HC Deb 16 March 1960 vol 619 cc1294-5
43. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Minister of Defence to what extent and in what numbers West German military personnel are to be trained on the South Uist guided missile range.

Mr. Ward

I have been asked to reply.

We informed the N.A.T.O. military authorities last year of our readiness to make the Hebrides range available for firing practice for a small number of N.A.T.O. missile units, but our offer has not so far been taken up by any member country.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is widespread and growing resentment and dismay at the prospect of bringing General Speidel's jackbooted troopers into this country, when we were defending ourselves against them not so many years ago? Is he further aware that this resentment is not lessened by the fact that the proposal involves one of the most patriotic constituencies in this country, which suffered more, proportionately, than any other part of the British Empire? Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that this proposal will not be tolerated?

Mr. Ward

As I said, this offer has been made to all N.A.T.O. countries and not just to Western Germany. It is entirely in accord with the principles of interdependence that one N.A.T.O. country should make available to other N.A.T.O. countries any spare capacity it has on its training ranges. If Western Germany, as a member of N.A.T.O., makes a request for the use of this range, we shall certainly give it sympathetic consideration.

Mr. Fletcher

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that that is not the end of the question? There are considerable objections, based on very strong grounds, to providing any bases in this country for the training of any German troops. Will he please bear that fact in mind?

Mr. Ward

There is no question of setting up a German base of any kind. Any foreign units which practise on the British range would do so only occasionally and for short periods.