HC Deb 01 December 1964 vol 703 cc232-4
Q8. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that the United States Polaris base should remain in Holy Loch; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

With permission I will answer this Question and Question No. 10 together.

Members of the Royal Corps of Military Police assisted the Buckinghamshire County Police—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I called Question No. 8.

The Prime Minister

The Answer is "Yes, Sir."

Mr. Marten

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the maintenance of this American base in Scotland is a very effective way of making the Alliance strong?

The Prime Minister

Well, it is a very big subject. We have debated it many times, but certainly the position is as I repeatedly stated when I sat on the other side of the House, that this would be kept in its present form unless and until, as a result of any possible changes in nuclear policy within the Alliance, there were a requirement for it as a N.A.T.O. base.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, even if the necessity for a nuclear base in Britain is accepted—and I do not accept it—in Scotland we regard its situation as being extremely dangerous—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in view of the fact that it is far too near the greatest industrial centre in Scotland?

The Prime Minister

When this was debated when the original agreement was signed, my right hon. Friend the then Leader of the Opposition advanced very substantial criticism on the actual siting in that particular part of Scotland. This was very strongly put by a number of us, but it is now in fact there, and I do not think anyone would suggest uprooting it and sending it to a different part of Scotland.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies agree with the Prime Minister's endorsement of this Polaris base, and, if so, did he change his mind before or after entering the Cabinet?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend always, I think, agrees with me. I should start to get worried if he ever agreed with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Bellenger

On a point of order. The order Paper says that Questions to the Prime Minister will begin at 3.15 p.m. Today they started at 3.19. Possibly the Prime Minister might have been able to complete answering the Questions to him if we had started punctually. May I respectfully ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you yourself could help when there is a long string of supplementary questions to the Minister replying before the Prime Minister, so that the Prime Minister can start punctually?

Mr. Speaker

No. I proposed to call the first of the Prime Minister's Questions at 3.15. It is a matter of misfortune, or not, according to the view taken, that the Question which last occurred before 3.15 was answered together with two other Questions, involving, of necessity, if we were to get a proper balance, a certain number of supplementaries. I regret this distortion, but cannot from the Chair help.

Mr. Gower

May I respectfully ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, in view of the great anxiety and the great uncertainty caused by the ill-defined nature of some of the financial proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in view of certain statements to the Press, as to whether there is to be a statement now, or an Answer to Questions No. 50 and No. 56, which are related to following Questions to the Prime Minister? Is it possible for the Chancellor to make a statement, or to answer the Questions which are of supreme importance?

Mr. Speaker

It is a curious fact that hon. Members whose Questions are not reached are from time to time tempted to raise them in this way. I would not wish to give encouragement to the practice.

Brigadier Clarke

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I heard you call Question No. 7, and the Prime Minister said that he would answer Questions 7 and 10 together. If I had not heard him say that I would have postponed my Question No. 10 to him. May I please postpone that Question, because it is a jolly good one?

Mr. Speaker

The proper method of postponing a Question is not by addressing the Chair in this fashion. The hon. and gallant Member, with respect, is not quite right in saying that I called the Prime Minister to answer No. 7. It was No. 8, and the Prime Minister proceeded, in error, to answer something else, and when I gave him the opportunity he got hack to the right one.