HC Deb 09 May 1962 vol 659 cc434-5
29. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Defence what action is being taken by Her Majesty's Government on the proposal that the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in European defence should be increased.

Mr. Watkinson

Her Majesty's Government welcome any effective proposals for strengthening the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The decisions recently taken at Athens are an important step in this direction, inasmuch as they will give greater assurance to the non-nuclear members of the Alliance that not only will they be able to play a full part in the formulation of N.A.T.O. defence policy but that the nuclear weapons on which their defence depends will be available.

Mr. Shinwell

Was not one of the principal proposals that came before the recent discussions with the Ministers of N.A.T.O. that a nuclear force should be established under the authority of some N.A.T.O. people? Do I understand that that has been completely abandoned?

Mr. Watkinson

There was no discussion at the Athens meeting of the N.A.T.O. Powers of what I believe is commonly called the N.A.T.O. M.R.B.M. force. I think that that is what the right hon. Gentleman is referring to.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not, as a result of the meeting in Athens, N.A.T.O. is now even more dependent upon an early resort to nuclear weapons than it was before?

Mr. Watkinson

No, I would not judge that to be the case. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will await my Answer to a subsequent Question.