HC Deb 14 June 1961 vol 642 cc405-6
5. Mr. Brockway

asked the Minister of Defence if he has been informed which American military bases in Britain are to be closed, and when.

11. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Defence what consultations he has had with the United States Government about the removal of certain United. States military bases from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Watkinson

Her Majesty's Government are in touch with the United States Government about this matter. I hope that it will be possible to make an announcement shortly.

Mr. Brockway

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm the statement made by a representative of the American Department that five of these American bases are to be closed? In view of the long range of missiles today, are they not all obsolete? Would not our people be a great deal safer without them?

Mr. Watkinson

The answer to the second part of that supplementary question is "No". The answer to the first part is that I cannot confirm or deny this until we have finished our discussions. I am anxious that we should make it plain as soon as we can, but I am not able to do that today.

Mr. Lipton

When the right hon. Gentleman says that he is in touch, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that he is being consulted in the matter of which bases are to be closed, or is this a further example, one of many in recent years, when this country is regarded as a convenient stamping ground for other countries?

Mr. Watkinson

It means that the British Government are being consulted.

Mr. G. Brown

In those consultations, will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind that the one group of bases that clearly could now be closed, especially since Polaris, are the Thor bases? Will he arrange for those to go?

Mr. Watkinson

The right hon. Gentleman and I differ on this. The general view of both the American authorities and our own is that Thor makes a valid contribution to the deterrent and, therefore, should not be moved.