HC Deb 15 June 1961 vol 642 cc712-78

7.0 p.m.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

The House will, I hope, acquit me of any desire to avoid facing the fact that anyone who has responsibility for the defence of this country has from time to time to make decisions which are not always easy or necessarily wholly comfortable. I hope that I shall be acquitted of wishing to play politics with essential issues in the defence of this country. I say that to begin with, because I want, at the very start of the debate, to get away from the element which the Minister introduced yesterday when he sought, I thought, to suggest that, because he was the Minister and we were the Opposition, he had the responsibility of seeing that our troops were trained and had opportunities to train, almost as though we did not have it, too. I want to make it perfectly clear that I understand and accept that and, for my part, in politics in the country and in the House I have always tried to be willing to accept the consequences of it, whether in Government or in Opposition.

I do not raise this issue with any sense of wanting to resist the argument that, if we have defence forces, if we have a Strategic Reserve, and if we rely—as, clearly, we are more and more—upon air transportability, we must exercise them, try them and see what arises. All that I understand. I raise this matter now because we do not believe that that can ever be the only consideration.

I accept that the War Office requires this exercise and would like to have it, and I accept that it was laid on when there did not seem to be tremendously powerful reasons against it. Now, however, in our view, the outstanding and most impelling feature of the decision is the obstinate determination of the Government to go on with the exercise when it has long since become absolutely clear that, whatever the military desirability of it may be, there are overwhelming foreign and colonial policy arguments against it.

Any exercise is, of course, desirable at some time, but there is nothing which requires that this particular exercise shall be done at this time. Whether the exercise be done in June or July, last January or next December, is a matter over which we have absolute control and, obviously, it is a matter of accident in which month it is actually done. Equally, whether it be done in this, that or the other country and which country is at the end of the airlift is again a matter of arrangement. There is nothing which requires that we have an air transport and mobility exercise which finishes with our troops spending a few days in Portugal rather than spending a few days anywhere else.

There is no alliance requirement. This should be made quite clear. I have always been very tender and susceptible to the consideration that if we are in an alliance we must accept the requirements of being in the alliance even though those requirements from time to time may be uncomfortable, inconvenient or awkward to defend. This decision is not in that category. Moreover, although the Minister of Defence was very ambiguous about it, if I may say so, there is no element of joint exercise here. The only suggestion of it that I ever saw was a small piece in The Times at the end of March which said that we were to have joint exercises with, I think, the Portuguese Third Division and the Portuguese Air Force. I do not believe that that is correct. I gather that the Minister no longer urges it, and perhaps he never did. He does not say it, anyway. Yesterday, he said that there would be some "token" Portuguese forces involved. I understand that they are to be very tiny indeed. Therefore, this is not even a joint exercise.

We in Britain wishing to exercise our troops—or, as it has been said, give the troops a change—wishing to exercise the 19th Brigade Group, want to find some place to which they can fly which will give us the opportunity of testing the means of flying them, of flying their equipment, deploying them on the ground when they arrive, and doing all the things which they would do on active service, and then bringing them out again. That is all there is involved. Therefore, it seems to me, we have the utmost latitude, the utmost command of the situation, the utmost ability to change the timing, the venue or the kind of operation should it seem to us that other reasons overwhelm any decision so far made.

The impression I have is that the War Office decided upon the exercise. The Ministry of Defence found a willing co-operator after having, I understand from the Minister, tried many others, and, having done that, it has just gone ahead and no one seems to have pointed out at any stage that other considerations have since arisen. If that is not the correct interpretation, the other is terrifying. The other interpretation is that, although all the other considerations in regard to Portugal have arisen, we are nevertheless so insensitive to them that we have decided quite deliberately to go ahead in the teeth of the consequences. That interpretation, if it were true, would be terrifying.

When the Minister of Defence says that in the situation of the world today there are certain limitations upon our opportunities for doing this kind of training, I understand that; there is a great deal in what he says. On the other hand, if it be true that our major allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been refusing co-operation in operations of this sort, it is about time we raised the matter in the alliance and made perfectly clear that, if that goes on, there will not be very much alliance at the end of it. It seems to me to be quite unreasonable that we should be left ourselves to carry a most unfortunate political burden as a consequence, as I shall show in a moment or two.

Even if we have difficulties, even if there are limitations on our opportunities for doing these military training exercises in the world, that is no reason for ignoring the facts of life, which is what I think the Government are doing. The facts are as follows. Since January, when, so the Minister says, this was arranged with Portugal, events in Africa have blown up in a very considerable way, a way which is politically very dangerous not only for us but for the moderate forces in Africa and for the peace of the world. Not only have they blown up in Africa generally but they have blown up in Angola in a very obvious and determined way. There is, I hope, no need to spend time tonight on persuading the House of the seriousness of the situation which has arisen in Angola.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

On a point of order. I understood that the Adjournment Motion was quite clear and specific and referred only to the sending of troops for training to Portugal. It would seem from page 374 of the 16th Edition of Erskine May that it is difficult to bring Africa, particularly Angola, and Portuguese colonial policy into this debate. Under the heading: Relevancy in debate on a motion under S.O. No. 9 it is stated on page 374: The debate on such a motion (when it comes on in due course at seven o'clock) is confined strictly to the matter with regard to which leave to move the adjournment of the House was obtained. No matter can be raised incidentally which would have been out of order if it had been included in the terms of the motion, when leave was asked, on any of the grounds mentioned in the preceding section. Had the Motion included the words "because of the colonial situation of Portugal", then it seems possible—obviously I cannot pronounce on this—that the Motion could not have been accepted.

I therefore ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to how wide the debate will be allowed to go, since it did not seem clear and apparent when the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) was moving the Adjournment that the debate would be on the question of Portuguese colonial policy.

Mr. Speaker

In my view, this is the position. I hope to have the help of the House in trying to keep order. Of course, the rule is that which the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) has read out of Erskine May, namely, that The debate…is confined strictly to the matter with regard to which leave to move the Adjournment of the House was obtained. Leave to move the Adjournment was given because of the refusal of the Government to countermand the movement of this infantry brigade to Portugal. It seems to me that that enables the House to argue, aye or no, why it was desirable that the movement of the brigade should be countermanded. My view at the moment is that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has not yet transgressed, and I do not think that he was about to do so.

On the other hand, it would, of course, be wholly out of order to cause this debate to turn into a discussion of events in Angola, since leave was not given to discuss those events and there is no Ministerial responsibility for them. We have to steer between the two. I hope that that is clear.

Mr. Brown

It is absolutely clear to me, Mr. Speaker.

I was saying that I was sure that there is no need to spend a great deal of time in developing the case about what is happening in Angola. If the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) was present yesterday, as I hope he was, and if he refreshes his memory about what I said in columns 409–411 of HANSARD, he will see that at every point of intervention I related this to what is happening in Angola. It is the only point. I do not propose to argue what is happening in Angola, why it is happening, or to go into details about it. I was saying that I trust that it is not necessary to spend time proving the case that there is at the moment in the Portuguese territory, colony, associated territory, or whatever may be the appropriate description of Angola, a rather terrifying situation. There are handfuls of cuttings to this effect to which everyone has access and which no doubt many of us have read. The evidence is powerful. There is tremendous repression. There are massacres and there are killings.

Mr. Fell

On a point of order. Further to your Ruling, Sir, for which I was most grateful, it would seem that, although the right hon. Member for Belper is trying hard to be moderate and not to get out of step, if this sort of argument is to be deduced at this stage of a debate, before we know where we are we shall be in the midst of a debate on Angola. This is possibly what was wanted. I do not know, because I cannot read the minds of the Opposition, but it would seem that if this sort of argument is developed it will be an invitation to the right hon. Member's hon. and right hon. Friends to continue this sort of argument and we shall have a discussion about Portugal and Angola.

Mr. Speaker

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we are approaching the danger point. On the other hand, I think that it is reasonable to allow at least the substratum to be stated in two sentences. I agree that the right hon. Member for Belper is approaching the danger point, but I do not think that he has quite reached it.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire South)

On a point of order. May I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Member for Belper has just made an opprobrious reference to the Government of Portugal. He has accused them of repression. I understand that it is a rule of this House, set out at page 458 of the 16th Edition of Erskine May, that no approbrious reflection may be cast on the Government of a country "in amity with Her Majesty". I submit to you, Sir, that that ruling has always been applied with the utmost strictness. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Erskine May quotes two references for that at the bottom of the page, and I respectfully direct your attention to them, Sir. One is when the hon. Member for North Ayrshire said on 26th April, 1949: Is the Prime Minister aware that racial discrimination has become so bad in South Africa"— and then Lord Winterton intervened on a point of order and your predecessor ruled: The noble Lord is correct. One could not criticise the Government of a self-governing dominion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1949 Vol. 464, c. 14.] The other reference at the bottom of the page is when Mr. Gallacher, on 15th May, 1941, said: The Polish Government are the people who ran away at the beginning and deserted their people". Colonel Clifton Brown said: It is not allowable to use opprobrious epithets against a Government with which this country is in amity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1941; Vol. 371, c. 1294.] I respectfully submit that to accuse the Portuguese Government of repression in Angola is to use an opprobrious epithet in respect of them, and, still more, I submit to you, Sir, that it is not in order in this House to refer to massacres.

Mr. Speaker

I agree with and desire to follow the Rulings of both my predecessors cited by the hon. Gentleman. I do not think that anything which has been said yet has infringed those Rulings. I do not believe that by criticising the policy of a friendly Government one necessarily refers to it in opprobrious terms within the rules. I do not think that the right hon. Member for Belper has done that yet.

Mr. Brown

I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. May I repeat, in case, as might have been the intention—[Interruption.]

Mr. Fell

On a point of order, Sir. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) say out loud, "Now perhaps the Fascists will shut up". I do not believe that that can possibly be Parliamentary language.

Mr. Speaker

So many people were talking at the time that I am not certain to whom it referred. I did not hear it.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) is perfectly correct. He heard me quite clearly. I apologise to him and to the House. I should perhaps have said, "friends of Fascism" and not "Fascists."

Mr. Ronald Bell

I certainly do not take umbrage very easily, but, in my submission, that is deliberate offence. Hon. Members who get up in this House on points of order which are not frivolous points of order and which may be in fairly close relevance to the progress of the proceedings should not be exposed to that kind of aspersion.

Mr. Brown

Since we have taken the time of the House to discuss an issue which worries people in Britain and elsewhere very much, would it not be more in keeping with the dignity of the House if I were allowed to continue to make the case, to which hon. Members may later try to deploy an answer if they think they have one? To continue this kind of interruption seems to me to be doing the credit of this institution very little good indeed.

The basis of my case against sending our troops to land in Portugal is that by so doing they will be thought to be the action of our Government associating themselves with the policy of Portugal, which is producing what many people in the world consider to be a serious situation in Africa. That is the basis of my case. Therefore, I must seek to show that what I think is happening is, in fact, happening.

There is a mass of printed evidence in responsible organs to show that there have been tragic happenings in Angola on a massive scale, on a scale which, the Observer says, makes what happened in Kenya during the Mau Mau look very small beer indeed. In that situation, for us to go voluntarily to Portugal means that we get associated with the consequences of that situation. I will spend no more time than that, unless the House insists, upon proving the facts of what is happening in Angola.

One can argue that in the newscutings, of which there are many, and which are responsible, there is an element of exaggeration. So long as journalists, Parliamentarians and others are not allowed to go into Angola to find out what is happening, there will, of course—

Mr. Fell

On a point of order. I apologise sincerely for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman once again, but you said some time ago, Mr. Speaker, that you thought he was getting near the danger point. Now he seems to be turning the debate, as one forecast, into a debate simply on the iniquities of a friendly Government—that is, Portugal.

Mr. Speaker

Assuming what the right hon. Gentleman's case is, the hon. Member must realise that it is nonsense unless he can say that there is reason for not sending the infantry brigade to Portugal. The right hon. Gentleman must be allowed to develop that. It is inherent in what this debate must be about. I agree that he is very near the limit when he states that these things are happening and that the newscuttings are sufficient for the basis of his case.

Mr. Brown

Further to that point of order. This is an old tactic. You said, Mr. Speaker, that I was very near the limit. I have not entered into any debate about colonial policy in Angola. So far, I have done no more than establish—and I have barely been allowed to do that—that there is evidence to believe that certain things are happening in Angola, so that I might go on to say that there is a case for us not to do certain things in Portugal.

Continually to say that I am near the limit encourages hon. Members again to rise. This means not only that I have been on my feet for 25 minutes but allowed to speak for no more than ten minutes, but that the rest of my case will be similarly messed about. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, at some stage to rule that I may be allowed to make my case uninterrupted.

Mr. Speaker

I must listen to points of order because I do not know what they are until they are made. I hope that we can get on. When I consider that the right hon. Gentleman is transgressing, if he does—I do not think that he has done so—I will say so. I hope, however, that we can get on.

Mr. Driberg

Leave it to the Chair.

Sir Peter Agnew (Worcestershire, South)

Further to that point of order. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for feeling it necessary to interrupt him, but I do so in the sincere belief that good order demands it. The right hon. Gentleman is seeking to deploy a case, and to show that it is within the rules of order, in which he states that it is wrong for our soldiers to go to Portugal because the Government of Portugal is doing things which, on the basis of his information, which is not necessarily accurate, stand to be condemned by all proper-thinking people. Surely, if the right hon. Gentleman had deployed a case, which he has not done, that our soldiers, by going to Portugal and having contact with the ordinary people in the country-side when they go for a glass of wine or something or other, when they stand easy or go to a show—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. To be fair, I must ask the hon. Baronet to indicate what is his point of order.

Sir P. Agnew

The point of order which I was seeking to make, Mr. Speaker, is that it is out of order for the right hon. Gentleman to say that because the Government of the country where the soldiers are going is doing something that he does not like somewhere else, that can be deployed as an argument why our soldiers should not go, whereas, instead, everybody knows that on the basis of the information which the House has—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is getting beyond a point of order. I do not think that it is a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman must be allowed to state a reason for desiring this expedition to be countermanded. I do not think that he has transgressed.

Mr. Brown

This only shows that opening a case in this House, in the face of some hon. Members, in a spirit of moderation and in an attempt to approach the problems responsibility, is not respected and not reciprocated. I will go no further than I have to, but I have to make the case and to try to protect the position of other people in this House. The case has to be made.

There is a great deal of evidence that a situation is happening in a part of Africa—namely, Angola—with which we ought not to be associated. There is much evidence for that. If there is evidence to counter it, it is for hon. Members to produce it if they wish. I cannot, however, be denied the opportunity of referring to the fact that the evidence exists. Here it is.

We not only have the evidence that is printed. Some of us have seen religious bodies serving there. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who is to wind up the debate from this side, has chapter and verse of the case made by the Baptists serving there about what is happening there. Therefore, I should have thought that it was clearly accepted that there is a situation both of repression and violence—to what degree may be a matter for argument—which is considerable and of which we must take notice.

In any case, whether we think that it is so or not, whether we accept the evidence in whole or in part, the point of the matter is that world opinion believes that it is so. It is a large part of my case that by identifying ourselves with Portugal in this way, we are going straight in the teeth of world opinion and, in particular, of opinion in those areas of the world that it is tremendously important for us not unnecessarily to offend.

The whole of Asia and the whole of Africa certainly believe, and are enormously moved by the belief, that great violence is being done in Angola, by the belief that liberties are being infringed in Angola, by the belief that people are not being treated properly in Angola—

Mr. Fell

On a point of order. [An HON. MEMBER: "Another Yarmouth bloater."] Although, obviously, I take the greatest possible notice, Mr. Speaker, of your asking hon. Members not to interrupt the debate too much on points of order, nevertheless—this may be just the way I look at it, but this is how it seems to me—one could not have thought from the Adjournment that was won this afternoon that the Opposition would simply use this as an attempt to have an entire debate on the subject of difficulties that Portugal is experiencing in Angola.

Mr. Speaker

It really is, I think, rather unacceptable. Will the hon. Member for a moment perform the mental gymnastic of turning himself round into someone taking the opposite view from himself and having to present the case of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown)? One might be forgiven for thinking that the minimum way in which one could press the case would be to say that, rightly or wrongly, the world believes so and so and that we should be associating ourselves with the practice which the world believes exists if we took this step. As I see it, it really is essential for someone arguing the case on this matter to give his reasons for saying, "Do not send them to Portugal."

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

Further to that point of order. It is obvious that we have had a number of interruptions all designed for a purpose which is perfectly clear to every hon. Member. When hon. Members rise time and time again to the application of the same point of order as they originally raised, are they not merely usurping the functions of the Chair, and is it not time to stop this kind of nonsense going on?

Mr. Speaker

I do not accept that. It is difficult to see precisely where the line falls between what is proper and improper here. An hon. Member may quite genuinely and sincerely take the view that as the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper progresses it goes too far. I did not observe any abuse. I hope that we can now get on.

Mr. Brown

I only hope that people can remember the points which I have urged, and to make it perfectly plain, may I recapitulate the last point? It was that world opinion believes that there is a situation in Angola with which we ought not to be associated.

March is the operative date, because it was in March that we announced that we were going to send our troops to Portugal. Since March, the Security Council and the General Assembly have had this matter under review and have both carried resolutions on it. On both of those—and I mention this because it links up with the action which we are now asking the House to prevent the Government from taking—Her Majesty's Government have abstained from the vote. By abstaining they have indicated, or have appeared to indicate, that we have some sympathy, some understanding, and some acceptance of the situation in Angola. By abstaining, we have put ourselves out of step with our ally, America.

I make this point, and I hope that the Minister of Defence will listen, because we have had enough interruptions openly and continuous sotto-voce ones are only an additional complication. We have put ourselves out of step with our American ally. I make this point so plainly because it seems a large part of the Government's case that we cannot cancel sending troops into Portugal because if we did it would be an offence to our Portuguese ally. I make plain that we have here chosen one ally against another. We have been quite willing to put ourselves right out of step with our American ally and we have been willing to be the recipients, as it were, of very disagreeable comments from Mr. Stevenson speaking from America. It seems to me a very peculiar position to choose.

Not only have we put ourselves out of step with our American ally, but we have put ourselves right out of step with members of the Commonwealth, with Ceylon, India, and Ghana, with countries which are not only in the Commonwealth but which are trying to hold a very difficult position in a troublesome world situation.

To complete the sequence of events, we add the gratuitous visit of H.M.S. "Leopard" and add the visit and speech of the Foreign Secretary in Lisbon, seeming to give cover to what is going on, and on top of all that we then add the sending of these troops in the very near future, or we shall add it unless somebody can stop their going to Portugal.

I am bound to say, therefore, that though I do not know how much hon. Members opposite agree about the issues as apart from the periphery, anybody looking seriously at what Dr. Nkrumah said in the Ghana National Assembly on 13th May about our attitude on this must be very seriously troubled about the consequences for us if the Government are allowed to proceed with this intention. [Interruption.] It may well be that the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) holds the view that Dr. Nkrumah is as disagreeable a person as the noble Lord then appeared to be saying, but the point is that Dr. Nkrumah is both the Prime Minister of Ghana and a very important personality in the political life of the world.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)

I said nothing that was deleterious to Dr. Nkrumah's character. I merely said that it would be an extraordinary event if we allowed him to dictate the course of action we take in foreign affairs.

Mr. Brown

When the noble Lord says "dictate" he means that we should take into account. I repeat that if Britain is to live in the world, and the Commonwealth is to be the institution which hon. Members like the noble Lord on other occasions say it is their aim that it should be, then Dr. Nkrumah should be considered and his reactions taken into account. I repeat that if we look at what Dr. Nkrumah said in the Assembly in Ghana we must realise just to what consequences the events, of which this movement of troops is the latest, are leading us. There are difficulties throughout Africa. There are troubled places all over Africa. This determination on our part to move troops into Portugal at this moment can only add to those difficulties and to the problems of the people who are trying to handle them.

On 27th May, Moscow Radio put out an English broadcast to Africa in which it drew attention not only to the visit of H.M.S. "Leopard" but to the fact, as it said, that Britain was now moving 4,000 troops into Portugal. It went on to associate this with what was happening in Angola and with the movement of Portuguese troops to Angola. It called these positive steps by Great Britain to go to the assistance of Portuguese colonialism. I assert, therefore, that the House and hon. Members opposite would be much better employed, in the interests of Britain and of the Commonwealth, in thinking about the effect that broadcasts like that have than in taking the attitude which hon. Members opposite are taking tonight.

It does not matter that the Minister said to me yesterday that we do not mean to indicate that we acquiesce in what is happening in Angola. It does not matter that we do not want to be associated with this kind of colonialism. The point is what others can be brought to believe if we associate ourselves quite unnecessarily at this moment with the country which has been accused of these things.

I do not know whether the Minister or hon. Gentlemen opposite have seen the leading article in The Times today entitled "Fools Rush In…". It has great bearing on what I now want to say. There could be only one argument in favour of doing what the Minister is now insisting upon doing, and that is that we have an absolute defence requirement to move troops at this moment to Portugal and with the assistance of Portugal.

Have we an absolute requirement to do that? I claim that we have not. We may have a requirement to give the brigade group which constitutes our Strategic Reserve some exercise and some movement, but it is my guess that there is absolutely no requirement at this moment to move it to Portugal.

The main purpose of this exercise as I see it—let us be quite clear about this, and let Ministers come clean on it, because we have had ambiguous statements—is to test and exercise our airlift capacity for the brigade group. There will be some training on the ground, I understand, when they get there, but that will be incidental. [Interruption.] I see the Minister of Defence shaking his head. I will repeat the question. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to interrupt me now, but I should like him to give me a considered answer later.

I will put the question this way. As I understand it, these troops are not going to Portugal to exercise on the ground. They are going away from this country to exercise their air mobility, and it would, of course, be useful to do some training when they are on the ground.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

I shall deal with that point.

Mr. Brown

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, but if he contradicts what I have said we shall really begin to get a bit tired, because the number of different explanations given by different voices for the Service Departments is getting a bit tiresome. There have been statements made by the right hon. Gentleman's Department—by his spokesmen. In fact, the actual timing would not permit of any other explanation. The whole thing occupies a fortnight. We shall listen with interest to what the right hon. Gentleman says. As I say, my understanding is that the main purpose is the air mobility but that the troops will be glad to do some training if they can.

Whether I am right or wrong about that as a matter of fact, what absolute requirement is there that it should be in Portugal? Suppose the case of the Minister now is—it would be quite different from what has been said—that he is really doing this in order to get ground training. What requirement is there that it must be in Portugal? That is not where the Government wanted to go. That was not where the Government first asked for facilities. The Minister has, I think, given us an indication of other places where the Government had asked to go.

If I chanced my arm I might suggest that the Government had made at least four other requests before they got to Portugal. I have a feeling that the Government would have liked to have gone to France. Maybe they even tried. I have a feeling that they would have liked to have gone to Libya. Maybe they even tried. I see the Secretary of State for War shaking his head. Is he quite sure?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Profumo) indicated assent.

Mr. Brown

I have a feeling that a number of other places were tried. I do not want to be provoked into betraying any confidences, but I certainly have a feeling that other places were tried and that Portugal was not the first place. Therefore, there is no essential requirement to go to Portugal. I suggest that it happened to be convenient because the Portuguese offered to help us out.

As a matter of fact, in terms of distance from this country, there are a number of other places where this could be done. One of the other places is obviously Norway. To that the Minister of Defence yesterday posed an objection; he said that he wanted a hot barren terrain. Is he suggesting that Portugal is the only place that he could find when in any case he suggested that it was all that essential to have that requirement?

I suggest that there are other ways of doing this airlift and that there are other areas where the right hon. Gentleman could find the terrain to do whatever training the troops are going to do on the ground. The fact of the matter is that Portugal would be a convenient place to do it were there no other obstacles or objections, but in our view it is criminally stupid in the face of all other objections that there are to associating with Portugal at the moment to go on and do it in the circumstances.

I claim that, whatever advantage it gives the 19th Brigade Group, it will do enormous damage to our standing in the world. It will do enormous damage to our own friends in Africa. One can see that by reading what they have to say both in their own Parliaments and in the United Nations. It will do a very great deal of damage to N.A.T.O.—of course it will—because if in the end it is to emerge as the position that if one is in N.A.T.O. one will never be in a position to disassociate oneself from actions by the other members of N.A.T.O. which the rest of the world condemns, people will end up by saying that one ought not to be in N.A.T.O.

I, personally, would regret that very much. I happen to be one of those who find a powerful case for N.A.T.O. But unless one can dissociate oneself from actions as repulsive to the world as this, then we are going to put ourselves, those of us who are keen about N.A.T.O., into an impossible position.

Mr. Ronald Bell

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has just referred to the Portuguese Govern- ment as repulsive to the world. I raised a point of order when Mr. Speaker was in the Chair inviting his attention to the rule of the House that there must be no opprobrious reference to a Government which is in amity with this country. In my submission, the words "repulsive to the world" could not be other than opprobrious to the Portuguese Government which is in amity with this country.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

I appreciate that there are limits, but I think it is not out of order to make remarks about the policy of another Government.

Mr. Brown

At that stage, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was not even doing that. There is, clearly, such a feeling on the part of hon. Members on the other side of the House that their case is impossible that they are not even willing to hear the opposition to it put. I was not at that moment even referring to Portugal. I was referring to what the Security Council of the United Nations had itself found.

I want to end in this way a speech which has taken much too long and has been much too interrupted. It is part of our case—it may not be part of the case of some hon. Members opposite, but it is part of our case—that it really is time that we stopped giving the Communists these easy propaganda opportunities. In fact, the hon. Gentlemen who have been interrupting so strenuously might perhaps reflect at some stage how much they are playing the very same part. It seems to be very silly for us to offer the Communists the kind of easy opportunities which Moscow has been able to take in appealing to Africa because we insisted upon doing a wholly unnecessary exercise at this moment and to that country.

We must realise that the issues in the world conflict at the moment are not just in having troops, nor in just training them. It is not purely a technical question. That is part of it. The major issue in the world is that we are fighting for men's hearts and minds, and if we go in the face of what people believe to be justice, in the face of things that move them dearly and in the face of actions which seem to them to refute all that we claim we are standing for, then no matter how technically well we train our troops and no matter how technically good our troops are, we shall in fact, have lost the battle for men's hearts and minds because the psychological battle is far greater than the other.

I claim that that is what we are doing. That is why were I the Minister at this moment I would not go on with the exercise. Understanding fully as I do why the Minister wants to do it, and understanding fully as I do that it is high time we gave the 19th Brigade Group this kind of exercise, I would not do it at this moment if the only place in which I could do it was Portugal because I realise that by so doing I should make a fantastic political error which could not possibly be compensated for by any lack of efficiency that might arise in the brigade group. I would wait if I could not go anywhere else, and the Minister of Defence says that we cannot go anywhere else at the moment. In that case, I would wait and negotiate with other places to receive the brigade.

I would go back to France, if need be, and go back to General de Gaulle and try again. I would go back to Norway, I would go to Italy, and I would go back again and talk to Libya. I would try all these things, because at this moment to do what we are doing is so absurd, and there would be so many other opportunities. If we did not do it in July, because there was nowhere else to go at such short notice, and we had to wait until later in the year, it would not be a major tragedy. We have waited all this long time, and we can wait and try again, but to do it at this moment seems to me to be the utmost absurdity, politically, for which there is no compensation.

We realise that clearly we are making a case which has to do with politics and which has to do with world issues. We realise also that there is an impatience on the Government side of the House which makes hon. and right hon. Members there quite unable to understand it. I believe the Government to be making an absolutely tragic mistake—a mistake of far-reaching consequences, for which there is no military compensating advantage. I believe that the military desire could be met if we would think again. I suspect that we started planning this exercise way back last year. I suspect that in January, after many disappointments, as the Minister told us, we got it fixed up, but that between January and now, things have happened that ought to make us think again. We are all politicians, and even a Service Minister is a politician, and we all have to take into account the politics of the world.

I would like to think that the Government were going to think again, but I doubt it very much, and I hope that, later in the evening, if that is so, the House will show in no uncertain terms its disagreement, and will try to dissociate itself from the action which the Government are so obstinately determined to take.

7.53 p.m.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Profumo)

I realise that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) was often interrupted in the course of his speech, which made it a little more difficult for me to understand on which leg he was basing his argument, but, towards the end of his speech, he said quite clearly that the case for the Opposition rested on the question of politics. With that I entirely agree, although I find myself entirely unable to agree with any of the other points he put forward during his speech.

Therefore, before we embark on the stormy seas, which the Opposition appear to intend us to do, I think I had better tell the House something of the military background of this issue—the nuts and bolts of how it all happened and what it means to the Army and the nation. Then, I will be content to rest on the decision of the House and indeed to let the nation judge.

I think that all would agree that it must be one of the responsibilities of any Secretary of State for War to see that the Army which is available for the purposes of supporting national policy is properly trained, and is properly trained in the rôles which it might at any time be called upon to carry out in the interests of the country. I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that there is very considerable importance in this modern era in trying to give as much exercise as we possibly can to the troops in air portability and in going to foreign countries and in practising in a live way. I think that the right hon. Gentleman agrees with that, and therefore, each year we try to do our best with the resources at our disposal to carry out this sort of activity.

Last year, the House may like to know, we planned ten large exercises with the Royal Air Force. This year, and I hope that this will not escape the attention of the House, there was a special reason for trying to do better, and this is the problem which we are facing and which the whole House recognises—the problem of recruiting voluntary recruits for an all-Regular Army. That is the problem we are all facing, and we have set ourselves the target of getting 165,000 men by the end of next year or the beginning of 1963.

In the Army Estimates debate on 7th March with regard to being able to get more recruits I said this: Excitement and going abroad are two things which attract the would-be recruit, and 1960 was the first year of large-scale overseas airborne exercises. We have a far more ambitious programme this year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1961; Vol. 636, c. 280.] I noticed no dissension at the time, although there were not very many hon. Members here. Very few hon. Members opposite did me the courtesy of being in the House and discussing the Army on that occasion.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)

So far from dissenting, I think we are agreed with what the night hon. Gentleman is saying. It has always been our view that recruiting could be improved by this method. What we are objecting to is that he should go to Portugal rather than the places my right hon. Friend mentioned. It is quite ridiculous to put this case on a recruiting basis.

Mr. Profumo

It is not at all ridiculous, and I think the House will find, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my argument—I am prepared to be interrupted, and it is probably tit for tat with the Opposition—I was only saying that very few hon. Gentlemen apposite were present—it was a meagre House—and that there was no dissension. I do not think hon. Members opposite dissent now, either. I remember that when we considered this, there was mild applause for trying to build up these overseas exercises.

For 1961, I had planned a much more ambitious programme for overseas exercises— no fewer than sixteen in different parts of the world. One of these exercises was to be the one we are talking about today—namely, for the 19th Infantry Brigade Group of the Strategic Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman made play with why we came to fix on Portugal. He is quite wrong. We started in the initial stages of planning by planning this exercise in France, which was close at hand and had the various kinds of terrain in which the troops could be exercised, but France was unable to offer us the necessary facilities. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to know the answer to his question why we did not go to Libya or any other country, and although the right hon. Gentleman wagged his head at me in a knowing way as if to suggest that he knows, his military intelligence on this occasion is wrong.

We did ask France, and after that we asked Portugal. In any case, we would have asked Portugal for facilities for some sort of exercise. We found last year, when we did a pilot exercise, that the terrain was suitable and it is not far away. These are very expensive exercises to carry out, and we do not want to go to the other end of the world. I have planned for this year for the first time an air transport exercise in Canada, and I want the troops to go to foreign places and different terrains so that the troops can accustom themselves to the realities of the situation.

Therefore, Portugal suited our book very well, and above all these things, Portugal is a N.A.T.O. ally, and there is a N.A.T.O. application to these exercises.

Mr. G. Brown

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I ask whether Libya would have suited his book and if so—he says that I am wrong—would he be willing to ask Libya instead of Portugal?

Mr. Profumo

I will come to that, I take the point. For the moment I was answering the right hon. Gentleman's question. We did not ask Libya for facilities for this exercise. I will try—

Mr. Brown

We could.

Mr. Profumo

I do not know whether Libya would have done or not. We could have asked all sorts of people, including the United States, I have no doubt—

Mr. Brown

The point is that the United States is over 3,000 miles away. The right hon. Gentleman has just commented on distance. I am asking him whether Libya would have done. He says that Libya has not been asked, but would he be willing to ask Libya?

Mr. Profumo

I will come to that. I do not think that Libya would have done. Libya would have been too far way. We had an exercise there last year. There are other problems in Libya—crops, far example—which the right hon. Gentelman should realise. If the right hon. Gentleman knew the problems which we had in trying to make arrangements in Libya, so that we did not cause too much inconvenience, he would realise that we have to treat these people in a proper modern and sensible way. So Libya never came into this and would not have suited us for this exercise.

I was talking about the N.A.T.O. application. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this is not a N.A.T.O. exercise as such, but the Strategic Reserve, though not committed to N.A.T.O., might well be called on to go to the assistance of N.A.T.O. Therefore, it seemed to be a sensible thing to carry out an exercise with one of our N.A.T.O. allies. The right hon. Gentleman might like to know that this exercise has been registered with N.A.T.O.

The right hon. Gentleman made great play about the dangers of N.A.T.O. and said that if it became a situation where we could not disagree with the policy of any N.A.T.O. ally, that would weaken the alliance. We are at liberty to disagree with the policy of a N.A.T.O. ally, but if we allowed that to get into the way of N.A.T.O. training we should be weakening the N.A.T.O. Alliance.

The right hon. Gentleman said that as long ago as March we issued a Press release, from which he quoted, and the release appeared in all the newspapers. I will not bother the House by reading the release. The right hon. Gentleman has a copy of it. We announced that this exercise would take place in Portugal between 11th July and 26th July and we said that during that period there would be an exercise in which Portuguese troops of the Third Division would take part as well.

Nobody dissented at that time. It was an expression of solidarity with a N.A.T.O. ally and an example of cooperation—the kind of thing which hon. Members on both sides of the House frequently recommend. I still believe that this sort of co-operation is desirable. When that announcement was made there was no "bleating" from anyone—not a "cheep" out of the Herald or The Times; nothing. Three months have elapsed and it is only now, when we are in the final phases, that this sudden and violent opposition has burst upon us—

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose

Mr. Profumo

I will give way in one moment. The right hon. Member for Belper and his colleagues cannot tell the House that it is only since this week that the situation in Angola has developed sufficiently for them to try to step in and ask us to stop this exercise.

Mr. Paget

Surely the right hon. Gentleman has grasped the point. This was an admirable idea in January, but in the last three months a civil war has started and terrible things have happened in Angola. Portugal has been condemned in the United Nations.

Mr. Profumo

I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is listening—or it may be I am talking too fast for him, in an attempt not to take up too much of the time of the House.

I said clearly that this Press announcement was made in March. Since March, three months have elapsed, or nearly three months. Why, in those months during which the situation in Angola has boiled up, did not hon. Members opposite seek to use some of their own Parliamentary time to express their displeasure? Why wait until now, within a month of an important exercise, to come with this great burst of indignation? Hon. Members may not like what I am saying, but I believe that they are doing it for political purposes.

Mr. G. Brown


Mr. Profumo

I will try to answer the right hon. Gentleman's questions, why did not we cancel this exercise when the problem of Angola was coming to a head? That was one of the clear questions asked by the Opposition. I agree with what has already been said by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. We regard this as a military affair and as having nothing to do with the colonial policy of Portugal. Indeed, I am most grateful to the Portuguese authorities for letting us proceed with the exercise at a moment when it will have next to no benefit for them whatsoever. This is very important, because it was originally intended that the exercise should benefit Portugal as well.

The right hon. Gentleman made tremendous play with the fact that we would appear to be involving ourselves in the colonial policy of the Portuguese Government. May I put it in this way to him, because I wholly disagree with the case which he wanted to make? The Russians have made the same case and all our ill-wishers and all the people who do not wish well to this country all over the world. It is clear that we shall get a lot of "stick", and the Opposition are heaping on coals of fire—

Mr. G. Brown

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The Minister has just made the point that this is something which is being done by all the ill-wishers of this country with which, he said, the Opposition had associated itself, and that it would lead to this country getting a lot of "stick" and that we are adding fuel to the flames. That seems to me pretty well to be an indictment of the Opposition for raising as an issue which ought to be considered something which the ill-wishers of this country would raise. Is that permissible for the Minister to do?

Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)

Is that a point of order?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker I did not take it that the Minister was going as far as that.

Mr. Profumo

I am grateful to you, Sir. Of course I was not going as far as that. I am sure that in doing this the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues feel that they are doing their duty. But they are heaping coals of fire, and it may be inevitable that they should do so.

This right hon. Member for Belper told the House specifically what was said on the Russian radio. Why did he quote that?

Mr. Brown

Because the Africans hear it.

Mr. Profumo

Indeed the Africans may hear it. But the right hon. Gentleman ought to listen to the whole of my case and the case put by my right hon. Friend, and at the end he and his hon. Friends may perhaps say, "We are sorry, we made a mistake. We believe that you are right." But let us wait and see what happens.

It is not right that the right hon. Gentleman should think that because we carry out a military exercise on Portuguese soil we are associated with the internal and external policies of that country. May I give an example? I was a proud and assiduous member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. That did not make me subscribe to the policies for the Commonwealth and the Colonies advocated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It did not make me a Socialist. But I did not stay away from the meetings, because we had a joint interest in the Commonwealth and the Colonies. I put it to hon. Members opposite that here we have a joint interest with the Government of Portugal, and with our N.A.T.O. allies, in preparing ourselves. Because they do something with which we do not agree, I cannot see that what we are doing is wrong, and I believe that, in their hearts, all good-thinking people would agree with me.

This exercise has been criticised, but it is an exercise for a limited war. There is no question of Portuguese internal security, as was suggested. There is no conceivable connection with any such project, and any suggestion that there is any attempt at training Portuguese troops is wicked "bunkum". I know that that has not been said by the right hon. Gentleman, but I am saying this in advance so that nobody may criticise us for that. The only Portuguese ground forces taking part is one tank company of the Third Portuguese Division assigned to N.A.T.O., which I am assured will not be sent to Angola under any circumstances. Anyone who knows Angola will realise that tanks could not possibly be used there.

The right hon. Gentleman said that all we wished to do was to exercise our forces in air mobility. Why then are we going to spend nine days manoeuvring on the terrain of Portugal? Of course, the right hon. Gentleman is wrong, and I think that after he had said it he realised that he was wrong. We want to do two things. We want to practise air transportability in co-operation with the Royal Air Force, and we want to manoeuvre on the ground.

The right hon. Member for Belper has been wagging his head and nodding; I am not quite sure what he is doing at the moment. But I am telling him the truth, and so long as I am Secretary of State for War I hope he will believe that I shall not try to mislead the House. We are going to exercise on the ground. Had we gone to France the air transportability part of the exercise would not have been for very long.

Mr. G. Brown

I accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but will he see that in future his public relations officers put out the right story and not the wrong one?

Mr. Profumo

My public relations officers have put out the right story. If only the right hon. Gentleman would read it with an unjaundiced eye, he would realise what we mean. But I am being asked to give the House an explanation.

Apart from the fact of not wanting to change the location of the exercise, even if we had wanted to in April, when the Angola problem first came before the United Nations, I doubt very much whether it would have been possible. Today it is out of the question. We can do nothing other than cancel the exercise.

Perhaps the hon. Members would like me to tell them something of the size of the British forces. We have the forces and brigade headquarters—two separate things. There are three infantry battalions, a field regiment and various supporting and administrative units—3,000 soldiers with more than 200 vehicles stockpiled in the exercise area beforehand by sea, plus more by air to give verisimilitude to the operation. There are nearly 40 transport aircraft, ten fighter aircraft and about 400 men from the Royal Air Force also involved. I say this to give an idea of the magnitude of trying to lay on an operation at this stage.

Mr. Mayhew

How long will it take?

Mr. Profumo

May I finish my sentence and then I will give way. I do not want to prevent the hon. Member from asking a question, but perhaps this will give him the answer. He asked how long it will take. It takes four months to lay on this sort of exercise. How on earth in the course of a month could we change this exercise to some other terrain?

Mr. Mayhew

I was asking about the flexibility of the Strategic Reserve. Is the right hon. Gentleman telling the House that it takes four months to send the Strategic Reserve anywhere? [Laughter.]

Mr. Profumo

That would be quite a good joke, but I did not say that. I said that it takes four months to lay on an exercise of this sort in peacetime. First, the exercise has to be written properly to take advantage of the terrain to which it is to go. Hon. Members opposite talk glibly about going to Norway, but the whole terrain in Norway is different. It would mean that the exercise would have to be completely re-written. Then we would have to get political clearance with the country concerned and would have to overcome some of the local problems. We have to be sure of the available airfields for a heavy airlift and the civil and military aerodromes for use in peacetime. All these things have to be phased together. It is necessary to pre-stock rations, petrol and so on. Fifty aircraft and 300 vehicles drink a lot of petrol.

The chief reason why we cannot alter this now is simply that in order to do this exercise we are using all the resources the Royal Air Force can give us at this particular moment with the many other obligations it has to carry out for the United Nations and otherwise. We cannot go further afield than Portugal without lessening the amount of troops we want to use on the exercise. Therefore, we could not go to Italy even if terrain there were available. We could not go to Libya, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested when he asked if we could switch the exercise. We could not go to Cyprus, because that is further away. We have planned the exercise inside the availability of aircraft over a phased number of months and we would have to cut the size if we were to change it.

I have told the House that the question of using territory in France is out. France could not accept us at this time of the year.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Could my right hon. Friend kindly tell the House why France refused to allow us to go there?

Mr. Profumo

I am grateful to my noble Friend, because I should not like the House to think that France refused us out of hand. The reason was that the facilities we wanted in the area for aerodromes and everything else were not available in France at this time when our aircraft and troops concerned were available for the exercise. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I do not know why. I should have to look up the detailed reasons. They are perfectly friendly, but the facilities were not available to us at this time of the year. In Germany and Scandinavia the training areas are already fully committed to N.A.T.O. and similar exercises at this time of the year. Therefore, nothing remains available except Salisbury Plain. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh no."] If the hon. Member can think of somewhere else I shall gladly allow him to try to tell me where we could go, but I am telling the House the facts. We could go only to Salisbury Plain if we had to switch the exercise.

What about postponing the exercise, as the right hon. Member asked? That is impracticable because aircraft available for training later on have already been booked for other exercises.

The best laid plans go awry. My ambitious plans for training in overseas exercises this year have already suffered. Unforeseen difficulties have led to the curtailment of the list which I had prepared. For various reasons the Royal Air Force has had to take on other commitments, for instance, helping the United Nations in the Congo and to do with our responsibilities in the Cameroons. Therefore, we could ill-afford to cancel one further exercise of this magnitude. It is my responsibity to see that we have this joint training.

In addition, this very formation, the 19th Infantry Brigade, together with other forces, was to take part in a similar exercise last year. It was cancelled because of political difficulties in the part of the world to which it was going. Can hon. Members imagine what would happen if at the last moment, a year later, we were to cancel an exercise for the same people? The right hon. Member said that if he were the Minister responsible he would cancel it now. If he did the Army would say that he was plain barmy—and I would agree with them. We have to consider the morale of the troops and the training and readiness of the Strategic Reserve.

At the beginning of my speech I said that I did not understand what all this was about, but on reflection I believe I do know. I believe that the right hon. Member is so right wing that he has got to do something to make his peace with the left. All I say is, for Heaven's sake do not do it at the expense a the Army.

8.16 p.m.

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

That was a thoroughly irresponsible speech. The right hon. Gentleman made three main points and they all came to this, that he preferred having an exercise for one brigade group to taking into serious consideration the effect which the operation might have on the political situation of this country.

It was a thoroughly irresponsible attempt to justify the action he has taken. He divided his speech into three parts. The first dealt with the military side. He said that the exercise was to help recruitment. He said that he has stepped up the number of exercises from ten to sixteen. This was his idea of giving people a trip abroad and some excitement on an exercise to stimulate recruitment. He brought it forward that he has pushed up the number of exercises from ten to sixteen and proposed to the House that knocking one-sixteenth, one segment, off his recruitng campaing is something which ought to be taken into consideration seriously when dealing with an internationl question of this kind which has disturbed the whole world. That is an utterly irresponsible attitude.

The second point he made was the relationship between military operations with N.A.T.O. countries of whose policy we might disapprove. I have a great deal of sympathy with the general proposition he put forward on that point. I agree at once that when we have military arrangements in N.A.T.O. with our N.A.T.O. allies that does not mean that we automatically approve the policy which those allies follow. Nor would I suggest that, because we happen to disapprove of the policy of a particular N.A.T.O. member at a particular time, we should break off all political connections. That is not the case which has been made on this side of the House.

The right hon. Gentleman asked why we delayed from March until now to raise this matter. Let him consider the international situation. I deplore that Portugal is in N.A.T.O., but I accept that she is in N.A.T.O. If it were not for what has happened in Angola over the last three months, I should not be opposing the proposition the right hon. Gentleman makes. What the Government have done by their actions time and again within the last three months is to give the world the strong impression that they approved of the policy of Portugal in Angola. That has been the difficulty.

We take this action now because this comes at the end of a series of actions on the part of the Government which have given the impression of countenancing Portuguese policy. If the attitude of the Government were that nobody could suggest that they approved of Portuguese policy, we should then be in the position which the right hon. Gentleman hypothecates, for the general proposition that having military arrangements with a N.A.T.O. country does not necessarily mean that we approve of a particular item of its policy. That is not the situation we are in.

There has been a series of incidents which have given the impression that the Government approve of Portuguese policy in Angola. There has been the extraordinary action of the Government in abstaining in the United Nations and bringing upon themselves the condemnation of all the democratic world for that abstention. Further, the Foreign Secretary has chosen now of all times to go to Portugal. There has been the visit of H.M.S. "Leopard" to Angola. On top of that there is to be this visit.

The right hon. Gentleman is so completely out of touch with political reality that he has the effrontery to come to the House at this stage and ask why we have waited until now to take this action instead of taking it three months ago. We were not then in the political situation which we are now in. What we are concerned about is that, in view of the Government's attitude on previous occasions during the last three months, the world at large will inevitably interpret this action at this time as a further indication of Government approval of Portuguese policy in Angola.

The right hon. Gentleman cannot run aware from it by stating as justification for this action the general proposition with which I have already said that I agree, namely, that our having military operations with a particular N.A.T.O. country does not necessarily mean that we approve of its policy. In the circumstances, this military operation with Portugal at this time, in view of the Government's abominable attitude over the Angola issue, is to be read as a political and not as a purely military incident.

The right hon. Gentleman said that it took four months to mount such an operation. He mentioned, among other things, two points which are valid. The first was that there must be political clearance with the foreign country. The second was that the Government must be satisfied with the state of the airfields in the foreign country before aircraft can be landed. Those are the only two items which distinguish this exercise from the requirements which would prevail in the case of the Stategic Reserve being suddenly required for an emergency. Does the right hon. Gentleman really say that those two factors distinguish between a genuine military operation in the case of an emergency and an exercise? Of course it does not take four months or anything like it to get military clearance and be satisfied about the condition of the landing grounds.

The right hon. Gentleman has said in effect that the Strategic Reserve of this country is in such a condition that an exercise of this kind cannot be mounted in less than four months. No wonder they made such a mess of Suez, and we are now given to understand that the situation now is no better than the situation obtaining at the time of Suez. It is shocking that the right hon. Gentleman, who among others is responsible for the military condition and readiness of our country, should come forward with this kind of an excuse for continuing the exercise. His speech was an appalling speech with which to justify the action he is taking.

We say, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) emphasised, that this is a major political consideration affecting our position in the world and the interpretation of our action by the world. The significance of this exercise is that it is susceptible of political implications and is in fact being given a political interpretation. It is being given a political significance which far overrides the importance of merely giving a military exercise to one infantry brigade in the British Army. Let us have a sense of proportion restored to the Government, and let this exercise be cancelled.

8.26 p.m.

Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

I have listened very carefully to the speeches of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas). I cannot help feeling that the purpose of this debate is less to display an interest in the efficiency of Britain's fighting forces than to provide a convenient opportunity, under a rather thin disguise, to criticise the colonial policy of Portugal. The logical conclusion of the arguments put forward from the benches opposite seems to be that United Kingdom Forces can train in the territory of a friendly N.A.T.O. country only provided that at a given moment neither the Government nor the Opposition happen to disapprove of any aspect of the policy of the Government of the territory in question.

That argument, if carried to its logical conclusion, could certainly have in future—and, if it had been applied in the past, it certainly would have had in the past—some extremely interesting results. The right hon. Member for Belper asked why the Government did not try France. I suppose two years ago he would have said that we could not conceivably carry out an exercise on French territory because at that moment the Opposition did not happen to agree with the policy of the French Government with regard to Algeria. I suppose that the same argument could be applied to an exercise in Germany, because a large section of the party opposite happen not to like either the Western German people or certain elements of the Western German Government. So an exercise in France or Germany would be out.

Then there is Belgium. A number of hon. Members on one side or the other are bitterly critical of what was thought to be rather precipitate action on the part of the Belgian Government in the Congo. So an exercise in Belgium would have been out, too.

I must say that much as I deplore, alongside any member of the Opposition, events that have taken place in Angola, I rather wish that I could recollect on rather more frequent occasions in the past the Opposition moving the Adjournment of the House to discuss the terrible happenings in the Congo since the Belgians came out. I should have thought that a massacre, whether it be of Europeans or of Africans, was equally deplorable.

I suppose, equally, that we could eliminate any possible exercises in Denmark because of the incidents the other day with the trawlers—

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

Or Iceland.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

Yes, or Iceland, with the fishing fleet. Therefore, the logical argument of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite is that one cannot be certain of being able to have exercises anywhere at a particular moment because there may be some dispute with a fellow N.A.T.O. country. This is a very dangerous argument, because it may be applied in reverse. We might possibly wish to have some S.E.A.T.O. exercise in the Pacific. In accordance with the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, New Zealand might say, "No, we cannot cooperate with the British Fleet because we are nervous of rumours about the Common Market."

That argument could be applied all over the place, and the result would be to stultify any defence force exercise—

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

Cannot the hon. Gentleman distinguish between a political argument about the Common Market and the massacre of thousands of Africans in Angola?

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

This is the logical conclusion of the argument for not carrying out an exercise in the country of a friendly Power if, at a particular moment, that Power's policies are such that one does not agree with them, or they do not receive universal approval at U.N.O. or elsewhere—

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I said the very opposite.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

I repeat that this is a very dangerous argument, and if carried to its logical conclusion or, rather, its absurd conclusion, it would stultify and render invalid any exercise by N.A.T.O. troops except in their own country—

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I said the very opposite.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

The real question is this. If the party opposite is really genuine in its professed support for N.A.T.O. and in its professed belief in an efficient United Kingdom defence force both inside and outside N.A.T.O., it must support the Government in giving British defence forces all proper training facilities wherever the Government may think that, for technical reasons, they are best suited at a particular time.

If hon. Members do not support N.A.T.O., or if the political qualifications of their support are such that they can come to the House and use the sort of argument they have used this evening, they had much better say so openly, and give up any lip-service to making British defence forces efficient in their training at any given time. The words they have used this evening will quickly indicate to the country upon which side of the fence the members of the party opposite sit.

8.33 p.m.

Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)

The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) has made a very interesting contribution to this debate, and I think that it deserves to be answered. In effect, he says that we have a number of allies in N.A.T.O., and that it is perfectly possible to go from one ally to another and find points of disagreement with their policies, particularly their colonial policies. No doubt they could have their points of disagreement with us but, far from his case disproving our point tonight, I think that the hon. Gentleman has come very substantially to our support.

What has emerged is that we on this side do not expect our own country to be perfect, nor do we expect our allies to be perfect. They are in N.A.T.O. We claim that we are building up a defence association in order to safeguard the free world. Would the hon. Gentleman agree that we are building up a defence association of countries, not claiming to be perfect but, in the main, on the side of the angels; countries who believe that there is a real danger of a united Soviet bloc at some time seeking to overrun our territories? I think that is fairly put.

One of the fascinating things in the world at present is the divergencies, not only among Western countries but in the Soviet bloc. There is no more reason for France, Belgium, Portugal and ourselves to be in total agreement than there is for Russia, China, Albania and other small countries to be in total agreement

We take it for granted that, in the main, there is a Communist bloc, in which, internally, there is absolute dictatorship—interpreted in our British constitutional fashion—and not an Opposition as we have in the House of Commons. We then take it, in the main, that in the N.A.T.O. countries there are Oppositions as well as Governments and that the air is more free. It is because of this mutual tolerance, and because we believe in our way of life, that when any one member of the N.A.T.O. association behaves in such a way that it makes it a mockery for us to claim to be the defenders of the free world, we become profoundly involved politically.

What is it all about? There was a time when the phrase Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die could be recited to the ordinary soldier. But we are not living in the sort of world where men's bodies can be ordered around and their minds left behind. All hon. Members are aware that we are engaged in a profound argument in the world. I support N.A.T.O., with all its limitations, and I do not expect it to be perfect, but I am heart sick at the thought of one British soldier being asked to go to Portugal at this moment, after the most shocking deterioration of the internal situation there.

It is not merely Communists one finds in gaol in Portugal, but Socialists and even Liberals. I have friends, including a gentle Liberal professor, who is imprisoned there. I have had arguments with him and I have disagreed with him, but he is my friend.

If I were a British soldier asked to go to Portugal at the present time, I should be hoping that I would be treated with respect and that it would be remembered that I was not only a soldier in uniform but, also, a man and a citizen with a point of view on what is happening in the world.

I do not think that we should be allowed to have those convivial glasses of wine in Portugal until the company that is kept over those glasses of wine is made a little more general than it is at present. Some of the people I should like to see sipping that wine are in gaol in Portgual now, and this is a factor we cannot ignore. If we try to ignore it and if we try to pretend that we do not know what is happening in Angola, what an insult that is to many of the leaders of the British Commonwealth.

For instance, what about the statements put out by Premier Nehru? Are we to say that he does not know what he is talking about? Mr. Nkrumah has already been mentioned. Do we dare so grossly underestimate the repercussions throughout the Commonwealth of the events taking place in Portuguese colonial territories at the present time? I urge the Government not to underestimate the intensity of feeling of all those who are concerned.

The Minister goes around a good deal. He is what is called a good mixer and he has an exceptionally lovely wife to help him mix. He meets our Indian and African friends. He knows their point of view and he realises that they feel as passionately on these issues as do we.

I am not a military expert, but the right hon. Gentleman has convinced me that if this brigade does not go to Portugal he will not be able to send it elsewhere. He has convinced me, whatever other hon. Members who have expert military knowledge may think. On first principles, I am willing to accept the fact that if the Government cannot send these troops to Portugal the poor devils will perhaps have to remain on Salisbury Plain. Are the Government seriously saying that they would like to give our fellows a more exciting time and that they are going to send them to a more stimulating and perhaps more educational sort of place the price of which will be that the sour suspicion which is already darkening our relations in many parts of the Commonwealth may be further darkened?

Can it be that hon. Members opposite are beginning to care less and less for the Commonwealth? Can it be that they do not like the excitement of its thrusting out towards an increasing inter-racial attitude, that they do not like the progressive point of view of many of the emerging nations in the Commonwealth? I should hate to think that that is true.

Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

That is unfair.

Miss Lee

If that is unfair I will gladly withdraw, but I do not want any hon. Member this evening to say that we on these benches are raising this matter frivolously. We cannot separate military from political issues in the world as it is at present. The argument about Angola is going on all over the world, not only in this Chamber. It will be considered a symbolical act of unnecessary warmth towards the Portuguese Government if, following the quite unnecessary visit of the Foreign Secretary, we now have this additional event.

I want to make it clear that I myself have a great fondness for the people of Portugal. I have warm personal relations with many of them, as I have with the people of Spain, and I hope that no single word will be reported outside this Chamber that will suggest that we are speaking in an anti-Portuguese mood. Nothing of the kind. I am not even raising the fact that people like myself are prohibited immigrants. Portugal is perfectly entitled to do whatever it wants to do inside its own country, but it cannot exempt itself from the judgment of the world for what it does either inside Portugal or inside its colonial empire.

I am not asking us to interfere in Portuguese affairs. What I am asking is that we should be quite clear that British opinion is deeply shocked—that we share this shock with the majority of the members of the British Commonwealth—at what is going on in Angola, and that we are also shocked when we think of the men and women who are asking for only the most moderate reforms and who are in Portuguese gaols.

Far from asking for a big thing, I believe that we are asking for the very minimum of action when we say that we should make it clear to the Portuguese Government, in terms wrapped up in all the diplomatic courtesy one may choose, that with this background of events this is not the moment when we should be happy Ito see British soldiers arriving on Portuguese soil.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) will, I hope, believe that I am completely sincere when I say that no one would believe after she has spoken that she at least was approaching this matter in a frivolous manner. She obviously felt very deeply and intensely in everything she said. Nor do I believe that one of the charges we could fairly make against any member of the Opposition—at least, those who have spoken so far—is that they are approaching this matter in a frivolous way.

With a sincerity equal to that of the hon. Lady, I wish to lay quite another charge against the Opposition. We should pay a great deal more respect to their indignation on this occasion if we were not driven to the impression that this is yet another step in a long vendetta against Portugal. Only a short time after I entered the House of Commons, long before recent events in Angola and long before some of the events in Portugal to which the hon. Lady referred, there was objection made from the benches opposite even against renewed trade talks and a British trade fair in Portugal. The same attitude has often been displayed towards Spain.

We all know that hon. Ladies and hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike the Portuguese Government, always have disliked it, always will dislike it, and would be only too pleased if it could be brought down. Let us be honest about that.

Miss Lee

We should like the hon. Member and his Government to be brought down, too.

Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)

Of course, that is our attitude towards the Portuguese Government. It is a Fascist Government.

Mr. Bennett

I have no doubt that the hon. Lady would like to see us brought down, but she will not succeed.

Of course, we can all feel indignation about a Fascist State, but, again, the indignation which hon. Members opposite display always goes one way. A few months after the Hungarian episode, for instance, there would undoubtedly have been a welcome in the House for any suggestion that Ministers should visit the Soviet Union in order to try to improve relations there, yet, apparently, it is a crime to do what it is now intended to do and it was a crime for the Foreign Secretary to visit Portugal. Do hon. Members opposite really suggest that the policy of the Soviet Union in Hungary and some of its other actions are such that we should welcome and applaud the occasion when we hear that there is to be a summit meeting, semi-summit meeting, or any attempt to improve relations with that country? The moment we try to improve relations with a country, which at the least, is not hostile to us, we hear the cry about Fascist ideologies with which we cannot agree and ought not to associate.

It is about time that there was a fairer appreciation of where this indignation, always one way, leads us in the eyes of the outside world and the eyes of many of our best friends.

Mr. Hamilton

This must not pass unchallenged. The hon. Member will recall that there was very great criticism from this side, including criticism from myself, of the policy pursued by the Soviet Union in Hungary. We made the charge at the time that the Government were inhibited from criticising the Russians then because they were engaged in a similar operation at Suez.

Mr. Bennett

With respect, that interjection is completely irrelevant. I did not say that hon. Members opposite did not object at the time of the Hungarian trouble. What I said was that, consistently, hon. Members opposite have welcomed and would, no doubt, again welcome visits by Foreign Secretaries or anybody else to Soviet bloc countries, but they would not do so in regard to Portugal. I challenge the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) to answer if that is not so. If there were a fresh announcement from the Dispatch Box tomorrow or any other day that a further series of visits to the Soviet bloc countries was to be made, countries with far more stringent dictatorships, would not hon. Members opposite be only too pleased to give the announcement their favourable consideration? Everyone knows that they would.

The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock spoke about the troubles we are getting into with certain Commonwealth countries because of this very limited action we propose to take. Again, I ask for a little logic. I ask for a little fair-mindedness here, and in some of those countries and among some of their leaders. Are we quite sure that, in the eyes of certain people in the world, Indian action in regard to the Naga tribes has been something which we should warmly welcome? Has not that raised a certain amount of indignation in some quarters? Again, in Ghana, for reasons of their own, the Government have many members of the Opposition locked up in prison. When do we have Motions for the Adjournment of this House moved by the Opposition directing attention to the plight of political prisoners in those countries? Always, the voice of indignation speaks one way. When we have Motions or Questions, it is one-way criticism.

Mr. Paget

Has the hon. Gentleman possibly observed that Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for prisoners in the Naga country, and therefore the matter cannot be raised?

Mr. Bennett

Yes. The hon. and learned Gentleman should not try to be so legally technical. I am merely answering the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock, one of whose chief complaints was about political prisoners in Portugal. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman is legally qualified enough to know that the Government have no authority to deal with questions of political prisoners in Portugal. Since the hon. Lady raised the point, I am entitled to answer what she said.

Mr. Paget

We are not sending troops to India.

Mr. Bennett

That is wholly irrelevant, because we have had military missions in India and close working arrangements with the Indian Army, and have had for some considerable time. Again, that is a wholly irrelevant interjection.

Again when all the killing which is going on in Angola was the other way round and it was Africans who supported, rightly or wrongly, the régime there, when it was Portuguese mulattoes, men, women and children, who were being butchered, we did not have this indignation aroused in the House. It is only because killing is now the other way round that all this indignation has been aroused. Since hon. Members opposite seem to think that the actions of this Government are misinterpreted throughout the world, I assure them that there are many people in the world who and their idea of logic and fair play far more distasteful.

If the object of the Opposition is to relieve the situation in Angola and to help the inhabitants there, do they believe that this line of conduct and the advocacy that British troops should not be sent to Portugal will have any effect at all? Surely all our experience shows that if we try to force a country with whose policies we may disagree into total isolation, it results, not in a relaxation of the situation but rather the opposite. In the case of Angola—I wish that the rules of order permitted me to say more on the subject than is possible—if it is the object of hon. Members opposite to try to bring about a better situation there, I hardly think that the calling off of this British force going for training in Portugal would have that effect.

I not only support the Government in the stand which they are taking, but I do so enthusiastically, not only on military grounds, but on political grounds. I hope that from at least one part of this House will go a message expressing our disgust at the total lack of logic in the vendettas which hon. Members opposite pursue against particular political systems and personalities with which and with whom they choose to disagree.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) has made a number of points which do not go to the root of the matter. I am sure that he will understand that if I take up only a little time in dealing with some of his arguments it is because I wish to deal with the speech made by the Secretary of State for War.

After all the discussions which have taken place in this House, it should not be a basis for argument that there is a vast difference between attending a summit conference or going to a diplomatic meeting and relations between two countries which have joint military exercises and demonstrations like the one that we are opposing. Obviously there must be normal diplomatic relations and conferences between Prime Ministers and between Foreign Secretaries on both sides of the present tragic and dangerous argument that is going on in the world. I do not think that it advances the discussion or improves the level of debate to create that sort of confusion merely to make a propaganda point.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman must be fair. The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) was criticising the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Portugal.

Mr. Mendelson

Of course she was. But the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Portugal and to Spain is part of a policy which we regard as very dangerous. It is not the same as creating the confusion that I have just indicated, as the hon. Member did only a few minutes ago, by criticising people for wishing to hold a summit conference or a conference of Foreign Secretaries. The answer to that kind of argument has recently been given both by the President of the United States and by the Prime Minister.

I wish, however, to come to the speech of the Secretary of State for War and to put specific questions to the Minister of Defence. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for War is no longer in his place. I do not criticise him for that—he has been here a long time—but I am none the less sorry that he is not here when I am about to criticise something that he has said.

We should get away from the attempt to smear the Opposition in the House of Commons with giving aid and comfort to those who are our ill-wishers abroad because we put down critical points against the Government's policy. Not long ago, the Minister of Defence nodded his agreement in another debate when my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said to him across the Table that if we disagreed with the policy pursued by the Government, we had a duty to criticise and to say so. Certainly, it comes ill from a spokesman of the Front Bench of a party which was led at one time by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) to complain about criticism and the right to criticise being exercised by the Opposition. We should get away from that sort of nonsense. It does not belong seriously in a debate of this kind.

Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

That is a fair point. Would the hon. Member, however, also take the reverse case that it is extremely wrong and greatly to be deprecated when members of the Opposition call hon. Members on this side who differ from them pro-Fascist if they express a different point of view?

Mr. Mendelson

There is a vast difference between what we say to each other in the course of debate and interjection, which has gone on in this House for centuries, and trying to smear the entire Opposition with being in co-operation with our ill-wishers because we exercise the necessary function of criticising, which is the duty of the Opposition if they disagree with the policy pursued by the Government.

One of the reasons put forward by the Secretary of State for War why it was virtually impossible to cancel the exercise at this stage was that for political reasons the same unit had a visit cancelled last year. That means that the right hon. Gentleman has established a point of principle. He has told the House that political circumstances can arise from time to time that make it imperative for the Government to change their arrangements for military training. That is only common sense. I should not have expected a Minister of the Crown to make any different point on this matter.

Therefore, it was possible last year to cancel a military exercise for serious political reasons. The Minister did not tell us at the time the country concerned or the precise circumstances or reasons, and we did not press him to do so. I do not intend to press him now. No useful purpose would be achieved by going into the details of that cancellation. If, however, it was imperative in those circumstances to cancel the exercise, obviously it cannot be entirely wrong to reconsider an engagement that we have entered into this year. It must be possible for the Government seriously to consider—and, therefore, legitimate for the Opposition seriously to advance—issues of a similar kind which, in our view, should compel the Government to cancel this exercise. Therefore, the general argument that it is impossible to allow political considerations to intrude into decisions concerning the arrangement of exercises by our Forces falls to the ground.

I turn now to what I consider to be equally not a very serious argument advanced by the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman told the House, again in all seriousness, that one has to consider that it takes four months to prepare an exercise of this kind. The point has already been made that the mobility and the ability of the Army to get quickly from one place to another is the purpose of the exercise, and that training on the ground is only additional. I should have thought that in that case quick preparation of the scheme might be part of the exercise itself. But even if it is necessary to spend a great deal of time in preparation, surely the time spent in that preparation cannot be a decisive reason, if other reasons are compelling, for the Government to say that they have unalterably decided that they cannot change their policy on this matter.

I believe that there are far more serious reasons than the Secretary of State for War has ever advanced in debate why the Government do not wish to change their minds. One of the reasons probably is that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence does not wish to tell the Government of Portugal that he has cancelled the exercise, because he feels that that would be regarded throughout the United Nations and by the Government of Portugal as a clear expression of our disapproval of the policy which Portugal is pursuing in Angola.

I should like to link this statement with the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in recent proceedings in the United Nations. We have had several examples where practically all the countries associated with us in N.A.T.O., those with whom we are in the closest co-operation, including the United States, have expressed clear and open disapproval of the policy which the Government of Portugal are pursuing in Angola. And Her Majesty's Government have consistently refused to take part in this disapproval and open criticism. In spite of what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said in various Press interviews, I think that that is a decisive reason why the Government refused to cancel this exercise.

It is equally important to realise that the Secretary of State for War is seriously advancing the argument that if we were to postpone this exercise the Royal Air Force is so fully occupied with future plans that it would not be possible to obtain the necessary transport aircraft. This is a peculiar explanation. On all occasions when we have private and very useful discussions with Army Commanders, which the Secretary of State for War is encouraging and organising, flexibility is put to us as a decisive point. It is a poor commentary to be told that because the Royal Air Force is occupied with some other duties it would not be possible for the Chief of Staff to switch things round.

This is surely a poor argument to expect people of my own low level of militray experience to accept, let alone those hon. and right hon. Members who have had far greater experience. Instead of attempting to make debating points and party points, it should be possible for the Government to say that this is a serious case, based on policy and on the military alliance to which we belong.

I speak as a supporter of the N.A.T.O. alliance. Like many others, I have been involved in arguments on our participation in that alliance. It is common ground and it has been often stated by the Minister of Defence himself that we are in a situation in which our purpose is to avoid war, but at the same time see to it that we belong to an alliance which is effective and has a good political standing among the uncommitted countries. It is important to realise that not only is this an important issue among African peoples and in the Commonwealth but that there are in the United Nations a number of discussions going on in which the Soviet bloc is advancing certain suggestions.

It is legitimate and important that we should quote these suggestions because we are in a conflict of opinion with the Soviet bloc and we are in competition with it for the support of uncommitted nations. It is not relevant therefore to criticise us for quoting opinions advanced by the Soviet bloc. We have to deal with the Soviet bloc, and so has the Minister of Defence.

They are advancing the opinion in the United Nations that the declaration by Britain as a country that N.AT.O. is a defensive alliance—in defence of democracy—is a spurious argument. It is to our interest, quite apart from the position of other Commonwealth countries, so to act—it cannot be done by declarations—that at all times we make quite certain that we regard the alliance in defence of democracy as an alliance at the same time in defence of our national interest. It is no good advancing the argument that the Soviet Government pay lip-service to democratic solutions and are not serious about it. We have got to show that we are.

In respect of the operation in Cuba this aspect of the matter was discussed by responsible leaders of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate and by members of the Opposition, and no objection was taken to it. It is important to realise that we differ from the Soviet Government precisely in this respect in that we are serious about the claims that we make for the defensive alliance to which we belong. It is imperative that at no time should a British Government act in a manner which will lay us open to doubt as to whether we are serious about these declarations.

I believe that there is also a fear in the minds of the Government about what might be felt in Portuguese Government circles, Her Majesty's Government having made an engagement which is in some way related to the fact that we are both members of N.A.T.O. However, my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper has proved to the satisfaction of most hon. Members that this is not a N.A.T.O. exercise in the usual sense of the term. But there is probably a fear in the Government's mind that it might be argued that if we did not continue with the exercise we should be reclassifying Portugal as a second-class member of the alliance. I do not think that that can be regarded as a serious reason which carries any weight. However, as I have said, there might be the fear if we cancelled the exercise suddenly that it might be argued in Portuguese circles that it was something that one should not do to any partner in the alliance.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

The hon, Gentleman seems to be on a bit a buffalo there. Surely the Opposition are always trying to classify Portugal as a Fascist Power which has no business in N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Mendelson

The noble Lord ought to be fair. I am trying to suggest serious reasons which might be in the Government's mind for not wishing to act on the Opposition suggestion. I am deliberately trying not to make party points, because I think that the Government's case has not yet been given to the House.

As I have said, the Government are perhaps fearful that it might be regarded in Portuguese circles as a reclassification of Portugal as a second-class member of N.A.T.O. Far more important than any such fear is that it should be made clear beyond doubt that we are serious about the nature of the alliance, that we are not in the alliance unconditionally and that we must be able to determine the nature of the alliance in which we take part.

It must be possible for hon. Members to go about the country encouraging support for the alliance, and it must be possible to do that with a clear conscience. Therefore, it is imperative that the Government should take such action at this late stage as will make clear—it must be done not only by speeches but by action—that we want to demonstrate that we will not be associated at this moment with the Government of Portugal when they are pursuing a barbaric policy of suppression in Angola.

Secondly, we must make it absolutely clear that we take seriously the basic content of the N.A.T.O. Alliance as one in defence of our national interests and of democracy at the same time.

Thirdly, the Government ought to forget that this debate has been initiated by the Opposition. They should be prepared at this late stage to take another look at the matter and agree with the action which we propose. I regret to have to conclude by saying that if the Government have determined on political, and not military, grounds that they cannot budge from their position, then all our worst fears and suspicions about the motives which inspire their actions will be completely confirmed.

9.10 p.m.

Captain John Litchfield (Chelsea)

The military reasons for arranging this exercise are not, I think, in dispute. This debate has rather puzzled me. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who moved the Adjournment of the House, spoke about maintaining a sense of proportion, but I cannot help feeling, from the speeches to which we have listened from the other side, that that is just what we have been losing in this debate. The right hon. Gentleman was also, I think, mistaken in his interpretation of public opinion in this country and in the world on this issue.

I cannot help thinking that the great majority of people, and even some hon. Members in this House, would have heard very little about this exercise if it had not been for this debate. I do not see that this country has anything to fear, with our liberal reputation and name in the world, from the fact that we are carrying out a comparatively small and purely military training exercise in Portugal. I cannot see how this can be seriously thought to indicate that we approve in any way or condone the Portuguese Government's policy in a Colony thousands of miles away. If it did indicate that, I think we should be getting into very deep waters indeed.

The fact that there were American troops in this country at the time of Suez, at the time of Cyprus and of various other troubles which we have had abroad was never held by anyone to indicate that the American Government were particularly supporting us in our policies there. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) has given the House a number of examples of the complicated situation which might arise if the principle was generally accepted that if in the course of our N.A.T.O. military training we move troops into another country, this would imply that we were concerned one way or the other with her internal, external or colonial policies.

I cannot see the force of that argument, although I respect the feelings that have been expressed from the other side. I think that they are mistaken if they imagine that they are interpreting public opinion on this matter. The benches opposite have not been so crowded today so as to indicate any strong and general feelings there, and I cannot help wondering where all this pontificial lecturing, all this "sound and fury", is going to end.

This debate comes at a time when N.A.T.O. has considerable strains within itself. It comes at a time when the international situation is not altogether rosy. We are facing a very uncertain world, from the military point of view. It seems a curious time to choose to throw a spanner into the works, as between the countries of N.A.T.O. We may have differences with Portugal in regard to her policies in some of its aspects, but we have none in so far as military affairs are concerned. We like the Portuguese Services, and have very good relations with them.

I cannot therefore see what the Opposition are trying to achieve at this moment in trying to raise an issue which is bound now to complicate our relations a little bit. If the advice of the Opposition was accepted and we cancelled the exercise, it would be blown up into a political issue. As it is, a lot of unfriendly things have been said that might better have been left unsaid. I feel, therefore, that the debate on this Motion is very unfortunate—to put it mildly. I think it is misguided and harmful. I do not altogether follow the arguments which have been advanced by hon. Members opposite. I hope that at the end of the debate we shall show that we have no sympathy with the idea of confusing the already very complicated affairs of N.A.T.O. and Western Europe by supporting this Motion. I am very sorry that it was ever introduced.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I always respect the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Capt. Litchfield). When he speaks about throwing spanners, he should remember that the problem in this case—as is so often the fact with the affairs of this world—relates to the choice of spanners. It may be that we shall throw a spanner into our relations with Portugal. It may be that if we go on with this project we shall throw a great many spanners into our relations with all Africa. That is what concerns us in this debate.

The Secretary of State for War advanced a case which fell into two halves. There was the technical case for his Department and there was the political case. The right hon. Gentleman told us that an airlift exercise for only one brigade group of the Strategic Reserve took four months to prepare. Stocks had to be piled. Petrol had to be bulked. Plans had to be prepared. If that is so, it does not seem to be a very effective Strategic Reserve. May I suggest an alternative to the right hon. Gentleman? Would not it be better to have a different exercise—an exercise to show whether the Strategic Reserve could act as a Strategic Reserve in circumstances when plans had not been prepared four months ahead, but when a reason suddenly occurred for the use of a Strategic Reserve, because that is what such a reserve is for? Could we not see whether it would work in circumstances when all the things had not been dumped, because we did not know where we should be going? Would not that be a much more worthwhile exercise?

The right hon. Gentleman has said that the exercise had to take place at an ideal distance for an airlift. It is not necessary to travel from point A to point B. It would be possible to go from point A to point B and back again to point C. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted to see whether the troops could be carried for a certain distance by air, he could send them out into the Atlantic and back again to Scotland. What is wrong with that idea? My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) would be delighted to see British troops there for a change.

So much for this very futile argument about the technical aspect. I now turn to what I believe to be the essence of this debate, and that is the political aspect. On that for the moment I thought the Secretary of State for War was going to show an understanding of what it was really about, because he said, and said with great emphasis and indignation, "It is wicked to say that we were going to train Portuguese troops". Why is it wicked? Would it be wicked to say that we were going to train the troops of any other of our N.A.T.O. allies? Is it wicked to say that their troops are coming here to train?

Is it wicked for any reason other than that he knows and we know and Africa knows that these troops are being trained for a wicked purpose? Why else is it wicked? Why else do we have to say this? He also asked us to say why it had been so long before we raised our protest. This operation was planned in January, he told us. Why was there all this time before we raised our protest? I shall tell him. I shall tell him what has been happening in these months which has changed the circumstances.

I make no criticism of an original arrangement to do this exercise in Portugal—none whatever. What we complain of is the political injury which it will do to other causes—to the cause of the West, to the cause of N.A.T.O.—to identify ourselves with the Portuguese in the light of what has been happening in these months. That is what our complaint is; that is the whole of our complaint. Just see what those events are. It was on 15th March that the Wakongo and Kimbundo rose.

There was a massacre. Do not let us go for the false pretence that we only care when black men are massacred. It was a tragedy when 250 Portuguese and mulattoes were massacred in that rising even though, in view of the conditions of rule in that territory, it was not difficult to anticipate a rising must occur sooner or later. Then came the arming of the civilian population and the wholesale, unrestrained massacres reported largely and reliably estimated at certainly not less than 20,000 African people killed in that incident—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and learned Member appears to me to be transgressing exactly the rule we laid down for ourselves that we should not make this debate a discussion of physical happenings in Angola.

Mr. Paget

With very great respect, Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman posed us the question of what had happened in this period which has made the difference.

Mr. Profumo

I certainly did not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I did not. What I said was, why during the last three months since this operation was announced when Angola has been a subject of controversy, did not the Opposition choose time for such a debate? Why wait until tonight?

Mr. Paget

Now I shall say what has happened in those last three months. During those last three months, we are informed, and here I quote an authoritative Portuguese statement, that a plan of operations for this area has been made and is coming into operation now that the dry weather is coming and the grass is dry. During these three months it is reported that 17,000 troops, or approximately that number, have gone to Angola from Portugal. Those troops had these instructions from their Minister of Defence, and again I am quoting: You are not going to fight human beings but against savages and wild beasts. You are going to savannah country when the grass gets dry. I quote again from Colonel Medina of D.T.A., an authority in this area: When we get the troops he will seal the frontier and annihilate them. Again, Mr. Richard Beasley has reported a Portuguese spokesman as saying: We shall fire the grass and hunt them like game. I think a very dreadful thing is going to happen there if steps are not taken to prevent it. I do not say that this step will prevent it, but it might contribute to preventing it. A sufficiently tough attitude to Portuguese allies might prevent it. At least if we take this action we shall have done something which will prevent us being identified in African eyes with a horror which I believe is going to occur.

These are not the only things. Again, because I want to give the right hon. Gentleman plenty of time, I shall not go into this in any detail, but there have been two debates at the United Nations within the last three months. They have been debates in which Portugal has been roundly condemned, in which America has voted for that condemnation, in which nearly all our colleagues in the Commonwealth have voted for that condemnation, but in which we, for a reason which I find difficult to follow, have abstained. What effect does that have on the mind of Africa? Perhaps the most important issue in the whole world today is the mind of Africa and who the Africans trust.

Britain has served Africa well. I am convinced that where the flag of Britain has flown in Africa that has been a very unmixed blessing to the populations there. We deserve the faith of Africa. It will be tragic if we lose it. These are the sort of ways in which we shall lose it. That is the trouble.

I direct the attention of hon. Members to what I know are small incidents. There is the case of Captain Galvao—an eccentric gentleman perhaps, a lawless gentleman perhaps, but one whose flamboyant action has made him appear in Portugal, and even more in this area, as a voice of liberty. We have refused him a visa. It is quite a small thing.

Another incident has been the visit of H.M.S. "Leopard". We have since discovered who was on board. I should like to know why we were not told at the time. We raised the subject at Question Time. It was the principal topic in a censure debate. We were told what H.M.S. "Leopard" had reported having found in Angola, but we were not told that this was not merely the visit of a destroyer, but the visit of the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, that he was on board the whole time, and that it was not merely the captain's report we were being told about but the admiral's report. We were not told one word of this. This was concealed from us, both at Question Time and in the debate.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)

I was present when my hon. Friend the Civil Lord replied to that Question. He definitely said that the Commander-in-Chief was on the vessel.

Mr. Paget

He did not.

Mr. Godber

He said so in answer to that Question. The hon. Member will find it reported in HANSARD.

Mr. Paget

I was on the Front Bench at the time, and I should be astounded if that was said. I was never more surprised than when I read it. We will check that from HANSARD. If I am wrong, I shall not have the slightest hesitation in saying so, but it came as such a complete surprise to me that I do not believe that I am wrong. However, we will check it and if I am wrong I shall make an unqualified withdrawal.

There is something else apart from the visit of H.M.S. "Leopard". Again this is older than three months. What I am talking about here is the necessity to build up in Africa trust and confidence in this country. There was the Prime Minister's "wind of change" speech. Africans everywhere were encouraged by that. They felt that they had a friend. Then came Sharpeville and the right hon. Gentleman who had raised the storm did not ride the tempest. So that confidence has begun to fade.

Let us just think of the sort of circumstances with which we are being faced in Africa. In The Times yesterday there was the second of two extremely interesting articles on where Ghana will go. The last paragraph on that article reads: But the west and the Monrovia Powers"— Those are the moderate African leaderships who met in Monrovia: are being judged by Ghana, and there is one area which may decide the issue—Angola. It is perhaps the scene of the last great colonial struggle in Africa, the ultimate test of western good faith. Even if in the long run Portugal cannot win (a journalist who is excluded from the country finds it difficult to judge the chances), she can in her defeat discredit her allies as well as herself. If Portugal's allies in N.A.T.O. seem in any way to acquiesce in what is happening in Angola they will lose their carefully constructed standing in the whole of Africa. The Monrovia Powers will disintegrate, and Ghana will go her own lonely and stormy way. That is profoundly right, and, rightly or wrongly, in the eyes of Africa, by this action we do that very thing. After "Leopard", after the visit of the Foreign Secretary, after the Galvao case, if we send this brigade we inevitably identify ourselves with what has been happening there.

What, if that happens, is the situation in the new emergent nations; in Nigeria, the late French Colonies in this area, the Ivory Coast and places like that, whose representatives met at Casablanca—

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Some of us on this side have been estopped from attempting to speak in this debate in the knowledge that if we introduced the theme of what Britain might have to do by way of military exercise to subdue various forces in various parts of Africa for which we are responsible, we should be thoroughly out of order. We are now getting a speech from the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) which is introducing a theme that hitherto, I think I am right in saying, you have debarred from debate, and scoring a moral advantage over us on this side who have refrained from introducing those contrary themes to rebut him.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that is right. I think that it is the essential part of the argument here to say that, on one side or the other, should this infantry brigade go to Portugal, we shall, in the existing state of world opinion—I do not descend into the arena of whether it he right or wrong—he associated with policies of this kind. I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is within the bounds of order in saying, "Well, look at what seems to be African opinion about this; what seems to be a legitimate Times opinion about the degree of association which would result in activities of this kind." I do not think that he has trespassed from that, although I appreciate the noble Lord's point.

Mr. Paget

I am most grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, but I think that I should warn hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway that if they wish to take up further points of order with you it will come out of the Minister's time and not mine.

I have referred to the Casablanca Powers. This is the critical moment of Africa's decision. Will she, on the whole, align herself with what will be, not Western democracy but an African system, emerging free and independent, or will she go with the Communist world? The extent to which we are trusted is the issue which settles this question.

Let us look again at the other side of Africa, to Angola, where the situation could hardly be more critical. In the very difficult circumstances that exist, the Colonial Secretary has my utmost respect and admiration for what he has done there. We are trying to bring into being an African Government which can have confidence in us and which we can trust. Ronald Ngala is in a very difficult position. What on earth will happen to him?

Mr. Speaker

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman is outside the scope here. I am sure that he knows the line and will adhere to it.

Mr. Paget

With the greatest respect. Mr. Speaker—

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Disgraceful. Monstrous.

Mr. Paget

I profoundly respect your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I respectfully suggest that the issues I am trying to argue, and which seem the most important, are the political effects of this military exercise, however desirable it may be for training purposes, in a number of delicate circumstances.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

The hon. and learned Gentleman is playing the Commy game. He is stirring up trouble. He is bringing it about.

Mr. Speaker

I am at present being addressed on a point of order.

Mr. Paget

What I am seeking to do in my speech is simply to identify the particular circumstances, to point out their delicate nature and to point out how this is going to be interpreted, for in Angola there is a situation in which we have a Government—

Mr. Speaker

In raising his point of order, the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to me to be departing beyond the permissible limits. In order to make the situation plain to him and to the House, I can perhaps best illustrate it by saying that hon. Members may say, "If you send this brigade to Portugal you will be identified with certain Portuguese policies or events in Angola", as the case may be. Hon. Members cannot go beyond that and say that the result of that will be certain consequences in other parts of Africa.

Mr. G. Brown

On a separate point of order, Mr. Speaker. Hon. Members on this side of the House clearly heard the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) say, addressing my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), "The hon. and learned Member is playing the Commy game. He is stirring up trouble in Africa." My hon. and learned Friend is speaking in pursuance of a duty in the House. Is it in order for the noble Lord to throw that kind of accusation forward?

Mr. Speaker

Observations should be addressed to the Chair, and if it is suggested that I am playing the Commy game or the Fascist game or any other game, then it is a complete myth and an illusion. Do let us get on with it.

Mr. Paget

I think the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) underrates the propaganda capacity of the Communists and of the Egyptians. If he really thinks that I have to tell Africa about this joint exercise with Portugal, he is under a very great illusion. It is precisely because this provides such a propaganda opportunity that it is being seized and taken—and I can produce every kind of quotation to show how it is being used as a propaganda instrument throughout Africa, both now and before we raised it in the House. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Paget

With respect, Mr. Speaker—[Interruption.]—I had thought it in order to say why I thought that it was undesirable for this country to be identified with Portugal in this case, because it would affect other interests with which we are concerned. As far as Angola is concerned, I pointed that out. I will not go into detail, but I will abide by your Ruling.

There are other problems. For instance, there are great difficulties in Nyasaland. Negotiations are in progress there and there is the importance of our being trusted. The Colonial Secretary has done a great deal there. But this sort of thing puts an instrument into the hands of everybody who is working against it. In the Federation it is the same.

I will conclude by referring to one more matter. One thing which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War said was that the "wicked" Opposition were building fuels of fire. If the Government want a scapegoat for cancelling this operation our shoulders are broad enough to carry it.

9.41 p.m.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) for finishing at about the time he said he would. I quite agree that he was much delayed, though perhaps some of us might say that it was his own fault. Anyway, I am grateful.

As I expected, this debate has certainly had as its background, so far as Opposition speakers are concerned, the broad issues of colonial policy rather than the actual decision that the Government have taken to send a formation of British troops to carry out a training exercise in Portugal. I do not object to that. This must rightly be seen against that colonial background, and that is why I do not object at all.

Therefore, let me start by making the position of the Government perfectly plain. It is already perfectly plain. It has been made so in the United Nations and in this House time after time, and it has been very much misrepresented by almost every Opposition speaker in this debate this evening. The position of the Government is this. We do not agree with Portugal's policy in Africa, This exercise does not in any degree imply that we do agree. We have not condoned what is happening in Africa, and when we spoke in the United Nations we took the same line as my right hon. and hon. Friends have taken in this House. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made his position and that of the Government perfectly plain in Lisbon. Therefore, I am perfectly entitled to say that this exercise has no political connotations.

It is the Opposition, not the Government, who have tried to transform a perfectly normal piece of military co-operation between close allies into some kind of diplomatic incident, and, despite the explanation of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, the proof of this lies in the fact that this exercise has been announced and clearly known in the country and in this House for over three months. When it was first announced, the question of Portuguese territories was already being raised by the Opposition in this House. Since then they have had many opportunities and Supply Days to raise this matter. They have not done so until now. I am forced to the conclusion—and I regret this—that they have picked this particular moment because they believe it to be the best time to make the maximum amount of trouble between Great Britain and her oldest ally.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War has clearly set out the reasons which made us decide on Portugal as the best available place in which this exercise could be held, and has shown quite clearly why it is now impossible either to postpone it or shift its venue. In other words, all we can now do, as I told the right hon. Gentleman, is to cancel this exercise or continue with it.

Let us examine for a moment the effect of cancellation. The Opposition spent a good deal of time yesterday in questioning me on why we could not increase the conventional capacity of our forces. I cannot think of a better way of increasing their conventional capacity than by this kind of exercise. As my right hon. Friend clearly explained, to cancel it now would be to deprive a vital element of the Strategic Reserve of training and experience.

It has been said that this whole argument which my right hon. Friend advanced is vitiated by his perfectly true statement that it took four months to write up and mount this exercise. As anyone who knows about these matters will accept, that is a perfectly normal time to take when one is trying to do an exercise in peace time, when one has to invent a situation, write it up and fit it into current Service requirements. We have not, of course, stopped our trooping and all the rest of the things we have to do because we are mounting this particular exercise. Since the Opposition have tried to draw the conclusion, quite falsely, from what my right hon. Friend said, that the Strategic Reserve is not as mobile as it should be, I can only repeat what I said in the defence debate, that important elements of the Strategic Reserve remain on 24 hours' notice to go anywhere they are required, by air, if need be.

I think it is clear, therefore—to be fair, no Opposition speaker has really challenged it—that this kind of operation is essential to the efficiency of our Forces and that, if we continue with it, we shall gain most valuable experience and improve the deterrent strength of the free world as a result. This, therefore, is not an argument on military grounds. It is not an argument about whether it is possible, reasonable or practical for us either to postpone the exercise or send it somewhere else. We could only have cancelled it.

I come now to what is, I think, the nub of the argument. Should we have the exercise at all? I find a frightening streak of inconsistency in the approach of the Opposition to this kind of problem. They seem to see no harm in damaging a N.A.T.O. ally to advance their ideas of the moment on Africa or anywhere else.

I take a view about our N.A.T.O. Alliance quite different from that of Opposition Members who have spoken. If we accept the demand that they have made land accept their doctrine—my hon. Friends the Members for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) and Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) made this point very well, and I entirely agree with them—we say that we are prepared to treat different members of the N.A.T.O. alliance in different ways because we may not agree with certain elements of their policies. If this were the doctrine, we could not complain if we were treated in the same way. Who will escape if we start that kind of universal witch-hunt in the N.A.T.O. alliance? I must say as firmly as I can that the Opposition bear a very grave responsibility for their attack on a member of the N.A.T.O. alliance at a time when the cohesion and undivided purpose of the alliance is more necessary than ever.

Mr. G. Brown

Since the Minister sees fit to make that allegation against us, will he admit and accept that he and his Government bear a grave responsibility for their attack on Africa in return for Portugal?

Mr. Watkinson

That is not relevant. I shall come to that argument in a few minutes.

Mr. Driberg

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Watkinson

No, I will not.

Mr. Driberg

Why not?

Mr. Watkinson

Bearing in mind what the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said in his speech—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Driberg

The Minister should give way occasionally.

Mr. Watkinson

I have dealt with the N.A.T.O. aspects of the case.

Mr. Driberg


Mr. Watkinson

I turn now to consider the matter on a bilateral basis. I suggest that hon. Members in all parts of the House, particularly those who wish to see a change in the policy of our ally, should address themselves to this question: are we more likely to bring Portugal to our way of thinking by treating her as a friend and ally, as she has been for several hundred years, or by the bitterly critical and negative approach of the Opposition? This is a closely relevant matter if we are to deal with politics in this debate.

I now turn to the question of Africa and the effect that this exercise might have in Africa. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton was perfectly right to raise this point. This presumably is the sole basis on which the Opposition have moved the Motion. They agree apparently that this type of exercise is necessary. It has been shown perfectly plainly that it could not be cancelled or transferred elsewhere—

Mr. G. Brown

Of course it could.

Mr. Watkinson

The right hon. Gentleman is very good at not seeing arguments when they do not suit his case.

I turn to the effect that this exercise might have in Africa. I repeat that what has been said in the House this evening, however sincerely—I am sure that it has been said utterly sincerely—is the kind of statement that is calculated to inflame uninformed feeling and so completely to distort the truth. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) dealt with Russian broadcasts from Moscow Radio beamed at Africa about the effect of this exercise. I am sure that he does not believe them, but much of what he has said could lead other people to think that he believes them.

Mr. Brown

That is the cheapest thing the right hon. Gentleman can say.

Mr. Watkinson

We need not fear to be judged on our own actions and policies in Africa. No nation has more painstakingly devoted itself to raising the standards of the African people than the British. I agree with every word that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said on this. We have every right to be proud of what we have done and no one has brought more colonial peoples forward to full independence and sovereignty in Africa than we have.

If we consider the situation today, our airlift operations in support of the United Nations are showing quite clearly in Africa the work that our Armed Forces are doing in support of rescue operations and pacification operations, and this is the basis on which we have every right to stand. I therefore do not take the view that this exercise in Portugal will damage our cause in Africa. If the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that I have misinterpreted his point about the Communists—I know that he is as anti-Communist as I am—I wish to make it plain that I make no imputation of that sort.

Let me explain again because it is very important. What I said was this. Hon. Members speak with sincerity, but in Africa much of what they say—we must face this issue—can appear to support the cause of those who bitterly criticise what Britain has done in Africa. This is a perfectly honest and fair thing for me to say as my opinion of what effect this debate may have in Africa, in just the same way as members of the Opposition have tried to impute to us actions which they say will cause the greatest damage to the cause of those who want Africa to be free, sovereign and independent, as Britain does and always has done.

I therefore hope that I have made it quite plain that our position is clear, honest and moral and that it is plain to all informed opinion in Africa and elsewhere that what we are doing in Portugal in mounting this exercise is, as I said at the beginning, a normal piece of military co-operation between two allies in N.A.T.O. It was notified to N.A.T.O. and is taking place between forces which are either committed to N.A.T.O. or are to be so in any emergency.

I cannot accept that, on that basis, what we are doing is anything but what we should be doing to fulfil our normal job of trying to keep the peace in the world and our forces at a high state of readiness. Therefore, the whole objective of the Opposition tonight, in my view—again, I regret to have to say this—must be seen from these benches as being an attempt to stir up as much trouble and dissension as it can between Great Britain and one of her N.AT.O. allies.

I want it to be plain, without any shadow of doubt, that our relations with Portugal are the relations that we should have with a N.AT.O. ally. We have always made it plain, and I make it plain again now, that this does not imply that we agree in any sense with the colonial policy of the Portuguese. [Interruption.] This does not, and should not, affect our relations with them as a N.A.T.O. ally. If we accept this kind of policy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor asked, where will it stop? What other nations will be involved? The whole of the N.AT.O. Alliance would be damaged beyond repair.

The Opposition case is irrelevant, misleading and calculated to do nothing but harm to the allied cause, and I ask my hon. Friends to reject it.

Mr. Driberg

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, since he refused in a very cowardly way to give way—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I require the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the adverb.

Mr. Driberg

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw that word at once and I apologise to you. I would say instead that in a way that is very uncustomary in the House of Commons, the Minister refused to give way to interruptions. When he says that we are trying to harm a N.A.T.O. ally and when he asks where this process will stop, may I ask what other N.A.T.O. ally has just been massacring 20,000 Africans? Does he not think that that harms us and harms that N.A.T.O. ally itself?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not think that the hon. Member was in the House and heard—

Mr. Driberg

I have listened to the whole debate.

Mr. Watkinson

Then the hon. Member should have paid a little more attention to the speech of my hon. Friend the

Member for Windsor. The reason why I have not given way more than a little is because the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said that he would deduct from my time any interruptions tha were made from my side of the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 115, Noes 194.

Division No. 204.] AYES [9.59 p.m.
Ainsley, William Hilton, A. V. Parker, John
Albu, Austen Holman, Percy Parkin, B. T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Houghton, Douglas Pavitt, Laurence
Bacon, Miss Alice Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Peart, Frederick
Baird, John Hunter, A. E. Prentice, R. E.
Blyton, William Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Brockway, A. Fenner Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Kelley, Richard Rogers, C. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, O.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Ross, William
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Lawson, George Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Darling, George Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Skeffington, Arthur
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Deer, George Lipton, Marcus Small, William
Delargy, Hugh MacColl, James Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Dodds, Norman McInnes, James Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Donnelly, Desmond McKay, John (Wallsend) Stonehouse, John
Driberg, Tom McLeavy, Frank Stones, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Stroes, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Swingler, Stephen
Evans, Albert Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Symonds, J. B.
Fernhough, E. Manuel, A. C. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Fitch, Alan Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Marsh, Richard Tomney, Frank
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mason, Roy Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Mayhew, Christopher Wade, Donald
Ginsburg, David Mendelson, J. J. Wainwright, Edwin
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Millan, Bruce Warbey, William
Greenwood, Anthony Milne, Edward J. Weitzman, David
Griffiths, David (Rorher Valley) Mitchison, G. R. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Monslow, Walter Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Moody, A. S. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Willis, E. C. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Oram, A. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hannan, William Owen, Will Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Paget, R. T.
Hayman, F. H. Pannell Charles (Leeds, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Mr. Redhead and Mr. Cronin.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Currie, C. B. H.
Aitken, W. T. Burden, F. A. Dance, James
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Deedes, W. F.
Allason, James Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Doughty, Charles
Arbuthnot, John Carr, Compton (Barons Court) du Cann, Edward
Atkins, Humphrey Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Eden, John
Barber, Anthony Cary, Sir Robert Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Batsford, Brian Channon, H. P. G. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn
Bell, Ronald Chataway, Christopher Errington, Sir Eric
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Fisher, Nigel
Berkeley, Humphry Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Cole, Norman Foster, John
Bidgood, John C. Cooper, A. E. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Gammans, Lady
Bishop, F. P. Cordle, John Gardner, Edward
Boume-Arton, A. Corfield, F. V. Gibson-Watt, David
Box, Donald Costain, A. P. Glover, Sir Douglas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Coulson, J. M. Goodhart, Philip
Boyle, Sir Edward Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Goodhew, Victor
Brewle, John Craddock, Sir Beresford Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Green, Alan
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Crowder, F. P. Grimston, Sir Robert
Bryan, Paul Cunningham, Knox Hall, John (Wycombe)
Buck, Antony Curran, Charles Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Harris, Reader (Heston) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Sandys. Rt. Hon. Duncan
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) McMaster, Stanley R. Scott-Hopkins, James
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Shaw, M.
Harvie Anderson, Miss Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Shepherd, William
Hastings, Stephen Maddan, Martin Skeet, T. H. H.
Hay, John Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Marshall, Douglas Smithers, Peter
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Studholme, Sir Henry
Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Mawby, Ray Sumner, Donald (Orpington)
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Tapsell, Peter
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mills, Stratton Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hirst, Geoffrey More, Jasper (Ludlow) Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Hobson, John Nabarro, Gerald Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Hollingworth, John Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Temple, John M.
Hopkins, Alan Noble, Michael Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Hornby, R. P. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thomeycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Osborn, John (Hallam) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Hughes-Young, Michael Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Turner, Colin
Hulbert, Sir Norman Page, John (Harrow, West) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, Graham (Crosby) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Iremonger, T. L. Pannell Norman (Kirkdale) Vickers, Miss Joan
Jackson, John Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
James, David Peel, John Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Percival, Ian Walder, David
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Walker, Peter
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Pitman, Sir James Wall, Patrick
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Ward, Dame Irene
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Prior, J. M. L. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Joseph, Sir Keith Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Whitelaw, William
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Leavey, J. A. Pym, Francis Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Leburn, Gilmour Rawlinson, Peter Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Wise, A. R.
Lindsay, Martin Rees, Hugh Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Linstead, Sir Hugh Renton, David Woodhouse, C. M.
Litchfield, Capt. John Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Woodnutt, Mark
Longbottom, Charles Ridsdale, Julian Woollam, John
Longden, Gilbert Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Worsley, Marcus
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Robson Brown, Sir William TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Roots, William Mr. Finlay and
McAdden, Stephen Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Mr. Chicbester-Clark.