it is the wider proposals of the Rapacki Plan or any of the others I have mentioned, these are the steps to be taken. Eventually it means that regional agreements based on the Charter will replace, swallow and wind up the rival military alliances, as an integral part of the process of disarmament and disengagement.
The best contribution this country could make today, instead of going on being a bad, and increasingly bad, third in the nuclear weapons race, an impoverished country member of the suicide club, would be to put ourselves at the heads of the nations who stand for civilisation and sanity, who desperately want to put an end to all this nonsense. We should say that we reject the policies of fear and reject all considerations based on the statecraft of the balance of power. We should say that we will take the risks of basing our relations with one-third of the world, headed by the Soviet Union, on the principles, purposes and obligations of the Charter. That means that we must be prepared to give a lead by unilateral action.
1102 I want us not only to renounce nuclear strategy, but to get rid of nuclear weapons as well. We should do this not merely as a moral gesture, but as a political act, as the beginning of an independent foreign policy based on the Charter. We should make it clear that we do not fear aggression from either Russia or from the United States, and therefore we do not need American protection against the Soviet Union any more than we need Soviet protection against the United States. That is a radical policy, but I believe that it is the policy which we must follow. The sooner we do so, the greater will be our prestige, our influence and our leadership in the world.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
The House could hardly have heard four more different and divided opinions expressed anywhere than the ones we heard this afternoon from hon. Members opposite. The only Amendment on the Order Paper which has not had nasty words said about it is that of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), who, up to the present, comes out in the clear. His colleague signed two Amendments so as to have the best chance of coming out right with one of them.
I will not attempt to follow the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), because, as he already knows, our views on defence are so very different that one can say that we have never met. There is no meeting ground on which we can argue the point. I know that the hon. Gentleman will understand that.
Yesterday, several hon. Gentlemen said—I thought extremely wisely—that foreign affairs and defence have been gradually coming so close together that they are now almost one subject. I find it a little unreal to try to discuss one without the other. The first reason for that is improved communications, the fact that the world is getting smaller every day, the devastating power of modern weapons, and the fact that in foreign affairs we can no longer "go it alone" any more than we can in defence. We must depend on collective defence for our security.
Whether we are discussing N.A.T.O. or the Cyprus bases or Germany or nuclear power, foreign affairs come into every one of our arguments just as much as the actual military defence factors do. 1103 Foreign affairs and defence today have one common object, namely, the survival of the human race. To effect that object we must see that the war of the future never starts. That is a vastly different approach to the old one which we used to adopt, when we argued about how to win a war when a war happened.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
It is perfectly true that the situation is entirely new. Our job is to prevent a war ever happening, but preparing for war is the traditional way of attempting to win a war when it happens.
§ Sir J. Smyth
I find the hon. Member's ideas on this subject terribly old fashioned and out of date. Listening to him, I really become a bit frightened. As I have said, our two points of view differ so much that I do not think that we can really argue them.
We have to realise that speed is very often essential in preventing a small war becoming a big one. I can give two recent examples of operations, within the recollection of hon. Members, where speed was lacking. The first was Korea. At that time, although it was essential that forces should move into Korea at once, we were unable to find in this country even one brigade to send out there. Had it not been for the Americans the war in Korea would have been lost before it began. I do not say that that was the fault of those then in charge of our defence arrangements, but it was the result of what I would call unplanned extravagance, in our defence arrangements immediately after the war.
We had another example of lack of speed at the time of Suez. Sir Anthony Eden announced to the House that he intended to intervene on the line of the Canal, but it took six days before the forces that were to carry out that policy could arrive in Egypt. We have learned valuable lessons from that. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence yesterday told the House that we had under construction what he called a landing ship docks, which is a fast boat to take landing craft, so to speak, inside it. He also told us about the Commando carriers. He described that as a perfect fire brigade.
1104 I think that that would prove to be the case, and I hope that every effort will be made to get these craft ready so that we shall not again have, as we had at Suez, this slow chugging of the landing craft across the Mediterranean. I spent a very interesting visit on board H.M.S. "Victorious" a little while ago, and I must say that she is the last word in aircraft carriers. I was immensely impressed, too, by the whole administrative side—the arrangements for feeding the crew and all those things which, perhaps, people would not notice as much as they would the operational side.
When discussing this White Paper, as we have been doing in the last two days, we sometimes overlook the fact that it is only part of the five-year plan announced by my right hon. Friend, now Minister of Aviation, in April, 1957. The present White Paper, like those before it, fits into the pattern set by him then. We have not altered our main policy in any respect, although, of course, we need great flexibility over weapons. That is unavoidable. In the space age in which we live, weapons come and weapons go, and very often the weapon one chooses is quickly supplanted by a better one. Everyone admits that that is an expensive business, and one that it is impossible to avoid, but my right hon. Friends the Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Defence have that flexibility of mind that is so utterly essential at the present time.
A good deal has been said about the cost of our present defence arrangements. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War talked at some length about the Labour Party's policy of expansion for defence after the Korean War started. I think that the party opposite showed very great courage in at once deciding that a big rearmament programme was essential. It will be recalled that the Labour Government launched a new programme estimated to cost £4,700 million over a period of three years, and my right hon. Friend explained how much more expensive that programme turned out to be than had been anticipated and how it had to be pruned down a great deal.
1105 In the 1957 announcement of the five-year plan—and I think that this is very important—we said:Britain's influence in the world depends first and foremost on the health of her internal economy and the success of her export trade.It might at first be thought that we were not living up to those words—when one realises that the figure given in the present White Paper appears to be £115 million more than last year's figure—but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has explained that that is not really the correct figure and that the net increase is only £75 million.
What is more important is that the percentage of our gross national product as represented by defence expenditure is considerably less this year than when we started the five-year programme at the end of 1956, and considerably less than it was in, for instance, 1953. It was then 10 per cent.; today it is only 7½per cent. Nevertheless, we must watch the cost of our defence budgets. Defence and weapons of defence are not things that one cart buy over the counter, pay for and know what one is getting. We could perfectly easily spend £3,000 million a year and yet not get the security for which we are looking.
A number of speakers seem to have overlooked the fact—and I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will bear it in mind when he speaks later—that 49 per cent. of our total defence expenditure this year is on account of paying and looking after the forces. I am sure that the party opposite would not like to pay the forces less than they are getting at the moment, nor cut them down.
When we announced the defence plan in the 1957 White Paper we insisted on two things. The first was the necessity to base our defence on the nuclear deterrent and, at the same time, to strive for comprehensive disarmament. Secondly, we reaffirmed our support for N.A.T.O. and for our other collective alliances. Further, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation then made the very courageous decision—and it was a courageous decision—to end conscription. Of course, most hon. Members wanted to end conscription and would have done so had they had the opportunity, but the fact remains that my right hon. Friend actually did it.
1106 The success of doing away with conscription depended on the confidence that the Government could give to our young men that we really intended to do away with conscription completely and to build up a long-service volunteer army such as the young men of today would want to join—and have joined in very satisfactory numbers. The present White Paper continues that policy of 1957 in every important principle.
To take one item which is mentioned in the present White Paper, there is the human factor. By the end of the five-year programme we shall have reduced our manpower from 700,000 to 400,000. We shall have reduced the Army to between 172,000 and 180,000 men. They will be long service men, better trained, better paid and better equipped, much more suited to the particular problems which we wish to solve.
There are differences of opinion sometimes about the worth of a long service volunteer compared with a conscript or a half conscript and a half volunteer. Some say it is as much as 3 to 1. Even if it is 2 to 1, I think that in establishing the Army which we have today we have a very much increased value from a smaller number of men, and I think that they will carry out the tasks which, we put before them much better than the old Army.
Everyone agrees that the new pay increases for the Forces are generous; certainly they have been extremely well received by the Services themselves. However, I must call the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to the great gap which these increases have widened between the personnel of our new Army and the retired officers and their widows who really have miserly rates of pension in comparison with the pensions just announced for officers of our new Army.
We should remember that the pre-1950 officers were the ones who had to "carry the can" and fight for us in two world wars, whereas the people who are receiving the vastly increased pensions, or most of them, will probably have seen no active service at all. Many of those old officers are the fathers or grandfathers of the young men we want to enlist in our new Army today. I maintain that it is a very poor advertisement that they should be in such 1107 financial straits. It is a great shame that a Conservative Government, whose record is so extremely good in the matter of war disability pensions, should not do for these officers and their widows what they have done for war disability pensioners. I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider this matter very seriously.
I maintain that Britain is making an important contribution to the nuclear deterrent of the free world as a whole. It is only a contribution. To call it an independent deterrent is really a contradiction in terms. It is, perhaps, independent for us, but it fits into the general pattern of nuclear defence. We are contributing to our main object, that the war of the future shall never start.
In all the talk about ballistic missile sites and whether there will be four minutes' warning, five minutes' warning or fifteen minutes' warning, the important thing to remember is that this is all part of the pattern of the deterrent. Of course, if war takes place we shall have been unsuccessful and the whole strategy of the deterrent will have failed. But I do not believe that that will happen. I believe that the policy of the deterrent is recognised by the Russians just as much at it is by us.
There is, I know, a great difference of opinion in the party opposite on this subject. Some people feel—I respect their view—that we can make a gesture and give a lead so that others will follow. I remember very vividly what happened in the old League of Nations before the last war, at a time when I was not a politician but was on the receiving end. We gave up our weapons unilaterally, hoping that the rest of the world would do the same. But what was the result? War became more and more certain and, when we went over to Dunkirk and operations started our weapons were vastly inferior to the weapons of the Germans.
I agreed with the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) when he pleaded for more dispersion and mobility for our deterrent weapons. I was rather shocked recently at what happened when a mission from this House went to America to see American defence installations. The members of that mission came back and they were 1108 encouraged to say where they had been, what they had done, and so forth. It was no fault of theirs; they were told that there was nothing secret about it. I think that we should, perhaps, take a leaf out of the Russians' book in this. The Russians fire a rocket at the moon. It is important from their point of view that scientists should see that the rocket hits the moon, but the Russians do not go so far as to tell other people how to do the same thing. At any rate, if they do, the Americans and ourselves have not tumbled to it yet.
The dispersion and mobility of our deterrent weapons need improving. Obviously, if our potential enemy knows exactly where the deterrent weapons are, the effect of the deterrent itself is not so great. It always used to be said of a tank force that it exerted its greatest effect on the battle when it was out of sight over the horizon. There is much truth in that, and I feel that the same applies to our deterrent weapons.
Several hon. Members have spoken very disparagingly about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Organisation is not nearly so bad as many try to suggest. It is, of course, very difficult to integrate fifteen different nations into one force. No doubt, the Leader of the Opposition may have certain feelings on this subject in respect of his own party. It is very important that we should all keep in mind what is the real rôle of N.A.T.O. If we do not, we shall draw false conclusions about the proper composition of N.A.T.O. and its rôle.
The Organisation is a shield. Its task is to make a break in continuity after an incident and to give a pause for thought. These were General Norstad's own words. That is the principal task of N.A.T.O. We do not envisage that the forces of N.A.T.O. will carry out large scale, continuous operations against massive Russian forces on the continent of Europe. Those who have that idea cannot have it both ways. If they think that that is the rôle of N.A.T.O., they must accept the reintroduction of conscription and the doubling of our contribution to N.A.T.O. and those of the other forces comprised within it.
I regard our contribution of seven brigade groups as completely adequate, because the important thing is that it 1109 should he plain to the world that Britain and America are absolutely together in N.A.T.O. This is why disengagement is such a dangerous policy, since it might encourage the Americans to pull out altogether. It is most important that it should be evident to the whole world that we are in and part of N.A.T.O.
In conclusion, I suggest that we must continue to strive for disarmament, for Summit conferences and for a better understanding with one another, but even if we get a certain degree of disarmament we should never be so foolish as to lower our guard. I am certain that the peace of the world and the retention of our security depends on eternal vigilance. We cannot afford to relax. I should like to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on his first White Paper and on the complete grasp which he has obtained in a very short time of every item of his vital job
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)
The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) will excuse me if I do not follow him in detail, although I shall touch on some of the points he raised.
This is the fourth day I have sat in this House trying to deliver this speech. I wonder whether there is some analogy between trying to speak here and taking part in a walking race which is being organised from John o' Groats to Land's End. Questions about disqualification in the competition here might also arise.
I think I should declare my peculiarity at the outset, in that I think I am the first back bench speaker from this side of the House who finds himself able to vote for the official Opposition Amendment. As the result of the Division will show, that is not because I am in a minority on this side of the House, but merely because it happens that all hon. Members who have spoken so far, except my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), seem against the official Opposition view and in favour of another Amendment which has not been called.
This has been an extraordinary defence debate, which was introduced yesterday by an extraordinary speech from the Minister of Defence, in that he did not talk about defence at all. He gave us, 1110 as it were, a trailer for the three detailed Services debates which are to take place later this week and next. Apart from a footnote when the right hon. Gentleman spoke about nuclear weapons, he did not follow the custom of his predecessor in dealing with strategy and the wider considerations of defence.
The second most surprising feature about the Minister's speech was that he did not introduce the fact that we are part of an alliance in our defence arrangements until very late in his speech. He said that we must have all sorts of deterrents. He did not use the term graduated deterrents, but he implied that we must have a deterrent to meet every situation. Clearly, it never occurred to him that it is beyond us as a separate independent country to provide the whole range of these weapons.
It is surprising that in 1960 any Minister can open a defence debate without making it clear that we cannot defend ourselves alone and that the whole discussion ought to be about what should be the proper British contribution to the collective defence of the West. All this pretends that we can have an independent defence policy. I am afraid that a number of my hon. Friends were guilty of the same error. They also spoke about nuclear strategy and this and that without making clear the distinction between a British contribution and the general Western Alliance arrangements.
It is one thing to say that a particular weapon should not be produced by this country and quite another to say that it should not be produced within the alliance as a whole. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said, the policy of the West is the sword on the one hand and the shield on the other. Clearly, we cannot discuss the matter of defence without also thinking of foreign policy. In many ways, a sound foreign policy is the best defence policy. The object of both must be to prevent war.
Also, in discussing defence, we must clearly establish that in points of conflict between the military on the one hand and the political on the other the political considerations must always prevail. There is no point in considering our defence arrangements without setting 1111 them against the background of our political long-term objectives, which to me are general controlled disarmament, including both nuclear and conventional weapons and, if that is not feasible at once, doing something to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to more and more powers. In our foreign and defence policies, we should attempt to set what we are doing now against the objectives that we wish to attain. Until we can achieve agreement, clearly we cannot weaken our existing defences. In my view, one does not increase the possibility of a successful disarmament agreement by unilateral disarmament before the discussions begin. But, at the same time, while we are on the brink of such discussions, I think that we should do nothing which could be construed as provocative.
The whole of our policy must be based on interdependence. As I see it, unless we in the West come together on a common defence and foreign policy, we shall not succeed in the Summit talks. Interdependence has become a fashionable word. I think that it was best described by the Prime Minister when he came back from America in October, 1957, after making peace with President Eisenhower after Suez. He said:The time has passed when countries, however strong, can follow independent policies".I only wish that the right hon. Gentleman had had those words framed and placed in the room of the Minister of Defence, because clearly we cannot have efficient, economic and effective defence except in conjunction with and integrated with the general Western Alliance.
What is more important, it is only by integration following the Adam Smith principle of the division of labour that we shall get the maximum amount of defence for the minimum expenditure of money. When in N.A.T.O. the demands are for more weapons for the Navy, the Air Force and Army, clearly only by pooling our endeavours can we get the best results. All of us as individual Members would love to spend the money that is spent on defence on schools, houses, social services and things of that sort. It is always with reluctance that we spend money on defence. That is why I cannot thank the Government for not having through N.A.T.O. integration 1112 and standardisation, enabled us to get better defence for the money that is being spent.
We have also the problem of research for defence, which today is largely used also for civil or non-military purposes. We have to strike a balance on the demand which defence makes on scientific resources so that we do not take too much from the civil pool and yet allow the maximum research to go on.
The debate has turned very largely on what is called nuclear strategy. This is a most inexact term. I do not understand what is meant by having or not having a nuclear strategy. What I prefer to criticise is nuclear doctrine, and I have been criticising the nuclear doctrine of N.A.T.O. over the last two years. What some of my hon. Friends have been saying today—some of them for the first time—I have been saying for two years. At the same time, it does not seem to me necessary to table a separate Amendment just for this reason.
I have taken the view over the last two or three years, and certainly since the notorious paragraph 12 of the Defence White Paper of 1958, that there was undue emphasis and reliance not only in this country but in N.A.T.O. generally on the deterrent power of the nuclear weapon. Some of the difficulties arise because we do not distinguish between the military and political problems.
From the military point of view, we must have the capacity to strike a second blow. That means, of course, that not only do we have to have means of delivery of nuclear weapons, but we need to concern ourselves with problems of disposal, mobility and the hardening of sites.
The production of nuclear weapons is not a problem, taking the alliance as a whole. Both sides of the argument have enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up two or three times over. The military problem is to prevent a preemptive strike on the one hand and to have means of delivery of the weapons on the other. When I was in America, I was pleased to see that the Strategic Air Command was very much seized of this point. But if the enemy is to believe that we are preparing not for the first strike but for the second, it is essential 1113 that our missiles should be credible in the sense that they could survive a first attack.
This is why I do not understand people who criticise the provision of the early warning devices, because without them, with an open, sitting-target missile such as we have, no one on the other side would believe that we were going to leave the missile there to be destroyed by the enemy. They would be convinced that at some time we would use it first. That is why I do not think that Blue Streak is a very good idea, and I do not think that we can afford to indulge in having independent mis-siles and independent means of delivery without working in conjunction with our N.A.T.O. allies.
This brings me to the political problem. It seems to me that if one has an alliance then all the members of that alliance are entitled to participate in the major decisions which the alliance has to take. Yet I think that it is common ground, even between the several sides on this side of the House, that the important decision for N.A.T.O. is whether and when nuclear weapons of any kind are to be used. But the reality of the situation is that only the United States, with respect to 95 per cent. of the weapons and ourselves with respect to the remaining 5 per cent., have any say in the matter at all.
I do not think that N.A.T.O. can become an effective political or military alliance unless there is some provision for a joint power of decision on the use of nuclear weapons in which all the allies participate. Obviously, there are organisational problems, but the con-sequences of there not being a joint power of decision is that countries will either seek to have their own national independent deterrents or will embrace a policy of neutralism, and I would say that both those policies are wrong.
Just as in this country we have been extremely slow to draw correct political and military conclusions from the state of nuclear parity or stalemate, so they have been slow in N.A.T.O. We are now in what has been described as a balance of terror, or a nuclear stalemate, with the consequence that both sides will be reluctant to use nuclear weapons. But, of course, we must keep nuclear weapons at least within the Western 1114 Alliance in order that this stalemate may be maintained. If we destroy all our weapons in the Western Alliance, the benefit of the stalemate goes, but in Europe we may have to recognise that the United States may not be prepared in all circumstances to commit suicide for the sake of Europe. That is why it is essential for European countries to have participation in the vital decision which N.A.T.O. may have to take about the use of nuclear weapons.
There are immense technical difficulties involved in working oat a joint power of decision. The fact that this may tend to delay rather than increase the speed with which they are used is not on the whole worrying me too much. But since that ideal within N.A.T.O. is difficult to attain, and because realistically we cannot see in the immediate future the United States putting any of its Strategic Air Command within the joint political control of the alliance, I ventured in December to put forward in the Assembly of Western European Union the proposal that we might make a start by having the joint power of decision on the use of strategic weapons in Europe within W.E.U. itself.
Quite apart from the military considerations, I had the thought that it would make a great contribution towards settling the outstanding difficulties in Europe if we in this country were to make the gesture of placing our nuclear weapons within the joint political control of the seven European countries, because there is great suspicion about Britain on the Continent. While I believe that the Foreign Secretary made a good speech in Strasbourg on 21st January, I do not think that we shall now get far in Europe by speeches alone. A gesture of this sort, therefore, would have the effect of enabling continental Europe to believe that we in Britain were concerned with European defence and concerned to obtain a joint European foreign policy. Unless we get such a joint European approach, we shall not obtain the conventional and nuclear disarmament agreement that we seek, either at the Summit or anywhere else.
The suggestion means that British V-bombers, or some of them, should be placed under the joint decision of the seven Western European Union countries. This would not involve making any extra bombs, because there was no 1115 suggestion that there should be joint production or sharing of bombs. This was merely the placing of V-bombers in the same situation as our forces which are already assigned on the Continent to N.A.T.O. I think that W.E.U. is particularly suited for this kind of control. The third Article of the third Protocol of the modified Brussels Treaty already charges the Ministers at W.E.U. to inspect the stockpile of weapons held by countries on the Continent of Europe and by majority rule to determine the level of atomic or hydrogen bomb stocks that they are allowed to keep.
There is already in existence a control agency if the countries concerned will ratify the various conventions to give it teeth to permit it to work. It seems to me that this proposal would strengthen the two major objectives which I have very much at heart—a move towards general disarmament on the one hand and getting rid of nuclear anarchy on the other.
It is important to say something about tactical nuclear weapons—so-called, because it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between the strategic and tactical use of the same weapon. Here there is a source of conflict between the military and the political arms in the control of these weapons. Let us face the facts of the situation. The time when the military would most like to use these weapons would probably be at the beginning of a possible attack when the enemy was massing his troops before perhaps actually crossing the frontier, in the case of the nuclear or atomic weapons used by aeroplanes, probably to carry out a particular tactical task. The air commander might have to use 100 planes to do it by conventional means, whereas it could be done by one or two using tactical nuclear weapons.
At the same time, I think it must be established that the first use in any conflict of tactical nuclear weapons must be by political and not military decision. I do not believe that the Soviet Union or her allies would be the first to use tactical nuclear weapons. I think also that one is approaching a situation with regard to tactical nuclear weapons, as with strategic weapons, where there is the possibility of parity and stalemate, so the probability of their being used is not very great.
1116 Since there was discussion in the House in the previous debate on defence and again in this debate about the political control of tactical nuclear weapons, I would quote the reply of the Council of Ministers of Western European Union, dated 19th May, 1959, to a resolution of mine on this subject eighteen months ago, which stated:The Council have ascertained that the power to authorise the initial tactical use of nuclear weapons within the area of Europe rests with Saceur acting under political direction from the North Atlantic Council.As for working out the political direction, I believe that a great deal still remains to be done. I stress the serious question of political control over tactical nuclear weapons. It is difficult enough now, while they are of enormous size and still the divisional or Army weapon, but when they get smaller and are down to battalion or even company command size the problem of the political exercise of control over the military will be extremely difficult. This is particularly so as I think it is common ground between both sides of the House that if there is an incident or war it is most likely to come by accident or miscalculation. In those circumstances, the serious character of the decision to use nuclear weapons speaks for itself.
I do not believe it is possible to start using tactical nuclear weapons and hope to restrict a war to a limited area or size. I believe that once tactical nuclear weapons are used it will be very difficult indeed to stop a whole nuclear conflagration in which we were all concerned. Since the Soviet have tactical nuclear weapons, just as they have strategic nuclear weapons, we have to have them too in order to preserve the stalemate. We cannot have a stalemate, which is what I think is developing, unless we have them as well.
§ Mr. Mulley
If my hon. Friend will pay me the compliment of listening to the whole of my speech he may have a different view. I believe that both on strategic and tactical level we are reaching stalemate with nuclear weapons. That is why the whole emphasis now within N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union has been on the passing of resolutions for two or three years—it is 1117 no new discovery—for a target of thirty divisions. I think that 25 well equipped mobile divisions would be sufficient to hold the central front, given the consideration of the stalemate on tactical nuclear weapons. That is where I think the Government are failing the country in their defence policy and failing the Alliance when they put in the White Paper, as a favour to N.A.T.O., that they will keep seven brigades there for the time being.
That is where the priority has to be given. It is no use saying that of course the present brigades are of vastly greater fire power than those in 1954 when the agreement was made. They are, but the Russian divisions against whom they are matched have much greater fire power still as compared with 1954. If we believe that the possibility exists of war or an incident by chance or miscalculation, I think that the chance of getting the pause to place the decision as to the use of nuclear weapons on the aggressor is only if we have enough ground troops in Europe, which we certainly have not now. Similarly, only in this way can we get the chance for diplomatic intervention.
That is why I, with a very easy conscience, shall go into the Division Lobby tonight against the Government's White Paper and in favour of the Opposition's official Amendment, because the Government's view, as explained in the House and the White Paper, is that the provision of conventional troops and their participation in the alliance is complementary only in their desire to grant an independent policy for Britain.
I believe that not only in this country but in N.A.T.O. has there been undue dependence on strategic nuclear weapons. I think that N.A.T.O. is well on the way to correcting the balance, and I can only hope that the Minister of Defence will do so in this country.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
The hon. Gentleman suggested that there ought to be more British troops in the N.A.T.O. alliance, more than the seven brigades of troops which we said we would keep there. Will he say how many troops ought to be there and where they can be obtained from the figure of 400,000, which is the ultimate force which we shall have?
§ Mr. Mulley
I shall not go into detail. The former Minister of Defence, the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), quoted a figure of 225,000 as necessary to carry out our commitments in the Army. On the 1st April next year we shall have 230,000 in the Army. It is not a problem for the present year, but it will become a problem unless more recruits can be obtained. That would take a long time to go into, and when we discuss the Army Estimates I may have the opportunity of enlightening the hon. Member.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
I find myself in general agreement with much that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) has been saying and I, too, want to say something about interdependence and integration, both of which are at the bottom of this debate. In fact, it is extraordinary that so little has been said about them hitherto.
The debate has revealed some strange permutations and combinations. I was delighted when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War opened his remarks with a vigorous attack on the Opposition Front Bench. He accused right hon. Gentlemen opposite of confusion and vacillation, and I thought that was completely justified. I was even more pleased when, a bit later on, he said that there was little difference between the two Front Benches. I think there is something in that, too.
I, for my part, usually align myself on these occasions with the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). Indeed, I found myself in agreement with a great deal of what he said yesterday in an interesting and well-informed speech. The hon. Gentleman speaks with great authority, and I am sorry that he is not present to hear my tribute to him. On one point, however, I parted company from the hon. Gentleman. On these occasions most of us vote for the same reason, the Whips, but other considerations do occasionally arise. The hon. Gentleman gave as his reason why he would not vote for the official Labour Amendment that he could detect no signs of vacillation on the part of the Government and of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. There I part company from the hon. Gentleman. I propose to vote for 1119 my party's Motion because I hope and think, and pray, that I do detect some signs of vacillation on the part of my right hon. Friend—of vacillation in the right direction. I may be optimistic, but it seems to me that my right hon. Friend does show some signs of deviating a little from the policy to which his predecessor has adhered so rigidly for the last three years, in spite of accumulating evidence of its mistakenness.
When my right hon. Friend opened the debate yesterday he expressed his gratitude to a great many people, amongst them his predecessor. I cannot feel that gratitude was very well deserved. It seems to me that his predecessor has left my right hon. Friend in a decidedly awkward predicament.
Let us consider for a moment the defence policy that was initiated in 1957. And here, I part company from the Secretary of State for War in that I do not agree that it was a continuation of the policy of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). I think there was a definite break in 1957.
The aim of the 1957 policy, which has been called "the Sandys policy", was a drastic reduction in defence costs. This was to be achieved by putting our money on what were called "streamlined nuclear forces" at the expense of our conventional forces, which, finally, was going to make possible the abolition of conscription. I think that the whole basis, the whole raison d'etre, of this policy is summed up in a phrase which occurred in the Defence White Paper of 1958, when the present Minister of Aviation said that we found ourselves "poised between total war and total peace". There could not have been a more false assumption on which to base a defence policy. I do not know about then, but today there can be few people who would quarrel with the proposition that the chances of a hot war are very small. If a hot war should come, it will probably be by mistake, but that really will not make much difference because there will be nobody much left to argue about it afterwards.
What is much more likely, what I think is almost certain, is a long period of what some people would call peaceful co-existence and some people would call "cold war"—personally I would call it "competitive co-existence" 1120 between East and West, with no holds barred. That may be a gloomy prospect. Up to a point it is, but it is less gloomy than the prospect of mutual annihilation by nuclear bomb. But what we must remember, and what hon. Gentlemen opposite occasionally forget, is that this prospect is only possible so long as the West possesses the deterrent, and so long as that deterrent remains a deterrent; in other words, so long as the missile gap between East and West does not get too great.
The big question we have to ask ourselves is, what contribution should we in this country make to the Western deterrent? I have no hesitation in saying immediately that we should make the most effective contribution possible with the means at our disposal—
§ Sir F. MacLean
At a terrible price but it is a more terrible price for the whole of humanity to be wiped out, which I am convinced is the alternative.
Arguments have been put forward, in this debate and elsewhere, both for and against an independent deterrent. One condition if we are to have an independent deterrent is that that deterrent must be big enough to be credible. There is a minimum size beneath which it must not fall or it serves no purpose. I think there is another condition. There is a maximum cost, and if the price of the deterrent rises above that maximum then for this country it ceases to be feasible and we must abandon the idea of an independent deterrent. That point has probably not been reached in my opinion, but then I speak not as an expert and cannot know very much about it.
I think my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence did something very useful when he tried to suppress General Cowley's lecture. What usually happens when anybody tries to suppress something is that far more attention is immediately attracted to it. General Cowley has become the Lolita of the Army Council. I think that is a good thing. It is much more important in this instance, than in the case of the other work of art I have mentioned, that what has been said or written should get the widest possible circulation. For here is a man who speaks with knowledge, who 1121 speaks also, one presumes, with the wholehearted support of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The conclusion that he arrived at is worthy of very close attention. He balanced up the case in different circumstances for an independent deterrent and the case against it, and then said this:I believe that the British contribution to the peace of the world can be far more useful in other directions than in producing weapons which are only useful because of their threat and which can only be threatened in very exceptional circumstances.The Government, if they have not done so already—and I am voting for them on the assumption that they are doing it, which I think is really apparent to any intelligent reader of the White Paper—must undertake an agonising reappraisal of this whole question of an independent deterrent.
The first thing they must get clear is what sort of deterrent it should be. For the moment, we are told that the answer is the V-bomber force, but I cannot believe, with things moving as fast as they are, that that will go on serving as an effective method of delivering the deterrent for very much longer. At the moment the official answer to the question of what we shall have when the V-bomber force is out of date is Blue Streak.
Again, it is difficult for anyone who is not an expert to make any sense on this subject but I did venture to ask in our defence debate last year, after conversations with people who know a great deal more, what we on this tiny island, faced with an enemy a few minutes away, armed with extremely accurate counter-missiles, were doing with a fixed site deterrent.
§ Sir F. Maclean
I also questioned whether the Government would go on with this development. Now we know that they are. At least this year's White Paper says so. And the figure mentioned in informed circles as the cost of developing Blue Streak is £500 million. That figure may be right or wrong. The Minister of Defence also talks about Polaris and Skylark. Possibly they may make more sense, but I wonder whether, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said yesterday, we can really afford to think about developing more than one of these immensely 1122 expensive weapons; whether there is not a serious danger that, if we do, we shall spend an enormous amount of money and then be left behind in a rocket race in which we were completely outclassed from the beginning.
I am told that the Americans are now spending £4,200 million a year on the development of the deterrent alone for all three Services. That is a figure which makes our whole defence budget—and I do not grudge my right hon. Friend the money he is getting, if only he would make better use of it—look very silly. How can we really afford to compete with that? It is not a question of keeping up with the Joneses but of keeping up with the Rockefellers.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, a lot is said about inter-dependence. Our chief object should be to make a reality of it, a reality of the alliance. We seem already to be working in very close partnership with the Americans over tactical nuclear weapons and in many other respects, and that is quite right. It seems to me that in the long run—I do not say immediately—the only possible answer, so far as the deterrent is concerned, is that we should go in wholeheartedly with the Americans and put at their disposal not only our bases, our sites and our early warning systems and all the other things which we have already put at their disposal, but also our "know-how", and that we should equally expect them to do the same for us.
As various hon. Members have said in the debate, no one can possibly stand alone in these things. What we must aim at is full partnership. There again, I have been encouraged by the references made by the Secretary of State for War to the British "contribution" to the deterrent. The same phrase kept cropping up in last year's defence debate. There is surely a great difference between an independent deterrent which we have developed on our own and a British contribution to a Western deterrent. These references both by the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Defence to a British contribution make much more sense.
There is another and, if anything, more important contribution which we can make to the defence of the West, and that is the conventional deterrent. 1123 The policy of 1957 concentrated streamlined nuclear forces that were practically to take the place of conventional arms. That is a highly dangerous theory. If one finds oneself in an awkward situation of any kind and one has only a nuclear weapon, one has either to use it—and even if it is a small one, but it will still lead to bigger ones later—or one has to capitulate, which is not a position any country can want to find itself in.
I said that we were engaged in a period of cold war. In the cold war we have certain obligations in Europe—to our allies, to N.A.T.O. These are fulfilled by the troops we maintain in Germany—and in this connection I was shocked to read in the White Paper the phrase "for the time being", for that seems to me calculated to spread alarm and despondency in N.A.T.O. even more than we have spread it already. We also have worldwide commitments which one can call imperial policing commitments for which we need troops, infantry in the main, with infantry weapons. I thought the Secretary of State for War said a very significant thing in last year's Army Estimates debate. He said that manpower was the Army's first concern and he supported that admirable sentiment by a very telling quotation from the Duke of Wellington, who said the same thing equally crisply, in fact rather more crisply.
What I do not believe is that we can really make do with 165,000 men. I share with my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton the view that in the first place that figure was simply a rather optimistic guess at the number of men that could be got by voluntary recruitment. That is not the right way to fix the size of an army. The right way to fix the size of an army is to decide how many men are needed to fulfil one's commitments and then to go about seeing how that number of men can be raised.
That is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton did when he was in office. The result was a figure of 220,000, although there are those who say that it was 200,000 and there is a considerable difference between that and 165,000. It is true that the figure of 180,000, mentioned in last year's defence debate, goes some way to bridge the gap, 1124 but we did not hear so much about that this year. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to say whether that is still the ceiling at which he aims.
§ Sir F. Maclean
I am delighted to hear it. That is another cause for encouragement.
I think that the hon. Member for Dudley can support what I am about to say with facts and figures, as he can almost anything he or anybody else says to a most amazing extent with the help of his private archives which even the Army Council must envy. But one of the troubles, as my right hon. Friend knows much better than I, is that units are everywhere under establishment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Welling-borough (Mr. M. Hamilton) said in an excellent maiden speech, in Germany our troops are very largely without supporting services. Wherever one goes in Germany or Africa, units are under strength, under establishment.
Now, anybody who has been in the Army, even for a very short time, must realise that that is the worst thing in the world for morale. In action it is even worse, but in peace time it still means too many guard duties, too few men for this and too few men for that, and so on. It is thoroughly bad for morale and therefore, incidentally, thoroughly bad for recruiting as well.
We are told that the answer to all that is to have increased mobility. That is perfectly true. General Cowley very rightly says that emphasis should be on rapid arrival rather than on heavy armament. I hope that the Army is mobile. I was encouraged by what my right hon. Friend said today about more transport aircraft, the most important factor of all. We have heard about Commando carriers carrying one Commando, which is about one battalion, which is not very much. What is the position about landing craft? Do we have enough landing craft and enough helicopters? These are very important matters.
However mobile troops may be, it is never the same thing rushing troops to the scene of a disturbance as it is having the troops there before the disturbance occurs. If the troops are there 1125 already the chances are that the disturbance will never break out. If the troops have to be brought in the chances are that it will be too late and that we will be let in for a lengthy, bloody and costly business.
Other hon. Members have said that we ought to have more men in the Army, but they have not all said how they think that should be done. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), for instance, dodged that issue. He said that conscription was not the answer. He would be a great benefactor to society if he could think of another way.
Pay increases do not do it. They send the recruiting rate up for a time, but then it goes down again. In this country, as has been shown by statistics over the last thirty or forty years, there are people who like being Regular soldiers and who join the Army in times of full employment, unemployment, prosperity or otherwise. It is very difficult to get people other than those to join the Army. The only way which anyone has so far discovered is conscription.
In each defence debate in the last Parliament, the Minister of Defence, sometimes under a certain amount of pressure, said, in the ultimate analysis, that if he could not get the number of troops he needed by any other means he would resort to a measure of conscription. I would be very much encouraged if my right hon. Friend would give a similar assurance. Nobody is more against conscription than I am. I do not like the idea of conscription in this country. It is not something which we have had in the past and we are much better far not having had it. It is wasteful and inefficient from a military point of view. A keen professional army is very much better, although it is quite wrong to say, as some hon. Members have said, that an all-Regular Army necessarily means a great all-round improvement in quality, because some conscripts are extremely good material.
I hope that conscription will not be necessary and that my right hon. Friend's optimistic forecasts will be justified. However, I should like to be told that if we cannot get the men in any other way and if the numbers are necessary, we will get them by selective conscription. I 1126 am sure that if the reasons were explained to the country, selective conscription would be accepted. I should like this to be a bipartisan measure.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the hon. Gentleman say how long he would want conscripts to serve under his plan?
§ Sir F. Maclean
I gave way only because the hon. Gentleman is my constituent and I have friendly feelings for him. I tried to explain that I do not want the conscripts to serve at all. It is only if the necessary number of troops cannot be recruited in any other way that I think that we should have conscription, and then only for the shortest possible time. Nobody can be more against conscription as such than I am, but in certain circumstances, if it is a question of preserving the peace, the Government should take that measure.
The dilemma of our defence policy is how to reconcile the growing cost of maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent with the growing cost of maintaining adequate, well-equipped, mobile conventional forces. I hope that my right hon. Friend, will consider the question with an open mind, and, I hope, a flexible mind, and will, as long as he can, keep the balance between these two and when that is no longer possible will not sacrifice our conventional forces.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) who, as I think the House will agree, made one of the most important contributions to the debate. He has joined the army of those in all quarters of the House who have made this debate a greater approach to reality than any defence debate that I can remember during the last few years.
I join him in praising my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who generally talks more sense about defence matters than most people in the House. We were interested in the outstanding speech of the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), and perhaps also in the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I cannot offer the same congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), 1127 who seemed to contribute more mischief than light to our proceedings.
It is interesting that even on the other side of the House there is some realisation of the limitations of our power at the present time, though I cannot say that there is a full realisation of the implications of the changes that have taken place in our political and strategic position during the last fifteen years. Until they are realised and the appropriate policy conclusions are drawn, the Service Chiefs can hardly be blamed if the policies they produce are confused, or the policies produced by the Minister to whom they offer their advice are confused.
Service Chiefs often do not know what it is they are being asked to prepare forces for, and what strategy they are being asked to prepare for. Under these circumstances, the planning of defence policy continues under its own momentum and moves away from the realities both of national policy and national power.
There has been fairly general agreement that the three objects of our defence policy are, first, the maintenance of the political integrity of this island, and of the countries with whom we are allied, chiefly in Europe, in the N.A.T.O. organisation. Secondly, action in support of alliances or guarantees, including those in the Central Treaty Organisation, and such guarantees as the tripartite guarantee of the boundaries of the Israeli and Arab States, and the agreement with the Ruler of Kuwait, which perhaps comes in the third category. Thirdly, action in support of civil powers in our Colonial Territories, which is a rapidly dwindling responsibility.
It is agreed on all sides of the House, and we have heard it from the Minister of Defence, that the most important of all the functions and responsibilities which we have at the present time is the prevention of any incident developing which might lead to the great Powers becoming involved and leading to all-out global war.
This is the purpose of the shield of N.A.T.O. as well as the mobile forces to be used in support of guarantees or where it is asked for, as in the case of Jordan. Our party opposed their use 1128 there although action may have been more successful than some of us anticipated.
The question to which the House have devoted its main attention is whether we are using our limited resources to the best advantage. In particular, have we realistically faced the limits of our strategic, political and economic power? When I hear hon. and gallant Members on the other side of the House talking about our great responsibilities, I ask myself, "Do they ever think of defining what these mean, and how far they think these responsibilities can be maintained throughout the world at the present time?" I wonder whether we should not be able to carry these responsibilities better if we could clarify and narrow them.
There have been a number of references to our continuing to pour money into bases, into Aden where it is not believed that we shall last for many years, into Cyprus which is, to say the least, politically unstable, and into Kenya from which we have already been given notice to quit by its coming rulers.
Apart from the insecurity of such bases, I cannot understand the policy on which the decision to have them is based. They are scattered round the world as if we still had a vast Empire to defend, or as if it were still necessary to keep open the lifelines of the Empire to countries such as India, Australia or New Zealand who no longer look to us for their defence. What purpose is the garrisoning of these bases intended to fulfil? One of the usual answers is that they are there to protect the oil resources of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but the most general view today is that our supplies of oil are best obtained by commercial agreement. In any case, the sources of supply of oil throughout the world are growing rapidly and at present with our coal surpluses and the growth of nuclear energy, the danger of becoming short of supplies of power are very much less than they were.
It is clear, therefore, that the main purpose of these bases is to assist in putting out fires and in preventing incidents from growing. Here again we must be careful not to try to achieve an object which is beyond our capacity. If we have these bases scattered throughout 1129 the world it is clear that we shall fail even in respect of those incidents where we should be able to make our proper contribution.
I agree that instead of putting money into these bases we should use it to make our Army more mobile and efficient. To suggest, however, as some hon. Members opposite have done, that we can somehow put our whole Army afloat and that it can in some way perform the functions of the garrisons which used to be stationed throughout the world, seems to me as an amateur logistic nonsense.
I come now to the main question raised tonight. I wonder to which of these purposes our individual possession of atomic weapons contributes. We have lost a great deal by our reliance on the nuclear deterrent in recent years. In what circumstances do we expect that we shall use those weapons during the next ten years. Is it likely that in the foreseeable future the Russians will overrun Europe or that this country will be threatened with invasion, and that the Americans will not commit suicide to defend us? I understand that that is the policy behind our personal possession of the deterrent. Is it likely that the Russians would threaten us with annihilation and force us to change a policy with which they disapprove? Suez was an example of that, but in that case the world was against us, and I believe that the Russian threat was a bluff.
The circumstances in which we would ever use, or threaten to use, atomic weapons are so remote that their advantage is many times outweighed by their cost and the appalling danger of the spread of their possession by other countries. Even if defence by the threat of retaliation were possible within the next ten years, the cost is likely to be beyond us.
As to joint possession, I am not sure even that the tactical use of atomic weapons by N.A.T.O. would be possible in the near future, because the difficulties of political control are so great, apart from anything else. For the time being it would be far better to remain under the umbrella of the American deterrent. The money which is being wasted on research and development in this respect would be much better spent on bringing our N.A.T.O. forces up to strength and improving the efficiency of our conventional forces.
1130 If I understood aright the figures given by the Secretary of State for War, it is clear that we could increase our expenditure on weapons for conventional forces by about 25 per cent. if we gave up the deterrent. I would have thought that an increase in the provision of weapons and an increase in the efficiency of our conventional forces by 25 per cent. would be well worth having.
I presume that in the end political power can be exercised by an enemy only by physical occupation. The threat of an economic stranglehold, by cutting off our oil supplies, for example, seems to be greatly exaggerated. The best answer to the threat of physical occupation is an armed citizenry, with every man able to use weapons and trained to deal with occupying troops so as to make their lives impossible. This may sound unrealistic, but it is only an extension of the argument for conscription, and it would be more realistic than the unimaginable complexities and horrors of a nuclear war. As the choice has never been put to the British people. I do not understand how we are in a position to know which choice they would make.
Since 1948 I have supported every measure which the House has taken in support of the defence of the West, but it seems to me that we are in very great danger in pursuing policies aiming at 100 per cent. insurance against every risk at a cost which is quite beyond us. As a result, we are failing to hit a single target set by our defence policy.
To my pacifist friends, I would say that morality alone is not sufficient if the horrors of war are to be avoided. What is needed is hard and courageous thinking in order to develop a policy which will prevent a situation arising in which the great Powers become desperate and destroy the world.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
I am always interested in the speeches of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), and this evening I am grateful to him for his brevity. That was not unusual for him but it would be for some of his colleagues.
The great difference in our defence preparations today and those in former times is one which is obvious to us all, that now we are not out to win a war but to prevent it. Often this country 1131 has won wars by itself, but we cannot prevent a war alone. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence made that clear two years ago in a defence debate when he said that no longer can any country defend itself in isolation.
It seems to me to follow that we no longer need to aim at a complete range of weapons. The whole point is that the alliance should have such a range of weapons and we should contribute where the alliance is weakest. I am thankful that our partners have a great supply of nuclear weapons. I am not saying that their weapons are superior to those possessed by the Russians: I do not know. But they are sufficient to deter, by which I mean to make the risk to the aggressor out of all proportion to any gains he could achieve. As has so often been said in this debate, the alliance does not seem to be so strong in conventional weapons.
I think that our first obligation must be to discharge our responsibilities throughout the Commonwealth and to our friends outside the Commonwealth who depend upon us. Our second obligation must be to prevent any direct Communist attack, about which we were so clearly warned yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). Have we enough conventional weapons in Europe for this purpose?
I have always thought it unlikely that the Communists would start a limited war if they knew that the defences of the West were so strong that, in order to overcome them, they would have to undertake a major mobilisation, move millions of men and take economic and military risks. Is N.A.T.O. strong enough to provide such defences? Again I doubt it. As I see it, the aggressor may well not be deterred by nuclear strength however great, because he would not expect it to be used. But an aggressor might be deterred by conventional strength, because he would expect it to be used. My right hon. Friend made clear in his speech yesterday that he agreed with this. He said that conventional defences… may well be the most important for the peace of the world."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 29th February, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 850.]My anxiety is that the expense of producing missile weapons may mount 1132 so enormously as to weaken our other activities. On research alone the United States are spending more than twice the amount of our defence budget, and even so they have to make a great many changes in their programme. In his budget speech last month the President said that some of their production was becoming out of date while still in the development stage. He gave as examples the Regulus II and the F108 on which they were in the process of spending the vast sum of 4,000 million dollars.
The United States and Russia can afford to switch. They are like a rich investor who obtains security not by being infallible—I have never known of that on the Stock Exchange—but by spreading his risks. That is something we cannot do. The costs are so great, as my right hon. Friend said yesterday, that we have just got to pick the best; but is that possible? I can quite understand that our experts can foresee accurately how a blueprint will develop, but can they foresee accurately enough what other developments will take place in other countries which may out-date their choice in the years of production?
I do not suggest that we should leave the nuclear club. I do not know enough of what the consequences of that would be, but I do suggest that our subscription to it should not be so great as to diminish our other defence activities. There are those who want us to have means of delivery of the warheads entirely separately. I suppose they might say that we cannot rely upon the Americans to protect us. I cannot see how there can be any question of a private war between Russia and ourselves. It seems to me that, in this uncertain world, if anything is certain it is that if there is a war America is in it and we are too and, if we are in it, America is in it too. The Minister of Aviation spoke last year of… the inescapable fact that the fate and freedom of the American people and those of her Western Allies are inseparable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1959; Vol. 600. c. 1418.]It might be said that we must retain a separate means of delivery because that gives us great influence in the world. That, of course, would be much the strongest argument and one about which it would be the most difficult to be precise. If our having separate 1133 nuclear weapons and being in the nuclear club has helped our Prime Minister to make the great contribution to peace, then it has done a great deal, but I should have thought that his leadership in world affairs is now so well established that that factor is not so important as it was before. If it is not out of order, I should say that I would swop any number of Blue Streaks for one Macmillan.
§ Sir A. Spearman
I believe our influence in the world in future will depend upon our economic strength, upon our possession of mobile forces to carry out our commitments and, above all, on our contribution to N.A.T.O. I agree very much—as occasionally I do—with the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) that once one starts running after prestige one's prestige disappears very rapidly. Today, as I see it, we are in the unhappy state of being in an equilibrium based on fear. That is no long-term solution; it is an unhappy state in which to be, but it could be much worse. It is on that we have to rely until there is a world instrument that has the will and power to deal with agression.
I can sum up what I have tried to say in two short sentences. I believe that the nuclear contribution we could afford to make could not be decisive. I believe that the conventional contribution that we can make could be decisive in preventing war.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I should first like to congratulate the three hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches in the debate. All of them spoke modestly, constructively and on the basis of experience and information which will be of value to the House. I am sure that we all look forward to hearing them again, perhaps in rather more controversial form.
Much of the debate has, of course, been concerned with our specific criticisms of the Government in, as we allege, their failure to provide value for money. I do not propose to deal in any detail with that. Many of these criticisms will be echoed, repeated and elaborated during 1134 the debates on the Estimates. I propose in the time available to concentrate on what seem to me to be the major questions. In a debate on the White Paper on Defence and on our defence policy as a whole, it is as well to keep to the broad issues and not to become involved in too much detail.
I do not think that anybody will deny that one of the central issues of the debate, perhaps the central issue, is whether we should have nuclear weapons of our own, under our own undisputed control, and, if so, to what extent and of what character. I want to emphasise that in discussing this great issue I am speaking of Great Britain and not for the moment of N.A.T.O. I thought that a number of hon. Members did not make it sufficiently clear whether they were speaking about our United Kingdom defence policy or the defence policy of N.A.T.O. as a whole. I will have something to say about N.A.T.O. a little later.
There are those who hold that we should not have nuclear weapons of our own under our own control. In the debate there has been a rather peculiar line-up. First, we have the leader of the Liberal Party, who is against us having nuclear weapons of our own. To this extent he associated himself with my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and a number of my other hon. Friends. Next, there is the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). He was rather against our having nuclear weapons of our own, although at the end, as far as I could see, he came down just in favour of our retaining them. Next, there was my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who appears to have come to the conclusion that we should not have more nuclear weapons of our own though, as far as I understood him, and I was not quite clear about this, we are to retain those we already have—or perhaps I am wrong about that.
It would, however, be a great mistake to treat all these persons who have doubts and anxieties about our having nuclear weapons of our own as being the same in their essential viewpoints. There is a sharp distinction between those of my hon. Friends who not only wish us to renounce nuclear weapons of our own but also wish us—from their point of 1135 view logically—to renounce our membership of N.A.T.O. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire would go further and say that we should renounce all other arms. Such hon. Members are unilateral disarmers and pacifists; we know and understand their point of view, even if we do not agree with it.
Let me admit at once that there are people in the country, as well as in the House, who feel very passionately about this matter, and particularly about the renunciation of nuclear weapons. I would say only this about that attitude: if, as they say, we must give up our membership of N.A.T.O., then certain consequences follow.
One consequence of our resigning from N.A.T.O. might be the break-up of the alliance. If that is the case, it would be a consequence profoundly dangerous for the United Kingdom and the West as a whole. If, on the other hand, our withdrawal from N.A.T.O. did not involve the break-up of the alliance, I do not think that there can be very much doubt about one other consequence which would follow. Unquestionably, Germany would become the most powerful European member of the alliance. I say in all frankness to my hon. Friends that, if that were to be the case, we should lose such influence as we still possess to prevent Germany negotiating military bases in Spain, a subject to which I propose to return a little later.
I will now answer those who say that we should not have nuclear weapons of our own, but that we should nevertheless stay in N.A.T.O. First, the issue between those people and the rest of us is not anything like as fundamental as our difference with those who want to get out of N.A.T.O. altogether. I regard the issue of whether we have nuclear weapons under our own control, providing that we remain in N.A.T.O., or whether we do not, as largely a matter of balance between economic, military and political factors. I do not take the view that this is an issue about which it would be wise permanently to dogmatise. It needs careful and cool re-examination from time to time.
I say to the Leader of the Liberal Party and his colleagues that some of us feel a little disturbed when, although he is apparently standing for membership 1136 of N.A.T.O.—and, indeed, taking what I should regard as a much more technical point of view than anything else—he nevertheless, apparently avowedly, seeks to obtain the support of people who hold very different views. I hope that on some future occasion he will take the opportunity of making it clear that he does not agree with those who wish not only to renounce nuclear weapons, but to clear out of N.A.T.O. altogether.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am sure that my right hon. Friend will realise that it frequently happens in politics that on an important fundamental issue a number of people agree in the result and are entitled to stand toegther in support of it, even though they have reached that position of support by very different roads.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. If I understood the Leader of the Liberal Party aright, he stands for something quite different from those, or most of those, who join the Aldermaston marches. It would be as well if the hon. Gentleman made that plain.
What is the case for having nuclear weapons under our own control? Here I shall say something with which perhaps the Government and other hon. Members will disagree. I do not accept the view that the case for this is that it strengthens N.A.T.O. I do not believe that when we speak of our having to have nuclear weapons of our own it is because we must make a contribution to the deterrent of the West. I explain that simply by saying that, even if, while the V-bombers were ours, the bombs themselves were American bombs—nuclear weapons supplied by the United States—N.A.T.O. as such would be just as strong as it is today. There would be no difference to the alliance. No doubt it is sometimes necessary for diplomatic reasons for the Government to pretend otherwise, but the Opposition have the advantage—and, I think, privilege in this case—of occasionally saying things rather more plainly than the Government can do.
The real case for our having our own independent nuclear weapons is fear of excessive dependence upon the United States. It springs from doubts about the 1137 readiness of the United States Government and the American citizens to risk the destruction of their cities on behalf of Europe. It depends also, I think, on fear that an excessive dependence on the United States might force upon us policies with which we did not agree, because we would be in such a weak position to argue with the United States.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) suggested, if I understood him aright, that we no longer took the view that the possession of nuclear weapons was of any value in discussing matters with the Americans. I am afraid that I still do think it of some value. Suppose, for instance, that we got into an argument with the United States about Far Eastern policies—a not altogether unlikely contingency.
Suppose a United States Government—not this one, perhaps, but a future Government—said, "Either you go with us, and join with us, and accept our view that we have to take the war to the mainland of China or we have an agonising reappraisal of what is to happen in Europe." Can we honestly say that we should feel entirely the same in any such discussion according to whether or not we had nuclear weapons of our own? I must say that I think it makes a difference here.
These doubts about the United States have probably been increased recently for two reasons. First of all, there can be no denying that America is now becoming much less dependent on European and British bases than she was a few years ago, and when she has developed to the full her intercontinental ballistic missiles, that is bound to be the case. Secondly, at the same time, her own power to destroy Russian nuclear power by a first strike in defence of Western Europe is obviously now far less—I suppose, indeed, that it is almost extinguished.
Let me put it in another way. If the United States is faced with the problem now of whether to use nuclear weapons in the defence of Europe, she has to consider two things. First, she has to consider that even if she does not she is not destroyed at once; she does not lose all power of defending herself. Secondly, she has to consider that if she were to use these nuclear weapons, this will not save her cities from destruction. 1138 This is a fairly serious thing, and it is bound to make all European countries a little more nervous, shall I say, than they were before about the likelihood of an American Government, faced with this appalling decision, taking her stand with Western Europe.
I know that some people say that this is all irrelevant, because we have not any retaliatory power of our own, anyhow, but the answer surely is that at present we do have some retaliatory power—I would say, quite a cosiderable retaliatory power. Unless I can be convinced that the Soviet Union is able on the first strike to extinguish all capacity for us to hit back, we have some retaliatory power.
It is, of course, obvious—overwhelmingly obvious—that this retaliatory power is very small compared with either the Russian power itself or the American power. All I moan is that if we got into the situation—it may be very hypothetical, but one has to consider these things—in which we had had a little difficulty with the Americans, and the Russians were threatening us over some issue about which we felt strongly, I cannot help feeling that if the Russians knew that we had the power to inflict fairly serious damage on them it would be a factor that they would take into account.
That, I think, is the case for our having our own independent nuclear weapon, but I would not, of course, deny for one moment that there is also a powerful case against. These are matters of balance on which, frankly, I find it impossible to say that it is absolutely clear one way or the other. We have to weigh them up.
The case against is, first, the simple one of cost and, with that, the argument advanced by many hon. Members during this debate that if we are to go in for, and continue to go in for, nuclear weapons of our own there will be much less money available for other conventional weapons that are also important to us. One accepts that, of course.
There is also the further argument which cannot be ignored, that, if we persist in our view that we must have our own independent nuclear weapon, now, particularly with the availability of nuclear reactors to other countries, there is a very real danger that the spread of nuclear weapons will take 1139 place. I do not say that our decision to renounce these weapons would prevent it. What we have said in our proposals for the so-called non-nuclear club is that we ought to be prepared to give up our own independent nuclear weapon if thereby we can stop the spread.
I thought the comments of the right hon. Member for Flint, West on this subject were not entirely adequate. He must, surely, understand that there is a tremendous problem here, with the possibility during the next decade that these weapons will spread from one country to another, to, perhaps, 10 or 12 more. It is a very real possibility. One hon. Member said that he was in favour of the nuclear weapon since it enabled David to stand up to Goliath. I do not know that I am so keen on a lot of Davids having a go at one another. Although I do not propose to develop the case tonight because I have not time, I must say that we stand by our proposals here, and I hope that those who oppose them will come forward with some alternative suggestion for arresting the danger.
As regards the decision, which must, as I say, be taken on a balance, between the alternatives of having or not having our own nuclear weapon, the history is perfectly clear. The Labour Government decided to make the atomic bomb. They did so at a time when, in the first place, we had a great deal of "know-how" derived from the period of the war, and, in the second place, when the future of American foreign policy was wholly uncertain. Indeed, there was a perfectly real possibility at that time that America would go back to isolationism. There is no doubt at all, I think, that that decision was right. Subsequently, the Conservative Government decided to make the hydrogen bomb, and, on a balance of advantages such as I have tried to indicate, we decided that we would support that decision.
I must emphasise, however, that this does not mean that we think, first of all, that the balance of our defence expenditure, the allocation of our defence resources between the building up of nuclear power and conventional forces, which the Government have followed, is the right one. That is a totally different issue.
1140 Secondly, I certainly do not say that we ought to go on producing more and more nuclear weapons. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington was kind enough to quote what I said at the Scarborough Conference of the Labour Party eighteen months ago. I will repeat it:Because we say we cannot be committed to stopping the manufacture of nuclear weapons, it does not mean that we are permitted to going on and on with their manufacture. The truth is that it is impossible to lay down the details of defence policy and say what one should do in matters of this kind in Opposition.It is, of course, easy to laugh at the Opposition and say that we ought to know and that we ought to be able to decide. I say quite frankly that any serious person who thinks about the matter for a moment must understand that, to a large extent, we are in the dark on this issue. My right hon. Friend asked me what more facts I wanted. I will tell him. I want more facts about costs, to start with. I want more facts about efficiency and effectiveness. I want more information about the attitude of our Allies, what we can get from the Americans, and all manner of things of that kind. I believe that this is the only sensible policy to adopt.
Next, I want to make clear that we are not, of course, saying that we can afford a lot of different nuclear weapons. We certainly do not say that.
I now turn for a moment to those hon. Members who, while not accepting unilateral disarmament and who defend N.A.T.O. and say that they want us to stay in N.A.T.O., nevertheless apparently are taking a rather different line from my right hon. Friends on this Bench. I think that the right hon. Member for Flint, West finally came down in favour of keeping nuclear weapons but said that we should never use them on our own. I do not know exactly what practical difference his proposal would make to the present situation. It was not clear, so I leave it.
I now come to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. Let me say this to him. I could not but be struck by the contrast between the moderation of his conclusion and the violence, dogmatism and vehemence of his arguments. He also seemed to me—I think that if he reads his speech he will see what I mean—not to make it clear whether he was speaking about 1141 United Kingdom defence policy or N.A.T.O. defence policy. This is a distinction which we must maintain. I am now talking about the United Kingdom.
For instance, my hon. Friend spoke of the totally incredible deterrent. I do not believe that the deterrent of the West, if he meant N.A.T.O., is totally incredible. I do not even believe that our own deterrent is totally incredible. It may become so in 5, 6 or 7 years' time. He spoke about keeping in the nuclear club being beyond our resources. It may be expensive, but it is going rather far to use language of that kind. The French, who still have a full-scale war in Algeria on their hands, have, nevertheless, managed to join the nuclear club. The danger is that it is not as expensive as I would like it to be to join the nuclear club. It is all too cheap in many respects.
My hon. Friend spoke of the decreasing strength of the West, but he made no reference to the main reason for it, if it is true, which is the enormous improvement in Soviet ballistics and nuclear developments. This hardly seemed to me an argument in itself for the West dispensing with nuclear weapons.
With regard to my hon. Friend's explanation about how he would have kept on the Statute Book the legislation regarding conscription, I did not really feel that that was an adequate answer to the problem. If there is a problem whether we should or should not have gone on with conscription, we do not get out of it by saying, "We could have kept the legislation on the Statute Book", because it is perfectly open to any Government to pass a new law about conscription.
Having made those criticisms, I accept that the conclusion of my hon. Friend was a mild one. He merely asked us to look where we were going and to change the bias between nuclear and conventional weapons. On that point, I am with him. I am in favour of that. We always have been. We have repeatedly, year after year, from this Bench criticised the Government for putting too much emphasis on nuclear weapons compared with conventional weapons.
1142 My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington was a little difficult to follow. I am sorry that he could not agree with our Amendment. I am puzzled because, after all, he accepted the vacillations of the Government. He said so specifically. He even added some extra nouns. He spoke of "the shifts and stratagems" of the Government. We might have got them in our Amendment if we had thought of it. He admitted the waste of the Government. He certainly accepts collective security, yet does not seem willing to agree with our Amendment.
I have a very simple reason for not accepting my right hon. Friend's Amendment. I think that it carries with it, whether by design or accident, the clear implication that we should not have our own nuclear weapons. It therefore represents a major change in the policy of our party which I am not prepared to accept. If he doubts my views on that, I can only ask him to observe that a number of my hon. Friends, who are well-known to be opposed to nuclear weapons for Britain, have chosen to support him.
My right hon. Friend, as I understand it, wants us to say that we should have no more nuclear weapons but that we may keep what we have got. He did not explain why he has changed his views since last year. I cannot understand that, because it was last year that Blue Streak was decided upon. In other words, it was last year that we committed ourselves to ballistics compared with aircraft. One would have supposed that at this point he might have said, "Now I will not go any further." He gave me some advice. I will only say this to him—that I hope that, whether I accept his advice or not, I will not change my tune quite so swiftly and quite so frequently as he has done.
I come now to our criticisms of the Government and I want first to re-echo what my right hon. Friend said about the Thor missile. I cannot see that this missile performs any useful function at all. It is known, and quite officially known, as a "first strike" weapon, which means in plain language that unless it is sent off in advance so that one takes the decision to launch this weapon before the Russians have launched theirs, it is no good whatsoever. I ask the 1143 Government whether they really contemplate a situation in which we would use a strategic weapon of this kind in advance and not in defence. We are entitled to a reply. If they say, "No we have no intention of doing so", then I can only say that it seems to me a very silly idea, because all it does is to attract the danger of Russian aggression in the first instance.
Now I come to the strange story of Blue Streak. It is a strange story, and I see that the Minister of Aviation is present. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) quoted yesterday some comments by The Times correspondent. I thought that they were admirable. I had intended to do so anyway so I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I quote them again. I think that they are interesting. This is what The Times correspondent said, referring to the decision of the Minister of Aviation last year to go ahead with Blue Streak—and it was a perfectly plain decision; he came down in favour of it; it is there in black and white in the White Paper. The Times correspondent said:Certainly it sounds as if someone is determined to have a land-based Blue Streak deterrent.The following day most of the newspapers reported that Blue Streak was in and Polaris was out. The right hon. Gentleman went further than that. He was so concerned with bringing down Polaris that at a Press conference, when the new programme was announced on 10th February, he questioned seriously the value of the Polaris missile-firing submarine. It would be extremely costly. It was unlikely to remain undetectable and its movements could be closely watched by the enemy.
So the view of the Tory Government at that time was in favour of Blue Streak and wholly against Polaris. Now we have a completely changed situation. We are still developing Blue Streak, but we are told that it may be a mistake to go in for a fixed land-based liquid fuel missile. In fact everybody is saying that this is just a quiet way of getting rid of Blue Streak altogether. I must say to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley—I am sorry that he did not agree with our Amendment—that one could not have a better example of 1144 vacillation on nuclear policy than what has happened with Blue Streak and Polaris in the last two years.
Why did the Government take so long to realise the drawback of the fixed land-based liquid fuel missile? It is surely obvious that on grounds of vulnerability, on the ground of the protection of the civil population, there was everything to be said in favour of a mobile rocket. Was it perhaps time—that they could not develop Polaris or Skybolt soon enough? If that is the case, how does the Minister say that there is still plenty of time to decide?
How much has been spent on Blue Streak? It is all very well for the Government to say, "It is all right, there is time to decide", but they have been spending millions on this. The Minister denied that it was £600 million. Perhaps he would like to say how much it is. Is it £100 million? Can we afford to go chucking £100 million down the drain, scrap it all and say that it is inevitable, as the Secretary of State says—that "we make mistakes from time to time." It may be inevitable, but it does not say much for the prescience and wisdom of the Government.
But when we speak of the nuclear deterrent today, is this really the problem we are facing? The Minister of Defence has said that we have nuclear bombs and nuclear warheads. We have, as far as I can make out, what we want. What matters surely now is what carrier will convey them, if by any chance they have to be conveyed. What carrier is there to be for the deterrent? This seems to me immensely significant, because the carrier, whether it be a rocket or an aircraft, is not tied up by United States legislation in the same way as are nuclear weapons. There is no particular difficulty about buying the carrier if we want to. Therefore, the case for developing our own ballistic missile is surely enormously weaker. We have to look at it from that point of view.
I should like to ask the Government what their intentions are now. Are we to spend £500 million on Blue Streak? That seems to be out now, and I think that is a good thing. If we are to go for Polaris or Skybolt, do we intend to develop these on our own or are we 1145 simply to add our nuclear warhead? If so, what difference in cost is this likely to make? These are things which we have to know if we are to make a sane and sensible decision about this.
I turn to the other question which I want to talk about and that is the situation of N.A.T.O. I think that the condition of the alliance today is worse than it has been at any time since it was founded. It is less cohesive, it is more divided, and there is more uncertainty. I think that there are two specific weaknesses associated with N.A.T.O., but both are related to the cardinal weakness, which is the failure to establish effective political control in the alliance.
The first of these—and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East—is our over-dependence and over-emphasis on nuclear weapons in Europe. In theory, of course, we ought to have such a force as will be able to contain any attack. We ought to have the deterrents, as it were, at different levels; but the fact is that the whole strategy of N.A.T.O. is so based on nuclear weapons now that there are the gravest doubts as to whether we could adequately contain, not a major conventional attack, because I think that very unlikely, but some development out of friction, dispute and conflict in which conventional weapons are used.
What makes us more anxious is the fact that the so-called tactical nuclear weapons are now no longer tactical at all. The Germans, it has been announced, have ordered the Mace with a range of 900 miles. That is not a tactical weapon; it is a strategic weapon. We are getting away from the idea of battlefield weapons. I think that the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Sir A. Spearman) who spoke before me, is quite right. It is extremely doubtful whether the West would be prepared to use nuclear weapons in those circumstances and, if so, the deterrent effect of them is lost. I do not say that we should have no nuclear weapons—of course not. The Russians have them and we should have them. But I say that at least the threshold on which we contemplate their use ought to be a great deal higher than it is now. There ought to be a higher proportion spent on conventional forces and a smaller one on nuclear weapons.
1146 I must say to the Government that, over all this, we cannt escape our share of responsibility. When the right hon. Gentleman in 1957 cut back our supply of conventional troops, cut them below what we had undertaken in the Paris Agreements, he was setting a very bad example indeed. I think that a lot that has happened since then is a direct result of what he did then.
The second weakness is that there is no effective political control. The most obvious instance of that is that even to this day there is no arrangement for a political decision on the use of nuclear weapons. Are we really to leave a vital issue of this kind to a general? Are not the Governments to decide this? Surely if the Governments are to decide this, there must be some machinery for reaching that decision. I know the difficulty of fourteen Governments and so on, but I think that these difficulties are sometimes greatly exaggerated.
I think we could probably get a smaller group entrusted with that decision, but why is nothing done about it? I suggest that we still have uncertainty as to who is responsible, and I say certainly that if we believe in the integration of our forces with N.A.T.O., we must face the problem of political control. We could not have a better example of what goes wrong in this respect when we do not have adequate political control than the story of the German attempt to negotiate a military base agreement in Spain.
How on earth did this happen? How did it come about that this was not brought to N.A.T.O. at once? I do not know whether hon. Members have seen the report in The Times this morning from its correspondent in Bonn describing what actually happened. It is really pretty frightening. The report reads:After Herr von Brentano had informed Mr. Herter in Paris of the Bundeswehr's logistical difficulties, the Secretary of State, on his return to Washington, discovered that West Germany intended to hold bilateral negotiations with Spain. He called in Dr. Grewe, the West German Ambassador, and pressed for a N.A.T.O. decision first.That is more than Her Majesty's Government did. The report continues:There can be no doubt that the American attitude was made known with unusual emphasis. Official impatience is readily understandable in the circumstances, but the department was further exercised by the subsequent action of Herr Strauss—1147 —The right hon. Gentleman's opposite number. The report continues:Determined to send a mission to Madrid for preliminary discussions in spite of American objections, the Minister informed the American Embassy by letter, which was delivered after the mission's departure.Is this the way that one member of N.A.T.O. should behave towards the Alliance? I say that it is completely and absolutey intolerable that this kind of behaviour should go on. Also, it is quite inconsistent with what we all understood to be the position under the Paris Agreements.
Sir Anthony Eden himself in November, 1954, said in praising those Agreements:It is thus established that no country will be able to use its forces operationally, or even to move them about in the area of SACEUR's command, in a manner inconsistent with the strategy laid down by N.A.T.O. … Equally important is control over logistics. … No modern army can, it seems, hope to operate without an exceedingly complicated system of supply. SACEUR's new responsibilities and powers in these matters will make not only for efficiency, but will also limit the possibilities of independent action by any one country within his system of command."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 404.]That is how the Foreign Secretary, as he was then, commended those Agreements to the House. How can anyone say that this is the kind of thing that has happened in the last few days or weeks? The story that all the Germans needed were some supply dumps and hospitals sounds very unimpressive. If they really need a large amount of space for air training, that is one thing. Let us have the truth about it if that is what they want. But if the space is wanted for dumps or hospitals, is it really necessary to go to Spain? Anyway, what sort of war are they contemplating fighting if the supply dumps and hospitals are going to be hundreds of miles away?
I hope, too, we shall not have any more quibbles, such as we have had already, that these were not negotiations they were just talks. After what we have heard about Herr Strauss's behaviour, we know just how seriously to treat that.
I must say this to the Government and to hon. Gentlemen opposite. On this side of the House we still have a healthy dislike of the Fascist Government of Spain. We are opposed as were the 1148 Government—and I was glad to hear it—to Spain entering N.A.T.O. I personally regret that the United States made their own independent agreement with Spain, but what is very much worse from the point of view of anybody who remembers the 1930s is the association of Germany and Spain. We really cannot forget two things: first, that a Spanish blue division, sent by the present Government of Spain, fought against us in the war—fought against Russia in the war, against our allies; secondly, we cannot forget, whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may feel about this, that it was Germany and Italy that helped Franco to get into power.
I want to ask the Government this firm question again: What are their intentions? I was disturbed by what seemed to be a weakening by the Foreign Secretary in his last comments on this yesterday. Why should we allow Germany to have any bases of any kind in Spain? Are we going to be satisfied if they say that they will only have hospitals and dumps? I ask the Government to give a firm assurance that they will oppose in the N.A.T.O. Council any proposals of this kind whatever.
This is a situation in N.A.T.O. which we all deplore, but I must repeat that it springs very largely from the gradual weakening which has been going on over the last few years, and for which the Government must carry heavy responsibility. It is because of the weakening of our defence forces, because they have also, as it seems to me, shown the greatest vacillation and confusion, because they are certainly giving us extremely poor value for money, that we have no confidence whatever in the capacity of the Government to organise the defence of the country.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said at the beginning of his remarks that he wanted to bring the debate back to some of the broad issues. I do not disagree with that, but he must appreciate that as well as dealing with some of the things he has raised, as I intend to, I must also reply to some of the issues raised by hon. Members, particularly those behind him, which are not entirely in line with his very broad summing up of the Front 1149 Bench attitude to defence policy, with which, on the whole, I do not find a great deal to disagree, and I am very glad that is so. That part of his speech seemed to me about the mildest speech I have ever heard justifying a Motion of censure.
However—and I think he will agree with me on this—if I tried to follow the conflicting advice given to me in this debate, particularly from benches behind the right hon. Gentleman, I should pursue a vacillating course. There have been many cross currents in this debate. I have listened with close attention to practically all of it. I should like to thank those hon. Members who have wished me well. A Minister of Defence needs all the help he can get, and I suppose every hon. Member has a vested interest in his task. I would say only that I wish to keep the House as fully informed as I can about defence matters, because I think that is right, and I think it is the answer to some of the things I have been told from the Opposition benches which, I hope, owe more to ignorance than to design.
In answering I will first try to deal with some of the big questions which were raised, and rightly raised. In that, I hope I shall answer many of the points which the right hon. Gentleman has raised. Before I do that, however, I would like to say a word about the three very outstanding maiden speeches which we have heard.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Captain Litchfield) spoke with great knowledge and accuracy about the Royal Navy and the Services. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. M. Hamilton) made some points about Germany which I thought were very valid and interesting. I am not sure we all agree that it would be a good thing to drop the Defence White Paper after this year—nor am I sure whether in making my own maiden speech, I would have had the courage to give that sort of advice to my own Front Bench—but I certainly congratulate him upon it. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) said some very wise things about N.A.T.O. I will return to that in a moment.
The whole House will be happy to join with me in congratulating my three hon. 1150 Friends and in saying how much we hope they will intervene again in our debates, and that they will undoubtedly make a considerable contribution to them. I was much attracted by the idea of a small committee which might help me to shorten the immense gap which often exists between an idea being born and being translated into hardware which could be used, an idea contained in the maiden winding-up speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) last night. I should like to study that idea closely.
The first main question which has run through the debate is that of N.A.T.O., its strength and Her Majesty's Government's relationship to it. The first thing I must do is to try to present the facts. I do not accept the assessment of its strength given by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition or by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). I differ from the hon. Member for Dudley with diffidence, because I know how closely he studies these things, but perhaps he will accept this from me as being the best estimate I can give of N.A.T.O.'s present strength.
It is not customary or proper for one member Government of N.A.T.O. publicly to disclose the details of the numbers and so on, but in my researches I found a very good pamphlet recently issued by the Institute of Strategic Studies and entitled "The Soviet Union and N.A.T.O. Powers—The Military Balance". This pamphlet quotes certain figures and I can tell the hon. Member from my own knowledge that those figures seem to me to come from a well-informed source.
The gist of them is that the present target for land forces in the central sector, to be reached in 1963, is 30 divisions. That has been accepted as a planning figure, which is the important point and which contradicts what the hon. Member said. The Supreme Commander has at his disposal in the central sector at present 2⅓ divisions, which is not a bad figure. That shows that N.A.T.O. has a reasonable volume of strength of its own. We all know that the Supreme Commander would like to have stronger forces. That is a matter which comes up at every N.A.T.O. meeting. When I go to the N.A.T.O. Defence Ministers' 1151 Meeting at the end of this month, I hope that I may be able to put forward proposals which will strengthen the shield aspect of the N.A.T.O. forces.
It is said that we have not made our proper contribution to N.A.T.O. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I that the drawing down of our original contribution to N.A.T.O. was done under the perfectly proper terms of the original agreement, which allowed us, in the event of an acute overseas emergency, or in the event of too great a strain on the external finances of the United Kingdom, to draw down our forces, provided that W.E.U. agreed, and the condition of W.E.U.'s agreement was that SACEUR should advise that that course was acceptable to him.
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we made our formal request in February, 1957, and we received permission to reduce our forces. Indeed, we said at that time that we would draw down our forces even more than we have done. At the last N.A.T.O. meeting I was able to say that we would hold our strength in B.A.O.R. at seven brigade groups, and I have since been able to be more specific and say that we would keep a large air force in Germany and strengthen it by putting Valiant bombers there.
I think that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who has seen General Norstad recently, will agree that the present position of our contribution to N.A.T.O. is quite acceptable to the Supreme Commander. The words "as long as" were certainly used, as were the words "for the time being", but what is meant by that is that as long as it is necessary, by which we mean—and this is what I hope to say when I go to the N.A.T.O. Defence Ministers' Meeting at the end of this month—that we wish to strengthen N.A.T.O., particularly the shield forces, and we want to play our full part in the alliance, and we will keep our forces there, as long as it seems necessary for us so to do, to keep the alliance strong, vigorous and efficient.
I do not think the claim can be made that we are not playing our proper part in the N.A.T.O. Alliance. It is known in N.A.T.O. that we not only play a part with our land forces. What about our naval contribution to the European 1152 Supreme Commander, to the Supreme Commander, Atlantic, and to the Channel Command? What about the fact, for example, that our tactical bomber force at home is also committed to SACEUR?
It is true, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) so rightly said—and I hope that both sides of the House will accept this—that we would be foolish in this House, or in our own country, to depreciate too much the effort that we make, and indeed the effort that the whole of the West makes. That seems to be the most likely way to depreciate the validity of the deterrent on which the peace of the West rests. The attempt made by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) to denigrate everything that we were doing in Europe was nothing but a complete disservice to the cause of peace.
One question which has been raised may be of interest to the House. It is said, "But of course we have cut our forces down so much that we cannot maintain our proper position in Europe". I would ask the House to look at this. The main German forces still rest on the basis of twelve months' conscript service. Do we accept that a British Service man who is now well paid, who is a highly efficient, well-armed and well-equipped, Regular soldier, is only the equivalent of a German soldier who serves for only twelve months' conscript service? It is clearly known and accepted in N.A.T.O. that our new Regular Forces have an efficiency, quality and fighting power which is worth two or three conscript soldiers even in the German forces. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Who is denigrating now?"] I am merely stating a military fact. I am not interested in doing other than try to present the balance of facts to the House.*
Our contribution to N.A.T.O. is a powerful one. It fulfils our obligations, and we intend to go on playing our part in trying to make N.A.T.O. viable and efficient, and, indeed, in ensuring that it remains the core of our defences in the West.
I might as well deal now with the right hon. Gentleman's point about the Spanish bases which was fully dealt with
§ * NOTE.—See Official Report, 2nd March, 1960, c. 1223.1153
§ by my right hon. Friend the other day. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It certainly was. I would add only two points of which I think the House should take account. First, it is clear from this that whatever view one takes about it, it is essential to have a strong N.A.T.O., and to have Germany firmly incorporated within N.A.T.O. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with that, and I hope that the House will also agree with it. It has shown what immense safeguards there are in this course.
§ The other thing is that Dr. Adenauer has said clearly, and it is on the record, that he wishes any negotiations—and there are no definite negotiations at the moment—to take place only through N.A.T.O. In my view—and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman dissociated himself from those few of his hon. Members who are on the record as saying that they wish to do away with N.A.T.O.—it is an essential safeguard that Germany should be within N.A.T.O. and regarded as a firm and equal partner. That is the wish of Dr. Adenauer himself, which I think the House should support.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that nothing could damage N.A.T.O. more, and far outweigh any conceivable military argument, than for Germany to have any kind of bases in Spain? If that is the case why cannot the Government say, here and now, that they will oppose any suggestion of this kind in N.A.T.O.?
§ Mr. Watkinson
That is a matter which will be debated in N.A.T.O. That is where it should be decided. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] The Government's position, as given by my right hon. Friend, is quite plain, and I think that we had better get on with what is supposed to be a debate on defence.
I am very surprised that such scant mention was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to a subject that I hoped would be one of the central features of the debate, namely, disarmament. His right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was kind enough to say that I opened and closed my speech with an emotional plea for disarmament. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition did not mention disarmament at all.
1154 I wonder why. The alternative to continuing the balance of nuclear strength between the West and the Communist world is controlled and comprehensive disarmament. I hope that that is what the Opposition want. I still think it strange that it should be left to a Minister of Defence and not to anybody on the Opposition Front Bench to deal with this most important issue.
I now turn to the Motion in the name of the right hon. Member for Easington. I accept what he said about disarmament. I accept that the whole House wants disarmament. I said that nobody wanted it more than the Government, and it is to the Government's credit that we played a prominent part in the establishment of the 10-Power Disarmament Committee, which we hope will start profitable and useful work in Geneva. That is why I entirely disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's Motion. It is entirely out of line with events. It is out of line with Mr. Khrushchev's recent actions, because he has done now what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation did two years ago. He has proclaimed a noticeable shift to a reliance upon nuclear deterrence. It is also notable that in his own disarmament proposals Mr. Khrushchev puts nuclear disarmament at the bottom of the list and conventional disarmament first.
I am entirely in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition that pleas for the renunciation of the nuclear deterrent at this moment cannot do any service to the cause of disarmament and, indeed, are not at all in line with the facts of the defence situation or the disarmament situation. If we were to throw away our nuclear weapons today we should not 'help the cause of peace; we should rather hinder it. Therefore, in that matter at least I do not disagree with the Leader of the Opposition. I am glad that he reaffirmed the position of his party today. He said that we should have an independent nuclear deterrent, and he gave some good reasons for that, although he went on to qualify what kind of deterrent it would be.
We must not misunderstand the contribution which we are making today. Many hon. Members—I hope through ignorance—have tended to refer to our small contribution, and to the fact that it is inefficient or is not a very lasting 1155 one. The facts are that despite the coming missiles and rockets the American Strategic Air Command still wields probably the most terrifying retaliatory power that exists in the world, in any one force. Our own British force of medium bombers plays an essential part within that concept. They are armed with weapons of immense power and therefore this country is playing an important part in maintaining the nuclear deterrent power in the West. This force is mobile. It can take off at short notice. It is widely dispersed and there is no doubt that even against a surprise attack it retains a greater power for retaliation than the right hon. Gentleman was willing to allow.
I am glad that he agrees with the Government that that position has to be maintained. As to how it is maintained in the later years of the 1960s and the early 1970s I will only say, as I said earlier in the debate, that our difficulty as a nation is that we must pick weapons which are efficient, which have the greatest validity. We have to pick winners right out of the stable—[HON. MEMBERS: "Blue Streak"]—therefore, it is not wrong that we should choose as freely as we can and as late as we can. The right hon. Gentleman quoted The Times in reference to my right hon. Friend. Perhaps he did not read the leading article in The Times on 17th February which said clearly that the choice of Blue Streak at the time it was made—which was a lot earlier than the right hon. Gentleman said—was the correct choice. At that time it had the best prospect of being the most suitable weapon to succeed the V-bombers.
At the moment the situation is that the development of this weapon goes on, but, as I told the House as clearly as I could, there are other weapons available which we must carefully examine to see what best meets our needs. I do not think there is anything in that but an attempt to maintain our own independent contribution as efficiently and at as reasonable a cost as we can.
I come now to the Opposition Amendment. It charges the Government with vacillation and indecision. I wonder whether those are wise words in the light of the debate which we have had. 1156 I do not do more than record that among hon. Members opposite there is a wide measure of vacillation and confusion about what their defence policy should be. I think that the views of hon. Members opposite are sincerely held and I do not question them, but none the less, vacillation and confusion certainly exist at the moment in the Labour Party regarding its future defence policy.
It is said by some hon. Members opposite that there is a great deal of waste. The right hon. Member for Easington said that he absolved the Government from any charge of waste in their defence effort. I accept that from the right hon. Gentleman, bearing in mind his long experience in military matters, although I disagree with his general thesis about nuclear defence. As he said, he is still a member of the Labour Party.
Leading on from the charge of vacillation and confusion I wish to deal with something which has been said by a number of hon. Members, that we do not get very much for our money. The best way I can end my remarks is to give the House some examples of what we do get. For the Royal Air Force we get hundreds of Valiants, Victors and Vulcans, several hundreds of Javelins, some hundreds of Hunters and over 500 Canberras. Those are a few examples. For the Army we get the Saladin armoured car, the Ferret scout car, the Saracen command vehicle, the new tank, the Skeeter helicopter and the new rifle. There are many other examples. In accommodation we have single accommodation for 15,500 officers and men and 9 million square feet of storage. In the Navy we have six aircraft carriers, eight destroyers and a great many new aircraft, including the Sea Venom, the Scimitar, the Gannet and the Sea Vixen. The fact is that with the money laid out for defence over the past eight years we have done exactly what it was intended to do. Our conventional forces have been increased. Let us remember that the nuclear complement of our defence is still only around 10 per cent., so that its redistribution would not greatly help our effort. What has really happened is that, after the difficulties of the Korean War which both sides of the House bore on their shoulders, the re-equipment programme has gathered 1157 strength, our new all-Regular Services will be better-equipped, more mobile, and have greater hitting power than ever before in their history.
That brings me to one thing on which I very much agree with the right hon. Member for Belper. I should like to end on perhaps a slightly different note. It is right that we should have these debates. It is right that we should question all the issues, but I think it also right that we should have our personal views on this matter. I do not at all disagree that personal views should differ in this House on these matters. I know they are held sincerely. Perhaps, in conclusion, I may say something about the personal views of those who try to bear this burden, as I think the right hon. Gentleman and his friends wish to do, this burden of maintaining this programme of the major nuclear deterrent and playing our part in N.A.T.O. and in the world. It costs us an immense sum of money. Most people, I think, could make a case for spending that money on roads, on hospitals or something else—
§ Mr. Watkinson
I know the hon. Member is sincere on that, but this is a burden which both sides of the House since the war have sought to bear and both sides, although differing in detail, have been agreed that the job of our nation is to try to deter war by maintaining a firm deterrent, both conventional and nuclear.
The right hon. Gentleman said that when one remembers how emotional the anti-nuclear disarmers are allowed to get, it is sometimes a little hard because
§ we are never allowed to have any feelings. I think we have feelings, those of us who try to carry this burden. I think our feelings are best expressed by saying this. Most of us have seen two wars. Most of us know that a third war would be immensely more destructive and might end our civilisation. We maintain this deterrent, this position of strength—until we can get disarmament, as we hope—because we sincerely and honestly believe that it is the only way to keep the peace in the world. We have a right to take a pride in that.
§ We have a right to say that it is a moral cause to try to do this. I certainly join with the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in this. It is a task for the nation. It is not a task for any particular party. Those people who honestly feel that they cannot join it have a right to their consciences and to their say, but I must say again that the majority of the nation and, I hope—whatever our divisions may be tonight—the majority of this House believe that the right course to keep the peace is to do what successive Governments have done since the war. That is, to maintain our force for peace in the world. That means paying the price for it and being willing to use nuclear defence or anything else that is available. That is what I believe we should do and what the Government intend to do. I hope we shall have the support of the Opposition in it, despite a Division in the Lobbies tonight.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 330, Noes 197.1161
|Division No. 45.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Bidgood, John C.||Burden, F. A.|
|Allason, James||Biggs-Davison, John||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bingham, R. M.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bishop, F. P.||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Black, Sir Cyril||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bossom, Clive||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)|
|Balniel, Lord||Bourne-Arton, A.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Barber, Anthony||Box, Donald||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Chataway, Christopher|
|Barter, John||Boyle, Sir Edward||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Braine, Bernard||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Brewis, John||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Brooman-White, R.||Cole, Norman|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Collard, Richard|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Bryan, Paul||Cooke, Robert|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Bullard, Denys||Cooper, A. E.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hughes-Young, Michael||Page, Graham|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Cordle, John||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Partridge, E.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Costain, A. P.||Iremonger, T. L.||Peel, John|
|Coulson, J. M.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Jackson, John||Peyton, John|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||James, David||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Critchley, Julian||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jennings, J. C.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pott, Percivall|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Dance, James||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Joseph, Sir Keith||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior, J. M. L.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Doughty, Charles||Kershaw, Anthony||Ramsden, James|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kimball, Marcus||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Duthie, Sir William||Kirk, Peter||Rees, Hugh|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Kitson, Timothy||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Eden, John||Lagden, Godfrey||Renton, David|
|Elliott, R. W.||Lambton, Viscount||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Emery, Peter||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Langford-Holt, J.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Leather, E. H. C.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Leavey, J. A.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Leburn, Gilmour||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Farr, John||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fell, Anthony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Roots, William|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lilley, F. J. P.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lindsay, Martin||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Forrest, George||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Russell, Ronald|
|Foster, John||Litchfield, Capt. John||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Longbottom, Charles||Seymour, Leslie|
|Freeth, Denzil||Longden, Gilbert||Sharples, Richard|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Loveys, Walter H.||Shepherd, William|
|Gammans, Lady||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Gardner, Edward||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||McAdden, Stephen||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||MacArthur, Ian||Smithers, Peter|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||McLaren, Martin||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Godber, J. B.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Speir, Rupert|
|Goodhart, Philip||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Goodhew, Victor||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Gower, Raymond||McMaster, Stanley||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Green, Alan||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Madden, Martin||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Maginnis, John E.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Talbot, John E.|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Marlowe, Anthony||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marshall, Douglas||Teeling, William|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marten, Neil||Temple, John M.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hay, John||Mawby, Ray||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hendry, Forbes||Mills, Stratton||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Montgomery, Fergus||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Moore, Sir Thomas||Turner, Colin|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morgan, William||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Morrison, John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hobson, John||Nabarro, Gerald||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Neave, Airey||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Holland, Philip||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Noble, Michael||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Hopkins, Alan||Nugent, Sir Richard||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Watts, James|
|Webster, David||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Woollam, John|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)||Wise, Alfred||Worsley, Marcus|
|Whitelaw, William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Williams, Dudley (Exeter)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)||Woodhouse, C. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||Woodnutt, Mark||Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Legh.|
|Ainsley, William||Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Albu, Austen||Healey, Denis||Oswald, Thomas|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Owen, Will|
|Awbery, Stan||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Padley, W. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Beaney, Alan||Hilton, A. V.||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Holman, Percy||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Houghton, Douglas||Peart, Frederick|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Howell, Charles A.||Pentland, Norman|
|Benson, Sir George||Hoy, James H.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Blyton, William||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Boardman, H.||Hunter, A. E.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Probert, Arthur|
|Bowles, Frank||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Boyden, James||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Randall, Harry|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Janner, Barnett||Redhead, E. C.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Reid, William|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jeger, George||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Callaghan, James||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Carmichael, James||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Ross, William|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Short, Edward|
|Chetwynd, George||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Cliffe, Michael||Kenyon, Clifford||Small, William|
|Collick, Percy||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Snow, Julian|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||King, Dr. Horace||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Lawson, George||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Ledger, Ron||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Darling, George||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stonehouse, John|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Stones, William|
|Deer, George||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Logan, David||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Loughlin, Charles||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Dempsey, James||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Diamond, John||McCann, John||Sylvester, George|
|Dodds, Norman||MacColl, James||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McInnes, James||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mackie, John||Thornton, Ernest|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, Frank||Timmons, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Tomney, Frank|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Mahon, Simon||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Evans, Albert||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Finch, Harold||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fitch, Alan||Manuel, A. C.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mapp, Charles||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Forman, J. C.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Whitlock, William|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Marsh, Richard||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mason, Roy||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mayhew, Christopher||Willey, Frederick|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mellish, R. J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Millan, Bruce||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Monslow, Walter||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moody, A. S.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Grey, Charles||Morris, John||Woof, Robert|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Moyle, Arthur||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mulley, Frederick|
|Gunter, Ray||Neal, Harold||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Mr. J. Taylor and|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes, 329, Noes 245.1167
|Division No. 46.]||AYES||[10.13 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Alport, C. J. M.||Ashton, Sir Hubert|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Atkins, Humphrey|
|Allason, James||Arbuthnot, John||Balniel, Lord|
|Barber, Anthony||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Longbottom, Charles|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Barter, John||Freeth, Denzil||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Batsford, Brian||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Gammans, Lady||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Gardner, Edward||McAdden, Stephen|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||George, J. C. (Pollok)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Gibson-Watt, David||McLaren, Martin|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Godber, J. B.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Goodhart, Philip||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Goodhew, Victor||McMaster, Stanley|
|Bingham, R. M.||Gower, Raymond||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Green, Alan||Madden, Martin|
|Bossom, Clive||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Grimston, Sir Robert||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.|
|Box, Donald||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col, R. G.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Braine, Bernard||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest|
|Brewis, John||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marten, Neil|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Brooman-White, R.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bryan, Paul||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mawby, Ray|
|Bullard, Denys||Hay, John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Burden, F. A.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mills, Stratton|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hendry, Forbes||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hiley, Joseph||Morgan, William|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hobson, John||Neave, Airey|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hocking, Philip N.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Chataway, Christopher||Holland, Philip||Noble, Michael|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hopkins, Alan||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Collard, Richard||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Page, Graham|
|Cooke, Robert||Hughes-Young, Michael||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Peel, John|
|Cordle, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Percival, Ian|
|Corfield, F. V.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Peyton, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Jackson, John||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Coulson, J. M.||James, David||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Critchley, Julian||Jennings, J. C.||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pott, Percivall|
|Cunningham, Knox||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Dance, James||Joseph, Sir Keith||Prior, J. M. L.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Ramsden, James|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kershaw, Anthony||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Doughty, Charles||Kimball, Marcus||Rees, Hugh|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kirk, Peter||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Duthie, Sir William||Kitson, Timothy||Renton, David|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Lagden, Godfrey||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Eden, John||Lambton, Viscount||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Elliott, R. W.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leather, E. H. C.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Leavey, J. A.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Erroll, F. J.||Leburn, Gilmour||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Roots, William|
|Farr, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fell, Anthony||Lilley, F. J. P.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lindsay, Martin||Russell, Ronald|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Forrest, George||Litchfield, Capt. John||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Foster, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Sharples, Richard||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Shepherd, William||Teeling, William||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Simon, Sir Jocelyn||Temple, John M.||Watts, James|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Webster, David|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Smithers, Peter||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Whitelaw, William|
|Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Speir, Rupert||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stanley, Hon. Richard||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wise, Alfred|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||Turner, Colin||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Stodart, J. A.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Storey, Sir Samuel||Vane, W. M. F.||Woollam, John|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Vickers, Miss Joan||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Sumner, Donald (Orpington)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Talbot, John E.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tapsell, Peter||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Legh|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Abse, Leo||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Ledger, Ron|
|Ainsley, William||Evans, Albert||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Albu, Austen||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Finch, Harold||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Fitch, Alan||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Awbery, Stan||Fletcher, Eric||Lipton, Marcus|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Forman, J. C.||Logan, David|
|Baird, John||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Beaney, Alan||Galpern, Sir Myer||McCann, John|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||MacColl, James|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Ginsburg, David||McInnes, James|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Gooch, E. G.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Benson, Sir George||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mackie, John|
|Blackburn, F.||Gourlay, Harry||McLeavy, Frank|
|Blyton, William||Greenwood, Anthony||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Boardman, H.||Grey, Charles||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mahon, Simon|
|Bowles, Frank||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Boyden, James||Grimond, J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Gunter, Ray||Manuel, A. C.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mapp, Charles|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Marsh, Richard|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Roy|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hayman, F. H.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Healey, Denis||Mellish, R. J.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Callaghan, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Millan, Bruce|
|Carmichael, James||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hilton, A. V.||Monslow, Walter|
|Chapman, Donald||Holman, Percy||Moody, A. S.|
|Chetwynd, George||Holt, Arthur||Morris, John|
|Cliffe, Michael||Houghton, Douglas||Moyle, Arthur|
|Collick, Percy||Howell, Charles A.||Mulley, Frederick|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hoy, James H.||Neal, Harold|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Cronin, John||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hunter, A. E.||Oram, A. E.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Darling, George||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Owen, Will|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Padley, W. E.|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Janner, Barnett||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jeger, George||Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)|
|Deer, George||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Paton, John|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Delargy, Hugh||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Peart, Frederick|
|Diamond, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pentland, Norman|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Driberg, Tom||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Kenyon, Clifford||Probert, Arthur|
|Edelman, Maurice||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||King, Dr. Horace||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lawson, George||Randall, Harry|
|Rankin, John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Weitzman, David|
|Redhead, E. C.||Stonehouse, John||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Reid, William||Stones, William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Rhodes, H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Whitlock, William|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Wigg, George|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith||Wiloock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Swain, Thomas||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Swingler, Stephen||Willey, Frederick|
|Ross, William||Sylvester, George||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Short, Edward||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Skeffington, Arthur||Thornton, Ernest||Woof, Robert|
|Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Thorpe, Jeremy||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Small, William||Timmons, John||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Tomney, Frank||Zilliacus, K.|
|Snow, Julian||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Wainwright, Edwin||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Warbey, William||Mr. J. Taylor and|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Watkins, Tudor||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|That this House approves the Report on Defence, 1960, contained in Command Paper No. 952.|