Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [5th March]:
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1962, contained in Command Paper No. 1639.
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
has no confidence that the policy as set out in the Statement on Defence, 1962 (Command Paper No. 1639), will provide effectively for the defence of Britain."—[Mr. Gordon Walker.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I am indebted to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey), who sat down at 9.58 p.m. last night, and so enabled me to make a prologue to the speech I propose to make now.
In the two minutes at my disposal last night I pointed out that nobody on either Front Bench had drawn attention to the question of civil defence. I propose to return to this subject after I have dealt with the situation outlined in the White Paper and some of the points in the Amendments in the names of my hon. Friends and myself. The first one is an Amendment to the official Opposition Amendment, and is in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). It is at the end to add:and, furthermore, condemns the failure of Her Majesty's Government in the statement to call upon all the powers concerned to refrain from any further nuclear tests".The other one, an Amendment to the Government's Motion, is also in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, and is to leave out from "House" to the end and to add:declines to approve a defence policy which leaves this country more defenceless than at any time in its history and more vulnerable, in the event of nuclear war, than any other nation in the world, which surrenders all effective control over decisions affecting major military policy to the United States Government, and which contains no statement calling on all the powers concerned to refrain from any further nuclear tests and no fresh imaginative proposals for checking the international arms race".211 This debate has been clouded by, and must be viewed against the background of, the Prime Minister's statement yesterday on nuclear tests. Some of us want to challenge this policy, and an opportunity to vote on a Motion which seeks approval for the Prime Minister's statement. We believe that the proposal to restart nuclear tests has greatly stirred people in this country and throughout the world. We would be glad of an opportunity to vote against the principles contained in the Prime Minister's statement, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us an opportunity of doing so by putting down a Motion asking the House to approve what he has done.
The Prime Minister will no doubt say that if such a Motion were tabled he would defend himself. There is a censure Amendment on the Order Paper, but I understand that if the procedure that has been followed on previous occasions is carried out now, unless the official Opposition put down a Motion of censure on the Government, the Amendment to which I have referred cannot be discussed. I therefore appeal to the Leader of the House, as the guardian of our democratic liberties, to give the representatives of the people in this country an opportunity to vote and say whether they want a resumption of nuclear tests.
I know what happened about the Polaris submarine. The Polaris agreement was never sanctioned by a direct vote in the House. The House was sidetracked, and I think that on this issue, whether it is convenient to the Opposition Front Bench or not, every Member of the House is entitled to go into the Lobby or abstain according to his beliefs.
My hon. Friends and I protest against all tests. We protest definitely, unequivocally, and completely, and we dissociate ourselves from the approval which the Leader of the Opposition has given to the Government's proposals. We believe that our view is shared by a wide body of public opinion in this country. Many people cannot see the logic of this House getting righteously indignant in October about the Russian tests, and now giving approval to tests being carried out by the West. This 212 view is shared by a considerable number of people who are deeply disturbed to see the Leader of the Labour Party associating the Labour Party with approval for the tests and the agreement for the use of Christmas Island.
I go further. This opinion is shared throughout the world. We have had protests from New Zealand, which have been muffled in this country. I protested a week ago about opinion in New Zealand not having been taken into account in deciding to carry out these tests, and I was surprised to receive letters by air from New Zealand saying that I was expressing a view held in that country. Apart from opinion in the United States and this country, world opinion wants to see all tests stopped definitely and completely.
I am very glad to see that this opinion has also been expressed in the United States. There has been a sit-down protest in Broadway. I was glad to see that. Mr. Alistair Cooke, who writes a very well-informed column from the United States, has pointed out that, although the American Press approves of President Kennedy's attitude, underneath there is a deeply disturbed public opinion which has expressed itself in unorthodox ways, just as similar opinion is expressing itself in this country.
I am sure that this is a new problem for Mr. Kennedy. Indeed, he may already have been in touch with the Prime Minister about it. He may have asked the right hon. Gentleman, "What is happening? How am I to deal with these sit-down protests which have begun in Broadway?" The Prime Minister may reply, "If you are in difficulties we will send you the Attorney-General." The American Department of Justice would say to that, "God forbid. Do not do that." Yet the Attorney-General may be sent to America to follow the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in being interviewed by Mr. Kennedy and given his advice.
We all ought to treat President Kennedy with the respect that he deserves as leader of a great and powerful nation, but during the last few weeks there has grown up, it appears, a new doctrine in this country—the doctrine of the infallibility of Mr. Kennedy. We are asked by the Prime Minister to say 213 that, because Mr. Kennedy has told us that these tests are necessary, we should accept his statement and take it for granted. The Leader of the Opposition seems to have taken the same kind of attitude. We are asked to accept, without a great deal of discussion, Mr. Kennedy's theory that these tests are absolutely needed on the ground of military necessity. We are asked to accept that as the policy of this country.
I do not agree with that. I do not agree with Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Mc-Namara, and I do not see why the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should be regarded merely as players of the flute in McNamara's band. That is the danger that faces us. We have heard before the doctrine "My country, right or wrong." I think that the last time I saw it enunciated was above the gates of Buchenwald concentration camp. Some people say, "My party, right or wrong." Now we have the new version—"My Kennedy, right or wrong."
Although we pay respect to the President of the United States, we think that on this issue he has taken a wrong decision, and that it is one that our people should not accept. Of course, we are all very glad to know that Mr. Khrushchev is going to Geneva. To some extent, that announcement has lifted a little of the gloom and has eased the tension. We hope that the Foreign Secretaries' meeting will be successful and will lead to a successful Summit conference. But the Foreign Secretaries' meeting will have to deal with something more than tests, because, inevitably and undoubtedly, Mr. Khrushchev or Mr. Gromyko will, sooner or later, turn to the big, broad question of disarmament.
We will be asked once again, "What about total disarmament?" Total disarmament is a policy which was approved by the Government as far back as 1958, when the then Minister of Defence said that he was in favour of total disarmament and that partial disarmament was no cure for the international situation. Some of us agree with that. We believe that there is a possibility of the Geneva conference being successful if this country says, "Yes. We are prepared 214 seriously to consider the question of total disarmament."
The Prime Minister has made one or two essays in unilateral negotiation. He went to the Soviet Union and, before he left, made a broadcast to our people. It was not instigated by Russian diplomacy. It was his first broadcast to the people after he had become Prime Minister, and he said that we should begin by proposing to the Russians a solemn non-aggression pact.
When he arrived in Moscow the first thing that Mr. Khrushchev said to him was, "You have declared that you are in favour of a non-aggression pact. We are prepared to sign one," But then the Prime Minister began running away. I believe that he did not want to run away, but he had to consult Dr. Adenauer and President de Gaulle and Washington, and the end of it all was that we got nowhere. If the Prime Minister will not take a bolder initiative and be prepared to go his own way and pronounce a policy of his own in line with that broadcast, I am afraid that there is a very doubtful prospect for the Geneva conference.
I have memories of Geneva going back many years. I remember being there in the early years of the League of Nations, when it was discussing disarmament. At that time, Dr. Strese-mann represented Germany, for Hitler had not come to power. The Russians were not represented, for they joined a year later. The League began talking about disarmament but it was sidetracked. Lord Londonderry, on behalf of the British Government, opposed the abolition of the bomber. The result was that that disarmament conference ended in complete breakdown, largely as a result of the lack of imagination and initiative by the British Government.
I do not want to see that happen again. I dare say that we might come into conflict some time with United States policy, but we must be prepared for that. What is the policy of the United States on this issue? I am quite prepared to agree that Mr. Kennedy is a humane, well-intentioned man, but there is a lobby in Washington.
There are powerful forces in Washington that do not want disarmament because it would mean less profits out of 215 armaments. Wall Street might not like any disarmament proposals. If anyone wishes to confirm that statement, let him read the four-page article by Professor Blackett, in last week's New Statesman, which stated that President Eisenhower, and now President Kennedy, have been subjected to mass pressure by the big armament firms which do not want disarmament because it will mean less profits and dividends for their companies. Such a large part of America's economy now is based on defence that we see this as a very formidable barrier against any disarmament agreement.
We have to face that proposition. We have at one stage or another either to say that this country is not prepared just to follow behind the policy dictated by the Pentagon or Wall Street, or that we are to be a party to a conference ending in deadlock. So, while we wish the Foreign Secretary every success, we say that it will mean a more imaginative, a more determined initiative towards getting disarmament if the Geneva conference is not to end in deadlock after all.
There have been depressing moments at Geneva; there have also been moments of hope. I remember the first Summit Conference, in 1955, when Sir Anthony Eden was Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary. They went to Geneva because of the trouble in South-East Asia. I remember talking to an international photographer after the first meeting and asking, "What are the prospects of success?" He said, "I cannot possibly see any success coming out of a conference where so many people obviously hated each other so much".
But if it was not a complete success, it was a partial success, in which, I believe, this country played an enlightened rôle. So I ask that the Government should go to the Geneva conference not merely to echo and be a pale shadow of the United States, but to speak out for a policy of disarmament which could ease the present tension and bring hope to the world.
Yesterday, we had a very interesting debate in which the Opposition declared against the independent nuclear deterrent. I think that it is a very good thing that the Opposition have taken up this 216 attitude. The Opposition now say, "We do not want an H-bomb of our own." That is progress. I remember when the Leader of the Opposition stood up and defended the independent nuclear deterrent. I am very glad that he has changed his mind. The reason that he changed his mind about the independent nuclear deterrent, however much it might be justified strategically or politically, was that we could not afford it.
When we look now at this big burden of expenditure and the burden of increased Army and Air Force Estimates, we ought to ask ourselves, "Can we afford it?" Yesterday's debate showed very clearly that there were doubts not only in the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House, but also on the other side—the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), for instance. I therefore say that we should be looking very carefully at the policy behind this White Paper and examining meticulously the expenditure that is involved in it. I do not intend to trespass on the ground likely to be covered by the Service debates. I make the one suggestion that now we have the National Economic Development Council it should not turn its attention just to industries but it should also turn its attention to the Armed Forces and the whole of the economy which is involved in arms expenditure.
I listened to a very interesting speech by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) last night. He is always full of interesting and novel, rather unorthodox, ideas. He asked some very interesting questions. I look forward to the time when he will be on the other side of the House, probably as Secretary as State for War, or Minister of Defence, and to seeing how far those novel ideas become Government policy.
In discussing the Navy Estimates last year, the hon. and learned Member made one observation which seemed to sum up the case against huge expenditure on the Navy. He examined the rôle of the Navy in the nuclear age, and asked, "What should we tell the Navy in the event of a nuclear war?" His reply was, "We should tell the Navy, in the event of a nuclear war, that this country would not be safe for it. Our signal to the Navy should be 'Get to hell out of here'" 217 Are we to spend £500 million or £600 million for something that is to be sent away from the country and protect nobody?
§ Mr. Hughes
The Navy was supposed to defend the people of this country. When he said that the message should be "Get to hell out of here", I thought that he was talking about the Russian Navy, but it was the British Navy. From the Opposition Front Bench we have a statement which implies that there is an enormous expenditure on the Navy, which cannot be justified in the nuclear age.
The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churdhill) had some criticism to make of the Navy in his time. I remember when he attacked the Labour Government and said that the duty of the Opposition was to probe, to cleanse and to scrutinise vast expenditure. He was right. I hope that as a result of these debates there will be close scrutiny, as far as possible, of the Estimates, which are being considerably increased this year.
I want to trespass on the patience of the House a little further to talk about civil defence. Civil defence is mentioned in several paragraphs of the White Paper. I look along the battery of Ministers, and I ask myself: who is responsible for civil defence? There is not one. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force are represented on the Front Bench by able Ministers, but nobody is there to deal with defending the civil population.
§ Mr. Hughes
A Minister of that Department is here today, but he was not here yesterday. I hope that he will speak in the debate. Not long ago we asked the Leader of the House for a day on which to discuss civil defence. He said that we could discuss it on the Estimates, but nobody started such a discussion until near the end of the day.
We are being asked to remove a large part of the population, and we are discussing the dispersal of the civil population in the event of nuclear war—and this topic should dominate the debate. 218 I hope that we shall hear more about this schemefor dispersing mothers and children and other people in priority classes from major centres of population".What is meant by that? Do we intend to try to disperse from London a large section of the population? Where shall we disperse them to? There is an interesting article in The Guardian today, entitled "Bigger Bombs and Bigger". In it, we are told that a 10-megaton bomb on London couldburn everything within a radius of twenty miles; one such bomb can burn up almost the whole of the L.C.C. area alone".If that is so, surely we are entitled to ask the Government to tell us a little more about their dispersal policy. To where shall be disperse these priority classes of women and children from London? Shall we send them to East Anglia, where the bomber bases are? We are at least entitled to have some rational explanation of what this dispersal policy means so that we may know what the Government's policy means.
Mr. Kennedy has a policy. If the Government are prepared to listen to him on the question of tests, will not they listen to him a little on the question of civil defence? In his address to Congress Mr. Kennedy outlined a big scheme of civil defence. I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether we have anything akin to it. In his speech to Congress, Mr. Kennedy said:Tomorrow I am requesting Congress for new funds for the following immediate objectives: to identify and mark space in existing structures, public and private, that could be used for all-out shelters in case of attack and to stock these shelters with food, water, first-aid kits, tools, sanitation facilities and other minimum essentials for survival.Have we any of the minimum essentials for survival? We have not had a debate on this question for five years. Not only should we be pressing the Minister on the subject, but we should have a whole day in the House to discuss all the implications of a civil defence plan. I shall not cease in my attempts to persuade the Government until we are given a complete statement which will reassure the civil population that we are not merely discussing questions of abstract strategy in nuclear deterrents and conventional weapons and all the other things which periodically arise in the debate.
219 The women, the children and the other priority classes are entitled to know more about these evacuation schemes. To where are they to be evacuated? What is to happen to them when they get back? How will they get there, how will they get back, and to what will they come back? In Scotland, we have a problem [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The Secretary of State for Scotland is not present today. Hon. Members may suggest that everyone can be evacuated to Scotland, but let it not be forgotten that Holy Loch is in Scotland.
As a Member for a west of Scotland constituency I am entitled to know the arrangements which are being made for the dispersal of the civil population of Glasgow. During a debate on a Private Member's Motion on a Friday afternoon the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) made an interesting speech in which he said that if one of these big bombs were dropped on Glasgow it would burn everything within a radius of a hundred miles. That includes nearly all the industrial population of Scotland; it includes Carlisle and Edinburgh. Millions of people are in that area. We are entitled to ask the Government what are their plans for dispersing the population and where the population is to go.
Those with some knowledge of the geography of Scotland may suggest that they go to the Highlands, but there are no houses in the Highlands I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) thinks that he could take many in Orkney and Shetland. There is the question of transport. These questions should be urgently considered. The House is entitled to the fullest possible information to add to what is given in the White Paper.
According to the Guardian of 20th October, 1961, civil defence in Britain is officially described as "Planning for Survival". Who would survive? It adds:Where and after what size of attack is not specified".There then follows a very interesting article dealing with the problem of dispersing and evacuating the civil population.
220 The United States has a policy of a kind and has taken evidence on the subject. The Holifield Committee in America conducted an inquiry in Washington in June, 1959. The Committee considered the likely effects of an attack on the United States of 1,446 megatons in one day, consisting of 263 weapons—bombs or missiles—on 224 targets, military and civil. This attack was described by General Gavin aswell within the capabilities of a potential aggressor".The megaton explosions over the Arctic have taken place since then, and they mean that the menace to humanity has been considerably increased.
Consideration was given to the possibility of a nuclear attack on New York. In evidence before this committee, it was stated that New York City's share of this attack was estimated to be two 10-megaton weapons. The population of the area was over 12 million, and the estimate of the casualties by the official Civil Defence Office was 3,464,000 killed in the first day, 2,634,000 dying within two months, 2,278,000 surviving injured, but irradiated, many to degrees which would be regarded as damaging in peacetime.
We are told that the casualty figures for the whole of the United States, after reassessment to allow for "serious errors" in calculating the decay rates of fall-out, were 20 million dead, 27 million fatally injured and 19 million surviving injured. We were told that attention was given to some of the huge problems which would confront the survivors. For instance, much pasture would be unusable for fifty to a hundred years, and there would be plagues of insects, because insects survive radiation better than do birds.
Deciduous forests would be wiped out from Maine to Virginia and half the country's houses would be uninhabitable. It was pointed out that by 1965 the likely scale of an attack would be up to 20,000 megatons which, according to Dr. Herman Kahn, of Oxford, in his book on thermo-nuclear war, would kill 160 million Americans if they were not protected by shelter, evacuation or both.
If this is the prospect for the United States of America in the event of our blundering into nuclear war—and America certainly knows some of the 221 facts—are not we entitled to know something about the plans and possibilities? Are not we entitled to a balance sheet showing the effects of nuclear war on this country, before deciding upon our foreign policy? We cannot decide unless we have a statement which can be debated in the House by hon. Members representing all parts of the country. Only then can we judge whether it will be worth while to spend these enormous sums of money on preparations for nuclear war. All that we get at the moment are a few odds and ends and scraps of information from occasional White Papers.
In 1955, we were told that it would be a struggle for survival of the grimmest kind. The Guardian informed us that the designated burial officer for the City of London had been officially told that since the introduction of the hydrogen bomb the whole question of the burial of the dead has had to be reconsidered, but that up to the present nothing satisfactory had been formulated. We are entitled to have far more information about the effect of a nuclear war on our people. We are as entitled to that as we are to answers in respect of conventional weapons, nuclear deterrents and all the other abstract ideas that are circulating in this debate.
If I have done nothing else, I have at least pinpointed the question of civil defence, and I have shown that an answer is necessary from somebody.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
It was inevitable that this debate should be more than merely an annual defence debate, and should become an inquest on the five-year plan set out by the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—when he was Minister of Defence—in the 1957 White Paper, which embodied the so-called "Sandys doctrine". The five years are up this year, and it is clear that the grand conception contained in that White Paper has failed.
Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) reminded us of the background to the preparation of that plan in April, 1957. It was a defence policy based upon a single and—it was hoped—cheap British nuclear deterrent. We were to have our own H-bombs, with our own means of delivery. 222 It was flatly said at the time by the right hon. Gentleman that bombers were on their way out. Because of the time factor the supersonic bomber was scrapped. It was out, and Blue Streak was in.
We all know what happened after that. Blue Streak was scrapped, and from that moment Britain's independent nuclear deterrent was dead. Yet, in paragraph 13 of this year's White Paper, the Minister says:… our contribution to the Western strategic deterrent remains significant. It is by itself enough to make a potential aggressor fear that our retaliation would inflict destruction beyond any level which he would be prepared to tolerate.I draw attention to the words "by itself enough"—'the Minister's own words. This is a pathetic exercise in self-deception.
All we have, five years after the inception of the Sandys doctrine, is a bomber force consisting of Vulcans, Valiants and Victors, with their free-falling bombs, capable of delivery only over the target. We are here talking always of second-strike action; I hope that that will not be in question. Paragraph 13 refers to retaliation, and not to first-strike action.
The first problem is the vulnerability of the aircraft on the ground. The Americans seek to meet this problem by keeping a proportion of their aircraft constantly in the air, but this means an enormous reservoir of aircraft and, because of metal fatigue, a short life for them. We simply have not got aircraft in sufficient numbers to meet the problem in that way, and even the Americans doubt whether they can keep up the strain on their resources required by this constant flying of aircraft. Our aircraft have to be on the ground.
What warning does the right hon. Gentleman expect in these second-strike circumstances? How many minutes does he expect to be allowed in order to get the aircraft off the ground? Does not he expect that the bomber bases will be the first targets? Let us assume that that problem is in some way solved, and consider the question of the bombers in the act of delivery. As I have said, they are equipped with free-falling bombs. They must fly over the target. It is no reflection upon the heroism and skill of our 223 airmen, or the skill of our aircraft designers, to say that the Government are setting them an impossible task. Even ignoring the thousands of Soviet fighters, of which the Government are aware, do they seriously believe that the Soviet Union has not perfected anti-aircraft rockets of deadly accuracy and destructive power?
I cannot understand the Government's argument. In 1957, they expected that bombers would not be viable by the mid-1960s, so they decided not to build the supersonic bomber. On the other hand, they said that the ballistic rocket would be available. In fact, Soviet technology has developed so fast that the ballistic rocket that they sought to make was out of date before it reached the launching pad. Yet they say that Soviet technology has failed to develop equally in the field of anti-bomber defence, and that the bombers are still viable and credible. To make this an intelligent assumption we have further to assume that while Soviet technology has gone very quickly forward in anti-rocket defence it has gone backwards in anti-bomber defence.
I do not believe that the Russians have perfected an anti-missile-missile system—nor do the Government. But the Prime Minister obviously considers that the Russians are well on the way to doing so. His statement on the plan for nuclear tests made that plain. If the Soviet Union is well advanced in its ability to shoot down a missile coming in from space at 17,000 m.p.h., do the Government seriously suggest that it has no means of destroying a bomber flying on a more a less level trajectory, only a few miles up, at 600 m.p.h.—one-thirtieth the speed of the missile? It takes a bit of believing.
The Government cannot have it both ways. Either the Soviet Union has not made great strides in anti-missile technology, in which case the Prime Minister's statement about the Christmas Island tests must be reconsidered, or the Prime Minister is right—as most people believe him to be—in which case the claim that in 1962 our V-bombers provide a viable, credible deterrent will not stand up. 224 We are told that in due course we shall have Blue Steed and Skybolt. We have seen these weapons before. [HON. MEMBERS: "We have not."] We have seen attempts to produce them. Blue Steel Mark II has been cancelled already. What about Skybolt? There we have delays, and heavy increases in costs. When I was in Washington, a few weeks ago, I heard some of the discussions about the prospects of Skybolt, and I doubt whether the Minister can say, with his hand on his heart, that there is any certainty that it will arrive.
But even if it does, the argument is the same. Instead of bombs for delivery over the target we shall have stand-off bombs, which will be released some distance away from the target. If the target is Moscow, for instance, the bombs will be released over Smolensk or the Pripet Marshes. Are those areas regarded as safe for bombers, apart from the fact that they will be within radar detection all the time, and flying over Soviet bloc territory for hundreds of miles?
In those circumstances, what is the position five years after the introduction of the Sandys doctrine? I ask the House to agree to these propositions: first, that we have no independent nuclear deterrent, and are not likely to have one; and, secondly, that what little has been achieved has been at an inordinate and disproportionate cost. Many hon. Members will have seen this week's Sunday Times. I should like to quote the first two sentences from an articles in it, entitled "The Rake's Progress in Rocketry":After 15 years of research and development and the expenditure of the prodigious sum of £700 million Britain has four missiles of her own in service and five more about to come into service or in the pipeline. And these are all likely to be outdated by the time they are in full production.I do not know what the total bill is, but we have had some fairly heavy interim invoices already.
In the two debates we had on the last two Public Accounts Committee Reports I gave some information to the House which I should like to repeat briefly now. Seaslug was estimated to cost £1 million to £1½ million. The latest estimate for 1960 is £40 million for the control and guidance system alone and the total estimated cost £70 million. The 225 original estimate for Thunderbird was £2½ million. The estimated total in 1960 is £40 million. The original estimate for Firestreak was £4 million. The latest estimate is £33 million plus an additional £20 million for the cost of the Mark IV variant. Blue Streak was originally estimated to cost £50 million. A total of £100 million has been spent on it, and it would have been £600 million had it not been cancelled. The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General gives the position for Blue Steel. The original estimate was £12½ million. The latest estimate is £60 million, excluding the costs, not so far available to us, of Mark II, which has already been cancelled.
In successive debates we have gone into this and I have freely conceded the almost insurmountable problem of controlling research and development expenditure on weapons of this kind. Indeed, as a result of suggestions from the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee some improvements have been made in Ministry arrangements, but responsibility lies not so much with the inadequacy of financial control as with the Government for persisting with a policy the costs of which are inevitably uncontrollable long after the strategic assumptions underlying that policy have been falsified.
When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Prime Minister told the country of his pipe-dream—that is how he described it: defence on the cheap. He hoped to save £700 million a year by this concentration on the nuclear deterrent. Like his other cancellarian pipe-dream—his promise to cut expenditure by £100 million, since when it has risen, if we include the present Chancellor's contribution of £1,700 million; these pipe-dreams tend to be a little expensive.
In referring to the cost, I do not want to give the impression, though I wish I could, that if we cut out expenditure on the nuclear deterrent we would have a nice bonus available for the social services or for tax reductions. If we are to have adequate defences and if we are to fulfil our obligations to N.A.T.O.—and this must be honestly said—the whole saving would have to go on other forms of defence, including making up the manpower and filling the gaps 226 in conventional arms. The only way that the defence bill can be reduced, with security, is by an effective international agreement on disarmament, which I will come to later.
This brings me to my third indictment. Reliance on the nuclear deterrent has starved our conventional forces below the level necessary for national security. As my right hon. Friends have said, we could cut down on our commitments east of Suez, but I should like to enter a personal caveat and a personal warning, from my own little knowledge, against going too far in Hong Kong. This is not because of the danger of invasion, where our existing forces would be derisory, but because of the danger of communal riots, perhaps Communist-inspired or just as likely K.M.T.-inspired, with all the consequences that would follow in that overcrowded territory.
The main problem, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) argued so powerfully, is our failure to meet our commitment to N.A.T.O. Rather late at night on 20th December, in a debate on foreign affairs, I said that our party rejects a neutralist rôle for Britain. We believe, for all the reasons which my right hon. Friend gave yesterday, that we must play our full rôle in N.A.T.O., though I emphasise that we have stressed on occasion, and will continue to stress, the need for reforms in the political establishment of N.A.T.O. and a clear assertion of its defensive rôle. But with all the statistical juggling that we have had from the Government, the plain fact is that we have gravely defaulted on our commitment to N.A.T.O., and the main reason is inadequate manpower. I am not a military expert, but if this is the product of military experts, I thank heaven that I am not.
I do not know how far the redeployment of our resources which I have just mentioned, improved pay and, I would stress, much more provision of houses, would help to solve the manpower problem. Why cannot we provide houses for soldiers' families in their home areas? This would help in recruiting. When the Army overspent last year the one thing on which it did not overspend was housing. I repeat that I do not know how far these things put together would solve the manpower problem. Some of 227 my hon. Friends and some hon. Members opposite whose opinion I respect think that it would not. I hope that they are wrong, but the responsibility is the Government's and they must face it, which so far they are not doing. We do not face it by confusing troops earmarked for Germany with the Strategic Reserve.
I am glad that the Government are becoming aware of the problem of the balance of payments. We were drawing their attention to it for years when they were still laughing at it, but under the cover of the balance of payments problem they now seek to get out of their difficulties by creating a Strategic Reserve to cover all possible needs, hoping that no two will coincide at one moment of time. This idea of a stage army which goes off by one exit and comes in at the opposite side and goes round and round is good theatrical practice, but it is not good defence. Troops have recently had to go out from the Strategic Reserve to British Guiana. What would have happened if they had been wanted in Berlin at the same time? This is a dangerous gamble, only thinly disguised by the words of the White Paper.
My fourth indictment is that this is a policy, if we can use that expression, which increases the danger of nuclear escalation in Europe. My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick referred to this yesterday. The rapid escalation from a conventional attack to thermo-nuclear war is not only an inevitable consequence of the Government's policies, but it is an endemic and integral part of them. On this point, there is a flat contradiction between the American and British viewpoints. The Americans rightly insist that if war broke out in Europe there should be a pause to think, a pause for second thoughts on which the future of the whole world might depend.
But our Government reject the concept of the pause. They would go straight into the use of the tactical nuclear weapon. Our conception on this side of the House is that a situation should be created, by the strengthening of our conventional forces, so that there need never be any question of N.A.T.O. using tactical weapons first. President Kennedy's insistence on avoiding the 228 choice between "humiliation" and "holocaust", as it was described yesterday, has no meaning for right hon. and hon. Members opposite, because implicit in their policies is the right to this degree of escalation.
My fifth and last indictment on this part of the subject is that Britain's insistence on sticking to the nuclear deterrent places a fatal bar on any policy that we might have of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. We have an American Government now perhaps for the first time really committed to policies designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and they are faced with British allies whose polices add nothing to the power of the Western deterrent but add everything to the difficulties of confining H-bombs to a minimum of nations.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) referred yesterday to the independent British deterrent as a "decaying asset". If he is right, and I believe that he is, this might be the time to trade that asset for something very valuable, namely, a guarantee that the H-bomb will not be extended to the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth Power with all the dangers that that represents.
Why do the Government, then, persist in this policy? I have given five reasons for suggesting that it is not going too well. There are three reasons for this persistence. The first is their belief that it is essential to the Western Alliance. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) dealt with this last night. The Americans, we are told, have thermo-nuclear stocks of 30,000 megatons, equivalent to 30,000 million tons of T.N.T. I have no doubt that the Russians have a similar amount. This would be enough to provide 150 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child in the Soviet Union—a fantastic thought.
With that, as most people would feel, over-preparation, do the Government really believe that they are adding anything to the Western deterrent? I say this quite frankly to the Minister of Defence. Like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I have spent some time recently in Washington. There is not one person in authority there who thinks that our nuclear deterrent adds one iota to the strength and credibility 229 of the Western deterrent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quite untrue."] Let the Minister get up and tell us of anyone who has said publicly, or will say privately, that it adds anything to the Western Alliance.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
That is not my task. The right hon. Gentleman has made the statement. He must give the authority on which he makes it.
§ Mr. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well—he can check it through our Ambassador, to whom I have spoken—that no one in Washington believes that our deterrent adds anything to the Western deterrent. The right hon. Gentleman knows that this is the view of the top defence people. He knows that it has been said to him by top defence people and that it was reported in the British Press before Christmas.
§ Mr. Watkinson
If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that this has been said to me by Mr. McNamara, my opposite number, I say that it is not true.
§ Mr. Wilson
I shall certainly not withdraw, because I know what the American defence people have said to me. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I will not withdraw, because what I am saying is true. If the Minister of Defence challenges me, I invite him to ask his opposite number in Washington to come out publicly and support the idea of the British nuclear deterrent, because this is something which he has never done. It is remarkable that he has never come out in support of it.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe) rose—
§ Mr. Wilson
The second reason—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] Certainly not. The second reason why the Government might possibly feel that we should have a nuclear deterrent could in theory be that Britain might one day want to go it alone. Obviously, nobody seriously considers a nuclear war with the Soviet Union with Britain standing alone.
We all know perfectly well why the Government are standing by their policy of the independent deterrent. The reason is simply prestige, keeping up with our nuclear neighbours. Frankly, we cannot do it. The Americans spend on research alone £2,500 million a year, 230 which is half as much again as our total defence budget, and it is rising rapidly. We can only be a nuclear Power if we can afford the means to produce twenty or more alternative weapons as an assurance against the many which are certain to fail. Out of our resources, we were able to afford only one intercontinental ballistic missile, and that was Blue Streak. The failure of Blue Streak was the moment of truth for this country so far as the independent deterrent was concerned.
To cling to the policy after that was, as I said in the Blue Streak debate, like the action of a rather pathetic sort of man who cannot afford a television and who cannot bring himself to admit the fact, so he puts up the aerial instead. The Secretary of State for Air will probably be speaking in the debate on the Air Estimates. Perhaps he will give us his assessment of how the independent nuclear deterrent can be made a reality.
I turn to paragraph 10 of the White Paper—
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Is it the right hon. Gentleman's point that the British V-bombers would not reach their target? It is irrelevant to talk about intercontinental ballistic missiles if, as the Government believe, and as I believe, the V-bombers are capable of reaching their targets.
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. Member obviously did not listen to a word of what I was saying. Perhaps I may simply say to him that in 1957 the Government themselves did not think that the V-bombers would be credible for much longer. That was why they cancelled the supersonic bomber, which would have been practically ready by the time that the weapons of which we are speaking will be available to us.
Paragraph 10 of the White Paper contains admirable sentiments about disarmament. It states that the Governmentconsider that the highest priority should be given to a Treaty banning further nuclear weapons tests, again subject to effective verification and control.With that, I am sure, the whole House will agree—the highest priority. I hope that this is a real assertion of policy and not simply a repetition of pious aspiration.
231 Last year, the Minister or Defence said—and the House should mark these words:There is only one answer to the threat to mankind posed by armaments. This is to reach a satisfactory agreement on general disarmament …".Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman in opening his 1961 Defence White Paper. Today's debate takes place on the eve of what may well be the most momentous conference in the world's history. If we believe, as we have all said—the Government have said it, too—that there is no security except in disarmament, I do not apologise for spending a few minutes dealing with this subject in this year's defence debate.
I begin from what I regard as one of the finest declarations on this subject: the communiqué of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, last spring. Disarmament, they said, wasthe most important question facing the world today.They called for "total world-wide disarmament "and asserted thatin view of the slaughter and destruction experienced in so-called ' conventional' wars, and of the difficulty of preventing a conventional war, once started, from developing into a nuclear war, our aim must be nothing less than complete abolition of the means of waging war of any kind.I do not question—nobody will question—the sincerity of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Our duty as a House, however, is to ensure that that aspiration is turned at the Geneva talks into a reality.
The House certainly welcomed the announcement yesterday that Mr. Khrushchev had finally agreed to the convening of the Foreign Ministers' conference to precede the 18-Powetr talks. I hope that Britain and the United States will match this decision with a flexible and constructive approach. We have to recognise that the Soviet Government do not accord to a Foreign Minister the same standing as we do in this country, or as the Americans do to the Secretary of State. Mr. Khrushchev has called Foreign Ministers functionaries.
I hope, therefore, that if we are disappointed at the opening talks, the President and the Prime Minister will stand ready to go to Geneva at short notice if their presence is needed to 232 break a deadlock and to get things moving. I hope that the Prime Minister will not rule out the possibility of two visits, one early on, if that is needed, and another, if progress merits it or if failure demands it, at a later stage in the 18-Power talks.
We all know the difficulties about organising Summits. We well understand the President's feeling after Paris and Vienna. There would, however, be a great deal to be said for systematising the subject of Summits so that we could expect the world's leaders to come together more frequently.
I once more press upon the Government our suggestion that a special disarmament department be created in the Foreign Office, adequately staffed, under a full-time Minister of Cabinet rank, to prepare a British initiative, not only for this summer, but for all the vast and complicated work which lies ahead, a department which would not only call upon the great and partially untapped expertise which there is, both in civil and defence Departments, but which could bring in on an advisory basis scientists, defence experts and others who might help.
I hope that the Minister of Defence, who is to reply to the debate tonight, will take what I say now in the spirit in which it is said and pass it on to the Prime Minister. The job at Geneva cannot be done by a Foreign Secretary or by a Minister of State on an in-and-out basis. Throughout the conference the British delegation ought to be led by a senior and respected leader, or Minister. I have even heard it suggested—and I hope that right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not mind my passing on the suggestion—that the Prime Minister should bring back someone like Derick Heathcoat Amory, now Viscount Amory, who was respected by us all, irrespective of political differences. Someone of standing would then lead the delegation throughout the period, and we should not just have it headed by a Foreign Minister who, inevitably, had to dash off for two or three days at a time.
I want to turn for a moment to the conference itself. I suggest to the Government the importance of having, instead of a different chairman every day, a permanent chairman; not a national 233 delegate—someone respected by all the delegations, who might, perhaps, aspire to the position and standing of the late Arthur Henderson in previous disarmament talks. Assisted by an independent secretariat from the United Nations, a chairman like that could do a great deal behind the scenes to break up the logjams and try out new initiatives. I might also suggest one impartial Press report each day, issued by the chairman or the secretariat, rather than a series of inevitably slanted national versions.
As to the content of what might be achieved, we have, first, the problem of the nuclear test ban. That is urgent. The West have rightly made it a test of good faith. Even if there were no danger whatsoever from fall-out—and, of course, although the fall-out in both the Russian and American tests has been greatly reduced, it is still a great problem to the world—an effective ban on nuclear tests is needed to avoid giving further twists to what can become an arms race of indefinite duration and infinite danger.
We all know the problem. From the American side, faced last autumn with the Russians' breach of their undertakings not to resume tests, they now believe that the Russians have made some advance in those tests—not enough, they feel, to reach equality with the Americans, but in the absence of guarantees against further tests, the Americans fear that a further Russian series of tests—after, say, nine months of preparation—might create a very perilous situation to the West. That is why a voluntary self-policing moratorium, with one partner possibly preparing tests while the other feels bound not to prepare them, is ineffective.
But let us be frank. A test ban can and should only be part of a wider and more comprehensive disarmament agreement. The Prime Minister and his colleagues know that one cannot go into nuclear disarmament on a limited liability basis, and that if one gets the inspection and verification needed to enforce a test ban, including the control of preparation, one has already crossed the threshold of national secrecy; one has made a major break-through, and is on the road to an agreement. That is why I suggest that both the East and the West must set their sights well beyond a test agreement.
234 If that fails, if the West feels that the Russian objections to inspection continue to obstruct a settlement, I would still recommend with a heavy heart, as a third best, a faute de mieux, a self-policing moratorium. The progress so far made, even as compared with a year ago, in the technology of the verification of atmospheric tests is such that a breach of the agreement would be known even without inspection. It could not, of course, deal with the vital question of preparation which I have mentioned. It would hardly be enough to meet the conditions that President Kennedy has laid down and, with the possibility that the Soviet Union would be continuing preparations, the West would inevitably have to claim the same freedom, lest nine or twelve vital, dangerous months were lost.
Therefore, if we had a moratorium of that kind, it would have a very limited value. It could not and should not be expected to be able to deal with preparations on either side. It would be a poor second-best, but it would be better than nothing, and if nothing better is obtainable I hope that the Government will not reject it out of hand.
I come to the general disarmament conference. I do not need to go into the various stages embracing tests, destruction of missiles, destruction of nuclear stockpiles, destruction of productive capacity, proceeding simultaneously with a phased programme of conventionai disarmament, but I do want to say a word about the vexed question of inspection and control.
The joint American-Soviet statement of principles agreed on last September was valuable as far as it went, but, of course, both sides agreed to omit the vital question of whether inspection covered only the weapons to be destroyed or covered as well the weapons that were left. The Americans might well feel like a tax inspector who receives a voluntary cheque covering what the taxpayer thought he should send, with the taxpayer firmly refusing to send any details of what was left, or of new sources of income.
My experience of negotiating with the Soviet Union, which is not inconsiderable, has taught me that one has to get into their minds and see how they look at these problems. Just as a map 235 of Western bomber bases looks very different on a Russian map, with Moscow in the centre, so their attitude to inspection and secrecy—their identification of inspection with espionage—needs to be understood if one is to be able to combat it in negotiations.
During the past four or five years the whole nuclear balance has changed. The days when Foster Dulles could talk of massive retaliation, or of rolling the Russians back, confident in a first-strike ability that could not only destroy the main Russian targets, but also paralyse Russia's power to hit back—those days have gone. One cannot now knock out one opponent's cities and his power to retaliate at the same time. The balance of terror now depends on the certain knowledge that an aggressor must face a merciless counter-stroke against his main cities. Neither can win.
Now that neither the East nor the West is any longer dependent either on bombers or the equally vulnerable, obsolete, Thor-type bases—which ought to be scrapped—their missile-launching sites are now capable of complete protection. That is the big change that has overcome the disarmament problem in the last year or two. Most American missiles, especially the Minuteman, are now in hardened underground sites which can survive blast pressures of what the scientists call 100 psi—that it to say, they can withstand the pressure of the blast caused by a 10-megaton explosion at a distance of 1.3 miles. In those circumstances, even if one's sites are only three miles apart, one needs a 10-megaton blast for each. I imagine that the Russian sites are equally well protected.
The fact is that the Russians are conditioned to fear what they regard as American aggression. Some of them, perhaps, expect American aggression. We may dismiss their fears as groundless, but that is what they have been brought up to believe. They believe that inspection, revealing all their missile sites—and there is reason to think that they have not as many sites as all that, but that they have used their large shop window for the space show—would make it possible for them to be knocked out on a first-strike aggression, 236 and their power to retaliate would be gone.
We have to take account of those fears, however groundless we may think them. This is the main obstacle, as I am sure that the Minister will agree, to a disarmament agreement at present. That is why we commend to the Minister one proposal that is well worth studying—the Sohn plan, under which each country divides its territory into, say, twenty zones of equal military importance, and gives the numbers, but not the location, of strategic weapons and installations in each zone. The other side can then—say, once in every six months—select one zone for complete inspection on the spot—to test the honesty of the manifest; rather like a Customs officer inspecting one of five suitcases, the owner not knowing which one it will be.
That could be a very important step forward, and in the first six months the location of only, say, 5 per cent. of the sites would have been revealed; in a year, 10 per cent., and so on. In that first six months, only 5 per cent. of the Russian or American installations would have been located or made known, and they would not, therefore, feel that the espionage problem was as difficult as they would on the basis of 100 per cent. inspection. Nevertheless, it would be a complete test of the accuracy of the statements put forward.
I should like, very briefly, to summarise the rest of the agreement we should like to see come out of Geneva. After the nuclear test and nuclear disarmament agreement, there should be an agreement to set up a United Nations Disarmament Agency, first to study, later to play its part in controlling, as the Prime Minister once suggested, the enforcement of the agreement. I believe that the nucleus of this agency should be set up now to help service the talks in the next few months.
We should seize the opportunity—better now than ever before—to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. On the initiative of Sweden and Ireland, the United Nations, on 4th December, passed two resolutions calling for the restriction of nuclear weapons to the existing countries. As I have said, this is in the back of the American Government's mind, and we in the Labour Party, who fought the last General Election on the non-nuclear club policy, have the right now 237 to ask that our British deterrent—the right hon. Gentleman's decaying asset—should be offered as a contribution to a world agreement.
Do we want to see Israel, Egypt, China or Cuba as nuclear Powers? This is a tremendous problem and a tremendous danger to the world. Twelve countries, we are told, have already the economic and technical resources to make these bombs. China will soon make the thirteenth. I therefore hope the Government will be prepared wholeheartedly to make their contribution to a plan for the limitation of nuclear arms among the countries of the world by surrendering our own nuclear deterrent as part of such an agreement.
For the reason that I have just mentioned, China must be brought into the nuclear disarmament negotiations if we are to have any security for the future. The agreement should provide, we believe, for the establishment of guaranteed non-nuclear zones. Would it not make a big difference to the world if Africa were to become a complete non-nuclear zone free from the dangers of nuclear installations or nuclear explosions? Central Europe, also. If, in Central Europe, on each side of the Iron Curtain, we had a non-nuclear guaranteed zone, this could be, as the Minister knows, a very powerful solvent to the Berlin problem and meet Russian anxieties, which are almost obsessional, about what is their greatest fear—nuclear arms for Germany.
There should be international agreement to study the economic effects of disarmament, to supplement and coordinate the work of national agencies, including the one that I have suggested for this country. At all costs we must avoid the creation of a vested interest, or the suggestion that any nation has a vested interest on grounds of either full employment policies or private profit, in the maintenance of the arms race. There is a tremendous task to be undertaken by national Governments, and internationally, to ensure that the resources released by disarmament do not lead to unemployment and surplus capacity, but are converted to measures required for raising living standards all over the world.
This is the sort of agreement and approach that we believe might be fruitful. 238 Naturally, we on this side of the House are sorry that it is hon. Members opposite and not ourselves who are to be in charge of the negotiations—that will come. But the world's opportunity and the world's danger will not wait. This conference begins next week, and we tell the Government—I think they know this—that this is not the time for weary repetitions of outworn ideas and approaches. The world and history are looking for a new initiative. They will be quick to judge any statesman of any country who regards the occasion as just one for propaganda tricks or short-term debating points rather than constructive ideas and practical concessions.
While we condemn, as we have condemned, this White Paper and the defence policies which over five years have so utterly broken down, we nevertheless see hope in one paragraph only, and that is the paragraph relating to general disarmament; and on behalf, I am sure, of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, we not only call on the Government to take every measure within their power to make a success of this disarmament conference, but, for our part, we wish them well.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
By an unhappy accident in our procedures, the debate this afternoon was opened by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). If I may pay him a "discompliment", no one is more adept than he is at slanting a campaign for civil defence into a campaign for nuclear disarmament.
Perhaps the most worrying thing that he said was his reference to the rate at which his hon. Friends change their minds. I hope that he is not right about that. We are beginning to feel that they are angled somewhere near the right direction at the moment, and we should like to keep them there.
It is always a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) in a debate. I have done so on other topics previously. I think that he was rather happier in the last part of his speech than in the first. If I may say so, to enter a defence debate upon the basis that the defences of one's potential enemy are impregnable and that 239 one's own weapons are worthless is to start without hope anyway. We have never exactly approached the defence of these islands on that assumption, and I trust that we shall not do so now.
I would also tell the right hon. Gentleman, and also the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), that it would be a very dangerous assumption to make either in defence or in foreign policy that one would win the approval of official American opinion either by scrapping the deterrent or by largely ignoring our responsibilities in CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. in order to concentrate upon N.A.T.O. These seemed to me to be the two fundamental errors in the two speeches which we have so far heard from the Opposition Front Bench.
The defence of the country is the most onerous, most difficult and most responsible task that is placed upon the shoulders of any Government, to whatever party it may belong. It is difficult because no one can foresee with precision the nature, the objectives or the timing of an attack, and any Government which attempted to safeguard the country for which they were responsible against all forms of attack would manifestly be courting financial ruin as well as attempting a virtually impossible task.
There is no complete safety in any defence policy. There has never been for these islands complete safety in any defence policy, and I recognise that all policies are open to criticism in some form or another and raise considerations which are moral as well as military and economic. The British policy is based upon the deterrent in its broadest sense. I am talking at the moment—I shall come to our contribution to the Western deterrent—about the awe, to which my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) referred yesterday, in which these terrible weapons are held.
Our policy is based upon the use of conventional as well as unconventional arms. It is based on volunteer rather than conscripted forces. It is based upon frontiers which are acknowledged to extend beyond the frontiers of Europe, and it is based upon alliances which are not restricted to N.A.T.O., important though 240 N.A.T.O. is, but are designed to cover the main centres of danger in the world.
Despite the fact that the Opposition Amendment is supposed to be censuring the Government, there seems to be a very great deal of common ground about these policies. It is common ground that we have to rely upon the massive deterrent force which exists in the West today. It is common ground, with certain reservations from the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and one or two of my hon. Friends, that we have to depend upon volunteers rather than conscripted forces.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Army Reserve Bill is not based on conscription?
I am not dealing with that at all. I am simply saying that for the purpose of raising the requisite number of troops, to which my right hon. Friend referred, the official Opposition and the Government Front Bench are in agreement, although I recognise that there are some honourable exceptions on both sides.
It is common ground that we should lend support to N.A.T.O., and it is a most remarkable thing to hear the Opposition Front Bench criticising the Government for lukewarmness for European defence at a moment when never has this country been more deeply implicated in that continent and the whole Government axe straining every nerve to join Europe. It is a remarkable but a rather cheering line of criticism, and we hope that this enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman for European defence may be extended to an equal enthusiasm for those forms of co-operation on the economic side about which, up to now, we have detected an element of lukewarmness in him.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. We shall study what terms the Government get. Is not the right hon. Gentleman, in the enthusiasm of the words he has just used, going about 500 per cent. beyond anything that the Prime Minister told us on this matter?
I do not think so. I think that I put it rather well, and I am not in the least apologetic for what 241 I said. Nevertheless, there are differences. How far should we contribute to the deterrent? I listened with astonishment to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) yesterday. I tried to give him notice that I would refer to it. I thought that he was one of the principal architects of the deterrent. If, in the days when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had had the conversion which he has since suffered, I might have avoided some of those "little local difficulties" which I was going through at the time.
The millions of pounds which my right hon. Friend spent were small sums compared with that to which his commitments inevitably grew. The V-bombers which soar into the skies today, which he did so much to sponsor, and the weapons which he supported, which make today such a magnificent contribution to our Armed Forces, must be as dust and ashes to him when all his enthusiasm has turned into the view that, on the whole, this is crippling rather than helping the country which he sought to serve. However, I will return to that topic in a moment.
There is another source of difference between us—or may be—and that concerns the use of bases or facilities by the United States in this country. I assume that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, on the whole, rather disapproves of that use of bases and facilities. I think that I am right in saying that the right hon. Member for Huyton, on the whole, has hoped, in the past, that no decision would have to be taken upon that because, addressing a Socialist Youth Rally in February of last year, he took the line that, after all, with the advance of technology, new methods would be found in which the Americans could operate their deterrent, at any rate, not from our shores, and preferably from their own.
The right hon. Gentleman said:Stripped of exaggerations and slogans, the issue really resolves itself into a question of American bases in Britain, which is a problem arising not from N.A.T.O. but from the Anglo-American Alliance. It is an issue on which strong and sincere opinions can be held on both sides. It is self-evident that it is one which will almost certainly have disappeared before Labour can become the Government.It is all very well, but it is not possible to duck every issue of that character.
242 I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite who are rather strong advocates of N.A.T.O. that both we and N.A.T.O. depend very largely—they would say exclusively—upon the presence of an American deterrent, and it is difficult to support an American deterrent unless, at the same time, they are prepared to argue that full opportunities should be given for its deployment and every facility be given to it for testing if necessary. To oppose the facilities for Polaris, or the use of Christmas Island, for the tests, if they should prove necessary—which all of us hope they will not—or the presence of air bases in this country, is wholly inconsistent with reliance upon an American deterrent.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I agree with a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman has said just now, but does he really suggest that this island is, or will be for very long, a suitable base for a second strike, whether it be American or British?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The hon. and learned Gentleman asks me whether it is going to be a suitable base for long. What he has to do is to say what his own policy is today. If his policy, which he is dealing with, is dependant on an American deterrent, I will not say what will happen in ten or fifteen years' time, but, with the situation as it is today, it is wholly illogical to say, on the one hand—perhaps he does not—that he opposes in any way whatever the use of bases or facilities in this country.
That is why I say that I am not attacking the hon. and learned Gentleman. I welcome his support, but we have to remember that the debate was opened today—not by any choice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton, but by the co-operation of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield—by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, who was putting the matter on a slightly different slant, but supporting the same Amendment which the Opposition Front Bench are supporting in the debate.
§ Mr. Paget
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, surely one is considering one's future plans. As the Minister quoted from my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) and from what I have said, it 243 is clear that so far as the deterrent—that is, the second strike capacity—is concerned, this island is now, or will very soon be, an unsuitable base for purely strategic reasons, whether it be for their or our aeroplanes. They ought not to be here much longer.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Polaris is rather important in this context. If the hon. and learned Gentleman could contain himself for a moment he will see that I was about to come to the other aspect concerning the use of these islands, not simply as a base for the Americans, but the equally important point of this debate, which has been raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite, of our own contribution to the deterrent.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I would rather not give way, because I must develop this argument.
I now turn to the use of this island for the deterrent, whether for ourselves or for the United States, but more particularly for ourselves.
I have several things to say about this. First, I realise that honest differences of opinion can be held on this topic, but do not let anybody base their arguments on an underestimate of what our striking power is or our contribution to this deterrent. I can understand people arguing on grounds of morality and money. There are many arguments why we should not have the deterrent. But it should not be argued on the basis that it is not a very effective and powerful striking force.
It would not be a marginal decision to scrap that. It would scarcely be a tenable position to decide to start at this moment scrapping the V-bombers at the same time as we are building them. This does not seem to be even a coherent policy. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) that it would be possible to stand at the Opposition Dispatch Box and say, "We will scrap the V-bomber force the moment we get into office". I doubt whether that would be a wise decision, but at least it would make more sense than scrapping it while we are still trying to build it up. In any 244 event, this is a significant, serious, and extremely powerful striking force.
Secondly, the fact that a deterrent is held under the control of a power in Europe cannot detract from the total deterrent, but must add to it. It must be a relevant factor in the mind of a potential enemy that a strike at Europe would also involve men and nations, or one nation, which had a deterrent held in Europe. This must add to the total of the deterrent force and its validity.
Thirdly, the right hon. Member for Huyton referred to the advance of technology and the ability to develop an anti-missile. This may be possible. No one can say at this moment. Many things are theoretically possible which are very difficult to translate into practical application. But this much is certain, namely, that the greater the variety of the means of delivery of a nuclear strike the greater the difficulty of finding an answer to it. This must be true. It is one thing to say that with enormous resources, and deployment of them, a way can be found of countering one particular method of delivery, but if the potential of delivery is high level, low level, stand-off bombs, and all the rest, the problem of meeting it by some effective counter-measure is infinitely increased.
Lastly—I think that the right hon. Gentleman was with me on this—let no one assume that to scrap the deterrent would by some kind of alchemy conjure into existence all the conventional forces with their conventional arms which would be some sudden and miraculous substitute for the deterrent. This, too, is an illusion, and I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman largely bear that out.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I am obliged to the Minister for giving way to me. He has been very courteous this afternoon about giving way. This is a most important statement. Is he prepared to say that, if there were no British independent deterrent, the deterrent force of the West, taken as a whole, would be weakened below the danger level in credibility?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
It would certainly be weakened, and in a world as dangerous as this is any man who argues 245 for weakening it is taking upon himself or his party a very heavy measure of responsibility.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness) rose—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I have already given way several times. I must get on.
The debate has been concerned to a large extent with men, but it is also concerned with equipment. My Department has a special measure of responsibility in the field of equipment. The provision of equipment for a modern army, as for a modern industry, involves engineering and electronics and many complicated new electronic devices. Perhaps one of the differences between war and industry is that, whereas an industry can sometimes afford to wait, in war or in preparation for it, a Government can barely afford to wait, because if they wait very long they get left so far behind that they cannot compete or keep up with the modern weapon systems which go with the equipment of the modern army. I am not now talking about nuclear weapons. The rôle of my Department is the humble one of a shop from which people buy this form of equipment.
§ Mr. Monslow
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way again. I want to nut an important point to him. I have a very vivid recollection of him speaking from a position below the Gangway when he made his famous resignation speech from the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Today, he has given us an interesting dissertation on conventional and, indeed, on nuclear weapons. How can he reconcile what he is now saying with his resignation speech, in which he said that this country could no longer go on spending on non-productive and destructive services, that successive Governments, for the past twelve years, had spent beyond the capacity of the nation, and that if we carried on in this way our economy would be shattered in due course? How can he reconcile that statement with what he is saying today?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I will say, to start with, that I do not think that I said anything remotely resembling what the hon. Gentleman attributes to me.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I seem to have affronted the hon. Gentleman in some way, because he has left the Chamber.
The Ministry of Aviation, like the Ministry of Supply, is a shop from which the Services buy their requirements. I shall have to be a little careful what I say now, because some of my best customers are sitting on the Treasury Bench, on my left. I remember C. D. Howe, who was one of the great Canadian Supply Ministers and well known to hon. Members, describing his policy in such circumstances in this way, "If they want a gold-plated piano I give them a gold-plated piano". This carries it a little too far. What happens, as hon. Members know, is that the requirements are drawn up by the Ministry of Defence, the Service Ministries, the Chiefs of Staff, and the Defence Research Policy Committee.
I come to the point I was making when the hon. Gentleman intervened and ran away. The truth is that no Service can have all that it wants. All of us are, in fact, confined within the limits of the total amount of money available. In these circumstances, inevitably some things have to be cancelled. The Rotodyne is an example of a project of this character which has many admirable features, but which it is not possible to support or pay for within the total sum available.
The amount of money devoted to equipment has for some years been about 40 per cent. of the total defence budget. It is clear that in these circumstances, as my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said, we must strain every nerve to see that common requirements are achieved between the Services wherever that is possible. I agree with that and every effort is made to achieve it. There are some examples of this. Firestreak and Red Top are examples of common requirements between the R.A.F. and the Navy. Transport aircraft is another example of sharing between the civil and military rô1e. This applies both to the VC10 and the Avro 748. Air Traffic Control is rather a good example of how both the military and civil requirements have increasingly been pooled, with military and civilian personnel sitting in the same control centres, 247 each with the object of contributing to the success of the other.
But even sharing between the Services is not enough. We must also share on a basis of interdependence between countries. We axe buying Skybolt from the United States and the AS30 air-to-ground weapon from the French. We are selling aero engines to Europe and, indeed, very widely. We are developing Bullpup on a common basis in Europe and the Bloodhound ground-to-air guided missile has been sold to a number of countries.
All these are examples of sharing and, while I hesitate to be oritical of any speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg)—who has forgotten more about these subjects than most of us will ever know—I was rather worried when be talked the other day about competitions in Europe. I asked my colleagues what were these competitions in which we had taken such a beating and I discovered that there was none. If the hon. Member for Dudley really thinks that we can put a piece of equipment up against a piece of American equipment in common, fair and open competition, with the best man winning, he is under a great illusion.
I can assure the hon. Member that, knowledgeable although he is on defence matters, there is something about American salesmanship and the way in which these commercial matters are handled that I could certainly teach him.
§ Mr. Wigg
If the Americans do some crooked or sharp things they have learned a lesson or two from us. The right hon. Gentleman should not come along with those sort of statements. He knows well that these competitions are organised. When we win one of them—and that happened probably so long ago that his Department has forgotten all about it—we make great play about the fact. If there was an example of such a competition that was crooked it was the one which forced the Indians to take the aeroplane known as the Avro 748, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
There is a much better example; the sale of Bloodhound to the neutral countries where there was no possibility of any pressure from any 248 source whatever. In open competition, this brilliantly conceived weapon was sold for £45 million.
It is not only simply a question of selling. The need is try to co-operate, not merely in sales to one another, but to co-operate in the actual making of the requirements and the research and development that goes with them. If that can be done from the start it is of immense advantage. The vertical lift aircraft P1127, in which the Americans joined in the early stages in the development of the Pegasus engine—so they have the "know-how" there—or the development of the RBI62 Rolls-Royce engine, which is being developed by the Germans, the French and ourselves, are hopeful illustrations of what can be done by international co-operation. Outside the field of defence, an attempt to do this with a satellite launcher might set the pattern for the future.
I turn to the subject of money, which is a more sordid topic. What my hon. Friends demand is never easy. The requirements of a modern missile present immensely exacting tasks. For such a missile to track at supersonic speeds, at great heights, under every kind of condition and at all sorts of angles is an immense strain on the engineering and technical resources of any industry and, brilliant though our industry is, it is not an easy thing to devise.
It is true that there has been some extraordinarily bad estimating. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss)—who, I regret, is not in his place; and I am not singling him out in this matter of estimating—will realise that when he was Minister of Supply, in the Socialist Government, he made certain estimates for Seaslug, Thunderbird and Bloodhound. He estimated them at about £2 million a piece—but they actually have been quoted at between £25 million and £70 million. I am coming immediately to the defence of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall, because the rise in the figures is grossly exaggerated at times. What I said might be considered most unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, because I do not think that the final figures were on the same basis as what he originally estimated
Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman made those mistakes. I dismiss, 249 of course, the wilder versions—like that highly coloured supplement in the Sunday Times we have heard so much about. I do not think they do much to lend comfort to the enemy or even damage our export trade because they are so overstated as to make very little sense. The truth is, of course, that on occasions there have been mistakes made in the estimates given. But, by heaven, there has been good value for the money that has been spent.
These are three of the finest weapons of their type available in the world today and they are doing invaluable work in the three Services. They are the pride of the men who use them with great distinction. I do not intend to plough through all the excuses, for the need is, if possible, to improve our estimating procedures; and this has been referred to by a number of hon. Members.
The first is the requirement procedure. It is necessary to get the requirement right and, even if it takes a little longer, to get it correct. Hon. Gentlemen have asked me about the OR351, and since I do not believe that there is any security point about mentioning this now, the answer is that it is being closely examined to see that this requirement is designed, as near as we can, to make it economically viable, with the object of seeing if we can improve the possibility of sales or sharing with someone else. A feasibility study, which can be inter-mural, in our own organisations, is designed to see how far what is often an immensely complicated requirement can be met. The other stage is a project design study which generally involves preliminary engineering work and development contracts.
A committee on the management of research and production, which was originally set up under a man whose name all of us knew and whom we all admired, Sir Claude Gibb—who, unfortunately, died—was taken over under the able chairmanship of Sir Solly Zuckerman. This committee has made very valuable progress. The results have been set out and are in operation in my Department. I claim no particular credit for that, for those improvements were established by my predecessor before I got to the Department.
250 I must, however, utter a word of warning. We must face the fact that our requirements are greater, and I do not believe that any tidying up of the administrative arrangements or the setting out of particular machineries or procedures—while they can help—will enable anyone to say in advance what it will cost to produce a requirement which will probably take perhaps eight years to develop and which no one can say with absolute confidence can be wholly achieved at the time the requirement is put in.
These are extremely difficult things to do and I know that mistakes will be made. Perhaps it is a happy coincidence that Ministers of Aviation very seldom live in their offices long enough to reap the fruits or otherwise of their own mistakes. They all seem to be able to rely on the mistakes of others. I would, in any event, pay tribute to the work of the manufacturers and men concerned with this research; the manufacturers in the great aircraft groups, the study teams—and here I think I will carry the right hon. Member for Huyton with me—the work that is done in the Royal Aircraft Establishment, in the Royal Radar Establishment, the National Gas Turbine Establishment, and so on, which has made an immense contribution to our strength both in peace and war.
This work has given us great ability in attack, in defence, and in mobility. In attack it has given us the V-bombers, armed as they will be with Blue Steel and then with Skybolt. The development of the TSR2, which has a remarkable high-level supersonic capability with a great power to penetrate enemy defences at low level, is going according to plan, and we hope that the first one will be flying some time towards the end of next year. The appropriate orders will be placed at the appropriate time.
In defence we have the Lightnings, the Sea Vixen, Thunderbird, Bloodhound, and Sea Slug, and now the second generation that is coming along. In mobility, we have concentrated on vertical take-off aircraft, and we are ahead of most of the world with aircraft like the P1127 and the Short SCI. We are increasing our effort in another field which I believe to be important, that of variable geometry. Also, we are enabling the forces of today to be transported in 251 the Comet, the Argosy, the VC10, the Belfast, and the Avro 748.
We are accustomed in this House to criticise each other, but if the picture which emerged was that of a declining power with insufficient men and worthless weapons it would lend comfort to the enemy and be of no use to us. I believe the contrary to be the truth. I believe that this is not a declining power, but the centre of a Commonwealth of free nations powerfully armed with the finest volunteer forces in the world, and I believe that we are so equipped that we are still able to meet any challenge that is put against us.
§ Mr. Monslow
Having made an accusation against the Minister, may I now quote accurately what he said on the occasion to which I referred?
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Ansrruther-Gray)
Order. I would be in order in allowing the hon. Member to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question before he resumes his seat, but I cannot call the hon. Member to make a speech now.
§ Mr. Monslow
Before the right hon. Gentleman sat down I tried to engage his attention, but he ducked rather slyly before I could do so. I made an accusation against the Minister. I would not have done so if I was not correct in what I thought he said. He said, on 23rd January:It has meant that over twelve years we have slithered from one crisis to another. Sometimes it has been a balance of payments crisis and sometimes it has been an exchange crisis, but always it has been a crisis. It has meant a £ sterling which has sunk from 20s. to 12s. That is not a picture—"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd January, 1958, Vol. 580, c. 1296.]
Order. The hon. Member is asking too long a question. The debate must continue. Mr. Shinwell.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a conventional speech in defence of the White Paper. He has defended the whole defence bag of tricks and the existence of the British independent nuclear deterrent which he regards as effective, satisfactory and capable of high striking power. As he speaks on behalf of the Government, presumably 252 he has defended the manpower position. He has expressed himself in the most optimistic terms about our weapons system and our general capabilities in defence. However, he forgot to mention the subject of finance in relation to our defence requirements.
The Minister omitted any mention of the statement recently made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the need, before the Estimates appear before us, for a reduction—and presumably a substantial one—in our military expenditure. Nevertheless, I can understand the Minister's optimism. He made the kind of speech that we expect him to make, otherwise he would again be offering his resignation, and no one wants to see that happen.
I have seldom listened to a defence debate, or taken part in one, when there appeared to be more disagreement among right hon. and hon. Members. Almost everybody has disagreed with everybody else. I do not wish to give specific examples. I think that what has happened is within the recollection of hon. Members who listened to yesterday's debate. But this disagreement is not confined to right bon. and hon. Members. There is considerable disagreement, amounting almost to confusion, in the columns of our reputable newspapers.
The Times, for example, in a leading article said quite emphatically that if we are to provide an effective defence we must find the money and the nation must be prepared to accept the sacrifices involved. The Times is obviously dissatisfied with the content of our defence organisation.
The Guardian adopted a different line. As one might expect from a newspaper associated with the Liberal Party, it was sceptical, and I believe rightly so, of the British independent nuclear deterrent. Its views are highly regarded by many hon. Members. I say that because they so frequently quote the Guardian.
The Daily Express came clean out with the simple proposition that we ought to take our troops right out of Germany and let the Germans do their own fighting.
The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, in my judgment one of the sanest and most reputable of our newspapers, had no leading article, but contributed 253 a long middle page article by its military correspondent. I read it three times. I was as much confused at the end as I was at the beginning. Perhaps that was my fault. However, I have promised myself that if I can find enough leisure at the weekend I will read the article again in the hope of ascertaining what the correspondent—and, of course, we must pay our respects to military correspondents, who are very able—really meant.
I want to make it clear beyond doubt that I am not going to criticise the Minister of Defence. A Minister of Defence can never be popular.
§ Mr. Shinwell
He is either spending too much or too little. He is either providing a balanced force regarded as too small, or an unbalanced force which is larger but quite ineffective. Moreover, the White Paper, which has been much criticised during the debate, bears all the marks of compromise The Minister has been under pressure from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to curtail his financial needs—one might expect that. He has also been under pressure from each of the Chiefs of Staff seeking a larger allocation for his own Service, taking into account, as a Chief of Staff must, the calculated risks involved. He has been under pressure from General Norstad on behalf of N.A.T.O., and also, obviously, from the United States Administration.
That is common ground. If it is not, it is at least generally understood. I therefore do not attach any blame to the Minister of Defence. He is the victim of circumstances and of changing conditions. The defence situation today is vastly different from what it was when I was Minister. Indeed, it changes almost every year. Reference has been made to what appeared in the White Paper of 1957, to what was said by Ministers then and what has been said since, and, of course, to what has been said by right hon. Gentleman on the Labour Front Bench.
The fact is that defence is transient. It undergoes constant change. Indeed, the Minister of Aviation has just afforded an example in the weapons system. One begins with an estimate based on what is regarded as an accurate 254 understanding of what is required. The estimate is produced by experts. A Minister is in the hands of the technicians, the technologists, the scientists and the manufacturers. Before he knows where he is the estimate has become completely awry and makes no sense.
That is natural, taking account of the increased cost of materials and transport and of the ancillaries required, plus the cost of labour. In our defence system one cannot depend on any original estimate. So I am not attacking the Government because of that. It could not have estimated that a tender for say £10 million pounds in 1957 would now be costing £50 million. The same applies in every country's defence services.
I have said that there is disagreement in the Press about defence. The Press is unhappy about the situation, as many of us are. What are right hon. and hon. Members saying about it? The Minister of Aviation seemed to leave out of account something that was said by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones). He criticised the right hon. Gentleman somewhat adversely—presumably because they are old colleagues and now the right hon. Member for Hall Green is out and he is in. The Minister criticised what the right hon. Gentleman said about military defence being less important than the need to cultivate men's minds. That is not a new idea. It has been said in this House very frequently.
We can all recall Lord Head, when on the back benches opposite after he had left the Government either voluntarily or compulsorily—I cannot remember which—speaking in a similar vein. The fact is—and here I must use a cliché—that the crux of the problem is that we cannot continue to fight an ideological war, to engage in ideological conflict, with military means if we hope to succeed. Our only hope is to inject into the ideological struggle new ideas which will percolate into men's minds and which are consistent with modern trends.
Here I must comment that the one objectionable feature I found in the White Paper was in paragraph 15, which refers to the need to contain Communism. That is the kind of language used in the United States. To them, it is obvious that the primary purpose must be to contain Communism and that this 255 is a struggle between American Capitalism and Soviet Communism. I was not aware, however, that we in this country were parties to that idea. That is something new, and I am surprised that the Minister of Defence included it in the White Paper.
Having said that, I want to turn to some of the arguments used during the debate. I shall begin by referring to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who is not now in his place. I sometimes note that when I rise to my feet quite a number of people depart. It may be that this is tea-time, or perhaps there are meetings—I am sure that it has nothing to do with me personally. His speech was in part dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), for whom I have a very high regard for his ability and personality.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick had two complaints. The rest of his speech, if I may say so, was palaver. One can sort the wheat from the chaff. After long experience in this House, and after enduring all kinds of speeches, one gets to know what is sound and substantial and what is irrelevant or, to use the legal jargon of American courts—which I pick up from looking at television occasionally—immaterial, incompetent and irrelevant.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick had two complaints of a fundamental character. One was that we are relying on a British independent nuclear deterrent, which is a mistake. He argued that it was no longer effective and that it was insignificant compared with the deterrents held by the Americans and the Russians. We have heard that argument before. The conclusion is—and I am not sure that my right hon. Friend did not say so—that we must rely on the Western deterrent which, as we know, is an American deterrent.
Not very long ago, some of us expressed the view—I do not deny that we changed our view, as many others in the House have done—that we were somewhat sceptical about the validity, value and efficacy of our nuclear deterrent. That was an opinion arising out 256 of our own perhaps imperfect judgment. We were told that to rely on the American deterrent was moral cowardice. "How dare you," they challenged us, "seek to abandon the British independent nuclear deterrent in this fashion, relying on the United States to protect you from aggression?" Now things have changed. That is precisely what is now being advocated. The British independent deterrent, they say, is no longer of any use. I draw the conclusion that my colleagues on the Front Bench, at any rate, have now become, so far as the British independent nuclear deterrent is concerned, unilateralists. Of course that is so; let us make no mistake about it. That is progress; that is advancement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, unilateralists as far as the British independent nuclear deterrent is concerned—it is no longer of value, scrap it, discard it. That was the first complaint.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that they are also unilateralists so far as the conventional forces are concerned?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am working up my ideas. In my inexperience in these matters I must develop my argument as best I can. When the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey), who is not in his place, interjected and said, "How do you propose to discard these 200 bombers—get rid of them tomorrow? We can't do that", my right hon. Friend suggested that it might be done over a period of time, to which, of course, the response came at once, and it also occurred to me that that would be even more dangerous than discarding them at once, because we should gradually become weaker while thinking we were still strong, whereas, if we discarded them, we should know where we were. But, of course, we cannot do that. Here is the dilemma. To discard them at once would be impracticable. The impact on the country would be immediately felt. Large numbers of men would be dismissed from the Services. The Secretary of State for Air would no longer be required, although I agree that that might be an advantage. There is nothing personal in that remark. We could scrap all these bombers. Of course, we might export 257 them to other countries, thereby contributing to their defence. But this will not do.
I want to come to the second main complaint, namely, that there are too few troops on the ground. That is being said. If there are too few troops on the ground, we have to find some solution of the problem. How do we find it? My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton rightly said today that we cannot take troops from Hong Kong. I agree with him. It has been said that we might take them from Cyprus, but that exercise is already in hand. The number of troops there is being rapidly reduced, quite rightly, and now it is more or less an air base. May I say, in parenthesis, that I do not think that it is a very good air base, but that is my opinion. Should we take them from Malta, or from Kenya? I do not think that is a very sound proposition. It would not contribute to our prestige, nor would it make a contribution to peace in those areas. On the other hand, suppose that we did; suppose that we took three battalions from Hong Kong, some from Kenya and some from elsewhere, in all, say, 10,000 troops and injected them into B.A.O.R., so that instead of 45,000 troops in B.A.O.R. we had 55,000.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick said yesterday that if we had too few troops on the ground Germany would become the greatest military nation in Europe, with nearly twelve divisions. But would 55,000 men be a contribution paralleling the German contribution? It would not make much difference. Indeed, I doubt whether it would satisfy General Norstad. What are the Government doing? I agree with the Government entirely on this head at any rate. In my view, it would be far better to leave the number of troops as it is, but give them mobility and all the efficiency and ancillary organisations and weapons that are required. Let us have more troops at home in the Strategic Reserve, provided that they can be moved effectively if there is any disturbance anywhere. That would not do for a great war, of course—not if Russia were the active aggressor—but it would do for the purpose of keeping order as in the case of British Guiana, Honduras and so on, or to 258 render succour to the people who were suffering. That could be very useful.
I think there is a better solution, and I throw it at the House: take the troops out of Germany altogether. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Daily Express."] I am not a friend of Lord Beaverbrook; at least he has shown no recent disposition to be friendly, as far as I know. That is my view, and I say it because I believe it. I think that in the sense that a conventional force can be a deterrent it must be a very large force or, at any rate, it must be supported in the rear by large reserves, and I do not think that that is possible under present conditions.
Therefore, what I should do—General Norstad may not like it and President Kennedy may not like it—is to bring them home, but not disband them but inject them into the Strategic Reserve so that they could be used as occasion warranted. If any conflict occurred in Germany as a result of any move by the Soviet Union, or any mistake by the West Germans or the East Germans, or any misunderstanding between the four occupying Powers, in the military sense, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying—I deplore having to say it and I may be wrong—that I do not believe that we could limit a war of that kind to what is called a limited war. Moreover, I absolutely and emphatically reject the suggestion that what is called a pause is possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Bmrys Hughes), who upset the applecart at the beginning of the debate, referred to civil defence. I will not deal with that, but he pinpointed the need for the greatest urgency, almost desperate urgency, to promote reasonable discussions at the forthcoming conference at Geneva. So did my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton. I believe that that is our only hope, but I noticed in the newspapers this morning that Mr. Foster, the Director of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, at a Press conference and in reply to questions, said that the Americans required to tighten the method of inspection and control. To me that seemed ominous. I do not like it at all. I am not too hopeful about that conference. At the same time, like everyone else, I wish it well.
259 Time and again yesterday, from these benches and to some extent from the Government benches, hon. and right hon. Members said in a most pathetic fashion, "We have not the facts". In reply to an hon. Member who referred to a newspaper article, the Minister of Defence said that the hon. Member had obtained his information from the newspapers, and the reply was, "Where else can we get it?" On several occasions in the House in defence debates I have advocated that it might be sensible on the part of the Opposition to enter into consultation with the Government on matters of defence. That proposition has always been rejected by the Opposition on the ground that it would disarm criticism. What do they do? My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in order to gain information, goes to Washington and consults President Kennedy. What does my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick do? He goes to General Norstad for information. The one thing which they will not do is to consult the Prime Minister in this country.
§ Mr. Wigg
My right hon. Friend should realise that under American law the American President cannot give information to a foreigner on atomic matters. When General Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander he could not even give the information to his deputy, Field Marshal Montgomery, nor could General Norstad give it to General Gale. How can my right hon. Friend suggest for a moment that the Leader of the Opposition was given information by President Kennedy?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I do not want to say much about that, but it seems to me that when my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) was my Parliamentary Private Secretary at the War Office he might have had a squint at some of my files.
It seems to me to be absurd that we cannot have discussions between right hon. and hon. Members on these benches and the military experts in the Government in order to get the facts. I do not believe that it would disarm criticism; if we wanted to criticise we should do so in the most forthright fashion, except where security was concerned.
260 The Minister of Aviation referred to the prospects of increased co-ordination in the Services. Let me tell him something: it is one of the most difficult tasks to undertake. His generals, his air marshals and his admirals are the most hide-bound people I have ever met. One can bring them together and they are quite friendly, but they all want their own way. It requires the toughest kind of Minister, backed by every member of the Government, to promote effective co-ordination in the Services, much less integration.
But I believe that that is one of the solutions to our problems. I do not mean that it would solve all our problems, but it is one solution for many of the difficulties which beset the Minister of Defence. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to be memorable in the history of this country I beseech him to use his great influence and power in the Cabinet and in the Government to ensure that there is more effective co-ordination, and even integration, in the Services than we have yet known.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
Had I understood what the speech of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was about, I would have done him the courtesy of endeavouring to follow his argument, but I think that it would waste less time if I got on with my own speech, which is about the White Paper.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation said something at the end of his speech about his own Department. There are one or two things about his Department in the White Paper which I will commend. One is the restriction in the number of types of aircraft to be built for the R.A.F., and a second is the decision that in the future we shall not develop special aircraft for the Fleet Air Arm. The latter, I think, must be right, because our requirements are so small that it can never be economic for us to develop these aircraft ourselves. This policy is in line with the long-overdue amalgamation of the various aircraft companies, for so long resisted by the Ministry of Supply. Not long ago we had in this country more research and design teams than they had in the whole of America.
261 I also very much welcome the mention of checkpoints. I think that my right hon. Friend was referring in a rather complicated way to them. A checkpoint is a very important thing. Every so often on a research project one must ask oneself three questions. First, are the assumptions on which we first commissioned this project still valid? Secondly, if they are still valid, is progress being made quickly enough for the weapon, or whatever it may be, to arrive in time? Thirdly, if we get it in time, can we afford to buy it in sufficient quantities to make sense?
If these questions had been asked more sternly in some previous propositions, I think that we should not have wasted anything like as much money. There has always been this tendency to go on, simply because we have already spent so much money or because of the obstinacy of the Ministry. My right hon. Friend mentioned the Rotodyne. This is a classic example. He was right in his decision. The Rotodyne was never likely to be an economic military vehicle. The B.E.A. expressed only intermittent interest in it; the Corporation said that it might use it if it would not make much noise when, obviously, it was going to make a noise.
When I was Secretary of State for Air, in 1956, I thought that I had put the Rotodyne out of the military programme, which was already overloaded, but three years later my successor rose at the Dispatch Box and talked about the forces having the Rotodyne. At the end of the day, in 1962, we are told that there is no Service or civil demand for it, and that the project is cancelled. I always felt that the old Ministry of Supply must have taken the Hippocratic oath never to discuss the diseases of its patients with third parties.
Thank goodness, things are now much reformed. My right hon. Friend is a new broom. I hope that things will be better. Perhaps he will study the story of the Rotodyne carefully, have it inscribed on vellum and keep it on his table as an awful warning of what might happen.
I want to turn to the next five-year plan. I agree with those who say that it is the same plan as the first five-year plan, except that the theme is announced piano and not fortissimo. The theme 262 is still the same; it is still the Sandys-Brown theme. I thought that the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was very unkind to his right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) when he denounced the 1957 White Paper, because that White Paper was exactly in line with the military thinking of the right hon. Member for Belper then and for many years afterwards. It still may be today. It was the theme that nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical, can be a substitute for conventional weapons. When a nuclear balance exists, that is a fallacy. It has been recognised as such by the Americans, and is being increasingly recognised as such all over the world.
The West, of course, must have a viable nuclear deterrent. I was pleased that the Leader of the Opposition approved the American decision to recommence tests. It would have been very wrong not to do so. I have never argued that we should leave the nuclear club ourselves—certainly not at this stage. There is a long history behind this matter. It was Lord Attlee who started the atom bomb, and he did it in secret. He concealed his project by the pious fraud of borrowing money from the Civil Contingencies Fund under the subhead, "Public Buildings in Great Britain." We have been in the business for a long time.
If we were to opt out of the nuclear club now we should confuse the whole disarmament issue instead of clarifying it. We are in a better position if we are members of the club, and if we cannot get nuclear disarmament we must keep our "know-how", in case certain extremely unfortunate events occur.
Having said that, however, I believe that we should tilt the balance far more decisively than we have in favour of conventional forces.
§ Mr. Birch
I am coming to the hon. and learned Member in a moment.
We have been told that 10 per cent. of the defence budget is going on the deterrent. I strongly suspect that independent statisticians would arrive at a higher figure, but I am prepared to accept the 10 per cent. But even that amounts to £170 million. For £40 263 million we could have another 40,000 men in the Army, and we would still be left with quite a lot for our strategic nuclear deterrent. It is the soldiers that we need, and can use.
That brings me to the question of selective service. I have never believed that we can have viable conventional forces without selective service. It is no good the right hon. Member for Smethwick and the Liberal Party saying that we must have an enormous build-up of our Armed Forces on the Continent and then refusing to face the fact that if we do that we must have selective service.
Right hon. and hon. Members opposite must sometimes wonder why they have gone down at four General Elections—why they have lost the last three, and are likely to lose the next. This is a feat never even attempted, let alone brought off, by any great party since the Reform Bill of 1832. The reason is just this sort of failure to face the issue—this desire to have it both ways, all the time. The public know this, and do not like it.
One of the troubles about rejecting selective service is that one is inevitably led on to put forward a number of bad arguments. It is implicit—and, indeed, explicit—in the White Paper that, by a merciful dispensation of Providence, the number of men required exactly equals the number that we may hope to recruit.
I shall be corrected by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) if I am wrong, but I believe that we have eight or nine battalions of Gurkhas with a certain number of supporting units behind them. The Gurkhas are the best mercenary soldiers in history, including the Swiss, but their employment is now subject to a triple trip clause. First, they have to pass through or over Indian territory to reach us; secondly, they have China as a neighbour; and, thirdly, their political situation is not as stable as it used to be. It would be a terrible day if we were to lose them, but that is not an utterly impossible event. We have no flexibility, and we would still be bound to say that the forces to be recruited in this country were exactly sufficient to achieve what we wanted to do without the Gurkhas. We can have no flexibility without the right to call men up. 264 The second bad argument arises out of the White Paper, which says that it is not much good calling men up for two years because they cannot be trained, and cannot do worthwhile service. In that case, how do other countries manage to get on? It is the old professional soldier's argument, and it is particularly popular among high-ranking officers. I had some difference of opinion with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence some time ago on the subject of mentioning high-ranking officers by name. I do not take back what I then said, but do not doubt for a moment that the majority of high-ranking officers with whom my right hon. Friend deals are against selective service and in favour of the voluntary principle. So were the marshals of France, before the Franco-Prussian War.
A most instructive book, which I ask my right hon. Friend to read, is The Franco-Prussian War, by Michael Howard. Before that war the French Army said that conscripted men were utterly impossible to train, unless they served for a very long period, and the very few conscripts that they had were made to serve for seven years. They despised the short-service Prussian Army, but when it came to the point that Army fought very well, and the French Army was defeated, one reason being that it had such small trained reserves.
Trained reserves are our Achilles heel today. The White Paper says that an examination of the whole reserve position is in hand. It is a little late for this, but it is to be welcomed. How much comfort we shall get out of it I do not know. Sometimes, when I contemplate these matters, I can almost see the shades of Bazaine and Bourbaki assisting in the council room of the War Office.
The next argument is to over-emphasise mobility. Anybody on either side of the House who says that we must have more mobility is certain to get a cheer from both sides. I agree that the fewer men we have the more attention must be paid to moving them about quickly from place to place. Mobility is important. It is a principle of war, and one magnifies one's power by having it. But we still cannot have power without forces. If we put nothing into an aircraft we can get nothing out. Owing to this fetish of mobility we are inevitably 265 building up overheads which will be most difficult to sustain.
There is something to be said for expanding Transport Command—and it is being expanded. But it is the most expensive form of transport that we can think of, because it does no useful work, except on rare occasions. In the past, we have been able to improvise quite successfully. In emergencies, we have used Coastal Command to move whole brigades—as in the case of Cyprus and Kenya. They are not suitable aircraft for moving troops, but the troops get there.
I remember one soldier, when asked what he thought of his trip in an aircraft of Coastal Command, saying, "It was very much like travelling on British Railways on Bank Holiday, except that the food was better and the lavatories were cleaner." This form of improvisation is effective and cheap. In the last resort we can always call upon the civil aircraft belonging both to the charter firms and the Corporations. I hope that we shall not press for an outsize Transport Command.
Then we have the Commando carrier. There is one in commission, and we shall have another one coming in a few years. I suppose that they cost about £40 million, but the cost does not stop there. The carrier has a whole fleet of attendant ships to look after it. I cannot believe that a more expensive means has ever been devised for lifting 1,000 fighting men. The expense is colossal. This would be justified only if we were fairly certain that we would be able to use it for some vitally important task.
It is worth looking at how we have used troops since the war and whether the Commando carrier is relevant. It was irrelevant in Korea. It was irrelevant in Malaya. It was irrelevant in Kenya and in Cyprus and only very marginally relevant in the Suez operation. It was irrelevant in Europe and irrelevant in the "Nicholas Kaldor revolution" in British Guiana. This leaves us with Kuwait, where it was used, but that was not an opposed landing and we could have got the troops in by far cheaper conveyance. It seems to me that this Commando carrier conception is one where one needs an absolutely tailor-made situation to suit it, and I have not been able to think of one 266 arising. It could arise, but it has not since the war and I doubt whether it ever will. Please let the Minister not say that as we give up bases ashore we must have bases afloat. A thousand men in a boat are not a base and never could be.
It is pondered gravely in the White Paper why the lesser breeds do not know how we can do without selective service and the high Victorian answer is given that it is our tradition. But I believe that we cannot afford to do without selective service. Queen Victoria is dead.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The House, as usual will have enjoyed the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). I particularly liked his aphorism that one cannot get more out of an aeroplane than one puts into it. The Government have so far solved that problem by having no aeroplanes. I also shared his view about the tradition of the Kuwait success. It is going down as one of the great battle honours of the British forces of recent years, but it is not likely to occur again. It is the sort of situation that is on its way out.
Again, it was pleasing that a picture of the Rotodyne will be added to the portrait of Mr. Gladstone which, no doubt, is being replaced since the lamented death of Lord Dalton over the Chancellor's desk. It will be matched by a picture of this unhappy helicopter. They will make an impressive pair, warning of economies still to come, but which have not yet arisen.
Defence is certainly interdependent now and the free world believes that deterrence must stretch right up from the conventional arms to the strategic nuclear weapons. The question we have to ask is what contribution this country can make to that policy. The criticism of the White Paper is that, like the last four or five White Papers, it lays down a policy that we should try to do a little of everything. We have no priorities. We have not made up our minds where we shall make our main effort.
Liberals have argued consistently against the strategy which depends upon a British nuclear deterrent, and I was extremely glad to hear that the right 267 hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has come round to that point of view. He is a highly intelligent man and I knew that he would do so, but it has taken some time. Three years, indeed. I was also interested in the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), because I had a rather rough time in a debate about five years ago when I suggested that we should give up the British nuclear deterrent.
One of the Ministers who answered that debate was the right hon. Member for Hall Green. I should say, in justice to him, that he did not put up a very convincing case. Nevertheless, he was put up to argue in favour of the nuclear deterrent, but now he says that "as far as the Soviet Union is concerned he does not believe that the British deterrent makes one iota of difference." Even the British Government talk about "a contribution" to the Western deterrent.
This afternoon, when I asked whether, if we gave up this contribution, the Western deterrent would fall below danger level, the Minister of Aviation did not answer that question quite directly. He used a good deal of rhetoric to say that anyone who recommended that was embarked on a dangerous course, or words to that effect. But the right hon. Gentleman has embarked on a fearfully dangerous course in recent years, and here I apologise to the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) for partially shooting his fox in this matter.
On 28th January, the Minister made a speech in which he pointed out that we could not go on doing all the things that we tried to do and that among the possibilities that we might give up was our nuclear deterrent. If the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that this is a vital part of the Western deterrent, and he believes in the policy of a deterrent, I cannot see how he could possibly recommend, even on the ground of economy, that we should give up the V-bomber force.
The reasons which he now gives for saying that the V-bomber force is an essential part of the Western deterrent do not seem to be convincing. The force is obsolescent. The Government 268 themselves expected it to be obsolescent. if not obsolete, by the present time. We have no independent warning system of our own. The Americans are paying most of the costs of Fylingdales and every advance by the Russians and the Americans leaves the V-bomber force less effective as a second-strike weapon.
I do not know how far it is true, but it was suggested in the Daily Telegraph, on 16th November, that those Russian mammoth explosions knocked out the communications system and destroyed the essential control system. Certainly, when satellites are in full shriek round the world it seems to me that this force will be no longer effective, at least as a second-strike weapon. I am not convinced by the argument that we have still to go on pretending that we are making a vital contribution to the defence of the West by keepng our own deterrent.
Another point in connection with the White Paper is what has been taken as a shift away from Europe. I was glad to hear the Minister of Aviation say, or imply, that this was a misunderstanding. He twitted the Labour Opposition on wanting to go into Europe for defence when they were not exactly clear that they wanted to go into it economically. But are the Government not moving away from the importance of Europe relative to other commitments? We have had four divisions reduced to seven brigade groups very much under strength and more and more dependent on battlefield nuclear weapons, a situation which I consider to be extremely alarming and out of line with the shift in American policy towards having sufficient conventional weapons at least to impose a pause in the event of local action. It certainly seems a strange moment to play down Europe.
One of the difficulties about maintaining our forces in Europe, as I appreciate, is finance, but I cannot believe that if we are serious about the defence of Europe as the homeland and the heart of the West it is a good enough reason for letting our troops run down to a dangerous level. I should have thought that this was a matter to be solved not by direct negotiations between this country and Germany, but by multilateral negotiations in N.A.T.O. I hope that we shall have more assurance that not only 269 is the problem realised, as we know it is, but that it is being met.
Finally, I want to look a little wider than the immediate question of defence and, like the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), I want to say a little about paragraph 10 of the White Paper, which deals with disarmament. I accept that the Russians do not want total war. I know that there is a view that deterrence so long as it is effective gives a certain basic stability to the world and perhaps a degree of safety. I know that that view exists. I cannot say that I accept it—at least, not as a permanent situation. Deterrence is not something new. It has been the basis of practically all defence policies in modern times. After all, the old song,We don't want to fight, but, by jingo, if we do …is a statement of deterrence. It is a concept of value, but of limited value. I do not think that any of us would say that if we wanted to achieve stability between Israel and the Arabs, they should both be armed with atomic and, indeed, nuclear weapons on the ground that they would deter each other from attack. I know that arms races have not always ended in war, but they have a horrible tendency that way. I fear that the new round of tests will start a new spiral.
I accept deterrence as a temporary necessity. Therefore, I recognise the argument for American tests. I accept that if one believes in the Western deterrent at all the Americans must be expected to test, and I accept that, if there has been a notable advance in antimissile missiles, this is certainly a relevant matter. I see little, if any, argument for the Nevada test. Nobody has suggested that it was connected with antimissile missiles. If it is suggested that it is connected with the supply of battlefield atomic weapons, it is a positive danger, because Britain would do far better to concentrate more on her conventional arms than on battlefield atomic weapons.
Furthermore, I still am not convinced that it was necessary or right to take this decision now. I am rather alarmed by an opinion, which, I fear, is growing, that by being tough with the Russians we have achieved something. There were some yesterday Who felt that by 270 taking the decision now, we had moved Mr. Khrushchev to a more conciliatory attitude about the forthcoming conversations and that, possibly, this was an example of good results from a tough policy.
It would be unwise to bank on that. Mr. Khrushchev is probably fighting people in his country who have asked him to make no concessions just as people in the West are fighting certain people in this country. We should not strengthen his hand nor make it more possible for him to give concessions if they felt that he had been blackmailed or frightened in any way into making concessions over the forthcoming conference.
If we are to use the present phase as a temporary expedient to go on to something else, what are the hopes of disarmament? To begin with, what do we know of the views of the Chinese on disarmament? Can the Government tell us anything, at the end of the debate, about the Chinese attitude? This is becoming a more and more important matter. Opinion in this country knows little about it. Will the Chinese disarm?
What chances are there of confining nuclear weapons? Even if we get countries to give up nuclear weapons, the nuclear "know-how" will still exist and it is becoming more and more difficult to see how it can be confined. We should make a last effort to try to get direct agreement between America and Russia to confine the tests and weapons, if they can, to themselves and to impose on, say, the rest of the world enforced nuclear disarmament. I do not see any other way of preventing the indefinite spread of these weapons, nor do I see any other way of getting much progress in general disarmament.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
How does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that that should be enforced on the rest of the world—by dropping a bomb, or in what way?
§ Mr. Grimond
It should not be impossible to enforce it, although it may be difficult. The great argument which is used is that if one country has nuclear weapons it is in a position to enforce its will on the rest of the world. This is the whole argument on which the case for the deterrent rests. It is said that 271 if we were to give up the weapon, and Russia had it, we should be forced to submit to her demands. That may be a bogus or wrong argument, but it is the argument on which the case for the deterrent is made. If that is valid, it must be valid to say that if two countries agreed to enforce, as far as they could, some degree of nuclear disarmament on the rest of the world, it might work.
Very little time is left to us, and the one thing to go for is, if possible, an agreement between the Americans and the Russians. I do not deny that this can only be founded on some coming together on policy. I do not suggest that there could be a real disarmament agreement without removing some of the causes of friction.
Then, in moving into general disarmament, we come to the further difficulty of inspection. Has any progress been made in this direction? Are we going into the talks simply to meet the same old dilemma that the West insists upon stage-by-stage inspection, but the Russians will not have it? I should like to know whether there is any high-level study of these matters, not only in the Foreign Office, but in the Ministry of Defence. The right hon. Member for Huyton suggested that there should be a strong unit in the Foreign Office studying disarmament. This also very much affects the decisions concerning defence, however, and I am not at all clear that the place for the suggested unit is not rather in the Ministry of Defence.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The McCloy-Zorin agreement provided for inspection stage by stage and that, of course, was a joint Soviet-American proposal. It is rather important that that principle has been accepted.
§ Mr. Grimond
I accept that. The difficulty concerns the matter to be inspected, an aspect to which I was about to refer.
I think that I am right in saying that the Russians would like inspection to comprise inspection of the weapons which are being destroyed. If we accept that, there is a risk. To my mind, however, there is a risk in the present position. There is a risk in the policy of deterrence. There is a risk in the rise 272 of China and in the spread of nuclear weapons. We have to make up our minds which is the less dangerous or more acceptable risk. It is a serious consideration whether the risk of accepting as a start the Russian view—that the weapons which are got rid of are inspected—is not worth taking.
I do not pretend that this is not a difficult matter, but if we are to make progress at all we have to face the disagreement between East and West. We must weigh the risks one against another. That the situation has been reached when we may be faced with a spiralling of tests and of threats, leading, possibly, by mistake to ultimate war or, on the other hand, the acceptance of the Russian viewpoint that we get rid of certain weapons at the start as a step towards total disarmament, if we were to do that and it were proved that the Russians were cheating or that in some way it was an unsatisfactory procedure, I do not see that we would have lost everything. There might be a risk involved, but I do not know that it is a less acceptable, calculated risk than the course on which we are now embarked.
The White Paper is simply a continuation of the last five years. I do not feel that any safety lies in the indefinite situation of deterrence. I foresee the situation growing more difficult and, like many other hon. Members, I feel that the forthcoming meeting may be one of the last chances in which we can stop the drift, which nobody wants or intends to end in war, but is certainly a dangerous and warlike exercise.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I find myself in considerable agreement with a number of the things that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has said. The right hon. Member made some interesting points, but I did not find that they added up to any coherent policy. That has always been my criticism of the right hon. Gentleman's point of view. He put forward the need for more conventional forces, but he did not, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint. West (Mr. Birch) advocated, say that that inevitably meant conscription, as we all know that it must. If we want much larger conventional forces, we must have conscription—
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not want much larger conventional forces, but when we say that we all know this I am sure that the Government do not. The Government cannot be content with the present situation in Germany, but they do not yet suggest conscription.
§ Sir J. Smyth
We all understand that we are today working towards a certain target of Service personnel. Whether it is reached remains to be seen. We hope that recruiting will so improve that we will reach the numbers desired, but those who advocate a considerable increase in our conventional forces must accept the principle of conscription. That is only common sense.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the policy of the deterrent is not new. We have been trying to get a deterrent for years and years. I also agree with him when he says that when all the disarmament is achieved—if we can get it—there will still remain the nuclear "know-how". We have to accept that.
I think that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) paid a very great tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, and to his policy when, during the Third Reading of the Army Reserve Bill, he said that this is the first time since the war that we have not got one man on active service. That is what we all want, and we can all be pleased that we have attained it, even for a short time. I certainly think that my right hon. Friend should be congratulated on that result of his policy.
We all want to get agreement on the cessation of nuclear tests, and some agreement on comprehensive disarmament, but neither we nor our allies could possibly agree to any scheme that lacked adequate safeguards for inspection. The recent replies that the Russians have made to our approaches give one hope that they are having second thoughts on that subject.
I should like to quote, in that connection, what has been said by two people for whom I have considerable admiration. Earl Attlee has said:If there is any idea that I was preaching unilateral disarmament it is absolute nonsense. I was discussing the inferences to be drawn from the coming of the H-bomb, and was concerned to refute the idea, popular in pacifist 274 quarters, that it is possible to isolate nuclear bombs from other weapons, and outlaw them. What we have to aim at is all-round disarmament, and unless and until that stage is reached we must be strong in arms.The other person is the former President of the United States, Mr. Harry Truman, who worked, as I know, in very close co-operation with Earl Attlee when they led their respective countries. They had a very great admiration for one another. Mr. Truman, in his recently published book Mr. Citizen, says, in the chapter on the atom and war, something that is the absolute foundation of my belief in defence and disarmament in modern times. He writes:I abhor war, and I am opposed to any kind of killing whether by atomic bomb or bow and arrow. War is killing on a mass scale, and it is war that we must eliminate or it will eliminate us. But the biggest mistake we could make would be to delude ourselves into believing that the danger of war would be eliminated if we merely abolished nuclear weapons and reduced other armaments. Let us not become so preoccupied with weapons that we lose sight of the fact that war itself is the real villain and the scourge of mankind, and it is war, and the causes that lead to war, that must be abolished.I have always believed that most profoundly. That is why I utterly disagree with those who would countenance a limited conventional war in Europe. Many people say, "Why don't we have a nice little conventional war? It will be all right, it won't spread." That is a fatal policy. No war of any sort must be allowed to start if we can possibly stop it.
The collective defence policy, in which we play a great part, is geared to prevent war by making it quite clear that it would not pay any aggressor to make war on the Western Powers. We should aim at talking peace from strength. I do not think that the Opposition have really understood the meaning of collective security. Their Amendment would wash out the White Paper and our defence policy because they say it does not ensure the defence of Britain, but we are aiming at something very much bigger and wider than that. We are aiming at the defence of the free world, and the part we are to play in it. It is very parochial of the Opposition to put their Amendment in those rather minor terms.
Twenty years ago we stood alone. Under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) we were prepared to fight 275 on the beaches, and in the towns and the villages. I do not believe that such a situation could ever exist again. With the progress that has been made in modern weapons, Britain cannot possibly stand alone in defence matters in the future. There can be no glorious idea—and it was a glorious idea—that we could stand by ourselves, as we did twenty years ago.
That idea, implicit in the Opposition's Amendment, is outdated. Great Britain, like all her allies, must rely for her survival on the whole defence plan of the Western world, and the essential object of our defence and the defence of the allied world must be to prevent a war from starting. There will, of course, be small wars in many parts of the world, but I believe most sincerely that any major clash between the forces of the Soviet Union and the Western world would inevitably lead in a very short time to a global war. And that must just not be allowed to happen.
My second quarrel with the Opposition's Amendment is that it was ever put down at all. It has become the custom over the last five years that whenever we have a debate on defence the Opposition must table an Amendment of censure, and oppose the whole thing root and branch. That is one of the reasons why the country has at present no confidence in the Labour Party over defence. We cannot change a defence plan just like that; we have to look forward at least five years. If it so happened that the Opposition came to power they would have to carry on with the defence plan more or less as it then existed, because it would be the collective defence plan of the allied world—not something that could be changed by a mere stroke of the pen.
I always remember very well the teaching and guidance that we got from my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford when the Conservative Party was in Opposition. As a result, although we criticised and hit hard in debates of this sort, we did not put down an Amendment of censure and invite a head-on collision on defence as the Labour Party now always does. I think that Lord Attlee continued that policy when he was Leader of the Opposition. However, of recent years it has become 276 the custom to put down an Amendment and to have a three-line Whip and a head-on collision on this subject of defence.
Ever since I made my maiden speech in the House on defence—from the Opposition side of the House—I have always hoped that we could discuss this vital matter—for it is vital for us as a nation—in a less party-political way than we are doing today. As the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said so rightly, there is complete disagreement in the House on this matter. That is what always happens. I do not believe that it is absolutely necessary. If we could look for the points of agreement to start with, we should find that there were quite a number of them. We should then try to build on that a less acrimonious defence debate than year after year having in the House an Amendment of censure, a three-line Whip and a head-on collision.
I want to call attention to one or two things said by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), because he is the new Shadow Defence Minister and the person who is leading his party on defence. He said, quite rightly:We cannot have defence on the cheap. Equipping our conventional forces will be very expensive.He had just advocated a large increase in conventional forces.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick started off by quoting The Times. He actually quoted it four times. I thought to myself, "He is behind 'The Times'", because I believe that on modern defence The Times, also, is very much behind the times. For the moment, it seemed to me that the military correspondent of The Times must have written the right hon. Gentleman's speech for him until the right hon. Gentleman threw The Times overboard on the very basic principle of conscription on which, as we all know, The Times is wholeheartedly in favour and the right hon. Gentleman is not.
The right hon. Gentleman then said:… are not against the entire forces of the Crown.I am glad that he said that, because it was very difficult to find anything in which he was not against the whole 277 Armed Forces of the Crown. I really do not think that he said a good word for them. Everything was wrong for them. The Royal Air Force was all out of date, the V-bombers were useless and our forces in Europe could not operate this, that or the other. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who will wind up the debate for the Opposition will try to say something good about our defence forces, because there is a great deal of good that could be said.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick also said:I really do not know the facts. Only the Government are in a position to …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1962; Vol. 655. c. 64–9.]know.
I do not claim to know the facts any more than the right hon. Gentleman, but I suppose that the person who knows the facts better than anyone else is the Minister. Yet when he gives the facts no one opposite will accept what he says.
The right hon. Gentleman and a number of other hon. Members have talked about a second-strike weapon. They said that the V-bomber was not a good second-strike weapon. Those concerned would like all weapons to be first-strike weapons. Obviously, any weapon is much more effective if it can have the advantage of surprise. I think that we should all agree about that. However, as we all know, we are not going to start a global war and, therefore, we have to accept the fact that the weapons that we have will be second-strike weapons.
The cost of defence is a very important matter, and I am very glad that it assumed such an important place in the White Paper. The cost of modern weapons is fantastic and so is the cost of modern personnel. We demand much higher standards of pay, accommodation and conditions than we ever did before, and rightly so. Let me take as an example Aden, which we are now developing as a base. I often called there in the old days on my way to India and back, and it really was a terrible place in which to put troops. They just lay there and baked and hoped that the mermaids, for which Aden was once supposed to be famous, would appear. I always thought that that was a pipe-dream of the War Office 278 to add to the amenities of Aden in a very inexpensive way. I never met anyone who saw the mermaids of Aden. But today, although we may talk about mermaids, we have to build air-conditioned accommodation and make the troops comfortable, and that is extremely expensive.
I think that 7 per cent. of our national product is about the right amount for defence. I do not think it should go very much higher. When the Labour Harty went out of office, its expenditure represented 9.3 per cent. of the national income. That was certainly too high. It would have risen higher still if we had not cut it back.
We ought all to realise that half the total defence bill goes on pay and allowances. That is the most expensive item. Next comes production and research—and so it should—for which we pay £700 million a year. I am sure that nothing would please our enemies more than that we should, for instance, build up large conventional forces in Europe and thereby gravely jeopardise our economic stability. That would be the worst thing that we could do
We ought to have a new look at N.A.T.O. and its purpose. As I said, people still think in terms of a large-scale conventional war being possible "on the Continent. I do not. N.A.T.O. serves two very important purposes. First, it is the shield about which we have heard so much. It is designed to deal with incidents, to contain them and to force a pause and give both sides time to think. I believe that for that purpose General Norstad's forces, as they are at the moment, are just about sufficient, even without their tactical nuclear weapons. I have never been very keen about tactical nuclear weapons because, frankly, I think that they are dangerous. [Laughter.] They are dangerous from two points of view. First, their effect is so terrific; secondly, they might just lead to the condition of affairs that we are trying to prevent. I think that we ought to have tactical nuclear weapons, and that we should use them if the Russians use them, but not before. That has been advocated by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House.
As to the second main purpose of N.A.T.O., the fifteen allied countries are 279 all in Europe together for a common purpose, and an attack on one is an attack on all. I do not think that the size of each country's contribution matters so much that the fact that it is there in Europe and is part of the N.A.T.O. organisation. I think that it is that which has made the Russians up to the present—and I am sure that it will continue to do so—so chary of launching any large-scale offensive in Europe.
Surprise has always been one of the most powerful weapons of war. In recent years, since 1914, strategic surprise has been very hard to achieve, and was so particularly in the First World War. It was the Japanese in their attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour who, I am sure, set the pattern for any aggressor in a future war, and that is to strike first and declare war afterwards. That is why this expression "first strike" is of such inestimable importance, or would be in a nuclear war, and both the Russians and ourselves know that perfectly well. It would be an enormous advantage to the side that could strike first.
Therefore, although I believe that the Russians do not want a global war, I am quite certain that they will not risk losing the advantage of the first strike by launching any sort of major conventional attack on our troops in Europe which might give us cause to strike back with all the power at our command. That is a very important point to remember, and I think my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is absolutely right when he says that we ought not to particularise more than that, but say that, in the event of major aggression, we will fight back with all the power at our command. I do not think that there is anything else that he could say.
I feel myself that Great Britain today, because we have so many commitments in other parts of the world, has too many of her troops tied up in N.A.T.O. I admit that quite a proportion must be there, because that is part of the whole N.A.T.O. scheme, but, in view of the commitments and the very large tasks which we have in many other parts of the world, I think that, possibly, we should not send more troops into N.A.T.O., but should take, say, a couple 280 of brigades out into our general reserve, to be ready to go into N.A.T.O. or any other part of the world where a real emergency existed.
Paragraph 35 of the White Paper on conscription ought to be read and reread. It is very well worded, and puts our case extremely well—that conscription cannot give us the mobile, highly-trained formations that we want to move anywhere to keep the peace. I became accustomed, when serving in the Indian Army, to what was the largest voluntary defence force in the world in both world wars, and I am quite certain that it is the long-service, highly-trained man that we want at present in peace time.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said that it was the senior officers who were against conscription and who wanted a voluntary defence force. I do not agree at all with my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint. It is essentially the battalion commanders who want long-service, highly-trained battalions, without continually having to train new men and having the personnel of the battalion constantly changing ground. Having been a battalion commander for four years, I certainly subscribe very much to that point of view.
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who is not in his place at the moment, is very assiduous. I admire him very much for his hard work on the question of conscription and voluntary service. He goes into all these matters extremely thoroughly, and takes a tremendous amount of trouble. However, I do not agree with the conclusions at which he arrives. I think that if his conclusions had been correct the British Army, by this time, would have almost ceased to exist.
I must quote something that the hon. Gentleman said in the House on 31st July, 1956—an important year:I am one of the minor prophets. I venture to repeat that, unless both sides of the House are very wise, we shall have National Service for 20 years or more."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 1262.]This side of the House was very wise, because during the next year, when we brought out the 1957 White Paper, we started the plan to do away with National Service, which the hon. Gentleman thought we would not be able to do for twenty years.
281 The hon. Gentleman also said this:I think that the Labour Party will win the next Election in a couple of years' time from now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 1262.]I am only saying that as a minor prophet he was not as great a success as the assiduous worker in getting all the homework done on all these points, on which the hon. Gentleman makes a great contribution.
In conclusion, I congratulate the Minister of Defence most warmly on the White Paper, which, I know, will be warmly welcomed by the defence Services. After all, that is important, because they are the people who have to do the job. Although there is to be a Division at the end of the debate tonight, and I dare say that a number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not agree, and possibly one or two of my hon. Friends, I believe that the country as a whole, and certainly the Conservative Party as a whole, agrees wholeheartedly with my right hon. Friend's policy. I am sure that it will work out in the best possible way.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
Sincere, thoughtful, well-intentioned, homely, and, indeed, almost ventre á terre—or perhaps, in the case of the Aden mermaids, ventre á mer—as the speech to which we have just listened was, I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) will forgive me if I do not attempt to go through it in detail, though there were one or two points in it which I hope I shall succeed in answering, or at least try to answer, in the course of my own speech.
In yesterday's speech by the Minister of Defence, which repeated in character what he said his previous year's speech had been called—"grey and sober"—there was one moment of low farce, when the right hon. Gentleman, contrasting our happy lot in this country with the dark night of the Soviet system, said:Anything that happens in a democracy can be read about in the newspapers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1962; Vol. 655, c. 49.]—an assertion which was rather startling, in that context, to hon. Members who have constantly heard Ministers shelter, legitimately or not, behind the formula that "it would not be in the national 282 interest" to disclose this or that fact. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman did not mean it. Indeed, he qualified it a moment later by saying "so far as security conditions allow." The fact that he could slip into that little piece of humbug shows how rigidly his mind, like the minds of so many other people in this country nowadays, is conditioned by the prejudices and assumptions of the cold war.
I was glad, however, to see the right hon. Gentleman nod his head in agreement when my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said:Nuclear weapons are unique; they are different in kind from anything in the history of warfare. And they are bringing a correspondingly unique change in the mind of humanity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March. 1962; Vol. 655, c. 72.]This truism, which is not yet sufficiently appreciated and understood, is part of the answer to the excessively simpliste remark by ex-President Truman which the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood quoted in his speech—the suggestion that there is no real difference in principle between an H-bomb and a bow and arrow. This is saloon-bar strategy, and we need not bother with it for very long.
Unfortunately, despite the agreement between himself and the Minister at this point in my right hon. Friend's speech, there is no evidence at all of any fundamental change in the thinking of the Government—or indeed, I admit, probably of most people in this country. There are still too many reactions and responses which really date from or belong to the era of the duel. One of these responses, for instance, is blind and dumb obedience in the serving officer or man in Her Majesty's Forces. In any armed forces, discipline and obedience "in all things lawful" are necessary; but I thought that it was tragic and horrifying that a senior officer should have said the other day that, if ordered to do so, he would of course "press the button" which might annihilate millions of people.
This is indistinguishable from the attitude of the defence in the war crimes trials at Nuremberg or in the Eichmann trial: "only obeying orders". In neither case was this defence regarded as valid. Surely the verdict of civilisation 283 must always be that some orders are so monstrous that they ought to be disobeyed. Genocide is genocide, whether it is the extermination of 6 million Jews in Germany or the extermination of countless people, also mostly innocent. in a major nuclear war.
Some people argue that the only point of the deterrent is that it should not be used. If it is ever used, it will obviously have failed to deter. But the Charter of the United Nations, to which both sides of the House owe allegiance, condemns alike force and the threat of force. No member of the Government has denied that in some circumstances the most destructive weapons of all will be used, and used before the other party in a conflict has used them. Indeed, the Dulles doctrine of massive retaliation, to which reference has already been made this evening—the threat to use nuclear weapons even against a conventional attack if it is sufficiently massive—provided the most controversial paragraph in the notorious Defence White Paper of 1957 and has never yet been repudiated. It seems to me to be implicit still in paragraph 8 of this Defence White Paper.
This is particularly disturbing, because there are some indications—and here I was particularly interested to hear what the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood said about the idea of first-strike weapons—of a revival in America of what may be called the first-strike mentality. A few weeks ago a reasonably well-informed Senator made a speech about this—and Senators and Congressmen are, on the whole, probably better-informed on some matters, because they are allowed to be better-informed, through their committee system and otherwise, than members of this House. At any rate, this Senator, Senator Clark, speaking at a conference on 16th February, referred to a recent policy decision that—We must further build up our nuclear deterrent so that it is more powerful than the Soviet nuclear striking force 'by a wide margin'.The decision, he said, issaid to be based on the theory that 'a deterrent only capable of striking second is highly unlikely to deter adequately'; and that we need to build a first-strike force for possible use in 'desperate circumstances'.284 Senator Clark added this valid and pointed question:Is a conscious effort to achieve and maintain a first-strike nuclear force compatible with serious disarmament discussions?How does this tendency fit in with the answers which we have recently had in the House? Yesterday we were repeatedly told that the essential thing in this whole business is that there should be a balance. I do not mean the balance between nuclear and conventional weapons. I mean the balance of terror, the balance of the deterrent between East and West, the balance between the two major nuclear Powers. Several speakers, including I think the Minister, emphasised how dangerous it would be if the balance were too far disturbed. Surely the balance has been disturbed, or else I do not understand—perhaps whoever is to wind up will explain?—what is meant by this use of the word "balance". One would presumably take it to mean that there was, roughly, parity between the two sides—approximately the same level of nuclear power.
But this is not at all the case at present. President Kennedy himself has told us, and the White Paper tells us, that the West still has superiority, despite the Russian tests last autumn. If this is true, why the hurry to restart the tests now, or soon? These tests will presumably put the West even further ahead, thus disturbing the balance still further. The Minister tells us how dangerous it is that the balance should be disturbed at all. Obviously the Russians will react by putting forward their concept of the balance. They will try to catch up. They will feel obliged to resume their testing, and we shall be back in the vicious circle, unless, as we all hope, the coming talks are successful. I think that there would have been a very much greater prospect and hope of their success if there had not been this announcement of the resumption of tests.
But the whole nightmare phenomenon of tests is an affront to the conscience of the world. Not only the use of the bomb, which everybody hopes to avoid, but its mere testing seems to me utterly wrong by any standards—ethical, humanist or Christian—which men have hitherto tried to observe when taking decisions.
285 The attempts to excuse testing are a striking example of a familiar process—the process whereby Governments, while indignantly denying that they would ever accept the pernicious doctrine that the end justifies the means, invariably, in what seems to them to be a sufficient emergency, practise that doctrine. We are told that we deeply regret having to restart the tests. I do not question the sincerity of that assurance; I do not think that there is any conscious hypocrisy in it. We are told that it is only military necessity that forces us to do so. In other words, military necessity is taken to force us to put some thousands—many thousands, perhaps—of innocent people to lingering and painful death, in what is called peace-time, before any nuclear war has started.
Does any end justify such means? This is not just a rhetorical question. The Prime Minister yesterday spoke of his "bleak dilemma"; and no one can envy a man in his position, charged with such appalling decisions to take and confronted by such dilemmas. But why did the Prime Minister evade the questions I ventured to put to him last Thursday—for a glance at HANSARD will show that he really did evade them? The questions I asked referred to the balance—a different sort of balance this time—between advantage and disadvantage, as it seemed to the Government, in restarting tests.
The Prime Minister assured us that all the pros and cons of tests had been carefully weighed up beforehand. I suggested that, if that was so, then among the cons—the arguments against restarting tests—must surely have been the human damage that must to some extent ensue. Therefore, I asked, had his scientific advisers given him an estimate of the extent of that human damage? How many new cases of leukaemia, bone cancer and genetic damage would result from the proposed series of tests? No doubt the numbers cannot be calculated exactly, but estimates have been made by reputable scientists. Yet the Prime Minister, instead of answering, merely said that he had every confidence in his scientific advisers, as no doubt he has.
But why did he not answer? Was it because he had not really thought out the implications of his policy? I do not 286 believe that. I give the right hon. Gentleman more credit than that. Or was it because he had thought out the implications and shrank in horror from the consequences of what he saw? I prefer to think that—and yet the right hon. Gentleman, and President Kennedy, seeing the consequences, still press on with their policy. They say, in effect, that the end justifies the means—however horrible. It may be a bleak dilemma, but they have not taken the only courageous and humane way out of it.
Can any possible readjustment of the balance of terror justify this essay in genocide (for that is what these tests are)? The Prime Minister referred me to the report of what he called the British Medical Council. I think he meant the Medical Research Council—if I am wrong, I apologise. He said, perhaps a shade ironically, that he assumed that most hon. Members had read and studied that document. As he must have known—if this is the report to which he was referring—it is so exclusively technical that it would be extremely difficult for most hon. Members, certainly for me, to understand it.
But I can understand the report produced in 1958 by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of atomic radiation. That report gave the possible annual consequences of nuclear tests, if continued at the then rate, as 60,000 cases of leukaemia, 25,000 cases of bone cancer and 40,000 cases of major genetic effects, above the normal incidence. As I say, that was in 1958, and the figures were for the consequences if the tests were continued at the then rate. But we do not know at what rate the new atmospheric tests are to be continued or for how long: surely we should be told.
I can also understand the forecast or estimate given by so eminent a chemist and scientist as Dr. Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner, whom some foolish people in America have tended to dismiss as a Communist or a Communist stooge. In the estimate I am now quoting Dr. Pauling was speaking about the Soviet tests of 19th October. He estimated that the 50-megaton blast carried out by the Soviet Union would cause 40,000 babies to be born with physical defects in the next few generations. He said that if 287 the atmospheric tests were followed at the same rate for six years the radioactivity from them would cause 400,000 stillbirths, bring about uncountable cases of bone cancer and leukaemia, and so on. I do not know whether that was a correct, a wise or an exaggerated estimate, and I suppose that no one will ever be able finally to check it.
I believe, however, that it is also true that the Russian tests—or at any rate the largest of them which followed the 50-megaton blast—were unexpectedly "clean". I understand that the Russians put a kind of lead jacket around the bomb before it was exploded and that that greatly reduced its violence and also the fall-out emanating from it. We have been promised by President Kennedy that there will be an "absolute minimum" of fall-out from the coming tests. I profoundly hope that that is so, but what exactly does he mean? Are precautions to be taken similar to those taken in some of the larger Soviet tests last autumn?
If anyone says that tests are necessary because one cannot have nuclear weapons without them, then that is a great argument against nuclear weapons themselves. I need not remind the Prime Minister—certainly not President Kennedy—of the classic Christian concept of the "just war". It seems to me that this concept is still immensely relevant. Weapons and circumstances change but the basic principles of natural justice which underlay that concept—medieval though it was in its origin—are still completely valid.
Hon. Members will recall what some of the conditions were under which a war could be regarded as a "just war". One was that it should be defensive and not aggressive. Out goes the first-strike war. Another was that the damage done by it should be limited, and that there should be no indiscriminate destruction of innocent persons, non-combatants, and so on. This, obviously, is a condemnation of nuclear war—as, indeed, it may have been of obliteration bombing in the last stages of the Second World War. One interesting and sensible condition laid down by the medieval schoolmen was that a war is only a "just war" if there is some reasonable prospect of winning it, and that one has no right to 288 embark on it unless that prospect exists. I need not labour this point in regard to nuclear war. Another condition is that it must be entered into under competent authority. That, of course, could be taken to mean any sovereign State, any Government; but I do not believe that any authority in the world is competent to take a decision of this kind on behalf of infants, on behalf of those still unborn, who have had no choice and no say in the decision—because, as I need not stress, unlike all other previous weapons, this weapon has these terrible genetic effects, these effects on posterity.
The odd and sad thing is that testing is not only wrong but almost certainly, from any point of view, now unnecessary. I conclude by quoting from, and drawing attention to, an extremely important lecture given on 5th January in America by Dr. Hans Bethe. Dr. Bethe is not a unilateralist, nor a nuclear disarmer. On the contrary, he believes in what he calls the "stabilised nuclear deterrent", which I have not time to explain now: it is a slightly different concept from that of the balance of terror. Dr. Bethe is, as I say, no starry-eyed idealist, but the head of the special committee of scientists which reported to President Kennedy on the significance of the Soviet test series—and he says that "the value of tests has been greatly exaggerated", that "nothing has been changed fundamentally by the Russian tests", that "nothing fundamental is likely to change by any amount of future testing". He says: "We already know so much about nuclear weapons that there is very little more to learn. We have weapons of all sizes for all military purposes".
Dr. Bethe adds that there is little military difference between 100 megatons and 10. Ten is enough to destroy nearly any big city. "We have 500 B-52s to deliver these 10-megaton weapons, and 1,000 B-47s. The Russians have smaller numbers but still enough to destroy us many times over". In short, "our over-kill capacity is stupefying".
How much, Mr. Speaker, is enough? In view of what is said by this expert, whose knowledge of his subject can hardly be questioned by any Member of the Government Front Bench, surely there should be a halt now to testing? If we cannot get agreement on a multilateral test ban, then the halt should 289 be unilateral, by this country. Moreover, the Prime Minister should have used all his influence with the President not to restart the atmospheric tests, and should not have agreed to make Christmas Island available for them.
There is one other point. I am sorry to detain the House, but Dr. Bethe mentioned one possible practical scheme for inspection and verification. I will not detail what it is. I will simply give its name, because I am sure that it must be familiar to the Minister who is to reply to this debate. Perhaps he will say whether the Government have this scheme in mind, and whether it will be discussed at the coming talks. It is the Sohn sampling scheme—that is, the scheme proposed by Professor Sohn, of the Harvard Law School. It is an extremely ingenious and detailed scheme.
But the real importance of Dr. Bethe's lecture is that it shows that the decision to resume testing was not primarily a military and scientific one, as we have been fooled into thinking. It was a political decision. All the shocked epithets applied to the Soviet tests last autumn—how disgraceful, we were told, to conduct tests largely for prestige or terroristic or propaganda reasons—apply with equal force to this Anglo-American decision.
Those of us who have been in Washington recently, and have tried to hack our way through part of that strange jungle of lobbies and bureaucracy, know something of the intense pressures to which President Kennedy is subjected by various interests. In particular, a vast industrial-military vested interest has grown up in the missile industry. This interest would be threatened by a real test ban. New sales depend on new models: new models depend on new tests. It is regrettable, indeed shameful, that the Prime Minister of Great Britain should feel obliged to yield indirectly to these same pressures, and should so feebly echo his master's voice.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
Unlike the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), I am convinced that the nuclear superiority of the West is far the best chance of preventing war, and I remind the hon. Gentleman 290 that when the West had not merely a great superiority but an actual monopoly of nuclear weapons it did not choose to start a pre-emptive war in which it could have destroyed its opponents—and quite rightly, in my opinion.
I hope that people in the Kremlin will study the speeches made by right hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench. If they do, they will realise, if they did not know it already, that this country, apart from a comparatively few Communist sympathisers and Communist dupes, is united in its determination to defend itself. I am not so convinced about the wisdom of the amount which we in this country are spending on the nuclear deterrent. The Times, in a leading article yesterday, referred to the dangerthat in trying to do too much with too little Britain will do nothing well.Unlike Russia and the United States, who have such vast resources that they can expand in both directions, the more we spend on nuclear weapons, the more we will have to curtail our conventional weapons. I am not advocating that we should here and now leave the nuclear club for the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), but I wish to plead, as I pleaded two years ago in this House, that our subscription to the club should not be so great as to diminish our other defence activities.
I do not find entirely convincing some of the claims made for an independent nuclear deterrent. It is said that by it alone we could deter, and I have no doubt that our V-bomber force is most formidable and admirably manned, but surely a deterrent depends not only on how much it could destroy but how credible it is that it would be used. I cannot believe that Russia would ever think that we would use it on our own. There can be no private war between Russia and ourselves.
It is sometimes said that we cannot rely on the United States. She has made solemn undertakings to come to the aid of Europe if there is aggression there. Not only has she said that, but she has built up her military disposition on that assumption. But even if we cannot believe what we hear and see, there is further evidence that I should like to give. Mr. Dean Acheson, a former 291 United States Secretary of State, said in a recent speech that the population and production of America and Europe were three times that of Russia, but that the population and production of Russia and Europe could be three times that of America. Thus, in the most selfish interest of her own, she is bound to keep her word and come to our aid if there is aggression.
Then it is said sometimes that, by having an independent nuclear deterrent, we can force our allies to adopt our policies. I do not see how that can be worked out. It cannot be suggested that we would threaten to start a nuclear war and involve them in it for that purpose. That would be a blackmail to which we could not possibly lend ourselves.
It is also said that it gives us more prestige to have our own nuclear deterrent. I have no doubt that, to some extent, that is true. But which is the more valuable contribution to the alliance? To be duplicating the weapons of which it has a sufficiency, or to be providing it with weapons of which it has not enough? Nuclear weapons cannot promote any national objectives. Britain has world responsibilities in the Commonwealth and to our friends all over the world, but it would be quite impossible and unthinkable to use nuclear weapons to carry them out.
During the last fifteen years there have been many small wars and large skirmishes, but a nuclear bomb has not been dropped in anger since Hiroshima. The use of these weapons would be so catastrophic that, presumably, most of us would not take much more interest in this life. I believe that the purpose of having nuclear weapons is not to use them, but to prevent other people from using them.
Now I come to what I believe is so vital—the strengthening of conventional weapons. Unless we are strong in conventional weapons we are likely to be faced, sometime or other, with the appalling dilemma of having to chose between piecemeal surrender and world destruction. Is the danger today not of all-out war, but of war by stealth? To misquote Sir John Slessor, the dog we keep to deal with the cat would not deal with these kittens.
292 If Russia believes that we can only defend ourselves by the use of nuclear weapons, will she not be tempted to gamble on the West not starting a nuclear war, to try some encroachment far short of all-out aggression but very damaging to the West? If we could not counter that action, the process would be repeated again and again, to our ultimate complete undoing. A victory in which one's adversary surrendered without firing a gun would, indeed, be a prize. Of course, nuclear weapons can deter but, as Sir Solly Zuckerman asked in a recent article in Foreign Affairs, can they defend? Of course, they could defend when we had a monopoly, but I am not sure that they can today. I thought that Sir Solly also made it clear that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would almost inevitably lead to widespread nuclear war.
It is sometimes said that the West must, to a large extent, depend on nuclear weapons, because it cannot match Russia in conventional weapons. But why should that be so? The population of Europe is as great as that of Russia. It can only be a question of cost. If it is a question of cost, then we have our priorities wrong. I know how important it is to contain Communism all over the world, but surely it is in Europe that the fatal and final blow could be dealt.
That is why I ask whether N.A.T.O. is strong enough in conventional weapons. Apparently, the Supreme Commander says that it is not. Is the British contribution sufficient? I believe that we originally promised 75,000 men. The Minister of Defence said yesterday that we now have in B.A.O.R. between 51,000 and 55,000 men. If we could save part of the £170 million we are proposing to spend on the nuclear deterrent. surely we might be able to equip effectively at least three divisions.
I wonder whether the Western Alliance does not lose more by the under-strength of our forces in Germany than it gains from our nuclear weapons. Indeed, I wonder whether we do not lose more in importance in the alliance than we gain. I know that my right hon. Friend talked about keeping the troops stationed over here, and I realise that they could be transferred to Germany in time to help to win a war. But it is not the 293 winning of a war that we want, it is the prevention of war, and I cannot believe that troops stationed here would have the same psychological deterrent to war being started that they would if they were stationed in Europe.
In paragraph 15 of the White Paper we are told that the number of men we can afford to keep on the mainland depends to some extent on the balance of payment. That seems to be quite inconsistent with paragraph 3, which says:We can expect no change in the relentless pressure of every kind from the Communist Powers in pursuit of their long-term aim of bringing all mankind within their system.And with paragraph 8, which says:If we had nothing but nuclear forces, this "—the power o strike back—would not be credible.If the danger is as great as the White Paper suggests—and I expect it is—and if the need for a balance of conventional forces is as urgent as it says—and I am sure that it is—then a solution to the balance of payments problem must be found. It is a large sum, but not an insuperable one.
If we could cut back, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West said, on some of the nuclear costs, we could get an immediate improvement in the balance of payments because we would be importing less and releasing very skilled men who could help expand our exports. Therefore, in that way we could pay for increasing our conventional forces on the mainland of Europe.
I expect that more difficult still is the question of men. I hope that it will not be necessary to have conscription in order to get sufficient men for our N.A.T.O. commitment. I have always been against, and have hated the idea of, compulsory military service in time of peace, but if there is no other way then I would certainly support—indeed, I would more than support, I would urge the Government to introduce—selective service, however difficult and unpopular, as an evil, but an evil which is far less than that of failing to get the men.
I would like now to try to summarise what I have said. I believe that the West must maintain a balance between conventional and nuclear forces. I believe that the West is strong in nuclear forces, 294 but weak in conventional forces. I believe that the British nuclear contribution, even if we spent the whole of our defence expenditure upon it, could not be decisive in preventing war. I believe that the British contribution to conventional forces in itself, and in the encouragement it would give other countries, could be decisive in preventing war.
For that reason, I believe that our contribution of conventional forces to N.A.T.O. should have the first priority of our resources.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Thompson (Dunfermline Burghs)
I think that on this side of the House our concern is with two objectives: first, to make our defence effective, and, secondly, to work for total general, comprehensive disarmament. These two objectives we do not see as being mutually exclusive. While working patiently and negotiating patiently for disarmament, we must, in the short run, continue to concern ourselves with our defences.
I think that in this respect we speak for the ordinary man and woman in the country. After all, there are many millions of people today, some in their 60s and 70s and some in their 30s and 40s who paid the penalty of ill-preparation for defence. A whole generation of men was flung into battle in 1914, ill-equipped, ill-prepared and without a proper regard for the weapons of the time or the weapons of the future. My own father was a maimed survivor of the First World War. From the age of 18 onwards he was a semi-invalid. He paid the price, admittedly willingly and patriotically, for lack of preparation and inadequate defence.
In my own generation, one has only to quote experiences at Dunkirk and in Norway to recognise what a great and solemn obligation rests upon the shoulders of the House of Commons in preparing and looking after our defence. I know that there are people, and I respect their sincerity, who are pacifists and who will have none of this. I think that they are perfectly sincere and dedicated people, but I repeat that I do not think that they represent the views of the ordinary men and women of this country, nor the experience of the men who have suffered in two world wars.
295 We overwhelmingly on this side of the House are concerned with defence. Our concern with defence debates is not a tag on which to hang the wider ideological arguments but our concern is with making our defence effective in every possible way. This is the basis of a considerable amount of our criticism of the Government's proposals. In the speech of the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Sir A. Spearman) I was not quite sure whether he was making a case for or against the British nuclear deterrent, but I think that, on balance, he came down against it, and he put forward some very formidable and explicit arguments.
I should like to sum up what has been said by hon. Members in this and other debates, that in making our defences effective we should not be concerned with extraneous elements and with national prestige. We have passed beyond that stage. We should not be concerned with national prestige, because in the sphere of political ideas we are working towards a United Nations, towards a wider view of our commitments in the world, at the political level, the level of ideas.
We should be passing beyond the stage of national prestige. At the defence level, the level of preparing and producing and conducting research into and manufacturing weapons, some of which are of enormous complexity and expense, national prestige is not merely invalid, but is ineffective and inefficient in our mutual division of labour in securing the defences of the West.
It seems to me that there is an overwhelming case for continuing to rely on the nuclear deterrent of America. I am a firm believer that the world benefits from this stable equilibrium between Russia and America. Indeed, I have no fears of America's possession of the bomb. I should be more afraid if an unknown dictator in his last desperate days, like Hitler in his bunker, with nothing to lose and with everything to gain, were in possession of the bomb. Paradoxically, my reasons for not being afraid of the American use of the bomb are similar to those for my belief that the Russians would not use it either, because it seems to me that America and Russia have many points of similarity.
296 These similarities are working in favour of the exercise of restraint by both of these countries in the use of the bomb. Both are large countries, working hard for economic advance, and both are concerned at that level with having to appease their citizens as consumers. Both Russia and America are concerned with massive economic advance and with achieving the affluent society and both of them, I think, would be unwilling to risk the use of this hideous weapon on the periphery of their international obligations and for some marginal strategic gain.
Although Russia and America are in similar positions, I am not so happy about China. China is not a contented Power, and she has little to gain from the status quo. China has not renounced publicly any possible use of such a weapon. The cold war came late to China, and we are suffering the consequences. Although it is thawing in Europe—spring is approaching—it is still winter in Peking, politically and militarily.
I do not share the fears of some people about leaving the bomb to the Americans. I have my criticisms of American foreign policy, but I could not put my hand on my heart and say that I feared that the Americans would irresponsibly let loose the bomb. In that respect, I do not believe that American bases in this country are a direct and immediate preparation for world war.
There are several reasons for believing this; it is not a plain act of faith. The first reason, as I have said, is the similarity of the American and Russian states of development which makes them both large, contented and committed powers with much to lose by the use of the bomb. Secondly, America has no territorial ambitions in Europe. I think that it is rather paradoxical that we accuse the Americans of being warmongers. America might more legitimately be criticised for entering wars too late rather than too early—in both the First World War and the Second World War. I think that if we have a criticism to make of America it might be on that score.
For these reasons, I think that we can leave America with the bomb and cease our efforts to make one for ourselves. I see nothing unpatriotic in it in terms of 297 our joint effort. I think that it is feasible in economic terms, in the scale of preparation, research and the manufacture of weapons. Our total effort in research and the manufacture of these weapons last year was £700 million, whereas the American increase in their total for the year—not their total but merely the increase—was £875 million. Clearly, in economic terms America is far better able to do it.
I should like to dispose of any incipient anti-Americanism which may lie at the basis of our fears of what might happen if America has the bomb and we have not. I know that there is anti-Americanism; it exists on the Conservative Party benches on colonial policy. Indeed, I should like to see the Foreign Secretary much closer to American policy in the United Nations than he is to the policy of Dr. Salazar. On colonial policy, there is a genuine thread of idealism in America. No one can have lived there or studied there without recognising how much their revolution and their emancipation meant to them. I recognise that it is all mixed up with big business and investment, and I accept the criticisms on that score, but it would be foolish to ignore the fact that ideologically the Americans are an anti-colonial Power because they are themselves liberated colonists.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Does my hon. Friend accept that the twentieth century form of colonialism is by financial penetration?
§ Dr. Thompson
There is a good deal in that intervention, but there is also an ugly form of colonialism by direct political control, as in Algeria at the moment, which has a more immediate impact and in which the bloodshed is worse. I do not want to be led too far astray from my theme, however, for I was suggesting that President Kennedy seems to be adopting sensible and humane policies, particularly with regard to the United Nations. Probably there are criticisms about the financial aspects of some of his policies.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
Is it not a fact that all the developing countries—colonial, ex-colonial and others—far from not wishing to receive American or any other finance, are crying out for it?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. Hon. Members must not digress too far into the question of colonialism.
§ Dr. Thompson
I will come back to my argument that we should not be too suspicious of the Americans in their possession of the bomb. I was trying to dispose of some of the grounds for anti-Americanism, some of which are valid and some of which, it seems to me, are invalid.
On those grounds, I consider that the mutual nature of the Atlantic Alliance, as long as we work for firm political control within it and the kind of reforms which have been mentioned, is the best guarantee for peace, within the framework of the United Nations. By making our defence forces more effective within this framework, we shall work better for peace.
In this context, I should like to quote some comments made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker):The United States has been engaged on a really very courageous recasting of its whole strategic thought in order to find an alternative to the repellant doctrine of massive retaliation. President Kennedy has himself led and initiated this."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March. 1962; Vol. 655, c. 63.]I believe that this is true. I know from my American friends, both academic friends and those in diplomatic circles, that there has been a great change in this thinking since the days of Dulles, and it is a great pity that the Government have not taken this change of thinking into account in the White Paper.
I want to refer to paragraph 10 of the White Paper and to quote from it:The Government's object remains the achievement of general and complete international disarmament, to be attained by stages subject to effective control. They consider that the highest priority should be given to a treaty banning further nuclear tests, again subject to effective verification or a control. The Government have worked patiently to reach agreement on these two issues which they regard as of outstanding importance;I am not quite sure whether we have seized all our opportunities in disarmament talks with the Russians. Certainly, in many respects the Russians have been intransigent, but perhaps I may give the example of the 1955 discussions in which, for the first time, the Russians 299 ceased to separate conventional disarmament from nuclear disarmament. Previously, they had wanted to ban atomic weapons, because their conventional forces gave them superiority, and we had opposed this.
Suddenly, there was a volte face, and the Russians said that they would accept a link between conventional and nuclear disarmament. We missed a great opportunity in 1955. I will not go into the subject at great length, because it is history, and we are concerned with the future, but it is an example which does not seem to justify the Government's smugness in paragraph 10.
I should also like to see the Government pursuing a policy which has been suggested from this side of the House—not merely of disarmament by weapons, but of geographical disarmament, starting in Central Europe. It seems to me that geographical disarmament has much to commend it. To begin with, disarmament by areas lends itself more easily to inspection and control. Disarmament by kinds of weapon lends itself more easily to evasion.
The Russians may say that they are disarming but have a secret factory behind the Urals, and the Americans may have a secret plant in Texas. Geographical disarmament of the kind suggested lends itself more easily to inspection. Secondly, the area proposed in the Labour Party's policy for a pilot scheme in geographical disarmament is one of the most explosve areas in the world—Central Europe. For these reasons, I want the Government to press further along those lines.
I agree with the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby that the reason for possessing this hideous weapon is not to use it but in order to deter. I believe that this remains a solid argument. Nobody has yet answered the argument which was posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell)—if Japan had possessed the bomb, would the Americans have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima?
§ Mr. Wigg
That argument is quite fallacious, for the simple reason that it has been established beyond any shadow of doubt that the Americans had caused more destruction by the use of conventional 300 weapons in the weeks preceding the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki than they caused by the bombs. This is well brought out in Professor Blackett's first book. I have always thought that this example by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) was a piece of special pleading which I always excused because it was at a Labour Party conference, but which had no validity at all.
§ Dr. Thompson
That is an interesting and most lively interjection, but it seems to me to go round the point
If I am an American general sitting with a group of generals deciding whether to use a new weapon, then, if there is no chance of retaliation, it is a mere technical exercise. It becomes a decision based merely upon the projected loss of life and destruction of property. It becomes an exercise in military warfare. I suggest that the threat of retaliation imposes immediate limits on what the generals dare to do. These limitations are, in fact, strict political controls, operating through regard of public opinion, via Parliaments and via the politicians, on the generals. I think that the threat of the deterrent acts on the generals not directly, but through responsible organs of public opinion and the people of the country. I think that the argument which my right hon. Friend advanced remains valid, and I have a strong belief that the atom bomb would not have been used by the Americans if the Japanese had possessed it.
Our Whole approach to defence should not be based on questions of national prestige; nuclear weapons cannot promote national objectives; and we must concentrate on contributing where our traditional military abilities lie and where our financial capabilities lie. I put all this within the framework of working for general and comprehensive disarmament. No one can fail to have been moved by the speeches made from this side of the House pointing out the awful threat hanging over humanity in the shape of the nuclear bomb. I am convinced that the long-term wish of the people of Britain is for total world disarmament, but that in the short-term period they want to know that the Government are not neglecting their defences as they were neglected in the tragic years 301 on the eve of 1914 and in that disastrous era before 1939, leading to war in which so many of my own generation paid the price of that neglect.
We want a defence policy which meets short-term needs and the ideals and beliefs of ordinary people, and we want a sincere and constructive effort for total world disarmament.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I agree with much that was said by the hon. Member for Dunfermline, Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson), although not with some of the details. For instance, I think that the idea of disarmament by geographical area has two large weaknesses which he did not have time to mention. The first is that it is valid only against fixed installations and the second is that it would create a military vacuum which is a highly dangerous situation. No one can quite foresee how that vacuum would be filled, but we know that in time it would be filled. That is a serious objection to geographical disarmament schemes.
Secondly, the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs said that this country was very ill-prepared in 1914 and 1939. I would not differ from him about 1939, but I do not think that we were ill-prepared in 1914. The error into which we then fell was that of adopting the wrong strategy. That will be the burden of my remaining remarks.
Nobody denies that our forces are seriously over-stretched. This problem is a matter of concern to many hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I agree with many of my hon. Friends that we must pay a great deal of attention to remedying this serious state of affairs. If we look back into history we find that our great successes in arms have been based on a maritime strategy at times when we had command of the sea, and that our most severe reverses have occurred at times when we have ignored this maritime, peripheral strategy. The object of a maritime strategy is to permit concentration by way of mobility. We shall always be weaker than our main antagonists, and we must overcome this weakness in the only way possible, by being able to concentrate quickly at certain points. We would be wrong to seek a head-on clash for political 302 reasons, as we sometimes have in the past—including 1914—and as we look like doing today.
The air provides a species of mobility which permits us to concentrate quickly elsewhere, but it is becoming increasingly suspect as a vehicle for war, because it permits the carrying of the dreadful weapon which may bring an attack upon the heads of anybody using it even before his own weapon has been launched. Nor do I think that the advent of the rocket and the missile has extended the mobility of the air arm. It is true that our bombers can take off even in the four minutes which, it is estimated, will be the minimum warning they will get, and if they can do that they will be able to do the job for which they have been constructed.
But no back bencher knows how long this mobility of rockets will persist. Nobody knows how long it may take for a rocket to arrive from Russia, whether directed at this country or at the United States, although we know that the flight times are very different and that technical difficulties will arise. Nevertheless, the possession of the Polaris-type rocket by the Russians must make a great difference. A Polaris-type submarine off Lowestoft, working in conjunction with a Polaris-type submarine off Long Island, could put our calculations seriously out, and must put a term to the validity of the strategic bomber.
The statement at the bottom of page 1 of the White Paper, that we have stationed large forces for the last sixteen years on the Continent of Europe, in contrast with our previous military disposition, must be read in conjunction with the thoughts upon mobility that I have ventured to express.
In contrast to the views expressed by some very good judges of these matters, I submit that the number of our troops in Germany is not too small; indeed, I think that we may have too many there. I shall seek to justify this argument. I am not thinking of the £75 million in Deutschmarks over the exchanges. Although that consideration must be borne in mind, what we pay the Germans to keep our troops there is not a factor in my argument. My point is that neither East nor West would accept defeat in its own heart land.
303 The argument is put forward that in order to give credibility to the nuclear deterrent adequate conventional forces must exist. To some extent that is true, but that argument can be pressed too far. It is said in support of that argument that the United States has realised this and is producing more conventional troops, and is pressing us to do the same. That may be so, but how many troops do the Americans think are necessary to make the Russians believe that the Americans will defend Frankfurt-am-Main? It is obvious that quite a few troops will be needed. Similarly, how many troops do the Americans think the Russians would believe to be necessary to make it certain that the Americans would defend New York? That would obviously be a very much smaller number. Can the Russians doubt that we Europeans intend to defend Paris and London, any more than we can doubt that they intend to defend Warsaw and Moscow? The whole story of the Hungarian rising shows that we believed that the Russians might have defended themselves by the last and most desperate means.
It may be that in cold blood we could make up our minds not to go to the ultimate lengths to defend ourselves if all seemed lost, but it will not be in cold blood that we have to make up our minds; it will be in hot blood that these decisions will have to be taken—and taken by desperate men whose duty it will be to discharge the defences and make sure that they are not beaten, thus providing a climax of events of a magnitude and velocity which we can hardly imagine.
The hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs said that if the Japanese had also had the atom bomb the Americans would not have used theirs on Nagasaki—but that bomb would have been used by the Japanese. That is the difficulty. My conclusion is, therefore, that we do not need very large conventional forces in Europe in order to give credibility to the deterrent. The powerful argument put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), that the nuclear is no substitute for the conventional, is not wholly true in Europe.
There remains the danger of local incidents, and we require conventional forces to cope with them. It is difficult 304 for a back bencher to judge these matters, but I should have thought, from what General Norstad has said and from the existing military position, that the troops which he has at his disposal at present are sufficient to discharge that task.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I understand General Norstad to have said that, but how does the hon. Member reconcile that remark with the report made by the General to Western European Union last year, in which he referred to the fact that the number of our troops had dropped below 55,000 as disquieting and stressed that the Supreme Commander ought to have the full 30 divisions at his disposal?
§ Mr. Kershaw
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right to raise that point. I was at Western European Union as a rapporteur of the European Committee, which has to study all the advice which the N.A.T.O. authorities submit. It is true that General Norstad has said that he wants 30 divisions, but he has also said, in public, that he has already got 25, and that he can reasonably discharge his duties with that force. If that is true, we should not be too disturbed by the conventional posture in Europe. I admit that we must not allow it to fall too low, and must not go back on our word. If we wish to alter our conventional forces we must get the agreement of our allies beforehand.
But our forces are not there to watch our allies. How can they do that? I suggest that as conditions alter we are quite entitled to make it clear that we also wish to alter our dispositions. The argument about the £75 million Deutsch-marks across the exchanges is not a powerful argument, and can be excluded. Nevertheless, it is a factor that exists, as are our negotiations about the Common Market—although I should be going wide of the subject of the debate if I went into details on that matter.
I do not wish, therefore, and I am sure that no British Government would wish, to desert in any way or forfeit the confidence of our allies, but I would ask our allies to understand that there are interests to N.A.T.O. outside the confines of Europe. It is not surprising that there should be a slight divergence of view between ourselves and our continental allies. We are the only European Power which still has world-wide 305 interests. Even France today is drawing back into her metropolitan area, and it is the argument which General de Gaulle employs to tempt his army out of the African deserts that if it comes home it will be a finely equipped European force. It is not surprising that the eyes of our continental allies are concentrated inwards whilst ours look outwards.
How are we equipped to face the challenge outside Europe? What I have read in the White Paper gives me a certain anxiety. It seems to me that we have small model forces of every kind which can discharge different sorts of duties but we have not nearly enough of anything. From the offensive point of view, there is a paragraph in the White Paper dealing with the certainty of our having atomic submarines, which doubtless will be armed with a missile, a second-strike weapon of our own to replace the bombers whose validity I have already called in doubt.
We have an amphibious capacity, but a very small one. We have one Commando carrier in commission today in far distant waters. What my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West said about it was rather unfair. After all, it is meant to be a spearhead and not to be the whole shooting match. But it needs only the slightest accident, the slightest wrong steering by a sailor who does not know where the buoys are—or whatever goes on in the Navy—to put the carrier out of action for a long time. It would have to go back to Singapore for repair and we should not be able to carry out a Kuwait operation while it was there. I know that we did not have to fight in Kuwait, and that that is a feather in our cap because the troops reached there in time, but we could not have fought two Kuwaits at the same time.
In defensive arms we have 50 antisubmarine vessels in commission with some more in reserve. They have to compete with no fewer than 500 submarines. I know that our N.A.T.O. allies can put up an equal number of ships, and perhaps more, in opposition, but the odds are too great and with the coming of the nuclear submarines the task is well nigh impossible. It was made clear in researches after the war that mines laid in the near territorial waters of the enemy and elsewhere were 306 the most efficient anti-submarine weapons. What is the liaison between the R.A.F. and the Navy in this matter? I understand that the R.A.F. does not do much research into it, and I do not know what research is done in the Navy. The figures in the White Paper dealing with research are rather disturbing. I consider this question of mines to be very important and I should like to know what is being done about it.
We seem to have more minesweepers than other vessels but I question whether the number is enough. The whole of my argument would come absolutely to nothing if it could be shown that however hard we tried we should never be able to produce the vessels or enough men to work this peripheral maritime strategy which I am advocating. If we cannot do that, and our efforts are insufficient and our opponents too strong, everything I have said is in vain.
I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation present. I have no doubt that he does a tremendously good job in his Department, but I am not sure what sort of job he does every day he gets there. What is the use of my right hon. Friend going there? I know that he is very useful in every other possible way and that he made a brilliant speech today which I enjoyed. But what does he do when he gets to the Ministry? Does he save money? Does he save time in the ordering of these things? Is there more technical exactitude in the ordering of these things by his Ministry than there is in the ordering of things by other Ministries? I very much doubt it from what I have heard in the past. I have never met anyone in the Services who has had to deal with the Ministry of Aviation who would not have preferred to deal quickly with the supplier in the traditional customer-supplier way. I should like to be reassured on this point.
The self-cancellation of nuclear weapons has resulted in the possibility of resuming the maritime strategy which at one time was our strength. It has immobilised to a large extent our armies on the continent. It will immobilise our Air Force before long. It therefore leaves the seas open to us which presents opportunities for mobility and concentration such as gave us triumphs in the 307 past. I wonder whether this is not the strategy at which we should be aiming. In so far as the White Paper foreshadows some changes in that way I very much welcome it.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson) reminded the House that the pacifist position is a minority position, both in this House and in the country. That is a proposition against which, in all honesty, nobody could argue. None the less, it is a position to which the attention of the House must be drawn from time to time.
It is true, as my hon. Friend has said, that we are all concerned with defence and that it is a major necessity for any Government to ensure the well-being of the people of these islands. The pacifist shares with the military and with those who fall in between the same concern for the well-being of our people. I believe, however, that the Government are pursuing a policy which endangers the security of our people more than it guarantees their safety.
The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth), to whom we all listened with great respect, and who has a most honourable record of military service for the country, quoted Lord Attlee as saying that nuclear weapons are no different from other weapons; that they are bigger and more devastating, but, in essence, are simply military weapons. I completely reject that concept. For the first time in the history of the world, it is possible for great nations testing their weapons for their own military security to put a curse on generations yet unborn.
The United Nations Scientific Committee, reporting in 1958, reminded the world that if tests were continued at the then level, the world could expect annually 60,000 cases of lukaemia, 40,000 cases of bone cancer and 40,000 cases of genetic disabilities. Is it true that one generation is entitled to buy its own security regardless of the cost to generations yet unborn? This is completely amoral.
I begin from the premise that this is God's world and that we are God's people. I accept the Christian pacifist 308 position and I find it difficult for anyone who takes the New Testament seriously to believe that any other way is indicated. If we seek honestly to follow the example of our Lord, we must reject the way of violence, the way which crushes personality and which crushes everything in its path as long as its physical security can be ensured.
We are in danger of thinking of our defence with the same mentality as in the gunpowder age on the basis that the more we have, the safer we are. Already, the whole world knows that the Soviet Union and the United States of America between them possess a sufficient store of bombs to destroy the world. I believe mat neither Mr. Khrushchev nor Mr. Kennedy is the type of man willingly to unleash this type of horror upon the world.
None the less, we find that even with the enormous store of nuclear power which they possess, both sides are more frightened than before they had it. And so they seek new measures to counteract the weapons which they already possess. We hear nonsensical talk of anti-missile missiles, which can lull the world into a false sense of security. Is it imagined that if there is a nuclear war, we would be able to stop the great majority of rockets coming through?
If I may for a moment abandon the moral argument and turn to the military argument, we know that if only half a dozen of these weapons came through this island would be ruined. Not even with all the anti-missile missiles is there security for the British people. I read a leading article in the Guardian today that the Soviet Union will possibly have a 500-megaton bomb, one of which, if exploded, would burn up the whole of these islands. The scientists of the world are warning the Governments that complete disarmament in nuclear weapons is essential. I therefore remind the House, in this intervention of mine, which I have promised will be brief, that there is another way.
Now, we see the two giants and ourselves with what the Minister of Defence calls a significant contribution to the nuclear weapons store, a contribution on our part which, I believe, has been estimated—my right hon. Friends will correct me if the Minister does not—at 309 about 5 per cent. of the total Western deterrent store of weapons.
What if this country took unilateral action with regard to nuclear weapons first? What if we took the step of saying, "We will not in any circumstances manufacture or use this diabolical weapon and we shall destroy the store which we already have "? What would be the effect on the forthcoming disarmament talks? Would they start off in a worse atmosphere, or a better? Would it be damaging to the prospects for peace if we made this gesture to the world? I believe that it would be a useful and honourable step to take.
The great issue which is disturbing the people of the world today is not the cold war. We are mesmerised by it. Sometimes, I think that we have been brain-washed to think that it is the greatest issue of our time. The greatest issues today are world hunger, disease and illiteracy. Because we have the wrong priorities, because we are mesmerised by our nuclear weapons, we are not able to play the part we ought to play in bringing fullness of life to people who are hungry and needy.
The White Paper speaks of the relentless pressure of the Communist world to dominate the rest of us. The greatest threat from Communism is not a military one at all. We are defending ourselves in the wrong way. The challenge of Communism is economic and political. The Communists are conscious of the advantage of spreading their influence among under-privileged and hungry people. If we rearranged our priorities, we should be able to do more in that direction.
The Leader of the Liberal Party reminded us earlier today of the argument that the possessor of the deterrent, if he were the only possessor, would be able to enforce his will on the world. But this is an untenable argument. If there were but one possessor of the deterrent, he could never use it. If he did use it, the territory he was after would be destroyed and useless to him. We ought to acknowledge that the so-called deterrent may one day fail us, and what then? It will be too late to argue.
The policy of deterrence is based fairly and squarely on fear. I believe 310 fear to be an inadequate basis for the defence of the world. In the end, fear proves inadequate. There is a higher standard to be adopted. Military arguments are not the only ones we have to consider. The House is concerned with moral arguments as well. Is it not true that, whereas we are willing to apply moral considerations to every other field of Government work, we hold back from applying them to military matters? We somehow think that military issues are bigger than the Christian religion. We have a State religion, we have an established Church, yet, at the same time, we spit on its teaching when we consider defence.
I believe that, if the House would have the moral courage and if the people of these islands would wake up and accept the moral challenge of the Christian way of life, we should do more for our real defence in years to come and more for the hungry and needy of the world than the policy of craven fear which we are asked to support in the White Paper could ever do.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Captain John Litchfield (Chelsea)
It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), and a still greater pleasure to listen to him. If I do not follow him in the thoughts he has been developing, I hope he will not think that I do not agree that the terrible threat which hangs over us all is very serious.
As I shall to some extent be speaking against the clock, I think it will be better if I go straight to the main theme that I want to develop and then, if there is time afterwards, fill in with some of the lesser points about which I should like to speak.
I would like to follow the line of thought which was touched upon by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) in his opening speech yesterday, when he referred to the possible nature of future war in Europe and described the Government's concept as "all or nothing". I do not expect my right hon. Friend to agree with what I am about to say. He knows that I do not fully accept his concept of the possible—I am not talking about the probable—nature of a war in Europe, and I certainly do not think that what I 311 shall say would be accepted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth).
I do not accept the assumption upon which I believe our basic defence planning is based, that an armed clash in Europe with Russia would inevitably and necessarily involve full-scale nuclear war either by escalation or by deliberate initiation on either side. This, of course, is a matter basic to the whole of defence planning, and it has many serious implications to which I shall refer in a moment. I fully accept that an armed clash in Europe would very probably—one might say "almost certainly "—involve a nuclear clash. But my point is that it is dangerous to assume that this would be so with absolute certainty for planning purposes. I will try to show why.
I do not think it is altogether unreasonable to make three assumptions on probabilities when we are thinking about our enemies or our possible enemies. First, I suggest we can probably assume that the Russians themselves do not, and probably never would, wish to have a nuclear war, as opposed to a non-nuclear war. Second, I suggest it is quite possible that they might calculate that unless N.A.T.O. was provoked to an altogether insupportable degree, it is barely conceivable that we on our side would initiate full-scale nuclear war. I am not, of course, referring to an all-out act of military aggression by the Soviets, such as the invasion of Western Europe. I am thinking of a much more limited situation.
Third, I suggest that we might assume as likely that the Russian leaders regard this great contest, cold or even partly hot, not in the emotional terms in which Hitler regarded war but more in the nature of a game of chess involving calculated and also limited moves, with limited objectives and also occasionally a readiness to withdraw if met with unexpected strength.
It seems to me—I agree that this is all rather airy-fairy and full of might's and if's, but I shall get to my point at the end of it—that it is not inconceivable that the Russians might take some limited action in Europe to present the West with a fait accompli which would 312 not be acceptable to N.A.T.O. Pre-sumably the answer to that would be "Stop, or else!" to the Russians. It seems to me that this is a more credible possibility than some act of all-out aggression by the Russians which would quite obviously be resisted by all-out means. Supposing this fait accompli occurs, we should perhaps reply with quite an old-fashioned ultimatum. They might then sit tight and say "O.K. Our object is limited. We shall reply in kind if you initiate a nuclear war, but we shall not start it."
What happens then? It seems to me that the most likely outcome would be that we should slide into a kind of mutual siege situation of limited war, with limited objectives, our object, perhaps, being to push back the enemy where he came from, and, on the other side, the attempted application by the enemy of sufficient pressure to cause us to accept the fait accompli that we do not like, and all the time there would be in the background the bomb.
This assumes a situation which I do not think has perhaps been taken fully into account in our planning. The modern concept on which I think our planning is based, that of unlimited war, with unlimited objectives and unconditional surrender of one side or the other at the end of the day, is quite a modern concept, and the situation that I have suggested as a conceivable possibility is in some ways a reversion to the eighteenth century type of war, in which—of course I am not talking about bombs at the moment, but about policies—perhaps Minorca, Guadeloupe or some other island was exchanged at the conclusion of the war. This may be farfetched. I think it is unlikely and I suggest only that it is conceivable. If anything like this line of thought is conceivable, then I suggest that certain very serious considerations follow.
I very fully support my right hon. Friend's policy of maintaining the independent British deterrent, which I regard as really essential. I do not want to develop that line of thought, which has been very fully covered in the debate already. Although the deterrent strategy, as I think most of us would agree, whether we like it or not, has been and is being effective against major aggression, I suggest it may not be effective against minor aggression, and may even 313 encourage it. If we lack the capability to resist aggression by conventional forces in an armed clash in Europe, and that armed clash does not follow the line that I think our planning expects it to take, then we may find ourselves in a situation in which the only kind of war that we can fight successfully in Europe would be a nuclear war, which is the one kind of war we hope never to fight.
That is why I am bound to express apprehension about this aspect of our defence policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—not in general, and I hope I am not going further than I mean to. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) will perhaps hear something not so much to his advantage in a moment. I am bound to express apprehension on our defence policy in so far as it is based on an assumption of certainty that war in Europe—the armed clash, as it is referred to in the White Paper—would necessarily be nuclear.
The nuclear concept involves an assumption in which I have a particular interest. It involves an assumption that perhaps there is little point in providing, for example, for the defence of sea communications in a war of prolonged hostilities. My right hon. Friend is even better aware than I am how vitally dependent the United Kingdom and N.A.T.O. are on sea-borne supplies of all kinds, and to an infinitely greater extent than ever before in the history of these islands. In 1938 we required to import about 67 million tons. Today the figure is 112 million tons.
My right hon. Friend is also much better aware than I am that military operations of all kinds on the Continent would come to a dead stop without seaborne reinforcements and supplies. The Russians presumably are also aware of these rather sombre facts and of the extreme vulnerability of N.A.T.O.'s sea communications in the Atlantic—in fact everywhere. The Russians presumably realise that, if we got into the situation which I have said I think is conceivable—I do not say that it is likely, but it is conceivable; we are dealing with risks involving very high status—without a single bomb being dropped, and perhaps with a stalemate on the Continent of Europe. N.A.T.O. could be totally defeated, the United Kingdom starved, 314 our national life brought to a total stop, and the whole military effort brought to a standstill because of our inability to get ships through.
All these considerations are very well known to my right hon. Friend and no doubt provoke much anxious thought. I fully understand the dilemma facing the Government on the question of defence. It is quite out of the question to be strong everywhere and to have as much as we should like all round. I accept that today there is no such thing as absolute security in defence. All I ask my right hon. Friend to recognise is at least the possibility of an armed clash in Europe arising out of possibly a secondary fait accompli—not a major invasion of Western Europe. The course of such an armed clash might in the event be quite different and more limited than is envisaged by my right hon. Friend in the present concept. I ask that this be taken into account in defence planning and that the empasis should be shifted a little more to our vulnerability at sea.
I applaud my right hon. Friend's approach in the White Paper. I am one of those who like the White Paper. If I had the time, I should like to say quite a lot about the points which I find very welcome in it, particularly its robust approach and its freedom from the defeatism which has marked one or two speeches from both sides. I like the White Paper. In considering this approach to the nature and concept of war, I urge my right hon. Friend to disregard any vested interests which there may be—very natural vested interests, praiseworthy Service loyalties, and so on. I ask him to disregard such vested interests, which we can understand, appreciate and even admire. I ask him to disregard costly past investments and past Ministerial statements, because defence is too vital and too costly to be based on any lowest common denominator of conflicting opinions and interests. We on this side have very great confidence in my right hon. Friend's judgment. We look to him to exercise his judgment ruthlessly, however painful or unpopular any of his decisions may have to be.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
When at the outset of his speech the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for 315 Cneisea (Captain Litchfield) spoke about his conclusions on the White Paper he was absolutely right. Then he went on to tell us how much apprehension the White Paper and the Minister of Defence had been causing him—and then he concluded by saying how much he liked the White Paper, which was very noble of him, but hardly in accord with the argument he had put forward.
There are four major issues which have occupied the debate. The first is the question of the part that a nuclear rôle—and, in particular, a thermonuclear rôle—should play in our strategy and the consequences it has on our defence priorities and provision. Secondly, there is the attitude we should properly take to alliances in general and to the North Atlantic Alliance in particular. The third major issue concerns the size, deployment and provision we should make for our forces and, arising out of that, their organisation and mobility—mobility meaning not only the men, but also the arms and equipment they need. The fourth is the great need for a review and, as my hon. Friends think, for drastic changes in the relationships between the Services and in the rôle of the Ministry of Defence.
I hope to say a word about each of those major issues to sum up the debate as my hon. Friends and I see it. It is our contention that since 1957—and one will forget the sad and sorry story before that date, for it was appalling—the Government have, in many cases, made the wrong decisions. I agree with the Minister of Aviation when he said that no one in this field, whether in the Government or outside it, could not have made some mistakes, perhaps quite a number. But it is our case that the Government have, in far too many cases, given the wrong answers, that they have, in practically all cases, delayed taking effective action and are still so doing, and that, in the main, we still have a wrong overall policy.
Indeed, I would have thought that it has emerged from the speeches yesterday and today that, without any doubt, it is not our defence needs that are directing our defence policy. In the main, it is cost. It is money and economics. It has been emphasised everywhere that if one is directing one's policy according 316 to one's purse it is almost certain that the policy will be wrong. This is why we have no confidence that the policy behind the White Paper will provide for the effective defence of the country.
Perhaps I might deal, first, with the Minister's rather silly remark that because we have no confidence in his policy we have no confidence in the Regular forces. That point was taken up by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Northwood (Sir J. Smyth). The point is that it does not mean anything of the sort. We have the utmost regard for the forces. In fact, we forced the policy of going over to Regular forces on the Minister's unwilling predecessor, and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is constantly reminding me of that.
Not only do we have great regard for the men themselves, but also for the volunteer and Regular principle, which we believe to be important. But that does not mean that we regard the policy which those men are being used to implement as being right. On the contrary, we believe it to be wrong. I remind the Minister that it is not we who have departed from the concept of Regular forces, but he himself. He introduced what he called the Army Reserve Bill and the only effective part of it was to introduce selective conscription for a number of people and it was the Minister, therefore, who departed from the Regular forces and not my hon. Friends.
Of tremendous importance to the Regular forces was the Minister's announcement yesterday about the pay review which was carried out as a result of the Grigg Report. Here, the Minister has cheated in one important respect. I make the charge deliberately, for the whole basis of the Grigg Report was that there should be a biennial review. I have with me not only the extracts from the Report, but a statement made by the Minister's predecessor, the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, which I am prepared to read.
There was not only an undertaking that there would be a review every second year, but that the pay would be increased in accordance with what the review found. There was never any provision that only half of it would be paid in one year, and the other half the following 317 year. This review was one of the conditions which brought men into the forces. The Minister has unilaterally broken what I regard as an honourable agreement.
There is an even more significant point in this. The Grigg Committee reported, and paragraph 12 of the Report on Defence, 1960, says:The Advisory Committee recommended, and the Government agreed, that there should be an automatic biennial review of pay and pensions which would take into account movements in civilian earnings.Having broken the agreement about it being biennial, there is another significant point. The Minister did not refer to pay and pensions yesterday. He referred to emoluments. He said that the review provided justified increases in emoluments, and went on to say:By 'emoluments' I mean the basic emoluments—pay, marriage allowance and ration allowance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1962, Vol. 655, c. 43.]I ask the Minister, bluntly and directly, why pay and pensions have now become pay, ration allowance and marriage allowance? It was the pay of the men that was to be increased. It was not to be split and some to be called ration allowance and some to be called marriage allowance. Is there any significance in this? If the Minister says that there is not, he will relieve the minds of many people, because it looked as though there was some significance in it. I hope that he wiill put us right about this.
I turn to the question of nuclear policy, which has occupied so much of the debate. Clearly, the degree to which we are occupied with the provision of nuclear weapons is of great importance in itself, but, inevitably, it colours the whole doctrine and the provision we make for our defence forces. There has been some discussion about the amount of our total defence budget that goes into the provision of the deterrent. I think that the figure of 10 per cent. is misleading. If we get rid of the strategic deterrent, I do not believe that we shall get rid of the whole 10 per cent., because if we adopt any other rôle, some of the aeroplanes must be kept available for carrying it out. New marks of aeroplanes will have to be developed, and, therefore, I do not think that the cost matters quite so much as some hon. Members on both sides of the House have suggested.
318 The real point that has been argued is the change of attitude of many people to an independent British nuclear deterrent. Some of my hon. Friends are glad of the change because they have never wanted us to have this deterrent, for reasons which we can appreciate but not accept. Others think that we ought to have changed because the position in the world has changed and the chance of the nth nuclear Power has become more urgent. I have always thought that we ought to have an independent nuclear deterrent, and I might as well admit it right away, because if I forget to do so one of my hon. Friends will remind me.
I changed because of a change made by Her Majesty's Government. The point that I want to hammer home—because it is one that the Government ought to see, because they started on this from the same position that I did—is that when Blue Streak made its £100 million crash into the ground it took with it, at some point in time, any idea of an independent British nuclear deterrent. The Government continue to refuse to accept the consequences of their own decision on Blue Streak. We can no longer be an independent—and I emphasise the word "independent"—nuclear Power. Indeed, I am not very sure how much of an independent nuclear Power we are now.
I discovered in Germany, to my surprise, that the 2nd Tactical Air Force, which is a nuclear force, is not operating with British weapons, so it is not an independent nuclear deterrent. It is wholly dependent on the Americans and on their "lock and key". If and when Skybolt arrives, the V-bombers will no longer be independent. They will be dependent on the Americans for the provision of the means of delivery. Whether one is dependent upon others for the means of delivery or for the warheads makes no difference to the fact that one is dependent on somebody else for am essential part of the system.
We know that the Army in Germany, which is now in possession of nuclear weapons, is not independent. It is wholly dependent on American weapons—on the American "lock and key" arrangement. So we are not at the moment very independent. I repeat that, at some stage not far from now, we shall not have a single independent system.
319 I am bound to ask Ministers what it is they are arguing about. I am also bound to ask the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea what there is to be so proud of in the independent British deterrent. The consequences of Blue Streak were that we became, and will continue more and more to be, not an independent nuclear Power, but dependent upon other people. If we could only grasp that fact and forget the prestige argument—the "keeping up with the Joneses" aspect—we could make the consequent decisions that flow from it.
The Government are not only failing to face the consequences of this fact, but are also overstating the importance of other nuclear weapons—the so-called tactical nuclear weapons. In consequence, we are getting the whole balance of our provision, particularly in Europe, wrong. It is very interesting to note how completely at loggerheads the Government are with their own official advisers. It must be a very long time since it was possible to say—on the basis of such information as is at one's disposal—that, apart from the Royal Air Force, it is doubtful whether a single Service chief in this country supports the independent British nuclear deterrent.
There has been a lot of argument in the debate about what the Americans would say, but, apart from the Royal Air Force, it would be hard to find a Service chief supporting the independent deterrent. But, even more than that, recently the Minister's own Chief Scientific Adviser has published his views. The footnote to his article says that it was a contribution to a symposium held under the direction of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma—who is the Chief of the Minister's Defence Staff—and under the chairmanship of General Norstad, on whose authority the article was published.
I understand that the Minister himself gave permission for the article to be published under General Norstad's authority. Earl Mountbatten, the right hon. Gentleman's Chief of Staff, was the instigator and his Chief Scientific Adviser wrote the article. At every stage the article is a complete refutation of the Minister's doctrine about the place of atomic weapons in our present military 320 effort. It is devoted to proving that, if we rely on these weapons, we will lose control of what happens, the commanders will lose control, and we will inevitably start a global thermo-nuclear war—which is the last thing we want to do.
It is not for me to argue with the Minister about the relationship of his views with those of his advisers, but they are on record. The right hon. Gentleman said that the nuclear deterrent had worked in the Middle East. Presumably, it was what kept the Iraqis out of Kuwait. I wonder how Sir Solly Zuckerman would have written his article if he had known what the Minister intended to say in his speech yesterday. On nuclear weapons and on the independent deterrent, it is our view that he has got it wrong, and on the basis of tactical weapons and the reliance that we are placing on them, even the Minister's own advisers believe that he has got it wrong.
I turn from that, because it follows straight on, to our attitude to alliances. I think that here, too, the Government have been led into mistakes. I agree, as it happens, with the Foreign Secretary and, by that token, I disagree with the Minister of Defence on this matter. The Foreign Secretary recently said—and I believe that I am paraphrasing him fairly—that he was in favour of being in Europe in company with America under the North Atlantic Alliance. There was no question of the emphasis that he was placing on the North Atlantic Alliance. The whole pressure in this debate, by the Minister of Defence, by other Ministers and throughout the House has been to reduce the North Atlantic Alliance to a completely different rôle.
The Minister set the pattern by referring to N.A.T.O., CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. as being the same kind of thing, equal alliances and equal commitments. It is not true. The Government themselves never suggested it until they decided that they had to look for some reasons for the action which they wanted to take on other grounds. I have the treaties here and I will read them if the House insists; they are available to all hon. Members. There is the provision in the relevant article of N.A.T.O., Article 5, about the military 321 commitments which we make with each other; the provision in S.E.A.T.O., Article 4, and the provision in CENTO, the old Bagdad Pact.
All three are completely different. In the N.A.T.O. constitution, we all agreed to commit forces, not to earmark but to commit, but we did not accept that under CENTO, nor did we accept it under S.E.A.T.O. Indeed, it is difficult to say who is in S.E.A.T.O. There are not many in CENTO except ourselves, Pakistan and Turkey, and Turkey is not involved there in a major way.
There are no military planning organisations or commands in CENTO or S.E.A.T.O. as there are in N.A.T.O. There is no SACEUR equivalent in CENTO or S.E.A.T.O. Indeed, S.E.A.T.O. hardly exists at all. When I visited Bagdad, a little over a year ago, and went to see CENTO, it was plain that it was not a military organisation. CENTO provides a good deal of economic co-operation—and roads, which could have a military purpose. But it is not a military organisation. At the moment, it is mostly providing economic assistance.
This attempt to show that N.A.T.O., CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. are the same thing is a piece of duplicity and humbug. The Government themselves have never made this plain until now. It is an attempt to rationalise actions which were taken for other reasons. Hon. Members opposite should face this. They can do what they want to do, but they must accept the consequences of it. The only alliance in which we have a pledged commitment is N.A.T.O., and we are welshing on it, we have welshed on it, and we propose to welsh on it still further.
I interrupted the speech of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw). I commend to the House a document called, "The State of European Security, 1956–61", issued under the authority of Western European Union, and, in particular, Chapter 6, which was written by the hon. Member for Stroud, in which he sets out the undertaking which we entered into to maintain four divisions and the Tactical Air Force or such fighting power equivalent as SACEUR agreed. He also set out the only let-out which we have. I want to make it plain to the House that we have a let-out in 322 the case of an overseas emergency—for example, Kuwait. But we have no automatic let-out on the grounds of cost. The two things are definitely stated.
What has happened, as the hon. Member brought out clearly in his excellent report, is that in March, 1957, we asked for a waiver as to 13,000 men. In March, 1958, we asked for that to be brought up to 22,000 men. We were given both those waivers, because there was nothing much that they could do about it. Then, as the hon. Member said on page 73A of his Report, it became clear in 1960 that we were several thousand men short of the 55,000 which we were at that stage bound to keep in Europe.
As he went on to say a little later,The Council has never authorised the reduction.I say this to the Minister, because he challenged me and said that he had authority. British forces in Germany were below the level of 55,000, although the Council had not authorised the reduction. The Government are, therefore, in default beyond the waivers. They have not honoured the commitments into which they entered. They have not maintained the four divisions and they have not even maintained the reduced commitment which they were allowed.
The argument which is advanced is the currency argument—that we cannot afford it. Have we tried to get this point met? Have we suggested that there should be some payments arrangement such as we have in the infrastructure? I will tell the Minister the answer which I was given when I tried to do it for him. I put the question at S.H.A.P.E, and the answer, which could not be more authoritative, was, "The other members of the Council will not deal with that, as they are quite convinced that even if they met you on the currency argument, you would still take the troops out."
They are quite certain that because we are welshing at the moment, because we are not maintaining our commitment at the moment, because we keep reducing the numbers still further, we intend anyway to reduce the number of troops we have in Europe. Having listened to the debate today, so am I. That is the one impression which the Minister and his colleagues made on me yesterday 323 and today—that we intend to reduce the number.
The irony of all this is that we and General de Gaulle are following exactly the same pattern and policy. We are both seeking to reduce N.A.T.O. to the level of a co-ordinating alliance like the others, with perhaps staff talks and even a designated commander, but not allowing it to have committed and allotted forces. General de Gaulle is bringing his troops back from Algeria and refusing to commit them. We are taking our troops away from the committal at the same time and making the same case as he made.
I listened to the Minister of Aviation saying that the Government were straining every nerve—those were the graphic words which he used—to take us into Europe in order to avoid political and military divisions. I wondered why he was bringing us out of Europe militarily at the time at which he was trying to take us into Europe politically, and where that could possibly lead us.
The consequence of this policy is military weakness in Europe and the absolute impossibility of maintaining the forward strategy that is so often referred to as holding the line that we are supposed to be going to hold. One hon. Member said that the Americans have put lots of troops into Europe to make up for this. But other Presidents may not wish to keep American troops there. If they are ever withdrawn—and this is, in part, an answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)—they will leave the German Army as the only major force in that area of Europe.
Military and political weaknesses are serious matters. That is why I support the Foreign Secretary, as against the Minister of Defence. The policy which the Foreign Office is trying to fight politically is being forced upon us by the Minister of Defence for other reasons. It is no use saying that nuclear weapons will make up for this. The Zuckerman view about the possibility of counteracting atomic weapons is becoming the prevailing view. It is now not only his view, but the view of the United States, N.A.T.O. and even S.H.A.P.E. itself. They all accept the doctrine of the pause, but not the 324 Minister. It may be that many of us were wrong in 1957, but how absurd it is to be wrong in 1962, against all the evidence.
This leads me to the question of the inappropriate use and deployment of our forces. Because we think that we can get away with it we are being tempted not to deploy our forces in Europe. It is not that the size of the Regular Army prevents us; it is a question of doctrine. For military and political reasons, hon. Members on this side of the House believe that we should build up our commitments in Europe to the level that we have accepted. We believe, further, that it can be done with all-Regular forces, given certain conditions. The conditions are that the Government should bring in some of the large garrisons which are sited in quite inappropriate places—[HON. MEMBER "Hong Kong."] Yes—some can come from Hong Kong. We have too many there.
Without question, we have too many for the only job they can do today, and too few for the only job they may be asked to do tomorrow. Many of these commitments—[Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite would realise what they were if they were willing to think about the matter, instead of merely laughing. Many commitments, especially in the Far East, could be dealt with by seaborne forces.
Admittedly, this idea is beginning to get through. Ministers are now talking about cutting out or cutting down some of our commitments, at any rate in the Mediterranean. Only a year ago they opposed such a suggestion, and told us that it was a policy of scuttle. This year they are following that policy. If the process continues, they may do the same in the South-East Pacific.
On this matter the Service chiefs are entitled to a great deal of congratulation on the way in which they have pushed Ministers beyond the position to which those Ministers wanted to go. I cannot understand why any suggestion that we should reduce our bases in the Mediterranean or the Far East is referred to as advocating a policy of scuttle, whereas it is quite all right to do this in Europe—because that is what the Minister is doing.
Some commitments can be covered better by seaborne forces. Incidentally, 325 that would provide a better opportunity of recruiting into certain branches of the Army. But that means having ships right away, and not at some time in the future. According to the policy laid down in the White Paper and in the Navy Estimates, the ships that we require will not be available for a long time.
Another requirement is to reorganise the Army so that it can carry out the tasks that we have to fulfil. There is far too great a proliferation of commands and echelons, especially in B.A.O.R., for the organisation to be effective. To make it effective we must move quickly towards a joint Service. Here again, I welcome the tentative and coy start which the Minister is making. It is something that we have urged upon him for a long time, but which, until this year, he has resisted.
But we have to go very much further towards a joint Service than it is now suggested. We have to provide real mobility. Here, I say to the Minister that he is not doing himself justice when on the question of mobility he keeps talking about Kuwait and British Guiana. [Interruption.] I will tell the Minister—[Interruption.] I have been trying to ignore this, but if it goes on the time will come out of the Minister's time and not mine. Up to now I have ignored it for ten minutes.
It is no use talking about Kuwait and British Guiana as though that proved that we are now mobile. What it proves is that we can move men and if there is no enemy when they arrive there they can stay until we bring them out again. Had we found an enemy awaiting when we arrived in Kuwait we would have arrived without the equipment and arms which we would have needed, and the answer would have been very different indeed.
§ Mr. Watkinson indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Brown
The Minister may try to answer this, but he should remember that there were people on the spot who knew what happened.
Until we have aeroplanes which will move heavy equipment and large and cumbersome arms with the men, this mobility is a phantom, and moving men without them could be a dangerous and not a praiseworthy effort. We must 326 do much more to make any reality of mobility in men, equipment and arms. The plain fact, in our view, is that at the moment the individual Services are still not integrated parts of one whole Service. They are still fighting each other over the rôles which they should play. They are still competing with each other for "a split" of the money, and in some cases they are still trying to duplicate weapons and vehicles; and we still lack the overall policy and the relevant strategy.
This is basically due to Ministerial thinking, but other things are needed besides a change of Ministers or a change of thought on their part. I should like to repeat two or three things which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said last night. The rôle and the authority of the Ministry of Defence must rise. I note the passing of the Defence Board, which I mourned at its birth. It has passed unsung and unhonoured, having done nothing, but that still does not mean that the Ministry of Defence has the rôle or the authority that it should have.
Chiefs of Staff must have joint planning, operations, and intelligence staffs independent of their parent Services who would be responsible to the Minister of Defence. There must be one defence budget and one accounting officer, and, of course, there must be one overall policy, and somewhere, at some level, we must begin to have one Service. The proposals that General Jacobs made still look to me, as they did to my hon. and learned Friend last night, the best way of meeting that point.
At the end of this debate we believe that our defence policy, so far as we have one, remains disastrously irrelevant. In many respects is still hauntingly recalls the 1930s. The money has been spent—there is no doubt about that. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been found to get up and applaud it, but the weapons which have been referred to over the years as being forthcoming have, for the most part, never arrived. The policy which we are pursuing today, as then, is at loggerheads with our allies and is at loggerheads with the policy of the alliance. Our defence policy now, as then, is out of step with our foreign policy. It 327 is far these reasons that we have no confidence in the policy of the Government's White Paper.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
By leave of the House, I rise to reply. First, I should like to deal with an important matter which I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) for raising—the question of pay. If there is any misunderstanding, let me put it right at once. The question of retired pay and pensions is, of course, covered by the settlement which I have announced. In regard to arguments about how much and the Grigg pledge, the Grigg pledge was to have a biennial review. That has been carried out, and the White Paper will shortly be published setting out the facts.
If I may give two examples, the result will be that a private committed to nine years' service will get from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. a day, and a captain 4s. a day. I think that the judgment—and it is my responsibility—to pay it in two equal instalments was a fair settlement.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I consider that it was a fair settlement. If the hon. and learned Member wants to differ, he had his chance to make a speech last night.
§ Mr. Watkinson
The first matter with which I wish to deal—and it is only right to respond to this part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) with as much seriousness as I can bring to the task—is disarmament. I am quite sure that the House would wish to think seriously about the task that confronts my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and his Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and, indeed, all of us at Geneva starting this weekend.
This is a great opportunity to break the endless cycle of increased nuclear weapons, more tests and all the rest. These chances will not continue to recur. I only hope that Marshal Malinovsky, my Russian opposite 328 number, is as convinced as I am and as, for example, I know Mr. McNamara is and all my N.A.T.O. colleagues are that we ought to make a real and constructive attempt to try to break through this sterile business. How do we go about it? General and complete disarmament is our declared object as we start the Geneva talks. We believe that a nuclear test ban treaty would be the best start to that task and, as the right hon. Gentleman said, would open the door to a much more fruitful task, to general disarmament and all the other things that we have to do.
To make some sort of unilateral gesture, as, I know, some hon. Members would wish to make, no doubt quite sincerely, would be fatal to the whole exercise and would merely expose us to the risk of humiliation and destruction. For the same reason, we cannot place arbitrary restrictions on the use that we make of our weapons. We hope never to use them, but until we can secure agreement on disarmament we must be free to do what seems to us to be necessary. I hope in all sincerity—and a Minister of Defence knows only too well what modern war would be like—that we can have grounds for optimism about the forthcoming negotiations. I hope that the other countries who are coming will say firmly and clearly that it would be helpful to bring a spirit of compromise to the discussions and to get on with the job.
The agreement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced yesterday on the arrangements for Ministerial participation in the conference should give us the right direction, and I hope that real progress can now be made. Of course, the greatest difficulty is the working out of the practical arrangements about verifications, inspection and all the rest, and the problem that, if we begin to make progress, we must at every stage, as the White Paper sets out clearly, hold a balance between countries which does not seriously alter their security.
Having said all that, and having agreed with the right hon. Member for Huyton that we should, for instance, look at the question of control from the Russian point of view as well and seek to meet some of their anxieties about what they call spying and so on, all I 329 can say at this stage is that we shall do our best to reach a workable viable agreement. Clearly, the start in this task ought to be a test ban agreement because that would not only completely change the whole climate but it would, especially if we could provide for the right system of verification and control, open the door to the much more fruitful task of general disarmament.
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether there was sufficient Ministerial direction. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said the other day, for several years there has been a Minister in the Foreign Office specifically responsible for disarmament matters. The arrangements which have been made now between the President of the United States, the Prime Minister and Mr. Khrushchev for the handling of the disarmament conference will ensure that it will be done at the highest level and that Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister himself give the whole problem the most thorough and personal attention.
§ Mr. Watkinson
No, because, for one thing, when the Foreign Secretary is not there, the Minister of State will be present all the time. He will have the assistance of my Chief Scientific Adviser whenever it is required and the assistance of a high-level team of scientists. I am certain that the effort we are putting into it matches the need to try to reach a settlement.
The right hon. Gentleman wished the Government well in what he accepted as a difficult and immensely important task. He said that we had something to contribute to the conference. We have, of course, for the very reason that we are a nuclear power, for the reason that our scientists who have worked in this field and contributed so much to it are able to give the kind of advice which makes the counsels of the Government listened to with respect when they are given either in private or in public. If we are to play our part, if we are to try to do what the right hon. Gentleman wants us to do, how can we do it with the greatest strength and efficiency if, at the same moment, we announce that we propose to step down from our position as a nuclear Power? This seems to be a self-defeating 330 argument, and, frankly, I do not understand it.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite, so far as I can gauge their views, and, I think, the Liberal Party, judging by the speech of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) want to have it both ways. They want to avoid—I understand this—the burden of being a nuclear Power and the heavy obligations it brings in money, material and, indeed, moral responsibility. This they want to shed, but they do not accept that it is only with these burdens that the right to play a full part in this sphere goes. How can one stay in the club if one is mot willing to continue to pay the subscription? If the Opposition wish Britain to play her full part in these grave decisions, they should not advocate a policy which, if it were ever implemented, would make it impossible for us to give the lead we seek to give.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Belper spoke in the debate. This is, perhaps, the last polite thing I shall say about him. We have had many battles in the past, and I should have missed his presence if he had not participated in the debate. Once again, he exhibited his art of misrepresenting anything one has said and then turning it to his own account. For example, the right hon. Gentleman took up the argument that the strategic nuclear deterrent was not really something which we could any longer call our own. He then immediately confused it by talking about tactical nuclear weapons. Blue Water, of course, will be a completely British tactical nuclear weapon. However, everyone knows that the argument in this matter revolves round strategic nuclear weapons.
The right hon. Gentleman says that they are not ours. Today Bomber Command, with British aircraft, with British pilots and with British free falling bombs, is certainly ours. Tomorrow, with its stand-off capacity, with Blue Steel, a British weapon, and with Sky-bolt, it will have a British-owned weapon purchased from the Americans after a partnership in its development, with a British warhead; and if one owns the means of delivery and the warhead and the aircraft, I do not see what this is but a British-owned deterrent.
The fact is that the right hon. Member for Huyton has been, I fear, confusing 331 himself and the House by going into the stratosphere about defences against ballistic missiles and their relevance to the validity of our V-bomber force. It is true that the Russians have claimed to have a defence—they have claimed it many times through the mouth of Marshal Malinovsky and others—for destroying a ballistic missile in flight. I do not underestimate the progress they have made, but I equally say that I am sure that they have not a viable defence system at the moment.
This is part of my argument. But let us suppose that, none the less, the Russians are making great progress. What should we have to do? The West would have to step up the task of diversifying means of delivery. It would have to build into missiles more decoys, jammers and other devices to confuse and saturate defences. Nor can I conceive how the Russians, with their immense land mass, could ever get a defence system which would guarantee full security against an attack on all possible targets which would come in from all possible sides.
In this the diversification and mobility of Bomber Command is absolutely vital to the maintenance of the Western deterrent. I want to say something to the House in as careful words as I can, because the right hon. Gentleman sought to challenge the whole basis on which peace rests.
§ Mr. Watkinson
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying "rubbish". If he regrets these things, he can stand up and withdraw them.
As to our contribution, it is the considered view of the Government's military and scientific advisers that, with the aids to penetration which they today possess, our V-bombers and the manned aircraft of Strategic Air Command should be able to reach the targets against which they might be pitted if ever the West were forced to retaliate against Communist attack. The increasing stand-off capacity which will be afforded by Blue Steel and then by Skybolt will more than outmatch the defensive ability of surface-to-air missiles and fighters which we can expect to be developed
332 In other words, our V-bomber force—let us be quite plain about this—each bomber carrying a load equal to several scores of Hiroshimas in its bomb bay, ready to take off in two to three minutes—the second-strike capacity—represents today exactly what the White Paper says—a burden of attack which a possible aggressor could not accept as being tolerable to him.
I do not ask right hon. Gentlemen to accept this from me. I should like them to hear what General Power, the Commander of the Strategic Air Command of the United States, says about it, and what he said in public. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I know that right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like this, but they must be polite enough to listen. This is a public statement made by General Power on 10th January this year.
§ Mr. Watkinson
He may be an Air Force general, but he is a very high-ranking officer in command of perhaps the most important arm of the American Forces. This is what he said:If I might interrupt, I would also like to add that we at S.A.C. are real glad of these close ties between the Royal Air Force and S.A.C. A fine organisation, with great traditions, making a considerable contribution to the overall strategic effort".That is the deterrent. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman opposite may seek to find it funny, but he still rests under the shelter of this deterrent and can sleep the more quietly at night for it. We intend to carry on with our task.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I wonder whether the Opposition have given any thought at all to what would follow if we were going to abandon our contribution. Here is some more evidence of what part it really plays. The Government of the day would have to tell the United States that they proposed to cancel all the arrangements that we have for co-operating with the United States Strategic Air Command—and Bomber Command forms a very large proportion indeed of the element of S.A.C. based in this country. We should have to tell the United States Government that we were going to deprive the combined Western Forces 333 of one of their main European based elements. We should have to cancel the remaining V-bombers and break up the partnership of Skybolt and deprive the European members of the alliance of the assurance that derives from there being a European partner of our American friends in the planning and operation of the strategic nuclear forces of the West. Therefore, I make it quite plain that the Government will not take this kind of decision, and that we intend to continue to make a valid contribution to the Western deterrent so long as we think this can properly be made, and we can certainly say we can see our way clear, as we say in the White Paper, over the 1960s.
The right hon. Members for Huyton and Belper, and other hon. Members opposite, have said a great deal about the N.A.T.O. Alliance. I think I am entitled, after two-and-a-half years—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper, as a strong supporter of N.A.T.O. himself, knows that this is true—to give my personal view of N.A.T.O., and this is what I have tried to live up to. N.A.T.O. is a wonderful achievement, of which the free world should be very proud. Every time I meet the Secretary-General or S.A.C.E.U.R. or SACLANT, I am impressed with their selfless devotion to the cause of the West. Clearly, it is their duty to put forward the military requirements of the alliance, and I quite accept that it is the British Government's duty, as a loyal member of the alliance, to meet them to the greatest possible degree. This is where right hon. Gentlemen try to bolster up a case by making a great deal of wild allegations, which we find have no real basis when we examine them.
For example, this question of trying to say that because we bracket N.A.T.O., CENTO and S.E.A.T.O., we are in some way depreciating N.A.T.O. The right hon. Member for Belper talked about visiting the CENTO headquarters at Bagdad, but the CENTO headquarters have been in Ankara for some years.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I accept that. I still think it is justifiable to say that if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite—and 334 the right hon. Gentleman has tried to do this—tried to brief themselves as carefully as they rightly do on N.A.T.O. as to the problems and responsibilities of these other two alliances, they would see quite clearly that, as I said in my opening remarks, these three alliances are absolutely interdependent, and the failure of one is the failure of all. I quite agree that we are making different contributions to them, and I am now going to turn—
§ Mr. Watkinson
I said that the failure or collapse of one would in the long-term be the failure of all.
Now, I want to turn to our particular contribution to N.A.T.O., because the right hon. Member for Smethwick gave a highly misleading picture of our support for N.A.T.O. He entirely ignored the naval and air support, and concentrated on the one point where, and I accept it, we are not doing as much as I would wish. That is the shortage of 3,000 or 4,000 troops, although we are still maintaining seven brigade groups. To talk of four divisions is a very different story, and something which the W.E.U. organisation, by agreement with S.A.C.E.U.R., allowed us to reduce in two successive slices quite a long time ago.
§ Mr. Watkinson
Let us be clear about what our current responsibilities are. They are to provide seven brigade groups. We are doing that. There is a manpower tag applied to this of 55,000, which I have said quite frankly that we are not meeting at the moment by 3,000 to 4,000 men. [An HON. MEMBER: "We never have."] If we never have, we are not doing very much worse than we have done before and I do not see why the Opposition are making all this fuss.
The Treaty provides two waivers. One is that we are entitled to remove forces from the mainland of Europe in the event of acute overseas emergencies. Although we have had such emergencies—Kuwait has been mentioned—except for a few bomber aircraft in the case of Kuwait we have never sought to use this waiver. We have never withdrawn men, although we could have withdrawn many under this waiver.
335 The second waiver is more important to us. This says that if we have an acute strain on our balance of payments we have a perfect right to go to N.A.T.O. and ask for an independent examination. N.A.T.O. carried out this examination. As a result, it has said—this is N.A.T.O., not the British Government—that we are bearing a greater burden than any other N.A.T.O. ally in this respect. N.A.T.O. has also very fairly said that it will try to help us put it right. Therefore, we must now wait and see what N.A.T.O. can do to help us in this matter.
The Deputy Secretary of Defence of the only other country which bears an immense burden by keeping a great many troops in Europe, namely the United States, recently said that the aim of the United States was to secure a contribution from Western Germany of about 600 million dollars towards reducing the international payments deficit of the United States. He said when he returned from Germany that he had been very successful in his task. Good luck to him, but I think that at least we should be entitled to try on our own, and that is what we propose to do. I agree with the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) that until this is settled we are fully entitled to keep up our current position, which is what we are doing, and wait and see what N.A.T.O. can do to help us in this matter.
I turn to overseas commitments. From the speeches of right hon. and hon. Members opposite I find it very difficult to know what they would cut. The right hon. Member for Belper has just said that he thinks we should make reductions in Hong Kong. The right hon. Member for Huyton in opening the debate this afternoon said that he thought we ought to stay in Hong Kong. I agree with the right hon. Member for Huyton.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
This is no good. I agreed entirely with my right hon. Friend that we could use naval personnel. I said that we should not go too far in withdrawing troops from Hong Kong because of the danger of communal riots. I stand by that. So does my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Watkinson
That is exactly what I hoped the right hon. Gentleman would say, because he has now exposed, and quite honestly exposed, the real difficulty which arises when an attempt is made to draw back from overseas bases. If it is part of the Opposition's case that we can suddenly make up our forces in N.A.T.O. by a withdrawal from overseas bases, that is a quite dishonest promise which they could never implement.
I want to say something about the main issue of the White Paper, which I am glad to say has been generally supported in this excellent and interesting debate.
§ Mr. G. Brown
In view of what the Minister has said and the power with which he has said it, does he deny that he himself intends to withdraw some troops from Hong Kong this year?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I was anxious to make two points. One is what I still think is a slight divergence of view between the two right hon. Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The second is the difficulty of making sudden withdrawals. What we say quite plainly in the White Paper is that we are making limited withdrawals. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly. We are keeping a sufficient presence there to handle internal security and ensure that our presence there is regarded as a firm commitment.
The Opposition cannot square matters. This is the most difficult task of any Defence Minister. The Opposition say, quite rightly, that they support Regular forces. They say that we should have a great many more in Europe. Perhaps that would be right, although I think there are some arguments against it. One can only do this if one has a unilateral repudiation of one's obligations in the rest of the world—and that I would not advise the Government to carry through. We have our duties, and that seems to sum up the difference between the Opposition and the Government. On the whole, they believe in a policy of retreat, for the Opposition say "retreat from your responsibilities of being a nuclear power. They are too heavy to bear so let us shelter under the American umbrella and be satisfied to do that." They say that we should retreat from 337 our overseas commitments, except for N.A.T.O. They say that we should retreat from any attempt to fulfil our world responsibilities if they become too burdensome.
The Government take quite the opposite view. We believe that such a policy is not in the national interest and the most important thing—it is not imposed on us by any strategic or tactical reason, because if we carry through our policy for mobile forces, unified command and all the things which the right hon. Gentleman said the Chiefs of Staff were imposing on me, although it is a mutual imposition whereby we are both trying to hurry one another forward with this task, then we meet our obligations in a practical, sensible and honourable way.
This is what the White Paper sets out as the plan for the future. It will enable Britain to go on making her essential contribution as a nuclear power, and we propose to do that so long as we make a valid contribution. It will enable us, with successful recruiting and more mobility in our forces, to meet our commitments as we foresee them in the years to come, and it will enable us to play our full part—which I wish us to do—as a good N.A.T.O. ally, bearing two things in mind. First,
§ we must have some help with our overseas payments problems there, and secondly, N.A.T.O. must recognise that, for example, the Middle East is as important to the strength of N.A.T.O. as is the Central N.A.T.O. area itself.
§ The Opposition put down an Amendment of censure. They were fair enough to say that it was, so to speak, conditional. But they do not censure the Government's defence policy as a whole, and I find it difficult to tell which bits they censure and which they do not. It is clear that on many issues, like Regular forces, mobile forces and greater control in the Ministry of Defence, we agree. Apparently we disagree over the shortage of 3,000 to 4,000 men in N.A.T.O.
§ The Government's position is quite plain. We set it out in the White Paper. It is on that White Paper that the Government stand, and I must advise the House to reject the Opposition Amendment as being irrelevant and, if I may say so, extremely muddled in its argument.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 226.341
|Division No. 115.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Brooman-White, R.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Aitkcn, W. T.||Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, s.)||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Deedes, W. F.|
|Allason, James||Bryan, Paul||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Buck, Antony||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bullard, Denys||Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. M.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||du Cann, Edward|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Duncan, Sir James|
|Balniel, Lord||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Barber, Anthony||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Eden, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Barter, John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Cary, Sir Robert||Emery, Peter|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Channon H. P. G.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Chataway, Christopher||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bell, Ronald||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Farr, John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Cleaver, Leonard||Fell, Anthony|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Cole, Norman||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Collard, Richard||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Bidgood, John C.||Cooke, Robert||Forrest, George|
|Biffen, John||Cooper, A. E.||Foster, John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cordle, John||Freeth, Denzil|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Corfield, F. V.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Bossom, Clive||Costain, A. P.||Gammans, Lady|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Coulson, Michael||Gardner, Edward|
|Box, Donald||Craddock, Sir Beresford||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Critchley, Julian||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Gilmotir, Sir John|
|Braine, Bernard||Crowder, F. P.||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Brewis, John||Cunningham, Knox||Glyn Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt-Col. SirWalter||Curran, Charles||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Gough, Frederick||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Gower, Raymond||MacArthur, Ian||Roots, William|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William||McLaren, Martin||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Green, Alan||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Russell Ronald|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||St. Clair, M.|
|Gurden, Harold||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Maddan, Martin||Sharples, Richard|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Magginnis, John E.||Shaw, M.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maitland, Sir John||Shepherd, William|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Marlowe, Anthony||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas||Smithers, Peter|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Marten, Nell||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hay, John||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Speir, Rupert|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mawby, Ray||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hendry, Forbes||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Stodart, J. A.|
|Hiley, Joseph||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Mills, Stratton||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Montgomery, Fergus||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hinchingbrooke, viscount||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Morgan, William||Talbot, John E.|
|Hobson, Sir John||Morrison, John||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Holland, Philip||Nabarro, Gerald||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Hollingworth, John||Neave, Airey||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Hopkins, Alan||Noble, Michael||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hornby, R. P.||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Temple, John M.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Panned, Norman (Kirkdale)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Irvine, Byrant Godman (Rye)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Cordon|
|Jackson, John||Peel, John||Turner, Colin|
|James, David||Perclval, Ian||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Peyton, John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Jennings, J. C.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Pitman, Sir James||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Kabarry, Sir Donald||Pitt, Miss Edith||vesper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Pott, Percivall||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Walder, David|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Price David (Eastleigh)||Walker, Peter|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Kimball, Marcus||Prior, J. M. L.||Wall, Patrick|
|Kirk, Peter||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Kitson, Timothy||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Webster, David|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pym, Francis||Whitelaw, William|
|Leavey, J. A.||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Ramsden, James||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rawlinson, Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Wise, A. R.|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Rees, Hugh||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Lindsay, Sir Martin||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Renton, David||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Worsley, Marcus|
|Longbottom, Charles||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Longden, Gilbert||Rippon, Geoffrey||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R. (B'pool, S.)||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Abse, Leo||Bence, Cyril||Brockway, A. Fenner|
|Ainsley, William||Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Albu, Austen||Benson, Sir George||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blyton, William||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Awbery, Stan||Boardman, H.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Baird, John||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Castle, Mrs. Barbara|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Bowles, Frank||Chapman, Donald|
|Beaney, Alan||Boyden, James||Cliffe, Michael|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Craddock, George (Bradford. S.)||Jeger, George||Randall, Harry|
|Cronin, John||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rankin, John|
|Crosland, Anthony||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Reid, William|
|Darling, George||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Deer, George||Kenyon, Clifford||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Dodds, Norman||King, Dr. Horace||Ross, William|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lawson, George||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Driberg, Turn||Ledger, Ron||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dugdale, Ft. Hon. John||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Ede, fit. Hon. C.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Llpton, Marcus||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Evans, Albert||Loughlin, Charles||Small, William|
|Ferny ho ugh, E.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Finch, Harold||McCann, John||Snow, Julian|
|Fitch, Alan||MacColl, James||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fletcher, Eric||McInnes, James||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Stonehouse, John|
|Forman, J. C.||McLeavy, Frank||Stones, William|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Gaitskell, Kt. Hon. Hugh||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|George, LadyMeganLloyd (Crmrthn)||Manuel, Archie C.||Swain, Thomas|
|Ginsburg, David||Mapp, Charles||Swingler, Stephen|
|Gooch, E. C.||Marsh, Richard||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mason, Roy||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Grey, Charles||Mayhew, Christopher||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mendelson, J. J.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Millan, Bruce||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Milne, Edward||Thornton, Ernest|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mitchison, G. R.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Gunter, Ray||Monslow, Walter||Timmons, John|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Moody, A. S.||Tomney, Frank|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvll (Colne Valley)||Morris, John||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mort, D. L.||Wade, Donald|
|Hannan, William||Moyle, Arthur||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mulley, Frederick||Warbey, William|
|Hayman, F. H.||Neal, Harold||Watkins, Tudor|
|Healey, Denis||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. PhiIip (Derby, S.)||Weitzman, David|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Oliver, G. H.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Oram, A. E.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hewitson, Gapt. M.||Oswald, Thomas||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Owen, win||Whitlock, William|
|Hilton, A. V.||Padley, W. E.||Wigg, George|
|Holman, Percy||Paget, R. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Holt, Arthur||Pannell, Charles (Leeds W.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Parker, John||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hoy, James H.||Paton John||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S, Aryshire)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wood burn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Peart, Frederick||Woof, Robert|
|Hunter, A. E.||Pentland, Norman||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Prentice, R. E.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Price, J. T. (Weathoughton)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Probert, Arthur|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Proctor, W. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Mr. Short and Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
§ Main Question put:—342
§ The House divided: Ayes 310, Noes 223.347
|Division No. 116.]||AYES||[10.12 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Barter, John||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel|
|Aitken, W. T.||Batsford, John||Bishop, F. P.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Black, Sir Cyril|
|Allason, James||Bell, Ronald||Bossom, Clive|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bourne-Arton, A.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Box, Donald|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Berkeley, Humphry||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Boyle, Sir Edward|
|Balniel, Lord||Bidgood, John C.||Braine, Bernard|
|Barber, Anthony||Biffen, John||Brewis, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Biggs-Davison, John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. SirWalter|
|Brooman-White, R.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hastings, Stephen||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Bryan, Paul||Hay, John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Buck, Antony||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Bullard, Denys||Hendry, Forbes||Oshorn, John (Hallam)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Erie||Hiley, Joseph||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hobson, Sir John||Peel, John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hocking, Philip N,||Percival, Ian|
|Channon, H, P. G.||Holland, Philip||Peyton, John|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hollingworth, John||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hopkins, Alan||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hornby, R. P.||Pitman, Sir James|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pott, Percivall|
|Collard, Richard||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Cooke, Robert||Hughes-Young, Michael||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Cordle, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Corfield, F. V.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Costain, A. P.||Jackson, John||Pyrn, Francis|
|Coulson, Michael||James, David||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Ramsden, James|
|Crltchley, Julian||Jennings, J. C.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees, Hugh|
|Cunningham, Knox||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Curran, Charles||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Renton, David|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|de Ferrantl, Basil||Kershaw, Anthony||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kimball, Marcus Kirk, Peter||Robson Brown, Sir William Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|du Cann, Edward||Kitson, Timothy||Roots, William|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Eden, John||Leavey, J. A.||Russell, Ronald|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Leburn, Gilmour||St. Clair, M.|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Emery, Peter||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lilley, F. J. P.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Sharples, Richard|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Litchfield, Capt. John||Shaw, M.|
|Farr, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Shepherd, William|
|Longbottom, Charles||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fell, Anthony||Longden, Gilbert||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Loveys, Waiter H.||Smithers, Peter|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Forrest, George||MacArthur, Ian||Speir, Rupert|
|Foster, John||McLaren, Martin||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. C. D.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Gammans, Lady||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Gardner, Edward||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Maddan, Martin||Talbot, John E.|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maginnis, John E.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gllmour, Sir John||Maitland, Sir John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Marlowe, Anthony||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Marshall, Douglas||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Marten, Neil||Teeling, Sir William|
|Gough, Frederick||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Temple, John M.|
|Gower, Raymond||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Mawby, Ray||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Green, Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Mills, Stratton||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Montgomery, Fergus||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Morgan, William||Touch;, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Morrison, John||Turner, Colin|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nabarro, Gerald||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harvey, Sir Aithur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Neave, Airey||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Vane, W. M. F.||wall, Patrick||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Vickers, Miss Joan||Webster, David||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Walder, David||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Walker, Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. Noble.|
|Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek||Wise, A. R.|
|Abse, Leo||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Oram, A. E.|
|Ainsley, William||Hannan, William||Oswald, Thomas|
|Albu, Austen||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Owen, Will|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hayman, F. H.||Padley, W. E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Healey, Denis||Paget, R. T.|
|Awbery, Stan||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Baird, John||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Parker, John|
|Beaney, Alan||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hilton, A. V.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bence, Cyril||Holman, Percy||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Holt, Arthur||Peart, Frederick|
|Benson, Sir George||Houghton, Douglas||Pentland, Norman|
|Blackburn, F.||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Blyton, William||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Boardman, H.||Hoy, James H.||Probert, Arthur|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bowles, Frank||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Boyden, James||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Randall, Harry|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hunter, A. E.||Rankin, John|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Reid, William|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jeger, George||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Chapman, Donald||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Ross, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Cronin, John||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Kelley, Richard||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Kenyon, Clifford||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Darling, George||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||King, Dr. Horace||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lawson, George||Small, William|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Ledger, Ron||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Deer, George||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, Julian|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dodds, Norman||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Driberg, Tom||Lipton, Marcus||Storehouse, John|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Loughlin, Charles||Stones, William|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Edelman, Maurice||McCann, John||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. Ft. (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacColl, James||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McInnes, James||Swain, Thomas|
|Evans, Albert||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Finch, Harold||McLeavy, Frank||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Fitch, Alan||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fletcher, Erie||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Manuel, Archie C.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Forman, J. C.||Mapp, Charles||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Marsh, Richard||Timmons, John|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mason, Roy||Tomney, Frank|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mayhew, Christopher||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Wade, Donald|
|George, LadyMcganLloyd (Crmrthn)||Millan, Bruce||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Ginsburg, David||Milne, Edward||Warbey, William|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mitchison, G. R.||Watkins, Tudor|
|Cordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Monslow, Walter||Weitzman, David|
|Grey, Charles||Moody, A. S.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morris, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Moyle, Arthur||Whitlock, William|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mulley, Frederick||Wigg, George|
|Gunter, Ray||Neal, Harold||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hale, Letilie (Oldham, W.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Williams, LI. (Abertillery)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Williams, W. R. (Opemhaw)||Woof, Robert||Mr. Short and|
|Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)||Vates, Victor (Ladywood)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|Wilson, Bt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)||Zilliacus, K.|
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1962, contained in Command Paper No. 1639.