HC Deb 23 January 1963 vol 670 cc69-70
23. Commander Courtney

asked the Minister of Defence if existing British communications systems are adequate to ensure the reception of operational messages by Her Majesty's submarines when submerged.

Mr. Thorneycroft

Yes, Sir.

Commander Courtney

In view of the references made by hon. and right hon. Members opposite to recent television programmes, will my right hon. Friend make sure that this technical point is brought to the particular attention of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown)?

Mr. Thorneycroft

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will be studying these Questions.

Mr. Paget

Communications with Polaris submarines are on the N.A.T.O. network, and are intended to be on the N.A.T.O. network. If they are out of the N.A.T.O. network, does the right hon. Gentleman propose to duplicate the whole of this signalling system? If so, what does he think the cost will be?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Our communications with our own submarines will be entirely within our own control.

Mr. Wigg

Did the right hon. Gentleman consult the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations before making this reply? Is not he aware that in 1959 the Minister then occupying his office rejected Polaris on the specific ground that it was detectable and vulnerable and, in fact, would require a very expensive communications and supply system, which did not exist?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This Question refers to our communications with our own submarines. In view of the great deal of speculation that has gone on, I want to make it clear beyond peradventure that these communications are under our own control. They are our own, and there is no technical difficulty whatsoever.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there is the closest possible co-operation, in connection with developments in these measures of under-water communication, between the Americans and ourselves? Will he further say that we will use all these developments for our own submarines when they come into service?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There are the closest relations. They are being helpful in every way.