HC Deb 23 March 1960 vol 620 cc473-5
4. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the German Air Force personnel being trained in this country receive training in the use of nuclear weapons; and whether they engage in training flights in aircraft carrying such weapons.

Mr. Ward

No, Sir.

Mr. MacMillan

Will the Minister bear in mind that, in view of the very widespread objections that were taken in this country to the practice, even by our own Air Force and the American Air Force in Britain, of carrying nuclear weapons over this country, it would be regarded as highly obnoxious if Luftwaffe personnel were to engage in flights of this kind or in this training with nuclear weapons over a country which was so very recently the target of German bombing forces?

Mr. Ward

There is no question of that arising.

5. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Air what arrangements regarding landing, refuelling, and other facilities have been made to enable the West German Air Force to carry out practice flights from or over the territory of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ward

The arrangements are similar to those for the air forces of other N.A.T.O. countries.

Mr. Warbey

Does this mean that, in fact, the Government have made arrangements for the Luftwaffe to fly over this country in practice flights, and, if so, will the right hon. Gentleman say so definitely? If they have not, will he give an assurance that they will not do so, because the whole idea is totally abhorrent to the people of this country?

Mr. Ward

Certainly not. In common with other members of N.A.T.O., facilities have been provided from time to time for the German Air Force to come to several Royal Air Force airfields, also to stations used by the United States Air Force, and to some civil airfields, too.

Mr. Warbey

Is this going to increase in future, as the Luftwaffe grows with several hundred Star fighters which have been ordered from the United States, and with the lack of air space, of which they complain? Does it mean that we are to have regular Luftwaffe flights over this country, and if so, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there will be very strong opposition to this?

Mr. Ward

These are normal staging facilities at Royal Air Force airfields which we offer to our N.A.T.O. allies. In this particular case, the German Air Attache seeks agreement from the Air Ministry in advance, giving the details of each proposed flight, including the facilities needed if the aircraft is to land.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that some of us on this side of the House feel much the same as hon. Gentlemen opposite, but, at this stage, the only way of controlling the German Air Force is to work with it and exercise a measure of control by co-operation through N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Rankin

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not he proposes to bring German forces, like the American forces, under the Visiting Forces Act?

Mr. Ward

No. The flights to which I have referred are individual flights. There has been no visit of a formed operational unit.

Mr. de Freitas

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that when German military aircraft come here, they come here as aircraft under N.A.T.O. command?

Mr. Ward