HC Deb 15 February 1965 vol 706 cc839-40
35. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the anti-submarine defences of the Royal Navy in the Far East; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mayhew

We are never complacent; but recent developments in antisubmarine weapons have greatly increased the effectiveness of the Royal Navy against submarines.

Captain Elliot

Does not the Minister of Defence agree that, in a state of undeclared war or clandestine operations, all the advantages are on the side of the attackers? It is quite impossible for the defenders to maintain complete vigilance the whole time. Would not the hon. Gentleman consider visiting the Far East and having a look at the antisubmarine and underwater defences to make quite certain that a big disaster will not happen?

Mr. Mayhew

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for the Army has just returned from a visit there. I shall certainly welcome an early opportunity of going out myself. Meantime, I have especially looked into the particular point the hon. and gallant Gentleman makes. There can be no definite safety factor here, but nevertheless I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the fleet is extremely vigilant from the point of view he has mentioned.

Mr. Webster

Will the Minister of Defence consider publishing a classified list, with a break-down into various types, of submarines of countries in the South-East Asia area, not necessarily owned by them but controlled by them, which countries are not in alliance with ourselves or any of our allies?

Mr. Mayhew

I do not think it would be for me to publish such a list, but Jane's publish a great deal along those lines.