§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
I beg to move,That this House regards the proposal to establish a ballistic missile early warning station on Fylindales Moor as contrary to the spirit of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949; takes note of the opinion of eminent scientists that this station cannot be equipped with a system of radar detection capable of identifying ballistic missiles with certainty, and that the risk that a nuclear war may be precipitated by accident or error is thus aggravated; refuses to accept official assurances that ministerial consultations will be practicable, coincidentally with the dispatch of a substantial part of the bomber force, in a period of time that may be as short as four minutes; considers that the timing of the announcement of this project, shortly before the disarmament conference, was not calculated to create a better atmosphere for international negotiation, and that, since the project has been represented as a contribution to western defence generally, a disproportionate part of its cost is being borne by the United Kingdom; and therefore calls on Her Majesty's Government not to proceed with an undertaking likely to intensify the peril of war without affording the British people any adequate or increased protection.Since this Motion was put down, an Amendment to it has been tabled by two of my hon. Friends and appears on the Order Paper this morning: it seeks to leave out all the words from "1949" to the end. I welcome the Amendment if, as I assume, it is simply a formality intended to ensure that the first part of my Motion is not ignored in today's debate. Clearly, I share my hon. Friend's anxiety about this aspect of the matter, or I would not have included it in my Motion.
A few weeks ago, the Daily Express published a pocket cartoon by Mr. Osbert Lancaster which had some bearing on this point. It showed a couple of hikers standing on a moor looking 812 disconsolately at a board bearing the words:National Park. Sites suitable for giant reactors, missile bases, power stations, atom piles, etc., always available. Apply Whitehall.On the board crouches, like an omen of doom, a black vulture. Mr. Lancaster's irony is all too apt. In recent years it has been the Government, who are supposed to be responsible, among other things, fox decent planning and for the preservation of rural amenities, who have been the main despoiler of the dwindling natural beauties of our land.
If the Under-Secretary of State for Air, who is, I gather, to reply to this debate, has taken the trouble to read the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, and the debates leading up to it, he will see how true it is that this Fylingdales project is contrary to the spirit and intention of that Act. I am not sure that the letter of it has not been broken, too. For instance, it seems to be a requirement that the National Parks Commission is to be consulted about proposals for development. Unless this means consultation in advance, it means nothing.
When, however, the Secretary of State for Air was asked about this aspect of the proposal, he replied that "We shall be consulting"—about the layout of the buildings and that kind of thing. He said something similar in his original statement on 17th February. This implies that the authorities concerned are merely being presented with a diktat from Whitehall, or, rather, from Washington.
In the debates on the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Bill, which was, as I may remind hon. Members, introduced by the Labour Government, but was an unopposed Measure— it was welcomed by Members on both sides of the House—speakers from both sides expressed apprehension lest the powers conveyed to the National Parks Commission might not be strong enough to enable it to carry out its statutory functions. One Conservative Member, now Governor-General of Australia, spoke mournfully of Government Departments as the chief "depredators" of open spaces and of the need to fight against them. I wonder what he would say if he were here today.
813 I am not arguing that the whole of the proposed site is an unspoilt and idyllic spot as it is. It has already been considerably devastated by the War Department. It was used during and since the war. But it is, none the less, used extensively by walkers. There are youth hostels in very close proximity to it— well, pretty close. The announcement a year or two ago that the Government were to give it up was received with delight by the Youth Hostels Association and all the other so-called amenity bodies, and unexploded bombs have been substantially cleared away in recent months.
Despite the fact that this Government reversal of policy at Fylingdales means that the devastation of the moor will be semi-permanent, will continue, and be made far worse for the foreseeable future, it would be idle for me to deny that the project has been welcomed by some local authorities and other local spokesmen. I would not for a moment deny that. But why is this? Obviously, those good Yorkshiremen do not want their county ruined. Nor does the Under-Secretary, as he told us in his reply to the debate on the Air Estimates recently. He spoke very movingly, as I recall, in that debate of having traversed this ground many times on what he called his "flat feet."
I believe that this local welcome is largely attributable to two delusions. The first delusion is that the project will substantially assist local employment, and I think that Ministers have been guilty of fostering this delusion by their repeated references to the employment of 2,000 men on the site. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but if the precedent of other major projects is followed or is anything to go by, this project will be handled by one or more of the big contractors, people like McAlpine's, Laing's, and so on, and they generally bring to such jobs their own battalions of mobile workers. Most of these will be citizens of the Republic of Ireland: good luck to them—but it is misleading to suggest that this can have much more than a trivial effect on the employment position in Yorkshire.
The second of the delusions I have referred to is the delusion associated with the mystique of defence. As soon as this word is mentioned some people seem to feel that there is nothing more 814 to be said, that this is an absolute priority, and that every demand of the Service Departments must be accepted uncritically. We expect this sort of attitude, of course, from the Yorkshire Post, the most obsequious and servile of the Government's tame newspapers, but no Member of this House on either side can adopt such an attitude without being false to his duty and to his constituents, on whose behalf the Government are contributing some £8 million to this project.
In introducing the National Parks Bill of 1949 the Minister responsible, now Lord Silkin, referred briefly, in passing, to the possible needs of "national defence". Except, it is arguable, quite remotely and indirectly—as was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in one of his interventions on this subject—Fylingdales is not a part of the national defence of Britain. Like the warning stations in Alaska and Greenland, it is part of the national defence of the United States of America.
This brings me to what I personally regard as the most important part of my Motion. In the debate on the Air Estimates that I have already referred to I put some specific questions to the Undersecretary of State. He, I am afraid, evaded them on that occasion, saying that it was not for him to reply on "highly scientific and technical questions". Why not? What, with respect, was he there for? However, at the end of his speech he gave an unequivocal promise, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) to write to hon. Members and give them the answers to various points which had been raised in the debate, as, indeed, the courteous ministerial custom is. So far as I am concerned, that promise has not yet been kept, no doubt because this Motion appeared on the Order Paper shortly afterwards. I hope that that promise will be fulfilled today.
I am bold enough also to hope that what I have to say on this aspect of the matter may be acceptable to some hon. Members on both sides of the House, both to what I may call the multilateral nuclear disarmers—among whom, I suppose, I can include every member of the Government, or the Government would not be taking part in disarmament discussions now—and to those of my hon. 815 Friends on this side of the House who may be unilateralists.
For the main point is surely this. If, as it is by most hon. Members, the theory of the nuclear deterrent is accepted, and if this early warning system is regarded as an essential part of the nuclear deterrent—though, incidentally, this is part of the argument which I do not quite follow, since what is called the nuclear deadlock had continued for some years before this early warning system was set up, to the apparent satisfaction of those who believe that that deadlock has been the basis of the peace, however uneasy, that we have had during those years— however, if this is what is argued, then, surely, it is essential that the warning device should be absolutely foolproof, absolutely infallible.
The consequences of error in it are almost too horrible to contemplate, but we must face them. Put baldly, they are the extinction of civilisation in an accidental nuclear war in which we or our allies would have been, unintentionally, the aggressors. It may be said that absolute infallibility is too much to ask of any man-made scientific device. In this case, I believe that we have got to ask for it. Radar was, of course, used a great deal, very usefully, in the last war, but when we were actually at war, in the pre-nuclear age, the consequences of error were not totally irreparable. In this case they would be.
If the Secretary of State for Air and the Under-Secretary really believe that it will be possible, in a time that may be as little as four minutes, to get a substantial part of the bomber force into the air, and then to have ministerial consultations, and, presumably, international consultations—-if the President of the United States can be found on the telephone—and then, if the whole thing is a false alarm, to call the bombers back, they seem to me to be unduly optimistic, and to be exposing the peoples of this country and of the world to the most appalling chances. One must be 100 per cent. sure in this field.
Repeated prodding has elicited from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Air only the assurance that the Fylingdales detector will be, as he put it,Very certain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1960; Vol. 619, c. 412.]816 I am sorry, but that is just not good enough. Very certain is not certain; very certain is only a little better than fairly certain. How can there be absolute certainty? Even the four minutes' estimate may be too optimistic if the rocket, for instance, were launched from East Germany rather than from the Urals. Why, in any case, do the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman seem to assume that the Russians will be obliging enough to launch only one missile at a time? They might launch a dozen at once, each with its complement of bewildering decoy balloons of aluminium foil.
I admit that when the missile is first launched its tail-flame will be a very good radar reflector. But at that stage one cannot be sure what it is. One cannot be sure that it is a hostile missile and not simply a space rocket. Above the burn-out point the thing itself has to be detected. It is quite a small object, and before one can be even reasonably sure of what it is, or where it is going, one must find two points on its trajectory, fairly wide apart, and then start computing its course and its target. Even then one will need a third point on its trajectory before one can be sure that it is a ballistic missile moving on an elliptical trajectory and not a meteorite moving on a trajectory which is a hyperbola. This process will take several minutes at least.
I do not make any claim to scientific knowledge, but, naturally, I have taken such advice as I can. The Minister has said that he relies on "the finest scientific and engineering advice that is available in the Western world", but he must know that this advice is not unanimous even in his own Department. I challenge him to deny this and to say today that there are not some experts in the Government service who are seriously worried about this development. Outside the service, such distinguished men as Professor Lovell, of Jodrell Bank, have come out openly against the project. Does the Minister regard their opinion as utterly negligible? I quoted in the debate on the Air Estimates some disturbing statements in a serious analytical article by the scientific correspondent of the Guardian. They have not been answered; I hope that the Minister will be able to answer them today.
817 In other words, it seems to me that if what I am arguing is correct, the Minister and the Government are gambling on the opinion of one set of experts against the opinion of another set of experts, both sets being eminent scientists. Does the Minister dare to say that either set of experts is infallible, and can we afford to acquiesce in such a gamble when the life or death of humanity may be at stake?
I have dealt with only two clauses in my Motion because I want to leave plenty of time to other hon. Members who may be more interested in other aspects of it, tout I think that this aspect —this gamble with the machinery of doom—is the most important aspect of what we are discussing today. Hon. Members may recall a poem by Mr. Eliot, the most apocalyptic poet of our age, which used to puzzle me when I first read it more than thirty years ago, about "The Hollow Men" and their "headpieces stuffed with straw," with its well-known final lines:This is the way the world endsNot with a bang, but a whimper.Although I know that it is, of course, the sincere intention of the Government and of all hon. Members to avert the ultimate catastrophe of nuclear war, I believe that the means by which they hope to do so, and particularly the means which we are discussing today, are so grotesquely unsure that they may intensify the dangers which they are supposed to guard against. If some error by fallible man, or one of man's fallible devices, should precipitate, as I have argued that it might, the end of the world—of our world, at any rate —that end, indeed, would come with a bang, an almighty bang.
But the bathos of Mr. Eliot's conclusion is none the less appropriate, because, in so far as we share in the responsibility for that end, we are the hollow men and we shall deserve the amused contempt of posterity, if there is any posterity left to feel such an emotion.
§ 11.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
Very often on Fridays the House discusses matters of lesser importance. I think that today we are discussing a matter of great importance, because this Motion is, in effect, a direct attack upon the 818 whole policy of the alliance of which we are a part. I do not think that we should be flattering ourselves if we thought that what was said and done in the House today would be watched with the closest attention in many of the capitals of the world.
It is worth glancing for a moment at the context and the background against which we are discussing this Motion. First, there is quite soon to be a Summit Conference. There is no agenda for that conference, but the one thing which we can be certain about is that the subject of Berlin will come up—the desire of 2¼ million people in West Berlin to stay free and the desire of the Russians that they should go under the yoke. Mr. Khrushchev's ultimatum still stands. He has only withdrawn the date, and there we face a difficult situation where the strength of the alliance is vital. All parties in the House and all countries in the Western alliance are deeply sworn to stand by the West Berliners. If we do not, the consequences will be devastating, because I do not think that anybody would trust our word again if we ran out. They would be fools if they did.
The second consideration which we should have in mind when discussing the Motion is that N.A.T.O. has undoubtedly been weakened recently by a tremendous surge of propaganda against West Germany, partly by clear-thinking people who knew exactly what they were doing, but more largely by people who were not thinking so clearly and did not realise what they were doing. But do not let us be in any doubt that to scratch and tear at the old wounds is a danger-our game. If West Germany is not in N.A.T.O. the whole conception collapses and the shield is gone.
The third aspect of the context in which we are discussing this Motion, which is more directly relevant to the debate, is Russian progress in the production of rocket weapons. Some hon. Members may have read Mr. Khrushchev's speech to the Supreme Soviet on 14th January last. In that speech he said:Comrades Deputies, … Our State possesses powerful rocketry … Our armed forces have been to a considerable degree regeared to rocket and nuclear weapons. We are perfecting and will go on perfecting these weapons …819 It is true that he also said that a new situation would arise if nuclear weapons were outlawed, but the point which the House should notice is that in the Russian disarmament plans nuclear disarmament comes not first but last.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
At the Geneva Conference, Mr. Zorin stated that Russia was quite ready to proceed first with the complete abolition of nuclear arms, if the other parties agreed.
§ Mr. Birch
I was referring to Mr. Khrushchev's disarmament plan. We are discussing this Motion against the context of the coming conference, where not everything is on our side and where our alliance is not as happy as it might be.
This is a curious Motion, because it contains no less than seven arguments, and those arguments are on quite different levels. Some are partially self-contradictory. When I read its terms I thought that I might not be doing the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) too much honour in thinking that the curious way in which he framed his Motion resulted from his own feelings of guilt in putting it down. I hope that I have not done him too much honour. What does the Motion really mean? In spite of all its verbiage, its meaning is perfectly clear. It means that we should refuse to have upon our soil this detector station.
I would point out, first, that this is not a weapon in any sense; secondly, it is very valuable for us, and, thirdly—and most important—it is vital for the maintenance of the credibility of the American deterrent, because if there is a gap in America's detector screen it would be possible for the main atomic arsenal of the West which is in America to be destroyed by surprise. The hon. Member was quite right when he said that it is largely in aid of America, but America is our ally. We have been protected for many years precisely by the fact that she has these nuclear weapons.
Further, this device is something which this country will need whether or not we have a national deterrent of our own. Even if atomic weapons were outlawed, it would still be needed for surveillance.
§ Mr. Driberg
When the hon. Member suggests that this device is essential to 820 the efficacy or credibility of the Western deterrent, can be explain how it is that— as he claims—we have been protected by the American deterrent for many years without it?
§ Mr. Birch
The hon. Member is not being quite as bright as he sometimes is. Perhaps it has escaped his attention that the inter-continental ballistic missile is a weapon which may not even be "in" yet, from Russia's point of view. It is something quite new. When the threat came from bombers it would not have been sensible to produce something which was looking only for ballistic missiles, which did not then exist.
If we do not oppose this Motion, by voice and by vote, what are our friends going to think of us? During the last year I have travelled round to a certain extent and I have seen many of our allies. I expect that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have done the same. I have been struck by the distress which they sometimes express at some of the things that our people have said and done. There are doubts whether we are really loyal, and nothing could be more damaging than to pass a Motion like this.
Our Continental friends are horrified at the evil buffoonery which is going on about the Germans. What must they think? The other day an hon. Member opposite solemnly announced that the Germans were making ballistic rockets at Bilbao. It is impossible to conceive a more obvious Communist plant—but the hon. Member's allegation was received with yells of applause. People abroad do not know the geography of this House as well as we do. They are very apt to be misled. When they read speeches by vocal gentlemen who, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, sometimes with subtlety and sometimes without, consistently support whatever is the current Communist line, they do not always realise how few people such Members represent and how grossly over-represented they are in this House.
That is why I regard this debate as important, and why I hope that those who stand by our alliance will denounce it. I hope that the Motion will be rejected with contumely.
§ 11.37 a.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
I cannot help feeling that the 821 arguments of the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) are rather sanctimonious. Even worse, I feel that in order to sustain an argument which might not be tenable on its own merits he attempted to smear those who were later going to argue against his own point of view. That is a grossly improper technique of argument, and I hope that as the debate proceeds we shall hear from many hon. Members who, although not necessarily supporting all the details of the Motion, are nevertheless in support of its general terms and who take a sincere stand against a nuclear strategy which is unconditioned, uncontrolled and unaffected by propaganda of any kind.
The right hon. Gentleman was quite right when he implied that the Motion was somewhat discursive. Indeed, it contains a variety of arguments. The argument on the subject of amenities will be generally accepted, although some hon. Members may feel that in the interests of the strategy they support it might be best to sacrifice certain amenities. I recently received a letter from a constituent, who said:I am apprehensive regarding the effect on bird life of the proposed radar station…. I am very resentful that such things can happen here. It is our duty to protect the countryside and its wild life, before it is too late.My concern is not primarily with the bird life which is sheltered by Fyling-dales; I am concerned with the question of nuclear strategy as such, and its capacity to defend the civilisation to which we all belong.
In general, we can recognise that, apart from the question of aesthetics and national amenities, all those who are in favour of the nuclear deterrent should oppose my hon. Friend's Motion, because Fylingdales is clearly not concerned with civil defence; it is concerned understandably—within the context of nuclear strategy—with retaliation. The purpose of Fylingdales is to make sure that if Britain is threatened by a nuclear missile the information is noted and transmitted to our own forces and to our allies, and then a nuclear counter-attack is set in motion.
I have always believed that Britain should give a moral lead to the world by the unilateral renunciation of nuclear weapons. I believe that we must do that because, otherwise, I feel that, trembling 822 as we are on the brink of nuclear disaster, it is possible, by accident or by fanaticism, for a nuclear war to be set in motion which would have the results to which my hon. Friend referred. If it were thought possible—
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
When the hon. Gentleman says that we should give moral leadership by unilateral nuclear disarmament, does he mean that we should go right through with that and opt out of N.A.T.O. and all the other treaties where any of our allies are armed with nuclear weapons?
§ Mr. Edelman
Yes, I certainly believe that. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has very properly asked that question, and I want to give an answer to it. I believe that we should do so because nuclear warfare is intrinsically sinful, and I am opposed to it. I am not a pacifist, but I am opposed to nuclear warfare in any form. Whereas I believe that we are entitled in our own generation to destroy each other, I do not believe that we are entitled to use weapons of war that will have such genetic effects as to perpetuate our quarrels and the consequences of them on future generations. That is the principle on which I base my opposition to nuclear warfare.
In the present framework of the tension between East and West, I think it would be deplorable to hold up the Mongol forces by using nuclear weapons which would have the effect of creating in the future Mongol idiots. That is a principle on which I rest as a total opponent to nuclear warfare in any form whatsoever.
I am supporting the Motion because I am, above all, concerned with the possibility of a nuclear war by accident. If it were thought that Fylingdales were infallible, I can imagine that all those who, understandably from their point of view, have no objection to using the nuclear deterrent would say, "Well, certainly, if we accept nuclear strategy we must have the means by which to identify nuclear missiles and to retaliate."
I have recently been reading the report by Professor Waddington, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Animal Genetics at the University of Edinburgh. It is a very interesting report, which will be known 823 to my right hon. Friend, of a conference which took place in Canada and which was attended by leading experts, including Sir Charles Darwin, Professor Gregory of France, Professor Oliphant of Australia and Sir Robert Watson-Watt of Canada, and which considered the possibility of detecting nuclear attacks. This is what Professor Waddington had to say. He said:It is no secret that several false warnings due to technical failures have already occurred but have been put right before any irrevocable step was taken.He also said:Forces of the great Powers are permanently ready to strike and are controlled through an exceedingly complex apparatus of radar warning systems, radio communications, and so on. No single element in such a control system can be 100 per cent. reliable.He went on to say:The problem will become much more pressing with the development of truly ' push button' forces based on solid-fuel rockets, which seems likely to be the situation in a few years' time.Professor Waddington made this report in 1958. Since then the prospect which he then envisaged, the prospect of truly push-button forces based on solid fuel rockets, has become a reality. In other words, the opportunity for error which already existed in 1958 has become much more acute with the shortening of the period of warning. He spoke then of the fact thatEven when the main striking forces are composed as at present"—that is, 1958—of aircraft which provide an interval of several hours between the first warning and the strike, there is no complete certainty that mistakes can always be remedied in time.I am arguing this morning that the Fylingdales system gives an illusion of accuracy and of security which has no basis at all in fact—no scientific basis in fact. It has no basis in fact even when the information is reinterpreted from other sources. My hon. Friend made some reference to meteorites and so on. I am not aware of the scientific facts, but I am prepared to accept the evidence offered by some of the most distinguished scientists who have concerned themselves with the problem that there can be no absolute accuracy by using a system of this kind.
If this debate does nothing more than illustrate and emphasise the fact that 824 there can be no security, no total assurance, then, contrary to what the right hon. Member for Flint, West said, the debate will have served a useful purpose. I am as wholly opposed to the nuclear strategy employed by the Russians and their associates as I am to the concept of a nuclear strategy employed by ourselves. I believe that the testing of weapons and the preparation of nuclear forces is part of a Gadarene rush to destruction from which we can subtract ourselves only by giving the moral lead of which I have spoken.
In the past when I have advanced this argument—and I have done so on very many occasions—the counter-argument has always been that if one argues that we should give a moral lead, what guarantee is there that other Powers would do the same. My reply is that there is no guarantee at all. It may well be that other Powers would not do the same, but I believe most firmly that nuclear warfare and the preparation for it involves certain moral considerations on which we must maintain our own personal responsibility, each and every one of us.
I believe that the conscience of the world is moving towards the renunciation of nuclear weapons. I do not trust the Russians probably any more than does the right hon. and gallant Member for Flint, West, but that does not mean that we do not have our own responsibility, and not only a moral responsibility but also a practical responsibility. I believe that as long as we are serving as a nuclear launching pad so, proportionately, do we become exposed to the total hazards of a retaliatory nuclear attack. I think that that is the main danger which faces the country today.
I mentioned before the question not only of error but also of fanaticism. I believe that we in our small island, with its concentrated population, can only opt out of the nuclear arms race by taking unilateral action in the hope that others will follow us.
Before I conclude, may I say that I think it important to distinguish between the views advanced by those like myself who are, in fact, unilateralists, and those who simply say that we should give up the independent nuclear deterrent and 825 rely on nuclear strategy within the framework of N.A.T.O. which is underwritten by the United States.
I believe that that is to get the worst of both worlds. I believe there is no moral difference between sheltering behind the American nuclear shield and being prepared to engage in nuclear warfare ourselves. I think the distinction, the principle, is a clear one. It is illustrated by the Motion, and for those reasons; I support it. I think we can advance and we should advance— pending our hope for the total renunciation of nuclear warfare—by stages. If it be true that the Prime Minister is going to Washington in order to impress on the American President the need to try to make some sort of advance in restricting nuclear tests, I think the country, and indeed mankind, will think well and highly of him.
In the last few days we have seen how it is possible, in a limited and local field, to produce a most horrifying massacre, which has touched the conscience of the whole world, simply by an order given by a policeman. If we magnify the consequences of such an order to embrace the means of delivering a nuclear weapon, we can see what catastrophe faces mankind unless something prompt, something bold, is done to avert it. The effect of a nuclear war would be to make Agadir seem like the peripheral consequences of a conventional bomb explosion. With that in mind, although I do not support the details of the Motion, I certainly give it my general support and I hope that the House will accept it.
§ 11.53 a.m.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
The hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) had the honesty to admit that he supported the Motion because he believes in nuclear disarmament, and unilateral nuclear disarmament at that. The whole House will agree that anyone holding those views would naturally take any Motion of this sort as a peg on which to hang them. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that he believed in nuclear disarmament because he wished to see the prevention of a nuclear war. I think that it does not follow that those who wish to see the prevention of such a war should support this Motion. I believe that an early warning station is 826 calculated to prevent a nuclear war. I take a view opposite to that of the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) and his hon. Friends on this matter.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) expressed fax more eloquently than I can the general grounds on which he felt that this Motion should be opposed. He referred, in particular, to the tremendous and dangerous campaign, now in progress, of trying to rouse hatred against the Germans. I do not wish to pursue that argument, I do not think it strictly relevant to this Motion. But, none the less, it is certainly relevant to the sort of problem we are discussing as a whole. I myself was this week the victim of a disgraceful piece of misrepresentation on that issue by people who really would stop at nothing to try to reopen the old wounds and to reawaken the old suspicions.
My right hon. Friend said that the Motion had seven different arguments in it. When I counted them up I made the total six, because I came to the conclusion that the seventh one was merely a repetition of some of the earlier ones. I wish briefly—and sticking strictly to the Motion—to say a word about each of the six points.
The first point made is that the warning station iscontrary to the spirit of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.I thought that the hon. Member for Barking made heavy weather of this aspect of the problem. Of course, no one likes to see a beautiful, lonely spot defaced with a great establishment. We are all in agreement there. But surely the main principle behind that Act is to provide amenities for the population, and if the population is to be destroyed by nuclear war, the object of the Act will fail altogether. Incidentally the birds, referred to in the letter from the constituent of the hon. Member for Coventry, North, also would be destroyed. I should have said, therefore, that anything calculated to prevent war was consistent with that Act.
The reason for the choice of this site is a technical one and I should hesitate to enter into a discussion upon that. But it does not surprise me that the site selected for a radar station is at a high spot, because we nearly always find that that is exactly where radar stations have 827 to be sited. During the war I had some responsibility for this, and before we had finished most or all of the more lovely and lonely places on the cliffs around the country were occupied with little radar stations. It is an unfortunate fact that high spots tend to be lonely and preserved spots, but, also, they are places where one has to establish radar lookouts.
The second point in the Motion is to the effect that eminent scientists had said that radar cannot identify ballistic missiles with certainty. That is a very safe criticism, because nothing in this life is certain. The brakes on the motor cars of hon. Members cannot stop the cars with certainty. But I am sure that on those grounds the hon. Member for Barking would not dispense with the brakes on his car. The whole point is that the people who operate these systems allow, in the operational techniques they adopt, for the fact that any link in the whole system may go wrong or may fail. That is the short answer.
We were told that Professor Lovell is opposed to the project. I do not know whether the professor was accurately quoted, but he cannot be in a position to know the details of the actual electronic mechanism to be installed at this station. I always feel sorry for eminent scientists or experts in any field when they start to quarrel with a Government Department, if they are outside the Department, because they do so without having full access to the highly secret information upon which this sort of decision is based.
In a short purple passage in his speech the hon. Member for Barking talked about the Government having to gamble on the opinions of one set of experts against the opinions of another set of experts. Having been for a great many years in Government service, I can assure the hon. Member that that is precisely what one has to do almost every day of one's life. However, the prudent man, reviewing all the relevant factors, can none the less usually gamble with the odds heavily on his side.
The Motion goes on to say that this station—this, I think, is the nub of the Motion—will aggravate the risk of starting a nuclear war. I think that here 828 the hon. Member is entirely mistaken. He mistakes the purpose of the station, and I think that he mistakes the nature of the threat against which it is intended to guard. I am always rather afraid of those catch-phrases about a deterrent being credible or valid, and that sort of talk. Let us put it in plain English.
One circumstance which might tempt an aggressor to go to war, notwithstanding the great power of nuclear retaliation that we possess, would be if he thought that, with one tremendous surprise blow, he could destroy the whole power of retaliation. There are people—for instance, I heard M. Spaak say it—who maintain that this is the most likely way in which a war would start. Let me hasten to say that I do not think so for a moment. But it is a possible risk, it is conceivable, and, therefore, it is right that those responsible for carrying out a defence policy based on the deterrent should make quite certain that there is nothing an aggressor can do—and that the aggressor should know this to be a fact—which would destroy in advance our power to retaliate. That being so, it gives us some clue to the scale of the missile attack against which this station must safeguard. It is not just a question of one or two missiles coming over which it may have to detect and alert the defences.
I do not know—I imagine that it is secret—how many different areas of ground in the United Kingdom would have to be destroyed before the whole of our power to retaliate was destroyed. We do know, because the figures have been published, about the Thor missiles. I cannot remember the figures exactly, but I think there are about 20. They are known because, after all, the marchers march to the sites at regular intervals, and we know about the V-bomber force as a matter of common knowledge. I am sure that the Russian intelligence knows exactly how many dispersal points we have. They cannot be concealed, and there are also the American dispersal points.
At the least, one must visualise the simultaneous arrival of 40 nuclear missiles in this country to destroy at one blow our power to retaliate. What we are asked to believe is that this apparatus will be so unreliable that it might tell us of an approaching attack on that 829 scale when no such attack is to take place. I do not believe it. If we were recording one or two missiles one would hesitate, but not when it is a question of a drove of 20, 30 or 40.
I think that hon. Members are apt to forget that flying off the bombers is not at all an irrevocable act. I do not know what the arrangements are, but we can think of dozens of arrangements whereby the bombers could be given orders to proceed after they are in the air. The only irrevocable step would be the actual firing of the Thor missiles, but I think that that point has possibly occurred to the Government as well as to hon. Members opposite. I personally would have complete confidence that due note has been taken of the fact that one must not fire off Thor missiles at a prospective enemy until one is certain that he has attacked us.
The Motion goes on to say that Ministerial consultations are not practicable within four minutes. That, of course, is perfectly true, but where I differ from the hon. Member for Barking is that I do not think so badly of the Russians as to imagine for one moment that they either contemplate, or will contemplate, delivering a murderous attack upon the West out of a clear diplomatic sky. I have always imagined—and I think it a fair thing to imagine—that, as in previous wars, there would be a period of acute diplomatic tension which would precede the outbreak of war. That condition of acute diplomatic tension would lead to an increasing alertness and readiness.
That is the time when most of the decisions could be taken in the form of directives as in previous wars. There is no secret about it, though I cannot remember exactly what it was called, that Sir Maurice Hankey, before the First World War, had a war book in which one could turn to a particular page to find what to do in certain circumstances. It was very carefully thought out in advance and a great deal of what the hon. Member calls "consultation" could take the form of a directive. That would be a political decision, but none the less, it could be a perfectly thought out directive, for instance, as to when to send off the Thor missiles as opposed to the bombers.
The effect of the announcement on the atmosphere at Geneva is the next 830 point. There, I agree, there is room for two opinions, but I do not take the same view about that as the hon. Member. Let us be honest with ourselves and ask what has brought us to this point of time when there is a real chance of a disarmament agreement. I passionately believe that there is a real chance of one. I should say that the new factor in the middle of the twentieth century which has not prevailed in our fathers' times is the awful threat of nuclear weapons.
It is that which has led people in all countries, whatever their opinons may be, to realise that nothing but disaster could come from waging war. One possible cause of doubt in the mind of somebody who might desire aggression would be if he felt that he could, in fact, put out his opponent's nuclear weapons before the war started. Therefore, the announcement that this new station is to be erected, and will provide a safeguard against the new devices which are coming into service—inter-continental ballistic missiles, and so forth—would tend, I should have thought, to carry a stage further and add weight to the line of argument which has made the conference possible.
The last point is that the United Kingdom is paying too much. In that, I think the hon. Member gave his case away when he said that this station was to be part of the national defence of the United States. On the contrary, it is part of the defensive system of the N.A.T.O. alliance, of which the United States of America is an integral and loyal part. I think that the United States contribution, so far from being too little, is generous. After all, so far as I know, it has paid for the whole of the other stations in the chain and it could be argued that we should pay for the whole of this one.
We benefit just as much as the United States of America does from the fact that its forces would be alerted in good time. Russia will not drop atomic bombs on this country unless it is quite certain that she will be able to put out of action American bombers as well as ours.
§ Mr. Driberg
The question of cost is not a major issue in the debate, but if this project is part of the Western defence system as a whole why should not all the N.A.T.O. countries pay their share?
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will go into this or not, but I imagine that these things are involved in a complicated organisation known as the N.A.T.O. Infrastructure Agreement. The point I want to stress is that we benefit as much as the United States of America does from the fact that her strategic air command will receive ample warning in the event of a major surprise attack. Secondly, we have the advantage of getting a certain amount of warning ourselves.
I think that the Motion gives its own case away in its closing words. These are the words which perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West called the seventh point. The Motion says this isan undertaking likely to intensify the peril of war without affording the British people any adequate or increased protection.I think that those words show that the hon. Member for Barking and his hon. Friends have elected to close their minds altogether to the arguments on which the policy of the deterrent is based. It aims not at winning war, but at preventing war. It seeks to confront the aggressor with the absolute certainty of retaliation, no matter how sudden or secret his attack may be. To the extent that this warning station, in conjunction with the other warning stations in the chain, is a safeguard against the destruction of our bombers and missiles on the ground, it will play its part in the prevention of war.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I apologise to the hon. and gallant Member for not being in the Chamber at the beginning of his speech. On both sides of the House we appreciate his gallantry, his beliefs and theory, but, as an old seaman—if I may put it that way—does he not agree that this instrument would be completely useless if we or the Russians were to use submarines in the Irish Sea? That is how Singapore fell, because it was attacked from behind. As a great sailor he knows that that possibility exists. Therefore, this instrument is absolutely meaningless if there were to be such an attack on this country.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
The hon. Member moves forward from the 1960s possibly to the 1970s. The differ- 832 ence is that the long-range ballistic missile exists or is coming into being. The missiles about which the hon. Member talks, which might be fired from a submerged submarine, would present a problem of a different nature. Whether this station could be made to look equally to the Irish Sea, I do not know. I dare say that it could. When a further threat, of the sort which the hon. Member describes, arises, that will have to be considered, too. But this station deals with a particular problem which is not a hypothetical, but is a real problem which has come into being.
I had concluded what I wanted to say. I hope that the House will reject the Motion, because I believe that, short of comprehensive disarmament, this station is the sort of project which offers us the best guarantee of peace.
§ 12.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) referred to those who are geographically ignorant of the House. Having this morning been described in The Times as the Conservative Member for Torrington, I rise with some trepidation.
I came this morning to oppose the Motion which has been tabled by a prominent, respected and well-known Member of the Labour Party, but I have found that that task will be much more effectively discharged if the Opposition Amendment is carried, the purpose of which is so to emasculate a Motion which relates to defence that it would be highly acceptable to a meeting of ladies in Basingstoke at the annual general meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Rural England.
But before that is considered, there are various fallacies in the argument of the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) on which I should like to touch. First of all, one's view of the Motion obviously depends upon one's view of the nuclear deterrent. If one believes that this country should possess a nuclear deterrent of its own—a view which is held, if I may put it in a non-political sense, by those holding the conservative view on defence, led by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) —then I suppose it could be argued that 833 a case could be made for possessing our own independent detection system. If one does not believe in the bomb at all, like the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman), and if one believes that an act of renunciation either will bring about a similar renunciation by possible aggressors or, alternatively, will mean that we should wash our hands of nuclear weapons, there is a case for saying that we do not want a detection system.
But if one believes that the nuclear weapon is a deterrent but, as we believe on these benches, that it is a deterrent only when possessed by the Western alliance as a whole—and many Conservative hon. Members are now coming round to this view—then I suggest that it is vital that the detection systems which exist should be under joint control.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Nothing in defence is infallible. The logical consequence of the hon. Member's argument is that we have nothing unless it is completely infallible, that we have no detection system at all because there is a possible margin of error. I will come to that point in a moment.
I suggest that if the alliance means anything at all, then even on a broad strategic ground the nuclear weapon is relevant to this country only within the framework of the alliance. The rest of the world knows very well that we shall never use the hydrogen bomb on our own because we have admitted in the 1957 Defence White Paper that there is no defence to this country in the event of a nuclear war. It is, therefore, known by every country in the world that we should unilaterally use the hydrogen bomb only if we were prepared in turn to be annihilated within a few seconds of using it. But if the alliance means anything at all, it should mean that a would-be aggressor knows that an attack on this country means automatic retaliation by the United States of America.
As I see it, the whole essence of defence today is not of destruction but of prevention. What the hon. Member for Barking, in my respectful submission, has failed to take into account, is the change of opinion in foreign affairs today. The whole position at Geneva is that the nations of the world are no 834 longer talking in terms of threats. They are no longer indulging in the brinkmanship of the Dulles era but are trying to find means whereby they can control and detect an attack by one nation upon another.
The whole basis of the agreements which have been reached in the nuclear disarmament talks, which have been going on for eighteen months, is that British and American and Russian scientists shall work together in the laboratories to try to perfect a way of detecting underground tests and try, in addition, to perfect ways of seeing one is not able to launch an undetected nuclear attack upon the other. That is the whole basis of the Geneva talks today, because it is recognised that the balance of terror is such that there can be no victor in any war in which nuclear weapons are used.
The Fylingdales station is not a weapon of offence but a weapon of defence. Moreover, it is a contribution to the form of protection which the Western Powers and Russia are at the moment trying to evolve. As I see it, the whole basis is the fear which one nation has of another and the unwillingness of one nation to trust another, and the only way to get round that is if one has a detection system on both sides which both sides recognise to be as effective as possible.
Eight months ago there was a suggestion by the Russians that there should be a Russian detection system in Canada manned by Russians, in return for which there would be a Western detection system in Russia manned by the West, so that each nation would have some degree of confidence in being able to detect the intentions of a would-be aggressor in the foreign country in which its representatives were situated. I believe that the Fylingdales system is an entirely relevant contribution to our defence position and entirely in keping with the whole spirit of the present move towards reducing fears between the two blocs by making the systems of detection far more effective.
The hon. Member for Barking says, "But it is not infallible". As the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said, that may be so, but if the alliance means anything, the whole objective is that it gives the American Strategic Force time to get airborne. There may well be a 835 doubt whether the object which has been recorded represents a missile attack or some other interference on the screen, but the whole point is that it would give the American Strategic Force time to get airborne. We shall know within four or five minutes whether it is an object which bears no ill will, whether it is an albatross or whether it is a missile attack.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
This is a very important point. Whether a mistake would have as serious a consequence as is thought is an important matter. The hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said that Thor missiles would not be used and that the intention would be to have airborne at the time the V-bomber force, which would be directed on the receipt of the signal that an attack was pending. It has been argued in a number of quarters that the very fact that this V-bomber force would presumably already be on its way towards the believed aggressor, in this case possibly the U.S.S.R., would mean that by the time we had discovered that we had made a mistake the V-bomber force would already be shown on the radar screens of the U.S.S.R., and they would presumably take some other action.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I think that this is a highly technical argument, on which no doubt the Government will be able to help us.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I shall answer it. I am sorry that the hon. Member does not consider it to be technical. I would not presume to pontificate upon extremely technical defence matters relating to Britain. I am sorry if there are hon. Members who consider them not technical but matters upon which any amateur can pontificate.
The whole object of it is that the American Strategic Air Force can get airborne at once. It would then be a matter of perhaps half an hour to forty minutes before it could reach the heart of Russia. Granted that by that time Britain might be a smouldering ruin. I agree at once that the missiles of this country under those conditions would be completely valueless, but the whole 836 object of the defence system is that the Russians would know that, if they attacked Britain, although they might successfully do it, within forty to fifty minutes the American allies of this country would be in a position to retaliate.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I agree, but the whole purpose is to prevent that happening— prevention, not destruction. The way to prevent it happening is by leading the Russians to believe that, in the event of an attack on this country, there is such a scientific system of detection that retaliation not by us, but by the Americans, is absolutely 100 per cent inevitable. That would be the finest protection, and indeed the only protection, which this country would have.
It is for that reason that we have nothing to gain by possessing our own hydrogen bomb. We have nothing to gain by thinking that on our own we could take on the world. We last tried that in 1956, which was what was not looked on as one of our most conspicuous military achievements.
The whole purpose is prevention. The only way to get prevention is if there is a system which may not guarantee, but can cause Russia to stop and think that, in the event of an attack on this country, there would be American retaliation in consequence. This system is necessary, if not essential, to our security. It is consistent with the idea of collective security, which is the only security now available to this country. I believe that this system has as its whole basic policy prevention rather than destruction. Therefore, I do not look upon this as an aggressive thing at all. It is something which adds to the defence of this country.
§ 12.22 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), who introduced the Motion to the House, said that the ballistic missile early warning station at Fylingdales Moor was part of the defensive system of the United States of America. In a sense, that is perfectly true. I understand that this is the third station in a chain of early warning stations. It is part of the defensive system of the United States of America, but it is also 837 part of the defensive system of the United Kingdom.
It is not any use arguing that it is more valuable to the Americans, because they would get more warning than us, than it is to the British. It is part of a system which will enable the Anglo-American nuclear deterrent to come into play should it be necessary. If one can separate the interest of allies in an alliance, I have no doubt that the D.E.W. line in North America is of more value to the Canadians than to the Americans, but we have not had criticism of the D.E.W. line on that ground.
What is dangerous and destructive about the Motion, which, I hope, we shall reject today, is that it seems to be part of an attempt to destroy the confidence of the British people in their own national defence and in the Atlantic Alliance to which we belong. It is part of a consistent attempt to belittle the effectiveness and efficiency of Bomber Command and of the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent. Our American allies do not underestimate the British contribution to the nuclear deterrent. They have the highest respect for the efficiency of Bomber Command, and I have a shrewd idea that the same is true of the Russians.
The hon. Member for Barking says in the Motion that the time of warning from Fylingdales Moor might be as short as four minutes. That may be so. but that does not mean that it will be impossible even for Bomber Command, let alone for the United States Strategic Air Command, to go into effective action. It is true that it is not possible for all the aircraft of the deterrent bomber force to be simultaneously in the air, although I do not doubt that some of them would be in the air. But even if the period of warning were as short as four minutes—this is the gloomy view—there would be sufficient devastating retaliation from the Western allies. I believe that that consideration is well known in the U.S.S.R. and makes powerfully for the prevention of war.
I have been much mystified by some of the arguments we have heard from hon. Members opposite. We have been told, quite rightly, that nothing in de- 838 fence is infallible. We have been told that the early warning system is imperfect and that there might be a mistake. Again, I think that there has been exaggeration in this. I think that many well-meaning people are being misled by others who have a sinister purpose in their minds. They are trying to suggest that such a system as this would fail to detect with accuracy an enemy approach and that it would make mistakes. I do not know what their evidence is for that.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
I resent the expression "sinister", but if the hon. Gentleman wants evidence, here it is. When asked if he would press the button, Professor Bernard Lovell, the greatest expert on radio-telescopic work in the world, in charge of Jodrell Bank, said this:I should refuse to press the button, on the ground that I do not agree that any warning system in prospect could distinguish for certain between a weapon and many other sources giving similar responses on a radar system.I should, therefore, like to know whether the hon. Gentleman is accusing the Professor of a sinister purpose.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I am accusing neither the hon. Gentleman nor any professor of a sinister purpose. Before the hon. Gentleman came into the House, this quotation from Professor Lovell was answered by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). I am-not scientifically equipped to pronounce on these questions. I look forward to hearing from my hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State when he replies to the debate.
I am convinced that there is an attempt —there is a powerful propaganda— which is simply designed to destroy our countrymen's confidence in our means of defence, in the efficiency of the weapons at our disposal, and the system for obtaining early warning of a possible attack.
§ Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
This is the second time that the hon. Member has made the 839 assertion that there is a sinister campaign to undermine popular confidence in the system of defence. It has been repeatedly said by the previous Minister of Defence, and repeated this last week in the House by the present Minister of Defence that, in the present state of scientific knowledge, there is no means of direct defence for this country. That is the fact, according to the Minister of Defence. Is it better that we should face that fact, or that we should falsify the fact—or is the hon. Gentleman accusing his own Minister of undermining popular confidence in the possibility of defending the country?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I have not the quotation with me, but if my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said that there is no direct means of defence I should imagine that to be an assertion of the fact that the country's security rests upon the nuclear deterrent, based on a bombing force operating not necessarily from this island, but from widely-dispersed bases. That, as I understand it, is the system of nuclear deterrence which, I believe, has virtually ruled out the possibility of all-out war in the present situation.
That is the system. Certainly, there is no system of direct defence. Our security rests upon the capacity for nuclear retaliation amounting to annihilation of the enemy. That is the basis of our defence and, if I may say so with respect, there is absolutely no contradiction between what my right hon. Friend may have said—though I have not the quotation with me here—and what I have just said.
Even if we concede that this warning system is imperfect, I should have thought that to be an argument for trying to improve it. I do not understand the argument that it is worse to have half a loaf than it is to have no bread. Of course, it is necessary always to perfect our defensive arrangements, but I cannot understand the argument that, because this system may not be absolutely the perfect instrument, we should dispense with it altogether.
The hon. Member for Barking, in his rather long Motion, refers to… the timing of the announcement of this project …840 I can remember this argument being used earlier about the Thor missile. I remember taking part in the debate on the Air Estimates at the time of the announcement that Britain was to accept Thor from the United States. We then heard two contradictory arguments from the opposite side of the Chamber. We heard, first, the argument that Thor was useless; secondly, that it was a provocation to the Russians.
Now, again, we are told that this early warning system will not work—yet, apparently, it will spoil the atmosphere of negotiation with the Russians. This is the same nonsense all over again. To hear hon. Members opposite today, one would imagine that this system was some kind of hideous weapon of mass destruction. One remembers the great discussion, before the war, on disarmament, and the debate whether this or that was an offensive or a defensive weapon— and, indeed, it is very difficult to decide whether a weapon is an offensive or a defensive weapon.
Some speakers today have suggested that this early warning station is some kind of offensive weapon. It is not a weapon at all. It is something that is likely to improve the warning system and, therefore, it is something that is likely to prevent an enemy attack with nuclear weapons.
I consider that the timing of the announcement is not at all bad in relation to the discussions that are to take place. If it is now possible to look forward to some possibility of disarmament, if, at long last, the statesmen have been able to find their footholds to the Summit, it is surely because of the effectiveness of the deterrent. It is because we have some kind of safeguard against an annihilating blow from the air, it is because our defence is sound—despite the attempts of hon. Members opposite to decry it—that we have a prospect of beginning the task of disarmament, and a prospect of negotiating with the Russians with some chance of getting somewhere with them.
After all, something very remarkable hsa happened because of this balance of terror, this capacity for mutual annihilation. The Leninist doctrine of an inevitable collision between the Communist camp and the capitalist camp, has, to some extent, been modified. Coexistence has become a possibility 841 because of the nuclear deterrent, because of the balance of terror, because of the capacity for mutual annihilation. I believe that the establishment of this early warning station is a contribution to the effectiveness of that deterrent and that it is, therefore, a contribution to the diplomacy of peace making.
§ 12.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)
I, too, want to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) on the service that he has done in bringing this important subject before the House. In a debate of this character, a high level of very serious argument is to be expected. I think that one thing on which we can all agree is that, throughout history, the discovery of new weapons has fundamentally changed the arts of war and defence.
The most effective policy of all States must be based on a high degree of self-understanding, aimed at security, but the disquieting feature of any concept of nuclear war is that it can be faced only with grave doubts about national survival. Tensions and fears continue to mount, and there is very little consolation for anyone in Britain when facing unprecedented suspense during a few minutes' warning of approaching doom.
Whenever I walk the streets of London, or the streets of my own locality, I wonder, when mingling with the crowd, just what images people are conjuring up in their minds of a gloomy reckoning after only a few minutes' warning. It must be obvious even to the most superficially minded that fearful anxiety for safety must remain a permanent feature of life. Even insects sting; they have a common courage to defend and save themselves.
In drawing attention to the need for adequate and increased protection such as that afforded by the building up of the system at Fylingdales, we are all well and truly aware that modern methods of conflict are becoming still more frightening as scientific achievements in both the Soviet Union and the United States create such a formidable weapon of strategic surprise as the long-range ballistic missile. This is regarded as a satisfactory combination of reliability and accuracy such that its use would ultimately mean destruction of a magnitude unexampled in history. There can be no lingering 842 doubts that military bases here and elsewhere would be among the targets, and that the missile would be used for putting industrial centres out of commission and obliterating and demoralising the population.
As matters stand, many factors indicate the necessity of the revaluation of our future prospects. We are given to understand that the early warning station to be built at Fylingdales will not be effective for another two or three years. In the meantime, everything depends on our ability to detect the use of atomic and nuclear weapons in a surprise attack.
If the warning station at Fylingdales is to be built for the express purpose of detecting missiles and to enable the Americans to have from 15 to 20 minutes to get bombers and rockets into the air, perhaps against a simultaneous and synchronised attack by a salvo of Russian missiles on a precise and predetermined course, then, bearing in mind the new meaning of effective delivery, I cannot bring myself to agree with the point of view of the United States Secretary of Defence when he addressed the House Sub-Committee on Defence Appropriations on 13th January this year.
The Secretary of Defence is reported, in the United States News and World Report of 8th February, as having said: said:While, in many respects, Soviet missiles have characteristics similar to our own, the analyses indicate that their accuracy will be inferior to our own.It is acknowledged that the United States makes good use of its wide berth in acquiring intelligence and information, but surely the whole world knows of the recent Russian dramatic demonstrations in proving the accuracy of their rocket fire. They have dissipated any illusions about inferiority. I do not suppose that any hon. Member would dispute the accuracy of Russian rockets, especially as we are 4,000 miles nearer to their launching pads than the United States; and when it is contemplated changing from one missile to another, and with the prospects of such reliance on Fylingdales for retaliation, I must say that it will give the people in Britain as much security as they have now, and that is none.
843 If history or anything else has a meaning, or if human life itself has a purpose to guide us, I am bound to say that in the present circumstances it is incredible to think that we have not advanced to something more positive within the meaning and ideals of a world delivered from fear and want within the conception of the Atlantic Charter. Any attempt to seek a way out of a threatening future catastrophe does not allow us to ignore the combination of aims and requirements which must be invested in the ultimate achievement of general disarmament for our own safety.
I fully recognise, as much as anyone else, that the important question to be faced is how can this be done when the world is so deeply divided. While recognising the importance of the present 10-Power disarmament conference in Geneva—and we learn this morning that the Prime Minister himself is flying to Washington this weekend to discuss the crucial nuclear test negotiations—I cannot help wondering what has become of the millions of words that have been spoken and printed in the United Nations, with special reference to the unanimous resolution which was passed there in July, 1958. I note with interest that the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) is a member of the working party of the World Federation of United Nations Associations.
But there is doubt cast upon the practicability of these proposals, and because of a greater readiness to consider serious steps towards disarmament, the United Nations resolution expressed the belief that it would be wrong to suppose that all those depending for their living on the manufacture of armaments and those employed in the Armed Forces would be thrown out of work. The United Nations further argue that such a programme of economic and social development in the underdeveloped countries, where there are vast potential markets and where there is a great need of industrial goods to build up agriculture and other industries, could absorb in gainful employment far more men and women than are at present employed in the arms industry.
There is much to be said for such a declared policy by the United Nations, in believing it to be folly to leave any 844 nation without hope in preventing war. In seeking to rule out the possibility of a new war, it is only natural to believe that this kind of security against the risk of total destruction is the key alternative to a thousand Fylingdales, when it is now obvious that a great volume of public opinion favours that nothing should stand in the way to narrow the gap for disarmament. Whatever uncertainty may exist, it is plain that the world would have enough problems even though the Soviet Union were to change its system or disappear entirely.
In spite of any reliance on the instruments to be used at Fylingdales, I believe that it would be wrong to ignore the great number of people who, to all intents and purposes, are quite innocent in politics, but who, with clear eyes, see that they have to live or die in the kind of world which the present nuclear madness is creating.
The day is past when it could be thought that the Communists were the only ones to support disarmament. I believe, with Earl Russell, that the peril to which we are exposed—to use his own language—makes no distinction between rich or poor, Christian or pagan, capitalist or Communist.It is understandable that people should sometimes try to escape in their thoughts from the implications of military technology, but, to be able to look forward with a clear knowledge of what is involved, it is necessary sometimes to look back and to recall with special emphasis today the warning given by that great physicist, Albert Einstein, some years ago.
Einstein gave this warning long before the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb:Work is going on feverishly behind mysterious walls in order to complete the means of mass destruction. Once this objective has been reached, the radioactive contamination of the world is within bounds of technical possibility, and, with this, the destruction of all forms of life on this planet. Everything now seems to be joining in this fatal rush towards destruction. Each new step follows logically on the one which went before, and, at the end of the road, there is the grim spectre of general annihilation. The release of the power locked in the atom has changed everything except our ways of thought and, because of this, we are steadfastly drifting to an unexampled catastrophe. If humanity is to survive, it must change its ways of thought. One of the most urgent needs of our time is to ward off this terrible threat".845 The facts which are now well known and the knowledge at present being accumulated at an ever increasing rate persuade us to draw the obvious conclusion from Einstein's recital of the cold facts.
I believe that silence can never be a refuge when bombs and bases are a challenge to our conscience. When we consider all the consequences of Fyling-dales and similar installations, we must reflect upon the need to resolve the dilemma brought about by nuclear military developments. It is not a matter of who might be found guilty of starting a nuclear war. Every day it becomes clearer that every possible influence must be used in seeking to achieve an alternative way towards mutually acceptable solutions through extending the cooperation which is necessary for any favourable progress towards world peace and security.
For these reasons, and for these reasons alone, I conscientiously support the Motion moved so ably by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking.
§ 12.54 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wells)
I hope that the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) will forgive me if I do not follow him precisely, but there is one passage in his speech on which I wish to comment before passing on to my own observations. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the recent demonstration by the Russians of the accuracy of their rocketry. I imagine that he was referring to the tests carried out in the North Pacific Ocean not many weeks ago.
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
The shots at the moon also can be taken into account, but we must, I think, keep within the realms of what is practicable within the earth's atmosphere rather than consider the much wider subject of interstellar accuracy, where the errors may be immense but still seem small.
No one in the West knows how accurate those tests were. It is all very well for the Russians to announce with a fanfare of trumpets that, after travelling 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 miles, their weapon was within 1, 2, 3 or 4 miles of the target. How do we know that that was so? It is obviously part of their propaganda to 846 try to frighten us with such statements, and I, for one, do not take a statement of that nature at its face value.
I was very interested by the very sincere speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman). He expressed his view, with which I profoundly disagree, with great skill; but there was a flaw in his argument. He advocated the complete renunciation of nuclear weapons, unilaterally by Britain if necessary. That is a perfectly logical argument, although I think he will find that not a great many people would agree with him.
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
The hon. Gentleman says that that school of thought is growing fast. I do not quite know what he means by "fast"; there again, it is a matter of relativity.
The fact remains that the instrument we are discussing is not a nuclear weapon. It is a means of defence against nuclear weapons. In the true sense of the word, it is not a weapon at all; it is a form of shield against weapons.
I am sure that we all profoundly and sincerely hope and pray that success will come to the disarmament talks. I think it probable, although naturally I am not certain of this, that should we in the next few months achieve disarmament in progressive stages and should one of the early stages be—I put this for the sake of argument—the complete renunciation and destruction of nuclear weapons, that the Fylingdales installation will not by any means be made useless or obsolete. Indeed, I suggest that it would be given an intensified value in inspection to make certain that people do not put undesirable objects into the atmosphere or into the space around the earth. It may well be that, because of disarmament, the use of the Fylingdales ballistic missile warning system will be intensified.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said in the course of his very interesting speech that the ballistic missile early warning system was a greater benefit to the United States and that quite rightly they were paying for the greater share of it. I am not quite sure that one can assess 847 the shares of benefit in a system of this sort. It seems to me that it is equally beneficial to all the countries of N.A.T.O., and I sometimes think that it is of more benefit to us than to the United States and the Canadians, for instance, because we are very much nearer the firing line.
I should like to return for a moment to the terms of the Motion. The first point in the Motion of the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) is that the establishment of this installation at Fylingdales Moor is contrary to the spirit of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. I suppose that in a way that is a perfectly true statement. I do not think that anything in the Act—it is a very long one and I have not been able to read all the way through it—prohibits any particular installation in any particular place.
We are dealing with the spirit of the Act, but nevertheless we have to face it that this is a very small and cramped country. We are always complaining that good agricultural land is being filched for other purposes. It might be said that that was contrary to the spirit of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Indeed, it is; but we acknowledge that it is sometimes necessary to do these things. Arterial roads —motorways as we call them today— have to be built in many different localities.
I have no doubt that in the age when the Eddystone lighthouse was built there were people loud in complaint about this ugly stone edifice which was to be put up and so desecrate our coast— similarly with other lighthouses in other places around the coast. We have rather forgotten about the outcry that went on some hundred and fifty years ago when railways were being built all over the countryside. There was, indeed, a very considerable outcry in those days. We have to face up to the fact that different ages have different requirements, and we have to get these things put in their right order or priority.
§ Mr. Driberg
The hon. and gallant Member said that he had not read the whole of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. I agree that it is a very long one. I think that he has misunderstood what was meant by 848 a National Park at the time. It was not intended to be a completely sterilised park, in the ordinary sense of the word; it was defined as "an extensive area of outstanding beauty suitable for recreation by the general public, but where the normal life of the existing community goes on". The Fylingdales installation clearly does not allow for that.
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
I cannot see how the erection of Fylingdales station, with its four square miles of enfenced area around it, will stop the normal life that goes on. The birds, the small animals and insects, the flora and fauna will continue to flourish, although obviously not immediately where there are concrete buildings and so forth. What is more, in view of the fact that all matters of defence are somewhat temporary in history, I understand that much of this building at Fylingdales will be of a semi-temporary nature so that it can be demolished when the need for it is no longer there and it will not leave the ugly scars behind which we still see as a result of certain defence installations from the last war.
I cannot think that a comparatively small installation in a remote fold in the hills, provided that it is suitably landscaped, will desecrate this vast area of Yorkshire moorland. I have had a personal assurance that the Air Ministry fully intend that it should be suitably landscaped. Trees will be planted and the installation will be made to fit into the contours of the countryside as well as such an installation possibly can be.
Perhaps I have a different view of these matters from other people. There are many who object very strongly to atomic energy power stations. They may not be exactly pretty, but I feel that when they are built in suitable positions and suitably landscaped, as every effort is being made to do, they do not desecrate the countryside, as so many people seem to claim.
The hon. Member for Barking talked about semi-permanent devastation which he seemed to think already existed in this area. I know full well that it was used as a battle training area and that from time to time people still find dangerous explosive objects on the moors in that locality. But I cannot see that that amounts to semi-permanent devastation 849 So far as I know, there is no real devastation in that locality. He also referred to it being in the national defence of these islands. It is, of course, but not, I am sure, in the sense in which he meant.
This installation—if I misquote the hon. Gentleman perhaps he will wait until I have finished and then correct me— as has already bean amply pointed out, not only from this side of the House but by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), is part of the N.A.T.O. chain of defence, part of the N.A.T.O. shield, part of the Western world's deterrent. It contributes, of course, to our national defence, but it is not solely for the purpose of our own national defence.
There are those who say, "How can this installation on its own fulfil any real purpose? It is highly vulnerable; it can be knocked out in the first five minutes." That is perfectly true, but the fact remains that its very existence makes our deterrent to our opponents a feasible,, an understandable and a credible instrument.
Much play was made about the warning device not being foolproof. I feel that that rather ridiculous argument has already been demolished. How much less foolproof would our system of defence be if we decided to dispense with this new method of defence? This is a perfecting of the original rather simple and elementary radar sets that we produced in the late thirties. It is the present ultimate in the chain of radar. Nobody has ever claimed that it is foolproof, but because one weapon in a succession of weapons is not perfect, that is no good reason for dispensing with it.
We are always striving for perfection. In fact, many of those responsible for our fighting Services complain that we strive too hard for perfection and that weapons which are being developed are always being altered and are delayed in reaching the stage of general production and issue to our Forces because so many modifications are made to them in the course of development. That is true. It is unavoidable. However, there comes a stage when those responsible for our defence have to say, "From this moment we stop the research and development and go into production."
850 Much play has been made by a number of hon. Members about the views expressed by Professor Lovell. Far be it from me to decry Professor Lovell's work and his great knowledge—we have all had ample evidence of that in recent days—but he is a man working in a somewhat different sphere. He has no direct knowledge of this particular installation and its potential. Undoubtedly, he has a very wide and good working knowledge of the science of radar and radar location generally on which his own telescope works to a great extent, but for him to criticise and for his words to be held up as the absolute inviolable view of this new technique just does not make sense. In all highly technical spheres one will always get differences of opinion between the experts, but I believe that, on balance, the great consensus of technical opinion on both this side and the other side of the Atlantic is in favour of this type of installation.
I have dealt already with the risk of nuclear war being precipitated by the use of an instrument which is not entirely infallible. It is a ludicrous argument; it just does not hold water. One might as well say that as the first makers of buckets could not fill up all the holes in the buckets they should not have had buckets at all.
§ Hon. Members: What does that mean?
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
The Motion goes on to refuse to accept that Ministerial consultation will be practicable. Admittedly, the time at our disposal is short. We have been told that it may be as short as four minutes, but my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East has already pointed out that it is more than likely that we shall have ample warning by strained relations preceding such a moment of stress as this. The fact remains that what this installation will give us is at least a valuable four minutes in which a preponderance of our V-bomber force can be got off the ground. Also, it will give a great deal more warning time in which bomber forces can be got off the ground in other parts of the world.
One cannot look upon the deterrent as little pieces here and there. It is all part and parcel of one big whole. The mere fact that it is so makes it all the 851 more effective. If we were relying only on the British V-bomber force as a deterrent, I think we should all acknowledge that it was not a frightfully effective deterrent because the whole of that force would be based within the compass of the small island would be an easy target and could be obliterated almost at one blow. But that is not so. The deterrent is far more widely based than that, and that is why it is of such value.
The fifth point made by the hon. Member for Barking was that the moment of announcing this installation was untimely, I can never understand why it is that so many people, particularly on the other side of the House, are always so afraid of provoking the Russians. Does it never occur to them that Russia does a very great many things which are highly provoking to the West? I quite agree that nobody should stick his neck out unnecessarily, but this is a question, not of sticking out one's neck unnecessarily, but of showing our possible opponents in any future struggle that we are prepared and have means of—I will not say "countering"—meeting one of their most up-to-date threats.
Lastly, the point is made that the cost is disproportionate, that the British taxpayer bears too heavy a burden in relation to the other beneficiaries. I do not know what share, if any, in this project will be borne by other nations than ourselves and the Americans. On the face of it, there will be none. However, in the matter of the N.A.T.O. infrastructure there is a good deal of horse trading and bargaining; money does not actually pass but services are given in one country in return for services in another country, and I think that we shall probably find that because we are bearing a share of the cost of the installation we shall get compensating benefits from other countries.
Apart from that, our share is, I believe, £8 million out of a capital cost of £43 million. That is roughly one-fifth of the total cost of one part of the installation. It is a three-legged installation, there being equipment in the North American continent, equipment in Greenland and equipment in the British Isles. If we are to get the full benefit of this early warning system in return for a capital expenditure of £8 million only, I 852 think we are getting extraordinarily good value for money.
I look upon the Motion as irresponsible and shortsighted. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said earlier, it indicates the geography on the other side of the House. We begin to see precisely where the various continents on that side diverge one from the other. I hope that this House will reject the Motion and reject it in the fashion which it deserves.
§ 1.21 p.m.
§ Mr. William Whitlock (Nottingham, North)
There are many differing views in this House about defence. We all have individual views which we hold passionately and sincerely. We all have our personal stake in the future, in ensuring that the decisions that we take in this Chamber are the right ones.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I have a bigger stake in the future than many hon. Members who are present in that I have five sons and I want to see them grow up in a world of peace and plenty in which no man need fear attack from his neighbour. I am, therefore, deeply concerned about the possible consequences of the installation at Fylingdales. I am amazed that hon. Members opposite can attribute sinister motives to those of us on this side who have different views from their own.
It was admitted by the Secretary of State for Air, in the debate on the Air Estimates on 3rd March, that in the event of a nuclear attack on this country the early warning station cannot defend us. We all recognise that this small island is very vulnerable. If a nuclear war comes, our fabulous, costly armaments might just as well be bows and arrows for all that they can defend us from destruction.
We are told that if we are attacked the station will give us from four to fifteen minutes to get our bomber force, or part of it, off the ground and on its way towards the aggressor, leaving behind it a country which is about to become a radioactive hell in which most of us will already have died and in which the survivors will linger on for a while surrounded by horrors that we dare not even begin to contemplate.
But, say the Government, the very fact that we have such an early warning system which permits us to hit back 853 will deter the potential aggressor. They say that the early warning station is the answer to all our prayers. They contend that it is the piece of equipment which will make the great deterrent really a deterrent. It seems to me, however, that so long as there are any doubts that this piece of apparatus is absolutely and unquestionably effective in the way which has been described, there are not merely doubts that the apparatus can complete the effectiveness of the deterrent, but there are grave and terrible risks that the station may, through error, be instrumental in launching us all into eternity.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
I have listened to a lot of speeches on this subject this morning—nearly all of them. I hope that the hon. Member will not pursue the same kind of argument about the fallibility of the warning system as that on which his hon. Friends who have spoken before him have almost entirely based their case. Will the hon. Member be good enough to direct his argument to the question whether an early warning system, which, let us say, is at least a little better than any warning system we now have, is not a contribution to the effectiveness of the whole strategy—I know that the hon. Member does not accept this—so that there is, at least, a reduction of the possibility of the Russians ever starting a nuclear attack?
§ Mr. Whitlock
If the hon. Member will be patient, I am coming to that. If he listens to what I am saying, I wish to express my doubts about the efficiency of the station.
If there is any possibility that the apparatus cannot distinguish between certain natural phenomena and a missile attack, if an error can be made which will send off our bomber attack to evoke from the enemy the inevitable and complementary massive retaliation, the project should be abandoned immediately. To build it in these circumstances would not merely be a waste of money. It would be a crime against humanity.
If, on the other hand, the station will, with absolute certainty and in every foreseeable future period of its use, be able effectively and accurately to detect an approaching missile attack, giving adequate warning to enable us to send off our own massive annihilating force 854 so that because of its effectiveness no nation dare risk making a surprise attack—if, in effect, this base can ensure that no nuclear attack can confer any advantage on an enemy—by all means let us build the station. Let us build it so that it may be in the future a monument to man's folly and, at the same time, a sign of the nation's thanksgiving that, at last, all the enormous potentials which are now before us have been used in sanity.
I suspect that the Government cannot give the categorical assurance that this costly and complicated piece of equipment is absolutely foolproof and error-proof.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
Will my hon. Friend give way a moment? It is quite right for him, irrespective of the plea of the Liberals—nobody knows where they are—to make his own case and I am grateful that he has made it. The one thing about this apparatus is that it increases the possibility of making a mistake and bringing about mass suicide by a mistake, because those operating it may not be sure at any time what the radar screen is indicating.
§ Mr. Davies
The Institute of Strategic Studies may say that it is nonsense. I read all its stuff as much as anybody else. If my right hon. Friend calls it nonsense, I have as much right to say that what he says is nonsense, too.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I hope that the hon. Member will remember that he is making his intervention during the speech of another hon. Member.
§ Mr. Davies
I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to my hon. Friend, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Helper (Mr. G. Brown) should not have interrupted me.
§ Mr. Whitlock
I am glad that the trend of my argument is in complete accord with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies). For those reasons I support the Motion.
It does seem to me, too, that the announcement of the project was very badly timed. The talks at the disarmament conference and at the forthcoming 855 Summit meeting are not likely to be helped by the announcement of this project. I know that one Summit meeting and one disarmament conference will not suddenly and miraculously solve all the problems of East-West relations, but it seems to me that we must not—we dare not—allow anyone to lose faith in the idea that these talks between East and West may secure peace.
Such talks, however long and protracted they may be and however at times seemingly inconclusive, are infinitely preferable to the situation in which the nations do not talk but watch one another behind ever-increasing piles of armaments, a situation in which a fear-crazed lunatic or a faulty piece of detecting apparatus might precipitate the incident which would launch us all into a terrible conflagration.
For all these reasons, and because of my doubts about the situation, I support the Motion.
§ 1.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
I was recently reproved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) for never having taken part in a defence debate. Although this is not such, I am bound to say that my failure so to do in the past has been largely due to the extraordinary number of Privy Councillors who want to make rather long speeches on those occasions so that we poor back benchers are shut out.
We are very grateful to the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) for having moved this Motion, not because we agree with its terms, but because it does give an opportunity for Members who do not normally have a chance of getting into a defence debate to express about these matters an opinion which otherwise the country might be denied, although there are doubtless some who feel the country could well survive that calamity. However, this Motion does give opportunity to comparatively humble back benchers to express opinions on these great, weighty matters, which I hope that the House will not find entirely to its displeasure.
One hon. Member opposite—I have unpardonably forgotten the name of his 856 constituency—a little while ago said that the first instinct of humanity is security. That, of course, is true. At least, I should think so. Most Members on both sides of the House will feel that the desire for security and safety is a very primitive and natural desire on the part of all people, irrespective of their political complexions. Let us face the fact that in the greatly troublous times in which we live we are all anxious to survive, no matter how much we may disagree upon all sorts of other issues. But if it be true that it is the instinct of humanity to seek to survive and to be safe, it is also true that it is the responsibility of the Government of a country to take such measures as they can to ensure and improve the security of their people.
Any Government which failed to take adequate and appropriate measures within the limits of their power to protect their people against the risk of destruction would be failing in their duty and their responsibility. Hence it is that when one is in the Government of the country one's attitude is, perhaps, rather more attuned to the responsibility of providing for the defence of the people than is the case if one is in opposition; not that the Opposition is any less interested in securing the defence of the people, but, perhaps, the balance of emphasis on that is not so clearly marked and defined.
Here we have an opportunity of expressing views upon this question which comes, as I say, very infrequently to back benchers, when we can consider whether in fact it is true that the Government are taking adequate and effective steps and whether a particular step is a useful one or not, and whether, perhaps, one's point of view is changed according to whether one is sitting on that side or this side of the House.
There have been debates in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has frequently taken part, and, if I may say so, I have always enjoyed his contributions; debates in which we discussed the general question of the defence of this country and whether the nuclear weapon was a useful or desirable one or not.
Far and away the finest argument in favour of the possession of the nuclear 857 weapon, by far and away the most closely reasoned argument in favour of the nuclear deterrent, was produced by the party opposite when it was in power, when it was the Government of the country, when it had the responsibility, and when it was its job to defend the people of this country.
§ Mr. McAdden
The right hon. Gentleman says that that party did the job better than the Government now. That may well be his point of view, but it is perfectly true that that party took adequate steps to build up the deterrent without telling Parliament about it, and that it spent upon it large sums of money without confiding in this House what it was doing. I do not criticise it for that. It was its job; it was its job to see that the people of this country were defended; and it had the responsibility and had the power, and it did that job. Many congratulations to it on that.
I would remind the House that the Opposition in those days was a very much more united and a very much more effective Opposition than the one which exists today, and succeeded in defending and supporting the Government of that day upon every possible occasion on which the Government then put forward proposals for the adequate defence of this country, and I wish that the same unanimity of desire to protect the Government of the day against some of the criticisms levelled at them were manifested in Her Majesty's Opposition of today.
I was saying that the most closely reasoned argument in favour of the possession of the nuclear deterrent came into my possession from the Labour Party.
§ Mr. McAdden
I am grateful to the hon. Member for saying what I was going to say, and I congratulate him upon his clever anticipation of the trend of my remarks, because although I 858 know that the Sandys policy, introduced only two years ago, is criticised now—
§ Mr. McAdden
—it has always been —and the hon. Gentleman opposite will support me in this—the policy of the Labour Party. I was going—
§ Mr. G. Brown
The hon. Gentleman was doing very well up to then, when he allowed himself to be tempted by the Liberals, who have to provide some cover for themselves. The point is that the Minister of Defence policy, the so named Sandys policy, is quite dead. We from this Front Bench killed it. The hon. Gentleman should not be tempted by the Liberals into getting his history wrong.
§ Mr. McAdden
—but in this case it is Satan rebuking sin. If one looks back on the history of this matter one finds that the criticism which was launched against what is popularly known as the Sandys policy was that he said that should we be attacked with conventional forces we should retaliate with nuclear forces. That was the major criticism which was directed against his policy.
§ Mr. McAdden
That was never the serious view of the Labour Party when it was responsible for the defence of this country.
However, let us get down to what ! was going to say—
§ Mr. McAdden
—which was that the most closely reasoned argument in favour of the nuclear deterrent point of view which the right hon. Gentleman opposite himself supports came from the Labour Party. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman probably took some hand in the writing of this excellent publication which sets out so 859 clearly the reasons for a nuclear deterrent. I should not like him to be kept in any doubt about it. The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) probably has not read it. It is an excellent publication.
§ Mr. McAdden
"Talking Points", issued by the Labour Party in 1950, when it was responsible for the defence of this country.
On that occasion it analysed the points of view of different sections of people towards this problem. It said that, first of all, there is the purely pacifist point of view, a point of view which the Labour Party as a whole does not share but the sincerity of which one readily recognises. Whilst one cannot support that point of view, especially when one's party is the Government responsible for the defence of the country, one nevertheless recognises the conscience of those who hold it sincerely.
One admires and respects that person, even if one does not agree with him, who says, "I am resolutely opposed to armaments and in no circumstances would I support the defence of the country with any weapons which are in any way offensive." But I must add that the most belligerent, vociferous and antagonistic people in debate are those who profess the pacifist view.
§ Mr. McAdden
That may be so. But it is true, and I am glad to see that the truth of it has dawned on the hon. Member.
Then the document goes on to say that there are those who believe it is perfectly right that we should possess a deterrent weapon but that in no possible circumstances should we risk the opportunity of seeing whether it is any good or not by testing it. This closely reasoned document goes on to say that this is a ridiculous point of view to adopt.
The document then analyses the third section of people with views on this important question of defence. They are those who say that although it is perfectly all right for the Russians to have the weapon, it is quite wrong for us to have it. The Labour Party document 860 says that these people are so dishonest as not to be worth considering, and I support it in that view.
Then it says that there are those who hold the view that the possession of the deterrent weapon—with which this Motion is directly connected because the warning system is part of it—is all right as long as we promise in advance that we shall never be the first to use it. The Labour Party goes on to say that this is a ridiculous attitude to adopt, that it is ridiculous to try to hide our heads in the sand and to say, "We have the opportunity of blowing you to destruction but we promise that in no circumstances shall we use it first. We will let you use it first and then we will use it."—When it is impossible to use it. That is an untenable position.
Here in the warning system we have the opportunity of providing ourselves with means of informing ourselves, however inadequately, of the possibility of an attack upon us. Her Majesty's Government, knowing that science has brought within our reach the opportunity of discovering whether an attack is being launched against us, would be surely lacking in a sense of responsibility or in their duty as a Government responsible for our defence if they did not avail themselves of every scientific achievement to give us at any rate what warning is possible.
The hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) said that Her Majesty's Government believed that this system was the answer to all our prayers. I do not know where he obtained that information. He must have been reading some rather odd literature recently. I am sure that Her Majesty's Government have never said that this is the final solution and that it will be all right.
§ Mr. Whitlock
The hon. Member claims that I said that the Government had said that this piece of equipment was the answer to all our prayers. They did not, of course, say that exactly in those words, but if the hon. Member will read the speech made by the Secretary of State for Air in the debate on the Air Estimates on 3rd March, he will see that the remarks which I made are a fair summary of what the right hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. McAdden
Really, this is going a little too far. I challenge the hon. 861 Member to give support for his arguments and he now admits that neither Her Majesty's Government nor any of their Ministers have ever said anything of the kind. I shall still be speaking some few minutes from now and if the hon. Member can look up the debate and can find anything which even vaguely approximates to what he has said, I shall be glad to give way and listen to it.
Her Majesty's Government do not think that. In the last defence debate in another place, the hon. Member will find a much clearer expression of what is the hope of all hon. Members, put forward by my noble Friend, Lord Hailsham, who said that surely, ultimately, on all sides of the House we recognise that the real security for the world rests in the provision of some kind of world authority. Those blessed times having not yet arrived; until they do it is the duty of a responsible Government to provide such defence for us as is available within the limits of the scientific knowledge that we have attained.
In these circumstances we have the opportunity of providing ourselves with a method of securing some kind of warning. It is easy to make fun of the fact that this is a matter of four minutes' warning, but it surprises me that those who preach the gospel, which I support, of a world authority, and who believe that nations should build closer relationships with one another, should spend so much time in seeking to criticise the provision of this warning method on the ground that it does not give much warning to us and gives far more to the Americans.
Are we not interested in the preservation of the citizens of America and of the rest of the world? Are we interested only in our own preservation? If all that we are interested in is our own preservation on almost any terms, we can make peace with anybody who attacks us.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
When we are discussing this serious question, I beg the hon. Member not to put up these Aunt Sallies and ask these rhetorical questions. They have nothing to do with our grumbling because the warning system gives us only a four-minute 862 warning and gives the Americans a fifteen-minute warning. The hon. Member knows that. I beg him to treat the argument honestly.
§ Mr. McAdden
I am as interested in survival as he is, though possibly more interested in my own survival than in his, but I am much more interested in the survival of the way of life in which I believe. I believe that we, with our American and European allies, are entitled to seek to take to ourselves every possible measure to secure warning of an attack that may be made not on us only but on any one of us. This narrow argument advanced on the basis that the system gives only a four-minute warning to us is rather stupid. Provided that the Western alliance as a whole can have some opportunity to retaliate if any attack launched is against us, surely this is a necessary safeguard and precaution which we should take.
It is, of course, a truism that the deterrent is useless if it has to be used, for its purpose is to deter. Over the years, successive Governments have spent millions of pounds in building the deterrent weapon, with all its faults and failings. Those faults are enormous, bat nevertheless the weapon has succeeded in preserving an uneasy peace for a number of years. It has led to a conference, which we hope will be held shortly, which we hope will lead to a greater degree of understanding among the nations. In these circumstances, surely it is being a little petty-minded to criticise Her Majesty's Government for taking this limited step to try to apprise ourselves of warning of an attack. It is still more petty-minded to cavil at the cost because the system gives the Americans more warning than it gives us.
What kind of an argument is this? I cannot understand why those who believe in the international brotherhood of man should become so narrow-minded and partisan when it comes to the defence of their country and should not be interested in the defence of the world. I hope, with my noble Friend, Lord Hailsham, that some day we shall have so far progressed as to be able 863 to look forward to a satisfactory administration under a world authority. Until that happens, any Government who fail to avail themselves of every means to secure even the marginal protection of their people should be hounded out of office. If hon. and right hon. Members opposite were in power they would do the same as Her Majesty's present Government are doing and we, then the Opposition, would support them.
§ 1.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
The British people should be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) for initiating this debate and for saying what he has done.
The first question that arises is whether the Fylingdales project provides a means of detecting and correctly distinguishing a missile attack. I want to introduce some evidence from a completely new source. I wish to quote what was said by the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, as quoted in the American periodical, Popular Science, in its issue of 21st February. It states:The United States is developing an un-detectable missile. New supersonic low altitude missiles are being designed which fly too low to be located by radar. The first of these missiles is called Pluto. ' Progress on it is going forward rapidly', says the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. John A. McCone. ' I think it will put the intercontinental ballistic missiles out of business', sums up the head of the design team, Dr. Theodore C. Merkle.Among hon. Members on both sides of the House there is at least some respect for the technical advance of Russia in the missile field, and it seems reasonable to assume that if the Americans are developing a missile which cannot be detected by radar the Russians can do the same. Fylingdales will be no use against that.
Nor will Fylingdales be any use against chemical warfare. A few weeks ago, 14 hon. Members from both sides of the House met in a Committee Room to hear a talk by Major-General Dr. Brock Chisholm, the former director of the World Health Organisation, who was in charge of Canadian medical services during the last war. He talked to us about botulinus toxin and said that if two men in a private aircraft flew over London and dropped a small 864 quantity of this toxin from the plane, or deposited it in some way, into London's water supplies, within twelve hours four out of five Londoners would be dead, and nobody would know until it was too late—four or five hours after the dropping—what had taken place. What protection can Fylingdales give us against this sort of thing?
Now for the cost. On 17th February, we were told by the Secretary of State for Air that the total cost would be £43 million. If we asked our constituents how they would like to spend that money they would tell us that £43 million would build 25,000 houses and accommodate about 100,000 people. Our constituents would greatly prefer the money to be spent in that way. I should like an assurance that the amount of money spent will not be far greater than that.
Since I came into the House I have learned not to depend upon estimates of expenditure on defence. A few days ago a question was raised in connection with the cost of three guided missiles. The total cost was originally estimated at £8 million, but it finished up as £110 million.
I should like an assurance from the Minister that the sum in question in this case will not exceed £43 million, and that our share will not exceed the figure given by the Minister, who, when answering this question about the three guided missiles said that he doubted whether anyone else could have made a different estimate.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. W. J. Taylor)
To what is the hon. Member referring now—the cost of this ballistic missiles early warning station, or the cost of the development of ballistic missiles on this side of Europe?
§ Mr. Allaun
I am sure that the hon. Member will follow my argument if he listens. I am saying that we can place no reliance upon the Government estimate of £43 million, because in the case of the three guided missiles the estimate was a hell of a long way out. The Minister of Aviation said:All I can say is that we know a lot more about these things "—that is, guided missiles—than we did ten years ago."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1960; Vol. 620, c. 22.]865 Fylingdales, also, is a relatively new development. How do we know that in ten years' time we shall not find that it has been a far more costly business than we expected?
I believe that Fylingdales is a tombstone erected to the death of democracy. [Laughter.] I am going to prove my point. If we are over 21 years of age we have the right to vote, and that right is jealously guarded. If the Government wish to reduce the old-age pension the elected representatives of the people have to be consulted. But on this supreme issue of life or death, peace or war—the question whether this and other countries are to be massacred —the people will not be consulted.
§ Mr. W. J. Taylor
They were consulted in October last year, and they came out with a very definite vote in favour of the defence of this country being maintained in an efficient state.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This has been a wide-ranging debate, and I do not wish to curtail it unduly, but if we could get closer to the Fylingdales project it would be a good thing.
§ Mr. Allaun
My point is that the Fylingdales project is evidence of the fact that the signal for the next world war will be given by one man. It will be impossible for Members of Parliament to be consulted. The Cabinet will not be consulted. Its members will not even have time to jump into their taxis. The decision will have to be taken by one man. That man will be the supreme commander in the field —either General Norstad or his opposite number on the other side.
Bernard Shaw was right when he said that war was far too serious a business to leave to the generals. I do not trust generals. If we give a child a toy it will play with it, and if we give the generals a new weapon there will be a tremendous temptation for them to use it. In 1945, the scientists who developed the atomic bomb in America pleaded with President Truman not to use it at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but, unfortunately, the generals had their way.
I now come to my main point, which has been the centre of today's debate, namely, the Fylingdales theory. Many people are asking what benefit the Fylingdales project will bring to us, with 866 its four minutes' warning. The answer is. "None at all; it is not intended to". In the eyes of the military staffs of the world the civilian populations are expendable. All they want is a four minutes' period in which to decide whether or not to press the button which will launch our missiles or get our V-bombers and those of the Americans off the ground.
It will be very comforting to our people and our children to know that when they are part of a radioactive cinder heap our missiles and bombers will already be on their way to turn other countries into similar cinder heaps. This, I think, is the Government's argument. It was admitted by the previous Minister of Defence that there is no adequate means of defending our country against nuclear attack. Subsequently, he said that we should concentrate on trying to defend our airstrips from which our planes would depart.
What, then, is the argument for Fylingdales? I will try to give the Government's point of view, as clearly as I can. It is the knowledge that we can get our bombers and missiles off the ground before they are destroyed. It is this knowledge, we have been told "umpteen" times today, that will deter the Russians from attacking. Fylingdales makes our deterrent real because the enemy will know of the possibility of our retaliation. I think that that is a fair statement of the Government's attitude on the matter.
I believe that Fylingdales is the deterrent theory taken to its logical conclusion. What is the real objection? There are a dozen arguments why it will not prevent war. The first is because in all previous arms races in history the result has been war. The second is because the very existence of these weapons increases tension and suspicion in the world and, therefore, makes war more and not less likely. The third is because there have already been wars in Korea and Indo China which nuclear weapons failed to prevent. The fourth is because limited warfare could escalate very rapidly into nuclear warfare.
But this is not the prime argument. The main argument against the deterrent, the Fylingdales theory—and this is my chief point—is this. It is not unreasonable for the Government to argue that 867 the Governments of Britain, America and Russia, being composed of rational people and each knowing that the other Governments possess the bomb, will hesitate to use it. There is a grain of truth in that argument.
The objection to the argument is that the bomb will not be confined to those three countries. It is rapidly spreading to other countries. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, twelve countries already possess the technique to manufacture the bomb and within five years five more countries will possess the technique. That makes a total of seventeen countries.
The hydrogen bomb is no longer a secret. It is an engineering job. Indeed, in America last year there was an exhibition, which was open to the public, at which the blue-prints for plants to build the bomb were available. This means that more and more countries are to possess the bomb. Sooner or later—it may be in ten or twenty years' time—a Government will arise possessing the bomb and prepared to use it.
If, in 1945, Hitler had had the bomb he would have been prepared to use it even if he knew that there would be retaliation. After all, Hitler and his entourage were prepared to commit suicide in the bunkers, and if there has been one Hitler there can be another. It may be in only a small country that such a man would arise. Personally, I would not trust General Massu further than I could throw him. As I say, sooner or later a Government of a fanatical kind will come into being possessing the bomb and prepared to use it. Therefore, sooner or later, this deterrent theory will take us into the Third World War.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way. I am not quite sure whether he has delved adequately into the psychology of Hitler. But, be that as it may, it does not really affect the argument that there are likely to be dictators or rulers of any kind who encompass their own annihilation. I think that if the hon. Gentleman were right, and if Hitler had been in a position to destroy not only himself but the whole world, there would have been much more effective plots against him. He would have been removed quite effectively because it would have been quite 868 clear that there was nothing to lose by getting rid of him.
§ Mr. Allaun
The answer is, of course, that there were plots against him, and that they failed. If the plots had been successful the damage that he did would have been prevented. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am not guessing at Hitler's psychology. He committed suicide, and if he could have brought Britain and the world down with him there is good reason to believe that he would have been prepared to do so.
A small South American Republic, for instance—it does not necessarily have to be a great Power—could start the war and destroy us all. Further, I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the more nations which possess the bomb —and they are to include China, France, West Germany, and probably Israel, Egypt and Czechoslovakia—the greater will be the danger of this accident taking place.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The hon. Gentleman says that I would agree. I do not agree. I rather think that the tendency would be for the deterrent to become very universal.
§ Mr. Allaun
The hon. Gentleman is saying, in effect, that if every nation in the world has the hydrogen bomb there is less danger of this accident taking place and less danger of the commander in the field misinterpreting a signal or a situation. I think that that is a most remarkable theory, and it is certainly one which I cannot accept. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that our Thor rockets, capable of travelling 1,500 miles, cannot be recalled when put into flight. Once they had been launched we could not make good our mistake.
To my mind, the most impressive argument against Fylingdales has been presented by Nevil Shute, who died in December last. He was a man whose views must be seriously considered. He was an aeronautical engineer, and we recall in his novel "No Highway", written some years ago, how he described the possibility of an aeroplane which had been in flight for many hours developing metal fatigue. Four years after that novel was published there was the accident to the Comet, as a result of which all the Comets were grounded.
869 The film "On the Beach" has attracted considerable attention. In the novel, the author went much more explicitly into the origins of the third world war. This is what the Australian scientist said, and it has a considerable bearing on what we are discussing today:The trouble is, the damn things "—that is, the bombs—got too cheap. The original uranium bomb only cost about fifty thousand quid towards the end. Every little pipsqueek country like Albania could have a pile of them, and every little country that had thought it could defeat the major countries in a surprise attack. It wasn't the big countries that set off this thing. It was the little ones.That seems to me to be not just a possible consequence of events, but a probability if we proceed along the present lines. Yesterday—
§ Mr. Thorpe
If this proliferation is to occur, would not it be a good idea to be able to detect all these bombs from all these countries?
§ Mr. Allaun
The first argument is that it does not detect the bomb. Secondly, the detector is part and parcel of the deterrent theory. If the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) had been listening, he would know that a few minutes ago I showed, to my satisfaction, if not to his, that the deterrent would fail, because it would inevitably mean, and is meaning as we sit here now, that the bomb is becoming the property of more and more nations. France has already joined the nuclear club and all the other countries will not be far behind.
In his novel, Nevile Shute described how the third world war began. An unidentified nation dropped a bomb over Tel Aviv. The next day British and American Air Forces made a demonstration warning flight over Cairo. The following day the total available Egyptian Air Force of seven planes, which were of Soviet design and using Soviet identification signs, was launched against Washington and London. Three got through and after that there were very few statesmen left in Washington or London. Somebody had to give the signal. An unknown commander launched the bomb against Russia. He 870 had to act quickly, and that was how the great mistake occurred—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As the House will be aware, I have already drawn attention to the fact that the debate was going far wide of the Motion, and I should like hon. Members to keep as close as possible to the question of Fylingdales Moor and the Motion which the House is debating.
§ Mr. Allaun
I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will leave the point entirely.
Spring is here. The daffodils are growing in St. James's Park—[HON. MEMBERS: "And on Fylingdales Moor."] Our children are looking forward to their Easter holidays. Yet at any moment we are on the verge of a catastrophe. Fylingdales is a symbol of the fact that we are living on a knife edge. When such quick decisions have to be taken there is, as I am sure every hon. Member would agree, a liability that a mistake may be made.
That is why Fylingdales is the symbol of our age. I hope that when it is opened it will be suitably inscribed, possibly with such words as "This monument is a symbol of the 'sixties. It is erected as a testimony to the compulsive driving forces of the world statesmen: suicidal mania and race slaughter." I only hope that it will not prove to be our epitaph.
Fylingdales has proved a great shock to the ordinary people of our country. They were becoming increasingly alarmed at other developments and the revelations which have been made. First, that the hydrogen bomb carriers were on patrol 24 hours a day secondly, this last week, that the strontium content in children's bones has grown again; and, thirdly, that Germany is being provided with missiles which are capable of travelling 950 miles. Now we have the knowledge that within four minutes we may be under the sod.
The British public is becoming horrified by the whole business. As an alternative more and more people are turning towards a movement which says, "We will have no part of this, and 871 we are out to end it." I am referring to the growing campaign for nuclear disarmament. More and more people are feeling that it is time to cry a halt and that disarmament presents the only solution to the problem which faces us. I will tell the House, if I may, why this is so. Here we are touching something very deep, nothing less than the instinct to preserve the human species from extinction. The more revelations which are made the more will this movement grow. In Fylingdales, there is no salvation; it lies only in disarmament and co-existence.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) referred to the fact that spring is here. It reminded me of the lines of Rupert Brooke from "All suddenly the wind comes soft."And spring is here againAnd the hawthorn quickens with buds of greenAnd my heart with buds of pain.I cannot help feeling that running through the minds of hon. Members who have taken part in this debate is an acute awareness of the feeling, so well expressed by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof), of the shortcomings of mankind as a whole.
I do not think any of us would disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), who said that the matter raised by this Motion is of extreme importance. I have listened to practically every speech made so far in this debate and I have been deeply impressed by the absence of hyperbole. It was not until we got "On the beach" with the hon. Member for Salford, East that perhaps we were showing how difficult it is to be certain about anything.
Emphasis has been placed in this debate on the absence of absolute certainty about what the Fylingdales apparatus will or will not identify. Because we cannot be absolutely certain that anything it picks up is what we hope it will be able to pick up—something that is being launched against us—is no argument for saying that we should not have the apparatus. If we have nothing else capable of identifying any rocket launched against us, it is as well that we should make use of this apparatus.
872 I understand the anxiety of hon. Members who are anxious about the fact that an object identified by the Fylingdales detector might automatically involve us in a world war. We are all anxious about that, but are we absolutely certain—I think this a fair point to put to hon. Members opposite—that the Government are not quite as aware of that danger as any of us? I should have thought the indications were that the Government are extremely aware of it.
I think it worth while to contemplate for a moment what the potential enemy is saying at professional level in the Soviet Union about this matter. The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) referred to the Institute for Strategic Studies. I do not know whether he agrees with the views of the Institute—
§ Major Legge-Bourke
—but he will admit that its journal, Survival, includes articles from all over the world. They do not necessary contain the views of the Institute, but they make available information which otherwise would not be available to us.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
In the latest volume for March-April, 1960, on page 43, there is a quotation from Marshal Malinovski, Minister of Defence in the Soviet Union, in which this passage occurs:In a modern war … massed nuclear attacks upon objectives in the far rear as well as upon groupings of armed forces in theatres of military operation will be of primary importance.If that be so, massed nuclear attack is being visualised by the Soviet Union as a method of conducting warfare. Whatever may be its fears about what it is pleased to call the imperialistic Powers of the West, its Minister of Defence is thinking in those terms.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield) rose—
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I will give way to the hon. Member in a moment.
Is it not worth while contemplating the possibility that the Fylingdales detector may very well be able to indicate to us 873 without any doubt at all whether a mass attack is on its way? Is it not better to have an apparatus which can provide us with that form of warning? I know it would be only four minutes for this country, but the deterrent effect we rely upon at present to deter the Soviet Union or anyone else not to use such an attack against us is not provided by us only, but provided on a basis of partnership in an alliance of the United States of America and others. The United States has a major part in providing the machinery for that deterrent. Does anyone suppose that it is going to be any advantage to us if we make quite certain that they get no warning at all in the event of an attack against the British Isles? That surely is the principal point of substance in this debate.
I wish now to refer to the question of despoiling national parks.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
Before the hon. and gallant Member leaves the point he has been making, would he go further and say that he agrees that any theories that we could wage nuclear war by graduated deterrents are now exploded and shown to be quite untrue?
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I am not sure that I am technically qualified to do that, but I am absolutely certain the hon. Member is not. I shall try to deal with that point as the hon. Member has raised it, but I was going to refer to it. There is the question of the scientific opinion on which we could rely these days. In this same edition of Survival from which I quoted there is an article by an American officer who has been over here studying our approach to defence. The article is written by Lieut.-Colonel de Witt Armstrong of the United States Army. I think the article was republished by permission of the Royal United Services Institution in London. He may have delivered a lecture to the Institution, or contributed the article to its journal. In the article he says:As strategy becomes intricate, with potent and sophisticated instruments set in a rapidly changing environment, the outsider cannot often make worthwhile judgments. In fact, strategic planners now claim that colleagues retired and away from official information even six months are too far out of date to warrant serious attention ".874 If that is true of well-informed scientists, how much more true it must be of us here who are denied, and quite rightly denied, a great deal of secret information about the technical aspects of these weapons. I might perhaps sum it up by again quoting a passage from the article by Lieut.-Colonel de Witt Armstrong, in which he says:The problems have swollen beyond the framework of leisured politics in which most of Britain's experience is presented, and it does no good to solve just part of the problem ".I hope that is an adequate comment on the observations of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross).
I was about to touch on the whole question of despoiling National Parks, which is suggested in the Motion. I have looked at the debate on the Second Reading of the National Parks Bill on 31st March, 1949, and I notice that Mr. Silkin as he then was, now Lord Silkin, said:This is a small country and we cannot afford, as can the United States, to set aside large areas solely for the purpose of public recreation or establishing a museum."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March. 1949; Vol. 463, c. 1465.]It must have been in the mind of the Government of that day that considerations of defence sometimes have to override provision of the most desirable kind of amenities we wish to see. I do not believe that the size of this particular apparatus is likely to interfere materially with the public rights which we wanted preserved in the National Parks Act.
In that Parliament, and in the subsequent one, hon. Members opposite and I were jointly responsible for trying to help the Youth Hostels Association to have its views considered in this House. I am as sympathetic as anyone to the idea of preserving the beauty of National Parks and improving some of the appallingly hideous buildings which have been put up throughout the ages, but I cannot believe that this is a great affront to the whole principle or that it is contrary to that principle. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said, surely the last thing we want is to have our National Parks smothered with radioactive fallout. If this is a way of making that less likely it is well within the idea of the National Parks Act.
875 There is the question of identification. I have quoted from the Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union, but there are one or two others whom I think are worth remembering. One is Mr. Khrushchev himself. In the same speech as that quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West, Mr. Khrushchev had this to say:Of course all countries would suffer in one way or another in the event of a new world war. We too would suffer a great deal. We too would sustain great loss but we would survive.The Soviet Union thinks it would survive in the event of a nuclear war. If there is any substance at all in the point made by the hon. Member for Salford, East about Hitler, surely the hon. Member would agree that a remark of that kind indicates that Mr. Khrushchev has not learned the lesson which we hoped Hitler had taught the world. Mr. Khrushchev thinks it possible for the Soviet Union to survive in spite of this being a matter of the life and death of humanity, as the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) said.
We may be barking up the wrong tree —probably that is the best description we could give to this debate—in believing that the lesson has been learned by Mr. Khrushchev of what the consequences of getting involved in another world war would be. If Mr. Khrushchev has not realised it, is that not all the more reason that we with our allies should make sure we not only have an effective deterrent but the best warning system we can possibly devise? I should have thought so.
I think that hon. Members who get involved in the technicalities of the ways and means of conducting a nuclear war were it ever to start tend to give to the public in this country and outside this country an impression that the whole thing is inevitable and that there is actually going to be a third world war involving the use of these weapons. I think they give that impression. They do not mean to do so. Many people who join the Nuclear Disarmament Movement are deeply sincere, and I respect them for being brave enough to express their views, but they give that impression. I profoundly disagree with them because they are making exactly the same mistake as many hon. Members have made in this debate by assuming 876 that because nuclear war would be so awful we have to frighten everybody about the ways in which we would be caught on the hop.
I do not think that that is the right approach. It seems to me that we ought to be saying that we believe that we have kept the peace since the Second World War largely as a result of our at last having found a means, without involving the complete transfer of our manpower from productive work into military service, of standing up to the biggest bullies in the world—bullies who have the biggest manpower in the world, too. We should concentrate on that and on ensuring that as long as men exist such as do exist in Communist China, the Soviet Union and the brutalised satellite States, then, with our allies, we are able to stand up to them. That is the only argument that these people understand. We all can grieve in our hearts that men are as they are. We can go on trying to improve the way they behave. But we know that we shall never be forgiven if in this generation we try to pretend that they have been reformed before in fact they have been reformed and if we behave as though they have been reformed before that reformation has taken place.
My constituents are as much entitled to talk about the nuclear deterrent as anyone, because we have a Thor base in the middle of the constituency. A meeting was arranged there. The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) came to it, as did others. I understand that we were to be addressed by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), news of whose recovery we are all glad to hear. He was to come to the meeting, as was the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). A meeting was arranged for 3,000 people, who were to take part in a great march.
In the end, neither the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale nor the hon. Member for Coventry, East came to the meeting, but the hon. Member for Rossendale did, as did another hon. Member opposite. About 300 people turned up for the outing. I have no doubt that some of them were sincere pacifists doing what they believed to be right.
Only seven of my constituents could be found in that march—the secretary 877 of one of the village branches of the Labour Party and his wife, the chairman and his wife, the Labour Party agent in the division and, I think, two others. That was all. All the others present had been imported for the day or had come down voluntarily for the day. I hope they were received courteously. On the whole, I think they were.
I had taken some trouble to find out in advance the attitude of my own constituents. This was the view of those living closest to the rocket site: "Twice in the lifetime of most of us this country has been found unprepared. Twice in the lifetime of many of us this country has not been able to play a proper part in standing up to the bullies of the world. Let us not be caught again. Let us be ready this time, because if we are ready and show the world that we are ready, there is perhaps some hope that nobody will ever dare to start a third world war".
That, I confess, is my own approach to the problem, and I do not think that it requires great technical knowledge to be able to take this view. I recognise the argument about matching fear with fear, but there is a difference between "fear" and "awe". I have always thought that fear tends to make people do stupid things. But when one holds some person or something in awe one tends to be careful and to respect the powers of that person, or that thing.
Mankind has a power it has never had before. None of us can foresee what the consequences will be if mankind misuses this power, except that they will be more awful than anything which has ever happened to the world before. Surely we must make absolutely certain that we do everything possible to ensure that that never happens. We may be very restricted in the means by which we can prevent it from happening, but I believe that Fylingdales has a part to play in preventing it.
One point on which I disagree with those of my hon. Friends who have spoken is in their suggestion that the Fylingdales apparatus is not a weapon. It is, and ought to be, a weapon. It is a weapon or an assistance to an existing weapon of deterrence. If it were not, we ought not to be spending any money on it. Its purpose is to make our power to retaliate more effective 878 and to see that more people for a longer time will be deterred from ever starting war. If Fylingdales does not contribute that, we ought not to be spending money on it. But it will make a contribution and we are right to spend money on it.
In his opening speech, the hon. Member for Barking was soft-pedalling very hard on the question of expense. The Americans are to spend £35 million and we are to spend £8 million on Fylingdales. That is surely the act of an ally in a great partnership which we hope will become more and more integrated every minute. We ought to be careful in what we say and how we vote at the end of the debate, for we must remember that this is the first time since the N.A.T.O. Alliance was formed that there has been an invitation from the President of the United States to the Prime Minister of Great Britain to go to see him. Let us hope that much good will come of it.
If we were to vote for the Motion this afternoon, I have no doubt that it would be misconstrued in the one place in which it must not be misconstrued —the high places of the principal allies of the N.A.T.O. alliance. If we undermine their confidence, what right have we then to expect them to do a single thing about protecting this country? Where should we be if we had to bear the whole cost of what N.A.T.O. is providing? That is the very least that would be necessary. Indeed, many people fear that N.A.T.O. is not providing enough.
If that is so, it ill becomes this country to start to opt out, as the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Edelman) is apparently prepared to do, of the N.A.T.O. Agreement. He thought that it was morally right so to do. Whatever our religion, I do not believe that we are ever excused for trying to pretend that the world is different from what it is. I do not think we are ever excused for trying to wash our hands of this expensive equipment. We must remember that, to strengthen our defence, many of our people are having to do things which they do not like doing and which they are doing only out of a sense of duty or because they have been conscripted.
I do not think that there is any moral rectitude in opting out of this, as the hon. Member suggested. The future generations of the world will respect us 879 far more if, at a time when there was so much more we could have done with the money, we thought of those future generations and, in our time, did everything possible to preserve this country as a green and happy land.
§ 2.38 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
We have had a long discussion on the Motion, and there is an Amendment to it on the Order Paper. It is not my intention, in rising at this stage, to indicate in any way that the debate should end, but I thought that it might be convenient if I intervened now to offer from the Opposition Front Bench such advice as I can to the House as to the way in which it might deal with the Motion.
We have had a debate in two parts. I must confess that I found the first part very interesting and stimulating, and, in some ways very moving. It raised complex issues and a number of what seemed to me to be misunderstandings, and I thought it very good that it had taken place. Thereafter, the debate seems to have turned into a debate not on Fyling-dales and on its implications, but on rocket sites, the nuclear deterrent and such subjects, which we can discuss for ever.
Those who are the unilateralists claim for themselves all the virtues of their cause and allow very little virtues to the rest of us. They seem to be in a position in which argument never influences them at all, since the same arguments are repeated on their side all the time, with no regard to what has been said in answer. So the latter part of the debate has not been as useful as I found the first part.
My position is, as is becoming now regular and recognisable, a somewhat peculiar one. I would not use the word "difficult". I accept the policy of the Labour Party. That is a statement which is perhaps less often said in the House than our constituents might expect us to say it. I was adopted by a constituency party on an undertaking to accept it. I do accept it. I also agree with it. It is, also my duty from time to time to defend it in the House and outside. That is what I propose to do this afternoon, and the advice I propose to offer my colleagues is in accordance with the party's policy, which I certainly 880 thought I came here to accept, and to defend.
Such a situation offers two opportunities for mischief. It offers to those Conservatives who wish to take it— unfortunately, a number of them always do—the opportunity to play about with differences between other people and myself on this side of the House. There is nothing that I can do about that, nor would wish to do about it. If they think it worth their effort, worth their while, worth their time, for what it is worth they must do it.
There is also the other opportunity for mischief to those who on my own side then think it worth while to join in a wee bit of character assassination. If one is defending the Labour Party policy and finds oneself associated with hon. Gentlemen opposite, it is very easy to spread around the idea that one is somehow therefore a Right winger, a Tory in disguise. We must face the fact that all these things have from time to time been said.
My position, therefore, is one in which I have to face the facts and accept that both these mischiefs can be done and that both these mischiefs are done.
§ Mr. Brown
If I ever answer back, I am doing it. I was only going on to say that I rather hoped that we might stop doing it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes—stop the attack, not stop the defence.
I feel that I must offer advice. I have my differences with the Government on defence. It is easy for the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) to suggest that, because one has certain points of agreement, therefore one has no differences. That is not true. I have my differences with the Government, but I think that there are certain points on which it is not possible to invent a difference in order to be different all the way down the line.
Let me say at once that I cannot advise my hon. Friends to support the Motion. There are parts of it that I do support. There are parts of it which strike a chord with me. In the speech with which my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) moved the Motion, I found a good deal to agree with him. In the speeches which 881 have subsequently supported it I found a good deal less to agree with, because it seemed that they approached it from fundamentally a completely different point of view.
I believe that the Motion as a whole can be supported only by those who take a unilateralist position on nuclear disarmament. Those who do take a unilateralist position on nuclear disarmament, as they are entitled to, therefore have a fundamental difference with me. If we are both honest, we are almost certain to disagree from there all the way up. If at any subsequent stage we agree, we must see how, because we start from fundamentally different positions. A unilateralist can say, "I want no part in nuclear deterrents". He cannot say, "I want no part in nuclear war", because that is a decision which will be made for him by somebody else. A unilateralist can say, "I want no part in trying to deter it. I want no part in being able to meet it. I contract right out, and I will take the entire consequences of that".
To such a man as the unilateralist, the setting-up of a station intended to give early warning and thereby make the other fellow understand that one is in a position to do something about it, thereby causing the other fellow to worry about whether the consequences are worth while, would be to breach his fundamental position. Therefore, while I offer my advice to my unilateralist friends, I can well see that from their point of view they cannot accept it. They are against the whole thing, all its works and all its implications.
It is not possible for the rest of us to be against it. To those who, like myself, and like the Labour Party as a whole, accept the idea of deterrents while reaching forward to multilateral disarmament, giving oneself as good a warning and as early a warning as possible is part of the deterrents. Fylingdales becomes even more important than it is to me to those who, on the other hand, like the Liberals and like some others of my hon. Friends, accept the deterrent theory but do not accept that Britain should have its own, but that the nuclear deterrents should be for the Americans to provide within the alliance and that the rest of us should provide other forms of deterrents.
882 Anyone who believes, as some people have said recently that they do believe, that America should provide the nuclear deterrent must help to provide America with the early warning, otherwise the whole point of their case falls completely. Of the different strata of approach to nuclear deterrents, only the unilateralist can be against the early warning system. The rest of us, whether we agree or disagree about an independent British deterrent, must inevitably accept the idea of an early warning station.
I wanted to make that clear so that we knew what the element of disagreement about an early warning station is.
§ Mr. Charles Longhlin (Gloucestershire, West) rose—
§ Mr. Loughlin
I thought that it was quite common practice to intervene in a debate to ask for clarification. I want to ask my right hon. Friend to give us some clarification on the point he is making. Before he finishes with his point that only unilateralists can support the Motion, will he devote himself to those lines in which it is suggested that the existence of this part of the deterrent might precipitate, by accident, a nuclear war?
§ Mr. Brown
That is exactly why I suggested to my hon. Friend, I hope courteously, that I might be allowed to get on, because that is a point with which I shall obviously deal shortly. For the moment, I was dealing with the issue in principle, and I have given what I hope is a clear view on that.
The Labour Party accepts the Anglo-American alliance. That is not to say that we regard the present state of the world as ideal—not by any means—but in the present state of the world the Labour Party accepts the Anglo-American alliance and accepts, and, indeed, was the architect of, the North Atlantic Treaty.
The Labour Party, therefore, rejects the idea of unilateral disarmament. Our aim is the achievement of multilateral, agreed disarmament under proper methods of control, and assurance against cheating. That, to us, is the absolute aim; not the ultimate aim but 883 something that we should go for with all the vigour at our command. We should be prepared to discard weapons in our armoury in return for the discarding of weapons in the other armoury. It seems to us that, in aiming for that, to discard one's own weapons without achieving a measure of multilateral disarmament is not to achieve peace, is not to achieve security, and is not to achieve happiness at all.
The whole point of the operation, the whole reason for our being multilateral disarmers is that it is not only our weapons that terrify, but all existing weapons that terrify, and one wants to get to the position where not only are the weapons in one armoury discarded but the weapons everywhere are discarded, and the whole thing gets down to a lower level—
§ Mr. Warbey rose—
§ Mr. Brown
No. I do not want to be discourteous, but this is a private Members' day, and although I want to put the Labour Party's point of view I also want to leave time for others to take part.
We say that this is our main aim. We say that, in the meantime, our position is that we seek to deter a war from breaking out, if we can, either by design, by accident or by miscalculation, while we get, as we hope we will, to the point of multilateral disarmament. That is our reason for taking that point of view on deterrence.
It is not that I want to go to war anymore than does anyone else. It is not that anyone else has a greater distaste for nuclear weapons than I have—though when I heard an hon. Friend pick out the nuclear weapon as being intrinsically sinful, I must say that I am unable to draw a distinction between it and biological and chemical weapons and napalm bombs. To me, the whole wretched lot are intrinsically sinful. I want to reach the best balance I can that deters war while we get to the point where we can get rid of the whole intrinsically sinful apparatus. That is the Labour Party's position, and that is the reason for our case.
That leads us, I think, to the bulk of my hon. Friend's Motion—that following the date "1949". The important point about this is that if a man, a 884 Government or a régime were to be so wicked as to launch on us or on anyone else in the world—as I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) suggested—40 missiles at one time, it would mean that it was done of design, of calculation, and heaven only knows how such a régime can be deterred or dealt with. But the important thing is to avoid a miscalculation—an accident. It is still very true to say that the 1939–45 war grew out of a series of miscalculations by Hitler and his régime of what would, in fact, happen in particular circumstances. One must, therefore, avoid mistakes.
That seems to me to lead to this, if I may put it to my hon. Friends. On the one hand, we must avoid being in the position where we ourselves have to be a first-strike Power; where we have to unleash our weapons first, or there is no opportunity of doing anything about it at all. We must avoid 'being in that position. Conversely, we must avoid being so helpless that we can be destroyed by any régime vicious enough to be willing to deliver the first strike.
The posture that we must, somehow, keep is that we, who will never be aggressive in terms of any kind of war and, certainly not aggressive in terms of nuclear war, shall not thereby put ourselves completely beyond having any influence on a régime that may be tempted to be aggressive towards us. It is that that leads me to feel that I can not go along with my hon. Friends who argue that unless we can guarantee that the warning of what will happen is 100 per cent. infallible, we should not have it.
That argument was used by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking when he began the debate, and it has been used again and again since. I just cannot follow it. There is, of course, a case against the Government on this, but that has to do with their choice of missiles. The point about the warning is that a régime that might be tempted to attack us should know that it could not get away with the first-strike strategy. Therefore, it must know that we have a form of warning sufficiently good to let us know if the attack is coming. If the warning system tells us that enemies are coming when, in 885 fact, they are not, then, from the point of view of the aggressive régime, that adds to the value of the warning.
From the point of view of deterrence, it means that the régime has to be that much more careful about the whole thing—and let us remember that the point of the operation is deterrence. The point of the operation is not to deter us from attacking a régime—we are not proposing to do so—but to deter that régime from attacking us. Therefore, a warning system that will certainly tell us if the enemy does come, though it might alert us when he was not—if it is certain that it will warn us when we need it—must, from the point of view of deterrence on him, have all the value we want to give it—
§ Mr. Edelman
Is my right hon. Friend arguing that the margin of security is in direct ratio to the margin of error?
§ Mr. Brown
Of course not. If I may say so, only a man as regularly used to writing articles as is my hon. Friend could have thought it worth while to put it that way round. Of course, I am not arguing that way round. An infallible system is, of course, better than a fallible one. We are dealing here not with an issue over clever phrases, but an issue of life and death that matters, I repeat, as much to me as it does to others.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) has talked of his five sons and his stake in the future. I have two daughters, and that is a stake in the future, and I should be allowed as much emotion in this as others allow themselves. I do not want the system to be wrong, either, but I point out to my hon. Friends that if there is a weakness in the warning system that weakness is on the side of forcing the man who is to attack to go a little more carefully, rather than a little less carefully. I should have thought that it was a simple point.
Those who say that because it is not absolutely infallible we should, therefore, deny ourselves any warning at all are wrong—not because we do not want to have a deterrent or retaliatory force, but because if we feel there is a case for a retaliatory or deterrent force those who say we should not provide a warning are reducing the deterrent capacity and 886 are, therefore, in my view, increasing the risk of war—not the other way round.
My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) talked about Fylingdales being the tomb of humanity. On the contrary, a rocket site might be the tomb of humanity. An early warning station that deters the other man because he knows it gives us a chance to deal with him, which increases the effect of deterrence, seems to me to be exactly the opposite. That is the basis of my advice to those of my hon. Friends who, because they are not unilateralists, are open to argument on this question. That is the basis of my case today.
Until we get to multilateral disarmament—and we should get there as quickly as we can—we should be as forthcoming as possible. I hope that the visit of the Prime Minister this weekend means that he will tell the President of the United States, as bluntly as we on this side of the House have said it, that we should be absolutely forthcoming about a ban on tests of atomic and hydrogen weapons.
It is unpleasant saying these things. If I take the time to say these things now, it is so that everybody can understand me. I want disarmament. I want to end any further refinements of hydrogen or atomic bombs as soon as possible. I want to end the tests of these things as soon as possible, but not until there is a climate in the world which enables us to do so. Until we reach that stage, I still think that we must deter a miscalculation and, as far as one can, an actual calculation. I believe that the early warning station at Fylingdales is part of that situation and, therefore, is in keeping with the Labour Party's position.
I now want to tell the Government that there is a Government weakness which they ought to face—a weakness which I was rather surprised the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), in a speech which rather impressed me, did not face. If there is any weakness in the early warning station it is in tying it to the Government's fixed site missiles —tying it to a series of Thor bases which are vulnerable, soft missiles, which are vulnerable to a near miss—"as near as dammit", as one high ranking man 887 put it to me the other day, simply a first strike weapon. Here, when we have got the four minutes' warning, my hon. Friends are on valid territory. This is where we could do little about it.
The sooner the Government are prepared to recognise that they themselves have a problem here, that they have tied themselves to a system of missiles which is very dangerous, and that if it does not have a first strike meaning it has no other, the sooner they look at the idea of a mobile means of delivery, the better for all of us and the more relevant the whole matter will become.
There is another matter which has arisen. Many people talk about this station as being a N.A.T.O. station. My understanding is that it is not a N.A.T.O. station. It is a straightforward arrangement between us and the Americans. It will help N.A.T.O. because it is part of the whole scheme. It does not qualify for the infrastructure arrangement. But I still say that I do not understand the costing arrangements. One may say, "The Americans are spending £35 million; what is £8 million to us?" What I do not understand is, since this station is part of our allies' early warning chain, why we should be mulcted to pay for it. I am in favour of providing the facilities for it, but I do not see why we should be mulcted to pay for it.
I certainly do not see, as I said the other day, why we do not use the provision of this facility, which helps them as a bargaining power, to get a facility from them which would help us. We know very well that the Americans are not being put under nearly enough pressure to treat us as full allies and really develop interdependence. This is tremendously important in relation to the question of getting immobile rockets.
I do not think that there is anything else that I need say at this stage, except that I have my doubts about the station. This is the tragedy of having a debate which deals wholly with the nuclear deterrent and with nuclear strategy, that even in this debate there is still one question that nobody has answered. Why has it to be in a National Park? It is all very well to say that, in these cases, wherever one wants to put these things, it nearly always has to be in a lonely, exposed spot; but nobody, as far as I can see, has yet really looked into the 888 question why it had to go into the National Park there. We have had no more than an assumption that it must be so. It is time somebody defended putting it where it is to be put.
I have my reservations about the cost, and I have tried to explain those. I have my reservations about tying it to immobile missiles, and I have tried to explain. For those reasons, I think that there is something for the Government to answer, and, in that sense, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Barking did a service in initiating the debate. But I say absolutely frankly, for myself, that I am not able to support the Motion as it appears on the Order Paper for the reasons which I have given, reasons which are very compelling if one accepts the basis of Labour Party policy. I cannot advise my hon. Friend's to support the Motion, but, by the same token, I think that the Government have a case to answer on the points that I have tried to indicate.
§ 3.6 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. W. J. Taylor)
First, on a personal point, I should like to reply to the complaint which was made by the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) about my not writing to him after the Estimates debates. I had every intention of doing so and should have done, but it became unnecessary because this Motion appeared on the Order Paper before I had time to get the letter away to him. I hope that he will accept my statement on that matter.
The debate has ranged very widely, and we have heard a great deal about matters only remotely connected with the Fylingdales scheme. This, perhaps, demonstrates the confused feelings and the confused thinking of many hon. Members. My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), in an admirable speech, touched on the inconsistencies of the Motion before us, and I shall not attempt to cover the same ground. It is my intention to address myself to the details of the original Motion as it appears on the Order Paper. What I shall say will, in some measure, be a repetition of what the House has already been told on other occasions.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence during the defence debate, and 889 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air during the debate on the Air Estimates, dealt fairly fully with the case for having a ballistic missile early warning station in this country, and they have given a good deal of information about the way it will work. There have been several Questions on the Order Paper to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air, the answers to which have given a good deal of supplementary information.
The first criticism made by hon. Members is that the installation is to be established in a National Park. On 17th February, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air said that:The Government greatly regret that the station has to be in part of a national park." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1960; Vol. 617. c. 1290.]We must, however, bear in mind all the circumstances which have affected this decision. We live in a small island which has many vital requirements. The time comes when one requirement must take priority over others, however important the others may be in their own right. Let us consider for a moment the circumstances here. The Government were convinced of the national necessity of siting this vital defence installation in some part of this country. I shall remind hon. Members later about the military value of the station; here, I am dealing only with the National Park aspect of the matter.
In view of its overriding importance to the safety of the realm, the best site for the station had to be chosen. The problem of site selection was a most difficult one as so many factors had to be taken into account, including, for example, the choice of the right area to enable the station to be effective, the right type of subsoil, and the need for an uninhabited tract of land in front of the station. Paradoxical as it may seem to put such an installation in a national park, I assure the House that there was no other area available in this country but Fylingdales upon which this station could be built.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
Can the hon. Gentleman say how much acreage this defence installation is to occupy?
§ Mr. Taylor
Four square miles.
890 Looking at it from another point of view, the safety of the realm and, therefore, the future of the parks themselves depends upon the effectiveness of our defence policy. This station has a most important part to play within that policy.
From the start, when this site in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park was seen to be inevitable, my right hon. Friend has made it clear that more than ordinary measures would be taken to minimise the detriment to the landscape. The station will occupy only some four square miles of a total park area of some 600 square miles. That will perhaps enable the hon. Gentleman to keep the matter in proportion. Nor will it be visible from all directions.
For the design of this station the Air Ministry is employing an eminent firm as the main consultants, and this firm, in turn, will be employing a well-known landscape expert who will work closely with them and the Air Ministry from the first conceptions of the development. The selection of the landscape consultant has been approved by the National Parks Commission. This is, in some part, a reply to the questions put earlier about such consultations.
§ Mr. Taylor
If that is considered to be necessary, and it may very well be, I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will consult the Fine Art Commission, and I shall certainly convey what the hon. Gentleman has said to him.
§ Mr. Thorpe
May I ask for a little further detail? The hon. Gentleman's colleague on 17th February said:… the operational and other criteria were so stringent that this was the only place where we could put it".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1960; Vol. 617, c. 1291.]As I see it, the hon. Member is saying that it is only these four square miles in the whole of the United Kingdom which were possible for the site. Can he give a little more detail why this tiny little pocket of land is the only area in the whole of these islands which is suitable?
§ Mr. Taylor
I have already said something about that. Shortly, the answer is that the technical criteria are very exacting. The criteria about which I have 891 just spoken concerning an uninhabited tract and so on were so exacting that this was the only site available in the United Kingdom for this purpose. That is the reason why it has to be put in a national park.
There have already been one or two informal discussions with representatives of the planning authority, and next week there is to be a very full discussion in Northallerton between representatives of the Air Ministry and the planning authority for the National Park, the National Parks Commission and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. These discussions will be concerned with the detailed proposals. These bodies, I am glad to say, are working with the Air Ministry in a most helpful way to make the best of it and to reduce the adverse effect on the landscape as much as possible.
While the siting of the radars themselves is not capable of modification, I should emphasise that there is no inflexibility about the rest of the station, that is to say, the other technical buildings, the administrative buildings and the limited domestic accommodation. In fact, these are the very ancillaries to the main structure which could be the real despoilers of the landscape.
I hope that by care in siting, by careful choice of design and attention to landscaping details, the appearance of the completed station, once the construction period is over, will be such that the disturbance to the natural landscape ought to be generally acceptable, having regard to what is at stake. It has been suggested that the Fyling-dales installation will deny ramblers the opportunity of walking over these wild and beautiful moors. I would remind the House that the area has been used for military training for many years, that it has been closed to the public for a very long time indeed, and that just recently a decision has been taken to release the greater part of the old Army training area for public access.
The next point in the Motion asks the House to take note of the opinion of eminent scientists that this station cannot be equipped with a system of radar detection capable of identifying ballistic missiles with certainty. The hon. Member for Barking has previously referred 892 to an article in the Guardian on 22nd February by its scientific correspondent, and that article has been mentioned once or twice in the debate. I think the article provides the sole foundation for the charge about the uncertainty in scientific opinion. The article suggested that no computing system, however sophisticated, could distinguish accurately between ballistic missiles at a distance of 2,000 miles and the trails of ionisation left behind by meteors, or between missiles and artificial satellites.
I have no desire to question the integrity or, indeed, the scientific knowledge of the correspondent in question. I can say, however, that his conclusions are not borne out by the advice of the distinguished scientists who have advised the Government on this project and who, in the very nature of things, know a great deal more about the details than do scientists outside the Government service. This point was made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North - East (Vice - Admiral Hughes Hallett). It is a fact, and it is inevitable, that those who are concerned with the most secret aspects of Government defence policy and with the scientific developments connected with that policy would know more about it than even the most informed scientific journalists outside.
§ Mr. Taylor
I have given way several times already. I have a lot of material to impart to the House.
§ Mr. Davies
It is of importance to the House and the country that we should get it clear about the opinion of scientists. When we were discussing the issue of the fall-out from test explosions, the Prime Minister gave us what was described as authoritative scientific information about strontium 90. We now know that all that was inaccurate and that there was a conspiracy of silence about it. It is likely that the information which has now been given to the Government, which they dish out when they feel like it, is as inaccurate as the information about fall-out.
§ Mr. Taylor
The Motion does not say anything about fall-out, and I was not talking about fall-out when the hon. Gentleman interrupted.
893 In the view of the scientists, the system will work. That is the advice given to our scientists by the most experienced scientists in the United States. I am told that there is no difficulty in distinguishing between ballistic missiles and artificial satellites since only during the limited period when the satellites are being put into orbit is there any resemblance between the latter's course and a ballistic course such as would be followed by a missile. I am also advised that the possibility of confusion between a missile trajectory and an ionisation trail is so remote that for practical purposes it can be ignored.
Reference has been made to bird life. As for the possibility of thinking that an albatross could be mistaken for a ballistic missile, if the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) can believe that he can believe anything.
§ Mr. Thorpe rose—
§ Mr. Thorpe
On a point of order. Is it in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to make a short personal explanation relating to something I said which has been misinterpreted by the Minister?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Unless the hon. Member who has the possession of the House chooses to sit down, no other hon. Member may intervene.
§ Mr. Taylor
The House has been informed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."]—that the high-powered radar at this station can pick up any object above the radar horizon. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] Hon. Members have had several hours to make their speeches and they have called upon me for a good deal of information. They might at least give me the opportunity of giving them the information for which they have asked.
§ Mr. G. W. Reynolds Islington, North)
On a point of order. Allegations of misrepresentation are being 894 made. I used the word "misrepresentation" in Standing Committee C last Wednesday and was ordered by the Chairman of the Standing Committee to withdraw the word as it was unparliamentary language. I was also informed that it was against the customs of the the House to misrepresent people. I should like your advice upon this, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think the question of misrepresentation seriously arises here. It is well known that no hon. Member can interrupt another during the course of his speech, but if it is obvious that a Member is feeling aggrieved it is not unusual to give him an opportunity of making a remark.
§ Mr. Reynolds
Further to that point of order. May I make my position clear? In a Standing Committee of the House, I used the words, "I have been misrepresented". This will be within the knowledge of some hon. Members who are present here today. I was ordered by the Chairman to withdraw that word. I disputed it but eventually gave way to his Ruling. An hon. Member has just alleged that he has been misrepresented. So that I may understand the position, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like your ruling on the matter.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I should be very much at fault if I were to rule here about what happens in Standing Committee. If, however, I may revert to the further question of the intervention, it is the fact, if I may quote from Erskine May. thata Member who, during a debate, has spoken to a question may again be heard to offer explanation of some material part of his his speech which has been misunderstood.That, however, is as far as it goes.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. He has seen fit to put a literal interpretation upon something which I used in a purely figurative and literative sense, as would be seen if the passage were read in its context and not taken out of context. If, however, the Minister means reference to the albatross to be in the sense of the "Ancient Mariner", I am prepared to accept that.
§ Mr. Taylor
I always understood an albatross to be a bird. When the hon. 895 Member got up in protest, I was about to say that I had never seen an albatross taking off vertically into the stratosphere, which is what the hon. Member is afraid of, and getting in the way of the radar.
The House has been informed that the high-powered radar at the station can pick up any object above the radar horizon. Its course, speed and eventual area of impact are worked out practically instantaneously by a complex highspeed computer, and it is possible to identify the nature of any object within an extremely short time. Thus I would say to the hon. Member that while absolute certainty is a concept which in any scientific field is by definition impossible to attain, we are satisfied that this system of radar detection is capable of identifying ballistic missiles with very great precision, and that consequently there is no risk that any action which might conceivably lead to the initiation of a nuclear war would be precipitated by accident or by error.
Further, it is unreasonable to think of this early warning station in isolation. The station is not intended to supplant other methods of obtaining advance information about hostile intentions. It is complementary to them and provides the last stage of tactical warning. I can assure the House that there is no opportunity of anyone in this country, through inexperience or panic, accidentally precipitating a nuclear war.
The next point in the Motion casts doubt on the many assurances which have been given that ministerial consultations will be practicable in a situation where the period of warning is as short as four minutes. I should like to emphasise that the four minute warning period is an absolute minimum. We think that probably we should have much more warning—say, up to 15 minutes.
The House must remember that our deterrent is not the only nuclear striking force available to the West. The United States Strategic Air Command poses a much greater threat to the Soviet Union, and any plan of attack on the West must take full account of the existence of both forces. The geographical dispersion of these forces is a factor which presents considerable problems to an enemy contemplating a surprise attack even in the missile age. For a variety 896 of reasons, while we accept that four minutes is the possible minimum warning period, we do not think it is the one most likely to be afforded to us.
On the question of Ministerial consultations, I cannot add to the reply made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on 1st March:It would not be in the public interest to make any statement about these arrangements".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 1028.]The House will not expect me to go into detail.
All I would say is that, for so long as our deterrent force consists mainly of manned bombers which can be recalled, we are not faced with the agonising choice of launching the irrevocable deterrent on the basis of radar information however precise. This point is, I think, worth emphasising: the importance of the deterrent which can be recalled, and would be recalled if for any reason the warning proved false. The importance of the early warning station is that it gives us sufficient time to get our bombers off the ground. This point was made very strongly by my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison). That is, they could be got off the ground before they could be destroyed.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East referred to the Thor missile. This point was raised by other hon. Members on both sides of the House. I think, perhaps, it would be as well if I were to attempt to put this matter in its correct time scale. At present, the main threat to this country is from manned aircraft, and it will continue to be so for some years. The early warning installation is not designed to detect aircraft but missiles. The Thor missile both in its deployment and in its operational readiness takes account of the existing threat from manned aircraft. No one has suggested that the present warning time of the approach of hostile aircraft would be as little as four minutes.
The Motion goes on to castigate the Government on the timing of the announcement of the project. It is said that to announce it shortly before a disarmament conference… was not calculated to create a better atmosphere for international negotiation … ".897 Hon. Members must really be very naive if they imagine that the Soviet Government will be influenced one way or another in their attitude towards disarmament by an announcement that we are to build a radar station which will make us less vulnerable to surprise attack. The House must decide whether a war is more likely or less likely in a situation where our deterrent, which we regard as an instrument wholly for maintaining the peace, is less vulnerable. I have no doubt about the decision which the House will make.
The Motion takes us to task about that part of the cost of the project which is borne by the United Kingdom. It has already been announced that the cost of the station will be £43 million, of which £8 million will be borne by the United Kingdom. That is really not a very large proportion in itself. The United States Government are paying for the whole cost of the operational equipment. Our share of the £8 million is largely accounted for by works services.
This station, as has been said on many occasions, is pant of a larger system, the total cost of which has been estimated at £300 million. The United States Government will pay for about 97 per cent. of this total cost. The remaining share is not a very large sum when one considers the advantages of participation in the system as a whole. Certainly the United States Government will derive benefit from the fact that this station is in the United Kingdom. So shall we. We shall also derive considerable advantage from the fact that there are two other stations in the system as a whole. It is not the case that the United Kingdom gets no benefit from the system and that it is wholly of use to the United States. It will serve as a direct protection to our own deterrent force. It will provide sufficient warning for that force to be launched in the case of a missile attack on the United Kingdom, and I do not think that the share of the cost which we have accepted is at all disproportionate.
Even if it were the case that the station was of use only to the United States and not at all to ourselves, there would be no case for refusing all facilities and even a financial contribution towards its establishment if we are to honour our obligations to our allies. 898 This is a vital protection to our deterrent force, on which the strength of the N.A.T.O. Alliance so heavily depends.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) in the remarks which he made on whether or not other N.A.T.O. countries should be contributors to the cost of this system. This is not a N.A.T.O. project at all. This is a matter entirely for agreement between the United States and ourselves.
Finally, the Motion… calls on Her Majesty's Government not to proceed with an undertaking likely to intensify the peril of war without according the British people any adequate or increased protection.I am sorry that I cannot follow the reasoning in this part of the Motion. We have never represented this project as being anything more than a system which by providing warning of a missile attack lessens the vulnerability of our deterrent force.
We on this side of the House believe that the maintenance by the West of an independent deterrent, at least until some measure of disarmament can be achieved, is the best hope of keeping the peace. It follows that any measure which will prevent the other side from rendering it ineffective, far from intensifying the peril of war, will serve to lessen the chances of war breaking out.
It has been suggested in the Press that the contributions of the party opposite and the way in which the party votes on this Motion will constitute the next round in clarification—and in the debate today there has still been a great deal of clarification needed—of what the defence policy of the party really is. My business, however, is with the terms of the Motion as it appears on the Order Paper. I hope I have shown that this welter of conflicting criticism of the Government's policy is not at all soundly based.
In winding up for the Opposition in the defence debate, the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) was good enough to concede that there should be an installation of this sort in Britain. This was not much of a concession but, even so, if it is accepted by hon. Members opposite it would require them to vote against the Motion. I am at a loss to understand the purely 899 negative attitude which the wording of the Motion conveys. The hon. Member's view appears to be that although it is technically feasible for this country to be attacked by ballistic missiles we would rather not know anything about it until the bombs begin to explode. This is not an attitude of mind which commends itself to the Government. We want this warning, short thought it may be, because we believe that we can use it effectively and that with it the deterrents to war are strengthened. It was for these reasons that we concluded the agreement with the United States which my right hon. Friend reported.
I now wish to refer to the question of submarines, which was raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East and the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies). It is true that this station cannot detect missiles fired from submarines, or by any other means, outside the arc of scan. The station will, however, cover very large areas of sea, although its main object will be to detect a land based missile attack on this country from the East. It must also be remembered that, apart from the information provided by Fylingdales, a very large area of sea will be swept by other stations in the chain, and information from those stations will be available to us. The House will not expect me to indicate the precise boundaries or the areas covered in that way.
There was another question about which I thought the House would like to hear—the question of safety. Hon. Members may have seen an article in the Daily Mail last Monday which gave some alarming information about the medical risks inherent in the operation of a station such as that which we are about to construct. Ordinarily, I should not wish to give such an article any publicity, but this was such a mixture of fantasy and garbled fact that I must try to refute its more egregious inaccuracies.
First, there is no evidence that there will be any danger from this station other than that of radiation from heat. It has nothing to do with nuclear radiation, and there is no genetic hazard. The possibility of harmful biological effects upon human and animal life resulting from exposure to high-powered radio frequency 900 transmissions has been examined by the Medical Research Council. As a result of this examination, the Council has advised us what degree of radiation is acceptable without giving rise to ill effects.
At Fylingdales a perimeter fence will be constructed at a suitable distance from the transmitting source to ensure that a safe standard of radiation is not exceeded at the ground level of any land left accessible to the general public. The boundary of this safety area has been drawn generously on the basis of careful calculations by British and American scientists, and a high safety factor has been allowed.
The article in the Daily Mail also said that a man working at a radar station of this type had been killed, but my researches show that this death was due not to radiation but to some natural cause.
Therefore, for all these reasons, I ask the House to reject the Motion, because it is misguided. As for the Amendment, I have given good reasons why this station must be built on the site that has been chosen. I assure the House that we are doing everything practicable to minimise the effect of the station upon the landscape.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Carol Johnson (Lewisham, South)
I beg to move, to leave out from "1949" to the end of the Question.
The course which the debate has taken today has, I think, confirmed the wisdom of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) and myself in tabling the Amendment which I have now moved, because it will enable the House, at least for a few minutes, to concentrate upon the rather special questions and difficulties which arise from the Government's decision to site this ballistic missile station in the North Moors National Park.
I think that I can begin by carrying the whole House with me in expressing the view that it is a matter of regret that this decision should have to be taken. That regret is felt not merely within the House, but by all the many outside bodies which are directly or indirectly concerned with National Parks. All of them, from the National 901 Parks Commission onwards, have passed resolutions, are or are in course of passing resolutions, expressing their anxiety at the Government's decision.
I listened very carefully indeed to what the Parliamentary Secretary had to say as to the reasons why the Government have come to this decision, but I must say that he failed to deal with a number of very real criticisms which have been made of this decision.
First, it would obviously have been better if, as in the case of other intrusions into National Parks, there had been something of the nature of a national inquiry. I can quite see that there might have been quite sound reasons why it should not be a public inquiry, but at least there ought to have been an outside independent inquiry to consider all the relevant facts, and particularly the very important point as to whether or not the Government can justify their assertion that this is the one and only place in the whole of these islands where this missile station should be sited. I shall say something more about that in a minute.
On this point, I wish to emphasise that the Government themselves have a statutory duty to protect and preserve the National Parks, and this they have failed to do. They have also failed in another respect, which is that before coming to this decision they completely failed to consult the body responsible for the administration of the parks, the National Parks Commission. There was no excuse whatever for their failure to do this. Indeed, this kind of development was anticipated many years ago before National Parks were a reality.
Paragraph 149 of the Report of the Hotbhouse Committee, which is almost the bible of National Parks—and I think that this is very germane to the matter —said:Radar and Radio installations, with their attendant works and buildings, are capable of causing serious and long-range disfigurement to the landscape especially where they are sited on hill-tops and cliff-edges. … We recommend, therefore, that arrangements should be made to ensure consultation by this committee, or by the department concerned, with the National Parks Commission before any new installation is approved in a National Park.I think that that shows that the Government neglected their primary duty before arriving at this decision.
902 This, of course, is not the first serious intrusion into National Parks. We have had the television station on Dartmoor, the oil refinery and ore stacking station in Pembrokeshire and, later, the nuclear power station in Snowdonia. All these projects followed the holding of public inquiries.
Before I come to one or two arguments about the actual siting of this station, I wish to deal with the point made by the Minister when taking up views expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) and the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). They urged the view that so long as defence is involved, anything can be done however inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. I feel that it would be regrettable if that proposition were allowed to go -unchallenged. Surely right hon. and hon. Gentlemen can see that the remaining areas of unspoilt country are the very England which we should wish to defend and, naturally, we hope that that defence can be undertaken without progressively ruining the very things that we wish to preserve and enjoy.
One must keep a sense of proportion, but I think that I can demonstrate that sense of proportion regarding the relative values of defence and the National Parks by referring to a paragraph in the last Annual Report of the National Parks Commission, in which the Commission reminds us thatEach week the nation is called upon to find eleven shillings per person for defence. Over the last ten years less than one penny per person per year has been spent in connection with National Parks".I come now to the particular question of the siting of this ballistic missile station. Again and again, we have been assured that there is no other suitable site in this country. I will not be so blunt as the Minister, who said that there was no other suitable site, but other bodies have suggested other areas where the station could be sited. I should like to know from the Minister whether it is true that when this was first mooted by the Americans they suggested a site in the North of Scotland, and that it was, in fact, a decision of the Government which changed the venue of the proposed station from Scotland to the North Yorkshire moors.
903 There is a special reason for disappointment about this decision. It is only two years ago that after occupying most of this area for many years, and using it as a battle training area, the War Department announced that it would be released and could be used for its former purpose. Before individuals and organisations have had an opportunity of expressing their satisfaction about that, this new proposal comes along. I was glad to hear from the Minister that the Government have decided to bring in a landscape consultant for advice about the buildings to be erected. Obviously, we should wish to make the best of a bad job and see that so far as possible they harmonise with the landscape.
The Minister should go further and give a firm assurance that if and when this station is no longer required, the buildings will be demolished. There may well be rights of way which have to be closed because of the building operations which are mooted. I do not think it unreasonable that the Government should undertake to rededicate those rights of way when the station is no longer required. The Minister should also deal with the implied criticism of the present Chairman of the National Parks Commission, Lord Strang. No one would consider that he was irresponsible.
No one would pretend that Lord Strang is not well-informed about the matters which have been the subject of this debate. But in a letter to The Times he described this proposal as a new enormity coming on top of all the other intrusions made into National Parks. He said specifically that these depredations are plainly inconsistent with the essential purposes of the National Parks Act and Her Majesty's Ministers are conscious of this.
Therefore, I think that it would have been much more fitting and proper if, when the Government announced their decision, they had admitted freely and frankly that they were frustrating the purposes of the National Parks. A former chairman of the National Parks Commission once made a comment about the erection of a television mast on Dartmoor. After that proposal had been the subject of inquiry and approved 904 by the Minister, he said that it was a poke in the eye from a 750-ft. steel mast. This new station will not be a poke in the eye, but I remind the House that it is a warning station. It can be regarded as a warning station from more than one point of view, and as a further breakdown of the National Parks system. It behoves the House to consider the matter very carefully whenever the Government are responsible for that.
The Minister has failed entirely to reassure those many people interested in preserving our countryside that there was not some other suitable and proper place where this missile station could have been placed without taking it into a National Park.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
The hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson), who has spoken about the siting of this station, seems to think that the national interest is of secondary importance to National Parks. He went on to mention that rights of way were important. Rights of way may be important, but I suggest that rights of the nation and defence of the country are far more important.
§ Mr. C. Johnson
The hon. Member is completely misrepresenting what I said, because my argument was based on the proposition that this is not the only site for this station.
§ Dr. Glyn
I think that it has already been made clear in the debate that the reason for the siting of this installation at this place was necessitated by having it in this particular geographical position. It has also been pointed out that it takes up only about four acres— [HON. MEMBERS: "Four acres?"]—four square miles.
If I may, I shall revert to the more important aspect of this Motion. It falls into four parts, the most important part of which suggests that this is an unfortunate timing for the building of this station.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member can discuss the question that the words proposed should be left out of the Motion, but not the rest of the Motion.
§ Mr. Speaker
On this Question, the proposition is that certain words be left out of the Motion. That is the point.
§ Dr. Glyn
Your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, has narrowed my field considerably. I shall need some ingenuity to devise some way of getting round it.
I should have thought that the timing of this. Amendment was of the utmost importance, because are we not moving into the possibility of peace talks, and an Amendment to a Motion of this nature must in itself carry the substance of the Motion with it?
Your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, does not restrict me only to the subject of footpaths because the Amendment leaves an important part of the Motion standing. The Amendment is equally unfortunate in its timing, because it leaves implicit a criticism of the policy of setting up the installation at Fylingdales and, therefore, criticises the Government for erecting an installation of this type. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It also illustrates to us clearly how the two sections of the Opposition are in genuine opposition with each other.
I have never seen a more spirited defence against his own hon. Friends than that of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), in which he endeavoured with much skill—the same skill as I am
§ trying to show in keeping within the rules of order—to show how his own side of the House were divided and, at the same time, united. In fact, he failed to show that there was any unity on his side of the House; they are united only in their desire to fight with one another over one of the important matters of national life.
§ No time could possibly have been more inopportune to raise a subject of this sort, because there is a danger that people outside the House will be led to believe that this Private Member's Motion truly reflects the views of the House. It will also suggest that the unity which we desire to see when beginning negotiations and peace talks is not reflected in the feelings of the House.
§ This is a mischievous, ill-conceived—
§ Mr. Driberg rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question put, That the Question be now put: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 115, Noes 1.907
|Division No. 65.]||AYES||[3.58 p.m.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mackie, John|
|Allason, James||Emery, Peter||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fell, Anthony||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D.Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Finlay, Graeme||Maddan, Martin|
|Baird, John||Forrest, George||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Barter, John||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Maydon, Lt. Cmdr. S. L C.|
|Batsford, Brian||Gammans, Lady||Mills, Stratton|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Goodhew, Victor||Page, A. J. (Harrow West)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gresham Cooke, R.||Page, Graham|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grimston, Sir Robert||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bossom, Clive||Hay, John||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hobson, John||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hocking, Philip N.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Holland, Philip||Reid, William|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Holt, Arthur||Renton, David|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hopkins, Alan||Reynolds, G, W.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Robertson, Sir David|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Roots, William|
|Costain, A. P.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hunter, A. E.||Russell, Ronald|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jackson, John||Seymour, Leslie|
|Curran, Charles||James, David||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Dance, James||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Doughty, Charles||Leavey, J. A.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Driberg, Tom||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lipton, Marcus||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Eden, John||McAdden, Stephen||Talbot, John E.|
|Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Warbey, William||Woof, Robert|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thorpe, Jeremy||Whitelaw, William|
|Turner, Colin||Whitlock, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||Mr. Swingler and Mr. Loughlin.|
|Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Ede, Rt- Hon. Chuter|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES: Mr. Eric Fletcher and Dr. J. Dickson Mabon.|
§ Question, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question, put accordingly and agreed to.908
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 21. Noes 97.907
|Division No. 66.]||AYES||[4.07 p.m.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hunter, A. E.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Baird, John||Upton, Marcus||Warbey, William|
|Brookway, A. Fenner||MacColl, James||Whitlock, William|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Mackie, John||Woof, Robert|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Zilliaeus, K.|
|Driberg, Tom||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Edelman, Maurice||Plummer, Sir Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Reld, William||Mr. Swingler and Mr. Loughlin.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, s.)||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Page, Graham|
|Allason, James||Gammans, Lady||Pitman, I. J.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Amory,Rt.Hn.D.Heathcoat(Tiv'tn)||Goodhew, Victor||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, w.)|
|Barter, John||Gresham Cooke, R.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Batsford, Brian||Grimston, Sir Robert||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Renton, David|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hay, John||Robertson, Sir David|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Roots, William|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Bossom, Clive||Hobson, John||Russell, Ronald|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hocking, Philip N.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Holland, Philip||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Holt, Arthur||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hopkins, Alan||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntfrd & Chiswick)|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Jackson, John||Talbot, John E.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||James, David||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Costain, A. P.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson Smith, Ceoffrey||Turner, Colin|
|Crowder, F. P.||Leavey, J. A.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Curran, Charles||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Dance, James||McAdden, Stephen||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Digby, Simon Wlngfield||MoMaster, Stanley R.||Whitelaw, William|
|Doughty, Charles||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Eden, John||Maddan, Martin|
|Emery, Peter||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Fell, Anthony||Mills, Stratton||Mr. Birch and|
|Finlay, Graeme||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Lieutenant-Commander Maydon.|
|Forrest, George||Page, A. J. (Harrow West)|