§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I beg to move,That this House regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to proceed in the near future with the testing of a British nuclear device thus endangering the prospects of an early international agreement to ban nuclear tests.It cannot be necessary to say it, but perhaps I had better say it so that I get the framework right. No one will doubt my view, or that of the overwhelming majority of my party, that, so long as the world is organised as it is today, the West needs to have deterrent forces and deterrent weapons. It is not that issue which is involved in the Motion. There is the world of difference between the West being organised to deter any nuclear, or indeed any other, attack, and each of us feeling that we must or can 884 ourselves still in present-day circumstances be so organised.
There are two issues involved in the Government's decision. One is the matter of timing, which ordinarily one would think was a minor matter but which in the circumstances now prevailing takes on a much more serious look. The second is the apparent lack of purpose about the Government's defence policy. There has been no greater critic of that in the recent past than the Minister of Defence, who is to follow me. It will be interesting to hear him explaining the views that he has held with such vigour over the past year or two in the light of the decision, for which he must accept responsibility, to proceed with this test.
The background to the decision is this. The world has, and feels, a tremendous need, perhaps above all else, for an agreement to end the horror of nuclear testing. It fears what is going on. Anybody who reads the letters in the correspondence columns of The Times will understand this. Everybody has been disturbed by what happened in Liege last week or the week before, but the world does not know, and it knows that it does not know, how many horrors of the same kind are being caused every time somebody tests a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere or under the sea. Therefore, the world wants to get rid of this horror. It regards any nuclear testing, wherever it takes place, as being part of the whole process that produces this poisoning of the atmosphere and this deforming of human beings.
The world also wants to end nuclear testing for another reason. Very few nations now have the capacity effectively to make nuclear weapons. Quite a number of other nations are on the way. The world feels that it wants to get to an agreement to ban tests before anybody else has the ability effectively to make these weapons. Its wants to discourage and, it would hope, prevent any other people entering this field.
There is a second reason why we all want to get an agreement as quickly as we can effectively to get rid of nuclear tests. This is because of the influence which the mere making of such an agreement—the mere carrying out of such an agreement—would exert on other agreements which would help us to establish 885 effective, peaceful and acceptable coexistence.
If we could get an agreement on nuclear tests which worked, it might—it should—it probably would—lead us on to agreements on other things—on the establishment of non-nuclear zones, for which we on this side of the House have been arguing for a long time and which have now been taken up in all kinds of quarters; on areas of withdrawal of forces, which would be a tremendous reinsurance against the dangers of the accidental starting of hostilities. It might well lead us on to the beginnings of agreements on disarmament, however limited in the beginning, which otherwise we will not be able to start with.
It is against this background that the Government have chosen this moment to announce that we are to go on, when everybody else seems to be stopping, with yet another nuclear test of our own. The Government announced it in the most peculiar way. It is now becoming the fashion of Ministers—last week it was the Prime Minister; today it is the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—to abuse the Press. Considering the support which the Tory Government have had from the Press over the last ten years, they are biting the hand that has fed them. The fashion now is to keep on accusing the Press of mispresenting the habits of the Government.
If only Ministers would start making their announcements about policy in an open way in the House of Commons, instead of by inspired "leaks" outside which are brought about either by way of Writter Answer or of Press conferences, we should not have the very thing they are complaining of. The new Minister of Defence took up the habit of his predecessors when he sought to announce this decision quietly and under cover by way of an inspired Question to which there would be a Written Answer. I do not know whether the idea was to "get away with it" without anybody noticing it, but to announce a decision of this magnitude in this way seems to me totally to underestimate what the House and the country expect of the Government.
I want now to establish the perspective of what we are talking about. This is not a nuclear test in the atmosphere. 886 Therefore, it does not have the same kind of consequences that either the Russian or the subsequent American tests have had. Clearly, this test is of limited size. Clearly, the fall-out is not only confined, but is also very small. In no sense can it be called a new series of atmospheric tests. Therefore, it cannot justify the sort of things that were written in the Russian newspapers.
But, having said that to establish perspective, it does not thereby justify what the Government are doing, and my purpose this evening is to show why I think that even within those limits this is extremely foolish and very unjustified. The Prime Minister said the other day that because it was only a small matter, only a little thing—like the chambermaid's baby—it did not matter; that it would not worry the Russians enormously or even at all, I think he said. But if it is such a very small thing, why are we taking the risk of doing it at all? The Minister must justify to us why this should be embarked on.
Our very first objection in this matter is to what is called the fourth Power problem. If we in Britain claim the right at any moment that seems to suit us—irrespective of what is going on elsewhere in the world, irrespective of how near the world is to an agreement, irrespective of the risks of starting a new series—to have tests, on what grounds can anyone else be discouraged? How, then, do we prevent, not only the French but all kinds of other nations choosing a date that suits them? In other words, how do we then argue for an agreement that nations which are not yet nuclear Powers will be required to observe?
It seems to us, without any question at all, that the whole chance, the whole possibility of an international agreement which will be accepted, must be jeopardised by our plunging in at this very last moment when we seemed to be possibly on the way to an agreement. I am sure that the House does not underestimate the amount of progress that was being made. In recent times, the West and the Soviet bloc have got very much nearer than only a short time ago seemed possible.
We appeared to have had the end of a round of tests that we thought should never have been started, a round of tests which the Russians started when they 887 ended the moratorium, which the Americans followed, and which the Russians, in turn, followed again. We seemed to have got to the end of that round. The Americans have announced the end of their series of tests, and the Russians have indicated that theirs is about to end. Mr. Zorin has proposed that at the end of this week the negotiations should be restarted, with the atmosphere of the end of the road.
Not only that, but the American and Russian positions on testing, and on the requirements for a test agreement, have come very much nearer together. The new Western proposals—to which I gather we are ourselves a party, as well as the Americans—are a very considerable advance on what we had previously put up, in the sense that they are very much nearer to what the Russians had said they might accept.
We have reduced very considerably our demands for on-site inspections, we have reduced very considerably all the demands we had been making for checking. We have not made new specific proposals of the numbers we wanted, but we have indicated that the number would be a great deal less than we had previously been asking for.
On the other hand, the Russians have indicated that with the development of these "black boxes" and other proposals, it would be very much easier for them to agree to some evidence being made available to us. There are still differences between us. I do not argue that we are totally agreed, but the gap was a good deal narrower than it had yet seemed to be.
We must not ignore the fact that, in this situation, Mr. Khrushchev himself appears to be having some difficulties, not only in his land but in the countries that make up the bloc for which he has to speak and within which he has to operate. One has to keep that in mind. But here was a situation in which we seemed to be much nearer to getting an agreement. Indeed, Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Kennedy have written to each other in the sense that neither of them seemed to be wanting another test. At that very moment, our Government, the British Government—which does not play in that league at all—announce that they intend to make another test.
888 Our first case is: could there be a more foolish moment at which to make that particular announcement—
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Is it not very important in this to distinguish between an agreement not to carry on any further atmospheric tests and an agreement not to carry on any more underground tests? As I understand the position, neither the Russians nor the Americans have undertaken to stop underground tests.
§ Mr. Brown
I had intended to deal with that later, but if the hon. and gallant Member wishes I shall deal with it now.
The Russian proposal, with which, I gather, there is no difficulty in agreeing, is that we should all agree immediately to end those tests that are, as it were, self-policing—atmospheric tests, high-atmosphere tests and tests under the sea—and that we should have a moratorium on underground tests while we discuss how to check those. That is the proposal. What we are doing is preventing there being a moratorium while we discuss how to check those tests, and what seems to me to be so utterly foolish, if there is willingness now to discuss the means of checking underground explosions, is for us to butt in and prevent there being a moratorium while the discussions take place. That is just what we are now doing.
Why had we to make this decision at this time? We had not insisted upon this test earlier. I will come in a moment to what the Prime Minister said about it, but we have not had it, or insisted upon it. There are two questions one has to ask. The first is: why do it now? The second is: for what purpose are we doing it at all? On the first question, the Prime Minister has made a series of statements which, like almost everything he has to say, I find almost incomprehensible. I gathered from him the other day that he had the same trouble with me, but I must say that whatever trouble he has with me, it is nothing to what have with him—nothing at all.
I will offer the Prime Minister's remarks to the House, and perhaps hon. Members will then decide whether they can see his meaning. On 8th February, 889 the right hon. Gentleman announced the March test. He said:In this connection, we are now satisfied that substantial technical and military benefits can be obtained by testing one particular British nuclear device underground."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 8th February, 1962; Vol. 653; c. 629.]That seemed clear—one seems to be one—arid everyone assumed that that was what the Prime Minister meant.
But let us go on with the story. On 31st May, my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he intended to test any more nuclear weapons in Nevada. The Prime Minister replied:We have no present intention of testing further nuclear devices in Nevada.It is only fair to say that he went on:It would be wrong, however, for me to give any firm assurance for the future…"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st May, 1962; Vol. 660, c. 1583.]I understand that. Firm assurances for the future, the Prime Minister cannot give. The ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), knows that, because one morning he was in the Cabinet and the next evening he was out. There was nothing very firm about that.
On 31st May, we had that statement:We have no present intention of testing further nuclear devices in Nevada.That statement seemed to tie up with what the right hon. Gentleman said on 8th November; that the Government had only one which they wanted to test. He now comes along out of the blue, so far as the House is concerned, but with a number of inspired pieces in the Daily Telegraph beforehand, to announce that we are to test another one. This is what he said:We have for some months been planning another test…Owing to the heavy pressure upon the facilities at Nevada we have not been able to arrange this as I had hoped in the early months of the autumn.The right hon. Gentleman said that in column 197 of the OFFICIAL REPORT.
In column 199, in answer to the Leader of the Liberal Party, he said:I am sorry that it was not possible to finish it, as I had hoped, during the end of the summer or early autumn."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1962; Vol. 667, c. 197–9.]890 At the beginning of the summer, on 31st May—which must be regarded as about the beginning of the British summer—we had no intention of testing another one. Yet we had been considering for some months when we got to November, and, but for the fact that the Americans have been so wicked as to occupy the Nevada grounds, we would have had it over by the end of the summer. I suggest that it looks like quibbling, evasion and shuffling.
When did the Government decide that they needed to test another nuclear weapon? How long in advance does one normally set these things up? My suggestion is that the Government all along knew that they would want to take the last test a bit further, but that they had no intention of doing it now until it looked as though the Americans and the Russians were getting ready for not only an agreement but for a moratorium on underground tests and then at that moment, without the necessary pre-planning, the Government jumped in, to stake their claim, a claim which they would not have staked if that had not been the position. In other words, they have deliberately and wilfully run the risk of jeopardising this agreement in order to get this test in now.
In the other place, a short time ago, the Foreign Secretary said, if I quote him correctly, that the trouble with nuclear Powers was that as they went on they became like an aged courtesan who, as the years went by, kept on saying "Please God, let me have just one more." What the Foreign Secretary then said seems to apply very much to what he and his colleagues are doing at this moment—"Please let me have just one more."
The questions here are simply not explained—why we have to have another test, or what would happen if we did not have it. One of the interesting things is that the Prime Minister, speaking in this House the other day, said that if there were an agreement before we got the test in, we would have to reconsider our position, implying that we would then not have it. But this does not suggest a very high degree of importance. If we could reconsider our position—and, I assume, not have it—if the agreement were reached, we could obviously reconsider our position and not have it while seeing whether an agreement 891 would be reached. Therefore, the Government cannot, in the Prime Minister's own statement, support the contention that this is a test of such importance that we must run all the risks that are involved in it.
I move on to ask what is the purpose of this test. The Prime Minister tells us that he would not expect us to press him too hard as to what the purpose is. Speaking for myself, if I found him more willing in public to stand up for what he says in private I would find it a little easier to trust him. My problem with the right hon. Gnetleman is that when one talks to him in private one gets one answer and when one talks in public one gets a totally different attitude. One's attitude is affected when he does not tell us, because we have to try to find out. What he told us the other day was that the first test, the March test, was connected with the existing weapons system. He said it in answer to a question of mine. By that I take it that he means, connected with the delivery system or the guidance system of our existing bombers, because that is our existing delivery system.
On top of that we know that we have no possibility of having any rockets with which to deliver nuclear weapons. We are now totally out of the business. We went partially out. We went out of the long-range business when the Government crashed with Blue Streak. We have now cancelled Blue Water. We have, so far as I know, no other proposals for nuclear weapons except that the Civil Lord, making a speech in this House, for a change, rather than outside, said, "We have Blue Steel." I will come to Blue Steel, but Blue Steel is not, in fact, a rocket. Blue Steel is an altogether different weapon, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.
Since we have no requirement and no project for new means of delivery, since we shall be, in any independent sense, out of the nuclear deterrent business when the bombers become obsolete—the ones we have at the moment are properly described as obsolescent—it seems very clear that we are insisting on this test in order to refine weapons that we are even now presumably unable to deliver.
892 I ask the Government to justify Why we, who no longer can have an independent deterrent, should jeopardise the chances—I put it no higher than that—of getting a world agreement to abolish nuclear testing, for what could only be a refinement carrying us over a very short and temporary period. But there is, as the Minister of Defence foresaw, the possibility that we are thinking of Blue Steel, the stand-off bomb of 100 miles or whatever it is—anyhow, a very short range—which is to extend the life, so they say, of the existing bombers, and maybe thinking of Skybolt, the American stand-off bomb which is to succeed our own Blue Steel and again extend the life of the existing bombers.
We have an agreement with the Americans about the exchange of atomic information. They are only going to let us have Skybolt if they have it themselves. There is no suggestion that they would produce Skybolt for us unless they produced it for themselves. Since we are relying upon them to send us Skybolt, why is it that we could not rely on our agreement for the exchange of atomic information which goes with the missile? It will have a warhead on it. Why, in that case, must we do the refining and the research work for ourselves at this enormous risk?
It is impossible to resist the thought that what is in the Government's mind is not a need for weapons, not a need to do research work but, more than anything else, to "have just one more," as the Foreign Secretary put it, to have the last word, in order to try to re-establish the myth that we are or can be an independent nuclear deterrent Power. I suggest that it is more for that reason than for anything else that we are running all the grievous risks that are involved in this. It is now a myth, and the Minister of Defence himself knows it.
The Minister of Defence has made speeches in this House, including one from the third bench back opposite very recently, not only saying that it is a myth but denouncing the Government for not recognising that it ought to be so.
There is no possibility of this country going on being an independent nuclear deterrent Power. I do not need to call Mr. McNamara or the Americans in support here. I do not need to remind 893 the Minister of Mr. McNamara's public declaration about the way our bombers are targeted in with the S.A.C. targets. I point to something else. Once we become dependent on other nations for the supply of the means of delivery, the independent British deterrent has gone. The means of delivery are much more significant now than the capacity to make bombs or warheads. If we can have only other nations' means of delivery, on their terms, we are not independent.
In the circumstances, it is absolute nonsense to try, by continuing testing, to build up the impression that we are, in fact, independent.
Many things stop us. There is the size of the job and the lack of the resources we have to put into it. There is the time for which individual means of delivery last. There is the cost of moving over from our present bombers to a new race of supersonic bombers. That cost, as the Minister of Defence, if he does not already know, will soon find out, is far beyond the Government's capacity, or the capacity of the nation, even if we continue, as we have been over the past ten years, to starve the Services of their necessary conventional equipment. Even if we do that, as we all now know that we have done, we still shall not be able to find the money for a new race of supersonic bombers and for the Skybolt missile to go with them.
The Minister of Defence followed me to America. He had talks with the same people in America as I had. He must know that the cost of equipping bombers with Skybolt, even assuming that we ever get it, will be so unbelievably high that we could never sensibly embark on it.
If the thing is out of our reach in that way, as it is, there is, defence-wise, no case at all for going on testing nuclear weapons. Politically, for the reasons I gave earlier, it is extremely dangerous for us to go on testing nuclear weapons—dangerous because it gives the lead to others, dangerous because it encourages the fourth Power problem to develop, dangerous because it jeopardises the possibilities of an agreement when we seem to be so much nearer having one than we have ever been.
894 It would be much more sensible if the Government were now examining what our policy should be in a world where nuclear weapons exist. In the first place, what policy should we adopt as a country towards the possession and control of nuclear weapons within the Western Alliance? It would be much better, I submit, that the provision and possession of nuclear weapons should be in the hands of one member of the alliance, but that the political control over them should be a matter in which we and other members of the alliance play a part.
Instead of trying to duplicate the provision and possession of nuclear weapons we ought to be trying to put right what is at the moment grievously wrong, that is, the lack of adequate political control within the alliance over decisions which might involve the use or the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. If the Government would direct their mind to that problem they could render a real service instead of duplicating the provision which already exists.
Also, they could stop all this nonsense, to which, I gather Mr. George Ball again gave tongue last week in Paris—but with many qualifications, I am happy to note—about the possibility of a European or a N.A.T.O. deterrent. These are very dangerous ideas, dangerous ideas which the Government are encouraging. There are Americans who are talking about a European or a N.A.T.O. deterrent, hoping in that way to get the Government out of their dilemma about their own independent deterrent. I repeat that it would be much better to forget that nonsense and talk about the establishment of effective political control within the alliance over the nuclear weapons which exist, leaving the provision and possession in the hands of one Power.
The second part of our policy ought to be to establish our position in regard to possible agreements. Here I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). I shall not repeat what I said then. Clearly, the new suggestions are a help. It would be a good thing—we do not need to argue too long about the mechanics of it—to get rid of the tests in the upper and lower atmosphere and 895 under the sea. They do the most harm. Let us get rid of them at once. If we could then discuss seriously, hut within much narrower limits, the way in which we could control and check underground tests, that would be a tremendous advantage.
We ought to be prepared to pay the price, I suggest, of a limited moratorium while the discussions go on. I do not suggest an unlimited moratorium. I would not suggest for ever; but we could put a date to it and say that for that period—this is roughly what the Russians seem to be suggesting—we would agree to have a moratorium. It is this which, I believe, the Government have destroyed.
A Government who were really seized of the problems of the nuclear age and of the worries of people in it, a Government who really understood what the defence of this country and our contribution to the defence of the alliance required, would, I submit, be approaching the problem in that way. Instead of that, they are going on testing. What the reasons are we do not understand. No doubt, the Minister of Defence will now explain.
For reasons which seem to us to smack more of prestige, a rather moth-eaten, fiy-blown prestige, than anything else, or a desire to have the last word, or a desire, perhaps, to be able to say to General de Gaulle next year, when we get nearer the date of entry to the Common Market, that we have something to share with him—for some of those reasons or for other reasons which to us make no sense, the Government, instead of following the policy I have suggested, have come forward with this ridiculously ill-timed proposal and have taken the grave risk of jeopardising the chances of agreement.
I believe that the country regrets the Government's decision. I believe that the security of our nation and the strength of the alliance do not require the decision which they have made. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how what they have decided to do could be squared with what the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence wrote not very long ago in the American magazine Foreign Affairs Quarterly.
896 For all those reasons, I ask all right hon. Members to join with us in recognising that the Government have made a very grave mistake and are pursuing a mistaken defence policy. I ask the House to carry the Motion tonight in order to show how much we regret the attitude and the line which they are taking.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
The background to this debate is concerned with grave matters, for the question of nuclear tests casts its shadow over both the East and West and both sides of the House of Commons. When one speaks about these matters and the steps to be taken about them, I think that one should not talk in terms of a bargain about the Common Market or some such matter, which the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) referred to. These are graver issues for all concerned. [Laughter.] Right hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but I do not think people in this country laugh about the question of nuclear tests. I do not think that people in this country treat them merely as a matter of party debate. This is a national and, indeed, an international issue which we should approach with gravity.
The Opposition have elected to debate this subject on a Motion cast in very narrow terms indeed. They have referred to one test of one device and suggested that that will endanger the prospects of a test agreement. I shall deal with that Motion. But the right hon. Gentleman, in his speech, introduced a number of overtones into the debate. He raised the question of whether there ought to be, or could be, an independent deterrent. He raised the question of whether it was really possible to have anything effective of that kind. I say at once that if one takes the view of the right hon. Gentleman that all this is a waste of time, then it is a waste of time to test it. But I cannot help but feel that it would have been franker with the House to put down a Motion condemning the whole approach in this regard to Britain's defence policy and not to shelter behind some narrow Motion of this character. As I say, the terms of the Motion are limited and, as I shall show, they are drawn on a fairly solid misunderstanding of the facts.
897 The right hon. Gentleman complained that I had initiated, as is quite customary for both parties in this House, a Written Question on this matter. I make no apology for a Minister, weeks in advance of the event, initiating a Written Question on the Order Paper so that the whole world may know what he is doing.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose——
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will tell him why. He has been here for some time and has knowledge of our proceedings. May I explain this to him? To put down weeks in advance of the event or to initiate on the Order Paper a Written Question so that the whole procedures and machinery of democracy can be used to debate it, to raise it on the Adjournment, to do anything—is this really concealment? I make no apology for proceeding in that way.
§ Mr. G. Brown rose——
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I shall finish what I have to say on this point and then I will give way.
I think that the action taken by the Opposition in seeking, quite properly, after having had this notice, to raise this matter, not in question and answer across the Floor of the House, but in full debate so that all the facts of the case can be put on both sides, is a perfectly proper way to deal with a matter of this kind.
§ Mr. Brown,
Will not the Minister address himself to the point, that on the day on which he gave his Written Answer there were a number of Questions on the Order Paper to which an Oral Answer could have been given? To every one of those Oral Questions an answer was not given but was evaded. In any case, did not the right hon. Gentleman have the device, the resort, of asking you, Mr. Speaker, for permission to make a statement to the House at the end of Questions?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
But I did better than that. Having given the Answer, I left it to the right hon. Gentleman to choose the particular form in which he would raise it. I think that he has chosen the right one, and, for my part, I welcome very much the opportunity of 898 being able to answer much more fully in debate than I would have been able to do in answer to a Question what he had to say.
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose——
§ Mr. Silverman
I shall not detain the right hon. Gentleman long. I understand very well the view which he is expressing, that it was in every way desirable that the House should have a debate on this matter. But is he really saying to the House, with all his Ministerial experience and his experience as a Private Member, that this is the only way to bring it about?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
No; but I think that it is a very good way to bring it about.
I turn to the history of these matters. On 1st September, 1961, the Soviet Union broke a three-year moratorium on tests by a massive series. It was rather odd that the right hon. Gentleman, in the whole of his speech, made no reference whatever and expressed no word of criticism about the Russian tests but spoke only of this one solitary test of ours. As I say, on 1st September, a three-year moratorium was broken, and our attitude was laid down on 31st October by the Prime Minister.
It is worth while recalling what my right hon. Friend said on that occasion:…if tests must be conducted for good military or scientific reasons, if possible they will be made underground where there is no danger of pollution. I have specifically in mind the possible need to ensure the safety in peace and the effectiveness in operation of weapons either newly in service or under development.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1961, Vol. 648, c. 32.]Those were the criteria which the Prime Minister laid down at that time.
Since then we have faced two massive series of tests, both of them in the atmosphere. Throughout this period we have carefully followed the criteria which my right hon. Friend laid down. One test, of a scientific nature, was carried out last March. One test of certain military applications will be carried out shortly. Those two tests compare with 899 the massive testing, whether measured in numbers or megatons, carried out by the U.S.S.R.
I think that the House would agree with me that our test programme has been modest. Our restraint is, indeed, manifest. Out of quite a number of possibilities for testing and suggestions that have been made to us, we have limited our tests to two. We have done something else which I think is important; we have not made an atmospheric test. We have kept both these tests underground. We applied the criteria strictly in this case. The test is necessary to check a nuclear device for its required performance. Certain modifications have been introduced, and we want to check that the sequence of events is the same as that predicted. It is of great military importance for more than one British weapon. So the test is necessary. It is necessary both for the safety and for the efficiency in operation of a military weapon. When I say that, I think I am entitled to ask the House, as I speak from this Dispatch Box, to accept my assurance in a matter of that kind. It is not a decision which any Minister of any party would reach lightly or without giving the fullest consideration to the case put to him. Does the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) wish to interrupt me on that point?
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I merely wish to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman seriously imagines any Minister, on having a test, would say anything else?
I think I have heard the hon. and learned Gentleman advance rather stronger arguments than that. What I say is that I have had other proposals which I have not accepted. But when the Minister of Defence of any party, having looked at all the arguments, gives an assurance that in his view a test is necessary for the efficiency and safety of a military weapon, I think he is entitled to ask the House to accept his assurance,.
So the test is necessary. We sought to make it earlier, but this was the earliest that it could be fitted into the tests currently going on in Nevada. The right hon. Gentleman talked as though we had 900 specially selected a date in order to be as mischievous as possible. That is not so. This is the first date upon which the device could be fitted into and tested in the series going on in Nevada.
I think the right hon. Gentleman initiated this debate and the Motion with some misunderstanding of the situation. On 13th November, the Labour Party issued a statement which said:The Government's announcement yesterday could hardly have come at a more unsuitable moment. Mr. Kennedy announced the ending of the American series a week ago.But Mr. Kennedy had not announced the end of the American series. [Interruption.] These are facts relevant to the Motion. The Labour Party——
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I acquit the right hon. Gentleman of saying it. I am merely saying that this was the Labour Party hand-out on 13th November; and it was wrong. What President Kennedy had said was:The medium altitude shot fired this morningThat was 4th November—off Johnston Island concludes our present atmospheric test series in the Pacific. Underground nuclear weapons tests, free from fallout, are continuing in Nevada.That is very different.
Nor, apparently, is it true of the Russians. It is true that they had intended and hoped to end their series on 20th November. But our latest information is that they will not manage it then—I am not saying this in criticism of them; I am stating the facts as I understand them—and it seems probable, to the best of our information, that their tests, probably atmospheric, though on a smaller scale than previously, will continue until about the end of the year.
The facts are that the American tests are continuing and perhaps Russian tests, atmospheric ones, may be continuing. We have just one test in all that—and that underground—which is in no sense the start of a new series. I think that the attempt to portray that as somehow the decisive event, the one big thing amidst all these events which will make the difference as to whether we have a nuclear test ban or not, is rather difficult to sustain in debate. Indeed, I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House 901 know quite well that the Russian decision on a test ban—[Interruption.]— one never knows; it may be an important one—is a decision which will be taken as a result of a clear idea on her part as to where her interests lie.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The question of a test ban is a grave matter, and it will be dealt with in more detail by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs when he winds up the debate. There is no one in the House of Commons, on either side, who would not wish to have such a ban and to work towards it. But it must, of course, be a multilateral ban and not a unilateral one. Our position has long been clear. We have long sought such a ban. As recently as last August, we—when I say "we" I am talking about the West, ourselves and the Americans—offered either a complete ban with some minimal arrangements for verification—it is not unreasonable in this world that men should seek some verification in these matters—or, if the Russians did not like that, a ban on atmospheric, space and underwater tests with no conditions whatever attached to it; and this offer remains open today and can he taken up, as I understand it, at any time.
It seems to me that the Motion touches only the fringe of this matter. I do not believe it really can be suggested that this one test could have the effects which the right hon. Gentleman has sought to ascribe to it. Listening to his speech, I felt that his motives—I am not saying that they are wrong motives—his reasons and his arguments went really into a different plane altogether. He was really saying, "You ought not to have this deterrent." He used to believe in the deterrent. There was a time when he was one of its most powerful and courageous advocates. Many of the leaders of his party have believed in it—Lord Attlee is one, the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) has spoken in favour of it, and Mr. Aneurin Bevan was one of its most powerful advocates, and at a very critical moment in his career he spoke courageously for it. Pamphlets have been issued and published by the Labour 902 Party, all of them calling our attention to the need to have a degree of independence in our deterrent. Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to interrupt me?
§ Mr. G. Brown
Only to ask the Minister of Defence whether he has noted that subsequent to all these things which we did in order to support the Government—at some cost to ourselves—this Government brought about the Blue Streak fiasco, after which there was no possibility of having an independent deterrent.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I think it is an extraordinarily limited approach to a great subject to say that because one does not pursue one particular form of delivery, therefore one no longer wishes to exercise control over an independent deterrent.
But the right hon. Gentlemen opposite believe, as I understand them—I want to put this fairly, and if I put it wrongly I hope the right hon. Gentleman will correct me—that the United Kingdom deterrent is insignificant.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
That is their view, as I understand it. The logic of their argument is that we should be engaging ourselves upon unilaterally dismantling it. Do I express this rightly? I am most anxious to get this correct.
§ Mr. G. Brown
If the right hon. Gentleman is as anxious as that, I will help him. As we have repeatedly said, and as I stated again today, our present V-bombers will be obsolescent at some date not too far away—and for that statement I rely on the words of the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Watkinson) when he was Minister of Defence. If we are to remain an independent nuclear Power, they should be superseded by a new means of delivery, which can only be a missile. But there is no British missile coming along. The Government are not even trying to get one. Therefore, when these bombers fade out we shall have no independent means of delivery. At that stage we quite clearly will have no independent deterrent.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I think I have got it. I am anxious to get it. As I understand it, the Opposition say that our 903 deterrent is altogether insignificant. They say that even if they do not dismantle the deterrent it will in any event run down and that we will never have the weapons or the means of delivery. Of course, if right hon. and hon. Members opposite hold that view, I can well understand their saying that we should never test the deterrent. That is a perfectly logical view. But I am bound to say that it is rather a strange argument. They criticise us for throwing away the independence of our foreign policy if we talk to our European allies, yet they are prepared to rely wholly and absolutely upon the United States for deterrence.
I recall what the right hon. Member for Belper was saying a few years ago. He said:I want us to have our own foreign policy, and that means having the power to carry it out.…Our vital interests are not always the same as America's vital interests. That being so, the threat to bring the deterrent into play must exist here as well as across the Atlantic.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Those were the right hon. Gentleman's words then. He seems to have slipped a considerable way from that position. In any event, we do not share that view. We believe that we have a need for an independent nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The time could come with the inter-continental ballistic missiles which are growing in number in the Soviet Union and are pointing at Washington and New York, when the Russians might gamble on the possibility that a threat to us would not inevitably bring American retribution. The independent deterrent makes that gamble just not worth while. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman deliberately widened the debate to take in these matters and it is right that I should reply to them. He says that we would not be able to deliver it, that our bombers are obsolescent and the rest. I 904 say this to him with all the emphasis I can: there is no gain or prize that any country could possibly win by the defeat of this country which could possibly compensate it for the appalling destruction it would suffer in the process. That is true today and it is a relevant fact to the defence policy of the country.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
It is not a first strike. This is what a deterrent policy must mean. It is part of the defence policy of this country.
This Motion should be rejected. The test is needed for military purposes. It will bring rewards both in safety and in effectiveness. It will not affect the final issue of a test ban treaty. It is not the start of a new series. It is not an isolated event but part of tests proceeding in the West and in the East. Those who oppose it have shown quite plainly, by the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that they are actuated not so much by the test ban but by a desire to weaken the credibility of our deterrent. I ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
The Minister of Defence's reply was wholly inadequate, was outmoded and will prove to be very expensive. Towards the end of his speech I detected an inherent fear in the Government, particularly in him, that there might be an occasion when the Americans would not be prepared to help us if Russia threatened. They fear, in other words, that the Americans are prepared to go to the extent of pressing the nuclear trigger to defend their own homeland, but are not prepared to do so for us. That is why they believe that we must go ahead with our test and maintain an independent British deterrent.
We are obliged from this side of the House to oppose this test because this may not be the only one. Last March, the Prime Minister gave the impression to the House and to the country that the test then was our final test and that from then on we would, if necessary, continue to receive nuclear information from the series of tests by the Americans from our base on Christmas Island.
We should condemn the Government for an act of folly carried out in 905 indecent haste. This is a panic decision to enable them to beat a possible test ban. It is indicative of the Government's fanatical desire to prolong at any cost the preservation of the independent British deterrent. As both the Minister of Defence and my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said, we cannot examine this decision without first looking at the background.
There have been three years of negotiation over a nuclear test ban, with 353 meetings, a series of draft treaties, numerous debates in the General Assembly of the United Nations, the work of the 18-Power Commission, and the letters between President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushohev, with the possibility also of a test ban agreement being part of a package deal over hot spots worrying both East and West.
In addition, non-aligned and neutral countries have been applying great pressure on the nuclear Powers, unanimously declaring against any new series of tests. Meanwhile, scientists of the three nuclear Powers have been working frantically to advance and perfect detection instruments and assistance for assessing seismatic tremors.
Already, there is general understanding among the three major Powers on test detection. We already know that we need not worry unduly about detecting atmospheric tests, stratospheric tests, those immediately above the ground, and those under water. We can easily detect their whereabout and their strength and which Power was responsible for them. All that remains is the small kiloton, low-yield, underground tests.
Recently it appeared that there were two possible methods of getting agreement between East and West on banning tests. The first was that detection instruments, manned, or to be inspected occasionally, by neutrals, should be placed in the nuclear Power countries. A few inspection posts and the "black box" now being developed and full of detection and recording instruments might be the answer. They need not be permanently manned. They might be inspected only periodically because of the advances which have been made in detection instruments, and not many of them would be required in the Soviet Union.
906 The second possibility would be the complete answer. It is the perfection of detection systems whereby the apparatus is placed in non-nuclear countries and is manned by neutral nation scientists and able to record and verify a nuclear explosion anywhere. In this connection, there have already been experiments by the Atomic Energy Authority, the Eskdalemuir experiment being an example. If this system could be perfected, we would be on the verge of removing the final obstacle to agreement, especially from the point of view of the East, because it would not be necessary to have posts or inspectors inside the Soviet Union. This system, if developed—and we are on the verge of a break-through now—would be able to test the power, the purpose and the character of an explosion and record it without going into the territory of the nuclear Powers.
I condemn the Government, first, on the timing of this test when we are on the verge of a positive break-through in test detection and to peace. If we can get a test ban agreement. we shall have taken the first positive step towards disarmament. This test is an act of folly at this stage. It will inflame not only national but world opinion. It is no argument for the right hon. Gentleman to say that it is a small test and underground and radioactively clean. The fact is that Britain has resumed testing, and that is what all the nations which are not nuclear Powers will recognise.
It has been done in indecent haste. It is indecent because we are trying to race this possible test agreement and prove to the world that nuclear-wise we still exist. We are trying to bolster up our inevitably weakening deterrent strength. Russia and America must be thinking how ludicrous it is that Britain must still have her nuclear squeak, and that is what it is compared with American and Russian nuclear and thermo-nuclear power.
§ Mr. J. A. Leavey (Heywood and Royton)
If the two great nuclear Powers regard it as ludicrous, how can the hon. Member take such exception to it? Surely the ultimate in illusion and the most dangerous of all illusions, as I am sure will be recognised by the hon. Member, is to imagine that the policies of the Soviet Union will be dictated in any respect by a test of this sort. Surely the 907 hard fact of the matter is that they will be decided by the strict instruments of power and by the facts of international life and not by this sort of test. In those terms, it cannot do any damage.
§ Mr. Mason
We have set aflame in the world a strong opinion against Britain, particularly among the non-aligned or neutral nations, by resuming testing.
Secondly, the aim is to make effective the partial prolongation of the independent British nuclear deterrent. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said, Blue Streak killed off its logical successor. Immediately there was no missile delivery system to follow the end of the V-bombers' life, the independent British nuclear deterrent could not continue. There was no logical successor. We do not have a Mach 2 jet bomber on the stocks. It is true that we are building the TSR 2 as a replacement, but it is not a successor of the Victors and Vulcans. Indeed, we cannot build such an aircraft for commercial purposes on our own—hence the Anglo-French study. So we are not planning a replacement of the present bomber force.
What the Government are trying to do, for as long as possible and at colossal cost, is to prolong the British independent nuclear deterrent. Both the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister have said that the test is for military purposes, and I can only assume that the test is for Blue Steel, which is the only nuclear weapon which we are developing. We are not producing it for the antiquated atom or hydrogen bomb which can now be conveyed in the Canberras, Vulcans and Victors. The test is for the Blue Steel weapon and that is the reason we are hastening the test. It is to try to get sophistication of the trigger mechanism of Blue Steel, to perfect the small nuclear warhead, to make a more durable nuclear device to withstand all that is required in the launching method, the loading of the missile, the carrying aircraft noise, the launching and the guiding.
The further prolongation of the effectiveness of the British deterrent hinges upon the success of this test. If it fails and there happens to be a test ban meanwhile, that will be the death knell of our nuclear effectiveness. It means in total that Blue Steel is not yet perfected—it is 908 not in service with the Royal Air Force—and this is a last frantic bid by Her Majesty's Government to keep up with the nuclear Joneses. Blue Steel may well become another Blue Streak failure.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
There is a third possibility. My hon. Friend will remember that at one stage I was engaged in violent controversy with some of my colleagues on this question and that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) suggested that the test was for an atomic anti-tank gun.
§ Mr. Mason
I am quite satisfied that the only really effective weapon which we are producing, or attempting to produce, is Blue Steel. That is precisely what the test is for. I said that Blue Steel might well prove to be another Blue Streak failure and that is what is frightening the Government.
In November, 1955, it was estimated that the cost of this new weapons system—missile, engines and navigation system—was£12½million. By 1957, the cost has risen to£20 million; by 1958, it had risen further to£35 million and by September, 1960, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General's Report, to£60 million. That was more than two years ago, and the cost of the development of this new weapon system is now nearer£100 million. We still have no missile and we are still having to conduct tests for its perfection.
Bearing in mind that the bombers which are to use Blue Steel depend entirely on the American radar network for alert—that is, the Ballistic Early Missile Warning System—and that they are entirely dependent on the American U2 espionage and MIDAS for target information and that the eventual successor of Blue Steel will be the American missile Skybolt, how can Her Majesty's Government withstand the criticism that there is no independent deterrent and that the cost of this nuclear squeak is proving colossal?
As I said in my opening remarks, there is also the growing fear in the Government's mind that Britain may be left in the lurch by the Americans. There is a growing uneasiness and fear, as shown in the final sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that the United States of America—and this is possibly 909 true of the U.S.S.R. as well—is prepared to show determination to press the nuclear trigger only if its homeland is threatened.
Cuba was the example of that, but the United States was noticeably hesitant over Hungary, Berlin, and the Berlin Wall. There appear to be two distinct attitudes of determination. This seems to be frightening Her Majesty's Government, and I wonder whether, as the right hon. Gentleman said, this is the real reason why the Government are insisting on testing and struggling to keep some kind of a deterrent force. I do not know, I can only hazard a guess about that. What I do know is that this decision is an act of folly. It is irresponsible. The Government are deciding, at a crippling cost, to maintain a deterrent force which is rapidly becoming obsolete. In the eyes of the world, especially the Afro-Asian countries, Britain's name has suffered yet another blow.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones (Birmingham, Hall Green)
There are two questions under discussion in this debate. First, the prospects for a ban on nuclear tests. Are the prospects better now than they were? Secondly, whether or not the Government's decision to undertake this test in Nevada jeopardises those prospects.
I should like to address myself to the questions in that order. First, the prospect for the nuclear test ban talks. I do not think that my right hon. Friend expressed an opinion on this, but I agree with the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) that the prospects seem better than they were some months ago. I think this because there is, after all, a limit to the value one can extract from indefinite testing, and I think this also because of a change which, rightly or wrongly, I detect in the Soviet assessment of the American scene.
I have always felt that Mr. Khrushchev's desire for a military détente with the West is a genuine one, because he sees in such a détente the only means of bringing out the contradictions which he regards as inherent between the classes within a Western nation, and as between the various national members of the Western alliances. The military threat is the one thing, according to his way of seeing it, which prevents the contradictions from asserting themselves, 910 and this I believe is the fundamental difference between the Soviet viewpoint and the Chinese viewpoint.
This desire to see a military détente seems to me to have been complicated by the consciousness of the great Soviet inferiority vis-à-vis the United States in long-range missiles, and also by the Soviet Union's, or in particular Mr. Khrushchev's, own apprehensions about the pressures which public opinion, and Congressional opinion in particular, might exert on an American Administration, and this is where I see a change.
One does not know what were the motives for the Russian move in Cuba. One can only note the results in retrospect, and one result, it seems to me, is that the placing of forty-odd missiles in Cuba did what Soviet missile-carrying submarines never did. It shocked American public opinion into a realisation of the full implications of a deterrent policy.
As a speaker at the October Revolution celebrations in Moscow said:The United States of America for the first time felt the breath of nuclear war.Whatever mortification Cuba may have brought to the Soviet Union, it seems to me that from their point of view there is this advantage to be extracted from it, that in future an American Administration is likely to have a better control over its public opinion, Over its Congressional opinion, and in consequence American response is likely to be a moderate one. Indeed, I think the characteristic of Mr. Kennedy's decision was not only its firmness; it was its moderation.
One must add this to the fact that even before Cuba Mr. Gromyko, on 2nd September before the United Nations, made a special concession. He dropped the insistence on total nuclear disarmament before proceeding to conventional disarmament, something which was quite new. If one adds these things together, I believe it true to say that the prospects for success in the nuclear test ban talks are now greater than they were some months ago, but this is the point that I want to make. If this is so, we as a country have played no part whatsoever in this. We have played no part in this improvement.
I come now to the second question. Are these prospects which have improved 911 jeopardised by the British test? Just as I think that this country played no part in bringing about the improvement in the prospects, so also I believe that this test can play no part in bringing about any deterioration of the prospects. I want to suggest that what we do, or what we do not do, does not in any way enter into the calculation. This is true, and the regrettable thing about this debate—and I am sorry that I missed the opening passages of the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper, but what I am about to say is true of the passages that I heard—is that both Opposition and Government have committed an error in exaggerating our national position.
The Opposition case, it seems to me, exaggerates the psychological influence of what we do, just as it seems to me that the Government's case exaggerates the physical importance of what we do.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I appreciate the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, but would he accept that the danger is that the test that we propose could constitute an excuse to the Soviet Union for resuming tests, or for a continuance of tests, in precisely the same way as the French test constituted an excuse?
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
Certainly it could constitute an excuse, but that is not jeopardising the prospects. That is not making the Russians determined to do something which otherwise they were not going to do. That seems to me the essential point.
I thought that the case put forward by the right hon. Member for Belper was a little lopsided. He was saying that this test might jeopardise the prospects of a nuclear test ban. On the other hand, he also said that the British deterrent is unnecessary. It adds nothing to the balance of terror, and equally this test adds nothing to the balance of terror. In other words, the psychological importance which the right hon. Gentleman was ascribing to the test was out of all proportion to its physical importance.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
We are talking about the prospects of nuclear test talks. 912 I am not one to disregard the effects of neutral opinion, but what matters for these talks is what the great Powers think.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I do not altogether go with the right hon. Gentleman, but if what he says about my right hon. Friend is true, then clearly the speech of the Minister of Defence was equally lopsided, for the complementary reason.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
Certainly. Indeed, I was about to say that. It was lopsided. I regret that both the right hon. Member for Belper and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence exaggerated our position. The position of my right hon. Friend is that the test has absolutely no effect on opinion in Moscow or Washington. On the other hand, he says that this test is one of military importance. He went on to add that the British deterrent is of great military importance. In other words, the physical importance which he attributed to this test was, with all respect, out of all proportion to its psychological insignificance.
I agree that these positions are lopsided, and I think that the sensible thing for an ordinary backbencher like myself to do is to try to achieve a balanced position and take a bit from each case. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend that this test will have no effect on the nuclear test ban talks. If I may take something from the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper, I believe that the Opposition are right in saying that the British deterrent adds nothing to the great balance of terror between the Soviet Union and the Western Alliance, and clearly this test adds nothing to that nothing. I will put a little more fundamentally the reason why I think that this test will have no effect and will not jeopardise the nuclear test ban talks.
I suggest that the real answer lies in the fact that the physical importance of the British deterrent is declining, and with it that the political importance of the United Kingdom as a deterrent power is declining. Let us look first at the physical importance of the British deterrent. I shall not argue the desirability or undesirability of the British deterrent. I do not want to indulge in 913 such width. But the technical case for the British deterrent is that at a time when the offensive has such tremendous advantage over the defensive, even a relatively small expenditure of money, even a relatively small bang, can bring about such destruction that it is effective. This is the case for the British deterrent.
That is perfectly true. My right hon. Friend said, and I agree, that it is true for today, but what my right hon. Friend did not say was this—he did not go on to add that this is true for, I believe, a rapidly shortening period of time. I believe it to be true for a shortening period of time for these reasons. Our expenditure clearly is only a fraction of the expenditure of the Soviet Union or of the United States of America. But not only is it a fraction, our expenditure on the deterrent is relatively stationary; theirs is increasing fast. It is therefore a fair presumption that with this fast rate of increase at a much higher level of expenditure they will effect improved developments, new methods, both in offence and defence, in, for instance, the hardening of missile sites, anti-ballistic missiles and so forth, improved developments with which we shall not be able to cope. These developments are—I think that it is a fair argument—bound to make a relatively small bang less and less effective with the lapse of time. It is against this background that I suggest that this test makes absolutely no difference, and that is why it is unlikely, in my view, to jeopardise the test ban talks. So much for the physical importance of our deterrent.
The other reason why I think that this test will not in any way jeopardise the test ban is that I believe that our political importance as a deterrent power has seriously declined since Cuba. What happened in Cuba is that both the great Powers for the very first time practised the perilous game of nuclear bluff. We did not practise; we looked on apprehensively and fearfully. We were passive spectators, but we did not practise. For the first time we have had no experience in the practice of modern power. This opens up, I suggest, an enormous psychological chasm between ourselves on the one hand and, on the other, the United States and the Soviet Union, and because of that I believe that the two great Powers will look to each other, 914 and what we do or what we do not do, as I suggested earlier, so far as they are concerned has no effect whatsoever.
In my view, the Government's decision to hold this test is not in any way heinous. I regard it rather as sad and in some ways unfortunate—sad and unfortunate because it has prompted a debate in which both Opposition and Government have attributed to our actions din this field a greater importance than in fact they have. I think that the effect of this debate has been to make us as a country look a little pretentious and therefore a little foolish. I yield to no one in wanting to see this country pull its full weight in international councils, but it seems to me that we stand a better chance if we refrain from putting on false airs and assuming a false valuation. I think that the way to do this is to measure ourselves realistically and to match our military contribution accordingly.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
I am glad to follow the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hail Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) because I find myself almost completely in agreement with his approach to this problem. I agree that this test is not dangerous because it might influence the Russians to delay a ban. I think that it is much more untimely and irresponsible for the reasons that he gave, and that it is really time now, after the debates that we have had about the British independent nuclear deterrent, the Government agreed that they had completely the wrong approach to it and started to move in another direction, because they still have the responsibility for achieving the best kind of defence of this country and they are not doing so by continuing the pretence that our own so-called independent deterrent in any way achieves that purpose.
The Prime Minister said, however, on 13th November:I do not think anybody in my position…could have failed to be convinced of the need for this test following on the one in March.Later, he said that itis necessary to make it"—that is, the deterrent—effective.915 I do not know whether that was just a mistake in wording, but if it is taken literally, it is an assumption that even the Prime Minister considers it not to be effective now.
Even on the Government's assumption that it is necessary to have a British independent deterrent, we require an explanation from them about how the test is only proposed to be taken now. The Prime Minister put Christmas Island at the disposal of the Americans Ito make their tests and yet, apparently, the British Government wished to carry out the tests at Nevada and we have had to delay ours for months because of the tests that the Americans wished to make. It would rather seem that, as far as the Americans are concerned, we have been treated in a rather off-hand way. The real reason may be that the Americans did not consider that our tests were of any importance to the Western deterrent, and on that they could be right.
I should like to know, for instance, whether our team has been out in Nevada for a long time waiting in a queue until the American tests were finished. The Prime Minister said in answer to, I think, the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) thatit is necessary under the terms of our agreement on the amendment of the McMahon Act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1962; Vol. 667, c. 198–9, 201.]Was he saying that even now, there is no really useful exchange of information in this field, even on the kind of information that we might obtain in this test? It would appear that we are merely duplicating in the minutest form something which, surely, must be known to the Americans if it is assumed that the information which we are trying to get is something to do with the trigger mechanism for setting off the 'nuclear warhead.
One is brought back to the basic problem of whether all this—the way in which the test has been delayed, the obvious refusal of the Americans in any way to exchange information or to coordinate nuclear research with us and their attachment of no importance to the British nuclear test—underlines the point made by the right hon. Member for Hall Green, that the British independent deterrent and all to do with it is a matter of no interest whatever to the Americans 916 and, in their opinion, in no way improves the deterrent power of the West.
This point was finally and harshly brought home to us in the Cuban affair. Neither the United States nor the Russians took the slightest notice of us. It did not make the slightest difference what we thought and I suppose that even now, the British Prime Minister still has not had an answer to the letter he sent to Mr. Khrushchev.
I wonder whether this test has any serious purpose. I tended not to agree with the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) in suggesting that this was a wilful action by the Government. I rather suspect that it has much more to do with the kind of continuous muddle that we have had from them on so many of their policies recently. If, however, it had a deliberate intent, could it be that this is just a way of trying to blast Britain into Europe and of appealing to Adenauer and de Gaulle to take notice again of the fact that we have a deterrent? If that is the purpose, it is the wont possible way of getting an entry into Europe and one which I deplore.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
Surely the hon. Member must realise that France is not in the slightest bit interested in sharing control of our 135 V-bombers. She is more interested in getting her control over the Atlantic Western deterrent as a whole.
§ Mr. Holt
That may be so. On the other hand, it may also be that if the French cannot get that they would be interested in trying to create a European deterrent and that Britain might make a contribution towards it. That is certainly not the line which I hope to see develop if we go into Europe. It would be a dangerous path for us to start upon in building up the unification of Europe based upon the idea that we were going to build up another great continental nuclear Power.
The bomb has given us none of the things which were claimed for it by those who originally supported it. It has given us neither prestige nor any influence over our friends, nor has it given us respect from our enemies. It is intriguing to see the Minister of Defence standing at the Dispatch Box and trying to defend it. The right hon. 917 Gentleman was very careful when he made his speech following his resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but on 23rd January, 1958, he clearly left with the House the impression that he thought that the money being spent on the nuclear deterrent was a great waste.
The right hon. Gentleman said:The point I want to put is the quite simple one that for twelve years we have been attempting to do more than our resources could manage, and in the process we have been gravely weakening ourselves…First, we have sought to be a nuclear Power, matching missile with missile"—The right hon. Gentleman did not criticise it, but he went on to say:It is not a mean thing to wish to be independent in nuclear power of both the East and the West, although it may be that in the West in future no one really will be independent in nuclear power.That was in 1958, and how right the right hon. Gentleman was.
The right hon. Gentleman later said:Our basic problem, whether it is in the Welfare State or whether it is in arms, or whether it is in both, is that we should plan to spend less than we are planning to spend at the present time, and unless we do so the£ sterling will continue to decline in value."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd January, 1958; Vol. 580, c. 1295–7.]Certainly, in that and in other remarks which he has made outside the House subsequently, the right hon. Gentleman has left no doubt in many people's minds that he considered the whole thing both a great waste of money, and, from the defence point of view of the country, quite useless.
This action is irresponsible because it shows a lack of appreciation by the Government of the direction in which their energies should now be applied to improve the country's defence, which, surely, is in the direction of ensuring that there is no further spread of nuclear weapons. Whilst we go on pretending that for ourselves it is necessary to have our own independent nuclear deterrent, how can we convince other nations who, at present, do not have these weapons, or who may be starting to get them, that it is in their interests not to have them? We have experienced the rising cost of these things, we have recognised that we cannot keep up with the other two great nuclear Powers. We have, in fact, recognised that even if we have a nuclear deterrent of our own, it can be only a very small one.
918 When the Minister of Defence gives us the example of what might happen if one day we were threatened by Russia, and the United States of America was not prepared to take the risk to stand by us, he is only repeating the point which was made by the Leader of the Labour Party when tackled in a debate five or six years ago on this subject by the hon. Member for Nelson and Come (Mr. S. Silverman). He said that one day America might leave us to our own devices and then it would be a good thing if we had our own nuclear weapons.
Can we really believe that, if that happened, we would be in any safer position and that we would be prepared to carry out a kind of threatening match with Russia? We could be completely obliterated by the Russian nuclear deterrent. Our whole island could almost be blown out of existence. If we wish to seek the defence of the country against such a position, we must do it in other ways. The most important thing is to see, first, that the alliance with the United States of America never gets to the position where she might leave us in the lurch, and, secondly, to strengthen the unification of Western Europe.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Surely the point is not what we think about whether America may not come to our assistance, but what a possible enemy thinks.
§ Mr. Critchley
If this is true, is not it a remarkably strong argument for Europe and Britain to have a common independent deterrent? Let the hon. Gentleman think carefully before answering.
§ Mr. Critchley
I am sorry, it is my fault. The point I am making is that if the hon. Gentleman says that Russia would not be 919 afraid of any English deterrent, and I accept that point, is not that an argument for Europe as a whole, a united Europe, including Britain, having its own nuclear striking force or nuclear capability? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would extend his argument in that direction.
§ Mr. Holt
I agree that it is an argument for a European nuclear deterrent with Britain included. I agree that such a position is an argument for that. But I do not think it an overriding argument. I think that there are good reasons why we ought not to have a European nuclear deterrent. I do not wish to develop that at the moment. I say that it is much more in the interests of this country not to try to safeguard our position by building up a European deterrent and participating in it. We should do all we can to ensure that there is no further spread of nuclear weapons. While they are solely in the hands of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. we are likely to be in a much safer position than we should be if the possession of the weapons were spread. I should like to see the Government working to that end.
Surely it is sense to try to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons. Surely it is nonsense to go on testing British nuclear weapons, and the sooner the Government realise it, and stop doing so, the better.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I am at a slight disadvantage compared with the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) in that I do not know how effective is our deterrent and I do not know how valuable this test which is under discussion will be to us. But I am not naturally inclined to take a low or defeatist view of my own country, and therefore I am perfectly prepared to accept the views of a series or succession of Ministers of Defence who have told us that our nuclear deterrent is exceedingly effective; and to accept the word of the present Minister that the test which is about to be made will produce valuable military knowledge.
It is, as was said by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, the whole approach of the Opposition to this matter 920 which is under discussion tonight. That is indicated, if by nothing else, by the fact that the word "underground" is omitted from the Motion. It is a very important word in this context. The attitude of some people in this country —they are represented, as is perfectly proper that they should be, on the benches opposite—seems to me similar to the attitude once adopted by authority, by the then "Establishment" of the day, to Galileo—"He is telling us things we do not like to hear and showing us things we do not like to see. Stop him; and we will pretend that these things are not there." But the things were there. The bomb is there and it will not disappear merely because we say that we want nothing to do with it.
Personally, I am glad that it is there, because man has invented no stronger sanction against war than the bomb. From now on the only thing to do about war is to prevent it, for there would be no cure and the bomb is the best prophylactic that we have got.
§ Mr. Longden
But that is only so long as every potential aggressor knows for certain that nuclear attack will be met by nuclear reprisal, and only for so long as it remains true that all the bases whence such reprisals could originate cannot be destroyed in the first strike. In other words, so long as we maintain a rough balance of power.
That is the theory of the deterrent, and the official Opposition accepts it. This is what the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said in the debate on defence on 5th March:We accept without question that there should be a deterrent in the Western Alliance, and that there should be a balance of deterrence to prevent the outbreak of war in the world. We quite agree that if that balance were disturbed the danger of war would be increased. Therefore if the balance is upset, the West has a duty as well as a right to restore it…I am a multilateralist. I believe that there must be only all-round controlled disarmament. I believe, standing here now, that it the balance is upset by one side it must be restored by the other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1962; Vol. 655, c. 70–72.]That is sound doctrine and I hope—I think it appears from what was said by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) tonight—that it is still the 921 doctrine held at any rate by that part of the party opposite which sits above the Gangway.
The next question, therefore, is: should we in Britain contribute to the Western deterrent? Both parties opposite say "No." As we have heard, it was not always thus with the leaders of the Labour Party. The National Executive of that party adopted the following resolution in 1955:Labour believe that it is undesirable that Britain should he dependent on another country for this vital weapon. If we were, our influence for peace would be lessened in the counsels of the world. It was for that reason that the Labour Government decided on the manufacture of the atom bomb, and that we support the production of the hydrogen bomb in this country.Many times in this House similar sentiments have been expressed by the Leader of the Opposition and by many of his senior colleagues. Even as lately as 1959 in a joint declaration by the Labour Party and the T.U.C. on disarmament and nuclear war it was stated:Those who believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament…are sure that the greatest contribution Britain could make would be to announce that, as an example and a lead to the rest of the world, we had decided to abandon unilaterally and unconditionally the manufacture of nuclear weapons and to destroy those we already possess. This policy has been decisively rejected both by the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party…But, very unfortunately, this no longer reflects Labour policy—with the greatest respect to the right hon. Member for Belper—and I find it hard to accept that it was the failure of Blue Streak which caused this volte face.
I believe, however, and I think it is the majority opinion among hon. Members on these benches, that until general disarmament Britain should continue to contribute to the Western deterrent, and for four reasons. First, is it worthy, even if it were prudent, for us to shelter under the American umbrella? Not, I think, until the time comes—if it ever does come—when we form part of a European-Atlantic Federation. Until then I firmly believe that it is our first duty to preserve the security of our country and our free Christian way of life and that until then, and until the last resort, we must be self-reliant. I firmly believe that to give up the independent deterrent at this moment—I do not know what may happen later on— 922 when we are assured that it is effective would be to reduce our influence in the Western Alliance and our ability to decide our own affairs and to commit our future to whatever our friends might consider expedient or our enemies merciful.
The second reason is that while we have to retain armed forces they must be equipped as effectively as any potential opponent's. "You cannot deny to your armed forces the weapons the other side possesses", as Mr. Sam Watson once roundly declared. Thirdly, I do not believe that this intended "example" would be followed by any of the other nuclear Powers. Indeed, it is devoutly to be hoped that it would not be followed by the United States of America. I have never discovered what the campaigners for nuclear disarmament would do if it were. Sit and submit, I suppose. Socialist Commentary for September, 1960, put it this way:It is farcical for the people of this little island to imagine that whatever they give up will make the slightest difference other than making war more likely by disturbing the balance of world power…Unilateralism always falls back on the belief that, by going it alone, we can escape the fate of the rest of mankind. Pie in the sky? Yes, and dangerous at that.Though the editors of Socialist Commentary may hold different views today, that quotation accurately expresses my views.
§ Mr. Longden
Independent if it is necessary. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not wish anyone to think that I believe the American Government would not support us in any kind of emergency today, but who can tell of the future?
I believe there is another reason why we should not unilaterally renounce this aspect of nuclear research. Whether we like it or not, the human spirit will continue to explore nature's uncharted seas. Some scientific Columbus will arise 923 every now and again to extend our horizons. He may well be British, for we are rather good at that sort of thing. I believe it would be wrong to seek to pinion the wings of our scientists when the scientists of other nations are allowed free rein, and in any case it would be futile.
I do not fear what they may discover, for their discoveries can be harnessed to man's benefit, while the more frightful their potential destructiveness the less likely are they to be used to his detriment. For all these reasons I think we are right to continue with our British bomb, but I do not think that enough effort has been made by my right hon. Friend to carry our people with us in this vital but highly controversial matter. The seeming indifference of the Government to public opinion is well illustrated by the manner and the timing of their announcement of the test. They must surely have expected the panic among the timid which would ensue.
Among the less desirable fruits of this indifference is the marked increase in the number of those—especially among the young—who support the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I do not believe that the majority of these young people are Communists or cowards. I believe that the majority are inspired by a false idealism because nobody, least of all their teachers, has ever taught them anything better. So rootless, faithless and unkempt they go marching away to their lost horizons. I could not help thinking of them when I read in the Sunday Times Lady Violet Bonham Carter's judgment of "The Missing Generation":They were not security-minded like people are today and I think they had a thirst for adventure just as people have now a thirst for pensionsCertainly there is nothing adventurous about a Communist society. It must be the most unmanly creed ever invented. Man has often been subjugated by force, but never before of his own deliberate desire.
What, then, of this test? I think most people would agree that if we are to retain our weapon it is reasonable to let our scientists conclude the last of a series of tests underground which they say—and I do not think anyone in this House is capable of contradicting them 924 —is important to our military knowledge. It is not one more test; it is the end of a series of tests. This test of ours will give rise to no contaminated fallout. Since the Russians have long since declared their intention of completing their last series of tests in the atmosphere, it is to my mind a somewhat exaggerated fear that our test will "endanger the prospects" of our negotiations at Geneva.
Of course everyone wants to see a very early successful outcome of the test-ban Conference as a good step on the way to general disarmament, but it takes two to make an agreement. I am glad that my right hon. Friend tonight reminded us that ever since April, 1961, there has been lying on the table at Geneva an Anglo-U.S. draft which the Russians will not sign because it includes powers, in case of a suspected test, to verify a denial by any of the signatories that a test has been made. Since then we have offered to ban all tests in the atmosphere, in the oceans and in space without any international verification whatever. As for underground tests, for as long as it is not possible to be certain whether explosions are natural or artificial, we have made two offers: first, that any necessary verification should be undertaken by a United Nations agency, and secondly, that scientists from our three countries should again confer to try to make verification foolproof. None of these offers has been accepted by the Russians. Until they do accept them there can be no question of a moratorium.
Finally as to general disarmament, I add this. Anyone who has tried to follow, as I have, the endless negotiations on disarmament must come to the conclusion, if he is unbiassed and objective, that the Western allies have done, and are doing, all in their power to achieve agreement. Only last week in New York the United Kingdom and the United States submitted a resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations urging the 18-Nation Committee on Disarmament to conclude a treaty with effective and prompt international verification to prohibit nuclear weapon tests in all environments for all time. Only fifty-one States voted in favour of this resolution and ten actually voted against it, the Soviet Union and the nine satellite States.
925 I do not know what more we can do, but until agreement can be reached upon general and complete disarmament under effective international inspection and control, I believe we are doing the best that can be done for the safety and honour of this realm.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) began his speech by saying that on the issue before the House he was prepared to believe almost anything that the Minister told him. In that sense the rest of his speech was an essay in supererogation, because there was no necessity for him to continue after he had expressed his agreement with anything which the Minister might say about these weapons.
§ Mr. Longden
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent me. I said that I would agree with what my right hon. Friend said about the effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent. Nobody else here can know anything about it, and I am quite prepared to accept what the Minister tells me about it.
§ Mr. Foot
I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that he accepted the whole of the Minister's case on the issue which we are discussing in the debate. But he went on to an even more remarkable proposition. He said that the factor which protected the world was the invention of these nuclear weapons. He described them as the most effective prophylactic against war that we could possibly have. If that is his view, I cannot understand why, at the end of his speech, he said that he was in favour of disarmament. Why have a disarmament convention to do away with the prophylactic if it is so effective?
§ Mr. Longden
It would be better if nobody had any nuclear weapons or any weapons of any kind. That would be safest of all. But while weapons exist, nuclear weapons are the best prophylactic against war.
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Gentleman interrupts me every time, but that is not what he said in his speech. He said at the beginning of his speech that the most effective sanction which we could have against war was the invention of 926 the nuclear weapons. It is, therefore, illogical for him to be in favour of a disarmament convention. He should have thought out the argument better before he lectured the House in that fashion.
But I am more concerned with what the Minister said because, unlike the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West, I am not inclined to accept everything which he says even when he is speaking about military weapons. I thought that it was rather curious that the Minister should start his speech with an appeal for gravity in this debate. He is the last Minister in the Government who has a right to appeal for a grave approach to these problems, particularly after the last speech which he delivered to the House.
He suggested that we were not discussing today a tuppeny-ha'penny matter like entry into the Common Market. We are discussing a really serious question. I agree with him, at any rate, about that. It is a mast serious question, even though no one would claim that the explosion of one British rest is an event which will change the whole course of world politics. I do not think that! anyone claims that. But we are considering whether we regret or approve of the Government's decision to go ahead with this test.
The Minister got himself into considerable difficulties in this respect because he talked at one time about the modesty of these tests which are conducted by Britain. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) went a good deal further and said that these tests add nothing to nothing. He said that they would have no effect whatever on future policy. But it is very difficult to sustain the proposition that Britain is engaged only in very modest tests at the same time as one maintains that they are extremely important, indeed indispensable, for maintaining our safety and the efficiency of a military weapon.
Presumably the military weapon, even though we are not told what it is, is a weapon of some importance for the whole of the independent nuclear deterrent which the Government claim that we possess. If that is not so, then the argument for conducting these tests is even weaker than we thought. If it is 927 necessary to have these tests for the efficiency of a military weapon which is contributing very greatly to the maintenance of an independent nuclear deterrent, then it is not possible to dismiss these tests as modest affairs.
The Government are always in this difficulty. They make such exaggerated claims about their independent nuclear deterrent. The Minister repeated the same claims today. He said that we still have the power in this country, quite independently, to be able to inflict appalling, even catastrophic, damage on the Soviet Union. The Government claim that the independent deterrent is so powerful, so well sustained, so well burnished, that we can inflict savage devastation on the whole industrial power of the Soviet Union. In other words, we have an absolutely first-class nuclear deterrent.
It is a remarkable claim, because on the Government's own evidence we are spending far less on our nuclear deterrent than are the Americans and the Russians. Presumably we cannot have a more effective deterrent than that which we have already. Here we are claiming that because of the skill and brilliance of Ministers and civil servants, and the military people who work for them, although we in Britain are spending far, far less money than are the Russians or the Americans on nuclear weapons, we still maintain an effective deterrent. It is claimed that with these two little Nevada tests which the Government insist on having, we shall maintain our independent nuclear deterrent and keep it absolutely effective for the purpose of deterring the Russians.
The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West believes that. The Minister said that he believes that the testing of these military weapons is necessary for maintaining the essentially British nuclear deterrent. Anybody who believes that shows remarkable innocence and gullibility. Why do not the Government tell us more about this military weapon which is so powerful that, with the two Nevada tests, we can make it so effective? Why do they not tell us what it is?
If it is such a powerful weapon, and if it is part of the deterrent, the more the Russians are told about it the better. 928 We should set some spies on and let them hear all about it and take the news back to Russia. If our deterrent is so powerful, and if our Nevada tests will keep it so burnished, the more spies who are able to report this back to the Soviet Union, the better. The Minister may think that this is not a valid argument, but it is. He said that this military weapon is very powerful, but I do not think that anybody who has studied the matter can believe that.
The Minister had another argument. He asked, "Who can believe that these modest little tests will have any effect on the whole course of the ban that other nations may agreed to?" The right hon. Gentleman suggests, in effect, that these tests are bound to do us some good and to assist in improving our military situation. When I heard the Minister talk in that way I was reminded of Uncle Ponderevo in H. G. Wells's story "Tono Bungay". After they had been selling "Tono Bungay" to unsuspecting citizens for a long time, at a considerable return, Uncle Ponderevo said to his nephew. "How can you tell it never does anybody any good?" I think that is roughly the claim the Government are making for these weapons.
To put it the other way round, does the Minister think that these modest little tests will help towards an agreement on banning nuclear weapons? He could not claim that. Therefore, I do not think that he was on very firm ground there.
Another argument of the Minister was to say that the Government would have liked to have done these tests earlier. As the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) said, why were we prevented from carrying them out earlier? Was it that the Americans said, "We think that your test is so inconsiderable and matters so little that it does not matter at all to the Western Powers when you do it?" Is it a fact that Britain was told by the Americans that we had to wait until they had conducted all their underground tests before we could have a chance of conducting ours? I hope that the Minister of State will give us a precise answer to that question. Then we shall be able to decide how much importance the American Government attach to these modest little tests about which we have heard.
The Minister's arguments were so weak that they lead to the suspicion that the 929 Government are doing it for some quite different purpose. The Minister denied that these tests were being done in order to assist some plan for getting Britain into the Common Market. However, the right hon. Gentleman did not exactly deny the charge. I am not saying that this is categorically the case, but what some people have suspected is that there might be some connection between these tests or the other tests that the British Government have done in the past and their desire eventually to make a concession to the European Powers over the Common Market.
It is not sufficient for the Prime Minister to say, as he did in reply to a Question recently, that this is nothing to do with it and that it is a fantasy. What we want from the Government and what the Government ought to be able to give, if they are as innocent in this matter as they pretend, is an absolutely clear statement that they are opposed to the whole idea of the establishment of a European deterrent, are opposed to the way in which it has been canvassed in Europe, and absolutely deny the statement made the other day on the authority of a very eminent reporter of the New York Times that, in fact, Britain is beginning to make an agreement on this matter.
Why do not the Government say that they are absolutely opposed to the establishment of a European deterrent and that they will not in any way incorporate their so-called independent deterrent with a European deterrent? Why do not they kill this rumour absolutely, if it is a rumour, as they have every power to do, instead of allowing it to persist and continue?
A large part of this debate is bound to turn on the whole argument about the independent nuclear deterrent, so-called. It is certainly true that some of us on these benches carry the argument very much further than my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who put the case for the Motion, but this does not mean to say that we are not in favour of the Motion as well
Some hon. Members have referred to what happened in Cuba. The right hon. Member for Hall Green gave what some might describe as a very humiliating account of the rôle to which this country was reduced in that week. Nobody consulted us, nobody cared whether a British nuclear deterrent was in existence. The 930 American President went on with his plan to carry on with an act of war against Cuba, and he went on with a blockade on the high seas, without consulting this country. Indeed, we now learn from the Washington Post that the American President had made up his mind to embark on action ten days before he made his speech on the Monday of Cuba week. If that is true, he had a further ten days in which he deliberately decided not to consult the British Government.
But what was our position, with the nuclear bases in this country, and with the Polaris vessel sailing from Holy Loch? The situation was that if the American Government had decided, as they said at one moment they were prepared to do, either to drop nuclear bombs on Cuba or to invade Cuba, and if the Russian Government had retaliated in the same terms in which the American Government were talking, this country would have been obliterated. And We would have been obliterated partly because of the existence on our soil of the nuclear weapons that are supposed to defend us.
Therefore, far from these nuclear weapons—and, of course, the maintenance of the independent deterrent is part of it all—far from the nuclear weapons or the nuclear bases defending us, they made us open to an attack, open to total destruction, in a war about the cause of which we had never been consulted. Nobody had asked us about the rights or the wrongs of it. That was the position in which we placed ourselves by the maintenance of these nuclear weapons that are supposed to be defending us.
That is why those of us who believe that, far from these weapons defending us they are magnets for an attack, wish to press towards unilateral or multilateral action to get rid of them altogether, and we are glad that the Opposition Front Bench are now opposing the maintenance of a British nuclear weapon, although they have not yet come to accept the dangers implicit in the maintenance of nuclear weapons on our soil.
The right hon. Member for Hall Green referred to Britain's situation during Cuba week in terms different from those I have used. He said that this country's influence during Cuba week was nil. The American Government did not ask us. 931 and the Russian Government did not hear from us until it was all over. During that week, Bertrand Russell had a much bigger effect on the nuclear situation than did the Prime Minister. We had absolutely no influence. The existence of the independent nuclear deterrent gave us no power. It did not even get us into council chambers.
From that, the right hon Member draws the deduction—and in this sense he is correct—that it is sad and, he says, unfortunate, that we should have false ideas of grandeur in having these tests. It is a delusion, and the Government are attempting to delude the country. The right hon. Member went on to say that, in his opinion, both Goverment and Opposition have an exaggerated view of the influence that Britain can have in these matters. I do not think that this country can sway the whole world or decide the whole course of history by what it decides to do about nuclear weapons, but I think that we could have much more influence than we now have.
There is the problem of Berlin. We have said nothing about Berlin, although my hon. Friends on this side of the House have fresh proposals to make on that subject which the British Government have refused to make. During Question Time the other day, there was mention of a disengagement plan for Central Europe; a plan for clearing nuclear weapons out of the whole of Central Europe. That would be a great step forward, but the Government are absolutely silent on the subject.
There is the question of peace in the Caribbean. The American Government are still engaged in the blockade of Cuba, absolutely in contravention of international law. Some newspapers say—indeed, the American Administration have come very near to saying—"We will give no pledge yet that we will not invade Cuba"——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman, but I think that he is getting rather far from the Motion. Perhaps he will try to relate what he is saying to the carrying out of these tests.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member, but he has misrepresented me. I did not say that this country could have no influence on world affairs. My contention is that there was a chance of this country having a proper influence on world affairs if it gauged its power realistically, but that if it gauged its power unrealistically its influence would be less than it otherwise would be.
§ Mr. Foot
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I agree that I have misrepresented him and I also agree with what he has just said. I apologise for unwittingly misrepresenting him earlier.
My argument is that so long as the Government pursue their idea of an independent nuclear deterrent, so long as they think that they can play some part in the world by these wretched little tests, which some of us think do not matter one way or the other and which the Government do not know how to defend—sometimes they say that they are modest little tests and sometimes they say that they are of vital military importance for the defence of the country, but they cannot have it both ways—so long as they pursue those ends they will never direct the ideas of the world towards disengagement plans and to a real nuclear ban.
This is the way in which the Government could give leadership to the world, but it is a form of leadership which was totally absent during the most critical week in human history, Cuba week, when our Government abdicated completely. They have abdicated completely ever since. They did not even dare to protest against what our allies did during that period without consulting us. Yet here we are told that the independent nuclear weapon gives us strength and power. What happened during Cuba week was total and final condemnation of the policy which the Government have been pursuing.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) [has been indulging in an exercise which one is entitled to perform 933 when in opposition, but an exercise which nevertheless is likely to mislead a great many people who do not realise how difficult it is for any Government in power to disclose to the Opposition, or even to their awn side, exactly what reasons lie behind the development of weapons which must be kept secret.
Any of us who have attempted to probe into the field with which this Motion deals must inevitably find ourselves over and over again running up against the security bar which is absolutely imperative for a Government to employ. Many of us may regret that fact, but I strongly support what my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) said in his excellent speech, namely, that the Government could bring the general public at large a little more into the picture as to what is really involved in this question of testing and what, in fact, this particular test is related to. I sympathise strongly with that plea. I do not think that sufficient has been said by the Government to educate our people into all that this matter involves.
In particular, it is important that if we cannot be told what our own tests are achieving, we should be told a little more clearly what the Russian tests have resulted in. The Russians have carried out their own high level tests over the Arctic and the Government must have formed some assessment of what those tests mean. Indeed, it is one of the reasons why we agreed to the Americans starting their high level tests again after the three-year moratorium was broken by the Russians last year. It would help our people, particularly our young people, to understand a little more why we have to adopt the policy we do if the Government could tell them more at least about the results of our enemies' tests, if not the results of our own.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said in opening, the Motion is very narrowly drawn. I severely criticise the Opposition for leaving out the word "underground" from the Motion. The Motion as it stands can only give comfort to our enemies. It may be true, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) tried to show, that this second testing of, I assume, the same device underground, in other words, the 934 completion of a test made earlier of that device, may lead the Soviet Union to use as an excuse for going on with its underground tests the fact that Britain is doing this test now.
I am quite prepared to believe that the Russians will use that argument, but, in my view, it ill becomes the Opposition in this House to put the idea into their heads, which is precisely what they have done. [Laughter.] I am quite prepared to believe that the Russians may be intending to use this argument already, but it ill becomes the Opposition, in that case, to support them in it, which is what the Motion does. If the Opposition had made clear, at least, that they were satisfied that this test was to be only an underground one, that would be a little less obnoxious, but the Motion as it stands is an open encouragment to our enemies to say that very thing publicly.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. As I understand it, this country is at present not at war with anyone. Therefore, would not the coupling of the words "our enemies" with the words "Soviet Union" be an attack on a friendly Government?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne tell you that you ought to do something if you had not done so.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
May I put it to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that that is grossly out of order and that the hon. Gentleman should be asked to withdraw?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear the hon. Gentleman. If he did say that, it is out of order. I must ask him to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Silverman
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I know of no rule which makes it compulsory on any Member of the House of Commons to agree with every Ruling which is given from the Chair. I do not agree with your Ruling. I shall obey it, but I do not agree with it.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
In using the word "enemies", I was including anybody who wished to—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I was including anybody who wished to see this country come down, and I believe that the Communist Party does.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I hope that the House will now be able to judge where the hon. Member's sympathies are.
§ Mr. Silverman
Hon. Members have always been able to judge that. I have been here long enough for them to be able to judge.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The Motion helps those who wish to criticise this country in the world. If it does not put the idea into their heads, at least it encourages them to say the same thing. I ask the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who is lounging there, whether he thinks that the first underground test which we carried out after the Russians had broken the moratorium was right or wrong.
§ Mr. G. Brown
The answer to that, quite clearly, is "wrong", for the reasons which I gave in my speech, which the hon. Member was present to hear. From the moment when we ceased to be able to maintain ourselves as an independent nuclear power, which cessation took place under his Government, not ours, tests of nuclear weapons which would have been sensible had we been going on as a nuclear Power ceased to be sensible and thereby became wrong.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
At least the right hon. Gentleman is consistent in that he disapproved of the first part of the underground testing of this device and therefore is against the second part. At 936 least that is logical, and I respect the right hon. Gentleman for his logic.
The right hon. Gentleman has based this proposition on the assumption that the only value in having a nuclear weapon of any sort is if we can provide the launching device for it. He seems to think that that has got to be a rocket. I do not accept that at all. If the right hon. Gentleman will study what I have said in repeated debates, on the Air Estimates in particular, he will see that I have always felt that there was a future use for manned aircraft here and that we would be well advised to go ahead with a development along those lines.
I do not know where my right hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green has gone, but, if I may say so in his absence, it ill-becomes someone who held the office of Minister of Supply for as long as he did to pontificate in the way that he occasionally does in this House and disappear from view the moment he has made a speech and hardly come back again when he, as Minister of Supply, could so very easily, if he had come off the fence one way or the other, have insisted that we went ahead with some of the projects which we may now lack.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
Does the hon. Gentleman recall the resignation speech of the present Minister of Defence when he said in this House that Governments in this country for the past twelve years had gone from crisis to crisis, that this country was spending beyond its capacity and that we ought to call a halt?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his memory and for remembering that quotation. I recall that speech, and it is the result of every Government having got the priorities wrong since World War II and having spent too much on welfare before looking after defence. [Interruption.] I have been saying that ever since 1945. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman has not heard me say it before. As long as we as a nation go on insisting on putting welfare before defence, we shall not be properly defended.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I apologise, Sir Robert. I will come back to the Motion.
This discussion arose because the right hon. Member for Belper thinks that it is not worth our while having a separate nuclear deterrent and that we should rely on the United States in the alliance. I find it very hard to understand how people like the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and my right hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green are prepared to criticise the Americans for what they did over Cuba and at the same time to say that we should be totally reliant on them for the nuclear deterrent. I do not say that the right hon. Member for Belper shares the views of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale on Cuba, and I do not propose to elaborate on the Cuban issue because you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have already ruled it out of order. But, as long as anyone in this country says that what the United States have done over Cuba or anything else in foreign affairs is not necessarily right and that we should take an independent line from them, it is even more necessary for us to have an independent deterrent rather than rely on theirs.
§ Mr. G. Brown
Clearly the hon. Gentleman has studied this matter. May I put this to him? How many of our V-bombers does the hon. Gentleman think can carry Skybolt, even supposing that Skybolt becomes available? How many bombers does he think we shall have available?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I do not believe that Skybolt is the only means of delivering an atomic weapon.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I do not believe it. If it were true the whole V-bomber programme, right from its inception, would have been a complete waste of money, and I do not believe that it was. I believe that our V-bomber force today, and the manned aircraft which will eventually follow it, will ensure that, whatever happens on the rocketry front, we shall still be able to deliver the nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Mason
Does not the effectiveness of the so-called independent British nuclear deterrent at the moment depend upon the ballistic missile early warning system of the United States, and do not the targets of the V-bomber force depend entirely on the espionage efforts of the U.2s and the MIDAS satellites? Also does not the hon. Gentleman agree that there are no models on the stocks as the logical successors of the V-bombers and that we are building no rockets?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The hon. Gentleman would not have asked his first question unless he thought that he was right and I was wrong. As neither of us has the security clearance to be able to check either way, both of us are speaking in some ignorance of the matter. But I noted that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was shaking his head very vigorously while the hon. Gentleman was putting that question to me.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) was in the Chamber when I followed the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. It is very irresponsible——
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
—for any hon. Member to trade on what he knows to be the public ignorance about matters covered by security, and about which we ourselves know we are very often ignorant, because we, too, are bound by security.
All I would say on this is that I am convinced that our V-bomber force could deliver a weapon which could do immense destruction to our enemies, and the knowledge in our potential enemy's mind that this is so has at least kept us at peace for a long time.
I think it is worth asking how many hon. Members have thought what would be happening on the northern frontier of India today if China and India were both nuclear powers. I wonder very much whether there would not still be peace there. As to all these observations about getting rid of the nuclear weapons, where do we get to at the end of that road? Sooner or later the man with the biggest number of bows and arrows will win. Unless disarmament includes 939 banning the use of fists, sooner or later nuclear disarmament will lead us back into the most likely state to produce war.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West. I believe that the existence of the nuclear bomb is of very great value to mankind as long as mankind is prepared to do the stupid things it has been prepared to do this century. I believe there is a difference between "awe" and "fear". Some of us have lived through two periods of fear when we knew that our enemies had more conventional arms than we had.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I dare say. Where should we be without the nuclear weapon? I believe that the fact that this weapon inspires awe in people tends to make war less likely, whereas when there is an unbalance based on conventional weapons, fear very often leads to war. For this reason above all others, I am very unsanguine in my hopes about any disarmament being achieved.
I believe we must retain some nuclear weapons in our own hands, and the more doubts we have about the way our allies behave, the more doubts we have about how our allies will behave in the long term, and the more doubts we have about the lasting qualities of our alliances, the more important it is that we should retain some nuclear weapons of our own. I will not accept, as the right hon. Member for Belper seems always to assume, that it ceases to be independent merely because. We have bought it from somebody else.
The right hon. Gentleman always argues that the mere fact that we must rely on the Americans to manufacture the deterrent means that when we have it in our possession it will not be independent. This proposition that no one else can be independent unless he makes everything he possesses is total rubbish. The important thing is that one goes to the person who can manufacture it best. There is no point in manufacturing it ourselves if it is going to break us and if someone else is already manufacturing it.
The question is not whether we make it but whether we have it. That is what 940 matters to me. We are independent if we have got it. If we have to rely on someone else owning it and eventually moving it about, that is not a state of independence as I understand it. The Labour Party and the splinter group on its left seem to be coming into line on one thing, and it is exactly the same line as they adopted in 1939 when they voted against conscription. They know it is unpopular. They know that there are no votes in it, and therefore they hit the Government of the day whatever the effect on the nation. It is contemptible.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
The Minister of Defence said that this should not be a party debate, that it was too great a national issue for that. I agree with him. This is a great national issue and the only reason why we are having a party debate on it tonight is that the Government have taken a decision that it wholly wrong.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) propounded the rather extraordinary doctrine that any attack on the Government is an attack on the nation. But it seems to me that the contrary is true. Not to attack this Government would be a disservice to the nation, not only in this matter but also in many others as well.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman made a rather feeble defence against the charges levelled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) about the manner by which this decision was announced. It was furtive to do it by way of an inspired Written Answer. The right hon. Gentleman produced the extraordinary idea that it was inconceivable that he could have inspired the Question, because this would have allowed the world to know weeks before the decision.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Then I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman said that it was inconceivable that he should give something out weeks before it happened. The reason for the inspired Answers was that the decision was already known to the British Press and the Soviet radio.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I did inspire the Question. It came out in the Press because I got the Question put on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
If the right hon. Gentleman compares the dates, he will see that it was already known. It was on the Soviet radio, earlier. However, this is not a very important point, though he did labour it quite hard. But why did the right hon. Gentleman inspire a Written Question? Why did he not ask Mr. Speaker's leave to make a statement at the end of Oral Questions, so that we could ask him questions?
When the first of our tests was made, earlier this year, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House, so that we could immediately question him. But this time the Minister of Defence chose to inspire a Question the Answer to which did not take the form in which the Prime Minister made his announcement. Now the right hon. Gentleman propounds the doctrine that he has some how done us a great service, because we are able to have a debate. He speaks as though the only cause of a debate is a Written Answer.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
How did Earl Attlee announce the building of the British atomic bomb?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
That has nothing to do with this issue. I need not go into that. We are talking about a particular issue. I was dealing with the arguments raised by the Minister of Defence. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be losing his sense of proportion and political reality. He is treating this matter, this great matter which he said was a great national issue, as another "little local difficulty", just as he did with the Vassall case.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
That is perfectly in order. The right hon. Gentleman is losing his sense of judgment; he gets flippant; he makes light arguments; he laughs things off; he plays them down.
We have many powerful reasons for putting down and pressing our Motion. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said, there is no strategic need for this test. It is only a part of an attempt to pretend that we are an independent nuclear Power with an 942 independent nuclear weapon. Since the ending of Blue Streak, this has clearly become wholly beyond our means, leave alone any questions of morality. Whatever the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely may say, in the long run, if we cannot have missile carriages, missile vehicles, we will slowly fall out of the race. The right hon. Gentleman practically said as much.
The right hon. Gentleman attacked my right hon. Friend for changing his mind about whether Britain should have an independent nuclear weapon. My right hon. Friend adopted his present logical position after the decision to abandon Blue Streak. It was the position that we could not afford the missile vehicle without which we could not maintain an independent nuclear weapon. That is what made him change his mind and it was a perfectly logical decision from that state of affairs.
What has happened has been that we have learned the lesson of the Government's failure—Blue Streak was a great Government failure—and the Government will not yet admit, at any rate, not out loud, the lesson to be deduced from it. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a speech by my right hon. Friend in 1957, but I must quote part of the right hon. Gentleman's resignation speech in 1958. What he said then is not compatible with what he said tonight. He said:…for twelve years we have been attempting to do more than our resources could manage, and in the process we have been gravely weakening ourselves…First, we have sought to be a nuclear power, matching missile with missile and anti-missile with antimissile…It is not a mean thing to wish to be independent in nuclear power, of both the East and the West, although it may be that in the West in future no one really will be independent in nuclear power."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd January, 1958; Vol. 580, c. 1295.]That was quite good sense, but the sort of economic thought which he was then expressing is not compatible with the extravagant language, in two senses, which he was using tonight.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The right hon. Member is perfectly entitled to quote my resignation speech, but he has been extremely selective in doing so. I do not ask him to read the speech as a whole, but he will see that I drew a long 943 list of the things which we had attempted to do, including welfare, and said that we had to choose priorities among them.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I have read the whole speech several times. The right hon. Gentleman made it perfectly clear that he regarded the maintenance of independent nuclear weapons by Britain as intolerably extravagant.
I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman then said about our not being able to be independent. One reason why we do not have an independent nuclear weapon is simply that it is not independent. As Mr. McNamara has said, the only justification for the British maintenance of the weapon is that it is wholly integrated with the United States weapons system and "so targetted" as he put it. In other words, the final great argument for the independent British nuclear weapon is that it is not independent. The one logical argument for it is that it is integrated and makes a slight addition to the American nuclear deterrent.
There is another argument which the right hon. Gentleman did not use, but which is often used in this connection, namely, that we must remain an independent nuclear Power, or retain an independent nuclear weapon, because this gives us rights of consultation and influence in the world and so on. He could not use that argument because it was blown sky-high by Cuba. He could not use it. This was an argument which has often been used, but has been singularly absent on the other side tonight.
The main argument that we use is that of timing. I think that the Government have made an incredible and indefensible blunder in the timing of the decision, and the announcement of the decision, and they have had a very critical Press. The Times, in its leader of 13th November, said:If the Government had wracked their brains to choose a bad time for proclaiming a new nuclear test they could not have hit on a worse moment than now.That view has been echoed in nearly all the Press.
This is the moment when President Kennedy has announced the end of his tests. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The end of a series of atmospheric tests. I do not dodge these things. I am coming 944 to this. The Russians have announced that, if not on 20th November, then soon, they will end all tests, and Mr. Zorin has proposed that talks should start, I think at the end of this week. In other words, the Government have chosen the moment to launch this little test of ours when the world is beginning once again to have real hope that a test ban can be achieved in the world.
It is said that the United States is going on with underground tests, and maybe Russia is, and therefore why not we? This is the argument that is used. There are two things that I have to say to that. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, this has the danger of stopping the moratorium which the Russians have proposed on underground tests, and, secondly, there is a difference between ourselves and the great super-nuclear Powers. This is a new test, a suddenly announced test, an unexpectedly announced test, and an unnecessary test. It is different from the Russian and American series of tests.
The cast of this argument is really that we are equal with the super-nuclear Powers. This is the only sense in which one can really use the argument that because they have underground tests we can have underground tests, and so on. The Government are like the frog in Aesop's Fables that blew itself up until it finally burst. The Government are trying to do more than can be done, and this argument betrays their whole approach.
But the trouble here is not merely a sort of isolated self-inflation by the Government, because all this is happening in the context of the danger of the spread of nuclear weapons, and this is one of the really great dangers facing the world. This talk of an independent nuclear deterrent, this test which is trying to emphasise it, to underline it, increases this perilous notion of an independent European deterrent. It is bound to do so. It was given rather ambiguous support by George Ball over the weekend. We must stand against this stupidity of an independent European nuclear deterrent, and this Nevada test is bound to weaken our stand in this matter.
The Times, in its leader of 13th November, suggested another possible purpose for the Government's test, that 945 the aim may be to give General de Gaullea reminder that Britain would have much to contribute to an Anglo-French nuclear pool if ever a European deterrent were set up.If the test in Nevada is a part of some devious Common Market policy, this would be absolutely reprehensible and indefensible. It is being widely said not only in The Times, but in the New York Times—that the Government have laid themselves open at any rate to this suspicion being very widely entertained, because, after all, people are trying to find Ian explanation of why the Government chose this time to announce and carry out this decision, and I want to come hack to the point of timing.
The Government are committing what think is an act of folly at a crucial moment in world affairs. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) said, and I agree with him, that there is now a much more real hope of a world agreement to ban these nuclear tests. The Americans and Russian positions have been getting closer and closer. The Prime Minister said in his Guildhall speech on Monday that there was only a small gap now to be bridged to get agreement on a full test ban.
There are, of course, remaining difficulties. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) pointed out, there will still be the difficulty of how to police the underground tests. But progress is being made there, and there is hope there, too, of a compromise based on the "black boxes" of the Russians and the neutral inspectors who have been suggested by the Americans.
A nuclear test ban could be of really critical importance for the world. It would greatly reduce two of the major dangers facing the world. One is the poisoning of the atmosphere by tests and the other, equally important, I think, is that is would get away from the danger that now faces us that the balance of deterrence is an unstable balance. So long as countries can go on making scientific tests and improving their weapons all the time, then each side can never resist making these scientific experiments and further progress, because each is always frightened of being outstripped by the other. To preserve the balance of deterrence, one is always raising the stakes to 946 a higher level of terror than before. Therefore, the world gets more and more dangerous and the balance of deterrence always gets higher and higher in terms of terror.
A nuclear test ban would mean two things above all. It would mean that the two great nuclear super Powers would impose upon themselves, a restraint on their scientific experiments, very great restraint, even if underground 'tests, atmospheric and stratospheric tests went on, it would lay restraint on atmospheric and stratospheric experiments by either of them which would endanger the continuous upsetting of the balance which is always being restruck and restored at a higher level of terror.
Secondly, it would give both these Governments a very major common interest, which would be to stop other Powers indulging in nuclear tests of the kind that they had agreed to ban. This would be an immense gain to the world and that is why a nuclear test ban is the greatest real hope in the world. It will not, of course, solve all the problems, get rid of nuclear weapons and all the rest, but it will be the one great step that can be made in this direction, and a realistic—I agree with the hon. Member for Hall Green—and now attainable step. I beg the Government to recognise that this decision that they have taken is in the context of this hope of getting now an international test ban which could have all these great effects upon the world. Even if they do not accept all our arguments, I ask them to consider whether this little test of ours may not involve some danger to the conclusion of a nuclear test ban treaty.
The Minister of Defence, in one part of his argument, was rather tending to say that nothing we could do could have any effect on Russia, that this was only a little thing, that it would not be noticed. I do not agree, I take a rather higher view of the effect of the things that we can do. The Times, to quote from the leading article once more, made, I think, an extremely important point in this connection. It said:Counsels are divided in Russia, as they are in America, over the expediency of agreeing to any test-ban and pletny of Russian military men are eager to seize on any pretext for going on with their tests.If that is so, it means that our decision might have an effect upon the internal 947 arguments, possibly in the United States, but particularly in Russia. Nobody can deny that this Nevada test involves danger that it might provide a pretext for the people, these Russian military men, who are described in the leading article in The Times.
It would be criminal if the Government did anything that could tilt the scales against the achievement of a test ban when its achievement is now becoming a real hope. I beg the Government to think again. We have made party points between us, but this is not a party debate. This is a vital issue for us and for the world. I beg the Government to think again. I beg them to realise their responsibilities. I beg them to reverse this decision before it is too late.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)
The final passages of the speech of the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) certainly struck a chord in me. I realise the sincerity with which the right hon. Gentleman put forward those views, and I agree with him entirely as to the great importance of achieving a test ban treaty. Indeed, that is what I have been spending most of this year trying to do, and so the right hon. Gentleman does not need to convince me of that. It is, however, a vital matter, and it is right that we should consider where we have got to in relation to it.
The Motion which we are debating deals with one aspect of the matter and the debate has ranged much wider. The Motion, which, I assume, is intended as a Motion of censure, in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, states:That this House regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to proceed in the near future with the testing of a British nuclear device thus endangering the prospects of an early international agreement to ban nuclear tests.That is the wording and it is a narrow Motion, but the debate has ranged more widely.
In the early stages of the debate, in answering the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence dealt with our needs for the test on military grounds. I propose to 948 consider the second part of the Motion and in the short time which remains to examine the damage which the announcement of the test has done, could do or will do to the prospects of a treaty.
I was struck by the fact throughout the whole of this short debate that nobody on the other side of the House, so far as I have heard, has criticised the Soviets for the part they have played—[Interruption]—yes, for the part they have played in the two massive series of tests. In this connection, I could not help recalling one or two words from The Times editorial this morning commenting upon Lord Avon's book. May I quote just one sentence:Twenty-five years later it is still breathtaking to read how hard facts were dismissed as though they were hostile witnesses…every manner of excuse was found for the dictators".There really is something there.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Is the hon. Gentleman insinuating that we supported Russia in renewing the tests? That is the implication of what he is saying. Of course, we attacked them, and we attack them now.
§ Mr. Godber
I am glad that right hon. and hon. Members opposite do attack, but having spent so much time in attacking one British test, they might have spent some little time in regretting the Russian tests.
§ Mr. Godber
It is not what I have done. It is what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have done.
Their arguments, as I understand them, appear to be based on the fact that the United States has finished its series of atmospheric tests and the Soviets are believed to be nearing the end of theirs. No undertaking, however, has been given by either side about not continuing tests. The United States has made clear that its underground tests will continue.
In that context, I could not understand the question of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) when he asked me specifically, did the United States tell us that our test was so small that we must wait until the United States tests were over? Clearly the hon. Gentleman 949 does not understand the matter at all if he asks questions in that form, because in fact no indication whatever has been given that the United States underground tests are to be stopped. So that that question has no relevance whatever in relation to this debate.
The United Kingdom test underground will not stand out in any way from the general pattern. I think it important to remind the House once again that we shall have carried out two underground tests during a period in which the Soviet Union has carried out two massive series of atmospheric tests and the United States has carried out a series of atmospheric tests. It has been claimed that this second underground test of ours is of tremendous significance, but I do not think that bears investigation.
I think it important to consider that not only have neither of the two countries said they are ending underground tests, but The Times report of 8th November of what Mr. Khrushchev said in relation to the probable ending of the present series included a statement that he said:Our people will continue working on future experiments.Those are the words which are quoted from Mr. Khrushchev, so it is clear that there was no imputation on their part that they were proposing to end tests. Therefore, this whole question of dates seems to have acquired a wholly unreal importance in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite. This is a point which I must stress, because the whole question of the series being ended and, therefore, of our test being an isolated test is quite unreal and does not face the facts of the case at all.
If the Russians are ending their atmospheric series in the near future, I suggest that it is not for any significant reason from the point of view that hon. Members opposite were arguing. We know that the climate of Novaya Zemlya makes it difficult for them to carry on for much longer at this time of the year, and it is quite normal, therefore, that for purely seasonal reasons they should have been ending their tests. If there is any significant date it is 1st January, 1963.
Why do I say that? Because it was put forward in Geneva in the summer as a suggested date when countries might finish their series of tests and might come 950 to an agreement. It was put forward by Mr. Padilla Nervo, the representative of Mexico, in May, and he repeated it in June when he suggested 1st January, 1963. Further than that, it has been embodied in a General Assembly resolution passed in the United Nations only a fortnight ago. The resolution was put forward by about 37 neutralist countries. In operative paragraph 3 it urges the Governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States to settle the remaining differences between them in order to achieve agreement by 1st January, 1963. In operative paragraph 6 it refers again to this specific date. So that if there is a date which has any relevance, it is that date. And, of course, the United Kingdom test will be over before then, so that there is no relevance in any arguments used tonight about this having an effect on our ability to achieve a treaty.
§ Mr. Godber
There is no reason to suppose that it will not, and I am certainly not answering hypothetical questions in relation to that.
Now I can turn to the psychological effects to which hon. Members have referred with regard to this particular test. Some rather extraordinary arguments have been raised. There might be some force in this if in fact it were an atmospheric test which was taking place. But this is not the case, and other underground tests will be continuing on both sides, so far as we know. The Russians are realists in these matters and are not going to be swayed by the psychological reasoning to which hon. Members have referred.
The Motion we are debating talks aboutendangering the prospects of an early international agreement".What are the prospects? I have been rather disturbed listening to the debate this evening to hear the very optimistic things which a number of hon. Members have said about how near we are to agreement. I wish to heaven we were; we have been working hard enough and trying hard enough for it. Much as I should like to agree with them that we are so near, I must point out the facts in relation to this matter.
951 The Geneva Conference will be reconvening a week today. I was a little puzzled when the right hon. Member for Belper appeared to give credit for that to the Soviet representative for having urged it. In fact, some of us were urging it upon him at great length. Actually we should have reconvened a week ago, but it had to be deferred to 26th November, The Sub-Committee is still sitting, and I shall be flying back to Geneva tomorrow morning to take part in it. It has before it at the moment the Soviet draft agreement of 28th November last year. It also has the memorandum of the eight neutral Powers to which hon. Members have referred and two Western draft treaties of 27th August, 1962, and subsequently the two resolutions which the general Assembly passed in the last few weeks.
So far the Soviet Union representatives have refused to sign the partial treaty which we put forward on 27th August, which covers tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water. They have refused to agree to any obligatory on-site inspection in a comprehensive treaty. In other words, in relation to the underground tests they are not willing to accept on-site inspection and they have refused to provide us with the information they claim to have which they say would make on-site inspection unnecessary. We have offered them this partial treaty in the three environments, which we are prepared to sign straight away and it would obviate all tests which cause fall-out. The only argument they have put forward is that they say it would legalise underground tests. That does not stand up for a moment, because they would be no more legal than they are at the moment.
They have refused the comprehensive treaty because they are not prepared to submit to on-site inspection and have refused to give the information which they claimed to have. That is why I say to hon. Members that, much as I should like to be optimistic, we have in fact still a very difficult part to cover.
§ Mr. G. Brown
In view of that, will the hon. Gentleman tell us what the Prime Minister was talking about at the Guildhall last week, because it was on the Prime Minister's assessment of the 952 narrowness of the gap that I was in fact relying?
§ Mr. Godber
Certainly the gap has narrowed, but it has narrowed because of the move of the West and not because of the move of the Soviet Union. That is the point I am making. The gap has narrowed substantially because of the texts of the draft treaties of 27th August, in which we have gone a long way to meet them, but they have refused to meet us on those texts. The gap has narrowed because the West has moved. Now I suggest it is for the Soviet Union to make a move to try to meet us.
I certainly do not wish to discourage them in any way from doing so; I have been trying to encourage them over and over again. Since the last Pugwash meeting they have shown some interest in the "black boxes" about which a great deal of comment has been made. I think the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) referred to them. The important thing in relation to the black boxes is that they could be a supplement to other arrangements. There is no doubt that some people in their eagerness to make progress have overlooked the fact that this recommendation made by the Pugwash meetings, which was made by three Americans and three Soviet scientists, did not envisage that the use of black boxes would obviate the need for on-site inspection. They said that they had explored the possibility of developing this system in such a way as to reduce the interference with the host country and still obtain the maximum amount of seismic information with a view to reducing substantially the number of necesary on-site inspections. But this was with a view to reducing the number of on-site inspections, not to eliminating them.
This is the key to the whole problem. If the Soviet Union will revert to the position which they adopted until 28th November last year, an agreement would be possible tomorrow. Until 28th November they agreed to on-site inspection. They have since moved away from this, as we have moved towards them. While this black box idea may have something in it which could help, it does not get over the basic problem of the need for some degree of on-site inspection.
953 It is apparently being argued that if we were to lead the way by refusing to make any tests of any kind, this could lead the Russians to reach an agreement. There is no shred of evidence in support of such a contention. We agreed to a moratorium, which lasted three years, but it did not achieve a treaty, and there is clear evidence that the Russians used the last year of that period in preparing a massive series of tests while pretending at the conference table that they were negotiating in all seriousness.
It is possible to argue that if the West were to increase their own tests it might make the Russians realise that it was in their own interests to achieve an early agreement, but there is no vestige of evidence to support the contention that if the West abandoned all testing the Russians would follow suit—unless they were satisfied that it suited their military interests to do so.
I have shown clearly that in relation to the American underground tests, the British tests fit naturally into the present series. One might suggest that if the West deliberately increased its testing the Russians might feel the need to reach an agreement, but there is no evidence that if the West abandoned all their underground testing or all testing it would lead the Russians to seek an agreement more quickly. It did not do so before, and it is no good pretending that it is necessarily likely to do so now. It is only too obvious that the Russians judge all this strictly from the military standpoint and that no humanitarian considerations enter into it at all. I remind hon. Members, in case they have forgotten, of the way in which Mr. Khrushchev boasted only a year ago about the 50-megaton bomb which he was then about to explode. I have the quotation here, but I will not weary the House with it; but it is as well to remind ourselves of that Russian attitude in relation to these matters.
Having said that, I agree that we must try by every means possible, in particular, by trying to improve scientific means of detection and identification, to find a basis for an agreement on which we, the United States and the Russians can agree. This is where I agree very much with the right hon. Member for Smethwick on the need to reach agreement. I assure him that the Government are 954 very much playing their part in seeking to reach an agreement.
I was sorry to hear one or two hon. Members suggest that they thought that the United Kingdom was not playing a full part in this. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) said that the United Kingdom played no part in improving relations. I do not mind him saying that I have done nothing, but my predecessors and my official team have been working hard and continuously on this and deserve something better than that comment. In particular, I pay tribute to Sir Michael Wright, who has been working continuously on this problem over a very long period. They have played a very substantial part in bringing the West into such a strong position as it has today; the Western position must be accepted by any reasonable person who looks at this matter without any degree of bias.
We shall continue with these discussions. We have as a basis these documents about which I have spoken. We have these two Western draft treaties. I urge and beg the Soviet Union to accept either of them or, if they cannot do so, at least to help us by taking us into their confidence more in relation to such scientific advances as they claim to have achieved. We for our part will do all we can, will meet them in any regard in relation to this, and will look at any proposals in relation to black boxes or anything else. We would like our scientists to meet with theirs, just as we want to continue meeting at our present level, both in the Sub-Committee and in the disarmament negotiations as a whole. We want to try to make a success of this, and I pledge that Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they can in this regard.
I agree with what has been said, that this could be a valuable lead in to disarmament in the wider sphere. Here there is a tremendous opportunity. We have become engaged in Geneva in detailed discussions in relation to what could be done in the first stage of disarmament. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green referred to something Mr. Gromyko said in the General Assembly in September. My right hon. Friend related it to a nuclear test agreement, but I think that he will find that this was solely in relation to the first stage of disarmament. This proposal, 955 like all others, we are prepared to discuss in detail, and I hope that we shall be doing so within the next two or three weeks.
We want to get down to detailed negotiations again. If we could get a nuclear test treaty, if we could get some of these other measures which are down on the agenda of the Disarmament Committee as a whole, if we could get some other measures for reducing tension in the world, that is what we want above everything else. I assure the House that we will do all we can in this regard.
I say with all seriousness that if anything has made agreement more difficult it is the action of the Opposition in seeking to inflate this issue and in having what I would term this ridiculous and unjustified Motion of censure tonight. They have moved it as a vote of censure. They have not justified it by one iota. In no single sense have they done so. For twelve months now I and my United States colleagues at these negotiations have been systematically exposing the weakness of the Soviet case in these negotiations, while we have been making fresh offer after fresh offer to try to find some way to bridge the gap between us. As I have indicated, we have not yet had any response but we must keep on trying.
Although the Soviet authorities endeavour to keep the facts away from their own people, there is no doubt that in their determination to keep on testing they have been seriously embarrassed by the weakness of their own position, and this constant pressure must have some effect on their future policies. This is a point which I think is sometimes over-
§ looked and which I must stress, that in fact public opinion does begin to play a larger part in the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Godber
I am glad to have that support. Therefore, it is important that they should know the strength of the Western case. If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) agrees with me, he should help in showing how reasonable the Western case is so as to enable the Soviet people to realise what it is their Government are doing to them in not agreeing to a Treaty.
By moving the Motion of censure tonight and by trying to exaggerate out of of all reason the effect of this one British test, the Opposition have provided the Soviets with an easy excuse for further polemics. This has made my task at Geneva more difficult. [Laughter.] It is no good trying to laugh it off. I hope that hon. Members opposite will be gratified when they learn how fully their speeches will be reported in Pravda.
This Motion of censure, this sordid little exercise designed to extract party advantage out of the deep feelings of distaste that everyone in this country has for these grim weapons, without any consideration for its effects on the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to achieve a lasting ban on all tests, is a measure of the irresponsibility of right hon. Members opposite. I reject this miserable, ill-judged, wholly unjustified Motion of censure with the contempt that it deserves.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 224, Noes 299.959
|Division No. 5.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Boyden, James||Deer, George|
|Ainsley, William||Bradley, Tom||Delargy, Hugh|
|Albu, Austen||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Diamond, John|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Dodds, Norman|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Awbery, Stan||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Driberg, Tom|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Callaghan, James||Dugdale, Rt. Hon, John|
|Baird, John||Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Beaney, Alan||Chapman, Donald||Edelman, Maurice|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Cliffe, Michael||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Bence, Cyril||Collick, Percy||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)|
|Benson, Sir George||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Evans, Albert|
|Blackburn, F.||Cronin, Jonh||Fernyhough, E.|
|Blyton, William||Dalyell, Tam||Finch, Harold|
|Boardman, H.||Darling, George||Fletcher, Eric|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, W.)||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics, S.W.)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bowles, Frank||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Ginsburg, David||McCann, John||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacColl, James||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||MacDermot, Niall||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||McInnes, James||Ross, William|
|Grey, Charles||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McLeavy, Frank||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mahon, Simon||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Gunter, Ray||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Hannan, William||Manuel, Archie||Small, William|
|Harper, Joseph||Mapp, Charles||Snow, Julian|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Roy||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mayhew, Christopher||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Healey, Denis||Mellish, R. J.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Mendelson, J. J.||Steele, Thomas|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Millan, Bruce||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Milne, Edward||Stonehouse, John|
|Hilton, A. V.||Mitchison, G. R.||Stones, William|
|Holman, Percy||Monslow, Walter||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Holt, Arthur||Moody, A. S.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Morris, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Moyle, Arthur||Swingler, Stephen|
|Howell, Danis (Small Heath)||Mulley, Frederick||Taverne, D.|
|Hoy, James H.||Neal, Harold||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oram, A. E.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oswald, Thomas||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hunter, A. E.||Owen, Will||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, Frank|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Paget, R. T.||Wade, Donald|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pargiter, G. A.||Warbey, William|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Parker, John||Watkins, Tudor|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Parkin, B. T.||Weitzman, David|
|Jeger, George||Paton, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pavitt, Laurence||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Whitlock, William|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Wigg, George|
|Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Peart, Frederick||Willey, Frederick|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Pentland, Norman||Williams, D.J. (Neath)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Kelley, Richard||Popplewell, Ernest||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Prentice, R. E.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|King, Dr. Horace||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lawson, George||Probert, Arthur||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Ledger, Ron||Proctor, W. T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Woof, Robert|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Redhead, E. C.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Reid, William|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Reynolds, G. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Upton, Marcus||Rhodes, H.||Mr. Short and Mr. Rogers.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bourne-Arton, A.||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Box, Donald||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Cooke, Robert|
|Allason, James||Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Cooper, A. E.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Braine, Bernard||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Brewis, John||Cordle, John|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Corfield, F. V.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brooke, Rt. Hon, Henry||Costain, A. P.|
|Barber, Anthony||Brooman-White, R.||Coulson, Michael|
|Barlow, Sir John||Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Craddock, Sir Beresford|
|Barter, John||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Critchley, Julian|
|Batsford, Brian||Bryan, Paul||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Buck, Antony||Crowder, F. P.|
|Bell, Ronald||Builard, Donys||Curran, Charles|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Burden, F. A.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Dance, James|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Bidgood, John C.||Campbell Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.|
|Biffen, John||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Bingham, R. M.||Cary, Sir Robert||Donaldson, Cmdr. C.E.M.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Channon, H. P. G.||Doughty, Charles|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Chataway, Christopher||Drayson, G. B.|
|Bossom, Clive||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||du Cann, Edward|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kershaw, Anthony||Pym, Francis|
|Duthie, Sir William||Kimball, Marcus||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lagden, Godfrey||Ramsden, James|
|Elliott, R.W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rawlinson, Sir Peter|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leavey, J. A.||Rees, Hugh|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Leburn, Gilmour||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Farr, John||Lilley, F. J. P.||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Forrest, George||Litchfield, Capt. John||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Foster, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Longden, Gilbert||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Loveys, Walter H.||Russell, Ronald|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||St. Clair, M.|
|Gammans, Lady||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Seymour, Leslie|
|Gardner, Edward||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Sharples, Richard|
|Gibson-Watt, David||MacArthur, Ian||Shepherd, William|
|Gilmour, Sir John||McLaren, Martin||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Godber, J. B.||Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs)||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John|
|Goodhart, Philip||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Gough, Frederick||McMaster, Stanley R.||Speir, Rupert|
|Gower, Raymond||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Grant-Ferris, R,||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Green, Alan||Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall (Dumfries)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maitland, Sir John||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Gurden, Harold||Marlowe, Anthony||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Marshall, Douglas||Talbot, John E.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Marten, Neil||Tapsell, Peter|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Mawby, Ray||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maxwell-Hyslop R. J.||Teeling, Sir William|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Temple, John M.|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mills, Stratton||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hay, John||Miscampbell, Norman||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Montgomery, Fergus||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Hendry, Forbes||Morgan, William||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Morrison, John||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nabarro, Gerald||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Neave, Airey||Turner, Colin|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hobson, Sir John||Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Holland, Philip||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Hollingworth, John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|Hopkins, Alan||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Walder, David|
|Hornby, R. P.||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Walker, Peter|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Webster, David|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Partridge, E.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Whitelaw, William|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Peel, John||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Percival, Ian||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Jackson, John||Peyton, John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|James, David||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wise, A. R.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Jennings, J. C.||Pitt, Dame Edith||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pott, Percivall||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Woollam, John|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Mr. Chichester-Clark|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Proudfoot, Wilfred||and Mr. Finlay.|