§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
I beg to move,That this House expresses concern at the increasing demands on Great Britain's already strained military resources and calls on Her Majesty's Government to produce a Defence White Paper embodying proposals which will ensure that the armed forces are capable of fulfilling Great Britain's legitimate military commitments and give priority to the provision of adequate conventional regular forces.This Motion was not tabled in the form of a Motion of censure because we believe that the present overstretched state of Britain's defence forces raises issues which the whole House must consider as a problem for the whole House and for whatever Government emerges from this year's General Election. I trust that the Prime Minister will approach the debate in the same spirit.
We begin from the facts which have been underlined by recent movements of our forces, showing the strain that they are under. The Government recently sent 3,000 troops to Cyprus. I will not go into the Cyprus problem as such this afternoon—there will be other occasions—and with an important and difficult conference just beginning this week it would not be helpful to go into the issues there. For the purposes of this debate, Cyprus is important in showing how stretched is the thin red line of British forces. The troops sent out are, I understand, in addition to infantry, pioneers and armoured corps, paratroops and artillery, who are being used without their field guns in an infantry capacity. This is showing an ominous state of affairs.
We have also sent forces to Borneo, and more may be needed there. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about this, and we have made this clear before; we wholeheartedly back the pledge of full support to Malaysia. So far, 6,000 are there.
Units have been sent to British Guiana andwithdrawn—or their orders countermanded—and, of course, here we cannot divorce the movement of these troops from the decision of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in imposing what we regard as an unprecedented and undemocratic form ofelection on that country.
428 The truth is that the elastic is stretched desperately tight. The doctrine of the strategic reserve which has featured in White Paper after White Paper has run up against the ineluctable facts of commitments and contingent commitments, which exceed the available forces, or, if one likes to look at it this way, of forces inadequate to meet commitments, whichever blade of the scissors one chooses to emphasise.
It would not be out of place to register the fact that, time and timeagain, we have issued warnings about recruiting—warnings too often met by complacency and a blithe disregard of statistical realities. The warning we have given most often is that the Government cannot run a strategic reserve on the principle of astage army. In the debate on 31st January last I said:The strategic reserve, which is required now in the Far East, now in the Middle East, now for some other trouble spot, perhaps in the Commonwealth, is going to be required at a moment's notice to be the balancing force needed to make our contributions to B.O.A.R. It can be one thing or the other, but it cannot be both. The old conception of a stage Army, where half-a-dozen minor actors moving quickly behind the scenes can represent the whole of Caesar's legions, may be all right for a second-rate repertory company, but it is not a sound basis for Britain's defence policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1963: Vol. 670, c. 1243.]Now the stage army is desperately stretched, and I cannot believe that the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence, or any of the Service Ministers, can be anything but desperately apprehensive about the situation. Our Motion asks the House to express concern. The Government apparently seem unwilling to express concern. I hope that at any rate they feel concern.
Let it be said at once—for I do not intend to sidestep the nuclear problem—that the thermo-nuclear deterrent, on which the Government rest so much political argument, has proved to be wholly irrelevant to the problems the country is facing. One cannot use it in Cyprus or in Borneo. The Government are not going to drop it on the trade union leaders in South Arabia. With this realisation must come the recognition that the whole deployment and the balance of expenditure of the national military effort is proving irrelevant to the kind of problems we are facing and 429 shall face in the future. Let us examine the manpower figures.
The 1957 Defence White Paper was based on the new doctrine of almost totalreliance on a genuine independent deterrent—Blue Streak—which Ministers also thought and said was going to give us defence on the cheap—that was one of the motives for the White Paper. Paragraph 46 said that we should rely on stabilising the Armed Forces on an all-Regular footing at 375,000 by the end of 1962. The 1958 White Paper announced recruiting ceilings as being 88,000 for the Royal Navy, 165,000 for the Army and 135,000 for the Royal Air Force, making a total of 388,000.
In 1959 the Army target was raised to 180,000, the overall target for the Forces being correspondingly raised from 388,000 to 403,000. Last year's White Paper showed a figure for the Army—or an estimate of what the Government thought the figure would be—for 1st April last. The figure, of course, referred to Regular, adult males. It was 172,300. The Government estimated at the time that the total in the Army by 1st April, 1964, would be 180,000.
The actual strength on 31st December last—the latest date for which the Minister has given figures—was not anything like that, although that date is only two months away. It was 171,000—less, in fact, than the total at the time of last year's White Paper. Of course, the conclusion must be that we are about 9,000 light on this year's minimum requirements and, so far at any rate, there is no sign of any improvement in the dismal recruiting figures.
But, of course, this is not just a question of total numbers. Every defence debate has emphasised the problems of balance, especially of tradesmen and technicians. Here there is a shortage of about 10,000 men, and many technical units have become, in effect, non-operational. I remember the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), in the Debate on the Address on 31st October, 1961, referring to this lack of balance and to a shortage on the administrative side—of "tail" not "teeth", as he put it.
This shortage has spread to the fighting units. If the establishment of an infantry battalion is taken, as I understand it to be, as 774, then we have to 430 take account of the fact that the House was told last July that eleven battalions at the time were between 50 and 100 short of establishment and that 13 were over 100 short of establishment. That is, nearly one-quarter of the battalions were more than 100 short of establishment.
We have seen during this period our N.A.T.O. contributions progressively whittled down. The original pledge, made in the most solemn terms when the House agreed with many reservations and considerable reluctance to German rearmament, was to maintain four British divisions in Germany up to 1998. We have never started to honour that obligation, and I do not think that there has been much pretence that we have. But, on3rd July last year, the actual figure, excluding, of course, the women's services and Berlin, which has nothing to do with the N.A.T.O commitment, was only 52,500 all ranks. The Minister of Defence then said:Our policy is to honour our treaty obligation, and our treaty obligation is to bring our forces up to 55,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 412.]I ask the Prime Minister to say whether this is still the policy of the Government Is it still their policy to bring the forces in Germany up to 55,000, because, we understand from the Press, General Lemnitzer has been put on notice of contingent withdrawals. The present figure, we are told, is 52,000. I hope that we shall have a very frank statement from the Prime Minister of whether he regards 55,000 as an overriding commitment.
Of course, we know that there are things at the back of the minds of Ministers here. The Minister of Defence, when he arrived at London Airport the other day from the Far East, said on television…if we have to find more troops for that part of the world"—he was referring to Malaysia—we shall. That is what the reserves are for.I suspect that this may have been a cunning play on words. Did he really mean that we have an adequate strategic reserve and that that was what the strategic reserve was for? Did he mean that? If so, perhaps we shall be told 431 how big it is and where it is. Or was this really a dark reference to a possible call up of Reserves—of the 105,000 ex-NationalService men who are still liable to recall? If that is what he had in mind, let him be frank with us today about it, and be frank with those National Service men as well. We would like an explanation from the Prime Minister as to what was meant by the Minister of Defence's references to Reserves.
Now I turn from the manpower situation to other immediately critical problems, and I begin with decisions, which should be taken before the 1964 White Paper comes out in a month's time, about conventional aircraft. First, there is the Hunter replacement. Last July, the Minister told us that this was to be the P.1154, which would also replace the Sea Vixen. On 20th November he said that he had got into difficulties—we could have told him that—because the Royal Navy wanted one type of plane and the Royal Air Force another. We recognise the problem and understand that he has been pulled about on this question.
In fact internecine conflict between the two Departments concerned has reached such a state thatit is featuring in the Press. One is seeing the Department again briefing the Press against other Departments. There was a full statement when the Minister was away, and I suggest to him that he looks it up and stops this kind of thing. The Minister mustrealise that it is undesirable, and it was unprecedented until the little public row between the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence about the mixed-manned force earlier this year. It was unprecedented even for this Government. I hope that the Minister will not take this too lightly, and that he will do his best to stop this practice.
Will the Minister, at any rate, say where we stand today on the Hunter replacement, because there is great uncertainty in the industry and in the Services, and, of course, we are talking about a plane of which one estimate refers to a cost of about £500 million. That would justify him taking his time, but I hope that this matter will not be decided in the next three or four weeks as a result of some bargain, somecompromise, some pulling about of the 432 Minister by Service Chiefs and the Ministry of Defence.
One suggestion is that the Minister has somehow spent all his available money; that he has shot his financial ceiling. Another suggestion—and this hasappeared in the Press, presumably from someone in his Department—is that there is now a complete reappraisal going on; there is a rethinking based on doubts about VTOL. Perhaps we may hear about this from the Prime Minister, because I cannot conceive that, within two or three weeks of the receipt of the White Paper, with questions of such tremendous importance to be decided, he is not giving his personal attention to these matters in what used to be the Defence Committee.
Secondly, there is the Beverley-Hastings replacement. This is urgently needed. Transport Command did a good job—and I think that the House would want to commend it for the job is did—at the time of the Cyprus airlift, but is a fact that 27 of the planes involved had tostop and refuel at Nice or Malta. The planes available to Transport Command are becoming obsolescent, and if we want further proof of that we have the important report of the Estimates Committee published yesterday on this question of the equipment of Transport Command. When we realise the short ranges covered by so many of the planes involved in the Cyprus airlift, it is difficult to talk about the mobility which we all recognise must be one of the main characteristics of Britain's modern defence services. Perhaps we shall be told what is happening about transport replacements.
Last March the Minister of Aviation said that the Government had decided on the AW or HS 681, but as late as November they had not decided on an engine for it, and this thing has been hanging about for years. That is one of the troubles. It always happens, and that is why when the planes come along some are almost obsolete before they are produced. Can we be told—the Prime Minister must know, because it must have come before his Committee—whether the Government have decided on the engine for this aircraft? What engine will it have? Have the Government started negotiations? Have they placed orders, or are we again in some 433 difficulties about the financial ceiling, andhave they decided to postpone a decision until they get into the new financial year? That is an old trick; one of the oldest for dodging the Treasury. Or again, is it that here, too, there are fresh doubts both about vertical and short take-off?
I must also ask about the Canberra replacement. It is a little difficult to refer to this without the Minister of Aviation going into orbit, because he has a substantial, and as it is proving highly expensive, constituency interest in the TSR2. Our view is that onall that is publicly known it is a monumental design achievement on the part of the British aircraft industry, and if all the hopes that have been centred on it prove justified, in its tactical strike and reconnaissance capacity, it will be a major aeronautical and scientific break through.
We have not, as yet, been given reliable figures of cost. The Minister of Aviation has ducked this with great agility, though we know that it has cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer sleep less nights. We know that thereare un answered problems, and that for many months more there will be unanswerable problems and doubts about such questions as whether in the heavy air near the ground it can fulfil its design specification as to speed and range, or whether the differentconditions near ground level will reduce it to subsonic speed and in adequate range. We do not know, and I doubt whether the Government can know, at this stage. There are problems, too, of metallurgical strain and strain on pilots flying so near the ground at supersonic speeds.
Let us not burke the issues. They may be serious. The problems will have to be overcome, and I trust that they will be, but until they are neither we nor Her Majesty's present advisers can say whether the Government which is in office after the election will find it right to go on. For our part, we have an open mind. If the plane will do what is expected of it and at reasonable residual cost after all that has been spent on it, as compared with a possible alternative, we should propose that the nation would be right to go on with it in its TSR conventional capacity. The present Government can go no further than that.
434 On television the Minister of Aviation refused to answer the question whether he would give an assurance that the Government were not going to cancel it. Neither side can really give a final answer on that question until we know more about it, but our view is that it should be judged in its TSR conventional capacity. We do not seek to give it a strategic nuclear rôle, whether of a real or shop-window kind. It has to be judged in the capacity for which it was designed—tactical strike and reconnaissance. So much for aircraft.
On the question of the Royal Navy, we would like to know the position about aircraft carriers, and also the position about specialist manpower in the Navy.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to use the aircraft to which he referred in a short-range nuclear rôle?
§ Mr. Wilson
I shall come to the whole question of nuclear policy. I am saying that our policy is that, if the plane works, we believe that it has a rôle to play from what we know of the defence situation, but we do lot believe that if it has no rôle in a TSR capacity it should be used, as it were, stuffed and padded for shop-window purposes in a nuclear capacity.
I was talking about the position of specialist manpower in the Navy, because last year we had the Minister blithely telling the House that H.M.S. "Blake", on which £15 million had been spent, was about to be commissioned, and only three days later we heard that about £15 million worth of her was to be put into mothballs because there was no technical manpower to enable her to be commissioned. I should like the Prime Minister, who must have been giving his attention to this question, to tell us the result of his inquiries into the subject of technical manpower in the Navy.
Perhaps while on the subject of the Navy I might be permitted to reflect on the extraordinary fact that, with all the naval resources available to us, it was not possible to get the Foreign Secretary off the Island of Mull at a time of grave international crisis; so grave that the Prime Minister told his constituents that we were within an ace not merely of a general conflagration in Cyprus but of 435 war between Greece and Turkey, two N.A.T.O. allies. At such a time one realises the strong desire of the Foreign Secretary to have returned to his post. We know that he wasstorm-bound, but the gales were so continuous and so localised that they forgot to mention them in the gale warnings given by the B.B.C. However, the packet boat sailed every day.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman was possibly under house arrest at the time. Perhaps he was preparing his contribution to the latest series of memoirs of what happened last October—I do not know. At any rate, assuming his keen desire to get back, and assuming, as I do, a correspondingly strong desire on the partof the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to have him back, I should have thought that the task would not have been beyond the capacity of naval helicopters, or even, if necessary. of surface vessels. Perhaps we shall hear about the inquiry which the Prime Minister has no doubt held into those strange events.
The other big defence question on which I hope the Prime Minister will be utterly frank with the House relates to the mixed-manned force. We have stated our attitude on this matter with complete frankness both in the House on 3rd July last year, also in a speech I made at our conference at Scarborough, and also in a speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) at W.E.U. a few weeks ago when the W.E.U. Assembly, including some very wise hon. Members opposite, voted in support of my right hon. Friend's resolution. Our position has been made clear, but the picture that the Government present on this issue is one of utter confusion; indeed, a straight Cabinet split which the right hon. Gentleman vainly tries to conceal under a procrastinatory formula.
I have drawn his attention across the Floor of the House to the unprecedented situation last September, when his Foreign Office and the Minister of Defence's Department were entering into direct competition with each other in briefing the Press, and I thought the Prime Minister seemed to agree that this was an undesirable practice. But this 436 has happened again. At the N.A.T.O. Ministerial Conference last month we read that the Ministry of Defence had aired a plan for a mixed-manned force of TSR2s. This was put out to the Press. A high American source in Paris was reported as saying "This is the stupidest damned thing I ever heard of." The next day the Foreign Office repudiated the right hon. Gentleman. It indignantly denied that any such thing had happened. It said that he had not said it and, if he said it, he had not meant it and it had not happened and was not in contemplation. There could not have been a more complete repudiation. The Prime Minister, who on his election promised to be more frank with the people, can begin by being frank with the House about this incident.
I should like to ask the Prime Minister where he stands on this matter and where the Cabinet stand, if that is a fair question to put to him. When he went to the United States in September—this was before he was Prime Minister and while he was Foreign Secretary—after the three long-drawn out Cabinet meetings when no agreement was reached in the Cabinet we were on the touchline and in the Press we had a full account of all that was happening. This was when he went to America to give some sort of reply to the American proposals. I quote from something written about this incident a little time after he became the Prime Minister. It was written in the most friendly terms—unlike some others I have read—saying how highly he was regarded in America:He had just won his transatlantic battle against his own Ministry of Defence and had gladly told the Americans that Britain would, after all, be joining the technical talks on the controversial N.A.T.O. "mixed-manned"nuclear fleet. A relieved Washington still had one nasty lingering doubt. Might not Britain be joining the talks only to sabotage them? Home promptly gave his personal word of honour that there would be no such hanky-panky as long as he sat in the Cabinet. His pledge was accepted as though it had been the word of his deeply divided colleagues. 'If Alex says so that's good enough for us', was the reported White House reaction.I read this in other places. The White House, at any rate, got the impression from the right hon. Gentleman that we were joining these operations with serious intent, with a real intent to form 437 part of the mixed-manned fleet. I know this will be bad news for the Minister of Defence, but it is certainly the impression which the Prime Minister has given in Washington, and I think it time he was equally frank with the House of Commons. We know that as far as public statements are concerned he is trying to postpone the decision on this until after the General Election. This is government by procrastination. We have had it in a number of other directions, but it means government without authority and government by paralysis.
Before I come to the proposal I want to make for joint talks on these vital questions, particularly of manpower and commitments, the situation in Borneo, the aircraft decisions and the mixed-manned force, I want to dealwith a question which is frequently thrown up. We are frequently asked where we stand on the so-called independent, so-called British, so-called deterrent, which on the demise of the V-bombers will not be independent nor British. I should be making a muchshorter speech this afternoon had it not been for the fact that I think hon. Members opposite want me to deal with this subject. So I hope I shall not weary the House by making a longer speech than otherwise I would make, as I have been asked by hon. Members opposite where we stand.
Our position is clear—I am saying this by way of introduction. It has been made clear and has not changed. I stated it very fully and at great length on 31st January last year. I think it was reported in columns 1236–50 in Hansard, but that might need to be checked. I stated it fully in Washington. It was reprinted—I could not under stand why—in the Congressional Record. It was very fully dealt with in the Debate on the Address by my right hon. Friendthe Member for Belper on 13th November. He spent a full half hour on it replying to the Prime Minister's declaration the previous day that the Prime Minister was going to fight the election on this issue. We have not been backward in coming forward on this issue. When the Prime Minister made his challenge to me across the Floor of the House and defiantly hurled down his kid glove, I immediately offered to debate this matter with him coram populo, if he does not mind the phrase—
§ Mr. Wilson
I accept that he has awakened. He will remember that on the occasion when the Prime Minister made his challenge to me I had already exhausted my right to speak in the debate because I had spoken before him. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper dealt with this question at this Dispatch Box. However, today we are again in the House of Commons and the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) can listen. For the benefit of all hon. Members opposite and, perhaps, those who read the Prime Minister's propaganda material who either cannot read or will not read, I will make it plain again.
As a party we supported up to April, 1960, an attempt to devise a genuinely independent British deterrent. As a party we supported that. The Government put all their money, or the taxpayers' money, on Blue Streak. In late 1959 andearly 1960 we had doubts about Blue Streak's future. We expressed them in this House but were told that all was well. But in April, 1960, the Government, having changed their defence Minister again, abandoned Blue Streak and abandoned the last attempt to find a British strategic weapon. That was the end of the road, and we recognised it. From that moment—and we said this in the Blue Streak debate on 27th April after the cancellation of Blue Streak—from then on all of us, Hugh Gaitskell, all my right hon. Friends and myself, every one of us said in the words of the policy which my right hon. Friends commended to the conference at Brighton:Britain should cease the attempt to remain an independent nuclear Power, since this neither strengthens the alliance nor is it now a sensible use of our resources.That has been the policy of our party now for nearly four years. That was our position, is and will be our position. I for my part repudiate the suggestion 439 we sometimes hear from unthinking hon. Members opposite and some newspapers that it has been over the past year or the past months, or whatever time it may be; it has not. Hon. Members opposite are fond of contrasting statements made pre-Blue Streak with those made after Blue Streak. The Conservative Central Office Book of Campaign Quotations with calculated dishonesty secure their effect by quoting Hugh Gaitskell pre-Blue Streak—without quoting what he said after the reappraisal of 1960—with what I and others have said in thepost-Blue Streak period. Hon. Members opposite will find that all our post-Blue Streak statements on the question of the independent British deterrent are consistent. The argument that we had—and we had an argument; we made no bones about it—was not on the question of whether Britain should give up the deterrent. We were all united on that.
Hon. Members opposite—and right hon. Members, too—have made some highly inconsistent statements about defence. I challenge any of them to read what the former Prime Minister said about the value of Blue Streak as against Polaris four years ago, what the then Minister of Defence said about the value of Skybolt as against Blue Streak or what the present Minister tells us about the value of Polaris against the Skybolt situation. Hon. Members opposite have been changing the situation all the time.
Now I come to the reasons for our policy. I have stated them in great detail on a number of occasions, particularly on 31st January last. I am sorry to goback to previous speeches, but I am told so often that we have never said this that it would be helpful, particularly for the Prime Minister, if he is addressing himself to that speech, as I feel that he may, to be given the references so that he can address himself to what we have said.
Meanwhile, I will summarise the argument, and I apologise for the time I am taking. First, we do not believe that the Government want the deterrent for use against a non-nuclear Power. I trust that they are not contemplating another Suez, certainly not a thermonuclear Suez. As I have said, Cyprus and 440 Borneo—and Aden and Hong Kong, too—show the utter irrelevance of the so-called deterrent to the kind of problems that we face today. Equally, however, they underline how the vast expenditure of money and resources upon the deterrent has undermined our ability to deploy urgently-needed resources, both on manpower and equipment and on mobility.
Secondly, we do not believe that the Government contemplate taking on Russia alone in a thermonuclear exchange. I should like to know their estimate of our second-strike capacity. There are not many first-rank military experts who think that we have very much. In their calculations, however, do the Government contemplate the possibility of a first-strike alone, without our allies? I shall not repeat my words of a year ago about this. I will simply quote a recent speech by Sir John Slessor to a N.A.T.O. defence conference when, speaking not in the context of any obsolescentV-bombers, but in the context of what the Government regard as the last hope for Britain—Polaris—he said thatfor Britain and France the only advantage of a small missile submarine force seems to me to be that it would afford us the doubtfulconsolation of a posthumous revenge—devastating no doubt, but not lethal—after our countries and the bulk of our population had been obliterated.I certainly do not believe that the Government are contemplating taking on Russia alone in a thermonuclear exchange.
Thirdly, however, I believe that the Prime Minister is committed on this point. If the House will permit me another quotation, the Prime Minister said in Ottawa last May:Thousands of Russian missiles are trained on our island. This colossal threat can be deterred only by the combination of United States and British nuclear power.There was no doubt in the Prime Minister's mind where the balance lay between the two.
In October, the Prime Minister said that there was no substitute for N.A.T.O., and I think that that is his view, but how does he reconcile this with the argument that we sometimes hear that a situation may arise when our allies refuse to embark on a nuclear war and that we might have to use our nuclear 441 weapons as a means of forcing America's hand—the so-called catalytic strike? This needs to be referred to.
From what I know of him, I would acquit the Prime Minister of anything so fundamentally evil as that proposal, or in that matter so self-defeating, becauseif the Americans have decided not to honour the alliance, I am not certain that they will be shamed into it by the fact that we have committed suicide first. However that may be, they talk in these terms. When I have sometimes asked the Prime Minister whether he really believes that the United Stats will supply Polaris for us to engage in a war to which the United States are opposed, he accuses us of not trusting our allies. But the Government's nuclear argument is based upon not trusting our allies, because they envisage a situation in which the United States desert us and default on the affiance. They think that they can bring the United States in by going it alone. I challenge the Prime Minister, when he meets the President of the United States, to ask him whether the idea of a catalytic strike to bring in an unwilling America is the President's interpretation of the Nassau Agreement. If it is not, the Government's whole case falls to the ground.
We believe, therefore, that the real reason has nothing to do with Britain's defence, but is political. The right hon. Member for Bromley did not dare come back from Nassau in the then mood of his party without bringing at least a fiction of a deterrent—and he was right. His back benchers would have eaten him alive. In the present mood of a substantial minority—it may be even a majority; I do not know—of hon. Members opposite and in defiance of all informed opinion in this country, the position is that no Conservative leader could survive who did not maintain this pretence.
That is what is so pathetic about the Prime Minister, because he is far too intelligent to believe that kind of argument that is put forward from his own side, but he holds his place only by maintaining the fiction. Now he hopes to use this in addition, not merely as a weapon of intra-party warfare, but as a weapon of inter-party warfare in the General Election. In doing this, he is sadly underrating the intelligence of the electorate. One thing of which I should 442 remind the right hon. Gentleman is of those members of the electorate—and I grant that they are substantial in number—who support a deterrent, do not support our policy. They do not support the Government's policy. They do not support the Government's version of a deterrent which is obtained from our allies. By a large majority they support—I am sorry that they do, but I am stating the facts—the Dally Express view, if I may put it that way, that it must be independent, of British origin and not a weapon that we possess by the grace and favour of our allies. That is precisely what the Government cannot offer with their Polaris deal.
Fifthly, we believe that the preoccupation with the deterrent and the resultant misdeployment of our forces places Western forces in Europe in a dangerous reliance on tactical nuclear weapons—indeed, on immediate recourse to them—with the virtual certainty of escalation to nuclear war. It means, of course, a reliance on American tactical nuclear weapons, because we do not have any.
I ask the Prime Minister to answer this question. Suppose that he were to take on the Russians alone in a nuclear war, what does he think would happen to the British Forces in B.A.O.R.? Apart from the fact that they inevitably man only part of the front, our ground forces, I understand, have no usable tactical nuclear weapons. The Minister of Defence will agree that we have no usable tactical nuclear weapons under our own control, because the weapons which they have—the Honest John, the 8-in. atomic howitzer, and the Corporal, which are obsolescent compared with what the Germans are getting from the Americans, and this should be pointed out—have no warheads. They are under American lock and key. If we are going it alone in defiance of the Americans or as a means of bringing them in, does the right hon. Gentleman expect the American Supreme Commander in Europe to release the warheads to us for this operation?
Further, we believe—and this again must be stated—that the Government's policy and the mixed-manned idea, which has come into being only because of Nassau and because of the Government's policy, have serious, perhaps fatal, implications, although I hope not, for our hopes of a disarmament agreement, of an 443 anti-proliferation agreement, of a pact to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. If the Government believe in disarmament, their defence programme should facilitate the kind of disarmament programme which they want to follow.
One of the most critical arguments against the Government's policy, even if one felt that it had more military validity than it can be shown to have, is that it is an almost fatal blow to the idea of an anti-proliferation agreement and to all the proposals for disarmament.
We in the Labour Party have only recently sent to the Foreign Secretary a note of our own proposals. One of the most urgent and most important is an anti-proliferation agreement limiting the ownership of nuclear weapons to the two major nuclear Powers. I believe, also, that our expenditure on the nuclear effort has had, and will have if it is continued, serious and limiting effects on our ability to build up adequate conventional forces, and therefore a decisive part in creating the present crisis.
Concerning the future, I want to make this prophecy—or I would make this prophecy if I thought that there was any chance of it ever being tested—that if by any improbable mischance the Government got themselves re-elected, they would within thelifetime of the next Parliament themselves give up this costly nuclear illusion. I think that they know this themselves, but for political reasons dare not say so. I am as confident of this forecast as I was of the one that I made in 1958, that if they got back in 1959 we should have a 7 per cent. Bank Rate, an autumn Budget in 1961 and a pre-election boom in 1963. The only difference is that this particular prophecy will not be tested.
I shall say clearly where we stand on the V-bombers and on Polaris. Wehave said for years, many times—there has been no change here—that we shall keep the V-bombers for the rest of their limited life—and that is not long now—and we shall keep them unequivocally assigned to N.A.T.O. We believe that they cannot be viable for very long, because I remember that the main argument of the 1957 White Paper in favour of Blue Streak was that even a supersonic nuclear bomber could not be built 444 before 1965, and by then it would not be credible.
If that White Paper was right in its estimate, unless we assume that either some new means of providing credibility has come along since that time for a non-supersonic bomber, or unless we assume that Russian anti-aircraft defences have deteriorated in that periodor have not progressed as fast as expected—something that I do not assume—I would have thought on the argument of the 1957 White Paper the V-bombers cannot be viable for very much longer. We say that we shall keep them in N.A.T.O. as long asthey have a job to do.
Then, of course, on Polaris we have made it clear a hundred times that we intend if returned to power—that is what we are asked by the right hon. Gentleman—to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement on the basis of our declared policy that our proper contribution to our Alliance and that our most effective military strength in this country is secured without the illusion which is created by nuclear missile carrying submarines. I have said a hundred times—and the right hon. Gentleman is capable of reading what I said—that we shall renegotiate or, if one likes, denegotiate the Nassau Agreement. It is plain what it means to the right hon. Gentleman, who knows perfectly well—he has made so many speeches attacking us for this—and I would remind him of his speech of 31st January last year when he knew perfectly well we said that we should renegotiate this Agreement to end the proposal to buy Polaris submarines from the United States. Has he got it now?
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
I think that we have all got it now all right. We understand now that what the right hon. Gentleman is saying is that he is going to denegotiate Nassau; but is not he going to get anything at all in return for giving up the nuclear weapon? I was going to deal with the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). I gather from what he said that they are going to try to negotiate a new arrangement whereby we get control over the weapons of other people andnot only our own. Is that the right hon. Gentleman's policy?
§ Mr. Wilson
Yes. I said it very plainly in Washington, and in this House, that our contribution to the defence of the West will be through N.A.T.O. We believe it is urgent and have said thismany times from 1960 onwards—it is all on the record—that we believe there should be much closer co-operation in N.A.T.O. for deciding not only questions of targeting, guide lines and the rest, but deciding what Mr. Finletter once called theconsensus, the circumstances in which the bomb should be dropped. I understand, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman will understand, that it has been made clear on a number of occasions from the United States that they want more co-operation and more decisions in N.A.T.O.
Before hon. Members start spreading threats of unemployment around the shipyards involved in the Polaris field, let me repeat that in our view—we have said this many times in Service debates—we shall need more conventional naval vessels, including nuclear power-tracker submarines, whose building has been held back by the Government's misdirected expenditure on nuclear fiascos. I think it has been admitted in this House that this programme has been held back.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
The right hon. Gentleman confirms what the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said a few weeks ago about the retention of the V-bombers until they are run down or worn out. Does he confirm that these V-bombers, if assigned to N.A.T.O., would be equipped with nuclear weapons?
§ Mr. Wilson
Our position is that this is a decision for the N.A.T.O. Alliance. We have said many times that we believe—and this is really what the argument was about three or four years ago—that the West, and that is N.A.T.O., must have its own nuclear weapons. But, quite frankly, we know that the present rôle of the V-bombers is not a strategic nuclear rô1e and, therefore, this particular question is not one that is likely to last for very much longer.
§ Mr. Wilson
I am sorry, I have given way rather a lot and I am very conscious of the fact that I have gone on longer 446 than I meant to, but I thought that it was right to deal with these issues at some length.
Finally, I turn to our suggestion of joint talks I believe that the critical situation of our defence position in terms of conventional resources would justify serious, deep probing discussion between the Governmentand the Opposition. We would like to know the assessment which the Government and their advisers have made between commitments and resources, including the N.A.T.O. commitments, and about the issues involved in the vital decisions that have to be taken in the next two or three years about the Hunter and Sea Vixen replacement, the Hasting-Beverley replacement, and, on a longer period, about the Canberra replacement.
I do not believe that these talks are likely to bridge the gulf between us on the so-called deterrent. Some Conservative papers; have suggested, not without a little briefing, that the talks should take place only if we first accept the Government's policy, or pretence, on nuclear questions. This would not be a serious consultation on vital national matters; it would be unconditional surrender on our part. It would be a surrender of the policy that we consider necessary to put Britain's defence on a basis not of illusion but of reality and hard fact. It is obvious that that could not be the basis of talks between us and I hope that it will not be suggested.
In December, three weeks after his great electoral challenge on this, the right hon. Gentleman suddenly announced that he would like to keep defence out of the election. I think he said this when addressing the Parliamentary Press Gallery. That did not last long. Because within 48 hours the Lord President was making it the centre of his Marylebone campaign, with somewhat discouraging results. This very week—I quote the Central Office Weekly Newsletter, dated 11th January, 1964—we read:It is not a good thing for the country when such questions become Election issues.That is very pious. It then goes on to prove its sincerity by devoting three of its four pages to a crude attack on our defence policy, or rather upon its ignorant or wilful misrepresentation of 447 it. In this connection, I must ask the Prime Minister whether he authorised the special insert on page 2, which says:The Government's policy of maintaining the deterrent is based on the advice of the chiefs of staff with all the weight of Service experience and knowledge behind them.Did the Chiefs of Staff agree to this going into a party polemical statement? Did the Prime Minister agree to this going in? The duty of theChiefs of Staff, which they very well understand and do not need telling by any of us, is loyally to support the defence policy of the Government of the day and not to be used in this way. Therefore, I hope that the Prime Minister will tell us whether hedefends this. If he defends this and thinks it right to have the Chiefs of Staff quoted, perhaps he will say what their advice has been on the mixed-manned force. I hope, however, that his answer will be that their advice is a matter for the Government and not for the public.
Having said all this about the fact that I do not think that we shall bridge the gap between us on the nuclear deterrent, I still think that joint talks would be useful. Both sides would, of course, retain freedom of action. There is no suggestion that we should, as a result of these talks, draw a veil over the Government's responsibility for the state our defences are in—that is not the idea—or the long dismal record of wasteful expenditure on missiles and aircraft which never even left the drawing board. I am not suggesting that, if we have talks, we shall be precluded from saying these things.
This was the basis of the last similar talks. The House will recall that in 1949 the then Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), whom we are all delighted to see here again in his place, complained that Parliament was not being given the facts by the Labour Government on the question of defence. The then Prime Minister, Lord Attlee, proposed talks. This proposal was accepted, and three meetings took place. Subsequently, replying to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), the then Prime Minister said this on 28th November: 448Certain of my right hon. Friends and I have had three meetings with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and other Privy Councillors on the subject of defence. As the House is aware, the object of these meetings was to enable certain right hon. Members, who are ina special position as members of His Majesty's Privy Council, to be put in possession of information which it would not be in the public interest to make widely known.Then the right hon. Member for Woodford said this:I presume that I may take the last sentence of the right hon. Gentleman's Answer as making it clear that the Opposition in no way accept any responsibility for the state of national defence by the fact of these conversations.Later the right hon. Member for Woodford said that he hoped that the House—will not take it that this absence of Debate and anything that he "—that is, the then Prime Minister—has said in his statement, in the slightest degree commits us"—that is, the then Opposition—to approval of or agreement with the Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th November, 1949; Vol. 470, cc. 769–770.]Again I quote from a letter by the right hon. Gentleman:I must ask you as I did Mr. Baldwin in 1936, that we shall be free to use in public any information of which we are already possessed, with due regard to the national interest and safety.It is in the light of that precedent that I suggest that talks should be held.
As to the subject, the question of stretched resources—the balance of resources against commitments—should be central. We should like to know about the Government's assessment of the manpower and recruiting position, and we should like to put forward our own ideas. Have they given up hope of reaching their own target, announced as recently as last autumn? Do they expect the forthcoming pay increase, which I gather is now on the way once again, to have more than a temporary effect on recruitment? If we are to try to muddle through on existing figures, what plans have they to try to make the most effective use of existing manpower by amalgamating units? Do they still stand by the 55,000 target for N.A.T.O. in Germany? Do they now regard B.A.O.R. as constituting a second line strategic reserve? What is their 449 policy on forward strategy and on the redeployment of our forces in Europe? What is their policy now, because there has been some argument with our allies about this, on recourse to tactical nuclear weapons? What is the Government's assessment—it would be particularly helpful to have this from the Minister of Defence after his visit—of the situation in the Far East, with particular reference to Malaysia? What is their view of the possibility of an Australian or New Zealand contribution to the position there? What is their view about closer co-operation generally with the Commonwealth in the Far East on questions of defence policy?
§ Mr. Wilson
May I continue, because I am just listing the questions? I will then give way. What are the prospects of recruitment of further Gurkhas, who would be highly relevant in the Borneo context? What are the Government's plans—or have they any—for recruitment elsewhere in the Commonwealth? Has the temporary ban on recruitment of married men, which has been forced by financial stringency and therefore is not unconnected with our argument on nuclear expenditure, had a serious effect on the numbers available? What other plans have the Government for increasing recruitment by linking enlistment, for example, with the provision of housing, not necessarily abroad, but in the man's home district? In parts of my constituency, where one has to be married for five years before one is even put on the list for consideration, and in other areas where housing is the major social evil, do not the Government think that such a policy would have even a marginal effect on recruitment? I may be wrong about this, but I think that I am right.
Then again, on weapons and aircraft, what is the position on the replacements I have mentioned and what are the financial commitments involved? I am only trying to make a list of some of the questions so that the case for general talks can be understood. What is the Government's assessment of our general commitments? Are we beginning now to write off B.A.O.R. and N.A.T.O.? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be utterly frank on this question of the 450 commitments. I will be frank and speak for myself. With the desperate stretching of our thin red line and the inescapable commitments I believe we shall have to face east of Suez, I believe that we should get rid of some of it. I hope that we car. Let us not delude ourselves about this. If we are to deploy our full influence in the world, I would myself at the margin regard 1,000 men east of Suez, with the fullest provision for mobility, with all that that means, not least in terms of cost, as preferable to another 1,000 in Germany. I take that view, and I believe that it accords withthe contemporary strategic thinking of our allies. But how far can we take these decisions to run down the numbers in Germany at a time when the United States-German special relationship is just beginning to develop in the way it is? Have the Government thought about this, or are these hard realities being swept under the carpet at a time when, as the Prime Minister said so frankly—…every act we take, every attitude we strike, every speech we make in Parliament or elsewhere, must have that"—namely, the General Election—in mind.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
If the right hon. Gentleman really is as uncertain of all these matters as he says, how is it possible for him, if he really expects to be taken seriously by the country, to say today that the Labour Party if returned to power would abandon our nuclear weapon? [Laughter.] How can he say this when he is so totally ignorant that he cannot even make up his mind on these questions?
§ Mr. Wilson
In the first place, the hon. Gentle man, to whom I gave way—I am sorry that I did; he was more than courteous in his intervention—would, if he had listened to the questions and not been bobbing up on his feet all the time with his question ready to put, have realised that every question I put related to our conventional forces, as regards manpower, as regards commitments and as regards aircraft. I will be quite frank. Not only do I not know the answers to some of these questions, but no other Member of the House knows the answers tothese questions, except members of the Government, and I am not sure that they do. There is not a single hon. Member in the House who 451 can tell me the answer to the question I have just put to the right hon. Gentle man—what is the Government's view about the N.A.T.O. commitment of 55,000? If there is a question as big as that which must be answered—
§ The Prime Minister
Even after only a few minutes I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that, of course, the obligation stands at 55,000.
§ Mr. Wilson
The obligation stands. We are to man up our forces in Germany to 55,000. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he rises, to tell me when we are to do it, by what period, and to reconcile with that the statement that has been made that we are preparedto take forces out of Germany if they are needed in the Far East. The right hon. Gentleman must know that he cannot get a quart out of a pint pot, and that is what he has to answer this afternoon.
Finally, I want to answer a question I have been asked—it was in last Friday's Daily Telegraph—whether the proposal we have made for joint talks is a proposal for the immediate pre-election period only. It is true that there are arguments of immediate relevance to a pre-election period. It would mean that, so far as possible—and this cannot extend to the major nuclear question—some issues which are perhaps prejudicial to the safety and security of our Services, or to our alliances, would be insulated from electoral damage on both sides. There is that possibility ahead.
It would also help to ensure that the decisions which the Government have to take in the next three or four weeks, before the publication of the White Paper, will be taken in terms of the national interest and will not be made the subject of pre-election window dressing. I do not see why any arrangements that we might make about joint talks should end with the election, whoever might win it. These talks would be of continuing value whoever is the Government and whoever theOpposition. We have had exchanges over a period on the question of security, and I think that the Prime Minister would agree that they have worked well. For a long time we have had frank discussions on foreign policy—I had many with the light hon. Gentleman when he was Foreign Secretary—on the basis that I 452 would never disclose any information given to me in confidence, but equally that I was free to comment or to criticise on the basis of information publicly available.
I think that that was helpful. There are times—and the right hon. Gentleman can think of those times as well as I can—when, whatever Government is in power, the national interest is best served if an issue is not pressed at a particular time or in a particular way. I have never felt muzzled by that obligation, nor need Members of any other Opposition, at any time.
Talks there should be; every one of us, including the Government, knows that reappraisals will be necessary on the question of commitments and the deployment of our resources. Whatever electoral temptations there may be—and we shall have enough to fight about in other directions—every one of us must recognise that the first duty of any Government of this country must be to secure our national defence, however unpleasant the realities and however unpopular the decisions. It is a profound miscalculation of the mood of our people to think otherwise. We are probably all agreed about that.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will agree to our proposal for joint talks. There is nothing sinister in what we propose. I see no electoral advantage either way in the matter of these talks—unless it were that the Government have a great deal to hide that even we do not suspect. If this is the case, then, in the national interest, the sooner the talks are held the better.
But if our proposal is rejected, while the nation will no doubt draw its own conclusions, I believe that it is not the Government or the Opposition, but the national interest and the security and the strength of our Services which will be the sufferer.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House"to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:Commends the effectiveness and speed with which the armed forces have met the recent heavy demands on Great Britain's military resources; and recognises the need for continued provision of adequate and appropriate conventional forces as an essential part of a balanced military capability".453 This Motion has been on the Order Paper for only a few days. Therefore this debate is rather hurried. The ostensible reason which the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) has given the House for having it—incidentally, thereby displacing a debate on Commonwealth development—is that the Cyprus situation has revealed the narrow margin on which we are working between our resources and commitments. The right hon. Gentleman would like to talk about those questions, among others, with me and perhaps with other Members of the Government.
But as the right hon. Gentleman's speech went along other reasons for this debate were revealed—and perhaps other reasons for speed. He made it the cover for the proposal that we should have joint conversations—which I shall deal with in a moment. Incidentally, I learnt of this originally from the Press; the right hon. Gentleman did not tell me that he would like conversations on this matter. I am a little intrigued by his desire for speed and his sudden enthusiasm for this matter. I wonder why he did not come to me earlier—for this reason: last year I had to answer a Motion of censure in another place, moved by the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. It was a pretty violent Motion of censure on Government defence policy by the Opposition.
I was then aware of no desire for bi-partisan talks; in fact, the boot was on the other foot. So violent was the attack that I said, in winding up, that it was not by my wish that we had to face a Motion of censure, because we wanted to contrive a defence policy which the nation and all parties supported, and I hoped that we could do so. That is still my hope. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk to me about a number of defence matters I shall be glad to talk with him.
First, however, I want to say a few words about this proposition. I thought that I detected in what the right hon. Gentleman said a suggestion that in the last months of Government we might not be in a positionto take the decisions that we ought to take in the national interest and, indeed, that there might be some election window-dressing. I re- 454 ject that suggestion absolutely. We will base our decisions on the national interest, and we will take those decisions. We will tatke the decisions which we believe to be right, and believing them to be right we will think it right that they should be operated whether the right hon. Gentlemen opposite succeed us as a Government or we win the General Election and remain the Government ourselves. We shall not be prevented, in the last months of a Parliament, from taking decisions in the national interest; I can assure the right hon. Gentleman of that.
I also thought that I detected in the right hon. Gentleman's speecha degree of over-confidence—and perhaps a counting of his chickens before they were hatched. He must forgive me if I refer him to a poll which was recently taken, when the question was asked: if the country had to have its affairs and foreign policy conducted by the Conservatives or the Socialists, which would it choose. I am a fairly modest fellow, but I must point out that the result of the poll showed that the country would want its affairs controlled by me, to the extent of 47 per cent, and by the right hon. Gentleman to the extent of 2 6 per cent.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Will the right hon. Gentleman be modest enough to tell us what the same poll disclosed about the date on which it was thought the General Election should be held—whether it should be held immediately?
§ The Prime Minister
I have no doubt that the light hon. Gentleman is tremendously interested in the date of the General Election, but I shall not disclose it to him now.
I wish to give him credit for making a serious proposition this afternoon, and I shall treat it as such. But as he has been in a hurry, and I doubt whether he has been able to consult a number of his right hon. and hon. Friends, before he arranges anything definite in the way of talks I should like to put before him and his hon. Friends a few considerations which they should bear in mind in formalising talks, because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, there is a history behind this matter.
In 1949, Mr. Attlee—as he then was—had three meetings with my right hon. 455 Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). The Leader of the Opposition—my right hon. Friend—at that time put in a number of memoranda, one of which was entitled "Value for Money". It may be of some interest to hon. Members opposite to know that after that the discussions were not resumed, partly, no doubt, because of the memorandum but also because the Leader of the Opposition felt that he would be hampered in his duty of criticising the Government of the day both in this House and, if necessary, outside it.
On the next occasion on which attempts were made to have formal talks of this kind the rôles were reversed; my right hon. Friend was Prime Minister and Mr. Attlee was the Leader of the Opposition. At that time Mr. Attlee took the same view; he thought that he would be hampered in his duty as Leader of the Opposition. He thought that the talks might be resumed after the debate on the Estimates, but in fact they never were.
Then again, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) made a proposal to Mr. Gaitskell, when he was Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Gaitskell took a more definite view even than Mr. Attlee. He said that there were very serious difficulties in this proposition and he went so far as to reject talks on the 1949 pattern because, he said, he preferred the traditional practice which was that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary should see the Leader of the Opposition on matters of specific importance. I am not saying that these conclusions were right or wrong. All I am saying is that four eminent gentlement, sitting where the Leader of the Opposition sits now, came to these conclusions. But even so, I will, of course, talk with the right hon. Gentleman. I think that the form of the talks need very careful consideration because the responsibility for action cannot be taken away from the Government of the day.
There are several considerations about this proposition. I think it ought to be considered from several angles and in relation to several aspects of defence. One of these matters on which the 456 Government have to take daily decisions is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the weapons systems. He would want, I gather, the talks to cover these. He has asked a lot of questions about the TSR2 and questioned its value. I think that any question he has asked can perfectly well be answered in public.
The Government are satisfied as to the value of this weapon which is a very valuable weapon with a tactical rôle, and it has a strategic rôle as well. But the kind of question which I have in mind that the right hon. Gentleman would want to ask, I take it, would be, what is helping the Government to decide whether to persevere or not to persevere, for instance, with vertical take-off aircraft. In all the circumstances, should we buy any weapon from overseas? Should we, or should we not, subscribe to the proposed N.A.T.O. mixed-manned force?
If I may pause there to answer one of the questions which he asked, I think that my position has been quite clear on this from the start. I have always said that there were the strongest political reasons for a mixed-manned force. I want to know whether it can be militarily justified, and that is why we injected this into the group which is considering it in Paris. That group will consider whether this proposal, which originated with the United States, or any other proposition, is really justified from the military angle.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Are we to understand, from the very in-interesting statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made, that the Government believe in it so far as political considerations are concerned, and that they are, on balance, in favour of such a proposed military force, and therefore the only question will be its military feasibility?
§ The Prime Minister
I say that there are strong political reasons, because the reason which the Germans and the Americans support very strongly—and the Italians too—is that they think this would demonstrate the cohesion of the alliance. There is a lot to be said for that. I think that what remains to be seen, so that we may take a balanced decision, is whether this can be justified from the point of view of N.A.T.O. 457 requirements in the military field, and whether this new weapons system is the best way to fulfil it. Those are the questions which we want answered.
When I was in Washington of course I talked about these matters to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and to the President. When I was in New York I told them that the British Government were willing to come into discussions with this group with an open mind. When we go into talks of this kind with our allies, we do not go in to sabotage them. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to understand that.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I think, if I may say so, that in the answer which he has given this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman has been reasonably frank with the House. He seems to have said to the House—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—well,. no one has ever been frank on the question of the mixed-manned force before, and it is right to say to the right hon. Gentleman that what he has said this afternoon seems to me to be in accord with the reports which I have read from Washington. In his view, there are strong political views for going in, but we have to test its military feasibility. May we deduce from that that if it is militarily feasible, the right hon. Gentleman will support it?
§ The Prime Minister
I am not dodging—the hon. Gentleman need not shout "dodging"—but I do not take a decision until I know all the facts, both militarily and politically.
The point I wish to make about all this range of information which the right hon. Gentleman would like to have about the weapons system is this—he has accepted it—that this could be given only in complete secrecy. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman would arrive at his own conclusions, and so would any Privy Councillors whom he brought with him. But, of course, that means that the right hon. Gentleman would arrive at his own conclusions, but he could not explain them to his hon. Friends, or to this House, or to the 458 country. At least, this was the difficulty which previous Leaders of the Opposition have i.een—that they did limit their function as Leader of the Opposition if they had formal talks on matters of this kind. I am not turning this down at all. But this was the view of previous Leaders of the Opposition.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman, as he probably knows, that in America, where they have a defence committee of Congress, and in Germany, those concerned are under just as much secrecy—and they have not broken their secrecy—as he wants to limit the Privy Councillors to here?
§ The Prime Minister
I am simply saying that previous Leaders of the Opposition have felt that. If theright hon. Gentleman feels that this is not so in respect of himself and his colleagues, I have said that I will talk. That ought to be good enough for him.
The right hon. Gentleman having, under 12 headings I think, asked for talks with the Government onvarious matters of defence, in effect said that there is a large area of the defence field which would have to be left out of the talks because, as he said—or I think he said—the party positions were well defined. Rather to my surprise, theright hon. Gentleman put the nuclear arm into this category. I was not surprised that he felt that the Government had defined their position quite clearly. We have said that we will subscribe Britain's nuclear arms to N.A.T.O.—the bombers now, the Polaris submarines later. What we have said is that we will subscribe it, with the ultimate right of the Prime Minister and the Government of this country to use it if the defence of Britain is thought by the Government of the day—if the situation of our island is thought by the Government of the day—to be in mortal peril.
We have adopted this policy not because we want to use the nuclear bomb in the sort of situation about which the right hon. Gentleman talked in his speech. He recalled Suez and said that of course we did not want to use the nuclear bomb in a situation such as that in Malaysia. Of course we do not. No one has ever thought of using it in that capacity at all. The whole 459 point of a nuclear deterrent is to deter. If it does not do that, it has failed.
What I am saying, and what I have said in this House many times, is that in the present state of the world and when we do not have international disarmament even, I think, probably within reasonable sight, it is a risk that I cannot recommend Parliament to take, to discard our British nuclear deterrent. I cannot tell, nor can the right hon. Gentleman tell, at this time how many other countries are going to acquire nuclear weapons or a delivery system of some kind.
What I know for certain is that China will acquire one and France will acquire one and others may. Unless we get international disarmament, each country will judge this according to its own interests. [An Hon. Member: "What a dismal prospect!"] I agree that it is not a very nice prospect. If we do not get international disarmament, of course the prospect is not good. However, there is certainly no evidence that if Britain were to abandon ultimate control over her own deterrent, that would have the slightest effect on the French decision, or the Chinese decision, or the decision of any other country.
I was five years at the Commonwealth Relations Office, moving among Commonwealth circles, and three years at the Foreign Office, but I have never heard it suggested by any representative of any country that Britain should make a gesture and unilaterally abandon her nuclear arms. Quite the contrary; if we were to remove ourselves by such an action from the top table of negotiation, there would be dismay among our friends. The right hon. Gentleman asked why we wanted to keep the deterrent and that is part of the answer—that the international situation is so confused and so dangerous that I could not recommend the country to discard it.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
When the right hon. Gentleman refers to France, he does not mention the Government's responsibility for encouraging France at the time of the Common Market in her nuclear ambition. He should deal with that—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about China?"]—I said France. Secondly, if the right hon. Gentleman is saying that 460 we do not have a right at the conference table without the bomb, what answer can he possibly give to the Germans? Is he not, therefore, encouraging the Germans to want to be a nuclear Power?
§ The Prime Minister
If the right hon. Gentleman believes that we are encouraging General de Gaulle to have a nuclear weapon, he will believe anything. The Germans have renounced—and have recently repeated this—either the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons. Here, again, the multilateral force comes into the picture, because that would help the Germans politically never to wish to have their own nuclear weapons.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not accept it, but I have said time and again that the fact that we have nuclear power gives us influence and authority in the councils of the world. I know that he does not accept it and that his hon. Friends probably do not accept it, but I say most emphatically that if the House and the country want to increase the authority and influence of Britain in international councils, we shall not do so by unilaterally discarding our power.
Anyhow, whether the Government are right or wrong, they have a policy on this matter and there is no doubt—and the right hon. Gentleman wanted me to declare what we believed in—that we keep control of the nuclear deterrent but ask for it back only in the ultimate resort if the Government of the day believe that our island is in danger. I take it—and I amcoming to the right hon. Gentleman's own account of his own idea of the nuclear weapon—that he would abandon that right, and that is a heavy responsibility for him to take. The other side of this—as I have made crystal clear to hon. Members opposite what the Government's attitude is—is to examine whether the right hon. Gentleman has made quite clear where his party stands. I dare say that he has, but I am not sure. I keep an open mind because up to now no one has known where his party stands.
In the last few months I have listened to speeches from the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and from the right hon. Member for Smethwick 461 (Mr. Gordon Walker) and found them very confusing and, more than confusing, ambiguous. That is not my word and nor do I get it from any Tory pamphlet. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not read his own literature as he might, but in the issue of 6th December, 1963, five weeks ago, Tribune had this to say—[Interruption.] I think that the House will be interested in this. I listened to what the right hon. Gentleman had to say and I hope that he will now listen to this. Tribune said:Ambiguity is deplorable. You are either for the independent deterrent or you are not and if you are not you must make a better job of arguing your case than the Labour Party has done of late. Labour must choose. There must be no more flannelling around with this Shadow Minister saying one thing and the other something quite different.I will now examine with some care what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, as I recollect it, because I think that it was a recooked version of speeches made by the right hon. Member for Belper and the right hon. Member for Smethwick.
The central point of this and the right hon. Gentleman's attitude is that he is suggesting that if we give up our nuclear deterrent and if he makes another arrangement with the N.A.T.O. alliance, somehow he will be able to get control, as the right hon. Member for Belper puts it, over other weapons not our own alone, other nuclear weapons. As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, we already have joint planning and targeting arrangements with the Americans, and in N.A.T.O. we already have the N.A.T.O. nuclear committee which is familiar withall these matters. Are the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends suggesting that we would get something more by abandoning our nuclear deterrent?
§ The Prime Minister
The hon. Gentleman does. He believes that we will get control over the decision of the Americans or the French to use their nuclear weapons. If he believes that, let me say that from my certain knowledge that is nothing but moonshine, dangerously misleading and almost deliberately misleading, because right hon. Gentlemen opposite know that that is not possible.
§ The Prime Minister
The hon. Gentleman must not run away. This is very important to the country. He is saying that if he gives up the deterrent, he will get compensation by getting control, so the right hon. Member for Belper says, and so I think does the right hon. Member for Huyton confirm, over other people's weapons, some control and influence over the weapons of other people.
§ The Prime Minister
—that the word is "control". If the hon. Gentleman will stop jumping about like a jack-in-the-box, he must concentrate on the word "control". He says that he does not mean control. If he does not get control, there is absolutely nothing more than we have already.
§ Mr. Wigg
The Prime Minister and I both understand racing terms. What he has not learned is that one cannot welsh on one commitment and be believed on another. If he and his Administration will start tohonour our conventional defence obligations, they might have some chance of not being regarded is an international laughing stock.
§ The Prime Minister
Who is trying to ride out on a different argument now?
What the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are doing is to give the impression that if we gave up our deterrent, we would get control over the decisions of other people. In fact, they will be giving up our deterrent for nothing. I think that today we had a straight and clear answer from the right hon. Gentleman. The fact is that he is going to keep the nuclear bombers with a strategic rôle as long 463 as there is life in them, whereas all his hon. Friends say that they are useless.
§ The Prime Minister
They are going to keep the bombers. They admit that they are useless. They are going to refuse to get the Polaris submarine, which is known to be the best weapon in the world. I doubt whether that deserves to be dignified with the name of a policy.
§ The Prime Minister
When the hon. Member becomes Leader of the Opposition I will give way to him more often. Perhaps he will allow me to continue.
When we are thinking of having talks between ourselves—and I am glad to have them—I doubt whether we can separate the nuclear problem from the rest of defence because it is a matter of findingthe right balance between the nuclear and the conventional. When the right hon. Gentleman says in the Motion that priority should be given to conventional forces, I of course agree. But 90 per cent. of the expenditure on our defence forces is on conventional forces and 10 per cent. on nuclear weapons.
The abolition of nuclear arms would not lead automatically, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to think, to more conventional forces unless other decisions were taken in parallel. Neither is it a matter of money. If the right hon. Member, on his own showing, keeps the nuclear bombers, he will not save the 10 per cent. of expenditure for at least 10 years. It is a matter of manpower. The right hon. Member says that he wants more men and more weapons. He will not be able to save the 10 per cent. Therefore, how will he pay for them and from where will he get them?
I ask the right hon. Member two questions. I do not think that I need ask them because I believe I know the answer. He has told us that he does 464 not want to get the extra men by conscription and does not intend to do so. He does not want to get them by selective service and does not intend to recommend that. I think that I am right. The right hon. Gentleman is advocating that we get more men for the Services. How? Presumably through voluntary recruiting. If he has any new suggestions to make to us in that respect, I should like to hear them, either in public or in private.
I should like to close what I have to say—
§ The Prime Minister
I have answered two of the right hon. Gentleman's questions and will answer a few more later. Perhaps he will allow me to say something about the substance of our defence policy which was set out in the Statement on Defence, 1962. The aims were set out in paragraph 3. We pointed out there—and the right hon. Member who is to reply may like to look this up—that military power should be used, where essential, only for the furtherance of the objectives previously mentioned. We went on to say that our intention was so to shape our forces that they would do the job without making impossible demands on our economy. That was our policy in 1962, and it is our policy in 1964.
I think that there are three implications in the Motion: that our military resources are falling short of our commitments; that our conventional forces should be increased to such an extent that they will meet any military contingency; and that the increase can be assisted by the abandonment of the nuclear policy. I think that I have dealt sufficiently with the last of those points.
I must reject the first two counts. We have taken our strain of the cold war. We have stood firm with our Allies in the three Alliances for collective security in very dangerous circumstances, as I know very well in the last eight years, and we have met our colonial responsibilities during the periods of the transfer of power. We have been faced with very particular security situations, as hon. Members know, in Kuwait, Malaysia, British Guiana, Cyprus and Aden. Wherever the job has had to be 465 done, it has been done quickly, efficiently and well. I was glad to hear the tributes paid to our soldiers in Cyprus. I wish that they had been paid by some hon. Members opposite three years ago.
The point that I wish to emphasise is this. Any additional units which we have had to send to any of these theatres have been provided from the resources in the United Kingdom, which are precisely for that purpose. We can still provide at home a fully constituted infantry brigade plus several unbrigaded units. There has been no need to call on or use any of the seven brigade groups in Germany. The right hon. Member almost suggested that it would be improper if we did that, but we are fullyentitled to do it under the Treaty in any acute overseas emergency. It would not matter whether the number of our troops in Germany was 55,000, 90,000 or any other figure. That is provided for under the Treaty, and various N.A.T.O. Powers have already madeuse of that provision. We have not called up any reserves and we do not contemplate doing so at present. When my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was speaking at the airport he was talking in terms of troops which could be brought in to Borneo from other units in the Far East.
It must be remembered, I think, that in all these situations our defence forces are complementary to our diplomacy. As I said at the beginning of my speech, the cause of the debate is ostensibly the Cyprus situation. But this is not a new commitment which will last indefinitely. That was made clear yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in opening the conference on the Cyprus situation.
I now turn to Malaysia. Indonesia's policy ofconfrontation is serious. It could get more serious. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Defence will tell the House about it, because he has just returned from that area. He is confident that the confrontation can be contained. If any situation shouldchange radically, if it looked as though we would be involved in something like a war, we would, of course, adopt different measures. I should have so to advise the House. But on any prudent calculation, we can at present meet our commitments. We have been, and are, in the process of reducing 466 our commitments all along the line as our Colonial Territories become independent nations.
In 1957 the Government decided that, provided a satisfactory rate of recruitment could be achieved, our Regular Forces could meet our commitments, backed by reserves readily available for use in serious emergencies. We did that because we thought that Regular Forces were more efficient and more economical and that a highly-trained force with a high degree of mobility was theright kind of force for this country. The Minister of Defence, who will wind up the debate, will be relating our forces to our commitments and, therefore, the House will hear more about that matter.
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman and the Opposition are saying that we are wrong to limit our commitments. We have done so and we are doing so. If I ask them what commitments they would shed, I think that they would become pretty shy and coy. The right hon. Member says that he wants us to have more conventional forces. Unless he is prepared to adopt conscription or selective service we can get them only by regular recruiting. I hope therefore that we can concentrate on getting regular recruits and encouraging regular recruitment to the Army.
The rôle of the Government in defence these days is to have a sense of realism so as to frame our policy within our means and a sense of foresight to frame one which will last and, when we have such a policy, to stick to it. This we have done. We have decided that defence expenditure should run at about 7 per cent. of the gross national product. We have decided that we should have a voluntary army of 180,000. I think that no one can say that the Government's decisions are not clear. They may be challenged, but at least they are clear for everybody to see.
I have thought it well—because the right hon. Gentleman really made quite a sensible point about talks with myself and other Ministers—to say that, of course, I win see him, but I should like him to consider what form any talks might take; and what I have said about the attitude taken by all his distinguished predecessors—the history of those talks is well worth looking up.
467 As Prime Minister, and I know that the same is true of my right hon. Friends the Minister of Defence and the Foreign Secretary, I am always willing to meet Leaders of the Opposition. We will do so, but as we were only given very short notice of this debate I should like to consider the right hon. Gentleman's proposition further, and I should like him to consider it, too. I would, of course, talk to him, but I hope that what I have just said in reply has made the Government's attitude on defence crystal clear.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
Many important matters have been touched on this afternoon by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, so I feel that it would be more useful if I abandoned the remarks I had intended to make and tried to add something to the matters already under discussion.
In the latter part of his speech the Prime Minister said that we have a perfect right to withdraw troops from B.A.O.R. in the event of an acute emergency elsewhere. I thought that he implied that that justified the possibility of moving troops to Cyprus, though I appreciate that, so far, no troops have been so moved from Germany. But what I think worries people is that Cyprus should be thought of as an acute emergency. I do not believe that when that provision is generally talked about the situation in Cyprus is the sort of situation people have in mind. What frightens me—and, I think, other people in the country—is the thought of what would happen if there really were an acute emergency in the ordinary sense of the word, or, indeed, if there were many more such emergencies as Cyprus.
The Prime Minister said that the Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that he is opposed to conscription or selective service, and the Government have made their position on the matter clear—they, too, are against it. There is no one in this House who positively wants either conscription or selective service. No party at this moment, with the information now before it, would come out in favour even of selective service, but it would be most unwise if parties officially committed themselves against selective service. Were we faced 468 with more commitments, and if we failed to get the recruits, whom we may or may not get, selective service should not become a weapon with which the Opposition might beat the Government of the day who might well have to bring it in.
I am certain that the Liberal Party would not at the moment say that it was in favour of such service—there is no party with a stronger anti-conscription flavour than my own—but I hope that we would not attack any Government which, having failed to get the recruits to keep our conventional forces at a high level, felt it necessary to bring in new measures.
The Prime Minister was not very specific about how he would make good his assurance that the Army in Germany would be raised to 55,000 men. I do not think that we have so far paid quite enough attention to the strain imposed in sending troops to Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, and parts of Asia and Africa, but I must repeat that I do not think that these were really acute crises, and it is a fact that even quite a small call on our resources seems to strain them. That should be worrying the country.
Another matter that has been dealt with at some length is conversations on defence. That raises the wider issue of how the House can control all sorts of highly technical activities in which the Government are inevitably engaged. Defence, of course, is a special case, and such conversations have a long history—a much longer historythan back to 1949; such interchanges go back long before that.
I do not think that it would be desirable to take out of political controversy the differing views about whether Britain should attempt to remain an independent nuclear Power. This is a perfectly honourable argument, on which strong views are held both inside the House and outside it. These views lie to some extent between the parties, but the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that there are members of his own party who are against the Government's nuclear policy.
It would be wholly wrong at the General Election to deprive people of an opportunity of fair and frank discussion of the matter. That, however, should not prevent a good deal of exchange of information about weapons systems and alliedtechnical matters, and the manpower 469 situation. Parliament must find some way of keeping sharp the argument on matters of genuine disagreement and, at the same time, of spreading information and using our common will, in regard to matters about which there is some agreement.
I should have thought that there was agreement, whatever one may think about strategic nuclear weapons, on the country's keeping its conventional forces up to an adequate standard. There may be those who differ about how it shall be done, but I am sure that there is no one in this House who would want this country put in a position where it had to rely on nuclear weapons to make good deficiencies in its conventional forces.
I should like conversations at this lower level. I do not know how they will be pursued, but I do not think that it is entirely a matter between the Government and the main Opposition Front Benches. There are those on the back benches who take continued and well-informed interest in defence matters. I would be infavour of some form of committee system, although it is, perhaps, not now appropriate to go into that. Nevertheless, we should consider how those persons, too, should be informed. For myself, I have always found Ministers very willing to give information on an unofficial basis, on the understanding that the information is not used improperly. How much further than that we want to go, I do not know, but the main controversy must be maintained in public, because that is the duty of this House. I also think that there should be a very considerable interchange of conversations in private.
I will not go into the question of our strategic posture—it is constantly argued in our defence debates—but I do not agree with the Prime Minister when he says that there is real confusion in people's views. It is a difficult subject but, broadly speaking, it is just a debating point to say that we do not know what people stand for. We do know. The point I make is that one cannot divorce one's views about the strategic nuclear deterrent from one's general view about the rôle of this country in the world.
I firmly disagree with the Prime Minister's view that this rôle depends upon the retention by Britain of the 470 nuclear deterrent. I do not believe that that is the reason why we are of considerable importance in the councils of the world. I say again that, if he really thinks that it is, then, of course, that is an absolutely conclusive argument for other countries acquiring these weapons as well. There is no way round it. If it is our possession of nuclear weapons which gives us entry into the world's high-level discussions, that argument applies at once to Germany and every other country. I do not accept that argument. I think that the reason is quite different. It is our tradition, our skill, our contribution to the general balance of the alliances, not the possession of the strategic nuclear deterrent, which gives us our position of importance.
But those of us—and I am one—who dissent from the Government's policy in this respect must face squarely what is, I believe, their strongest case—it is the case put forward by General Gallois originally—that for the deterrent to be credible one has to know who can fire the weapon. There must be one person who can fire it if it is to be credible, and no one will fire it unless his homeland is threatened. It is part of this argument that it is not necessary for one country to possess a weapon which is equal to that of any other country. It is not necessary for a country to possess a nuclear power equal to that of the Russians so that it could completely wipe out Russia. The weapon may have a deterrent effect if it is only of a certain nuclear capability because the larger country—I have instanced Russia—would be inhibited by the risk of the degree, of destruction which might nevertheless have to be faced.
This seems to me to be by far the most powerful part of the Government's case. But it leads straight on to General de Gaulle's position, that one must have one's own weapon under one's own control and one must not be dependent upon a weapon borrowed from elsewhere. But this is a position, to my mind, which involves a mistaken view of the world today. It involves the view that self-sufficient countries are still viable today. I do not think that they are. My view on defence stems from my belief that no country can defend itself and that the nature of the world today requires that Britain and other countries should be 471 prepared to make certain sacrifices of sovereignty to new groupings, to the United Nations, to Europe, and so on. It is for that reason that I dissent from the argument which I have put forward on behalf of the Government.
I find the position of the Labour Party in this respect rather odd. The Leader of the Opposition told us today that he is willing to put the V-bomber force into the hands of N.A.T.O. The Prime Minister, too, is willing to have these weapons seconded to N.A.T.O. The difference between them, as I understand it, is that the Leader of the Opposition would give over the right to fire these weapons, putting it bluntly, into the hands of whatever authority N.A.T.O. appointed, and he would forgo the right of withdrawal. I gather that the Prime Minister's view—I have no doubt that I shall be corrected if I am wrong—is that he would retain the right to fire the weapon, and, of course, he would retain the right of withdrawal, although they might be targeted for N.A.T.O.
What strikes me as odd about the position of the Labour Party is that it involves a tremendous pooling of sovereignty. I myself face that. This is my position. But it does mean giving up some of our fundamental attributes of sovereignty as an independent State. I accept it, but, although that is the logic of the Labour Party's case, too, it was the Labour Party which opposed joining the European Economic Community because doing so would mean giving up Britain's right to make decisions which are of far smaller importance than these.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
It is a fact, also, that the Labour Party is the first political party in the world to come out in favour of world government. In other words, the Labour Party is prepared to make the necessary sacrifices of sovereignty provided that the aim of world peace is assured, and it was only because some of the members of the Labour Party felt that this aim would not be achieved by the European venture that they were not prepared to give up sovereignty for that purpose.
§ Mr. Grimond
I acknowledge at once the work which the hon. and learned Gentleman does for world government and the sincerity of his views, but I 472 am always rather suspicious of those who are in favour of absolute virtue but not in favour, in the meantime, of partial virtue. I find it a little difficult to understand the attitude of people who are in favour of world government and who are willing to surrender our sovereignty to Russia, China and the rest in a world authority but are not willing to surrender any part of our sovereignty to Europe. I find this difficult to apprehend, but I see the point and that is my answer to it.
I believe that the argument about the retention of major nuclear weapons involves much more than merely a defence argument.
The Prime Minister has argued—I have heard the argument before—that the retention of nuclear weapons is costing us only 10 per cent. I think he said, of the defence budget, and giving them up would allow us to make no significant contribution to conventional arms. I cannot accept this. I do not believe that 10 per cent. can be an accurate figure, taking into account all the attempts we have made to develop various weapons and so forth. Anyone who has noted what appears in the Guardian today with reference to the £3,000 million or so devoted to various projects since 1945—although, of course, they have not all been nuclear projects—must feel that the attempt to remain in the top class of nuclear Powers has diverted much of this country's effort from what is the far more important matter of conventional arms. In fact, we have not really been getting such very good value for money.
Although people may argue about whether the V-bomber force is of much, little or no use, it clearly was a very fine force with very fine machines. Nevertheless, as I have said before, I do not think that its addition to the world scene makes much difference to the general deterrent power of the West and I doubt, therefore, whether we are giving up very much. I do not deny that it has value, but I think that that value has been achieved at enormous cost to the nation.
I come now to the multilateral force. As I understand it, there are really five reasons advanced for the multilateral force. The Americans want to get rid of 473 part of the burden of Western defence, and I do not believe that this country realises how much they want to do so. Not only do they want to be relieved of some of the financial burden, but they want to get some of their boys back home. Americans like America, and they are not imperialists. The talk one sometimes hears about the American attitude, as though the Americans were longing to set up bases here, as though they were an imperialist nation wanting to get their grips on the rest of us, isutterly untrue. We, of course, with a long history of Empire and Commonwealth, undertook certain defence responsibilities as a matter of course, and no one questioned that the British Fleet should go to Sydney, and so on. We were very pleased to do these things, and I never remember any argument about how much the Empire or the Commonwealth paid towards defence. But the Americans have a totally different tradition, and they want to be relieved of some of their burdens. The country should be informed about this. I believe it is one of the basic reasons behind the proposal for the multilateral force.
Another reason is that there is a certain feeling among Americans that they may get involved in a nuclear war in Europe without being adequately consulted. They are, I believe, going to draw back a little from Europe, and they are a little afraid of various developments. I do not believe, and I know that the Minister of Defence does not believe, that there is any intention on the part of America to go back on her undertakings or to leave her allies, but there may be some pressure in America to try to alter the form of the Alliance. In 1966, of course, the whole of N.A.T.O. becomes renegotiable, if anyone wants to do so.
The next reason is supposed to be that the European nations want the multilateral force. I should like the Minister of Defence to say exactly what is the official attitude of the N.A.T.O. Governments in this matter. As far as I can gather, they are all willing to consider the proposal, but I have notmyself found any great enthusiasm for it. I think I am right in saying that Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Holland have said that they will not take part, or that it is very unlikely that they will. The Germans have said again and again that they do not want themselves to control 474 nuclear arms. I do not think that the Italians are very enthusiastic and I suppose that the French would not take part at all. It would be helpful, therefore, if the Government would say what is the official position of the European Governments. A further argument is that, whatever the present position may be over the control of nuclear arms, Europe should be willing to do its utmost to play its part in providing support for the nuclear deterrent.
My last point on this issue is tied up with the growing movement for political unity in Europe. I do not believe that this country is aware that Europe is again moving towards political unity. Europeans regard this force in that context. Britain would be ill-advised to turn her back on the new movement towards common defence and foreign policy in a European political community.
Having made these points, we must consider which of them are valid. Surely the Americans want to be relieved of some of the cost. That argument must be absolutely valid. If it will stop proliferation, then that would seem a valid argument, though I do not believe that at the moment there is a desire among the European countries to have their own weapons. Is this force designed to stop that proliferation? I do not believe, for instance, that it will add anything significant to the military power of the West. For this real on it must be in the form of taking a certain proportion of the present force rather than creating a new force. I hope that the Government will confirm that this is their intention, otherwise it would be contrary to disarmament and would be extremely alarming to the Russians.
The Prime Minister said that he accepts the political argument but wishes to be certain that it is militarily possible. That isinteresting because it commits the Government to this type of force. There is no way round that. We are committed to some form of multilateral force, although this particular form may not be right or necessary. I do not believe that there is any great technical difficulty in having mixed crews. To oppose this conception is outdated and is the attitude of some people who retired from the Services and who are now out of touch with things. But we must consider whether it is possible 475 to answer the legitimate desire of the Americans and others for Europe to have a greater say—that Europe should be more concerned with nuclear strategy and accept some of the burden in other ways without creating a new force. A greater European contribution could be made in various ways, including associating Europe with some of the sites in America, at Omaha, for instance, and planning in Washington. This force is not the only way in which these legitimate desires for making a move in this direction can be met and itdoes not solve the problem of control.
I had expected the debate to focus the attention of the country on the failure of the policy outlined in the 1957 White Paper, which was based on the belief that it was total war or total peace. That has been disproved. The rôle of this country, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, is not to focus attention on trying to become a greater nuclear Power, but on considering how to discharge our obligations—keeping peace and order—in various far off parts of the world and in the conventional contribution to the Army in Germany.
I join in the congratulations which have been expressed to our troops on the wonderful work they have done in these places. I am not one of those who thinks that there is anyeasy way out, for instance by giving up all commitments. However, this widespread demand for conventional forces which is posing a difficult problem now, is the subject to which the House as a whole should be primarily paying its attention.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
The right hon. Member the Leader of the Liberal Party ended his remarks by saying that Britain should be concentrating on conventional forces and trying to keep the peace of the world. That is exactly what is being done now as a result of what has happened in the rather difficult weeks since Christmas. Earlier in his speech he referred to the multi-national force and, while I go a long way with him, there are many reasons why I am dead against the idea, for I believe that the concept would be colossally expensive, would not work and would be a waste of money.
476 The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Americans wishing to be relieved of the cost. Britain's effort, even with Polaris, will to some extent relieve them of a percentage of the cost. However, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition rather ridiculed the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence in Paris about the TSR2 becoming the mixed-manned force. The Americans made nonsenseof it, too. I wonder what the Americans would have said had my right hon. Friend suggested that not the TSR2 but the TFX should be the basis of that force. I believe that they would have given it a totally different reception. I have an idea that in a year or so the N.A.T.O authorities may come back to my right hon. Friend's suggestion.
I was pleased to hear for the first time the Leader of the Opposition paying credit to the TSR2; that is, on the point it has so far reached in its development. It is indeeda remarkable development, although I have heard many hon. Members opposite run this aeroplane down and belittle the effort that is being made. Not only is it a remarkable one, it is at least three years ahead of the American TFX and great credit is due to Sir George Edwards and the Vickers team who are soon to fly the aeroplane on its trials.
When things are quiet in the world, which is not for very long these days, one hears little about defence. It is only when trouble arises that attention is drawn to the subject, as has happened recently. We have been shown the importance and necessity of having an efficient defence organisation, mobile and able to do its job. The British forces have done that job superbly. It could, perhaps, have been done by eliminating stops for refuelling, but that situation will improve as new techniques and equipment comes along. As the Prime Minister said, Britain's responsibilities in the world have, to a certain extent, diminished in the last year or so as the Colonial Territories have gained their independence. Nevertheless, we still have important and far-reaching obligations stretching halfway across the world.
One of the most important is in Malaysia where, without wishing to appear mercenary, there are large British 477 investments and interests. In Malay there are the tin and rubber interests, with many thousands of British subjects employed there. No one has been more loyal to Britain than the Malayans in trying to help us in years gone by both economically and with forces. They have played a great part in their contribution, particularly in the difficult years just after the war when we needed hard currency. We must see Malaysia through the time ahead so that it may become a great country and play its part in the world.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to Australia and New Zealand and the part that those countries were playing. He wondered whether they could play a greater part. I am sure that no one is more willing to play his part than is the Australian and New Zealander. The people of those countries are brave and courageous but, at the moment, their forces are not in the fighting zone. The Australians and New Zealanders would be the first to want to be in the fight should the necessity arise. Nevertheless, the troubled areas are nearer Australia than Britain—and with 100 million Indonesians on their doorstep, I imagine that they must be expressing great concern.
I would like to know whether, if the situation worsened—which I hope it will not—my right hon. Friend has had discussions with the leaders of Australia and New Zealand about our future plans for giving reinforcements, because the Australian Press—and I emphasise Press and not the Australian Government—has not been particularly kind to this country in recent weeks. I saw one quotation to the effect that Britain could take a running jump at herself should she ask for help. Help has not been asked for, however, and it would be interesting if my right hon. Friend would elaborate this point and so clear the air.
§ Mr. Reginald Paget (Northampton)
Is it not the case that we have a Commonwealth Brigade in Malaya consisting of British, Australian and New Zealand troops? Is it not also the case that the Australian and New Zealand Governments will not release that brigade for reinforcement in Borneo?
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
No doubt my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will refer to that when he replies.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister showed that, while we have a lot to undertake, the forces, although stretched, are not unduly so. As he said, under our treaty obligations in Germany we have the right to withdraw our forces if necessary in order to deploy them elsewhere. The French did that with their troops for many years and had very few in Germany. In any case, the total of British forces in Germany is very little below what it should be.
The British forces stretch from the Persian Guff to Borneo, and, as far as I can see, the only American force in that vast area is an aircraft carrier which recently arrived in the Indian Ocean. The area is, in effect, solely a British responsibility. I do not think that the N.A.T.O. Powers and Washington sufficiently take into account this great British contribution, stretching across 6,000 or more miles, taking in Aden, Kenya, Gan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Borneo.
That is an enormous responsibility resting on this country and the Government. But the Americans say that we must do more in Germany. We cannot do more everywhere, however. I do not believes that we require so many troops in Germany at the present time, although I know that there is a treaty. But if the Americans can move 18,000 troops from the United States to Germany in a few hours, how easy would it be for our troops to be moved from Salisbury Plain to Germany in an hour, provided we had the right aircraft and equipment.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not agree, but today we must have freedom and mobility to use our forces.
Mr. McNamara and his advisers must take a broader attitude towards the British contributions in the Middle East and the Far East. The Americans pay lip service to this when one discusses it with them in Washington and elsewhere, but quite differentthings are said in their Press and at meetings. I would like to see better understanding by them.
479 There is the delicate question of the use of American arms by Indonesian troops. I understand that the Americans have stopped supplying arms to Indonesia at present, and I ask my right hon. Friend to tell us categorically what the Americans are or are not supplying. I was very alarmed to read in the Daily Telegraph that an Indonesian soldier killed or captured had in his possession an American Armalite high velocity rifle. Today we read of Indonesian aircraft with American markings.
The Americans raise the greatest objections because we do not refuse to sell commercial buses to Cuba, but I would like to know how they stand on their supply of arms to Indonesia. Malayan and British troops are being killed in Borneo. The total casualties may be small in number but may increase, and even if one man is killed that is enough to justify a complete working arrangement with the United States. If we do not have suchan arrangement we will be opposing each other and that really would not make sense.
Now I want to deal with the Labour Party's defence policy. Like many others, I have been very confused about it in the last 12 months. There have been many half truths and equivocations. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is not with us today and I hope that he will make a speedy recovery and return to the House soon. When he spoke in the Debate on the Address on 13th November, he said:When we come to power, it is not our intention to destroy the nuclear force which the Government leave behind. We have never been committed to destroying the V-bomber force if it exists when we come to power".That sort of thing is not clearly understood in the country. The impression among a great many people is that the Labour Party wants to get rid of our nuclear forces lock, stock and barrel. Then, of course, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out today, the right hon. Member for Belper also said:we shall…negotiate within the alliance for a genuine Atlantic alliance nuclear organisation in which we can obtain a greater sharing of the command and of the control of other weapons—not our own alone".—[OFFICIAL 480 REPORT, 13thNovember 1963; Vol 684, c. 195–6.]In other words, the party opposite would seek more power over nuclear equipment and weapons but would not be a party to their possession.
Even today, their attitude has not been straightened out. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition told us that he would assign the V-bomber force to N.A.T.O. for integration. I asked him whether it would be equipped with nuclear weapons and he dodged the question. I did not get a clear answer. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) a short time ago interrupted and said that these bombers would carry conventional weapons. What does his right hon. Friend say?
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I know their capabilities. I flew one of these bombers up to 54,000 ft. about eight years ago. Do not let us underrate the V-bombers, even today. With the stand-off weapon Blue Steel, which is being constantly improved, they should not be underrated. The point I was making was that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition dodged my question about what weapons the V-bombers would carry.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I resigned from Handley-Page seven years ago. The hon. Gentleman gets carried away by his own thoughts in these matters. A short time ago I asked him to visit Vickers and see the TSR2. Has he been? He is a great expert and ought to follow it up. These questions of what weapons the V-bombers would carry were the Labour Party unfortunately in power should be answered.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Then if Britain, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Belper, were to get any return for extra or additional control of other forces they would have a responsibility to carry nuclear weapons.
Now there is the question of the position of President de Gaulle and France—assuming he lives another ten years, and I imagine that he is probably good for another twenty. Are we to recognise France as being the only independent nuclear Powerin Europe? We must not underrate the capabilities of the French technicians, either in electronics or in the building of weapons and aircraft. They are very competent and are making tremendous progress, as has been shown in the last five years. It would be a very difficult situation if Britain were without the independent deterrent while the French had it. I know that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton and I disagree on that point. It is unfortunate, but I think that it would be equally unfortunate if the position were as I described it.
Ithink that the country would like to see a united Parliament on these matters. I think that what has been suggested about the talks is probably worth while, but the fact is that today we are very wide apart on these matters. I think we have to recognise that the two main parties are miles apart because of the question of the deterrent. In my view, many of the Socialist supporters in the country are extremely worried about the policy being adopted by their party. Having listened to the Leader of the Opposition making speeches for nineteen years, I sense today that he too is worried about it. I do not think there is that certainty about him that there was some time ago.
When the supreme national interests are at stake, the deterrent is integrated for war, and independent for deterrent. As the Prime Minister said a short time ago, the deterrent is there for deterrent purposes; it is not to be used. If it is used, it is not a deterrent. The fact that we have had peace in Europe since 482 the end of the war is I am sure due to the retaliatory power of the allies, but the Opposition would voluntarily put Britain out of the nuclear business.
I am still sorry that a year ago when the Americans decided not to go ahead with Skybolt we did not continue with it in some form or another in this country. We may not have made a 100 per cent. success of it, but we would have been teaching our scientists, and we would have been in the business. We would have been gaining something from it scientifically. It is unfortunate that we did not carry on with it, but the next best thing was done. The Polaris proposal was accepted, and this is undoubtedly a fine weapon indeed. I do not want to go over the ground again, but I do not think that three submarines are nearly sufficient.
The Opposition talk about the V-bomber force being kept until it is worn out or run down. What does that mean? Aircraft art: continually being sent back to the makers to be overhauled and given new life. They have a rôle to play for many years. The Opposition talk about the force being run down or worn out, but I think that with modifications, and with the possible introduction of comparatively simple new weapons, the manned aeroplane will still be able to play an effective rôle. During discussions in Washington a year ago with the Secretary of State for Air, he said to me, "Do not let anybody underrate the value of the manned aeroplane. It is all right to have these electronic devices, but the manned aeroplane still has an important rôle to play".
If, as the Opposition suggest, we hand over the V-bomber force to N.A.T.O., we shall place the key of the bomb bay in the hands of the President of the United Status. It was all right to do that when Mr. Kennedy was President, and it is all right to do that now that Mr. Johnson holds that post, but who knows who will be the President of the United States in a few years'time? It is asking a lot to put that control in the hands of a man who may be an isolationist. He may hold different views from those held by the late Mr. Kennedy, and by Mr. Johnson. As a Britisher, I would be reluctant to even contemplate doing that, and I think that even the Americans 483 would be surprised if we carried out that proposal.
A reference was made today to the chiefs of staff. Presumably the chiefs of staff give their best advice to the Government of the day. In olden days, if their advice was not accepted, one frequently heard of resignations, but we do not hear of many resignations today. The Labour Party, if it were in power, would find itself in difficulties with the chiefs of staff if it rejected their advice lock, stock and barrel. It is not easy today to run a complicated fighting machine if one disregards the advice of the experts, and I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to explain how they would overcome the difficulty, assuming that the chiefs of staff maintain the policy that they are advocating at the moment.
We are spending about 7 per cent. of the gross national product on defence. This is not a tremendous amount compared with that spent by other countries. We are told that the Russians and Americans spend a considerably higher percentage of their national product. Mistakes have been made in the past over ordering equipment, but that has happened in every country which has tried to develop modern weapons. The Americans build ten or twenty different weapons, but often only one will be successful, because modern weapons are so complicated that in the development stage many of them do not work. We have had our failures, and if I were to criticise successive Governments I would say that they have been rather slow in deciding when to scrub out a project, but these things are better understood now than they were.
I think that my right hon. Friend learnt a lot from his tour in the Far East. He is now well informed on the position there, and he has done a good job in encouraging our forces who are carrying out a difficult task remarkably well. Do not let us underestimate what British men are doing throughout the world. They are doing a tough and difficult job. We must also remember the Gurkhas. They have a great tradition as fighters. Over the last three years there have been rumours about the numbers of Gurkhas in the British Army being run down from 10,000 to 484 7,000 or whatever it is. I hope that everybody has realised the real value of the Gurkhas, and that they will be assured that their numbers will not be reduced. The individual Gurkha soldier ought to be toldthat his career is secure, and that there is no question of his being sent home. In any case, I understand that if they leave the British Army many immediately join the Indian Army. The Gurkhas are remarkable fighting men, and we ought to be grateful to them for the part they play in our fighting services.
§ Mr. Paget
It is not merely a question of the Gurkhas themselves. We also have to consider the British officers who lead them. Unless we give these officers an assurance about their future, we shall not be able to retain people of the required standard in the necessary numbers. It is essential that their future should be guaranteed.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The hon. and learned Gentleman is, of course, quite right. The Gurkhas are led by British officers, and always have been exceptionally well led by them. They, too, must be sure of where they stand, and that they have an assured future.
I think that the Government are following the right policy. They are being honest with the country. There are no secrets to hide on matters of broad detail, and I ask the Government to go on and be bold and support the fighting services as they deserve to be supported.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
If I wanted to be insulting to the Prime Minister, I would say that he believed in his speech. If I wanted to be insulting to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey), I suppose I would pay him the same compliment. I propose to dwell for a moment or two on one or two points made by the hon. Member, because his speech illustrates the ignorance and foolishness of hon. Gentlemen opposite who ought to know better.
The hon. Gentleman rightly said that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that what this is all about is really the 1957 White Paper and the continuance of the policy laid down therein in the 1962 White Paper. Let us start, as the hon. Gentleman did, with 485 the question of mobility. He dismissed the fact that the aircraft flying to Cyprus had to land at Nice or Malta. He said that this problem would be put right very quickly; that in just a short time everything would be all right.
The hon. Gentleman led the House to believe that this was a passing phase. He talked about withdrawing units from the Rhine Army, about having mobility, and about being able to put our forces wherever we wanted them.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
HANSARD will show what I said. I recognise that the aircraft used on the Cyprus airlift had to make intermediate landings, but I said that the position would improve week by week and monthby month, and so it will when the VC10 and other aircraft come into service.
§ Mr. Wigg
I accept that as much better than my phrasing. The hon. Member said that week by week and month by month the position will be improved. Yesterday we had from the Estimates Committee the Second Report on Transport Aircraft. It says that of the 10 types now in service, only two—the Argosy and the Comet 4—could be described as modern aircraft. The Comet flew one sortie and the Argosy eight. The hon. Member ought to know—I assumed that he did but apparently he did not—that there is no possibility of it improving in the near future. We shall not get the Belfasts, the first one of which flew a fortnight ago, for some time. This aircraft was planted on the House as a military version of the Britannia. It was called the Britannic in the early stages. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations sold the dummy to the House that this aircraft was the military version of the Britannia. The Estimates Committee report makes no pretence about that. It does not pretend that it was a derivative from the civil project.
Perhaps there should be a successor to the Belfast. There are only 10 of them and it will be years before their delivery is completed, which means, of course, that the idea that the British Army is mobile in the sense envisaged in the 1957 and subsequent White Papers is tommyrot. The hon. Member, with his reputation as an Air Force officer of great distinction, ought not to mislead 486 the House. He, above all men, should inform himself of that simple fact. That was not his only misleading operation. The hon. Member, if he has not lost his form, knows as well as I do what the argument about the V-bombers and the atomic deterrent is.
I have never looked at this problem as do the overwhelming majority of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite. For me the Rhine Army depends upon atomic tactical weapons and they happen to be American. I greatly regret the Government decision not to go on with Blue-water. If the Government are sincere in believing and asserting that atomic weapons are the linchpin of British defence policy, and that we should not depend upon the Americans but should have independence in action, they ought to have gone on with Blue-water, but they cancelled it. It was cancelled in July, 1962, the House having conveniently departed for the Recess. The Estimates are first looked at in July each year, and the Government found they were up against their financial ceiling. This year, for the same reason the Government have to think again about the P1154 and the aircraft carrier.
I should be delighted to be interrupted by the Minister of Defence or the Secretary of State for War on the subject of atomic tactical weapons. The British Army depends on Honest John, the 8 inch atomic howitzer, and Corporal, all of which are obsolescent with warheads under American control. The American Army has kept Sergeant which is a solid fuel weapon, but it is not so good as Blue-water I believe, would have been. The Germans are getting Pershing, the order for which was placed as far back as 1961. It has a range of over 400 miles.
What was the position in 1957? It was that the end of the life of the V-bombers could be seen. Paragraph 48 of the Defence White Paper says that we were not to build a successor but that we should put our money on a missile. I regret that hon. Members on both sides of the House fell for this nonsense. They accepted the idea that it was possible within the economic capacity of this country to develop an independent British deterrent called Blue 487 Streak. That was the first untruth. Blue Streak was not British. Blue Streak was the American Atlas without the sustainer. The Government know this. The Minister of Defence—I am one of his greatest admirers—knows the truth if the Prime Minister does not. The Prime Minister is a nice man but stupid, and the Minister of Defence is very clever.
§ Mr. Wigg
As an earnest seeker after truth, and I find it more often than the hon. Member does because I am more assiduous in my search. The country is in exactly the same position now as it was in 1959. We are faced with the possibility of catastrophe, and the Government conceal the truth from their own back benchers and from the country. I speak from memory—this perhaps is one of the advantages I have over the noble Lord the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). He should look at The Times for 19th February, 1959. The distinguished defence correspondent of The Times gave an account of a conversation he had with the Minister of Defence, in which it was made absolutely clear that Blue Streak was being kept on for political reasons. It was a dead duck, but the Minister of Defence was pouring cold water on Polaris. The hon. Member for Macclesfield and the Prime Minister talk about Polaris as a great and powerful weapon. They should see what the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relation said about it in 1959. Then in 1960 the moment of truth came and in April Blue Streak was cancelled.
The heaving bosoms of the female supporters of the Tory Party had to be kept heaving. They had to have something to catch hold of when Skybolt was to be cancelled. I am engaged in a controversy with the Minister of Aviation about an article by Mr. Brandon in the Sunday Times. So far as I am concerned the controversy is going on. I keep mentioning the veracity and truthfulness of the Minister of Aviation, but I am not worried about that. I understand what that is worth. What I am concerned about is what the Minister was up to in relation to the Skybolt cancellation.
488 When the President of the United States told him that he should not bank too much on Skybolt, he said it mustbe made to work. When the President said that it might not work the Minister of Aviation almost fell off his seat, and, red in the face, said it must be made to work:It is the basis of our nuclear defence".In other words, it did not matter a damn whether Skybolt worked or not so long as the pretence could be kept up.
I am very glad to have present the Minister of Defence for, of course, he knows the truth. He went to a meeting of the Association of American Correspondents at the Savoy on 1st November, 1962, and they questioned him about exactly the same thing. The same sources which gave me that information told me what he said to them, and what they said to him.
It is said that about the same time Mr. McNamara stated that the previous Minister of Defence had been given five distinct warnings that Skybolt was an "iffy" proposition, the reason being not technical ones on their own but the improbability that in terms of cost effectiveness Skybolt would ever come to fruition to make sense in the life span ofthe manned bomber. Two warnings were given by Mr. Secretary Gates in 1960, two by Mr. McNamara in 1961 and another one in 1962. Yet the Government pretended—and the Prime Minister went to Nassau—that the cancellation of Skybolt was somethingout of the blue, but they had been warned months before. Mr. Brandon said in his article that at Nassau the President reminded the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) that the President had warned the Minister of Aviation nine months before that Sky bolt was an "iffy" proposition.
For nearly a year, the story of Blue Streak has been repeated. The Government dare not tell the House of Commons, their back benchers or the country that having put all their money on Blue Streak—and that was a non-starter—they gambled on Skybolt and that that failed them, and then they had come back on Polaris, the very weapon that the former Minister of Defence, now Commonwealth Secretary, had gone out 489 of his way to denigrate and to describe as useless. In those circumstances we are left with the V-bombers. 180 of them.
The extent of the Government's duplicity is unfathomable to ordinary men concerned with the ordinary usages of honourable truth-telling. It is such a story that it is like a child's fairy tale. Take the example of the V-bombers being placed under the control of N.A.T.O., of SACEUR. I had the great pleasure last autumn to go to the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians conference. We listened to an interesting discussion and to an interesting statement by General Lemnitzer. In the course of it, he referred to the weapons that were placed under his control at the Ottawa conference.
General Lemnitzer referred only to the Vulcans and the Victors. I could not understand it. I thought that it was a slip of the tongue. Therefore, when the time came for questions, I asked him whether it was a mistake or whether it was because the Valiants were obsolescent that he did not mention them, because they were part of the 180, as we weretold in part of the statement which came from the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Aviation. Hon. Members can look it up in the Daily Telegraph if they wish. The 180 V-bombers were the Valiants, the Victors and the Vulcans.
§ Sir John Maitland (Horncastle)
I was there, too. Will the hon. Member say what General Lemnitzer answered?
§ Mr. Wigg
Yes. He turned to me and said that the Valiants had already been committed. I asked him whether the Valiant was obsolescent. He replied that it was not and that it was a very good aircraft—of course it was. General Lemnitzer said, however, that the Valiants had already been committed. They were committed in 1961 to the Second Tactical Air Force.
So the Government committed them twice. This is what has become known in American defence circles as the double count. They were committed to the Second Tactical Air Force and then they were committed again after Ottawa. This kind of thing goes on all the time.
490 Let us, however, go on with the V-bomber force. This subsonic obsolescent aircraft—and the word "obsolescent" is not mine—
§ Mr. Wigg
Does the hon. Member have a copy of the statement made to the Senate Committee in September, 1962, in which the V-bomber force—not only the Valiants, but the lot—was described as obsolescent and as depending for their capacity to be credible, to be a viable fighting force, on a stand off? If that is not true, what was the case of Skybolt? If it is not true that the V-bomber force is viable only with a stand-off, what did the Minister of Aviation mean when he said to the President, It is the basis of our nuclear defence"? Skybolt was the basis because it gave a stand-off of 1,000 miles.
Mark I Blue Steel has a range of 100 miles. At vast expense, the Government carted 40 defence correspondents to Woomera to see it fire, and then it failed. If that iswhat it depends upon, hon. Members can imagine the Russians not shivering in their shoes if all they have to know is that we are dependent on the V-bomber force. The V-bomber force is not a viable deterrent force. It is a cardboard box. It is "x" in the equation, but it is "x" only to keep up the failing spirits and the myth which exists in the ranks opposite.
The whole case for conversations is not to damp down controversy. Controversy is the lifeblood of democracy. What talks are for, and why I have put forward suggestions for a defence committee with rather more powers than the Estimates Committee, with the ability to question policy and not only how policy is carried out, is to fulfil a vital part in the effective working of our democratic system and our capacity to produce defence forces within our capacity to pay and so that there shall be an understanding of the facts. That is why all my actions are related to that simple proposition.
I have had on the Order Paper for weeks a request for a Select Committee 491 to consider the Canberra replacement. The hon. Member for Macclesfield suggested that I should go down to Weybridge. I do not go round to aircraft companies. I am not a director or a shareholder. When their people came here, at the hon. Member's suggestion, I talked to them and listened to what they had to say.
I went over to Belfast, at my expense, to see Short and Harland's, but I do not accept hospitality from Government contractors. It is highly improper to do so and as far as I am concerned,I will not do it. I go there as an independent observer. It is no compliment to Sir George Edwards or to anyone else for me, who makes no pretence to understand anything about an aeroplane—a horse, yes, but not an aeroplane—to go and see something which has never flown. If I say that it is good, that is humbug. If I say that it is not good, it is equally humbug. I can only look at acknowledged form.
Two hundred and fifty million pounds has been spent on this. I doubt the cost effectiveness. Therefore, I should like to do what the Americans have done. They have the TFX before a Congressional Committee, and a Congressional Committee includes representatives from Congress who have the same possibility of opening their mouths and talking indiscreetly as members of any other assembly. If they can be given an opportunity of being able to appraise the value of the TFX, why cannot the House of Commons use a Select Committee to come to a conclusion about the TSR2, which, when it originally broke surface, was not the nuclear get-out of the Minister of Aviation? That is what makes me suspicious of the claims which are made for it. I accept the straightforward statements by the Secretary of State for Air that this is a replacement for the Canberra with a strategic bonus. That I accept. It ought to be examined on that basis in the terms of its cost effectiveness.
I do not want to go over all these weapons, but I must touch on one or two more of them before I turn to the question of manpower, which I believe to be the Government's Achilles heel. Let us look again at the two announcements 492 of the Minister of Defence on 30th July. They were in truth remarkable. The first was about the Victorious replacement. What I could not understand about it in my poor, humble way was why that statement was made on that date, because in the Defence White Paper, in the First Lord's Memorandum, there had been an announcement that there was to be a Victorious replacement. Therefore, why say it again?
Equally, on the same day, the Minister of Defence said that the Hunter and the Sea Vixen were to be replaced by the P1154. But why say that? The memorandum of the Secretary of State for Air had said six months before that the P1154 was to displace the Hunter. What that did was to disclose the father and mother of a row between the Navy and the Air Force. When the hon. Member for Macclesfield quite improperly holds out the bait to the Chiefs of Staff that if a Labour Government comes into office and they do not like what we do, theyshould resign, that is an utterly improper and disgraceful observation from an ex-Regular officer.
§ Mr. Wigg
It is a gross reflection on the hon. Member, because, clearly, if it is proper for the Prime Minister to authorise that little box in a Conservative pamphlet asking where the Chiefs of Staff stand on an issue on which they advise the Government in accordance with the views of hon. Members opposite, they are in honour bound to say so when they give divergent advice.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The hon. Member is again misquoting me. What I said was that in years gone by, one used to see resignations if there were disagreements, but we do not see them today. I would like to have seen resignations even in the last 10 years over certain decisions that were made. It would have been healthy. I put the question of what might happen with a future Government. As usual, the hon. Member has taken out of context something said by an hon. Member on the opposite side to himself to fit intohis own words. We are all used to it.
§ Mr. Wigg
We will put that to the test tomorrow. The hon. Member did not say that he wished that it had been 493 done often recently. He says that it used to be done, that it is not done now, but that he hopes it will be done in the future. That is reserved for us on this side.
I go back to the question of the "Victorious". The naval blimps opposite did not want one "Victorious" replacement; they wanted four. These cost only £240 million—£60 million apiece. Equally, even to them it was obvious—this involved some real hard thinking—that if we have aircraft carriers, we must have aircraft to put on them. This was going to cost so much that the yell went up for the cancellation of TSR2. This was not from my hon. Friends on this side. The yell for cancellation of TSR2 came from the naval lobby opposite. The naval boys were saying, "Cancel the TSR2", and the Air Force and others were saying that it suited them. So what did we get? A statement made in the Naval Memorandum in the spring, repeated for tactical political reasons on 30th July; and on 20th November along came the Minister of Defence, who suddenly found that there were difficulties about going on with the P1154. There was the difficulty of £500 million—the little difficulty we were up against last July.
We know what happened. In July they looked at the Estimates and said, "What! Let's cancel the aircraft carrier. Let's cancel the P1154." Everyone was for cancelling whatthey did not want. So when we came to November the P1154 was out. Why cannot we have a select Committee to do a little more than the Estimates Committee on transport aircraft and examine the P1154 as the Hunter and Sea Vixen replacement as well as similar proposals costing very large sums?
The hon. Member, who I am glad preceded me, went back to the transport point again. If he really believed what he said, if he was sincere—I pay tribute to his intelligence but not his sincerity—he would do what I am doing in putting pressure on the Government to make a statement on transport aircraft and about the A.W681 because in March we were told that it was a starter and that there was to be a project study. We all know that the argument about the engine was settled in 494 favour of Rolls Royce. On the 20th November, I put a Question down about the engine, and I was told an answer would be given shortly. Here we are in January, and no answer. We have the P1154, the aircraft carrier, the A.W681 and the whole story is that they are all marking time. Why? Because the Prime Minister this afternoon led us to believe that anything required in the defence field would be honourably undertaken and defence needs would be the only consideration. Does anyone reallybelieve that? Of course it is not true. What is operating in this field is the political convenience of the Government.
I shall keep the House only a few moments more on the question of manpower. I am not one of those who believe that the danger of the Cyprus situation, or the possible danger of the Borneo situation, can be solved by selective service. If I may answer the noble Lord. I am not one of those who ever believed that a complicated crisis could be solved by some convenient solution cooked up on the spur of the moment. Difficult problems take a long time to solve. Selective service is quite irrelevant to the present issue. The Government have all the Reserves they want. The Government are sitting pretty in terms of manpower, as of now. They can handle the Cyprus situation. Any possibility of things going wrong in Borneo, and they on handle it. If they have to take one company of the Staffordshire Regiment and put them in Zanzibar it will be there.
I was a little struck when the Prime Minister told usthat the policy of the Government was to get rid of commitments. Will hon. Members make a study of the commitments that we had in 1957 and those that we have now. We have Zanzibar, Swaziland, Borneo, with 6,000 troops, going on all the time. I do not think that I am sufficiently important to be able to pass an opinion on this, I do not go round the world at the expense of some newspaper—I have to go on my own feet as far as I can or take an odd trip in my car because I insist on paying for myself. I do not know about these things. I tend to take commitments as I find them. But I ask myself: how do the Government manage to be so sure of themselves in handling existing 495 situations? The first thing that they rely on is the faithfulness, the forgetful-ness and the ever-present stupidity of hon. Gentlemen opposite. That never fails them. It has not failed them now. I have kept against this day a confidential memorandum circulated to Commands in 1961, at the time of the passing of the Army Reserve Act of 1962. If hon. Members want to enjoy this and get its full flavour, let me suggest that they start off by reading the Queen's Speech in 1961 where they will find a section in which it is stated that it was the Government's intention to call back a category of National Servicemen, and it went on to say that there would be an examination of the Reserve.
The last point was also mentioned in the 1962 White Paper. Then we got the Army Reserve Act. What did it do? The Secretary of State for War at that time, in a Second Reading speech on 27th November, 1961 was very truthful. He spelled it all out. He said that Clause 1 would hold National Service men for a period of six months. That he said was only concerned with the position in Europe and the Rhine Army. On Clause 2 giving powers of recall he said that we should not want them in 1961. We should not want them until at the earliest. That was the earliest time when we should need them.
What was the position? Under Clause 2 the Government imposed a liability to recall for six months on all National Servicemen during their period of 3½ years'reserve service. There are 105,000 of our fellow countrymen at the present time who were unfortunate enough to get caught right at the end of the National Service Acts.Many of them are older men than those normally called up—men of 23, 24 and 25—some of them university graduates, doctors who have finished their training, pharmacists, technicians and the like. There are 105,000 of these men who do not knowthat they are under a liability to recall for a period of six months. Again the Secretary of State for War, with great honesty, spelled this out. He said that we should not want all this number, but we shall select them. In Hansard of 27th November, 1961, columns 50 and 51, he said that they would select the categories and trades that were needed. He then went on to say that experience 496 had shown in this that these emergencies came upon us like a clap of thunder. Prior notice could not be given because the call-up would have to be at very short notice indeed. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office here. When he gave a Press Conference in the earlier part of the week, extensively reported, thank goodness, in the Liverpool Post, he said that one of the things that the Government will not do is ever to have selective service. I wonder whether he would be good enough to tell us what this means. If the Government have taken powers to recall and they have said that they will arbitarily select and will, if necessary, recall without notice, except a notice pushed through the letterbox—if that is not selective service, I should like to know what is.
Generally speaking, neither the noble Lord nor I back winners after the event. That is an unprofitable occupation. I backed this before it ran. I said this:For it must be remembered that we are here introducing a form of selective service of the most wasteful short-term, and militarily inefficient type that it is possible to devise. First, those fortunate enough to go into the Navy or the Air Force are exempted completely. We are going to swing our policy over to the using of our Army reserves, and we shall be using up extravagantly the very forces on which we have to rely in the case of serious trouble."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 123.]
§ Viscount Lambton
Many hon. Members will agree that the hon. Gentleman has been right many times about the deficiencies in manpower. I want to ask him one question now. I agree with himthat there are reserves at present, but would not he agree that in, say, a period of two years these reserves will have disappeared and it will perhaps be impossible for any Government to lay their hands upon them without the restoration of some sort of selective conscription?
§ Mr. Wigg
I entirely agree. If the noble Lord will allow me, I will come to that later. I am saying that there are 105,000 men who can be quite arbitrarily selected without their knowledge, without them ever being consulted, without notice. Men in Section A of the Army Reserve—that is to say, that category for which a man can volunteer and for which he gets extra pay per day; and 497 men whom the Government have taken power, rightly in my view, to allocate to Section A—can be called back without proclamation; but they know it. Either they have been told that they are so designated, or they have taken the cash and they know it. Men in category I of the Army Emergency Reserve, which again is a category of men who can be called out without proclamation and without notice, have had the bounty. So they know about their liability.
Here the Government have deliberately spread the net over as wide an area as possible to meet their political convenience. I hope that I shall get support from hon. Members on both sides in what I am now demanding. I recognise the Government's dilemma. They now have 105,000 men; they know that they can narrow it to a much smaller number; they can narrow it, let us say, to 20,000; that 20,000 could be in a pool from which in certain circumstances the Government might have to call men back for two years. Those 20,000 ex-National Servicemen—men who have done their Service, are rebuilding their careers, perhaps newly married and buying homes, with hire purchase commitments—should be told that they have been designated and are in a pool and could, if the Government's policy goes wrong, be recalled. They should be told this so that the other 85,000 who are free from this shadow can know it and can carry on their normal lives without worry. A considerable number of these men are intelligent enough to have read all about this and their fears should be met.
I believe that the Government are gambling. The Minister of Defence came off an aeroplane the other night and said, "We have all the reserves we want". However, the noble Lord has put his finger on the problem. This is why one should be worried about the present situation. The National Service man has this liability for three and a half years. The last one to go in was in November, 1960. He will have come out in November, 1962. It does not matter very much for the purposes of discussion whether he did an extra six months, because, if he did, the extra six months under Section I would be deducted from the three and a half years. By May, 1966, this pool of 105,000 which 498 was created by the Army Reserve Act, 1962, will have gone.
Hon. Members on this side should now begin to take notice. This is precisely what that clever Minister of Defence knows. He knows one thing for sure—namely, that he will not be there in 1965. The Prime Minister, who I think is an innocent, a perfectly honourable but utterly non-understanding man, does not realise it. I believe that if he did he would not be party to it. He does not fully understand that in two years from now Sections 1 and 2 of the Army Reserve Act, 1962, are out.
I come now to Section 3. This was the Government's saving grace. Can hon. Members think back two years? Do they remember the exciting debate we then had? Do they remember the exciting announcement that the Government had found the cure? Have they forgotten the term "Ever-readies"? They were to have a bounty of £150. The "Ever-readies" were to fill in the gaps in the thin red line. There were to be 15,000 of them. There are only 4,200.
So the Government are 11,000 short of the "Ever-readies" which Section 3 was to provide to lessen the strain on Section 2. Therefore, we can now do another sum. There are 9,000 short on the establishment. This afternoon the Prime Minister said that we are committed to 55,000 in Germany, although he did not say when. I hope that the Minister of Defence will tell us tonight whether he stands by his undertaking of 3rd July last that the 55,000 for Germany will be there by the end of 1964 or, if not, when they will be there. There are 9,000 short on the strength; there are 11,000 short on the "Ever-readies"; that is 20,000, plus the real deficiency between 180,000 and what it ought to be if in fact we were keeping units up to establishment.
On this point the Government are making no attempt whatever. Many battalions are non-operational in the strictest sense of the word. This afternoon my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was terribly kind. He talked about the establishment being 774. He took the answer of the Secretary of State for War and computed that they were only 25 per cent. under establishment. On that basis the figure is nearer 100 499 per cent. than 25 per cent. Overall, the Services are certainly not less than 10,000 under strength.
This springs from one simple fact. The 165,000 is an entirely "phoney" figure. It was the political figure. We want no better evidence for this than the very distinguished gentleman the present High Commissioner in Malaysia, who told the House the truth in a burst of confidence one evening after he had ceased to become Secretary of State for War. In fact, the 165,000 was the political figure, and those of us who know anything about it know full well that the veryminimum that the ceiling could be was 169,000. Even that made no provision for any emergency.
The story does not change. I will go on a few months. We get very interested when a Cyprus or a Borneo comes along, but the bottom of the pit will not be reached until two years' time. In two years'time the Army Reserve Act will have gone; there will be no general reserve. Although I could guess, I dare not tell the House what the strength of Section A or Section B of the Regular Army is. The House must face the fact that, if nothing is done now—this goes to the core of the noble Lord's very pertinent question—in two years'time, if we get a Cyprus or a Borneo, or perhaps something worse, there will be nothing between calamity, national dishonour, and general mobilisation. The Minister of Defence knows this just as well as I do.
The purpose of an association between the two parties is not to stifle the conflict of opinion, not to stifle controversy. As I said earlier, that is the very stuff of which democracy is made. It is to enable hon. Members to be given advice which is sound, through the organisation of a defence committee, or in talks with Ministers.
At least we ought not to be worse off than the Americans. If they can work a technique in which members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives can obtain the information necessary to enable them to come to sane and balanced views, we should be able to do the same. I have no faith in the Press. There are only two defence correspondents who are worth two-pennyworth of cold gin. The rest 500 do not begin to understand the question. I have little faith in the I.T.V. or the B.B.C. No; it is from this place that information should flow, from an understanding by hon. Members who are able to come to grips with the problems involved.
I apologise for saying this for the 700th time but, if in a democracy we want a sound and a sane defence policy to enable our country to meet the obligations imposed upon it, we must arrive at a proper balance between commitments and resources, and we can do that only one way—from the bottom upwards. That is why I put my shoulder to the wheel in support of my right hon. Friend in his efforts to bring about that state of affairs.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Sir John Maitland (Horncastle)
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) has taken most of the House over these fences many times. He has said quite a lot, and he will not expect me to deal with all the points he made; but I remember the question of General Lemnitzer, and frommy memory of the occasion I do not think that he said what the hon. Member indicated. I thought that the hon. Member tried to persuade General Lemnitzer into admitting that the V-bombers were not effective. That was the object of his rather loaded question. But to my recollection General Lemnitzer went out of his way to point out that the V-bombers were both effective and efficient.
When listening to the hon. Member, one sometimes almost thinks that nothing in this difficult world ever goes right. During the last year things have gone remarkably well for the Government in the defence world. In speeches, many other hon. Members and I have for some time been concentrating on mobility and on the special duty of the Commonwealth to prevent what are called brushfires from becoming world wars. That is why we have successively supported the Government in connection with the Commando carriers, the new generation of carriers, better transport aricraft, new landing craft and more and better helicopters.
During the last few weeks it has been fairly clearly demonstrated that 501 although we arc working on a shoestring we have been able to meet our commitments quickly and efficiently. It does not worry me that we are having to use our strategic reserve. As the Prime Minister said, that is exactly what a strategic reserve is for. I disagree entirely with the hon. Member for Dudley on this point. In this rather flexible age we must be prepared to use our other reserves. I am not nearly so frightened as he is about calling up reserves. On several occasions between the two wars we called up reserves. When I was in China, in the Shanghai Defence Force, we called up a lot of reserves, and in the world of full employment that we now have we must get into a new way of thinking about calling up reserves when they are needed—which we hope will be very seldom.
That is why I was interested when the idea of "Ever-readies" was introduced. I thought that it was a good idea, although I was somewhat critical of it, because it seemed to me that it put a little too much emphasis on special categories. In my opinion, it was made unnecessarily complicated, and I think that is one reason why it has not gone as well as it should have. As the hon. Member said, there are now between 4,000 and 5,000 "Ever-readies" who would be available for call-up. When my right hon. Friend replies I hope that he will tell us a little more about the "Ever-readies"—whether he has any ideas about changing the way in which they are selected and called up, and also whether sufficient education is going on in industry, so that it fully understands the need, in this new world, of having men who are willing to go back and serve their country in time of need. From my experience I believe that many firms would be quite ready and content to work on those lines if the situation were properly explained to them.
I also hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the question whether the financial inducements are sufficiently attractive. The risk of call-up may not be a great one, but the reserves must be prepared to be called up. The idea should be made so attractive to good men who have enjoyed their time in the Services that they will be ready to go back and serve their country, and be well paid for doing so.
502 As I attempted to indicate at the beginning of my speech, we have a special position, among all the nations which are attempting to prevent war breaking out, in dealing with brush fires. But there is a definite relationship between that sort of work and the nuclear problem, which the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister were discussing at great length earlier today. Things are not so complicated as some experts would have us believe. There is a real danger of what is known as nuclear blackmail.The fact that we have a deterrent of our own prevents that being effective, and enables us to do what we believe to be right. That, surely, is the right and duty of every country.
Among those people who attack our nuclear deterrent there is always a temptation to talk about our "poor little deterrent". This is a mistake. Today we heard the Leader of the Opposition say that all that could be done with the present British nuclear weapon was to take revenge after death. But that is the sort of thing which prevents war. That is what is meant by a deterrent. It is effective, and it is vitally important, and any Government who deliberately did away with a would not be serving the best interests of the country.
We have now been told quite clearly, and for the first time, that if a Labour Government were returned to power this country would take no more personal responsibility for a nuclear deterrent, either in respect of Polaris or of the nuclear bombs carried by our V-bombers—if they were carried at all. If there were a Labour Government we should completely discard our nuclear deterrent. That is a mutter upon which the country must make up its mind at the next General Election.
One of the arguments put forward by the Shadow Minister of Defence in last year'sdebate was that a considerable problem was involved in relying on America to help us in all circumstances, and that the fear of they themselves being the subject of atomic attack was so great that there was considerable doubt of America's coming in to help us at a critical moment. That, by itself, is an argument for maintaining a deterrent over which we have control.
I have not used the word "independent"in connection with the deterrent for a long time. I am satisfied that we 503 have a deterrent over which we have personal control.
I wish now to turn for a moment to another matter which has been discussed, the M.M.F. While, as I believe, we are maintaining an insurance by having a nuclear deterrent, and while we are devoting as much as we can afford to conventional weapons, I think that it would be a great mistake if we dissipated manpower and training—these things are much more important than money—by having a mixed-manned N.A.T.O. fleet. It is far more important that we devote all our attention to training manpower to carry out the very important duty of being able to put out brush fires which we, more than any other country in the N.A.T.O. alliance, are in a position to do. I should disagree strongly with any policy which committed us to having a mixed-manned force.
I do not say that it could not be done. It would be like playing golf backhanded. One could do so if one wished, but it would be a silly way to tackle the game. There would be no real practical difficulties about having a mixed force which could not be overcome, but it is would be a complete waste and not the sort of things that we ought to be doing to keep the peace. We cannot afford to let down our allies by wasting our efforts in that direction. Although I recognise the important political arguments in favour of it, I think that, as it is at present, the N.A.T.O. deterrent, or the deterrent protecting Europe, is sufficient. It was the Leader of the Liberal Party who said that under no circumstances should we have to build special ships for this. But if we had a nuclear fleet of surface ships, we should have to construct new ships which would be an added complication. There would be new training methods needed, and that is why this pressure on training and manpower should be avoided at all costs.
I wish to ask a question about Sarawak. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey). One of my constituents was in command of a detachment which actuallycaptured one of these Armalite rifles. These are terrible weapons. They have an enormously high velocity and there is a terrible shock effect when the target is hit. I understand that the rifles 504 have been turned down by the American Army since they would be right outside the terms of The Hague or the Geneva Convention. Here is a weapon which is considered so dangerous, lethal and thoroughly unpleasant that the American Army has turned it down.
What is it doing in Sarawak, and why have our men to face this weapon? I wish to ask the Minister to ensure thatone of these weapons is brought to this country and tested and the results carefully tabulated, and that we represent the circumstances to the United States. We cannot allow this sort of thing to go on. My hon. Friend referred to buses for Cuba and that sort of thing. But it is rather ridiculous that these things should be happening where our men are fighting and being killed. We must be quite blunt in indicating that we do not want that sort of thing to happen. I can understand that there should be American equipment there. But not this sort of equipment which is too unpleasant for the Americans themselves to handle.
My second point also concerns Sarawak and it refers to the handling of what one might call the political side of warfare. Since the war we have had some quite effective "adventures"—if one cares to call them that. Our troops have proved effective in the prosecution of various small wars in which we have been engaged. They have been efficient and have been on the spot at the right time. But so often we seem to lose the good effect gained by quick and effective action because we have not pushed home the lesson politically to those in a position to learn.
I believe that we are acting honourably and rightly in assisting Malaysia in its confrontation by Indonesia. But are we making plain to everyone concerned why we are doing so? To me this is just as important as any other aspect. We should drive home the political side of the lesson by modern means of propaganda and also by any local methods. I am sure that there are local methods of getting our message across and these should be studied.
I do not think that there is anything abnormal about the situation at present. We are having to fight disciplinary wars all over the world. But we must be ready and proud to do so, because it is 505 part of our duty. By so doing we are saving thousands of lives. The other day I was reading the Book of Ezra about those who built the Temple with a sword in one hand. If we are to build the new Jerusalem we must do the same.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I hope that the hon. Member for Horncastle (Sir J. Maitland) will forgive me for not following his arguments. I will take up one or two of the points he made, but I start from a different angle.From my point of view the whole of this debate is rather unreal, because it rests on sturdily ignoring the fact that we cannot defend anything with weapons which, if used, would destroy everything. The idea of playing power politics with nuclear weapons by using them to back one's own view of one's rights and interests in disputes, is not only contrary to the terms of the U.N. Charter but sheer suicidal insanity.
Having made that reservation of my fundamental position, I wish to say that within the assumptions of this debate it seems to me that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition knocked the Government's so-called independent, so-called British, so-called deterrent policy for six—clean over the pavilion. And the Prime Minister pretty well demolished the Opposition's policy of international control of nuclear weapons, including American nuclear weapons, through N.A.T.O. The fact is that both sides are trying to compensate, by cherishing their own brand of illusion, for their failure to recognise the fact that the price we must pay for staying unconditionally in N.A.T.O. is to accept annihilation without representation at the hands of the United States.
The very nature of nuclear weapons makes instant decisions necessary, and the distribution of power within N.A.T.O. makes unanswerable the American argument that they must be the Power which takes those decisions. As I elaborated that argument when we last debated these matters, on 2nd July, I will not go into it again.
I should like for a moment to glance at the policy put from this side of the House before I deal with the Government's policy. I regard the Government's policy as thoroughly bad all the way through and the Labour policy as 506 good in spots, like the curate's egg. I will take the two spots which seem to me to be good. The first is the categorical rejection of annihilation without representation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put that categorically in the House on 31st January and again when he was in Washington soon afterwards.
The second good point is Labour's refusal to admit any part of Germany to any form of participation, direct or indirect, in the control of nuclear weapons. This again was stated categorically by the Leader of the Opposition on 31st January and again in the House on 3rd July. This is a good position and is certainly accepted not only by the overwhelming majority of hon. Members on this side of the House, but, I believe, by the overwhelming majority of public opinion in this country.
However, we have recently had highly sponsored proposals from certain Members on this side of the House for giving Germany equal rights in N.A.T.O. through sharing in a four-Power directorate which would plan and control the occasions on which nuclear weaponsmight be used through N.A.T.O. Either such a plan envisages genuine collective control of nuclear weapons, in which cast; it is contrary to Labour policy for excluding Germany from participation in such control, or the reservation in the plan that the United States alone should have its finger on the nuclear trigger means that the whole plan is a kind of fig leaf to conceal the nakedness of surrender to annihilation without representation, and in that case also it is contrary to the policy of this party. In any case, the whole scheme is totally unreal. It is not militarily feasible and it is politically unacceptable to the United States.
In point of fact, the Government accept annihilation without representation. They boast that they did so in the case of Cuba, when the United States resorted to force in violation of the Charter and brought us to the brink of annihilation in a nuclear war by decisions in which we had no share whatever. But they know that the people of this country will not have it and so they conceal it by this elaborate pretence, with which my right hon. 507 Friend the Leader of the Opposition dealt forcefully and cogently, that through the Nassau Agreement and the grace and favour nuclear deterrent force supplied by the United States and amounting to about 2 per cent. of the American force, they are to be able to take their own line even when the United States does not support them.
My right hon. Friend dealt with the pretence that if we doubted that the United States would allow us to get away with starting a nuclear war against their wishes, we were implying doubt about whether the Americans would fulfil their obligations. Of course the United States never contemplated for a moment that any of its allies should be provided with nuclear weapons in order to start a nuclear war of its own and involve the United States in such a war, for it would be almost impossible to isolate it.
Some time ago, Walter Lippmann wrote a strong warning when this doctrine was being put forward here and said that the first thing that would happen if any serious attempt to act in this way were made would be that the United States would repudiate the alliance, and that this was the quickest way to smash up N.A.T.O. I should not grieve too much if N.A.T.O. were smashed up, but I am telling right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have a greater love for N.A.T.O. than I have, what would happen.
As an extension of this humbug, there is the valiant pretence that with our relatively little grace and favour force—relativelysmall because standards of genocide are pretty high now—we shall be able to win friends and influence people, or, as the Prime Minister put it, have added influence and authority in the councils of the nations. The test ban treaty is adduced as anexample of this. The Government's share in producing this agreement is exaggerated. I shall not go into this again as I dealt with it in July. The main argument is that we would not have been at Moscow at all if we had not been a nuclear Power.
I turn that argument around and say that if this country had long ago renounced its vain attempt to be a nuclear Power, we would probably have avoided 508 the complications with General de Gaulle, who probably would not have started to try to be a nuclear Power if we had not preceded him. The chances are that we would have reached a better test ban agreement sooner. But that is a historical might-have-been and there is no way of proving it.
What is demonstrable is that the whole agreement could have been concluded through the 18-Power disarmament commission in Geneva, where all the basic work was done. Only the finishing touches were put to it in Moscow, and the only reason why a separate meeting was held in Moscow, instead of finishing the job in Geneva, was as a kind of sop to the importunate desire of the Government to have an Ersatz summit conference for pre-election purposes. The idea that we played a great part in the agreements at the Moscow Conference by being a nuclear Power and that we could not have played it if we had not been a nuclear Power, and that the job could not have been finished with the other members of the 18-Power disarmament commission in Geneva is sheer nonsense, to put it politely.
On the question of the influence of possessing nuclear weapons; I recall a remark of The Times on 25th February, 1959, when this claim was being pressed, when it said that the only result of possessing nuclear weapons so far had been to get blueprints of American weapons rather than political influence in Washington, and that so far as we enjoyed political influence in Washington, it was due to non-military factors, such as our reputation for political common sense and stability.
As right hon. and hon. Members opposite are ready to throw in our teeth, the, as I regard it, unfortunate remark in a bad speech by Aneurin Bevan in 1957, about not going naked into the conference chamber, I will permit myself to quote a remark in which he readjusted the situation. Speaking in the House on 20th February, 1958 he said:I do not believe that the possession of the hydrogen bomb is worth while from the point of view of negotiation…An instrument of suicide can never be an instrument of negotiation…One cannot leave the conference chamber and say, 'Unless I get my own way I shall commit suicide'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1409–10.]509 There is also the remark, which I apologise for quoting again but which must be understood and rubbed in, which was made by Mr. George F. Kennan, former head of the policy planning staff of the State Department in broadcasts in this country in November and December, 1958, when he said:The beginning of understanding rests in this appalling problem with the recognition that the weapon of mass destruction is a sterile and hopeless weapon…which cannot in any way serve the purposes of a constructive and hopeful foreign policy. The suicidal nature of this weapon renders it unsuitable both as a sanction of diplomacy and as the basis of an alliance.That is the basic truth of the matter.
The most pernicious argument of all those used by the Government in defence of their nuclear deterrent policy was used by the Prime Minister. On this point my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was tookind to him when he said that he did not believe for a moment that the Government seriously contemplated resorting to nuclear weapons against another nuclear Power, namely, the Soviet Union, without the support of the United States. The Prime Minister gave a rather ambiguous reply on that. He spoke of resorting to nuclear weapons independently when Britain was in mortal peril, implying again the belief that if we were in mortal peril the Americans would not stand by us, which is a rather odd point of view.
However, in another place the Prime Minister, when he was Foreign Secretary, went much further on 26th June last and said:We are the sole judges…as to when, if at all, we might want to use our own deterrent in the supreme national interest. This is a recognition of the fact that we are a world power and that threats to our vital interests may occur outside Europe and outside the Nato area."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 26th June, 1963; Vol. 251, c. 278–9.]I should have thought that it was a vital interest to survive. It is difficult to envisage circumstances in which it is of supreme national interest to fry the people of this country alive. But apparently that is the meaning of this policy.
It was elaborated in the Conservative Party's Weekly Newsletter, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, on 11th January as follows: 510Suppose we did not have our own deterrent, and of r interests in some part of the world were threatened, perhaps several years hence. We should move forces".To begin with, that policy totally disregards the United Nations and its Charter and obligations as though they had no relevance to the situation. When there are threats to vital interests or serious international disputes the matter should be dealt with through the United Nations by the civilised means prescribed in he Charter, and not by gun boat diplomacy.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I take it that the hon. Member would allow for the fact that there would be occasions when it might be necessary to move British troops very quickly in order to safeguard British lives. Or would he prefer us to wait to deal with the matter through the normal channels of the United Nations while British lives are, perhaps, being lost in the interim?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The thing to do is to organ se the Security Council procedure and methods and have a small international force so that that kind of police action can be taken promptly.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Then we had better get down to doing that instead of talking nonsense about the nuclear deterrent.
The quotation continues:Suppose the Russians or Chinese objected and said 'Stop, or we blast your island with H-bombs'. Our only hope would be that America would say, 'If you do that we obliterate Moscow or Peking'. The Americans might not necessarily think that our interests were as vital as we did, might not necessarily think it wise to put their own cities at risk in an issue with which they did not feel immediately concerned. In that event, we should have no option but to give in to nuclear blackmail. But with a nuclear deterrent under our own control, neither Russia nor anybody else could make any such threat—or even gamble on the possibility of America standing aside. They would know that wholly unacceptable damage would be inflicted on them whether America intervened or not.If this is to be taken at face value—and it is an elaboration of what the Prime Minister said as Foreign Secretary on 26th June—the Government are telling the country that with our 2 per cent. nuclear force we are prepared to take armed action in some remote part of the world, not a part of the British 511 Commonwealth, in order to defend what they regard as interests by the traditional methods ofpower politics, in total disregard of the Charter, and to back that by courting nuclear annihilation. Considering that twelve ten-megaton H-bombs would wipe this country out and that the Russians have thousands of them and hundreds of medium-range rockets to deliver them, the whole thing is a piece of rodomontade and braggadocio which is either suicidal madness or a very low attempt to appeal to the electorate on a very low level.
There has been nothing like it since Neville Chamberlain, in October, 1938, said that we were "almost terrifyingly strong" and on 22nd February, 1939, followed it up with the ringing declaration:Our arms are so great that, without taking into accountthe Dominions' contribution, 'come the three corners of the world in arms, and we shall shock them' ".That kind of nonsense was spoken then and similar nonsense is now being spoken by a Conservative Government and, not unfittingly, by a Prime Minister who is an unrepentant Municheer even bereft of the wisdom of hindsight, because he declared in the Observer in September, 1962, that Chamberlain had been right to try to appease Hitler. It is a terrifying spectacle and prospect, but we know that he is not long for this world politically.
I propose in my constituency—and I am sure that many of my hon. Friends will do it too—to take the offensive and to ask the electors, "Do you want to be cremated by the Tories or will you make peace with Labour?" That is one way of putting the issue. It is the way that hon. Members oppositehave asked for, and they are going to get it.
The Government have no policy formaking peace, for the simple reason that they put preparations for war, in the shape of preserving N.A.T.O., first and subordinate any policy for making peace to that. On the other hand, the Labour Party is committed to the principle, enunciated by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) in the defence debate on 4th March, when he was speaking for the party from the Opposition Front Bench, namely, that the firstprinciple of defence 512is that defence policy must be the servant…of foreign policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1963; Vol. 673, c. 56.]Contrast that with what the Foreign Secretary said on 15th November, when he laid down the principle thatno agreements can be reached with the East and no negotiations conducted which are likely to impair the cohesion of the Western Alliance".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 506.]That means surrendering beforehand to the political blackmail of the most intransigent and backward ally.
As an example of that, may I ask where the Government stand as regards a settlement in Europe? They still stand where they stood about 12 years ago. They believe that Germany must be united by free elections, which is a policy about 10 or 12 years out of date. The last time that it had practical relevance was 1952, before the emergence of two German States. The second and worst part of that policy is that a united Germany should be free to be a member of N.A.T.O. The Government have said again and again in connection with disarmament that, whatever happens, we must do nothing which would upset the balance of power. But when it comes to foreign policy they put forward proposals which would completely overthrow the balance of power and which are entirely unacceptable as a basis of negotiation, and they know it. The Government therefore are stuck with policies which make a settlement impossible in Europe, in order to preserve N.A.T.O.
We find the sameattitude in their belief that there is a political reason for a multilateral nuclear force, namely, to strengthen the Alliance. The real political reason against a multilateral nuclear force, which was set forth with vigour by the Leader of the Oppositionon 3rd July last, is that it would completely wreck any possibility of a settlement in Europe with the Soviet Union. It would once more be a case of sabotaging peace for the sake of continuing and stepping up war preparations. That is what the Governmentstand for.
On the other hand, the Labour Party has a policy of disengagement, starting with the Rapacki Plan, a policy for uniting Germany through the efforts of 513 the Germans from both sides within a framework guaranteed by the powers of disengagement,collective security and disarmament, and at some stage with a plebiscite to ratify the agreement reached, which is feasible as a basis of negotiation and which could lead to a settlement. The same applies to Labour's provisional proposals over Berlin. Finally, Labour has proclaimed the principle, which I have enunciated, about subordinating defence to foreign policy.
The way out of the difficulty is to take that principle seriously. We should begin by revising our so-to-speak unilateral commitments in the Commonwealth. My view is that Malaysia is a misbegotten monster which needs re-negotiating or de-negotiating like the Central African Federation. I am not in favour of trying to prop up all that by pouring in more and more British troops until we have hadanother look at the situation and have tried to produce a community that can stand on its own feet.
Similarly, the Constitution and status of Cyprus need a thorough revision. Cyprus should be neutralised, and there should be a United Nations treaty guaranteeing the rights of the Turkish minority, as well as an international guarantee against interference in Cyprus's, internal affairs by Turkey or anyone else.
Again, we should cut our defence commitments according to our foreign policy. With our foreign policy, we can come to terms with the Soviet Union from common interest and cease having to chase the will o'the wisp of negotiation from strength. We do not need conventional or nuclear forces to induce the Russians to negotiate on the Rapacki Plan, which they themselves support. That also goes for all Labour's proposals for a settlement. That means that we could drastically cut our forces in N.A.T.O. If de Gaulle was entitled to take most of his forces out of N.A.T.O. in order to fight a colonial war in Algeria without being accused of breaking his obligations to N.A.T.O., we are equally entitled to do the same in conformity with our policy for making peace.
Since N.A.T.O. comes into operation only in cases of unprovoked aggression, 514 we have a perfect right to tell our Allies that as longas they pursue policies that we regard us provocative they have no right to expect British help, and will not get it; that in order to make the collective defence obligations of N.A.T.O. cease to be a dead letter, they must come to terms with us on a basis of negotiation with the Soviet Union, and that basis of negotiation, with Labour's proposals for disengagement and regional disarmament, would entail a progressive winding-up of both N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Alliance and the substitution for them of all-European collective security arrangements based on the Charter.
These arts the things that should have first priority. We should not discuss defence in isolation from foreign policy, but should give priority to considering how to reach an agreement on disarmament and the settlement of Europe that would obviate the necessity of spending more and more of our resources and making heavier drains on our manpower. There must be an initiative to put an end to the arms race, and allthis nonsense. The only country that can take that initiative successfully is this country, and I believe that we can do so only when we get a new Government.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
I am a little alarmed that the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) has resumedhis seat so quickly. He has spoken for less than half an hour. I trust that he is not unwell, because this is so unlike him—though I am most appreciative. I want to take up one or two of his points before I turn to the main part of my speech. The hon. Member said that in his own constituency, and, he thought, in many other constituencies that will be fought by members of the Labour Party, the catch-phrase would be, "Be cremated with the Tories or make peace with Labour". Do I understand that he is announcing that the official Labour Party policy is that it will have no truck at all with nuclear weapons, will take no part in any alliance that may have nuclear weapons in its armoury, and will renounce, root and branch, nuclear arms of all kinds? Is that the official Labour Party policy to be announced at the next election?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Perhaps I may reassure the hon. Member. I am not expressing the Labour Party's official policy. I do not think that he needs to be informed on this point but, to make assurance double sure, I will tell him that. I hope that he feels happier.
§ Mr. Hall
I do not know whether I feel happier, but I am sure that the Opposition Front Bench does.
I do not want to make any party points. I want to express my own personal views, which I do not know are shared with one party or the other. I do not think that defence is an occasion to make party points and I shall try to keep away from that danger—though the old Adam may come out. The last time on which I took part in a defence debate was in January of last year, and before that it was in February, 1961. Reading back through those debates, I find it difficult to find anything that I then said that I would now wish to alter.
I find that a little depressing, because I should like to have been shown that I was wrong in suggesting that our conventional forces were inadequate for the tasks that would face them, I should like to have been shown that I was wrong in suggesting that the conventional forces were not properly balanced and, particularly, I should like to have been shown that I was wrong in suggesting that we had no reason to continue as an independent nuclear Power when our present contribution to the N.A.T.O. forces ceases to be effective. I cannot see in the developments in recent months or years anything at all that makes me change my views.
I believe, and many of those who have spoken have made a similar point, that our conventional forces are, at the moment, strained to the utmost. Some years ago, the Hull Committee made an assessment of the forces we should require to meet the then known and the future anticipated commitments. In making that assessment, the Committee took into account a figure of some 55,000 troops in B.A.O.R., it took into account that the troop commitment in Cyprus would run down, it took into account our treaty and moral obligations in the Middle East, the Near East and the Far East, and arrived at a figure of between 516 200,000 and 220,000 troops, including 15,000 Gurkhas. Our present strength is about 171,000, plus 15,000 Gurkhas.
As I stand here at this moment, I am not apparently in any danger of suffering a personal disaster, but I can tell the House in strictest confidence that whereas I normally rely on fourbrace buttons I have at present only two, through circumstances beyond my control within the last hour or so. It is quite clear that although all seems normal on the surface, if a sudden unexpected strain is imposed upon me I shall quite probably face disaster, and, like the country if it has to face another crisis that strains our conventional forces still more, I shall be caught with my trousers down. That is not an inapt simile between myself and the nation as a whole, and this problem has bedevilled us ever since the end of the war when we ran our conventional forces down. No side has really faced up to this with real courage because all of them have always had an eye on the electorate.
If the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) will listen to me for a moment, I want to refer to "Wigg's Law". In the debate in February, 1961, the hon. Member adumbrated a new law that he had discovered—Wigg's Law. This law was to the effect that there was only a given number of men in the country who enjoyed service in the Armed Forces, that no matter what we did by way of encouragement the number did not increase and that if we so improved pay or conditions as to produce a temporary upsurge in recruitment, all we did was to mortgage the future. I think that I have fairly summarised Wigg's Law—
§ Mr. Hall
The hon. Member does me an injustice. I have never had any difficulty in understanding what he says although I sometimes get a little tired by listening to it at length. But I understand it only too well. I think I am right in saying, however, that he dignified it with the name of a law only in that particular debate.
It is a great problem to build up one's conventional forces to the size one may 517 desire by the ordinary processes of recruitment. On the Government side, it has been stated on one or two occasions, especially recently, that we have no great problem confronting us as a result of the present size of our force, that it is sufficient, with our reserves, to meet our present commitments and, presumably, any anticipated future commitments. On the other hand, the Opposition believe that our conventional forces should be very much strengthened, presumably, in terms of manpower and fire-power. They suggest various ways by which this could be done—the redeployment of forces, a change, perhaps, in the priority of commitments as between Europe and other parts of the world, and other methods of recruiting. For instance, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), in a letter to The Times not long ago, suggested that there were other parts of the Commonwealth from which we might draw recruits.
All these suggestions have been advanced for improving and increasing the size of our conventional forces. But, in the end, if we agree that the forces must be larger and nearer, for instance, to 200,000, we shall, I am certain, have to come down to some form ofselective conscription. I do not believe that there is any escape from it. The hon. Member for Dudley rightly pointed out that selective conscription, or a form of selective service, goes on already, that it is embodied in the Army Reserve Act, 1962. Indeed, it happened under the previous National Service system. In his interesting article some days ago, the military correspondent of the Daily Telegraph gave a figure of, I think, 325,000 men in 1960 who were registered on attaining the age of 18. When one cut out all the exemptions, the miners, the Merchant Navy people, all those in Northern Ireland and everyone else entitled to exemption from National Service, one came down to about 86,000 out of the original total of 325,000 men of 18 who would otherwise be eligible to serve. We were practising a form of selective conscription then.
I do not believe that it would create such great difficulties if we had to do it again. The only thing is that both parties fight shy of making the announcement and saying that this is 518 likely to be the intention because they believe that it would be very unpopular with the electorate. In my view, we have got to do it. I believe that we shall not have an effective fighting force until we get the troops we require.
I do not want to say very much about our position as an independent nuclear Power. I deployed my arguments and expressed my view on this in the debate last year, and I shall not weary the House by repeating what I said then. All I do say is that I incline to the viewexpressed in the resolution passed by the British Council of Churches, on which members of both parties as well as of all Churches are represented. If the House will permit me, I shall read part of what was said by the Council. It sums up my own views, even if it does not sum up the views of anyone else except the Council itself.
On page 40 of the leaflet circulated to hon. Members, it is said:In the light of what has been said above, Christians in Britain who believe that the way out of the present human predicament lies in the willingness of nations to give a lead in devising methods of supernational control of nuclear weapons will conclude that it would be preferable to surrender the status of an independent British nuclear power, if"—I stress the word "if"—if it is likely thereby to establish more effective joint NATO machinery for controlling the deterrent of the Western Alliance as a whole, and to arrest the tendency towards a proliferation of national nuclear forces within the Alliance".I think that I carry the House with me thus far.Britain has already virtually given up the right to take independent action within the NATO area".I am not sure whether that may not be a little optimistic.The Working Group considers that there is no case for independent nuclear action—that is, without prior consultation with our Allies—in any part of the world.By and large, that sums up my own view as to the future part we can play in the deployment of nuclear weapons and the contribution we can make to N.A.T.O. in that way.
§ Mr. Hall
I should not like to say whether it is an accurate statement of the Labour Party's position. I do say, however, that it is a very accurate statement of mine. I do not necessarily have to leave these benches in order to express a view about it.
However, neither we nor any other country can pool its nuclear weapon resources in N.A.T.O. or make them available to N.A.T.O. unless there is adequate machinery within the N.A.T.O. organisation itself to control those weapons. Furthermore, it is difficult to do so unless all the nuclear Powers do it, and in this I include France. France has been a stumbling-block in all the attempts made to get the nuclear Powers to pool their weapons.
President de Gaulle has made very clear that France intends to go on retaining the nuclear weapon as an independent national weapon. Nevertheless, I thought that I detected a slight weakening in this position during the conference of N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians last September. I thought that the French delegates indicated a French willingness to come together with the other nuclearPowers and to pool their weapons and resources of scientific manpower with the other nations, on certain conditions.
That was the first time I noted any weakening in the previously intransigent French attitude, and it may be that we could pursue this and, perhaps, find that all the nuclear Powers concerned could devise a way of preparing the right machinery in N.A.T.O. to give adequate control over nuclear weapons and make certain that all of us could play a full part in the development of the kind of weapons which N.A.T.O. requires, not necessarily by the outpouring of enormous sums of money on the production of missiles but by the provision of scientific ability and "know-how", of which we have a great richness. I believe that this could play a great part in the strengthening of N.A.T.O.
This leads me to consider the problems of the N.A.T.O. organisation as it now exists. In my view, there are certain changes which it is essential to make. First, there should be developed a N.A.T.O. weapons organisation which would state the requirements for N.A.T.O. 520 weapons. At present, what happens is that individual nations produce weapons which are basically designed to meet their own national requirements. We produce something which we may need to use in different parts of the world in quite different conditions. The French may produce one, the Belgians and the Germans may do likewise, and each tries to "flog"his weapon to N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. should have a staff which could state its requirements for weapons to suit N.A.T.O. needs, and it should then go out to have the weapons made by those countries capable of doing it. Instead of there being competition to try to sell to N.A.T.O. a particular tank, for instance, which we have produced to meet our own needs, things should work the other way.
Second, and most important, we must develop an organisation which can effectively control nuclear weapons and which, at the same time, is able to act resolutely and effectively in time of emergency. The problem of the N.A.T.O. Powers being confronted with a decision on whether or not it was the right time to use a nuclear weapon is a horrifying one. Obviously, 14 nations cannot have all their fingers on the button. If they do, it will never be pressed, and the other side will knowperfectly well that it will not be pressed. There must be a very much smaller body than we have now. At present, whether we like it or not, the decision is taken by the President of the United States. We must find a way of producing the right organisationwithin N.A.T.O. itself.
I noted with interest that a previous Minister of Defence, at a conference of the Institute of Strategic Studies which took place at Oxford, I think, in September last, suggested the establishment of a small sub-committee which would comprise the three nuclear Powers plus certain non-nuclear Powers, of which Germany would probably have to be one. He suggested that to that committee could be delegated the authority to take the decision in the event of an emergency. I can see objections to this, but, none the less, I am certain that we must find an answer to the problem, even if it means surrendering a certain amount of sovereignty in so doing. I question whether N.A.T.O.'s responsibilities cover a wide enough sphere.
521 I recall making a speech five or six years ago in which I drew attention to the weaknesses of the flanks of N.A.T.O. They remain. N.A.T.O. should be considering the developments in parts of the world which are at present outside its immediate influence and which may be covered now by CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. It is as much of interest to N.A.T.O what developments take place in, say, India or China as what developments take place in Europe. If we are to strengthen the flanks of N.A.T.O. it must have a closer liaison, and perhaps overall control, over the areas which are now within the sphere and influence of CENTO and S.E.A.T.O., although those bodies were formed on a slightly different basis and for a different reason.
I do not wish to delay the House and I will refer lastly to disarmament. We discuss defence because it is the essential requirement of a nation which lives in a world in which we have not yet learned to live at peace with one another. We all pray for complete and utter disarmament and that the threat of war canbe removed for ever more. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, it is, perhaps, a rather optimistic thought on our part. We must pursue the target of disarmament with every means in our power and we must accept partial steps towards this ultimate goal, but it is my strong conviction—and I have expressed this view before—that even if we were successful by agreement in producing complete disarmament, in both nuclear and conventional arms, this by itself would not remove the threat of war.
We could abolish all arms overnight, but we could not destroy the knowledge of how to make them. If nations found causes to disagree in the future it would be a matter of a comparatively short time before they were producing the same kind of weapons as they had before. The real problem is that somehow, in human nature, there is a desire for conflict. This is sometimes described as the "death wish". It is implanted for perhaps reasons of self-survival and it operates in all sorts of ways. Until we carry out research into the basic causes of war—what makes human beings decide to follow a lead or individuals to initiate a movement towards war which they know in their heart of 522 hearts will result in annihilation—I do not believe we will solve the problem of disarmament.
This problem goes far deeper than mere paper agreements, the machinery of technical control or the burning on bonfires of a certain number of weapons. This is a human problem which affects human beings and which lies within therealm of psychologists. Some countries are already carrying out research into this problem, although on a small scale. In Canada, Holland and Sweden movements have been started among scientists and others to carry out basic research on this topic. I hopethat it will be possible—although this may be regarded as a rather airy-fairy suggestion—for the Government to encourage work of this kind in Britain, but unless we can solve it we will not solve the real problem of disarmament.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) referred at the end of his speech to the problem of disarmament and urged the Minister of Defence to comment on the desirability of conducting research in certain spheres. I would like to add to that a request for the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the instructions he proposes to send to the British delegation when the disarmament talks are resumed.
The hon. Member for Wycombe put his finger on an important point when he said that all our discussions on defence make sense in the second half of the 20th century only if they are always linked to our policies for disarmament. This is common ground, and I refer to it briefly now because I intend tonight to raise an important point of policy which is much more controversial.
The Prime Minister was today more forthcoming in his statement on the proposed multilateral nuclear force than he has ever been before. It was high time that he told the House of Commons in more detail what was in his mind on this topic, particularly since any reader of the American Press must be aware that a great deal more has been said in America on this subject by members of Her Majesty's Government than has been said in the House of Commons. I urge the Minister of Defence to elaborate upon the Prime Minister's statement. The 523 Prime Minister said that, politically, he was, on balance, in favour of Britain joining in an effort to create a multilateral nuclear force but that he wanted to find out by an experiment, which was now being started, whether it was practically feasible.
I regret that the Minister of Defence was not in his place—though he cannot be expected to stay in his seat throughout the debate—when the hon. Member for Horncastle (Sir J. Maitland) raised the subject of the multilateral force, made some cogent remarks about the practical difficulties and mentioned a series of objections to Britain being a part of this policy. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that when this experiment is completed, and if at that time the present Government are still in office, the country will not be committed to the multilateral nuclear force before the matter is brought for debate and decision to the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister did not give us that assurance earlier. He left the matter completely blurred and open and confined his remarks to the subject generally and said that, in his view, he was politically in favour of going in. We need an assurance that no commitment will be entered into committing this country to this policy before the House has had an opportunity of debating it.
I do not know how long the present experiment will take, or how conclusive it will be, for we have not been told the estimated time. We are entitled to know and we should be able, when asked by our constituents, to give an estimate of how long it might be before the Government reach a decision on the matter. As the House knows, decisions on future policy of this kind commit the defence policy and defence budget for five to seven years ahead. There are certain decisions of this kind which are so important in their future consequences on our general policy that they should not be taken at this stage but should be left for final decision until after the GeneralElection has been held.
I would regard it as quite unforgiveable if the Government were to commit this country to participation in the multilateral force and then, after committing 524 us, in the last weeks of this Parliament merely announce what they had done. We therefore need a firm assurance to night that they will approach the House first.
The political advantages which the Prime Minister sees in this proposal are his own and are by no means non-controversial. It is impossible to debate our future defence commitments without at the same time considering some of the political dangers involved in this defence policy.
As the hon. Member for Wycombe rightly said, we must always be aware of the importance of future prospects of disarmament. If this country were committed to the multilateral nuclear force with West German participation it would make 100 times more difficult any hope of successful agreement with the Soviet Union and Eastern countries on future proposals for arms limitation. I deliberately putit in terms of arms limitation and limited schemes because I am not a romantic about policies of disarmament. Like the hon. Member, I know that it will take a good many years before we can make a great deal more progress in this. In this context it is right that we should be so concerned, as we have been in this debate, about the future of our conventional forces. It is equally important that the British Government should not support or advance any defence policies which, in themselves, would create further obstacles to agreement on limitation of arms and on disarmament. We have a good case in point.
Anyone who has recently discussed this matter with any Soviet representatives, either officially or informally, will have come to the firm conviction that the Soviet Government, and indeed the Soviet people, having hoped as a follow-up of the success of the Moscow Conference that there would be a complete standstill in the pursuit of any policies that might lead to allowing other nations a share in the control of nuclear armaments, did not expect so soon after the conference that we would try to follow a policy which they regard as highly dangerous to their future long-term security. It is particularly dangerous to pursue this policy now before there has been any attempt to 525 implement the policies contained in the statement issued after the Moscow Conference, when there was mention of hopeful developments, perhaps for future agreement on observer posts and a proposal for a non-aggression pact.
Judging by what accredited spokesmen for the Soviet Government have recently said publicly, there can be no question but that any development of a multilateral force with German participation before any attempt has been made to make progress on these other policies would be regarded as a deliberate going back on the agreed communiquéfollowing the Moscow Conference. I attach great importance—though obviously not having the support on this point of all my hon. Friends—to the contribution made by the British Government in these negotiations. I have always said this and there is a lot of evidence for my belief. It is precisely because I take this view that I would like us not to do anything that could be interpreted as moving away from the course set at the Moscow Conference.
§ Mr. John Hall
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that there can be no really effective long-term disarmament unless China is included in all future disarmament agreements?
§ Mr. Mendelson
On general grounds, there will be agreement with that immediately on both sides of the House. Nor do I think that the Government would disagree. But here we must be realistic. While it is not legitimate for the Government to use the excuse that the Chinese and the French might be developing nuclear arms to put forward an unrealistic policy to our people, we must realise that China is developing nuclear and foreign policies which are deeply opposed by the Soviet Government. That is one of the most important factors governing the present international situation.
Indeed, I am so anxious that the Government should continue with the policy initiated as the Moscow Conference precisely because I firmly believe that the present Soviet Government and Mr. Khrushchev personally are, to some extent, being assailed not only abroad but also, one is told, by some supporters at home for the policy they are pursuing and because I think that the Chinese are 526 beginning to have some success in convincing some members of Mr. Khrushchev's movement that his policy is not tough enough. It is therefore even more important at the present time to put forward proposals to show that the policy initiated in Moscow last summer is successful.
I urge again that the Minister give us a categorical assurance about the multilateral force. The matter is made all the more urgent by the fact that the whole process of introducing either West Germany or East Germany into participation in the control of nuclear arms is wholly founded on false assumptions. According to a reliable report some time ago, there was a conference between the East German Government and the Soviet Government when the East Germans said they would like to be supplied with a very modern form of rocket which, although it would not be equipped with nuclear arms, would have nuclear capability as well as conventional capability. The Soviet Government turned it down. I am sure that information became known to the Minister and the Foreign Office soon after their meeting occurred.
It is very important to realise that once the Federal Republic were allowed to participate in the control of nuclear arms, though associated with other Powers in doing so, it would become all the more difficult to prevent further proliferation of nuclear arms. Moreover, the arguments based on claims for parity also have no foundation. The Treaty of Paris is not founded on the conception of parity. There is no treaty obligation for parity of the Federal Republic in nuclear arms. This House has never, indeed, approved that argument.
Indeed, the Prime Minister today, in a significant passage, said that one of the reasons why he was, on balance, in favour of the multilateral force was that it would be accompanied by the firm continuation of the policy of the German Federal Republic that it did not want nuclear weapons of its own. But recent discussions in Western Germany have pointed in different directions.
There have been many statements by members of the majority party, including the Minister of Defence, which point in the direction of the Federal Republic 527 merely using a multilateral force as a means of establishing the principle that Western Germany must be armed with nuclear arms, and that it would go on from there to demand a much larger share in nuclear policy later on. That is a most dangerous policy on which to embark. The Government must have nothing to do with it, but if they think of deciding otherwise they must come to the House of Commons and debate the matter before making a final decision.
I turn from that important point to the question of the equipment of N.A.T.O. and to the policies which the Government will have to pursue there in the immediate future. I think that for electoral reasons the Government have decided on their general policy, at any rate in terms of words and declarations with regard to what they call the British nuclear deterrent. This matter was effectively dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and by several of my hon. Friends and I do not think that I need spend any further time discussing it.
There are, however, more limited policies which the Government are pursuing, as a result of which there is grave danger that the main purpose of the defence policy will not be fulfilled. I have a lot of sympathy for the point of view which has been expressed on both sides of the House that there is an aspect of defence which ought not to be controversial; that it ought to be accepted by everybody. But that aspect is very limited. What I have in mind is the simple proposition that it is the duty of any Government to ensure that our soldiers and members of the other Armed Forces are not put in an impossible position when they have to go into action; that they are provided with the kind of weapons which will be useful at the right time; and that at the same time they are not in any way put in the position where they have to resort to certain weapons because of a policy imposed on them by our strategic planners rather than by a correct military decision.
What I have in mind is the over-reliance of the B.A.O.R. and all the N.A.T.O. forces on the use of nuclear arms. Nobody who has visited our Forces there—and I know that the right 528 hon. Gentleman has done so frequently and quite recently—and seen the set-up can be other than greatly disturbed at the kind of imbalance which we have allowed to develop. It is said that there are so many commitments in other places that we shall have to withdraw some troops from Western Germany. The hon. Member for Wycombe said that our Forces are stretched and strained to the extreme, and no doubt the Minister of Defence will tell us a good deal more about that aspect of the matter tonight.
I have no detailed information about how far that information is correct. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke on television on his return from his visit abroad, he seemed a little more reassuring than was indicated by his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe, but I hope that we are going to hear a good deal more about that subject and I am awaiting the Minister's assessment of the situation. No military secrets are involved. The House of Commons must be told whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that we shall be able to meet the commitments that we have assumed, whatever one might think about our future commitments or about other commitments which might have to be curtailed or altered. We have assumed certain commitments, and the House of Commons has a right to be told the Minister's assessment of the present situation.
Given the possibility that because of the dangerous situations that have arisen in some parts of the world some troops will have to be withdrawn from N.A.T.O., does not that mean that the old argument of the reliance on nuclear weapons will be emphasised all the more, and will become all the more dangerous? Is it not true to say that this doctrine of our forces being dependent on nuclear arms is one which the Government must abandon, and that here we have the real meaning of the demand that much more money must be spent on conventional forces?
In urging such a policy, I would never say, either in this House or in the country, that we would make large savings on our defence expenditure. It is conceivable that large sums of money would have to be spent on bringing our conventional forces up to date and improving their general efficiency, but 529 what is important is that the Government should make progress in making our forces in B.A.O.R. less dependent on the use of nuclear arms.
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the people in command in B.A.O.R. are not in a position to state positively that they could hope for a decision which would not allow them to use nuclear arms. We all know, and it has been proved time and again by Ministers of Defence in this House, that such a decision is a political one, and must be made by the Members of the Cabinet in this country and ultimately by the President of the United States who will transmit his orders to the N.A.T.O. commander, who in turn will transmit it to the other military commanders. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that anyone who is in command of our troops there, any senior officer, when pressed on this point will have to admit that he would hope, if he had to make the decision, that he would be given the authority as early as possible, earlier rather than later.
The imbalance there is one of the grave dangers to the strategy which might be pursued if there were a limited conflict. As we are making progress improving the international situation, I think it certain that the danger of a vast war and a large invasion will recede more and more. That is no argument for weakening our forces, but it must influence the kind of balance we are giving to our forces. It does not make sense not to make progress in providing for the kind of modern conventional forces which might be used if limited action were to become necessary on the Continent.
Speaking for myself, I do not believe that in the next few years there will be any need to use forces there, but no Minister of Defence, of course, can base his policy on that assumption. He must guard against potential dangers, even those which he does not regard as highly likely. At the same time he has to keep in mind that if the political situation changes there must be a subsequent change in the kind of forces he keeps in a specific theatre.
I touch on disarmament, which has been referred to only briefly by a number of hon. Members. I assume that the resumption of the Disarmament Con- 530 ference will be accompanied by some new initiatives from all sides. I was very glad indeed that the Leader of the Opposition recently sent a detailed memorandum to the Foreign Secretary on the kind of disarmament proposals we ought to pursue. It is quite possible that there will not be either a foreign affairs or another defence debate before the Conference resumes.
The Minister of Defence, as a senior member of the Cabinet, must, of course, be well informed and must be consulted and given authority on any such disarmament proposals which might be put forward or supported by Her Majesty's Government Therefore, I urge him to tell the House this evening of at least the first reaction of the Government to the precise proposals sent to him by the Labour Party, It would be too bad if a defence debate like this were to be concluded without some detailed reference to the forthcoming conference and if there were no mention of the Government's first reaction to these proposals.
The matter of providing for our defence is one which continues in its importance whether we are in opposition or in Government. If there is to be a change of Government it will be as much the duty of hon. Members of the Opposition to examine critically the state of affairs they find when they come into office as it will be their duty to continue what policies we find useful and acceptable. There is no party glory in defence in that sense, but it is the duty of the Government of the day to respond to a general proposition by taking the House of Commons into their confidence as far as they can, and at the same time not trying to make party capital out of the matters which should be regarded as matters of supreme national importance.
There must be political conflict over defence and disagreement over the allocation of resources to defence policies. There must be disagreement on proposals for disarmament, and we must insist that only those which are not obstacles to arms limitations must be supported. At the same time there should be agreement on some of the basic resources and the assessment of what might be immediately necessary to make it easier for limited conventional 531 forces to be properly trained and, secondly, in the right position at the right time. All these things should be subject to general consultation in the House. There seems no reason at all why they should be hedged about by political considerations if the Government accept them.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) will, I hope, forgive me if owing to lack of time I do not follow some of the controversial points which he has made. We have had a debate which has been underlined by a general feeling on both sides that we are approaching a manpower crisis, which it is politically difficult for all parties to contemplate in a totally unbiased manner. The "thin red line" was one of the great myths of the nineteenth century and the thin khaki line is one of the realities of the second half of the twentieth century. What is disturbing is how events tend to extend rather than contract our liabilities all round the world.
I should like to be slightly more detailed than certain other hon. Members have been and to look piecemeal at certain positions in the world and how unlikely it is that they will not provide trouble in the future. Looking at the Mediterranean, we are engaged in Cyprus. It is unlikely that anybody, on either side of the House, would regard it as possible to take our garrison away from Cyprus. Nor should one forget that basically the garrison there is connected also with the whole security of Greece and Turkey and the position of our forces in the Middle East and in Libya. The forces in Cyprus are not there primarily to preserve the peace in that island, but as part of our defence bloc for that part of the world.
Going further south and looking at Aden, can one believe that with the recent trouble in the Yemen, the unsettled state of the succession in Saudi Arabia, the trouble in Kuwait and the uncertainty in Iraq, there is likely to be continuing peace in that area and that we can do without our garrison there? Passing over the sea to Kenya and Somalia, one again finds a generally considerably deteriorating situation.
532 One other question which is likely, perhaps, to involve us in difficulties in the future is the retention of British ex-civil servants in the Northern Province of Kenya and their employment under the Kenya Government. If there is a foreseeable explosion between Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, it seems that we will inevitably be involved by direct association with one side of the triangle, and we may well not be on the side that we would wish.
Moving also to the Caribbean, one finds that our responsibilities are extended in number if not in size. In the old days, it was possible to look at the whole of the West Indies and British Guiana as one unit whose troubles could be solved by the dispatch of troops, a cruiser or something like that. Now, however, we have the independent States of Jamaica and Trinidad, the left-over of the Federation, which is in not at all a happy state, and the situation in British Guiana. I think it very unlikely that we will have continuing peace in British Guiana. Can we believe that this is an area where we will not need troops in the foreseeable future?
Going again round the world, this time to Singapore, one finds another deteriorating situation. Are we to believe that Soekarno is finished with his territorial ambitions in Borneo? The most frightening aspect for reflection is that in the time of crisis in Malaya, 80,000 troops were employed there to fight against, perhaps, 10,000 guerrillas.It would not be possible for us to send 80,000 troops to Borneo now. Not only is it likely that Soekarno's activities in Borneo will increase, but there remains the continuing threat to Malaya. Over its northern frontier, there are still a few hundred Communists in the jungles of Siam. It would be only too easy once again for them to infiltrate into Malaya.
Where are the troops to come from if the situations in these places deteriorate? There is not much doubt that there will be generally a slight reallocation of troops in the Far East and withdrawals from Hong Kong. The argument is put forward again and again that it is not necessary to have six or seven units in Hong Kong, on the ground that they would not be of much use against the whole force of China if she decided to 533 march upon Hong Kong. That is true, but what is also true is that the existing garrison of Hong Kong would probably be required to enforce order internally should there be a repetition of the riots of the late 1950s in Hong Kong. The withdrawal of two units there could well impose a great strain upon internal security for our garrison. When we think of the great value of Hong Kong to us, this is something which should be seriously considered.
For our final reserve, we come back really to Germany. In his extraordinarily able speech today, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that our defence forces should be complementary to our diplomacy, and I associate myself entirely with that view. Would it, however, aid our diplomacy in Europe, our say in the councils of N.A.T.O. and our eventual political association with Europe to have in Germany an undermanned, weak force which is constantly being withdrawn or under threat of withdrawal?
One comes, therefore, to the fact that we are under-manned. As the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) said, we have a reserve and we will continue to have it for, perhaps, two years more. In two years the reserve will have gone. It is for two years ahead that we must prepare now.
As I understood it, the Leader of the Opposition said that he would like to make approaches to discuss defence. I believe that it would be most advantageous if the whole matter of our manpower reserves could be taken out of the political arena. If it were possible to get an all-party committee to discuss this matter, it would at least be one step forward to realism and would enable all the parties to face the facts which it is most difficult and unpalatable for them to face in election year.
I turn to the Labour Party's attitude to our nuclear deterrent. The Leader of the Opposition said that for four years he had thought that we should cease to be a nuclear Power, that this had been obvious to him for four years. He said later that the two Powers alone should have nuclear weapons. Heasked that we should go forward with our disarmament. What does this mean? This is a question on which I hope that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. 534 Healey) will dwell when he winds up the debate for the Opposition.
Does this mean that the Labour Party is prepared to tell the electorate, "We will give up our nuclear deterrent independently of whether other countries do or not"? Will the Labour Party say that England shall do without a nuclear deterrent when France has one and China has one and when China is in a position not only to have one but also to give one to Egypt or Indonesia if the occasion moves her? Should some local war or other situation such as we are now facing in the Caribbean or in the Malaysian Peninsula arise, are we to have no nuclear deterrent, although other countries have it and may give the nuclear weapon or bombs to countries opposing us? Is this a responsible security risk? The hon. Member for Leeds, East must give a detailed account of what the Labour Party plans to do.
It is no good saying, "We do not want a nuclear weapon. We will keep it for a little while". Does the Labour Party, or does it not, intend to advocate the abolition of the British deterrent although other countries have it? This is the real crunch of the whole question, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will dwell on the weakness of the Opposition's case when he winds up.
The Opposition's attitude is very irresponsible. How can they say, "We will do without a nuclear deterrent"? In words reminiscent of ones once used by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), "We will burn under the Labour Party". What the Labour Party advocates is not only that we should go, as Mr. Bevan once said, naked into the council chambers but also naked into local wars.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Thompson (Dunfermline Burghs)
In the very few minutes remaining to me there is little to do except dot a few i's and cross a few t's and answer one or two of the points which have been made, including the last point made by the noble Lord the Member for Berwick - upon - Tweed (Viscount Lambton). My hon. Friends have made clear our view that the nuclear deterrent cannot be the ultimate and overriding objective of a defence policy. Further, 535 it is an objective which, if pursued according to its intrinsic technical objectives, will distort our economy.
We must accept that our defence objectives are the much less spectacular but much more useful and much more flexible objectives which have been emphasised from both sides of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) who is to reply, will not need much assistance from me. I will merely quote briefly from a thoughtful speech in which he recently outlined the three conventional objectives which seem to the Labour Party to take priority—the need for modern equipment; the need for transport aircraft; and the need for the recruitment and mobility of our regular forces. These are much less spectacular and much less headline catching than the great nuclear objectives.
However, these are the bread and butter needs. They are the day-to-day requirements in Malaysia and Cyprus. The type of situation which arises in defence policy is very rarely the once-for all cataclysm. It is exactly the type of local incident which may arise within the Commonwealth or outside it which requires the defence methods I have outlined.
We on this side cannot help feeling that the reasons for the emphasis on nuclear independence put forward by the Government are not primarily defensive. There are theoretical defensive reasons for it, but the use of the ultimate nuclear weapon would take place only in such an unreal situation that it should not engage our attention in the day-to-day problems which face us. We cannot help feeling that these reasons are not primarily defensive. They are partly psychological; they are partly keeping up with the Joneses. Other countries, it is argued, have the bomb. Why therefore shouldn't we?
If this is the objective, we completely repudiate it. We want to keep up with the Joneses in our social policies. We want to be the country with the best educational system in the world and with a system of social services that is an example to all. These are the objectives of national policy in which we want to keep up with the Joneses and, indeed, surpass them. We do not particularly want to keep up with the Joneses, as an 536 objective in itself, in the question of nuclear independence.
The point has been made several times that somebody has to set an example to stop the spread, and why not let it be ourselves? We have a reputation in world affairs for humanity, for flexibility, and for setting a pattern of decent behaviour to other countries. This is a reputation which we should continue to earn.
Hon. Members on this side of the House cannot help feeling that the question of nuclear independence may be used as an electoral weapon. This is perhaps the worst charge of all. To use a weapon as hideous as the nuclear bomb and to try to convince the British electorate that the only patriotic party is that which possesses it is, in our opinion, a thoroughly dishonest act. I may be doing them an injustice, but if the Government intend to use the possession of nuclear independence as an election weapon, and to suggest that we are unpatriotic because we oppose it, and they are the party of patriots, this propaganda will redound upon them as so many similar gimmicks have done in the past.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
For the most part, this has been a thoughtful debate. Real differences of view have been discussed in what I believe to be the right way, that is to say, a non-partisan way. It is probably a mistake to aim at a bipartisan policy on a question where differences go very deep and are very sincere. On the other hand, it is vital that when we discuss real differences in respect of such an important matter we should not disagree unless we have to, and that our disagreement should be couched in as sober language as possible.
The Prime Minister opened the debate with one of his more engaging performances—simple, direct, and jaunty, almost to the point of being a little cocksure. Certainly to those who like that sort of thing, this was the sort of thing they like. But in one respect I cannot help feeling that he failed to show a quality which was very evident in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). The Prime Minister's 537 speech on this subject reeked of complacency. To adapt a saying of a previous Member of this House, it seems to me that complacency has been the tsetse fly of this Administration.
Perhaps the most appalling thing about the Prime Minister's complacency, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) pointed out, was that it was 100 per cent. sincere. Nevertheless, we would all agree with him that a defence policy should be marked by realism and foresight, and that a British Government should frame a defence policy which would last, and stick to it. I could not agree more—but what an extraordinary way of describing the action of Her Majesty's Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman has been a Member for many years. The Ministry of Aviation alone is a cemetery of abandoned projects—£250 million down the drain, according to the Minister of Aviation, on 20 major projects which have been abandoned before completion.
Let us follow up the extraordinary vagaries of the Government's deterrent policy. The right hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations told us in 1957 that the day of the manned bomber was over and that we must rely on the missile Blue Streak. Two years later the same Minister told us that the missile was no good and that we must go back to the manned bomber with Skybolt. At the same time he told us that the alternative, Polaris, was no good because it would soon be possible for the Russians to detect it under water. Three years later his successor told us that we could not have Skybolt and that the only thing that was any good was Polaris. Now the Government are playing about with the TSR 2—originally produced as a tactical strike weapon—in the rôle of the strategic deterrent.
The right hon. Gentleman said that realism should be the mark of the Government's defence policy. I want to refer to the basic fact, which is the foundation of our criticism of his Administration, that after thirteen years and the expenditure of £18,000 million our defence commitments are disastrously overstraining both the available money and the available manpower. I 538 want to say a few words in turn about both.
The problem of money was discussed in the debate that we had before Christmas on defence reorganisation, and the argument can be simply put. It is that owing to the fantastic speed of weapons development the cost of weapons is rising about ten times as quickly as is the gross national product. This is true of conventional and atomic weapons. That means that as time passes, if the Government intend to maintain defence expenditure at the fairly constant level of the gross national product as at the moment I think they do, they are compelled to choose, to establish priorities. Heaven knows, anyone who has thought about these problems realises that it is no easy matter to choose between weapon systems, especially when, as was pointed out in the last debate by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones)—who has a great deal of governmental experience in this sphere—as the cost of weapon system rises one is faced not only with a choice between commitments but a choice between strategic rôles. One may even be faced with a choice between Services, because the abandonment of a weapon may mean the end of a Service, at least in the rôle to which it has become accustomed.
A previous Minister of Defence, the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Watkinson), used to say that it was essential for the British Government to have in respect of defence what he called a mixed bag of clubs. This was a ten able view at a time when it was possible for a country of this size to produce a little of everything and have something effective of everything. But the trouble now—as the present Minister of Defence knows better than anybody else—is that if we try to have a little bit of everything we do not have enough of anything. It is no use having a mixed bag of clubs if the bag is so heavy that one breaks down halfway round the course or if in order to reduce the weight of the mixed bag, the shafts of the clubs are made so thin that they break in one's hand the first time they are used. I believe that this is precisely the situation facing the Government at the present time. They are hopelessly over-committed in major weapon projects.
539 During the last year the Minister of Defence committed himself to at least one new major weapon for each of the Services. He promised the Navy a new carrier with a replacement for the Sea Vixen to fly off it. He promised the Army, through the Air Force, a long-range strategic troop carrier, the AW681. He promised the R.A.F. a Canberra replacement, a Hunter replacement and a Shackleton replacement. He is now finding out that he cannot possibly do all those things and keep the defence budget within more or less 7 per cent. of the gross national product, which he undertook to do last year.
One of the reasons why hon. Members on this side of the House called for this debate is because we are genuinely worried that the Government, fearing the political consequences of making a choice between a number of projects, some of which they must jeopardise, will avoid taking any decision at all in this year's defence White Paper. I hope that the Minister of Defence will give us some indication about which of the projects to which he committed the Government last year he will give priority in this year's Defence White Paper; because he knows perfectly well that it is quite impossible for us to carry all these projects to completion. At present the only one of those projects to which the Government have committed themselves directly and financially is the Canberra replacement, the TSR2.
The Minister of Defence knows as well as I do that if he delays a decision and a choice in this regard, not only will our Armed Forces go short of weapons which they desperately need to remain efficient, but our industries will lose any chance of competing in the foreign markets. Because most of the developed countries in the world also want new weapon systems of this nature and if the right hon. Gentleman delays any longer over the P1154, the French or the Americans will take the market and British industry will be left, as so often before, without any rôle whatever to play.
I have a nasty feeling that what the right hon. Gentleman is doing is telling all the firms concerned, "It is going to be all right on the night; do not worry; but I just cannot get it in this year; 540 spend your own money". He is thinking that it will not matter too much what happens, because right hon. Gentlemen opposite will be out of office by the time the bill comes to be paid.
This is one of the reasons why we have sought to have this subject debated while there is still time—I hope—before the Defence White Paper for 1964–65 has been brought to completion. So far as I can see, the only one of the seven major projects to which the Government are financially committed is the TSR2, and if one considers the likely need this seems the least useful of the lot, in spite of the fact that the aeroplane, if it does exist, will be a flying laboratory unique in the world, as I said before.
The reason why we are committed to the TSR2, is that there is one Minister in the Government who knows what he wants, the Minister of Aviation—he wants to keep his seat in Preston. The Minister of Aviation's influence in the Government has had a disastrous effect over recent years. We have some example of that in the revelations about the Skybolt affair, which were recently printed in the Sunday Times and which no member of the Government so far has cared to dispute or deny.
I am told that the British Aircraft Corporation has been given an order to get the TSR2 off the ground and into the air before the election. This is its absolute priority even though it isquite impossible to test the TSR2 in its major rôle of low level flight unles it is taken somewhere like Aden or Australia to test. I am told that no order has been signed for a production delivery of 30 TSR2s. Here, again, the Minister of Aviationmisled the House, wittingly or unwittingly, when we last debated this subject, before Christmas, when he gave the impression that newspaper reports that a production order had been signed were true. I hope that the Minister of Defence will answer the question whether the Ministry has signed a production order for TSR2 aircraft, other than the 20 aircraft for test and other purposes which were ordered some time ago.
I now pass to the related question of the over-strain on our manpower. The history of this problem is well known. The present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, the right hon. 541 Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), as Minister of Defence compelled the Army to accept a manpower target 20,000 men fewer than the minimum regarded as essential by the Hull Committee, which was chaired by the officer who is now Chief of the Imperial General Staff. If the Minister of Defence was to insist on a manpower target lower than that which the Army regarded as the minimum for carrying out its commitments, the Government had a clear obligation to the country and the Forces to cut commitments.
But commitments have not been cut in the intervening time, and it is perhaps a political irony that the same politician who, as Minister of Defence, forced the Army lo accept a manpower target of 20.000 below its minimum is the man who, as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, rightly or wrongly—for the moment I am not discussing that—has given us new and unforeseen commitments in Malaysia and Aden and, latterly, in Cyprus.
It is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister implied and as Ministers at Question Time in the last few days have pointed out, that so far the Army, though grievously strained and stretched, has managed to fulfil the commitments. I should like to associate my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself with the praise which the Government give in their Amendment to our Motion to the skill and despatch with which Transport Command and the other branches of the Armed Services responded to the unforeseen emergency in Cyprus. It was a remark able achievement and does the Services great credit.
However, as the defence correspondent of The Times pointed out in an impressive article the other day, to claim that because it is all right so far it will stay all right, is like the man who jumped off the Empire State Building and at the 30th floor on the way down said, "So far, so good."The Prime Minister knows, the Minister of Defence knows, and every Service Minister knows perfectly well that if public order breaks down in British Guiana, which is certainly possible, if there is trouble in the Protectorates, or if there is even a marginal increase in guerrilla activities in Borneo, it will be absolutely impossible for us to meet those additional commit- 542 ments without defaulting on some of the commitments which we have already. This is not a satisfactory position for any British Government.
The Prime Minister proudly said in his speech that he accepted that the obligation to put 55,000 men in the British Army of the Rhine still stood. I suggest to him that it is no good accepting obligations unless we create the capacity for fulfilling them. The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that at this moment he does not have that capacity and that if there is any further call on our very limited military manpower we shall be obliged to withdraw from the B.A.O.R. one of the seven brigades already there and committed to it. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman very seriously that Britain's influence inthe world today depends not on empty postures of nuclear grandeur but on the ability to give our friends the relevant military help at the right time and, above all, on the ability to keep our promises. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman making speeches at by-elections about the overwhelming political importance of the British hydrogen bomb if at the same time our friends in various parts of the world are not receiving the help which we have pledged to them.
I believe that we have reached a point in this country at which the political commitments in defence which we have accepted are too great for our existing military capacity. Therefore, we have reached the stage, which the Government have been trying to put off and evade for years, where we must choose. We must now fix priorities and discuss which commitments really matter to us in the world and what are the forces appropriate to fulfil them. We must make these decisions quickly. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley pointed out in his impressive speech—and no one in this House knows more about military manpower than he does or who has been more often right about it—we must make these choices and decisions in the next two and a half years before the 100,000 reservists who are the last bunch of part-time National Service men with a reserve liability under the 1962 Act disappear.
I wish to devote the rest of my speech to suggesting what should be done. I believe that the Government have failed 543 to choose, or, where they have chosen, have chosen wrongly. We shall vote against the Amendment because it is clear from the Prime Minister's speech—and I suspect that this will be underlined in the Minister of Defence's speech—that the Government's conception of a balanced force istotally inappropriate to the real defence needs of this country. As the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed pointed out, the Prime Minister said that our defence forces must be complementary to our diplomacy. There is no doubt that the first thing to do is to make judgments—and I know that they are very risky ones—about the future trend of events all over the world and the likely challenge to our national security or the types of challenge to our national interest which we can legitmately and reasonably hope to meet by force.
I think that often, but not all the time, the Prime Minister talks a great deal of good sense about foreign policy. I think that he did so when he spoke in Kinross on 7th January, just over a fortnight ago, and said, as quoted in The Times, that:Britain had been proclaiming for some years now that nuclear armaments had reached a point of perfection and multiplication at which war between the Soviet Union and the West was unthinkable.The logic of that was that, without dropping our guard, we must seek areas of agreement with Russia and increase our contacts. He went on to say that the Americans and Germans had reached the same conclusion.
I agree with him here. If we are to frame a relevant defence policy, the beginning of wisdom is to accept the fact that the risk of nuclear global war is now very small, and that, in so far as it does still exist, it can be met only by the Atlantic Alliance acting as a whole. This is a point that the right hon. Gentleman made as Foreign Secretary at Ottawa; my right hon. Friend earlier quoted from that speech. In so far as there is a risk of global war, and that risk is decreasing, it can be met only by the united strength of Western Europe and the United States.
I would agree with the right hon. Gentleman, too, that there is now a real possibility of disarmament, though whether that carries with it the possibility of a fall in our defence budget which 544 was promised by the right hon. Gentle man in his own by-election, we shall see when the defence White Paper is produced—
§ The Prime Minister
That is not fair. What I was talking about in the by-election, and it has been misquoted time and time again, was international disarmament, and our part in that—not an actualreduction in the defence budget.
§ Mr. Healey
I will leave the right hon. Gentleman alone with his conscience and his memory on that particular issue.
My point here, and I think that the Prime Minister will accept it, is that in the situation into which weare now moving an independent British deterrent would be irrelevant, even if we had it, and that as far as we face a threat to our survival in global war that threat is best met, not by an independent nuclear deterrent—even assuming that we can afford it or that we are capable, operationally, of maintaining it—but by trying to revise N.A.T.O. stategy to take account of the real danger in Europe and not the imaginary dangers we believed existed some years ago—perhaps did exist some years ago—and trying to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on arms control. The key to the solution of the problem is co-operation between East and West on arms control rather than continued competition in the arms race.
This side of the picture is, on the whole, a happy and encouraging one, thank God, and let us not forget that the strength and unity of the West in the past has been one of the major factors in bringing it about. At the same time, as the danger of global war is declining, instabilityin Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America seems to be growing worse year by year. The danger of instability and war in the neutral part of the world is the only real danger of war that now exists, and it is a danger to which the whole apparatus ofnuclear deterrence is totally irrelevant. It is a danger that can be met only by conventional forces on the ground, and that, in the modern world, means conventional forces that can be got to the spot very quickly and which it is known can be got to the spot very quickly.
I think that it was the Prime Minister, speaking in the defence debate in the 545 House of Lords a year ago to which he has referred, who pointed out that since 1945 Her Majesty's Forces had been engaged in 32 military operations all over the world. None of those operations has involved the use of nuclear weapons; the only one that involved a direct confrontation between Communist and Western forces was the war in Korea, and, even there, atomic weapons were not used.
We on this side of the House believe that this is the real threat to peace. I do not think that anyone who reads the newspapers every morning can deny that this is where the priority in our defence expenditure and organisation must go—in providing efficient, mobile, conventional forces to assist in maintaining stability in Africa and in Asia, and to prevent anarchy—not, incidentally, necessarily to protect British interests, because I believe that there are very few parts of the world today where it is likely to be appropriate for us to use force to protect our national interest, but to assist in the international work of maintaining peace and stability so as to enable these peoples of the troubled continents to achieve a better and higher standard of life with the minimum possible suffering.
Personally, I welcome the fact that, for historical reasons, Britain is involved in these problems all over the world. I believe that we shall often find that we are the only country in a position to fulfil such responsibilities for that reason. This was the case in Cyprus the other day. But it is equally important, faced, as we are, by the threat to stability in areas where we have a military presence, that we should not needlessly increase our commitments as, I believe, we have done in Southern Arabia by forcing through a Federation which was known to be unacceptable to the inhabitants of the Colony in which we have our base.
It is important also—I know that the Minister of Defence will agree, especially after having been out there—that we continue to seek political solutions for the problems as a result of which we are at present involved in the use of force, such as the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia. With respect to the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, the idea that we have 546 any interest, or capacity in the long run, in being bogged down in interminable guerrilla warfare on the island of Borneo is something which all of us would accept very reluctantly indeed.
We must seek international support in maintaining these commitments, above all, through the United Nations. I believe that the Prime Minister must be bitterly regretting some of the things he said a year or two ago about the United Nations'rôle in maintaining stability in these troubled areas.
Whatever can be achieved by way of assistance from our friends in the Commonwealth—I hope that the Minister of Defence will tell us about any discussions he had on this problem with reference to Malaysia—the first priority in defence is the maintenance of adequate and effective conventional Regular Forces. It has been argued by the Prime Minister that getting rid of the nuclear deterrent will not help us to do this at all. With respect, this is not true. Is he tellingthe House that we should not have more effective conventional forces if we spent on mobility, fire-power and conventional equipment the £200 million a year which we are now spending on the nuclear deterrent? I believe that the Government have not given priority to this, and it is one of the reasons for the trouble.
As far as I have been able to discover, though it is extremely difficult to find an answer to such questions, the reason why they decided, a year ago, to cut Gurkha recruiting from 15,000 to 10,000 was not political or military, ft was Treasury. It was money. The reason why the Government stopped recruiting married men earlier last year was not defence. Again, it was money. Incidentally, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able toassure us that there is to be no cut in the Army's programme for married quarters in the next Defence White Paper.
In fact there is a direct relation between the amount of money we spend on the nuclear deterrent and the amount which is a available for the equipment and mobility of our conventional forces. It applies just as much to mobility. We have not at present a single effective long-range troop carrier. The Belfast is just coming along, at enormous cost and in many respects not a very suitable aircraft 547 for this purpose. Nearly a year ago, the Government decided to produce the AW 681, and yet, as far as I know—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us—although the airframe has been ordered, no order has so far been placed for theengine. This is another decision which will be evaded in this year's Defence White Paper.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
Will the hon. Gentleman elaborate on that and say what the Labour Party's proposals are for the Belfast?
§ Mr. Healey
That is one of the questions I would rather answer after talks which I hope the Minister will allow us to have with him, because questions of weapons choice and priority are impossible to be answered satisfactorily without knowledge of all the facts, facts which are certainly not available to the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Then why run down everything if the hon. Member does not know what he is talking about?
§ Mr. Healey
Hon. Members opposite are easily amused; no doubt they feel the need for some distraction following the hard facts I am putting to them.
To explain what I mean I will give one illustration of choice. The Minister has recently been out to the Far East. He knows that our troops in Borneo are crying out for helicopters. The Government could get three-man helicopters for £10,000 a piece and I suggest that, from the point of view of our present commitments and those which we can envisage, we would be doing more good for our military capacity in producing long-range transport aircraft and tactical carriers like helicopters for the conventional forces who are engaged all the time all over the world than spending enormous sums of money on weapons which we are unlikely ever to use and could certainly neveruse alone.
Make no mistake about this, the Prime Minister admitted in his speech that efficient, highly mobile conventional forces are very expensive. I do not deny that the Government are spending a far greater part of our defence budget on 548 conventional forces. The question is whether we now have adequate conventional forces for our commitments, and I do not believe that it is possible to have adequate forces unless we give priority to them at the expense of the nuclear deterrent.
The other argument used by the Prime Minister—and this was the only argument produced for keeping the deterrent—was a political and not a military one, for he argued that it was necessary to have an independent deterrent force in order to have a place at the conference table. He also argued that he could foresee many countries acquiring their own nuclear weapons and that, in a world of nuclear anarchy, it would be necessary for Britain to have nuclear arms. He might be right, but a cyanide pill would be cheaper and more effective.
But the Prime Minister claims that he wants to stop nuclear anarchy and that the main aim of his foreign policy is to stop the spread of atomic weapons. The present nuclear deterrent policy of the Prime Minister and the arguments he uses to support it—not when speaking at the N.A.T.O. Council or Western European Union but at election meetings in Britain—are calculated to frustrate all the objects of his diplomacy. He says that Britain must have the H-bomb because this is the only key to influence on major world questions. He has also said that Britain and America agree that Germany should not have atomic weapons. Could there be a more direct way of inciting Germany into a nuclear alliance with de Gaulle? It is no good relying on the Paris Treaties in this respect. Ministers opposite know—although their supporters behind them may not—that the Paris Treaties have already been broken on nuclear weapons by France with the agreement of the other signatories. Treaties are no protection against things of this nature and that is why the right hon. Gentleman has overruled his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on the multilateral force.
The Government are supporting the multilateral force—although they know that it is militarily unnecessary and politically dangerous—because Germany wants it and Germany, although she has not got nuclear weapons, has more influence with the United States than 549 Britain, which has nuclear weapons. [Hon. Members: "No."] That is the only reason why we are supporting the multilateral force.
This afternoon the Prime Minister went so far as to imply that providing the multilateral force can be shown to be militarily feasible he will permit Her Majesty's Government to co-operate in it, although he knows it to be militarily unnecessary. It is difficult to draw any other conclusion from what he said in answer to my suggestion.
We could still head off this problem if we were to offer to integrate our own nuclear forces irrevocably in a combined N.A.T.O. force, but the Government will not do that before the election. This is another thing that they are leaving over because it makes political difficulties in their own ranks to suggest it. This is really what worries us.
The Prime Minister has failed to take control of the Government, has failed to force the Cabinet to make decisions that it should make—apparently, I suppose, through an aristocratic indifference to the problem and the attitude of apres moi, le deluge. The position of the Government in this field and in all others at this time reminds me of nothing so much as the state of the Chinese Empire before the revolution at the start of this century—a lot of departmental war lords fighting with one another with the last of the Manchus presiding over the anarchy with an impotent grin.
The nation cannot afford to waste any more time. We want to help the discussion. The talks we suggest would not always produce agreement—that is clear from this debate—but they could at least ensure that we did not disagree unless it was absolutely necessary. We would also make it clear to the Government that they would have no need to postpone essential decisions for fear that the Opposition would take unfair electoral advantage. The offer we made is seriously meant and I hope that it will be seriously considered. I believe that the Government can help themselves as well as the nation by accepting it.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
I must confess that when I first heard of this Motion it was with rather mixed feelings. I was in Singa- 550 pore and anxious to proceed further east, but I had to reverse my path and return to take part in the debate. Nevertheless, I will also confess that when I read the Motion I realised that I had seen many worse Motions put down by the Labour Party. The Opposition do, after all, advocate more arms. It is in a sense a call to arms. I have known moments in the history of the Labour Party when they have done nothing like that, so it is a modest step in the right direction.
I certainly do not wish to quarrel too much with the call to a bipartisan approach. Indeed, I very much welcome what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said early in his speech about Malaysia. It was important. It is to the benefit of us all that he should have declared in the clearest possible terms that we stand united in the House of Commons in support of our obligations, honourably entered into under treaty, to a newly emergent Commonwealth country.
I hope that what he said will be read not only here but in other places as well. Indeed, perhaps it might not be inappropriate if I start my speech by discussing the Malaysian situation and leaving aside for a few moments the theories of defence, the rival party positions and the question of the deterrent and the rest, though I may say a word about them if I have time later on.
I think the House should recognise that a grave situation exists in Malaysia. We are there in a country to which we have a commitment and an obligation. Our troops are disposed along a frontier of about 1,000 miles, in what is probably some of the most difficult military country that exists. The Gurkhas, who have some experience in these matters, say that even in Malaya the jungle was comparatively easy compared with what they are facing in those areas, with some dissident elements like the Chinese Communist organisation in Southern Sarawak or Indonesians in Tawau, and with Indonesian regular forces disposed along the frontier on the other side. Wherever they are disposed they are used, in effect, as a launching pad for members of the terrorist border organisations who are uniformed and well equipped and who come over and make a jab first in one place and then in another all along 551 that frontier. They are very well armed, sometimes—but not always—with American weapons, because the Americans have supplied weapons to the Indonesians, who in their turn supply them to these terrorist border raiding parties. So far we are resisting these attacks, which come sometimes from the land and sometimes from the sea.
I visited many of our troops there. I saw the 40 Commando Royal Marines, the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the Leicesters, and, above all, the Gurkhas, to whom many hon. Members referred during the debate, and who are doing a magnificent job in that part of the world.
A serious and potentially grave situation exists there, and I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said. There are no military answers to problems of this character, not in the last resort. There are no military answers to problems like this. One can help the position. One can fulfil one's obligations. One can give a country which is still struggling to be born an opportunity to find a political settlement, but a political settlement has to be found. After all, U.N.O. has already been called in. At the time when the referendum was being taken as to whether these countries in Eastern Malaysia wished to join the Federation, U.N.O.was called in, and in effect gave its imprimatur to this new arrangement that has been made, and this new Federation which has been set up.
I believe that our troops there are doing a magnificent job. I believe that the rôle we are carrying out is an honourable one, for we seek nothing. There is no self-aggrandisement; no defence of some old imperial interest or anything of that kind. We are there under a treaty honourably entered into, and we will carry it out. We can carry it out, but we must seek by all means open to us to try to find a political settlement.
I agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman said about Malaysia, but he went on to develop in a rather wide field his ideas about a bipartisan policy. I am certainly not going to deride the benefit of such a policy. If we can get some form of national agreement on defence, that cannot be anything but a 552 very good thing; something devoutly to be wished for. Of course it has to be bipartisan on issues rather wider than how many or what sort of married men we let into the Army. We cannot have a bipartisan policy which will be effective unless it covers some of the deeper and more difficult issues of defence.
I say, quite frankly, to the right hon. Gentleman that we are in something of a difficulty about these matters. I take one of what I might call the fundamental issues—not fundamental, but larger questions of defence—and examine how far the bridge can be crossed. What about American bases in this country? This is a really important vital issue in defence. The right hon. Gentleman, I understand, said in the clearest terms that he does not believe we ought to have a deterrent, but he does believe America ought to have a deterrent. I think this is common ground. Presumably if America is to have a deterrent it must be given all possible facilities to poise that deterrent in order that it should carry out its task.
Are we right in assuming that the Labour Party as a whole now is united in its determination to secure that American bases can stay in this country? Are they united? Are they prepared to proclaim that American bombers will stand upon our airfields and that the American Polaris submarine—never mind whether we have our own—will stay available in the Holy Loch? I hope they are, but that is not what their party conferences have always tended to say. That is one of the issues on which bipartisanship would certainly be helpful.
The Polaris submarine is a big issue. We have been in some genuine doubt as to what the right hon. Gentleman's policy was about the Polaris submarine. I understand his policy now is that he will effectively abandon the Polaris submarine. I am bound to say we cannot meet him on that one. We are going to build the Polaris submarine.
What about the V-bombers? The right hon. Gentleman has always taken a rather doubtful view about the V-bombers. He said on 22nd October:We take the view that this is very much on the way out. I doubt very much whether military experts consider that they could ever be a deterrent.553 If they can never be a deterrent I do not see why we are trying to keep them. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said:We have our V-bomber force, which is a very powerful force with a life of five years or more."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 238.]I am bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman that if there ever were a Labour Government I do not know what would happen to the Secretary of State for Air. How would he conduct himself in visits to the Air Force? What would happen to recruiting as he went from air station to air station and said, "These things are on the way out. I doubt very much whether any military experts consider they will ever be a deterrent". It would be a very odd speech to make.
The right hon. Member for Huyton spoke about commitments. I welcome what he said today about the Far East. I agree that a rôle wider than that of Europe is essential to our purposes. I do not think it is always fully understood what a contribution we make to Europe itself by undertaking these wider rôles. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown)—and I join with other hon. Members who are sorry that he is not here and wish him a speedy recovery—said:the wider world rôle…is rapidly diminishing…".This was on 5th March, 1963—This is a hang-over from the old so-called imperial commitments of imperial times."—[OFFRCIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1963; Vol. 673, c. 325.]One would accept that as a possible view and indeed it was thought at one time that the policy of the Labour Party was to give up the wider rôle and try to bring the troops back to Europe. They were always criticising us for not doing something about that. Then one reads what the hon. Member for Leeds, East said only on 9th January:We must cut commitmentsȆThe Government should have gone to the N.A.T.O. Council last December and asked for a change in N.A.T.O. strategy so that we could do the necessary job with fewer troops.If we get out of the world-wide rôle and reduce the number of troops in Europe and we do not have a deterrent—and, indeed, there is a little doubt among the Opposition about whether we ought to do anything in Cyprus—it 554 is difficult to see exactly how we marry the policy on defence of this side with what right hon. Members opposite have been advocating. I am not saying that these things should not be attempted, and I welcome the one important thing that the right hon. Gentleman said. I emphasise, however, that if we are to struggle for a meeting of minds, we must have a meeting of minds on some of the things that really matter.
The Leader of the Opposition posed to us a series of questions which, he said, he would like to discuss—for example, whether there is a proper balance between our commitments and our resources. This is a matter that one could talk about for a very long time. We cannot have our commitments limited to a number which can be met if they are all active at the same time, because this would be a very limiting factor. In the obligations which one undertakes throughout the world, it must be assumed that one does not necessarily have to fulfil every one of them at the same moment.
The right hon. Gentlemanspoke about the Hunter and Sea Vixen replacement. I am quite clear about this. I have not the slighest intention of trying to make a decision until I am ready to make it. After all the talk about projects which have been started which should never have been started and which were then cancelled, I should have thought that those critics would not have tried to rush too hastily into the starting of new projects until all the careful procedures for examination, technical research and the rest were gone into.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us, therefore, why he announced this on 30th July last year?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I did not announce it on 30th July last year. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have some of these talks; then, he might understand a little more about these things. He asked a series of questions on these matters, but none of them touches—[Hon. Members: "Answer them."]—I am happy to answer all the right hon. Gentleman's questions, but not necessarily in great detail in the 15 minutes that remain to me.
The right hon. Gentleman asked, for example, whether we would amalgamate 555 Army units. We have at this moment no intention of doing so. The right hon. Gentleman asked a series of questions and I said that we were willing to meet him and give the answers to them, but they do not represent a combined or bipartisan policy.
Our policy has been clearly defined. It consists of the independent control of a deterrent which is capable of inflicting incalculable damage upon anenemy assailant. It consists of the acceptance of the responsibility for a world-wide system of alliances covering Europe, the Far East and the Middle East. It consists of a willingness and a capacity for coming to the aid of friends and allies when appropriate, either in their defence as in Malaysia or in support of the civil power. These rôles are carried out by a professional Regular Army. This concept of defence is limited and contained within expenditure which is not significantly above 7 per cent. of the gross national product. Within that general concept, it is certainly possible to have broad national agreement. Indeed, if we could have national agreement on a policy of that kind, it would undoubtedly considerably increase our general standing in the world.
When opening this debate, apart from the bipartisan aspects of these matters, the Leader of the Opposition referred to the reserves. From what he said, one would be led to suppose that he thought it wrong that reserves should be used for more than one theatre at a time. If they are to be moved from one theatre to another, the right hon. Gentleman refers to them as though they were a stage army. In truth, Army reserves are available for more than one theatre. That is the purpose for which they are established. We have no need to apologise for having committed the reserves at the present time. That is precisely what they are for.
The right hon. Gentleman also said what a shameful thing it was to use the regiment of artillery without its guns, but this is a rôle of the regiment of artillery. It has been used without its guns on a number of occasions. It is trained for this purpose and has been used before this occasion in Cyprus.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said that we 556 might one day need selective service. It is true that we might one day need it, and, if we did, no doubt the Government of the day would introduce selective service. At this moment, however, the question of conscription and selective service is, as the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) well knows, irrelevant to our problems. The Leader of the Opposition also said, and I agree with him, that defence is not a matter for the Front Bench only. I believe this to be very true. The hon. Member for Dudley said something of the same kind. Whatever we do in talks together, we should remember that most of the great issues of defence are not matters of secrecy. They are matters which can be brought out in the open and publicly debated, and they are very much better publicly debated. We must not try to obscure them with a smokescreen of talks and give the impression that they are limited to a narrow circle. I believe that the whole House of Commons would rather resent it if we carried on defence in thatway.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Would the right hon. Gentleman begin this public confrontation by telling us, as the Prime Minister did about the 55,000 commitment for N.A.T.O., when he expects to achieve that figure? He told us once last year.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
My right hon. Friend said that we are committed under treaty to 55,000 troops in Europe. At present we have approximately 52,000. We had hoped to reach 55,000 during the course of this year. Whether we do or not depends upon the rate of recruiting, but we shalldo so at the earliest possible opportunity. That is the position. It is quite wrong to say that we are simply falling down upon our obligation by constituting one brigade in B.A.O.R. as a reserve. We have an absolute right under that Treaty to take troops out of Europe if our obligations in other parts of the world so demand. That is the answer with regard to the 55,000.
My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) asked about the Australians and Malaysia. It is essentially and primarily for the Government of Malaysia to invite or not invite other countries to contribute forces in her defence. I agree with my hon. Friend that our contribution 557 to the world-wide rôle is not always properly appreciated, but it is appreciated by the United States of America, and not least by the United States Secretary for Defence. It is true that American arms have been found in Borneo, but these have been supplied in the ordinary course to the Indonesian armed forces and not to the insurgents.
The hon. Member for Dudley started by dealing with the question of air mobility, which I believe is a new theme for him. On the question of air mobility, I would recommend that he leaves aside for a little the long-range tactical transports, the Comets and the VC10s, and concentrates on what I regard as the most urgent form of air mobility—the helicopter. This is, as the Leader of the Opposition said, an important aspect of conventional arms.
On the subject of conventional arms, to which the Motion is largely drawn, I believe that the issue is not between the 10 per cent. spent on the nuclear and the 90 per cent. spent on the conventional. The issue is how that 90 per cent. is disposed. In that there is a real matter for debate, argument and consideration. The right hon. Member for Huyton said that we have the balance wrong, but within that 90 per cent. there is a tendency to go for too sophisticated weapons. I believe that what is required is a very great concentration on what is robust, simple and portable, not only by air, but also by men.
If we can concentrate upon that aspect, if we could discuss it amongst ourselves, I believe that we would be making a far greater contribution to the realities of likely warlike conditions than in a rather abstruse argument between the nuclear and the conventional. For indeed I agree with some things which have been said in the debate. The nuclear war is so terrible as to be almost
§ beyond contemplation. This does not refer merely to independent deterrents but to all deterrents. A large-scale conventional war is, on the whole, unlikely. What is very likely is that year after year we may have to fulfil rôles not dissimilar from what we are doing in Borneo or police rôles such as we are doing in Cyprus, Swaziland or British Guiana, or all the multifarious requests which pour in upon any Minister of Defence. In that, and in the type of conventional weapons that we have to deal with, a great deal of useful work could be done.
§ The hon. Member for Dudley returned to his favourite theme of the all-party defence committee. I am for sharing information. I remember offering to address the Labour Party Defence Committee, if it so wished, perhaps in a rash moment, but the right hon. Gentleman, probably wisely, turned it down. I am not for denying information. However, the best forum for information still remains the House of Commons. There is no substitute for the House of Commons. I hope that from time to time we will have continued opportunities to confront each other, not on the smaller matters which were raised in some of these questions, but on the larger issues of defence which we can debate with sincerity but not with acrimony and which I believe improve our knowledge in the general conflict of argument which takes place.
§ We have met all the demands made upon us in the last few months and both sides of the House can be proud of our soldiers, sailors and airmen for the tasks they are undertaking.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 214, Noes 296.561
|Division No. 8.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Blackburn, F.||Chapman, Donald|
|Ainsley, William||Blyton, William||Collick, Percy|
|Albu, Austen||Boardman, H.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central)||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H.W. (Leics, S.W.)||Cronin, John|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Boyden, James||Crosland, Anthony|
|Baird, John||Bradley, Tom||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Barnett, Guy||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bence, Cyril||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Darling, George|
|Benn, Anthony Wedgwood||Callaghan, James||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Benson, Sir George||Carmichael, Neil||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Deer, George||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Dempsey, James||Kelley, Richard||Randall, Harry|
|Diamond, John||King, Dr. Horace||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Doig, Peter||Lawson, George||Reid, William|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Ledger, Ron||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Driberg, Tom||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rhodes, H.|
|Duffy, A. E. P. (Colne Valley)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lipton, Marcus||Ross, William|
|Evans, Albert||Loughlin, Charles||Silkin, John|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lubbock, Eric||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Finch, Harold||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Fitch, Alan||McBride, N.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||McCann, John||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Foley, Maurice||MacColl, James||Small, William|
|Forman, J. C.||MacDermot, Niall||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McInnes, James||Snow, Julian|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|George,LadyMeganLloyd(Crmrthn)||McLeavy, Frank||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Ginsburg, David||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Simon||Stonehouse, John|
|Grey, Charles||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stones, William|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Manuel, Archie||Stross,SirBarnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Mapp, Charles||Swain, Thomas|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Marsh, Richard||Swingler, Stephen|
|Gunter, Ray||Mason, Roy||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mayhew, Christopher||Taverne, D.|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Harper, Joseph||Mendelson, J. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Millan, Bruce||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Milne, Edward||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Healey, Denis||Mitchison, G. R.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis)||Monslow, Walter||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Moody, A. S.||Warbey, William|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Morris, John||Weitzman, David|
|Hilton, A. V.||Moyle, Arthur||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Holman, Percy||Mulley, Frederick||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Holt, Arthur||Neal, Harold||Whitlock, William|
|Hooson, H. E.||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)||Wigg, George|
|Houghton, Douglas||Oliver, G. H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||O'Malley, B. K.||Willey, Frederick|
|Howle, W.||Oram, A. E.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hoy, James H.||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Owen, Will||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Padley, W. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Paget, R. T.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Woof, Robert|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Parker, John||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Parkin, B. T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Jeger, George||Peart, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pentland, Norman||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and Mr. Redhead.|
|Jones,Rt.Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Aitken, Sir William||Biggs-Davison, John||Burden, F. A.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Bingham, R. M.||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Allason, James||Bishop, Sir Patrick||Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)|
|Anderson, D. C.||Black, Sir Cyril||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Arbuthnot, Sir John||Bossom, Hon. Clive||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bourne-Arton, A.||Carr, Rt. Hon. Robert (Mitcham)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Box, Donald||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Balniel, Lord||Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Chataway, Christopher|
|Barber, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Braine, Bernard||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Brewis, John||Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.)|
|Barter, John||Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Batsford, Brian||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cole, Norman|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Cooke, Robert|
|Bell, Ronald||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Cooper, A. E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Bryan, Paul||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Buck, Antony||Costain, A. P.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Bullard, Denys||Coulson, Michael|
|Biffen, John||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Crawley, Aidan||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Curran, Charles||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pym, Francis|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Dance, James||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Ramsden, Rt. Hon. James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Peter|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Kershaw, Anthony||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kimball, Marcus||Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kirk, Peter||Rees-Davies, W. R. (Isle of Thanet)|
|Doughty, Charles||Kitson, Timothy||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Douglas-Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Alec||Lagden, Godfrey||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lambton, Viscount||Ridsdale, Julian|
|du Cann, Edward||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Duncan, Sir James||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Duthie, Sir William (Banff)||Leather, Sir Edwin||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eden, Sir John||Leavey, J. A.||Roots, William|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Elliott,R.W.(Newc'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Emery, Peter||Lilley, F. J. P.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Seymour, Leslie|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Sharples, Richard|
|Farr, John||Litchfield, Capt. John||Shaw, M.|
|Fell, Anthony||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Shepherd, William|
|Forrest, George||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Skeet, T, H. H.|
|Foster, Sir John||Longbottom, Charles||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(Stafford & Stone)||Longden, Gilbert||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Loveys, Walter H.||Speir, Rupert|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Stainton, Keith|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Gammans, Lady||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Gardner, Edward||MacArthur, Ian||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||McLaren, Martin||Stodart, J. A.|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||MacLeod, Sir J. (Ross & Cromarty)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Godber, Rt. Hon. J. B.||McMaster, Stanley R.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Goodhart, Philip||Macmillan, Maurice (Haifax)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Gough, Frederick||Maddan, Martin||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Gower, Raymond||Maginnis, John E.||Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Maitland, Sir John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Green, Alan||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Temple, John M.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Marlowe, Anthony||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Grosvenor, Lord Robert||Marshall, Sir Douglas||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marten, Neil||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Thornton-Kemsley, sir Colin|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mawby, Ray||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mills, Stratton||Turner, Colin|
|Hastings, Stephen||Miscampbell, Norman||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hay, John||Montgomery, Fergus||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Hendry, Forbes||Neave, Airey||Walder, David|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Walker, Peter|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nugent, Ht. Hon. Sir Richard||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Holland, Philip||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Webster, David|
|Hollingworth, John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Osborn, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Whitelaw, William|
|Hopkins, Alan||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Williams, Paul (Sutherland, S.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Percival, Ian||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Peyton, John||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Worsley, Marcus|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pitman, Sir James|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pitt, Dame Edith||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jackson, John||Pott, Percivall||Mr. Chichester-Clark and Mr. Finlay.|
|James, David||Pounder, Rafton|
|Jennings, J. C.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
§ Question put,That the proposed words be there added:—564
§ The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 216.567
|Division No. 9.]||AYES||[10.13 p.m.|
|Aitken, Sir William||Elliott,R.W.(Newc'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Leather, Sir Edwin|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Emery, Peter||Leavey, J, A.|
|Allason, James||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Anderson, D. C.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Arbuthnot, Sir John||Farr, John||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Fell, Anthony||Lindsay, Sir Martin|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Forrest, George||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Foster, Sir John||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Balniel, Lord||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(Stafford &Stone)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Barber, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Freeth, Denzil||Longbottom, Charles|
|Barter, John||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Batsford, Brian||Gammans, Lady||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cardner, Edward||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Bell, Ronald||Gibson-Watt, David||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Bidgood, John C.||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||McLaren, Martin|
|Biffen, John||Godber, Rt. Hon. J. B.||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Goodhart, Philip||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bingham, R. M.||Gough, Frederick||MacLeod, Sir J. (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bishop, Sir Patrick||Gower, Raymond||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Grant-Ferris, R.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bossom, Hon. Clive||Green, Alan||Maddan, Martin|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maginnis, John E.|
|Box, Donald||Grosvenor, Lord Robert||Maitland, Sir John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Braine, Bernard||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest|
|Brewis, John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Marshall, Sir Douglas|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Marten, Neil|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bryan, Paul||Hay, John||Mawby, Ray|
|Buck, Antony||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bullard, Denys||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Maydan, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Bulls, Wing Commander Eric||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mills, Stratton|
|Burden, F. A.||Hendry, Forbes||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hobson, Rt. Hon, Sir John||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hocking, Philip N.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Carr, Rt. Hon. Robert (Mitcham)||Holland, Philip||Neave, Airey|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hollingworth, John||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hopkins, Alan||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hornby, R. P.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmith, W.)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Partridge, E.|
|Costain, A. P.||Iremonger, T. L.||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Coulson, Richard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jackson, John||Peyton, John|
|Crawley, Aidan||James, David||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Critchley, Julian||Jennings, J. C.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitman, Sir James|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Pott, Percivall|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Dance, James||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, sir Henry||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kershaw, Anthony||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Doughty, Charles||Kimball, Marcus||Pym, Francis|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Alec||Kirk, Peter||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kitson, Timothy||Ramsden, Rt. Hon. James|
|du Cann, Edward||Lagden, Godfrey||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Peter|
|Duthie, Sir William (Banff)||Lambton, Viscount||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Eden, Sir John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rees-Davies, W. R. (Isle of Thanet)|
|Renton, Rt. Hon. David||Stodart, J. A.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Storey, Sir Samuel||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey||Studholme, Sir Henry||Walder, David|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Tapsell, Peter||Walker, Peter|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Roots, William||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)||Webster, David|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Teeling, Sir William||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Temple, John M.||Whitelaw, William|
|Seymour, Leslie||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Sharples, Richard||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Shaw, M.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Shepherd, William||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon S.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Speir, Rupert||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Stainton, Keith||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Worsley, Marcus|
|Stanley, Hon. Richard||Turner, Colin|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Mr. Chichester-Clark and Mr. Finlay.|
|Abse, Leo||Ginsburg, David||McInnes, James|
|Ainsley, William||Gourlay, Harry||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Albu, Austen||Grey, Charles||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Mahon, Simon|
|Baird John||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Barnett, Guy||Gunter, Ray||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bence, Cyril||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Manuel, Archie|
|Benn, Anthony Wedgwood||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mapp, Charles|
|Benson, Sir George||Harper, Joseph||Marsh, Richard|
|Blackburn, F.||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Roy|
|Blyton, William||Hayman, F. H.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Boardman, H.||Healey, Denis||Mellish, R. J.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics, S.W.)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Millan, Bruce|
|Boyden, James||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Milne, Edward|
|Bradley, Tom||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hilton, A. V.||Monslow, Walter|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Holman, Percy||Moody, A. S.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Holt, Arthur||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Callaghan, James||Hooson, H. E.||Morris, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Houghton, Douglas||Moyle, Arthur|
|Chapman, Donald||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Mulley, Frederick|
|Collick, Percy||Howie, W. (Luton)||Neal, Harold|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hoy, James H.||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derbys, S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Cronin, John||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||O'Malley, B. K.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hunter, A. E.||Oram, A. E.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Owen, Will|
|Dalyell, Tam||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Padley, W. E.|
|Darling, George||Janner, Sir Barnett||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jeger, George||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Parker, John|
|Deer, George||Jones,Rt.Hn.A.Creech(Wakefield)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Elwin (West Ham, S.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Diamond, John||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Peart, Frederick|
|Doig, Peter||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pentland, Norman|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Kelley, Richard||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Driberg, Tom||King, Dr. Horace||Prentice, R. E.|
|Duffy, A. E. P. (Colne Valley)||Lawson, George||Probert, Arthur|
|Edelman, Maurice||Ledger, Ron||Proctor, W. T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Randall, Harry|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Evans, Albert||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Reid, William|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Finch, Harold||Lipton, Marcus||Rhodes, H.|
|Fitch, Alan||Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Lubbock, Eric||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Foley, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Forman, J. C.||McBride, N.||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McCann, John||Ross, William|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||MacColl, James||Silkin, John|
|George,LadyMeganLloyd(Crmrthn)||MacDermot, Niall||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Symonds, J. B.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Skeffington, Arthur||Taverne, D,||Willey, Frederick|
|Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Small, William||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Snow, Julian||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Soskice, Fit. Hon. Sir Frank||Wainwright, Edwin||Woof, Robert|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Warbey, William||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Watkins, Tudor||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Stonehouse, John||Weitzman, David||Zilliacus, K.|
|Stones, William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||White, Mrs. Eirene||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stross,SirBarnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)||Whitlock, William||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and Mr. Redhead.|
|Swain, Thomas||Wigg, George|
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House commends the effectiveness and speed with which the armed forces have met the recent heavy demands on Great Britain's military resources; and recognisesthe need for continued provision of adequate and appropriate conventional forces as an essential part of a balanced military capability.