HC Deb 14 June 1961 vol 642 cc406-7
6. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Government since President Kennedy took office about Her Majesty's Government's proposals to initiate the use of nuclear weapons in case of war.

Mr. Watkinson

There has been no change in Her Majesty's Government's policy of replying to any would-be aggressor with the appropriate degree of force. As the House knows, Her Majesty's Government are at present engaged with the United States Government and their other N.A.T.O. allies on a review of N.A.T.O. strategy.

Mr. Swingler

Does that reply mean that the right hon. Gentleman made his speech to the Western European Union, in which he reiterated his policy of making the suicide threat to initiate nuclear war in Europe, without the consent of or prior consultation with the United States Government and in apparent contradiction with the latest pronouncements made by President Kennedy?

Mr. Watkinson

Regarding the speech I made to the Western European Union, I am gratified to see that it has received such a lot of attention. That speech does not differ from the Government's policy as set out in successive White Papers or, either, from the N.A.T.O. doctrine.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

Did not the Minister in his reply, when he referred to the use of the appropriate degree of force, include the use of nuclear forces against conventional weapons? Can he say who decides what is the appropriate degree of force? Is it the commander on the spot?

Mr. Watkinson

This is a matter first for decision in the circumstances of the time and, secondly, as the hon. and learned Gentleman clearly knows, General Norstad has always made it plain that he would require political authorisation before initiating the use of nuclear weapons.