HC Deb 02 June 1964 vol 695 cc918-9
Q2. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech of the Secretary of Stale for Defence on Wednesday 13th May at Rutherglen on foreign affairs and defence represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Prime Minister aware that on polling day the Glasgow Herald said that the Secretary of State's two-day canvassing visit had been a great fillip to Tory hopes, but that the Labour vote went up by 1,200 and the Tory vote went down by 2,000, showing a swing to Labour of 7½per cent.? In view of this magnificent result, will he send the Secretary of State for Defence to the other two pending by-elections forthwith? Is he aware that the Secretary of State said in his speech that conventional defence is not possible for Britain? As this country has no independent nuclear deterrent without help from America, is not this a doctrine of despair?

The Prime Minister

If we are to get into questions of political results of by-elections the hon. Member might have a look at some other recent results—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Which ones?"] Hon. Members will see in a moment. The hon. Member asked whether I agreed with my right hon. Friend's speech and I said, yes. I think that the hon. Member would be wise if he took account of the Secretary of State's advice and had a look at the possible defences of our island, because the nuclear deterrent is the only effective defence.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Secretary of State for Defence, during his speech in the Ruther-glen by-election, charged the Labour Party with wanting to return to conscription? Is the Prime Minister aware that there is no justification for any such charge? [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] If the right hon. Gentleman has any evidence to that effect, will he produce it so that we may debate the subject? May I ask whether he agrees with his right hon. Friend that the Labour Party wants to return to conscription? If he will not dismiss him from his post will he at least reprimand him?

The Prime Minister

On the question of conscription, so far as I know the Front Bench opposite is always saying that we ought to have more conventional arms. I have continuously asked how hon. Members opposite would get them unless they are prepared to introduce conscription.

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