HC Deb 12 May 1960 vol 623 cc620-3
42. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister to what extent British agencies have co-operated with the United States agencies in aerial reconnaissance over the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the past four years.

43. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a United States aeroplane has been destroyed by the Union of Socialist Republics defence forces whilst flying over the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics territory; and whether he will seek an assurance from the United States Government that none of the United States Air Force bases in this country have been, or will be, used for flights over the territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

45. Mr. Rankin

asked the Prime Minister what joint arrangements exist between the British and the Union States Governments for exploring the stratosphere and outer space above Russian territory.

50. Mr. Zilliacus

asked the Prime Minister whether he will issue instructions to the competent Ministers to forbid reconnaissance flights over the territories of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or her allies by aeroplanes of any nationality from this country, and to Her Majesty's Government's representatives in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to insist on the prohibition of such flights from bases on the territories of any member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Europe or the Near or Middle East.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air reminded the House yesterday, it has never been our practice to disclose either the nature or the scope of Intelligence activities.

Mr. Warbey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that nobody is asking for details of Intelligence activities, which are inevitably a regrettable reflection of the division of the world into rival armed camps? Is he also aware that what we are seeking, and all the more since the recent statement by Mr. Herter and President Eisenhower, is an assurance that the British Government will neither undertake, nor assist, nor condone the violation by aircraft used for military purposes of the national sovereignty of a friendly Power.

Mr. Butler

I am afraid that I cannot add to my answer, for very good reasons.

Mr. A. Lewis

Will the Home Secretary deny that these planes have been going from American bases on the East Coast? Will he deny it?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I will neither assert nor deny.

Mr. Rankin

Can the right hon. Gentleman reply to this question? Are there any joint agreements between Britain and America to carry on this type of work? Surely, in view of the fact that joint agreements do exist for many purposes between Britain and America, we should know whether a joint agreement exists for this purpose?

Mr. Butler

I am sorry, but it would be contrary to the public interest to answer the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. Zilliacus

In view of the fact that international law forbids violating the air sovereignty of a country by flying over its territory and that we are bound to observe that international law by the terms of the Charter of the United Nations, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Government will refrain from violating international law by sending planes over the territory of other countries without authorisation?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept any such assumption as the hon. Gentleman has made, and cannot go beyond the original Answer I gave.

Mr. Lindsay

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the Government will not let their Intelligence work be restricted to please fellow-travellers?

Mr. Zilliacus

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the right hon. Gentleman's totally unsatisfactory reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Paget rose

Mr. Speaker

I do not know to what purpose the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, (Mr. Paget) is rising, but he cannot ask a question on this topic now.

Mr. Paget

Mr. Speaker, in the last Parliament this question was discussed in great detail, and it was then decided that the giving of notice of a proposal to raise a matter on the Adjournment did not put a stop to questions.

Mr. Speaker

I should desire to have information on that point and the opportunity to look at the precedent which the hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind. If it is so, I have recently been very guilty of departing from a precedent I had not discovered.

Mr. Harold Davies

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether you could make special arrangements for television to be brought into the Chamber, so that the public could see the scoffing attitude of the Government and the serious attitude there is on this side?

Mr. Speaker

I am not confident, really, that the public would profit by seeing some of the spurious points of order that are directed to me.

Mr. Rankin

May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker? Is it in order for me to remind the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I am asking if it is in order—

Mr. Speaker

With due respect, the hon. Member must not use the cloak of a point of order in order to do something else. If he has a proper point of order, let him put it.

Mr. Rankin

Then may I remind the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."].

Mr. Speaker

Reminding the right hon. Gentleman cannot, at first sight, relate to any point of order for me.

Mr. Rankin

Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to say to the House, as he did on Monday last, that he was only too anxious to answer these Questions when, by his behaviour today, we have now seen how really anxious he was on Monday?

Mr. Speaker

I have not noticed any breach of the rules of order involved in that. I do not profess to remember with precision without reference the context in which every single word has been spoken.