HC Deb 02 March 1960 vol 618 cc1218-9
47. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Defence if, in view of the imminence of international discussions on the problems of disarmament and world peace, and the desirability of reducing tension in order to create a favourable atmosphere for these discussions, he will instruct the Service Departments and the other authorities concerned to postpone the construction of a ballistic missile early warning station in the United Kingdom, at least until after these discussions have taken place.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

No, Sir.

Mr. Driberg

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Foreign Secretary was consulted about the timing of the announcement about Fylingdales? Was it not realised, quite apart from the merits or demerits of the project, that an announcement at this time would be likely to aggravate intransigence, obstinacy and boastfulness on both sides of the negotiation table?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary was aware of this decision. Its effect was discussed in the debate on defence over the last two days. Undoubtedly it adds to the effectiveness of our deterrent. It does not measure badly against some of the statements which the Russians have recently made about their great increase in power of rockets and missiles and I do not think, therefore, that it will have the bad effects which the hon. Gentleman suggests.