HC Deb 01 August 1962 vol 664 cc553-4
1. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of Defence what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the control of the British nuclear deterrent and its rôle within the Western alliance.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies I gave to my hon. Friends the Members for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) and Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) on 25th July.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us are glad that he is as resolved as his predecessor to keep an independent deterrent on our side of the Atlantic? Will he ensure that everything possible is done to make even more widely known the terrible effectiveness of the V-bomber force and its necessity to British independence and international peace?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that it should be widely known that the V-bomber force in this country, of which we are deeply proud, plays a great rôle in preserving world peace.

Mr. Wade

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain what British nuclear deterrent is left over which Britain has independent control? Arising out of that, is it true, as reported in the Press, that Blue Water is to be abandoned?

Mr. Thorneycroft

On the question of the nuclear deterrent, the V-bomber force is a force over which we have complete control. I do not think one need go further than that.

Mr. Eden

Will my right hon. Friend take every opportunity to stress the technical efficiency of the V-bombec force? Does he agree that in relation to the total defence budget and also with regard to other less important items on which this country spends large sums of money this deterrent is secured at an extremely reasonable price indeed and gives very good value for money?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Perhaps it is sufficient to say that we have got the V-bomber force and we intend to keep it.

Mr. Mulley

While not questioning at all the technical efficiency of the force, because I think that it is technically very efficient, may I ask if the Minister's answers imply that the British Government are not participating in the N.A.T.O. discussions following the Athens Conference to work out a form of joint control within the Alliance?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is a strategic deterrent, not a tactical one.