HC Deb 08 February 1961 vol 634 cc396-7
40. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects a successor to M. Spaak as the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to be appointed; and whether he will make representations for the appointment of a high-ranking officer of Her Majesty's Forces.

Mr. Heath

Quite soon I hope and we shall do our utmost to secure the best candidate available.

Mr. Shinwell

Without prejudice to my personal views about the future of N.A.T.O., may I ask whether the Minister is aware that the best Secretary-General of the Organisation since the inception of N.A.T.O. was Lord Ismay? Is not it desirable on this occasion, in order to inject rather more effective British control into the political issues involved in the Organisation, that we appoint someone from this country?

Mr. Heath

We would all agree that Lord Ismay was an admirable Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. This matter is now under discussion with our allies. I should not like to comment at this stage on the particular merits of any individual candidate. I think that the right hon. Gentleman would agree that one would not wish to look upon the candidates from the point of view of establishing British control over N.A.T.O. which is, in fact, an alliance.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the right hon. Gentleman look very carefully at the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)? In view of the political issue likely to be involved in N.A.T.O., would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that a general, whether high-ranking or not, is the last person who should be selected for this post?