HC Deb 02 March 1960 vol 618 cc1191-2
4. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement about the proposed establishment of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation base in the Isle of Lewis.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

It has been proposed to make a substantial development of Stornoway airfield as a charge to the N.A.T.O. infrastructure programme, so that in the event of war it could be used by N.A.T.O. aircraft. No decision has yet been reached.

We are aware of objections from local residents and, for this and other reasons, we are anxious to be sure that the choice of Stornoway is essential before we embark on any development.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, quite apart from my personal views on this, the main anxieties are about the very large influx of personnel, possibly including Spaniards and West Germans nowadays—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—into this area, and the threat to the whole character and way of life of a small community of the islands, and secondly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—the proximity of the base to the only concentration of population in that part of the north Highlands, and finally, the inability of the Minister of Defence to say that there will not be stockpiling of nuclear weapons in that area? Those are the main objections and anxieties. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Will the hon. Gentleman keep them in mind?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will bear in mind the points the hon. Member has made, but I think it right to say that the construction of such a base, if it should be possible to go ahead with it, would not be done by people from overseas but by British people, and that it would give valuable employment.