HC Deb 29 May 1963 vol 678 cc1298-9
13. Mr. Warbey

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply he has made to the official Russian protest against British acceptance of the proposal for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation force of Polaris-carrying surface ships with West German participation.

Mr. Heath

Copies of Her Majesty's Government's reply of 18th May to the Soviet Note of 8th April about the proposed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nuclear force have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Warbey

In view of the terms of that reply, and of the American Government's reply, can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the American Government have now finally and definitively withdrawn their original proposal that the Polaris missile carriers should be of the cargo type, possessing the advantage of considerable anonymity through being able to count on the identity protection of as many as 4,500 merchant ships operating every day in the waters in which they would operate? Have they withdrawn that proposal and, if so, as this was put forward in order to meet the criticism of vulnerability, what now becomes of the argument of vulnerability?

Mr. Heath

If the hon. Member has read our Note he will know that the proposed surface vessels would be warships in fact, in name, and in law—and both Notes make that perfectly plain.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the British protest against British acceptance of any multilateral force—mixed-manned or whatever it may be—and that many of us think that the best thing is a national, sovereign contribution to the defence of the West?

Mr. Heath

I have over many years taken full note of the individual protests of my hon. Friends. I am fully aware of them.