Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [3rd March]:
That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1965, contained in Command Paper No. 2592.—[Mr. Healey.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
while deploring the unjustified and misleading party political statement in the opening paragraph of the White Paper on Defence and the absence of any clear account of Her Majesty's Government's proposals for maintaining the strength of the Armed Forces at a level consistent with the rôles undertaken, nevertheless welcomes the recognition by Her Majesty's Government of the importance of a powerful nuclear capability".—[Mr. Thorneycroft.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
This annual debate on the Defence White Paper is always a very interesting Parliamentary occasion.
The Secretary of State said yesterday afternoon that the Armed Forces of the Crown were the instruments of foreign policy. This is the occasion in the year when the House has the best opportunity to study British interests in their international setting, to define the broad objectives of defence and foreign policy and to estimate our prospects of achieving them. Anyone who sat through yesterday's debate, as I did—I think that I heard nearly all the speeches—will have felt that this debate was no exception to the rule.
We felt bound to put down an Amendment directed, in the main, to the first paragraph in the White Paper, and I will briefly say why. The first reason is that a State document should not be made the vehicle for party propaganda. The second is that the charges laid in the first paragraph of the White Paper are disproved in almost every chapter which follows, particularly by the account given of the successes that our forces consistently had wherever they mere deployed in 1964.
1540 Thirdly, having said, in the first paragraph of the White Paper, thatThere has been no real attempt to match … commitmentsto manpower and resources, as we read the rest of the White Paper, unless I have misread it, the Government do not propose to vary either the commitments or the manpower.
Fourthly, while arguing that the Services are "seriously over-stretched" both in manpower and money, the Secretary of State goes on to announce that the Government will raise logistics for six battalions of the United Nations. Very good. They are soon to be followed by the battalions themselves. The Government can have one argument or the other, but not both.
Lastly, this paragraph is really a smokescreen to disguise from a section of the Labour Party that the Government have adopted the Conservative defence policy almost in its entirety.
I shall come to the substance of the very thoughtful speech which I was glad to hear from the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday. I must say that he put up the most remarkable physical display I have ever seen. He managed to do something hitherto thought to be physically impossible—that is, talk to the Left over his right shoulder. It is not for me to say, but I think that he continuously addressed the Chair through the back of his head. I had the advantage of seeing his profile all the time. I thought of interrupting him, but I thought better of it because he could at once have justly retorted that he was facing the Opposition.
Having given the reasons why we have moved this Amendment and directed it to the first paragraph in the White Paper, I turn to the main themes of foreign policy and defence which were identified in the very thoughtful speeches yesterday of hon. Members on both sides of the House. The main preoccupations of the Government in 1965 are roughly the same as those which have beset every Administration in Britain since the war—first, how to prevent one of the great Communist Powers from starting a world war and what part we should take in the system of alliances designed to prevent of our commitments, and the yardstick that; and, secondly, to decide the extent 1541 by which we should measure them is this.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), in his generally telling speech yesterday, made one very valid point, namely, that the yardstick should be not an unpremeditated attack, not an accidental incident. It is not from those that a war will escalate into the nuclear exchange. The yardstick which we must use is premeditated aggression, whether it comes in Europe or in the Far East, and whether it is deliberately designed to achieve a gain at the expense of the free world, whether it is in the N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., or CENTO areas. It is against that sort of offensive that British and allied forces must be raised and equipped.
The Government, having made their appreciation and having calculated the chances of a political settlement through diplomatic means, have to take consequential decisions, the first involving, in these days, the balance between nuclear and conventional forces and then, in sequence, the manpower and the weaponry which will fit the commitments on a scale which the Government feel is within the national means. It is to these questions that I mean to address myself.
Unquestionably, the feature of the White Paper which struck the House most forcibly yesterday was how the Government, having studied the facts of the situation, have completely changed the emphasis that they previously put on the nuclear element in defence. They are now convinced of the value of a British deterrent and a nuclear arm, part of which, at any rate, is to remain under British control. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) immediately took this point. It was taken up in every speech by Members opposite and noted by speakers on both sides of the House—and it is not surprising.
In paragraph 18 of the White Paper, for instance, the Government say:… it is impossible to conceive of a land campaign in Europe lasting for many days.The Government conclude that it is necessary to keep bombers in a strategic strike force in the Far East, those bombers to have a conventional but also a nuclear capacity. They are to be 1542 directly under the control of the British Government. The Government go on to say that they are going to build the Polaris submarines, which are now described as "a massive British contribution" to an Atlantic force, thus dismissing out of their own mouths what the Prime Minister said in the last five minutes of a debate—no doubt he will recollect this—when he insinuated that there were certain defects which would reduce the value of Polaris as a weapon of war. All that has gone by the board.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The Prime Minister is to speak, and he can refute that if he likes, but that is the impression which he left on the House.
This is not all, because if—and it is a very large "if"—there is to be an Atlantic fleet at all, then the Polaris submarines and the bombers will be resumed intact into the British command if and when the N.A.T.O. Alliance comes to an end.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) yesterday thought that there was no difference, or very little difference, in the formula used by the present Government and that used by the late Government in the Nassau Agreement. I agree that there is not much, but there is this difference—and I shall come to it later—that the present formula allows less flexibility in the movement of forces. But there is no doubt—my right hon. and gallant Friend's conclusion was right, and yesterday this was the conclusion of the House—that the Government have adopted to a very, very large extent the nuclear policy recommended by the previous Government.
The fact is—and I base this statement on facts—that the bombers in the Far East—and I take it that the Prime Minister, when he speaks, will confirm this—will have a nuclear capacity and are to be under the direct control of the British Government. As long as there is not an Atlantic nuclear force, that will apply both to the bombers and to the Polaris submarines.
Even the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger), who was the sole supporter of the Government from the Government benches yesterday, said that the present Government policy—
§ The Prime Minister
Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me a moment? Does he recall using these words on 17th December, 1964, after discussing the question of bombers in the Mediterranean area and in the Far East:I shall not pursue the question whether these bombers are intended for a conventional or a nuclear capacity. I give support to the Prime Minister; what he said yesterday was quite right. It is not in the public interest that he or I or anybody else should comment on this."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 592.]Now the right hon. Gentleman has gone back on what he said then and is asking me to confirm it.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
We have the White Paper and all I am saying is that these bombers are in the Far East, they have conventional and nuclear capacity, and they are under our control. I am not asking the Prime Minister to say anything more or saying anything more myself. These are facts, and the right hon. Gentleman knows them. Even the hon. Member for Goole, who yesterday, when the Prime Minister was here very little, was the only one from the Government benches to support the Government, said that the present policy of the Government announced in the White Paper showed a good many conversions—the hon. Member put it that way—among his right hon. Friends.
I congratulate the Prime Minister. It has been hard going, but we have persuaded him at last that a nuclear element in the British armament is a national interest. I am sorry that I have been so insistent in this matter, but I am amply repaid now that the national interest has prevailed.
I should like the Secretary of State for Defence to consider two modifications of his policy as announced in the White Paper. I should like to ask him to give up the idea of dividing the bomber force in half and giving half irrevocably away to some international force. That is the most uneconomic way of running a force and surely, in the light of our commitments, it cannot make sense.
We cannot tell how far conditions in the Far East will deterioriate into a wider war, either in Malaysia or in the area of the S.E.A.T.O. Alliance. We cannot, as we know, commit our land forces on any scale to the mainland of Asia, apart from 1544 our commitment in Malaysia, and, therefore, our contribution, if a contribution is called for from us, in the S.E.A.T.O. area must be a combination of air and sea or one or the other. Therefore, I ask the Secretary of State to keep the Royal Air Force intact. The Royal Air Force is not overstretched at present, but if the right hon. Gentleman cuts it in half, it would be. By doing this, he would impose a quite unnecessary handicap upon us.
Similarly, I suggest that the Secretary of State should not put the Polaris submarines irrevocably into an international force. At present, it is true that we are unlikely to want to move the submarines from the N.A.T.O. area—I agree with that—but in future there is a distinct possibility that we might. Not only that, but we might wish to share either a base or the maintenance with another Commonwealth country in another part of the world. It is possible—and I ask the Secretary of State to look at this; I have always thought this very possible indeed—that nuclear weapons may become cheaper to make and, therefore, that new areas of danger will be opened up in the world.
When I consider presently the relation of defence and diplomacy in the widest international field, in Europe and in Asia, I shall argue that at this point of time we must retain the maximum flexibility in our defence policy and that that is more necessary than anything else. I shall suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, that the formula by which he ties the bombers and the Polaris submarines into N.A.T.O. until the alliance ends—I am quoting his words—is much too rigid. It prevents us from having any ability to redeploy our forces. I think, too, that taking the point of view, as we must, that an Atlantic nuclear force is very unlikely to come into being, these proposals which I have made may be easier for the right hon. Gentleman to adopt.
I should like now to turn to what, in the White Paper, is called Britain's world rôle. I do not mind that rather expansive phrase—I dare say I have been guilty of using it myself at times—as long as in our own mind we give our rôles a precise meaning. I do, however, mind the description of our function as putting out bush fires all over the world. 1545 In my view, that is not the function of British foreign policy or defence. The very essence of our defence policy must be that our commitments must be precise and tied to our treaty obligations and that the strengh and character of our forces should be strictly related to those treaty obligations, and to those only.
It is worth recalling what our treaty obligations are. First, they are to the N.A.T.O. Alliance, where there is an obligation to supply 55,000 men, accepted, I notice, as lately as November by the Deputy Secretary of State and Minister of Defence for the Army.
Then there is S.E.A.T.O., in which each member has complete judgment about his own contribution, giving point to my plea that we should keep the necessary flexibility so that we can decide whether our contribution should be by sea or air or a combination of both. There is, then, our treaty obligation to Malaysia, where, I agree with those who spoke yesterday, we must work for a political settlement, but, nevertheless, the alliance must be binding until then. We have our obligations to the Rulers in the Gulf, for which we are dependent upon the retention of Aden for as long as those obligations last, and we have our police rôle in our remaining Colonies—our obligations there become fewer as time goes by—of which the most obvious example now is British Guiana.
There our commitments are precise. They are all related to treaties. One or other, it is true, might involve us in war, but if that happened we should have to mobilise the resources necessary to fight that war. But—and this is the finding of the White Paper—in peace time or in times which are short of war, twilight times as we have in one or other areas of the world today, we have been able, and we are able, to meet our commitments. The Government have concluded that they can be met by an Army of 180,000 and by forces of roughly 400,000. At least, I presume that this is so, because I cannot find any other figures in the White Paper.
I should be interested to hear what the Prime Minister has to say about this and I hope that he will say a little more than we heard from the Secretary of State yesterday. If the Government do not feel that we can meet those commitments—and this is what they suggest in 1546 the first paragraph of the White Paper—they must not only say so, but they must come to the House and tell us what they will do about it. Therefore, if the Prime Minister persists in saying that we are overstretched, he must tell us which commitment he will cut. I want to know now, if this is possible, what preparations he is making for cutting, and where. I should like to know how many extra men he will recruit, because this is the other way to deal with the matter, and how he will get them, knowing, as both of us know, that we cannot significantly add to the numbers of men without conscription.
As with the nuclear, so with the conventional the Government have changed their mind. They are not now adding to the numbers of the conventional forces—at least, they have not told us that they are.
The speeches of last year, when we were told all the time that there was to be a great addition to conventional forces, have gone by the board. If the Prime Minister looks up his speech at Plymouth he will realise that that has gone by the board, too, and has had to be revised. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion, and I do not think that this can be refuted, that the Government have accepted the balance between nuclear and conventional power which was settled by the last Government, and that under that we can meet our commitments.
During the last Parliament hon. Gentlemen opposite used to question my assertion that the nuclear element in defence was much the cheapest part of it. I therefore recommend them to look at Annex D of the White Paper, where they will see that the nuclear element cost £128 million out of a total of £2,120 million, about 6 per cent. now, rising over the next few years to about 8 per cent., and falling again after that, when we have acquired the Polaris submarine, to about 5 per cent. of the whole.
I should like to turn for a moment to the question of weaponry. It was dealt with yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth, by my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hay), when he wound up the debate for this side, and also by the Secretary of State. If the right hon. Gentleman can find some substantial savings in weaponry, good luck to him. We shall 1547 be delighted, but—and he said this himself—it must not be at the expense of our troops.
There is a hint in the White Paper that we may have to have less sophisticated weapons. I do not need to remind the right hon. Gentleman—in fact, I think that he said this himself—that the enemy, and even small countries, can acquire very advanced weapons, so there must be no paring down there. I ask, as my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Michael Hamilton) did last night, that in the economies one economy should not include the scrapping of the TSR2, probably the only aircraft that will penetrate enemy defences in the future, and the cancellation of which would do irreparable damage to our aircraft industry and to our electronics industry, too.
The great question which is posed, and it was posed a number of times yesterday in some very thoughtful speeches, is: can we, at this point of time in the Communist challenge to the free world, define what priority should be given to Asia, on the one hand, and to Europe, on the other? Very carefully considered speeches were made on this subject by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) and the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney).
The answer must depend not so much on tangible evidence, but on intuition. A hunch is not a very reliable thing on which to base one's foreign policy or defence policy. I shall give the House my conclusions, for what they are worth, but the House will see that I do not base any policy on them, for what I hope will be thought good reasons. It is my belief that it is almost certain that the Soviet Union has concluded that a war with the West is impossible, and that, given time, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe will gravitate towards the West. That is a guide to the future, but it must be admitted that it is little more than that.
If we are realistic, we have to take other factors into consideration. The Soviet armament is increasing rapidly. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite know that new rocket sites are being built every year. Its submarine fleet, already large, is increasing rapidly, and its Army and 1548 Air Force are very formidable. Again, there is no sign at all of a political settlement in respect of the divided city of Berlin, or the divided country of Germany, and self-determination in this respect is meanwhile ruled out.
Therefore, although one's intuition may tell one that there will not be a war between the Soviet Union and Western Europe, one must conclude that the N.A.T.O. Alliance must keep up its guard, both nuclear and conventional, and that Britain, unless we are to sacrifice all prospect of extending our base by European co-operation and by contributing to the unity of Europe, must play a part in N.A.T.O. in holding the defences of Europe, both nuclear and conventional.
I think that there is a case—and I have no doubt that the Prime Minister thinks so too—for requesting N.A.T.O. to adjust and review its forward strategy. There is a case for relief for the United Kingdom's balance of payments position across the exchanges, but the omens are not very good. My right hon. Friend was able, last year, to make a financial settlement which was not very satisfactory. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman may be able to do at least as well, but the omens are not very good. I hope that whatever is done about the reduction of forces in Europe will be done in co-operation with our allies, because when the Government talk of fundamentally altering the strategic concept of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, I hope that they will remember the sensitivity of some of our allies about their physical security, particularly the Germans, who share an armed front with Russia in Eastern Europe.
The saving for Britain in Europe—and I hope that we can make some—is important across the exchanges, but it is as well to recognise that these expenses and these savings, whatever they are, are not on a scale comparable to the operations east of Suez, which cost about £400 million a year.
What, therefore, are the intentions of the Chinese? Is it possible to gain any line on that? They are, clearly, going to use the Chinese minorities and instruments like Vietcong to spread their influence in South-East Asia, with an eventual desire no doubt to dominate. The time is not yet, if it is ever going to come, when the Chinese will provoke a war 1549 which will lead to a massive nuclear retaliation by the United States, and I think, therefore, that at this point of time the answer to the question asked yesterday by a number of right hon. and hon. Members must be that in both Europe and Asia there are still areas of threat, and that the free world in both places must erect a guard and that we, according to our capacity, must take a part in both.
In making an assessment of this kind, I believe that it is as well to try to see the picture, if one can, through the eyes of a potential enemy. I believe that in these matters there is at the moment a point of indecision in Russia, and possibly in China, too, though there is not such urgency for them to make up their minds. At the moment, the Russian leadership is torn. The Russians want to retain the leadership of the Communist world. By that they set enormous importance, and, therefore, they cannot now be seen to make active overtures towards the West. There is a long-term fear of the Chinese, but in the short-term they are tempted to appease, and are, therefore, inhibited from anything except lukewarm co-existence, engaged as they are at the moment in keeping options open as to which way they may swing.
The conclusion to which I have come, if it is true that there is a moment of indecision, is that there is a lack of movement in which we can all be caught, and that the only movement which will be made is by political diplomatic initiative of the kind which Mr. Macmillan was able to introduce a few years ago. I hope, therefore, that in the forthcoming months the President of the United States and the Prime Minister will take such an initiative with the Soviet Union, and that there will be a response. I shall be interested to hear whether the Prime Minister has any plans in this direction.
But the lesson, in the context of defence—and this is the context of our debate today—when so much is uncertain, is that we must retain absolute flexibility. That means keeping all our weapons under our own control, so that we can deploy them and redeploy them as the successes or failures of diplomacy dictate and demand. What I have just said applies equally to the prospects for disarmament and the future of the United Nations. To 1550 advance collective security we have to recognise that progress will follow and not precede political agreements with the Soviet Union. I doubt whether the Russians have yet brought themselves to the point—especially now that they face China—when they can face any really large reduction in armaments.
What is practicable in these days is a movement on the periphery—measures against a surprise attack, and the Anglo-United States plan for a reduction in armaments by stages, something in which the last Government persevered, through Sir David Ormsby-Gore and Sir Michael Wright, who spent a great deal of devoted time to this purpose. I hope that the Government will persevere in these matters, because these are about the limits of progress. But some of them may be practicable.
The same is true of the United Nations. We cannot work for this fine conception—and we are in danger of seeing it wrecked—unless major steps are taken which again involve very large political decisions. Hon. Members opposite sometimes enjoy taunting me with being careless of the welfare of the United Nations. I ask them to believe that I have spoken as I have through the years—and I shall continue to speak as I have—because unless member States of the United Nations are faced with the truth the organisation will die.
What I have thought for many years—and what I forecast in a speech, with horrible accuracy, four years ago—was confirmed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations only a few weeks ago, namely, that the organisation is very near death now. I tell hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the only way in which we can save the United Nations and try to rebuild some of its authority as a peace-keeping influence in the world, as I see it, is not by emotional speeches—not by papering over the cracks—but by forcing member States to recognise where the fault lies and to recognise that it does not lie in the Charter.
There is no fault that can be laid on the Charter, if it is examined closely. The fault lies in the member States, who have such differing standards of values and such mixed motives. It is the Communist Powers' abuse of the veto which has paralysed the United Nations over the years, 1551 and some of the newer and smaller countries who, shortsightedly and against their own interests, are using the Assembly of the United Nations for selfish and not collective purposes.
Until these cracks in the foundations are mended—and they are in the foundations—and the member States act strictly according to the Charter, the United Nations, as a political force for good and as an international force for effectively keeping the peace, will at best be impotent and at worst dead. Therefore, I tell the Foreign Secretary—who I wish had found time to attend a little of this debate—by all means allocate and earmark forces to the United Nations. But I fear that that will not make any significant difference, because true collective security cannot come, nor can an international police force come, until countries can agree on some common standards of law and justice, and until some common motives inspire them and guide their actions.
I have spoken strongly, but I hope that I have not spoken too passionately, on this. I would welcome, if the Prime Minister would allow it, a day's debate on these matters. But I feel that this is a moment of truth, and I pray that neither we nor the countries of the world will bury our heads in the sand, because this is the way to kill the finest conception that has yet been born among mankind.
Finally—and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman will mention this—I should refer to the fact that the Prime Minister has offered to have defence talks, at times, with myself and my right hon. Friend who speaks from this Bench. I shall not refer to any of the confidential communications that we have had with each other, but I should like shortly to explain my approach. The Prime Minister's proposal is that we should have regular meetings. I think that that is what he would wish. There are two aspects of this matter which involve the national interest. I do not think that that is putting it too high.
The Prime Minister ought to be able to give the Leader of the Opposition and his shadow Minister of Defence, and also the shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, classified or near-classified information whenever the 1552 Prime Minister judges that it is in the public interest that the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friends should know the facts. The second matter is this: the Leader of the Opposition and his Front Bench spokesmen must not be inhibited by the knowledge which they possess from fulfilling the rôle which, in the country's interest, they must fulfil, of critical analysis, in opposition, of all Foreign Office and defence matters.
Therefore, in my approach to this matter I draw a distinction between classified or near-classified information—and the Prime Minister must be the judge—which applies to a very narrow sector of defence and knowledge, and unclassified information, which probably has not been published but which, by its very nature, ought to be available to Parliament as a whole. I am bound to consider what my position and that of my right hon. Friends would be if we were in possession of a whole lot of unclassified information which has not been published and which is not available to hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House. In those circumstances, I do not believe that we could do our job properly, to the satisfaction of the House as a whole. In saying this, I am talking as a Member of the House and not as the leader of a party.
I therefore suggest to the Prime Minister that whenever he judges that there is classified or near-classified information which he feels that we should have, he should summon us. We shall be very glad to speak to him about this whenever he likes and as often as he likes. I hope that he will feel that this is the way that his proposal should be interpreted in the national interest and in the interest of the House as a whole.
We must vote on our Amendment. On the contents of the White Paper, other than paragraph 1, I congratulate the Government on their complete change of front. We have not had the advantage of hearing spokesmen on the other Amendment that might have been called—except for one hon. Member yesterday. I am wondering how long this anæsthetic to the conscience can last—
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
Ought not the right hon. Gentleman to pay more careful attention, before 1553 claiming parenthood of the present Government's defence policy, to the experience of the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who started off by claiming to be the parent of the 15 per cent, surcharge and then ran into so much trouble with his own side that he had to be shifted from his position altogether?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am only too glad to accept the nuclear deterrent as in the national interest of our country. It is for that that I have expressed my thanks and congratulations to right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
How long the anaesthetic will last is a fascinating speculation, but for the time being I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister on keeping Britain an independent nuclear Power with control over her own weapons.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I think that the speech this afternoon of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would merit the phrase which he courteously used about the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, when he called it "thoughtful". Today, the right hon. Gentleman has, I think, continued mostly the new tradition that began yesterday of keeping the temperature low. We do not have many defence debates like that and we have not had one for a long time. But he avoided controversy, apart from, now and then, a little nostalgia for the old election speech that we came to know so well.
What is really significant, as it was yesterday, is that until the concluding words of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, hon. Members opposite have entirely stopped talking about the independent British nuclear deterrent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—until the very last words. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yours or ours?"]—that we have not debated the policy of the independent nuclear deterrent because—as he knows perfectly well—as I proved conclusively on 17th December, that when the right hon. Gentleman was in office we did not have an independent nuclear deterrent.
The right hon. Gentleman took us through—I will return to the other point later—the three points of the Opposition 1554 Amendment. That was the main theme of his speech and I propose to follow him by doing the same. The third point relates to the nuclear question, but, first, I will take up one point that the right hon. Gentleman made. He referred to the Atlantic nuclear force, but we never got any clarity about whether he or his right hon. Friends do or do not support M.L.F. The Leader of the Opposition told us in December that he supported the mixed-manned surface fleet and the Opposition defence spokesman, the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) told us that he was totally against it.
When he referred to A.N.F. this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition said that we must not do it on the ground that we might want to keep one or two Polaris submarines in the East, possibly using a base jointly with a Commonwealth Power. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, knows that he could not have done that under the Nassau Agreement. Under that Agreement he had no power to withdraw the Polaris submarines from the service of N.A.T.O. to keep them on a permanent or semi-permanent basis in the Far East or anywhere else. That power was never given in the Nassau Agreement. The United States Government made clear that they had never considered any circumstances in which the withdrawal clause could be operated; they never quite knew what it was all about. It was never and could not be interpreted that a permanent withdrawal could be made for stationing in any part of the world. If the right hon. Gentleman says that, we should have to get the permission of the United States and that in some sense diminishes the concept of independence in the deployment and use of those weapons. That is the only point in the right hon. Gentleman's speech with which I wished to deal out of turn.
It has been true that up to now—and I see no sign of much change—that this has been the lowest temperature debate on defence for many years. I must refer to the right hon. Member for Monmouth. We had his speech yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman enjoyed himself hugely, as I think he always does, and if I may say so to the right hon. Gentleman on the occasion of his defence "swan song", before his transfer, we shared his enjoyment.
1555 The Motion moved yesterday by my right hon. Friend asked the House to approve the White Paper. I do not think that I need say a great deal more in support of that; it was dealt with fully by my right hon. Friend. I will go, as the right hon. Gentleman did, to the Opposition's Amendment, which is hardly more than a matter of form. Having made defence the central point of their electoral campaign it would have been difficult for them to go on record as supporting the Government's defence policy, so they had to scratch round for some sort of Amendment to put on the Order Paper. Let us look at its three parts.
The first part—I suppose that this was inevitable—expresses the sensitivity of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to the decision of the Government to give the facts about the defence situation in the first two paragraphs of the White Paper. This is the part of their Amendment about which they feel most strongly. They do not like being criticised. Of course, they deplore the facts given in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 and we should expect them to do so. But, yesterday, the right hon. Member for Monmouth, and today the Leader of the Opposition, produced very little evidence to support their resentment that we should have stated—as we have—clearly and factually the legacy which we took over from them.
Does anyone seriously deny the facts set out at the beginning of the White Paper that, despite the expenditure of over £20,000 million since 1952, the Government responsible in those years failed to provide—as the White Paper says—either the necessary incentive for voluntary recruitment or the relevant weapons needed for the current task? Does anyone seriously deny that there has been no attempt to match political commitments to military resources—still less to relate the resources made available for military defence to the economic situation of the nation?
Or again, can anyone deny that the defence programme we inherited involved a degree of escalation that meant a continuing increase, both in financial terms and in real terms, of defence expenditure which, if continued on the lines bequeathed to us by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, would inevitably have crippled the nation? So far 1556 from increasing the national independence of our defence policy, it would have destroyed that independence we have by bringing us to economic bankruptcy. I have heard nothing from the right hon. Gentlemen opposite to suggest that they really believe that we should have gone on with these escalating defence costs which they bequeathed to us.
Today, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that he would welcome and support any attempts to save money on weapons, but a few weeks ago, in the debate on aviation, the Opposition attacked a courageous decision on our part to save money on weapons when, at that time, it was clear that following the policy they left us would mean that weapons would not be available at a time when they were required in the hands of the Royal Air Force. The sum of £20,000 million was the reference to which objection was taken in the Opposition Amendment. I do not intend£I am sure that it will be a relief to the House—to take them back over the earlier years, in which that £20,000 million was spent. I think that the right thing in any estimate of the defence position is to go back to the Defence White Paper of 1957, because this was the big turning point in defence policy.
This was the White Paper which was designed to effect what Mr. Macmillan once called his "pipe dream". He told us that by changing the defence policy he hoped to save £700 million a year on defence. That is what the White Paper was designed to do, to cut defence expenditure by £700 million. In fact, we know that it did not cut it by anything like that, and the commitment we inherited would have meant, by 1969–70, inescapably, an expenditure of £400 million more in real terms than the figure he promised, or hoped, to cut by £700 million.
I think that by that reappraisal in 1957 we were going to get defence on the cheap by the new doctrine—as it then was—of almost total reliance on what would have been a pretty well genuine independent British deterrent, namely, Blue Streak. Although a great deal of it relied on American design, this in making it, a more or less independent would have been, if we had succeeded 1557 British deterrent. It was because of the then Government's decision to rely on Blue Streak that the Government at that time decided that they would not spend money on a supersonic bomber on the perfectly fair grounds that this would not be in service until 1967. They said that they could not wait that length of time, for that supersonic bomber would be outdated and therefore vulnerable. That was in 1957. I would be glad to lend the White Paper to the right hon. Gentleman.
In fact, the situation which we inherited last October was that the supersonic bomber which they finally put into the programme—the TSR2—could, at the earliest, not be in service until 1968. They said; "We will not have a supersonic bomber because it will not be ready until 1967," but they then spent hundreds of millions of £s on these various experiments for a supersonic bomber which will not be ready until, at the earliest, 1968. I will not weary the House with the long catalogue of disappointments and failures, though it is relevant to the first prong of the Opposition's Amendment today, because they object to paragraphs (1) and (2).
Mr. Stanley M. MacMaster (Belfast, East)
Does the right hon. Gentleman remember fighting an election and saying that we would not import anything from abroad which we could make as well at home? Why are we to import aircraft from America when we can make them as well in this country?
§ The Prime Minister
We have been all over that argument in the aviation debates. What I said was that the party opposite have allowed our technology to run down in one industry after another—computers, machine tools, electronics. In the civil field, we are importing many things which we ought to be making, and can make, ourselves on a competitive basis. The answer to his question as to why we are very regretfully having to place orders with the Americans is, as I explained, several weeks ago and repeat today, because of the time scale and the fact that the planes which are in the course of construction would not be available in time for the requirements of the Royal Air Force, unless we did what we are not going to do and said that these planes must go on a long 1558 time beyond their natural life, with all the risks, strategically and to human life, which that would have meant.
I have referred to the 1957 White Paper. In 1959, on the eve of Mr. Macmillan's visit to Moscow, the then Minister of Defence held a Press conference, which was headlined, "Blue Streak in—Polaris out—now Macmillan will speak from strength." A year later, Blue Streak was out and Sky-bolt was in. Lord Watkinson expended a vast outpouring of eloquence from this Box and, what we could less afford, a vast outpouring of the taxpayers' money, in preparing ourselves for an independent airborne deterrent supplied by America. That was in 1960. Christmas, 1962, saw the end of Skybolt. That was out; Polaris was in again. What I called "this costly nuclear La Ronde" brought us back full circle to Polaris at the cost of six years of defence planning which we could ill afford, three Defence Ministers who were certainly expendable, and heaven knows how many millions of £s of the taxpayers' money. This did not stop the decision to commit the nation to a sum estimated at £750 million on the supersonic bomber which had been rejected in 1957 on the grounds that it could not be ready until 1967, and, we know, will not be ready even then.
I think that that brief resume of the central theme of Tory defence policy over the last seven or eight years is fair justification for what we say in paragraphs 1 and 2. Nothing said today or yesterday has in any way shaken the fact that thousands of millions of £s have been wasted on the pursuit of illusory defence policies. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave some account yesterday of what we received for this £20,000 million. The right hon. Member for Monmouth had some fun with helicopters yesterday. I marvelled at his irresponsibility, remembering that British troops have been engaged in operations, the success of which was imperilled by the appalling failure of the former Government to provide the helicopters which were needed in the places required, in the numbers required, and with the required reliability. He knows this to be so. One reason for our inability to cut this year's estimates by as much as we would have liked lies in 1559 the need for a crash programme to buy helicopters. This was recognised by the right hon. Gentleman when, at the time of his departure from office, he sent his officials out to comb the world for helicopters to make up the deficiency for which he and his predecessors were responsible.
Would it not be assumed that after 13 years and the expenditure of hundreds of millions, somebody would have seen the need for helicopters and produced some, and that, after all those years of responsibility, considering the thousands of millions of £s wasted on the wrong projects, somebody would have produced a British helicopter in sufficient numbers for our troops. I do not object to his last-minute repentance, going off to buy overseas those helicopters which he had to buy, but I thought that it would have been more tasteful if he had not gone through that recital yesterday.
I am still dealing with paragraphs 1 and 2. I will not go into the problem of time scale in the provision of aircraft in detail, as that would be too painful for right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We had constant dithering from the right hon. Gentleman about the Hunter/Sea Vixen replacement. The P1154, on which he finally decided, would not have arrived in service, on the most optimistic forecast we now have, until the latter part of 1970. Nor would the HS681, required to replace the ageing Hastings and Beverley aircraft, be ready for service, on the most optimistic forecast, until the same year. As I have said, we could not take these risks with the equipment of the Royal Air Force. All this was part of the inheritance described in paragraphs 1 and 2. It does not lie in the mouths of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to charge us with increasing the dependence of the R.A.F. on American aircraft—a process on which they embarked with avidity—because, as I have said, we were not prepared to force the Royal Air Force to continue aircraft in service long past the time when those aircraft should have been scrapped.
Again, as we have debated it recently, I will not go into at any length—nor throw them in the teeth of the right hon. Gentleman—the facts of our V-bomber force and the decision which had to be taken to ground the Valiant. I noticed 1560 that the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, talking about the V-bombers, was very anxious that the force should not be split. He knows to what figure that V-bomber force has been run down as a result of the actions for which he and his colleagues were responsible. I certainly do not think that it could ever be thought, when the right hon. Gentleman was in office and through the election, when we heard all those grandiose speeches about the strength of the British forces, that the situation would be what we found it to be—£20,000 million spent, a yawning time scale in meeting R.A.F. needs which could not be met except by large-scale American purchases, and a situation which was not unfairly described by the air correspondent of the Daily Telegraph two or three weeks ago in these words:At the moment, all the R.A.F.'s front line aircraft except V-bombers and Lightning fighters are obsolete, even judged by a second-class nation's view of military power.I must tell the right hon. Gentleman, who is moving from the defence field, that there is nothing to laugh at there, after all that expenditure.
The second piece of shadow boxing in the Opposition Amendment is the second part of the Amendment, which deplores the absence of any clear action by Her Majesty's Government in maintaining the strength of the Armed Forces on a level consistent with the rôles undertaken. So far as the strength of the Armed Forces is concerned, far be it from me to underrate the virtues of repentance, but when I hear right hon. Gentlemen opposite talking about maintaining the strength of the Armed Forces on a level consistent with the rôles undertaken, even I am at a loss for words, and that is strong language. I will not weary the House with the whole wretched story, but the way in which right hon. Gentlemen opposite fiddled the recruiting ceilings from 1957 onwards and related manpower requirements not to what was needed but to what they thought they would get, represents a chapter in our defence debates which, I imagine, both sides of the House would wish to forget. If, before the right hon. Gentleman leaves to go on to quieter waters in the shadow Home Office, he wants to refresh his memory and find the facts about this manipulation of manpower requirements, they are set out in 1561 HANSARD of 16th January, 1964, column 429.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth yesterday in his speech, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition today, quite fairly asked us about the reviews which we are undertaking. Both of them, and particularly the right hon. Member for Monmouth, quite rightly said that this White Paper is not yet a definitive statement of defence policy. That is perfectly fair. It cannot be, and we have to await the results of a detailed review on which the Government have been at work for some months already, and which will still take a few months more, on the whole question of our defence rôles and the implications of meeting those rôles in terms of manpower and equipment and in terms of money.
I said to the House of 16th December—and I see no reason to change it, nor has anyone opposite in any way shaken this idea:Taking first our own expenditure in money and in resources on defence programmes, whether of manpower or equipment, the plain fact is that we have been trying to do too much. The result has been gravely to weaken our economic strength and independence without producing viable defences."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December. 1964; Vol. 703, c. 419.]This, I think, is a fair statement of the position, meriting a thorough review which, by its nature, must take some months if it is to be done accurately and fully.
This raises, first, the question of our forces in Germany and the question of N.A.T.O. strategy, on which both right hon. Gentlemen spoke. The right hon. Member for Monmouth said that he did not disagree with paragraph 17 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates which says that within the framework of our Brussels Treaty commitments our forces in Germany must always be subject to review. That is what he said. He agreed with that, and he inquired whether we intended such a review. A similar question was put by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon.
Two major reviews are going on at the present time. First, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, there is a N.A.T.O. Force Planning Exercise going on, the purpose of which is to reconcile the strategy, military forces and economic resources of the Alliance. This 1562 country, under both Governments, has given strong support to this exercise, and we have certainly not made any secret of our wish that it should lead to a more realistic assessment of the forces now required by N.A.T.O. as a whole. It is, of course, very difficult to produce full agreement between so many Allies on all aspects of a matter such as this, and a number of ideas are being put forward. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his speech yesterday indicated one of the lines on which we might well work in his reference to de-nuclearising the Tactical Air Force.
The second exercise is our own series of studies on defence policy, which have the similar object of reconciling our national commitments, forces and resources. As my right hon. Friend said, it will be some months before these studies are completed. It is right that they should be done. Our intention is that any decisions about our forces in Germany should be taken only in the light of progress in these two exercises. There is no question of any unilateral action on our part, or of any unilateral move to modify our commitments under the Brussels Treaty. Whatever action we may wish to take in the future will be taken only after full and proper consultation with our Allies.
But it is a fact, as paragraph 18 of the White Paper says, that at present all N.A.T.O. forces in Germany, including our own, are deployed in accordance with a strategic concept which in our view now requires revision and that, in particular, it is pointless to tie up resources against the risk of a prolonged war in Europe following a nuclear exchange. The present concept of strategy was drawn up in days when the threat of aggression from the East seemed very real and when the vast preponderance of nuclear power was in the hands of the West. It is hardly surprising if this concept requires revision after a period of years during which a balance of nuclear deterrent power on both sides has been created and shown itself to be effective, so that we now have a greater defensive stability in Europe, due to that, than in almost any other part of the world.
Yesterday the right hon. Member for Monmouth referred to the suggestion that the principal military purpose of our 1563 allied forces in Europe should be to deter miscalculation—to deter miscalculated incursions—and to suppress any ambiguous and unpremeditated local conflicts first and foremost by conventional forces, before they can escalate into major war. I think that there is no question in the House or in the Alliance that the overriding purpose of all N.A.T.O. forces is to deter any form of conflict from ever breaking out. Our own view is that the best deterrent is the conviction on the part of any potential aggressor that any form of calculated aggression entails unacceptable risks of escalation to all-out war. We believe that there is an effective deterrent in this sense in the Alliance and that this has nothing at all to do with the now discarded concept of an independent British deterrent. There is always the possibility of miscalculation, and therefore in our view the purpose of the forces of N.A.T.O. must be basically the same—to make clear that any miscalculation, any risk-taking of this kind may possibly mean escalation to all-out war.
I think that the House will agree that all of these questions—our forces in Europe, the problems of B.A.O.R. and the rest—cannot be divorced, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said again this afternoon, from the problem of cost, and particularly our heavy overseas expenditure resulting from our European defence commitment. Until the last 12 months our overseas expenditure on the B.A.O.R. was substantially met by German purchases of British equipment.
The problem which we now face is of comparatively recent origin. For example, in the financial years 1962–64, right up to last April, there was an annual average overseas expenditure on the B.A.O.R. of £76 million. But although our cost in respect of B.A.O.R. across the exchanges—I do not mean our budgetary cost, which was much greater—was £76 million on average in each of those two years, Germany bought £54 million worth of defence and other equipment from us, substantially covering, or getting well along the road to covering, the expenditure.
Of course, this meant that we were still bearing the cost in real terms of maintaining troops in Germany because we had to work in this country to produce 1564 the arms to sell to Germany to get money to pay for the overseas cost of maintaining our troops in Germany. In real terms we were getting nothing from them. But the size of the off-set purchase meant that we were not adding to that burden an intolerable strain on our balance of payments, too.
In the past year this situation has been very seriously changed. The best estimate which the Government can make for the financial years 1964–66 is that against an annual cost across the exchanges of £85 million to £90 million—because these costs are rising year by year—the best that we can hope for in terms of German military purchases in this country, on all that we have been told so far, is about £25 million, leaving a gap of £60 million to £65 million a year.
The right hon. Gentleman, I think very sincerely, hoped that we might do better this weekend than in the agreement signed last year. He must not forget that that agreement covers two years ahead. The figures which I have just given, applying to the present financial year ending April, 1965, do not look any better, and may look a bit worse, in the year 1965–66. I hope that our European Allies and, may I say, I hope that our creditors—those who lent to us over the years—will recognise how much of our continuing balance of payments deficit is due to this one-sided military-financial commitment to the common defence.
The House must recognise that this is not the basis on which we originally entered into these commitments. Our commitment in Germany in fact stems originally from the abortive European Defence Community. The draft financial protocol to the Treaty for that community—we were not, of course, members of it—provided in Articles 29 and 30 that between 85 per cent, and 115 per cent, of the contributions of each member State towards the collective requirements of the Alliance should be spent within the territory of that State. In other words, if we were to make a contribution such as the £85 million which I have mentioned which we are now making to B.A.O.R., at least 85 per cent. of it would be spent in this country. That limited to a very small fraction the contribution which each country had to make across the exchanges.
1565 As we know, the E.D.C. broke down, and the provision which was in the draft E.D.C. arrangement was not carried forward into the commitment under which we agreed—the Conservative Government—to maintain troops in Germany on a massive scale until the end of this century. Perhaps it is a little late now to criticise the failure of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to write into that commitment the provisions of the European Defence Community to which I referred. But it is still relevant to criticise the negligence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) for negotiating the current offset agreement in that he should have acquiesced in a situation which requires that not 85 per cent. but considerably less than 30 per cent., if that, of our military expenditure in Germany should be covered by compensatory arrangements.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
Would the right hon. Gentleman point out which article of last summer's Agreement embodies acquiescence, to which he referred, in a 30 per cent. only offset? Is he aware that the first operative article contemplates the honourable undertaking of the German Government to offset, so far as possible, our costs? Is he going to Bonn in the spirit that such an undertaking was not worth having? And if it is acquiescence in subsequent implementation, is he aware that this Agreement was signed at the end of July and that such acquiesence as there may have been is two and a half months of us and four and a half months of him?
§ The Prime Minister
It is difficult to talk about our having any choice in regard to acquiescence since the thing was signed in July, before we had any influence in the matter. I am not really sure what the right hon. Gentleman is arguing about. What we are criticising him for is the fact that he signed the Agreement. Perhaps he did not have much alternative. Perhaps he was pushed around. Perhaps his colleagues would not let him do otherwise. He signed the Agreement, which had led to a situation in which, on the best estimate we can get from the German Government, we will have less than 30 per cent. of our foreign exchange commitment covered by German Arms purchases.
1566 I am not sure now whether the right hon. Gentleman is telling us that this was a good Agreement or a bad one, but, whatever he is arguing, there should have been a little more hard content in it. Whichever way he is arguing, he must bear the responsibility for negotiating an Agreement which can be interpreted in the way it is being interpreted, instead of getting something firmer, as his predecessors were able to do in the year or two preceding last July.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question as to which provision of the Agreement contemplates acquiescence in a 30 per cent. only offset. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, clearly accepts that he was wrong in saying that. Is he now arguing that if an agreement with a precise figure in it was not obtainable, it was better to have no agreement at all—instead of the honourable undertaking of an honourable Government, the German Government, to do their best?
Is the Prime Minister now saying that it was not worth while obtaining that, and is he really helping his own negotiating position, when he goes to Bonn, with the good wishes of hon. Members in all parts of the House—[Interruption.]—by going out of his way now to put the worst possible and a wholly inaccurate construction on this Agreement, which will be the basis from which he will proceed? Or is he saying, once again, that this Government are prepared to sacrifice national interests to their attempts to attack the Opposition?
§ The Prime Minister
That was a very interesting speech, but it really did not get the right hon. Gentleman off the hook on which he is impaled. He asked which provision of the Agreement I was querying when I spoke of 30 per cent.—
§ The Prime Minister
I am answering the right hon. Gentleman. Since the Agreement has been interpreted by the German Government in such a way that we get only 30 per cent., then there must have been something wrong with the Agreement. That being so, he would have done better, I think, to have negotiated an agreement in which he could have got some specific agreement.
1567 If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman felt that for one reason or another—and I do not underrate the difficulties of these negotiations—he could not get anything better, it would have been more helpful, knowing that he would be going out of office in October and that we would have to take over the situation, if he had negotiated an agreement for just one year so that we could then have had another go at it, without being tied until April, 1966.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Again, the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. Given the choice between an agreement with no precise figure and no agreement at all, is he saying that it was wrong to obtain the honourable assurance of the German Government in the way it was obtained? Secondly—[Interruption.]—if he is saying that there was something wrong, is it possible that what was wrong in obtaining full implementation of the Agreement was the disregard which the Germans had for him and his Administration?
§ The Prime Minister
That is really below the normal standard of the right hon. Gentleman. He asks whether or not we would have accepted the Agreement which he negotiated—[Interruption.]—but that is really a reflection on his negotiating——
§ The Prime Minister
If the right hon. Gentleman goes into negotiations in that spirit, the spirit which he has shown this afternoon, I am not very surprised that the Germans saw him coming. If the right hon. Gentleman really does want to strengthen our influence in these negotiations, it is a pity that he did not start a bit earlier.
I turn to the question of Europe. I am sorry that the shadow Foreign Secretary has not deigned to be present this afternoon. It would be interesting to know whether he would back up the points made by the Leader of the Opposition. It may be recalled that we had to suffer for about three years without having a Foreign Secretary present in our debates.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone) rose—1568
§ Mr. Hogg rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
Order. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) knows that if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way he must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Hogg rose—
§ Mr. Hogg rose—
§ The Prime Minister
Let me complete the sentence. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is not likely to become the Leader of the Opposition.
§ The Prime Minister
He is not the shadow Foreign Secretary, but if he wants to say why the then Foreign Secretary was not in the House for three years I will give way.
§ Mr. Hogg
I merely wish to inform the right hon. Gentleman that so far as I know, and I have been informed about this, my right hon. Friend is in a train hold-up caused by the snow. [Laughter.] I do not quite know what I have done to provoke all this oratory, but I was hoping that the right hon. Gentleman would like to be corrected for having made a thoroughly false point by inadvertence.
§ The Prime Minister
And I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman made a false point, by inadvertence, about the absence of the former Foreign Secretary from our proceedings for about three years.
I now turn to the subject of Europe, and I have in a number of debates, from the Dispatch Box opposite and this one, given my reasons for thinking that Britain has a very special rôle East of Suez; a rôle related to our Commonwealth responsibilities, a rôle derived from our history and maritime traditions, a rôle related to the special contribution we can make both within the Commonwealth and our several alliances and in our rôle of 1569 contributing to the peace-keeping work of the United Nations. But it must be remembered that we are the only European country that is being called upon both to contribute, at heavy cost in resources and money, to the N.A.T.O. Force and, at the same time, to maintain a major peacekeeping rôle in the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Far East. For this reason it is vitally important that our review covers all that we are trying to do in terms of the cost-effectiveness of the effort we are making.
We intend to continue to shoulder these commitments, but we must insist on getting value for money, and because we are contributing to an international task we have the right to discuss with our Allies how far the cost and the burden of these tasks may be more fairly shared. I do not underrate the difficulties of the review to which my right hon. Friend referred yesterday, or of the decisions we may have to take when we have costed the rôles that this country must fulfil. I would be wrong, I say it again, to raise the hopes of the House by any suggestion that we can do what we have to do cheaply and at a diminishing cost in terms of our defence effort. But the Important thing is that, for the first time in many years, the review is being made, and hon. Gentlemen opposite who are always so keen about the taxpayer's money will be glad to know that this review is being made.
Since reference has been made to some of my hon. Friends, I would say that in the exercise of Mr. Speaker's discretion, the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sidney Silverman) and other hon. Friends has not been called. Let me say that if it had been called the Government would have had no hesitation in accepting it. My only doubt, as I have just warned the House, is whether, if we are to make the fullest contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping and the cohesion of the Commonwealth, I would be right to encourage the hopes expressed in the Amendment of… greatly accelerated progress in the reduction of Great Britain's overseas commitments …".What we must do is to see that we are able to play our full part in world affairs, but with a fairer sharing of the 1570 financial and real burden falling upon us.
In this review of our defences I emphasise once again what I said in our debate last November, that our defence policy must not only be seen not to be working against disarmament but that it is paramount that we should, so far as possible,… actively contribute in our defence proposals to making those measures easier to achieve".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 937.]
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely) rose—
§ The Prime Minister
I am sorry, but it will be appreciated that I have given way a lot this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was heard in total silence all the way through his speech. I am sorry that I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman—perhaps he will succeed in catching your eye later, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
That is why I am not sure that the Leader of the Opposition yet fully appreciates that the underlying theme of our proposals for an Atlantic nuclear force is the emphasis agreed on by the President of the United States and myself in our talks in Washington, for effective measures both to strengthen the cohesion of the Alliance and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear Powers.
Since the right hon. Gentleman referred, I am glad that he did so, to our proposal for helping with the United Nations peace-keeping, I can claim that last week my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made an announcement, I believe of major importance, which turned into real and definitive terms on behalf of the Government, aspirations and proposals that we had voiced in Opposition in recent years.
I was glad to hear this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman express for the first time, as he did, the strength of his feelings about the future of the United Nations. We welcomed what he said. It was so different from the terms of that famous speech at Berwick-on-Tweed. It was so different from the terms in which the then Prime Minister defended that speech in this House. It was so different from his attitude to the United Nations 1571 throughout the United Nations operations in the Congo—the whole Katanga operation. And, of course, it is totally opposite to the whole attitude, which he still supports, of his own Government's responsibility for Suez, which, only last year, he was still saying in North America was the right policy to follow. The right hon. Gentleman said that only last year—
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I do not want to pursue this matter unduly, because I know that, as he says, the right hon. Gentleman has had quite a lot of interruptions, but three years ago, as Foreign Secretary, I said to the Assembly, in effect, what I have said this afternoon, and what I said four years ago in Berwick-on-Tweed. I have said it consistently all the time. I have said that unless the United Nations would face the truth the Organisation would not survive. I still believe that. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has allocated troops. I do not know that it is, in fact, different from the position now, but any gesture he can make is for the good. But the truth is that if the right hon. Gentleman wants the Organisation to survive, he must tell the Organisation the truth as well as me.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, Sir. And we face very great difficulties there. However, I am afraid that during his term of office as Foreign Secretary the right hon. Gentleman was always ready to lecture the Organisation on what he thought was the truth, or the particular angle of the truth he saw, but was not prepared to see that by his actions, whether in regard to Katanga or the whole handling of the Afro-Asian bloc—which at times he seemed to resent—he did nothing to strengthen the work of the United Nations. All he did was to "crab" it with speeches which, I must say, were more popular with the Suez group of his party than they were internationally.
I turn to the third part of the Opposition Amendment, referring to nuclear independence. They welcome… the recognition by Her Majesty's Government of the importance of a powerful nuclear capability.There will be some who will regard this portion of the draft as an exercise in somewhat sick political humour. 1572 I am bound to confess that this was my first reaction, until I saw the names of the right hon. Gentlemen who appended their names to it. I then realised that here we had reached the moment of truth in post-war defence policy.
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in accepting the Government's nuclear policy, have at last realised that the whole of the independent nuclear deterrent argument on which they fought the General Election is, and always has been, a "phoney". I will not say that it did not serve its purpose. It united right hon. Gentlemen opposite in the agonies of the post-Suez reappraisal. It carried them through the agonies of the Blue Streak cancellation, the dependence on Skybolt, and the farce of Nassau. It carried right hon. Gentlemen through the heady atmosphere of the pre-election campaign—even through the endless repetition of the right hon.—Gentleman's whistle-stop speeches. The same thing inspired the right hon. Gentleman through the long watches of those days and nights when, we are told, he was trying to get on tape his final election broadcast.
The reason why the Opposition now support what we have said on this is that the debate of 16th and 17th December brought them sharply up against the facts. There never was an independent British second generation deterrent. Britain's nuclear rôle, however deployed, depended on our allies. Interdependence and not independence was its basis. The election story we got so often, that after 1968, when the Polaris missiles were safely installed, we would be independent and able, as they alleged right through the election, to cock a snook at the Americans, was a fraudulent prospectus. As I said at the conclusion of the debate on 17th December the charade is over. I am very glad that right hon. Gentlemen have now recognised it, because neither in the construction of the submarines nor in the provision of the materials for the warheads can Britain claim a true and lasting independence.
I only want now to deal with one point that the right hon. Gentleman put, because I think that he misunderstood what I said. I did not cast doubt on the feasibility of the submarine or of the missile; what I did cast doubt on 1573 —or what was destroyed—was the myth that it could be, or ever was, independent.
If right hon. Gentlemen still have any illustions on this, let me quote to them the statement made by the American Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. McNamara, on 18th February of this year before the Armed Services Committee of Congress:Since we are still uncertain about the ultimate shelf life of the present Polaris missile"—the Americans are uncertain about the shelf life of the Polaris missile—and the time when a potential aggressor may deploy an anti-ballistic missile system, the pace of the Poseidon development has not yet been precisely established.What does this mean? It means that if right hon. Gentlemen had stayed in office, if they got the missiles and the submarines, then after 1968, they said, they would be genuinely independent. They talked once about an independent hat—"Once you have bought a hat, it is your hat. It is an independent hat". They said they would get to that position in 1968, but if Mr. McNamara now tells us, on grounds of the shelf life, by which I take him to mean the keeping qualities of the Polaris missile, that there was a doubt about it, then it could hardly be said that this was an independent missile or an independent deterrent. The implication of the cost limit that he gave for retro-fitting Polaris submarines—[Interruption.]—I know that right hon. Gentlemen do not like the story on which they fought the election absolutely blown from under them. What we have been trying to tell right hon. Gentlemen—I am glad that they are now proving apt pupils—is that anyone who wants to stay in the independent nuclear hunt cannot take a once-for-all decision and then go independent. He must be prepared to keep his weapons up to date at a high cost and at a high degree of interdependence on our allies.
I come now to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the question of joint talks about defence. I believe that the fact that the sharp controversy on the question of the independent deterrent is now diminishing is of historic importance. I think that this makes more important the idea of joint talks on defence. I did not just put this forward 1574 after coming into this office, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. In January 1964, when I was Leader of the Opposition, I formally proposed to him joint talks on defence. As Prime Minister, I think that the right hon. Gentleman was highly suspicious of this approach. On 16th December, from this side of the House, I made a similar proposal. I have been completely consistent, in opposition and in government, in believing that these talks would develop. The right hon. Gentleman has been equally suspicious, both when Prime Minister and as Leader of the Opposition, about the value of any talks of this kind. I believe that we have everything to gain, and I believe that the possibility of the development of "phoney" defence arguments on either side of the House, or the maintenance of vast expenditures, pretending that it was necessary in the national interest, when it was really being done for other reasons, would be impossible if the Government of the day shared with the Opposition the true facts, including the most secret facts of the situation.
One other aspect is this. Often in the past we felt that, on so-called security grounds, things were being withheld from the House and from the nation, not because they would have been any aid and comfort to potential enemies, but because they would have led to political criticism, either in the House or in the Press. What I hope as a result of what I have suggested is that, if there is full disclosure on the confidential basis I have suggested, it would prevent any such suspicion, whether of this Government or any other Government.
May I say clearly to the House what we have in mind? The defences of this country, our position in the alliances, the security of every individual member of our defence Services—these things, as we all agree, raise issues which ought to be above and beyond party politics. Any Government must inevitably have at their disposal facts of a high degree of security which cannot enter into the currency of defence controversy. I believe, therefore, that it is right that the Government of the day, whether Labour or Conservative, should be prepared to make a full and frank disclosure, on Privy Councillor terms, to the Leader of the Opposition and his principal defence spokesmen, and I think that 1575 it would be right equally to extend this to the Leader of the Liberal Party, being a Privy Councillor.
As the House knows, and as we have been told this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman and I have had discussions on this question a few days ago. Like him, I agree that it would be wrong to disclose in detail what each side said. But perhaps I might just conclude by saying what at any rate we envisage about this.
We do not seek to inhibit the free right of the Opposition to express their deep concern about the adequacy of our defence provision, whether in terms of equipment or in terms of manpower, or to query rôles and commitments which the Government of the day have accepted. This is the right and duty of every Opposition. But we feel that it is right that this criticism should be well-informed and kept up to date, even though this might in certain circumstances increase the ability of the Opposition to mount their attack on the Government's policy.
A week or two ago, a leading article in The Times threw doubt on our proposal and said this:No Opposition leader since the war has, in the end, thought the degree of muzzlement implicit in such an arrangement worth the extra knowledge acquired.This was a rather silly remark, since the proposal was first made by me as Leader of the Opposition in January 1964 and reported in The Times on that occasion. We have made it clear that we would like to go further than the mere occasional disclosure of defence information. I would hope that these talks could be regular and frequent and that any information which was available to the Government in the formulation of defence policy should be equally available to the Leader of the Opposition. We might even go beyond this. It is the practice, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, at any rate of this Government, to have frequent and frank discussions with the Chiefs of Staff, such as the presentation of the defence position recently held at Chequers, in addition to the more routine presentations of the facts relating to defence. I see no reason at all why we could not extend those presentations on the lines I have mentioned. When, of course, it is a question of the Government formulating their 1576 defence policy, or the Opposition formulating theirs, obviously they would conduct their discussions in appropriate privacy as best suits each side away from one another.
In the vitally important years before World War I, there was a full disclosure of the facts of our defence situation by the Liberal Administration to the then Conservative Leader of the Opposition. Indeed, the practice went further. The Leader of the Opposition was a full member of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Historians have paid tribute to the vitally important contributions Mr. Balfour made to the work of the C.I.D. Nobody suggested that this inhibited the then Opposition, because in the years immediately before World War I defence controversy, particularly over the naval programme—the Dreadnought programme—reached a more vigorous and acrimonious level than at any time in our history.
I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who has informed me that he does not see his way to entering into the regular discussions I have suggested, still less to enter into the more intimate defence meetings with the Government defence advisers which I envisage, will think again about this.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I have said to the right hon. Gentleman—and I think that there is a good deal of support for this point of view on both sides of the House—that I would certainly consider this in respect of classified information. This is perfectly right. It would be very different in regard to unclassified information. This should be shared by the right hon. Gentleman with the House. There is no reason why it should not be, but it is not. If therefore I am saddled with a whole lot of unclassified information not known to right hon. and hon. Members, it could put me in a difficulty. But, as to classified information, I should be delighted to come and talk to the Prime Minister.
§ The Prime Minister
I am very glad to hear that. As to the unclassified information, I have expressed my suspicions—I suppose it is a suspicion that hon. Members opposite may get about us one day—that the late Government did keep under a secret category far too much information that could have been made freely available to the House and 1577 that there was some suspicion that this was for political and not for security reasons. Therefore, I think that one of the consequences of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said will be what we are already doing—that is, reviewing the whole structure of the difference between classified and unclassified material, because the more that is kept on a security basis the less good our security is. What is secure should be kept secure and we should not try to spread things too widely.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
Would the Prime Minister have regard to giving a little more information to ordinary back benchers, because it is all very well to have the Opposition Front Bench well-informed as to the position in this country? It is equally important that Members of Parliament, who, when all is said and done, are elected by the same electors and have the same rights in the House, should get more information than we have been getting up to the present. It is quite impossible for any Member of the House to come to an intelligent decision on what should be the foreign policy or the defence policy of this country without getting any more information than we have at present.
§ The Prime Minister
I think that we have gone a very long way in the past two or three months in making much more defence information available to the House. That is why I stressed just now, while my hon. Friend was about to rise, the importance of declassifying some material which ought to be made more generally available, instead of having so much of it on a secret basis. I repeat that I was glad to hear the last few words of what the Leader of the Opposition said.
In asking the House to reject the Opposition Amendment, mild though its terms may be—they are mild—I think I am right in saying that the tenor of this debate suggests now that, for the reasons I have mentioned, the heat has been taken out of the defence controversy of those past years. The Government are going forward with a defence policy which is relevant to our position in the world, relevant to our economic resources, relevant to the unique contribution which we can make to the needs of the alliances and the Commonwealth and the peace 1578 keeping rôle of the United Nations. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Monmouth came in on defence giggling and he has now gone out of defence giggling, and it cost us a few million pounds.
On this basis, with or without final acceptance on the question of joint talks—as I have said, I hope that there will be such agreement—we can move forward on the basis of a defence policy which commands and deserves to command the unity of our nation.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
At one moment, I hoped that we should approach the area beyond Suez, but the Prime Minister was diverted, in a brilliant speech, from moving into that part of the world. I would remind him of the Chinese saying, "When the soldiers are disunited, put out more flags". This he did with considerable success this afternoon. I would remind him also of the Chinese book, with which, doubtless, he is familiar, "The Long March". This is what the Labour Party has been doing for the past 13 years. They are back now. They have come through Aldermaston. They have been down on their knees. They have been on the pavements. They have disputed every barricade. Now they are back precisely where they started, at "Square One". I know that when the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) saw the Prime Minister have the temerity to turn to the last Prime Minister across the Table and say, "It is you who have joined us now, not we who have joined you", this was really the depth of the defeat for many people inside the Labour Party.
These facts cannot be neglected in spite of what the Prime Minister has said, in spite of running over the White Papers of 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961, bringing in Suez, and generally trying to excite his own side in approbation of his brilliance. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman said little or nothing about the White Paper put before the House by his Secretary of State for Defence.
As far as I can see, there is only one pledge given in the White Paper, the pledge that the level of expenditure will remain the same as it is today. The right hon. Gentleman has made this pledge, 1579 and I now wish to ask him a few questions about it. It is agreed that, whether by fault of the present Administration, by reason of pressures in international finance or for reasons outside the scope of this debate, there has probably never been greater need for economy than there is today. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to keep his pledge except by what is laid down in his own White Paper, the three means of controlling expenditure in defence? The first is by control of commitments. The second is by control of the cost of hardware. The third is by control through various cost mechanisms, measurements of cost-effectiveness and the like.
During the past few weeks, this Government, who have pledged themselves to control expenditure, have made at least two further commitments which are not even referred to in the White Paper. The first is the one announced the other day which, while a comparatively small commitment, is yet a commitment which the Secretary of State for Defence was unable to discuss seriously last night when he was asked about the cost of logistic support for six battalions for the United Nations. If this commitment is to mean anything at all, it must be something beyond our immediate commitments, quite apart from future or fanciful commitments. Otherwise, it means nothing. I hope that the Secretary of State will make the position clear when he winds up.
The second commitment arises in this way. Undoubtedly, as has been said from both sides of the House, it seems that the Government have entered into or are about to enter into an agreement for the nuclear defence of the Indian subcontinent. On this also we have heard not nearly enough in statement, speech or declaration from right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
This is more serious. Those of use who have been involved in defence matters know that Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries frequently approach their defence Ministers and ask, "Can you do this or that?", but it is idle and foolish for a Government, when they talk about controlling defence expenditure, to enter into such commitments without proper sureties, without proper arrangements and without properly worked out calculations of what the cost will be.
1580 Next, how can the actual commitments be controlled? The Secretary of State yesterday and the Prime Minister today talked about a review of our commitments to N.A.T.O. It has been made fairly clear in the White Paper that there is to be some cut-down on our nuclear investment this year. I hope that the Secretary of State will say what our position is on the nuclear commitment which we have at the moment for tactical support, with tactical nuclear weapons, of SACEUR. He said yesterday that, in his opinion, we should change this commitment, but it would not be right for this Government to take unilateral action without having secured agreement from the rest of the N.A.T.O. Powers on whether this should or should not be the policy. For one thing, I am certain that the Prime Minister will find, when he goes to Germany this weekend, where we all wish him well, that he will not be popular if he follows the line taken by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday of saying that the only area where nuclear weapons would be used in a tactical rôle is on German soil. That is what the right hon. Gentleman implied in his speech yesterday.
I take next the question of reducing the actual positive expenditure. Various points were made by the Secretary of State yesterday which were not, in my view, at all satisfactory or conclusive. First, he spoke about cutting out £300,000 which was to have been spent on R.A.F. uniforms. He said that this was for ceremonial dress. My recollection is that it was for tropical clothing for the Royal Air Force in the Far East. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will check the figure again, because that is my recollection of what we wanted to do. To cut out £300,000 on seeing that our soldiers or airmen are smartly turned out is, in terms of cost-effectiveness, a very bad cut to make, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will resist it when he thinks about it again.
The next cut proposed is a cut in aircraft. This, we are told, will save us about £30 million a year. I regard this as a quite notional sum. One has to take into account that, by so doing, we should do immense damage to our own aircraft industry. We make it certain that we have to reprovide in the middle of the 1581 1970s, and we provide from our own resources two aircraft which, I believe, are of indifferent performance. In addition, we lower the standard of operational requirement for our own airmen. There may well have been a gap, although I still question this, but I believe that the investment which we proposed to make, whatever weaknesses it may have had, had nothing like the weaknesses which the proposed purchase suggested by this Government would impose upon the Royal Air Force.
As the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said yesterday, the Government are committed wholeheartedly to the policy of the Conservative Government but they differ on one point—in the approach to the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence. I believe that the only really effective way in which money can now be saved is by looking at the layout of the forces, that is to say, abandoning those rôles which are historically important but perhaps no longer valid for the 1970s. This is best undertaken in the major and most expensive activity, naval-air investment.
It is in this investment that the greatest sums of money are put out. I believe that the approach of the Defence Secretary and the Deputy Secretary of State is entirely wrong. They have stated that they will approach the matter from the outside and work inwards to the centre. I believe that decisions must be taken at the centre.
Had we remained in office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) and I were determined to see that the question of air power would be decided across the board by one body of men. I believe that this is the only way in which the use of air power can be made fully effective. I told my colleagues on the Air Board that one day its membership should include sailors and eventually perhaps soldiers and that decisions must be taken across the board on this most expensive part of our defence policy.
One of the results of re-equipping the Navy and the R.A.F. with the Phantom raises the very wide question, which must be decided over the next few years, of the carrier replacement. Yesterday, the Secretary of State said he would make some statement about it today. It may be that we shall save £30 million per 1582 annum over 10 years by buying the Phantom, but it may also mean that we shall have to replace our carrier fleet which, according to my figures—and I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would rebut or confirm them—would cost between £1,200 million and £1,400 million. Not only would the carriers have to be replaced but also all their ancillary and support craft. This is obviously one of the great decisions to be taken.
On one point I praise the Secretary of State. This is his appointment of three very distinguished officers—Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John and Air Chief Marshal Sir Denis Barnett—to form a committee to study the rationalisation of air power. But the decisions of that committee will only be effective if it is asked the right questions by the right hon. Gentleman and if it is backed in those decisions by the right hon. Gentleman, whatever it may cost.
These decisions will be of great importance. We must ask ourselves basic questions—and the Prime Minister and others concerned are the only people who can give the final answers. First, there is the question of carrier investment, which could be enormous. Secondly, there is the problem of the next few years of Coastal Command. We need to find a penetration to deep submarine fleets and this calls for the most serious investigation.
Above all, when the Government talk about the support of an Asian nuclear strategy, possibly in support of India against Chinese invasion, they must begin to ask very profound questions. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said today, total flexibility will be needed, with things like nuclear submarines, if we are to carry out such a commitment.
In the White Paper and in their speeches yesterday the Government failed, as the Prime Minister failed today, to give the House reason to believe that what they propose to do will either be cheaper or more effective than what has been done already, and this is the alarming thought for their supporters. The only thing of validity that the Secretary of State produced yesterday was the pinpricking attack on Air Force clothing. Anything else projected can only lead 1583 to further expenditure—aircraft at the wrong time, commitments which should never have been entered into.
These thoughts of the right hon. Gentleman should never have been put before the House before being properly costed by the Defence Department, and although he may be having a good effect in some parts of the House, especially with his party, held together with great difficulty, unless he sticks to what he has said he is offering the country a false prospectus in the White Paper in which he claims that he can cope with expanded commitments and expenditure where it is. That is palpably, absolutely and finally untrue. The only way in which there can be economies is by rationalisation, but they are economies which, by all the signs, he is totally unable to undertake.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I offer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence my warmest congratulations on the clarity, skill and authority with which he explained his policy yesterday. It was a great pleasure and a great relief to hear him speak. I want to deal with a subject to which he and others have frequently referred in the debate—international disarmament under inspection and control.
The Leader of the Opposition said some tepid words about it today, about as tepid as the support which his delegates gave throughout the last few years. But Conservative Ministers of Defence have been saying for a decade that, in the nuclear age, there is no true national defence except disarmament by international agreement. Both the Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State said that in different forms yesterday.
Like my right hon. Friends, I have never stood for unilateral disarmament by Britain alone. I have believed, since the First World War, that the most important fact in world affairs was the arms race, and that a general disarmament treaty was incomparably the most important objective, not only of foreign policy but of our policy of national defence as well.
I want to look at the problem of 1965 not only in terms of the figures, the manpower, the weapons and the money of 1584 1964 and 1965, but in the context of the world arms race, in which the Government, willy-nilly, are caught up.
I do not think that, whatever he does, the Secretary of State can make large savings; I do not believe that he can set a ceiling on the estimates he brings, while the expansion of world armaments goes on. I am convinced that the figures of 1965 cannot be understood simply by looking back to 1964. Small budgetary cuts by Germany, the United States, or Russia, have no meaning if this year alone is taken.
Let me go back, not very far, to the start of the last Parliament, in 1959. From 1959 to 1964, United States military expenditure, in spite of President Johnson's cuts, rose from 46,000 million dollars to 54,300 million dollars, almost 25 per cent.; French expenditure rose from 18,000 million francs to 23,500 million francs, 30 per cent.; West German expenditure from 11,000 million marks to 21,000 million marks, almost double in five years; British expenditure from £1,500 million to £2,000 million, 33 per cent. The military budgets of the N.A.T.O. countries rose together by an average of 25 per cent. We know less about the Russian figures, but the best estimate which has been made is that the increase at the lowest has been 37 per cent.
Asia is in the race today to a frightening degree. South Korea's forces number 600,000. Unhappy Laos, with a population of 2,500,000, has 70,000 in her royal forces. Formosa with a population of 12 million has 600,000 troops, many more than our forces, and dedicated to aggression against the Chinese Government which we recognise. India increased her manpower in a single year, after her troubles with China, by 54 per cent.
In 1914, when Lord Grey said that the enormous growth of armaments had been a major cause of war, the governments had 5 million men in their standing armed forces; today, the figure is 20 million. Then they were spending £500 million; today, it is £50,000 million; in real terms, more than 30 times as much.
Incomparably the most dangerous feature of the arms race is the development of military research, and I hope that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues will never forget it. In 1953, the United 1585 States Government was spending 1,500 million dollars on R and D. In 1960, it was 8,400 million dollars, multiplied by five in seven years; and in 1964 it was 13,400 million dollars. In 1953 we were spending £100 million; last year it was £250 million.
Now China, by its own scientific research, has evolved a nuclear bomb, not plutonium, but uranium 235, which means that the fusion H-bomb may be within her grasp by 1967. Mr. McNarnara—and the Leader of the Opposition mentioned this—says that research is developinga dramatic drop in the cost of nuclear warheads, which will enable 10, 20 or 30 nations to have a nuclear arsenal in another decade or two.Two decades have passed since Hitler's war. The proliferation, said Mr. McNamara, may begin extremely soonas advanced, simpler nuclear technologies spread around the world.In the light of all these facts, it does not seem very important that Western Germany has made a little cut this year, or that President Johnson has, or even that the Secretary of State has saved us £55 million, grateful as we are. The basic fact is that the arms race in all its many forms—nuclears, biologicals, poison gases, supersonic aircraft, I.C.B.M.s, Polaris and now Poseidon submarines, and the no less dangerous Pershings and Davy Crocketts for the foot soldier in the line—the arms race, in all its many forms is sweeping on inexorably, year by year, and faster than ever before.
Let this trend be projected forward for another 10 years, the 10 years of which the Secretary of State spoke so tentatively yesterday afternoon. What will be China's military ranking 10 years from now? What will happen to Asia, and Western interests in Asia, if China, with 700 million people and vast potential wealth, follows the path of militarist imperialism which Europe taught Japan before the First World War?
In his first speech in another place the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said that the arms race had reached "a phase of near-lunacy". I wonder why he bothered to say "near". The White Paper, and the Secretary of State in greater detail yesterday, told us that nuclear weapons simply could not be used; that whether 1586 there was an exchange of "strategic" nuclear stockpiles or simply a so-called "tactical" nuclear battle in the heart of Europe, the result would be the same—total catastrophe for everyone concerned, including those who use the nuclears first.
For long enough, any official in any Ministry of Defence, if asked what would happen if the long-range nuclear stockpiles should be used, has answered with a shudder, "It is unthinkable".
It was 1962 when Sir Solly Zuckerman wrote his famous article in Foreign Affairs in which he showed that tactical nuclears would be no less fatal to everyone, including to the side that used them first. He described the Army exercise in Northern Germany, known as "Spear-point", an exercise confined to an area of 10,000 sq. miles, with no major towns or cities—there were villages, of course—a battle lasting only three days, the two sides together using 25 megatons, in not more than 1,000 separate strikes. If the weapons had been ground bursts, said Sir Solly, 1,500,000 people would have been exposed to a lethal radiological hazard and a further 5 million to serious danger from radiation. Let hon. Members note that among the 1,500,000 who received a lethal dose would have been the three British Army corps involved. Sir Solly said that the use of tactical nuclears wouldgenerate a new situation which is outside all possible military control".As the Secretary of State said yesterday, there would be total chaos, total devastation, in which no organised war could possibly go on.
One important issue was raised by "Spearpoint", to which I hope my hon. Friend will draw the Secretary of State's attention. When "Spearpoint" was over, the commanding officer in charge, General Jones, gave a Press conference in which he made it plain that neither he, nor any of his subordinates who used the tactical nuclears, had the least idea of what they were doing. They did not know the power of the weapons; they did not know the destruction they would cause; they did not know their effect on the conduct of the operations; they had had no real training in nuclears at all.
I took up the matter with Mr. Profumo, then Secretary of State for 1587 War. The irresponsibility of his answers was paralleled only by the candid ignorance of General Jones. I hope that the Secretary of State will look up the speeches, the Questions and the correspondence which then took place, because adequate instruction about nuclears for the troops who might be called upon to use them is one of the most important and the gravest of the questions with which he has to deal.
The Secretary of State argues that the nuclears cannot be used without disaster to all who use them. But Governments on both sides of the Iron Curtain go on saying that the strategic stockpiles—the I.C.B.M.s—will infallibly be used if aggression on an ally should occur. Generals and air marshals go on using the very language which Sir Solly so vigorously condemned. They talk of "the exchange of nuclear fire", as though it was a kind of artillery counter-battery work writ large.
All such language must increase the danger that the weapons will one day be used in unintended but, perhaps, general war. The Secretary of State will, I know, forgive me, if I say that the White Paper takes this danger rather lightly. It says nothing of Governments led by men who are insane. Yet it is not so long since Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese generals were in power. Some people believe that in his latter years Stalin was insane.
The White Paper casually mentions in paragraph 11the risk of war arising out of misunderstanding or miscalculation.In the Cuba crisis of 1962, how real and terrible that risk was.
There is the risk, not mentioned in the White Paper, of orders being misunderstood, on which Captain Basil Liddell Hart has written with authority and much alarm.
There is the risk of mechanical defect and failure in the immensely complicated systems of weapon command. President Kennedy and Dr. Robert Oppenheimer often talked about it; Mr. McNamara emphasised it once again only weeks ago.
There is the risk, which is far more serious, of human failure, mental breakdown, Messianic delusion, on the part 1588 of someone who knows how to launch a nuclear bomb. No security arrangements can eliminate this risk of human failure. "Hot" lines are a kind of "long-stop" measure, but in the Cuba type of crisis no one could be certain whether they would suffice.
Thus the total risk of unintended war, ending possibly in general war, may be very grave indeed.
The only true defence against these dangers; the only way to stop the sweeping progress of the arms race; the only way to fulfil the mission with which my right hon. Friend is charged, to make the British people safe from war, is a general treaty of disarmament—not in 10 years' time, not when some other Secretary of State is in power, but now, with his drive and his assistance, before military research and mounting passions have put a treaty perhaps for ever beyond our reach.
What should the Secretary of State now try to do? The White Paper gives top priority to a non-dissemination pact. Of course we are all in favour of non-dissemination. But such a pact can be only a short-term, holding operation to delay proliferation for a brief period of years. Nothing except disarmament will stop the French and Chinese nuclear programmes from going forward; and, if non-dissemination is an alibi for non-disarmament, it will surely fail.
Infinitely more important is President Johnson's proposal for a freeze on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles—the long-range aircraft, missiles, submarines, and so on—by which an intercontinental onslaught can be staged. When President Johnson first put it forward, his freeze was a major disarmament proposal of the highest promise. It is a matter of infinite regret that the Russians, their minds paralysed by fear of the M.L.F., refused any serious discussion in the Committee of Eighteen. It is a matter of no less regret that the Tory Government gave the Russians their strongest argument for saying that it was all a hoax by arguing that our Polaris submarines must of course remain outside the freeze.
I do not know whether the freeze can now be resurrected. I do know that both Lord Chalfont and the American Administration desire to resurrect it. It would give a less result today than it 1589 would have given a year ago. But if it were certain that it was a step to early and genuine armament reduction, it might still succeed. The Secretary of State could give it new life if he would decide that Britain should make a genuine contribution to its success. If the United States and Russia were really giving up large programmes of new delivery vehicles, as they still can do; if the freeze were seriously intended, as President Johnson's delegates assert, as a first step to much wider, more drastic and very early measures of disarmament, why should Britain not now offer to bring within the freeze our four Polaris submarines, our TSR2—which I believe is fully capable of a strategic rôle—and whatever new aircraft carrier the Secretary of State may have in mind?
I am afraid that I think very little of the argument of "the point of no return." The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 was the same kind of measure as President Johnson's freeze, and it was a very remarkable success. Under that treaty, as part of an international reduction of naval armaments, battleships which were almost ready to be commissioned, were scrapped. Apart from its vitally important political results, all the Governments made great financial savings as a result. I believe that the same could still happen if the Secretary of State would give the kind of lead which I have suggested over President Johnson's freeze.
I am told that there is serious debate about another collateral measure, another step which might follow the freeze—a further early reduction of nuclear weapon stocks and delivery systems, right down to the level of the minimum nuclear deterrent which Mr. Gromyko, following a Pugwash Conference proposal, suggested at the General Assembly of the United Nations. If this plan could be adopted, I believe that it would transform the whole international situation—in Europe, Asia, America and elsewhere. It would open the way for the drafting of a treaty of general disarmament without delay.
I hope that the Secretary of State will give this second collateral his personal attention and will do whatever lies within his power to ensure that it has full-blooded British support, with whatever reduction or elimination of British nuclear weapons may be required.
1590 There is much else that the Secretary of State can do to help in drafting the Treaty of General Disarmament which the Prime Minister and Lord Chalfont have said so often that we want. A year ago the Labour Party, quoting speeches by the Leader of the Opposition in the Committee of Eighteen, urged that a general treaty could best be prepared by compromise solutions based on the draft put forward by the United States and Soviet Governments in 1962. I am glad to think that that is the policy which the Government will now endeavour to pursue.
There are elements in both draft treaties, with all their defects, which are of the highest value. To scrap them or forget them would be foolish in the extreme. But while these two drafts are both in treaty form, in fact they are only a political outline of the many and various measures which a treaty will require. In every section a great deal of detailed technical drafting is required. That drafting will present no insuperable difficulties even on nuclear disarmament and control.
Sir John Cockcroft and other experts have said that solutions can readily be found. But thought would be advanced and action brought nearer if, on the various sections of the treaty, the full technical framework could be drawn up. I have in mind such matters as the reduction and limitation of manpower, where conscripts and long-term volunteers must be dealt with by a common system; the defining of the weapons of aggression to be destroyed, the weapons which help attack against national defence—and I am glad that the Government are returning to Lord Cecil's principle of qualitative disarmament, which he urged so long ago. I have in mind the reduction and limitation of military budgets, which could be so strong a reinforcement for a system of disarmament control. I have in mind the measures of inspection needed to ensure that President Johnson's freeze was faithfully observed.
Above all, I have in mind the general question of inspection in stages I and II of the disarmament process, on which a torrent of unrealistic nonsense has been talked in recent years. On all these matters the Secretary of State has experts who can do very much to make the prospect of a treaty of disarmament seem 1591 practicable, real and near. Without that prospect, no short-term collateral, even if agreed to, can help us much. I hope that the Secretary of State will regard all this as a major part of his duty to bring to the British people security and peace.
Over the last 40 years there have been many military men from many countries who have thought that international disarmament was the only national defence. In 1919 they included the three Chiefs of Staff who had directed the British operations in the First World War. In 1965 there are more of them than ever before. But there are also others, who, for honourable reasons, out of very genuine conviction, take a different view.
Does the House recall the story told by Mr. Nutting about how the West withdrew its admirable disarmament proposals in 1955, when the Russians had gone very far towards accepting what we had proposed? Mr Nutting was the luckless delegate who had to do the job. In the preface of the little book in which he told his gruesome tale, Mr. Nutting said:The students of this melancholy piece of history must always bear in mind—as the negotiators for their part were never allowed to forget—that behind each disarmament delegation there hovers that gaunt, grey giant in the counsels of men and nations—the Ministry of Defence.It is just 35 years since, from this place, I first spoke in favour of international disamament in this honourable House. In that time, as I believe, three major opportunities have been lost-1932, 1955 and 1960, when the U2 aircraft smashed the summit meeting for which Mr. Khrushchev had laboured for so long. On all three occasions, I believe the gaunt, grey giants, for honourable, but mistaken, motives, were to blame. I hope that the Secretary of State will make very certain that in Britain it shall never happen again.
§ 6.27 p.m.
Mr. C. M. Woodhuose (Oxford)
I was not quite sure when Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) whether he was a wholehearted supporter of the Government's White Paper. Even if he were, the fact is that he was only the second Labour back-bench Member we have heard 1592 during the debate to support the White Paper.
Earlier this afternoon the Prime Minister, following the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday, set out to prove that common ground had been reached between his Front Bench and the Conservative Party on defence because, he alleged, our views on this side of the House had moved towards his. Certainly he has not yet convinced his own followers that this is the case. Of the Labour back-bench Members we have heard so far in the debate only one has supported the White Paper, and every one of them, I think without exception, whether supporting the White Paper or not, has argued that the White Paper represented a substantial move of Labour defence policy in the direction of Conservative Party policy.
Listening to the speeches from the Government back benches yesterday, I felt so embarrassed on behalf of the Secretary of State that I thought that the only decent thing I could do was to try to change the subject. But that does not mean that I unreservedly approve of the White Paper. It has been described in the Press as a collection of bits and pieces, and I think that that is a fair description. To find a pattern in it one has to pick out the bits and pieces and put them together for oneself. As far as it is necessary to do this in order to establish what is the Government's diagnosis, the task is not entirely difficult. The diagnosis is the obvious one that this country's defence commitments exceed its resources.
But what sort of remedy do the Government have in mind for this diagnosis? Here, certainly the pattern is not so easy to see in the White Paper. There are obviously two or three different ways to bring one's commitments and one's resources into a proper matching relationship. One can try to increase resources, or try to reduce the commitments, or try to do a bit of both. The Government appear not to be very attracted by the first solution of merely increasing our resources. This, I think, is clear from the figures of anticipated costs given in paragraph 48 of the White Paper. It is true that in the immediately preceding paragraphs it argues—and I think rightly—that more can be done with more efficient control of the existing resources, but the 1593 Government clearly do not think—and here again I am sure that this is right—that the overall cost of defence will get any cheaper so long as our existing commitments are maintained.
What, then, do the Government propose to do about the commitments? They are defined in paragraph 7 of the White Paper under three heads. There are three major rôles which we have undertaken in the past: first, to support a strategic nuclear force; secondly, to make a major contribution to the defence of Western Europe inside N.A.T.O.; thirdly, to assist in keeping the peace elsewhere overseas.
The Government clearly appear to have renounced their intention to abandon the first rôle, that of supporting a strategic nuclear force, whatever they may have said about this last year and up to the election period. They have given our nuclear force a new label—and I am not going into the theological argument about whether it is independent or interdependent, it is still going to exist under the new label—but the new label is not going to reduce the bill, and the Government have perhaps recognised the fact that to cut out the nuclear element in our defences, without thereby impairing our total defensive power, might result in imposing not a less, but a greater burden on our resources, including an increased defence budget, and probably a return to conscription.
Secondly, there is the rôle in N.A.T.O., and especially in Germany. To give up this commitment, or even substantially to cut it, would admittedly infringe, treaty obligations, and I imagine that the Government do not want to infringe any more treaty obligations for the time being. It is a step which, for reasons which have been elaborated earlier in the debate, would probably prove more expensive even if it gave some relief to our balance of payments, because unless the troops in Germany were to be demobilised altogether, they would have to be maintained, housed and administered at a still greater expense in this country or somewhere else.
There remains, therefore, the third rôle, that of assisting to keep the peace elsewhere in the world, and the logic suggests that here, if anywhere, is the likeliest opportunity for financial cuts, and here perhaps is the only field where they 1594 can be possible, especially as overseas bases are, among other things, a very heavy burden on our balance of payments. But, unfortunately, although logic leads us to this point, this is the most disappointing part of the White Paper.
To see how the Government approach the prospect of reducing expenditure abroad, outside Europe, and especially expenditure on overseas bases, one has to look at several different parts of the White Paper. Paragraph 20 says that it would be irresponsible and wasteful to abandon our bases while they are still needed to promote peace, and it goes on to say:… we recognise that they can be maintained only in agreement with the local governments and peoples.Clearly, such agreement, in most parts of the world, is now a waning asset, and where it survives it does so usually not out of love of ourselves, or of our history, but because of local feuds in which one party finds us useful as a counterweight against the other. I need not give examples of what, to most hon. Members, is an obvious proposition.
What, then, is to be done as our status in such residual strategic dependencies grows more vulnerable, as to my mind it is bound to do? Paragraph 21 proposes that in such territories we should try to share the burden with our allies, but, however helpful that might be economically, and even in the unlikely event of our allies agreeing, is this suggestion realistic when it is read in conjunction with the passage about local consent?
Which of our allies would be of any use for this kind of purpose? They are, of course, excellent allies, and I have no intention of saying anything derogatory about them, but, in the long run, would they really be any more acceptable than ourselves to the local nationalist forces and movements? Are the French, or the Belgians, or the Dutch, or the Portuguese, going to be more acceptable than ourselves in these residual colonial responsibilities? Are even the Americans, the Canadians and the Australians any more acceptable in the long run? We must not forget that at the time of the Middle East crisis in 1956 it proved impossible to include Canadians in the United Nations Force in the Middle East simply because they wore British 1595 type uniforms and their regiments had British names.
It sems to me doubtful whether a practical solution can really be worked out on those lines, and it seems to me equally doubtful whether our allies will seriously enter upon such commitments. Thus, I see very little prospect of a solution along those lines to our residual colonial responsibilities where they have a strategic significance, and I ask whether there is then no one who would be acceptable to local nationalisms with whom, in our own interests, we could seek to share our burdens and diffuse our responsibilities?
Surely the answer can be found only under the auspices of the body on whose behalf, however indirectly, we claim to be keeping the peace, because peace keeping is its function, and that is the United Nations. But on this prospect I find the White Paper remarkably disappointing. The Secretary of State paid some lip-service to the United Nations yesterday, and so did the Prime Minister today, but if I understood them rightly, either they did not go nearly far enough in the direction that I have in mind, or, if they did, they were speaking out of tune with the theme of the White Paper itself, because paragraph (5) contains the following sentence:But until the United Nations is able to exercise the responsibility for maintaining world peace, Britain must, to meet her obligations to Commonwealth and allied countries, maintain a capacity for providing military assistance in many parts of the world.That sentence seems to contain two unfortunate implications. The first is that once the United Nations becomes able to exercise that responsibility we shall be able to give up our own capacity for providing military assistance in many parts of the world. That is simply not true, as was clearly shown by the Foreign Secretary's announcement last week about providing logistic support for six battalions at the service of the United Nations. The United Nation's power to exercise such responsibility depends—and in my view always will depend—upon the retention of such a capacity by pacifically-minded nations such as our own. It may become possible to reduce our national burden in this respect, as I shall argue, but I doubt 1596 whether it will ever become possible to abandon it altogether.
The second unfortunate implication is that, so far, the United Nations has failed to exercise such a responsibility. But it has not failed. In contrast with the League of Nations—which achieved absolutely nothing at all after one or two minor successes in dealing with small Powers in the early 1920s—the United Nations has been a distinct success in its peace-keeping rôle. It has achieved a great deal more than might have been expected after the breakdown of the attempts to form a genuinely international police force through the military staff committee 16 or 17 years ago.
The United Nations did very well in Korea. It is doing well in Cyprus. It has done so well in the Middle East that people have almost forgotten the very existence of its force there. Even in the Congo, although a great deal went wrong, in my view the United Nations intervention was right in principle, and things would have been a great deal worse without it. I therefore regret the disparaging tone of the White Paper's reference to the United Nations, especially from a Government who claim to regard it so much more highly than did their predecessors.
As for the problem of our overseas peace-keeping commitments, I suggest that it is only by bringing in the United Nations to share our responsibilities that we shall eventually be able to achieve either of two highly desirable results, the first being to reduce the burden of our own peace-keeping rôle on our own national resources and the second being to forestall the use of the United Nations as a forum or lever for an attempt to undermine our remaining colonial responsibilities, by which I mean those remaining small and often strategically placed dependencies which, as the White Paper observes, we cannot simply abandon.
Some of these remaining strategic dependencies are already under fire at the United Nations. Aden and the Persian Gulf States are obvious examples. In other cases we are exempt from attack at the United Nations now only for quite fortuitous reasons—in the case of Gibraltar, for instance, because General Franco happens to be even more unpopular 1597 among the anti-colonialists than we are, in Singapore because of the idiotic behaviour of Sukarno, and in Hong Kong because the Chinese Communists are not in the United Nations and do not at present want to claim control of the area, althought they are at present looked upon as an aggressive Government.
But we cannot rely on this kind of luck running our way indefinitely. If we do not very soon call in the United Nations to help carry our responsibilities for these remaining overseas territories it will not be very long before somebody else calls in the United Nations to try to force us to abandon them.
I therefore appeal to the Government to think again about the implications of paragraph 5 of the White Paper and not to cling to the defeatist doctrine that the United Nations must not be allowed into the water until it has learned to swim.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I suppose one approaches a debate on a Defence White Paper from the party point of view. I have taken part in many debates on White Papers. I hope that I am not criticising my own Government by saying that their White Paper is much of a pattern with all the White Papers that I have seen in nearly 30 years of White Papers. I believe that the first was signed by Mr. Ramsay Macdonald.
The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) seemed to chide my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) in the question he put to him. He asked whether my right hon. Friend was going to support the Government's White Paper. Of course he is. We all know—so long as my hon. and right hon. Friends can get free of their snow-bound trains and get here for the Division tonight at 10 o'clock—what the result will be. The Government's White Paper will be approved, whatever we say, just like every Government White Paper.
When my right hon. Friend intervenes—and he, of all hon. Members, has a right to intervene on disarmament instead of strictly keeping to the White Paper on Defence—he brings a much-needed breath of fresh air to our debate, as he has been doing consistently for years. Although it might be alleged that this is a criticism of my own Prime Minister, 1598 I would have said that my right hon. Friend would have been the obvious person to be a Minister of State for Disarmament. I would have welcomed some reference to Lord Chalfont, who was an estimable defence correspondent for The Times before he saw the light of day and achieved his present position. It would have been very interesting to hear something on that score.
Every hon. Member knows, and every defence general, air marshal and admiral knows, that whatever preparations we make for defence today, once the nuclear weapon is launched there is no more defence whatever. In those circumstances, I hope that at some time or other the Government will tell us what the rôle of the Territorial Army will be. I think that it was inaugurated by Lord Haldane. It served a very useful purpose in the war in which I first fought, in 1914. It became an army to defend this country not from these shores but from overseas.
I do not intervene very often in defence debates nowadays. All I know about the Territorial Army is that it has some fire brigade rôle. That was the last I heard of it, in the time of the previous Government. It then had a defence rôle which it may never be called upon to fulfil, because it may not have any tires to put out, as it is supposed to do if we are ever attacked by nuclear bombs.
I want to pinpoint a subject in respect of which I have been pressing the previous Government for the last 13 years but on which my views have always been rejected. I do not know how hon. Members who are newcomers will respond to the idea of having a defence committee of the House. It has been rejected not only by Conservative Governments but by leading members of my own party, although it is interesting to note that one of the chief exponents of a defence committee when we were in Opposition was my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General. He is a man with great influence in the Government. I hope that we shall hear from him at some time, on some suitable occasion, whether he still supports this policy which he and I have advocated.
I know all the arguments against it, but the arguments for it are in existence in Germany—where the Constitution was set up partly by our own country—in 1599 America and in France. What is the reason we do not have one here? Sir Winston Churchill said that we could not have a system like the Americans because they had a different constitutional system, but today we heard the Prime Minister offering to the Leader of the Opposition and, if you please, the Leader of the Liberal Party—a very small minority but of course with its rights—an opportunity to come to him sometimes and engage in talks on classified material.
Why does my right hon. Friend wish to induce the Leader of the Opposition to engage in these talks and will it stop at the Leader of the Opposition? It may be said that with the small majority that this Government have it is almost inevitable that there will at some time be a change of position and that, therefore, with the best intentions in the world, the Prime Minister is preparing the Leader of the Opposition for the day when he will occupy that responsible position. Surely that cannot apply to the Liberal Party—at least not in our lifetime.
There must therefore be some other reason why my right hon. Friend makes this suggestion. It is a very interesting suggestion. He refers to the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), but it could not stop there. It would have to include the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) or whoever now speaks on defence from the Opposition Front Bench. In my submission, it would have to include the shadow Foreign Secretary, and it would proceed more or less on the same pattern as that which the Defence Committee of the Cabinet follows today and at any rate during the days when I was a member.
There are not three members of the Defence Committee. The Prime Minister takes responsibility for defence and others are called in. It is interesting to note, in view of what the Prime Minister said today, that before the First World War, in the days when there was a Liberal Government, and even before that, a Committee of Imperial Defence was set up by Mr. Balfour, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party. This carried on to the days of the Liberal 1600 Government and was continued to the outbreak of war. The C.I.D. consisted not only of Ministers with Service responsibilities, but other individuals, Ministers and others, chosen because of their knowledge or previous experience. It went even further than that, because the subcommittees included laymen. I mention that in order to press the point that I referred to earlier.
We cannot spread information about top secret material, in secret sessions or otherwise, to the whole of the House of Commons. During the last war we had quite a number of secret sessions but we got little information from the then Government. The advantage of those sessions was that those of us who had access, as some of us did, to certain information that could not have been called top secret, but nevertheless was secret in war time, had a chance to challenge the Government on what we considered to be their shortcomings. The question of tanks was a case in point. I well remember that the late Mr. Richard Stokes, who was then the Member of Parliament for Ipswich, had quite a lot of information on this subject which we discussed in this House in secret session.
Who can say that today we have an opportunity to get to the heart of this problem? Only a handful of hon. and right hon. Members have an interest in defence subjects. Possibly other hon. Members are interested in other subjects. Obviously, hon. Members have to specialise. An hon. Member who attempts to speak on a number of subjects soon finds that he is not listened to and is considered a bore. An hon. Member who does know his subject will always be listened to. With the experience which I have had as a Service Minister I want the opportunity to put my point of view in an intelligent way and to be answered in an intelligent way. Today we are not answered by any Government speaker in that fashion whatever may be our point of view.
It was interesting to listen to the exchanges between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister who is well known as an expert debater, like the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) who probably will wind up for the Opposition. If he does, we shall listen to a rumbustious speech, but will it get to the point of defence? I 1601 feel that if my right hon. Friend has been a little more tactful or, shall we say, diplomatic, and left out the opening paragraph of the White Paper to which the Opposition object we might not have had an Opposition Amendment, certainly not in its present form. Most of it is concerned withdeploring the unjustified and misleading party political statement …In relation to defence subjects there ought to be a Council of State such as it seems to me the Prime Minister suggested to the Leader of the Opposition. We are dealing with very serious subjects. I do not say it in any boastful manner, but merely as stating a fact, that as a young man I took part in the First World War. When I read the histories of that war I could see why I had to serve for four or five years because of the lack of preparation by the Liberal Government of that day and the failure to conceive the type of war for which the Germans were preparing.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
To be fair, that Liberal Government produced the finest trained Army the world has ever seen and a Navy prepared to fulfil its functions as soon as war broke out. Ignorance of the nature of the war was equally shared by the German general staff.
§ Mr. Bellenger
It was probably the best expeditionary force that went overseas, but when one reads the military histories we learn that the British Army in 1914 possessed fewer than 200 machine guns. Its heavy artillery consisted of 24 new 60-pounder guns and reserves were less than 1 million rounds. It reminds me of the occasion when the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) in 1939 tried to assist his father-in-law by showing that we had only seven 3.7 antiaircraft guns protecting London. What happened? He was nearly courtmartialled by Mr. Hore Belisha, who was then the Secretary of State for War.
What I am trying to put seriously to the House is that if we do not know the facts—and how many hon. Members do know the facts—and if this arrangement is to provide them, the only information we shall get will be something like the right hon. Member for Monmouth provided us with in his White Paper. Certainly the hon. Member for Oxford could not complain that that White Paper 1602 was composed of bits and pieces, like his description of the Labour Government's White Paper. But I think that he knows—he has been a Minister—how White Papers and Ministers' speeches are prepared.
When I was Secretary of State for War and I had to make an Estimates speech—the only one I ever made—it was first prepared by the different directorates in my Department. I should not be surprised if the same sort of thing happens these days, although the War Office is now integrated in the Ministry of Defence. The different directorates provided their own pet subjects, and if I had taken all of them, I should have been speaking to the House of Commons for at least two hours. I tried to make up my own, but one has only to listen to the speeches which are made here and read HANSARD afterwards to see that there is very little in those speeches, whether from Privy Councillors or others, which one could really grip and say "This should be done", or "That should be done".
I maintain that most of our speeches—like the one we had from the hon. Member for Oxford—although very intellectual and learned, are beside the point. They are mainly academic. What I should like to see, and I think it could be done only in a committee of defence or some other way where one has to be committed to secrecy, is to have someone from outside—like the C.I.D. used to do—give an appreciation of the world situation, so that we can see the dangers before us and so that we will know whether 300 helicopters are enough or not. I was surprised at my right hon. Friends putting that number in the White Paper, because it discloses to the enemy our weakness in helicopters. Although it might be to secure only a party point, it shows that somebody has not prepared us for the proper rôle which this country ought to play in international affairs.
I have risen to put that one point of view. I do not want to attempt to criticise the White Paper or to comment upon its faults or its good points. I urge hon. Members, some of whom are sympathetic to this proposal, to consider it and to help to make it work, now that the Prime Minister has shown that he is ready, on a Privy Councillor basis, to have conversations with the Opposition 1603 and the Liberal Party. I must say that it was alarming to me to hear my right hon. Friend bring in the Leader of the Liberal Party. I have the greatest respect for him, but why should he be brought in, with no chance of ever being able to form a Government and with no military experience whatever, as far as I can see?
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
It is simply not true to say that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal Party has had no military experience. He has had at least as much as the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I take it from the hon. and learned Gentleman, but at any rate he could not deny what I said about the Liberal Party having no chance of being in Government.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Perhaps he might. This is no place for him to whistle to keep his courage up. The right hon. Member the Leader of the Liberal Party has no Government experience of Service matters. Indeed, as far as I can see, he has no experience of Government service. We should not prevent him from putting his own point of view, but why should he be singled out merely because he leads a few Members in this House—one might just as well have singled out Mr. Maxton, when he led a party of four in one House of Commons—to the exclusion of other right hon. Gentlemen with a knowledge of Service matters and with Service experience. That is why I am trying to put the point of view that if we had a defence committee we would not only include the Opposition but we could include the Liberal Party and other Members of this House who specialised in these affairs.
Having said that, perhaps I ought to say that I am prepared to vote tonight for the White Paper. I think that if I were asked to say why I vote for it, I would say that I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that on many matters there is a great deal of similarity between the Government's policy and the policy of the previous Government. I am amazed that some of my hon. Friends who have put down an Amendment—which will not be called—are so generous 1604 to the Government, holding the points of view which they do. Listening to the Leader of the Opposition today in his discussion of what were really foreign affairs matters, though closely related to defence, I understood what we are called upon to do, and how far—in so far as we know the figures—we are able to do it, with the resources at our disposal. I do not think that we can do it unless we have allies supporting us. I would not decry them. I would not decry even Holland, as the hon. Member for Oxford did.
§ Mr. Woodhouse
I did not decry that country at all. I merely raised the question of whether they would be more acceptable to local nationalism in Asia and Africa than we would.
§ Mr. Bellenger
At any rate, the hon. Gentleman put them in a very strange mixture with Portugal, our oldest ally. Holland can fill a very important rôle, and has played an important part in E.E.C. in supporting this country. The more we are linked with allies, the sooner we shall have to go into Europe where a good number of our N.A.T.O. allies are. In saying that, I disclose my feelings and views about the Common Market.
§ Mr. Woodhouse
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Member again, but I merely wanted to say that I agree with him entirely. I am amazed that he should think that he is contradicting me.
§ Mr. Bellenger
At least I have been able to persuade one hon. Member of the Opposition to agree with me. What might happen if I went on longer I do not know, but I suspect that we should revert to our party position. What I am appealing for is a sane attitude to defence debates in this House. It is no good the Leader of the Opposition twitting us with providing only one hon. Member—my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger)—to make a speech in favour of the Government. We all present our point of view in our own way. My hon. Friend the Member for Goole was perhaps a little more enthusiastic than I am, but that does not mean that either of us is disloyal to his party. There are many things in the Amendment which my hon. Friends have put down with which I can sympathise, but, of 1605 course, like the Opposition we are loyal to our party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—to our party right or wrong!
§ Mr. Bellenger
If the right hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) finds that amusing, I could remind him of some of his disloyalty to some of the leaders of his own party, and to his own party, as we are now beginning to learn. We attempt to take these matters seriously and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will. But, of course, if the right hon. Gentleman likes to dismiss it in a laughing fashion like that, he will not get my respect or that of many other hon. Members. He may be making a party point, but what about the country outside the House, knowing little or nothing about this, whose only concern is with peace, and trying to decide which party and which Members can get it for them? Nobody knows the answer to that.
The White Paper is as good as, no better than and no worse than many others which have gone before.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) confirmed my view that we have witnessed an unholy matrimony between the Government Front Bench and the Tory Front Bench on defence. It seems to me that the marriage settlement has been the acceptance of Tory defence policy. The nagging exchanges across the Dispatch Boxes yesterday were no more than what many judges have described in matrimonial cases as the manifestations of the fair wear and tear of married life.
One can understand our feelings on the Liberal Benches after taking years to convert the Labour Party to an enlightened view on defence. Our feelings today in the debate have been very similar to those experienced by a missionary who has spent years converting a heathen to a Christian viewpoint, only to discover that he has been reconverted by other heathens and has readopted his original heathen viewpoint.
For many years we have lived dangerously in the twilight period which followed the setting of the sun on the British Empire, and it is high time that 1606 we faced up to the realities of our situation, made a complete reassessment of our rôle in the world and boldly carved out for ourselves a new place in the world of the future. Our minds and thoughts seem to be too much conditioned by nostalgic memories of our past rôle, achievements and glories. I am no believer in apologising for the British Empire. I have never denigrated its achievements. I think that our forebears saw a world opportunity and seized it. They exercised in this country world power, and they exercised the responsibilities of that power with at least as great a humanity and understanding as any other world power has ever done. They made their mistakes, but generally they made their amends, too. The peaceful evolution of our colonies to their present freedom is one of the great chapters in modern history of which we can all be proud.
But that era has ended. It has gone for ever. We can no longer regard ourselves as a dominant world Power. We cannot compete on independent terms with Russia or the United States. We can no longer afford to be cast in the rôle of the world's volunteer policeman, a much-maligned and unpaid policeman. It is time that this country faced the unpalatable truths.
I am profoundly disappointed in the White Paper. I looked in it for signs of a basic reassessment of our position. I looked for a purposeful redirection of our policy, shaped to meet the realities of our present world situation. I looked to find discarded some of those myths on which Tory defence policy has been based for years. I looked to find an end of that indecision which has haunted us for years as to whether our future lay in Europe and an Atlantic partnership or whether we had some special independent rôle to play in the world at large. I sought in vain, as all hon. Members will have done, for an answer to these problems.
There is no strong beam of light in the White Paper to illumine the path of Britain in the future. For all the grandiose talk of the Secretary of State yesterday and the intellectual exercises of the White Paper, let us face the fact that this policy is merely a perpetuation of the Tory Party policy, with all its indecision, all its extravagance and all its 1607 mysticism. For all the verbal battle at the Dispatch Box yesterday, I came to the conclusion that there was no difference between the present Secretary of State and his predecessor, except that I grant the right hon. Gentleman that there were differences of style—but nothing more.
We in the Liberal Party have always said that it was a great mistake that Britain became an independent nuclear power. The reasons for our view have been advanced many times, and hon. Members will find them repeated in the speeches of the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition. It was years before the Labour Party were converted to the Liberal view of the great danger of the independent deterrent. I remember the late Aneurin Bevan seeking to defend his diplomatic nakedness; at that time the present Prime Minister then saw some virtue in the fig leaf. But today he wants a full suit of nuclear armour complete, apparently for the Far East, with the solar topee.
The Labour Government, in direct contravention of election pledges, have given a new rôle for the British independent deterrent in the Far East. They have reserved part of the V-bomber fleet for possible use east of Suez. Just as a Tory Government in the past, by extolling the virtues of being an independent nuclear power, encouraged France and other countries to aspire to become independent nuclear Powers, and thus became the trend-setter in Europe, so a Labour Government will become the trend-setter in the Far East. If our Government see in these weapons status and international prestige, so will all the other countries of the East, and they will aspire to them as some of our European allies aspire to them.
In a defence debate on 16th January, 1964, the present Prime Minister said:I shall say clearly where we stand on the V-bombers and on Polaris. We have 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.The phrase to note iswe shall keep them unequivocally assigned to N.A.T.O.As reported in the next column, column 444, he said. 1608We say that we shall keep them in N.A.T.O. as long as they have a job to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th January, 1964; Vol. 687, c. 443–44.]But the first thing we learn, as soon as he is in power, is that part of the V-bomber force is out of N.A.T.O. completely and assigned to the Far East. According to the White Paper, British V-bombers will normally be assigned to the Atlantic nuclear force except when required for commitments outside the N.A.T.O. area. What commitments have we outside N.A.T.O. which involve the use of British V-bombers and the independent nuclear deterrent which is clearly envisaged?
§ The Deputy Secretary of State and Minister of Defence for the Army (Mr. Frederick Mulley)
The hon. and learned Member misleads himself a little in assuming that the V-bombers are used wholly or even mainly in a nuclear rôle. They have a substantial conventional rôle and it is in this capacity that they are designed to participate, if need be, in the Far East.
§ Mr. Hooson
I am certainly not satisfied with that reply because the V-bombers have a nuclear capacity. They were entirely assigned to N.A.T.O., and part of the force has now been reserved for the Far East. Why? What commitment is there in the Far East which has been entered into? This ought not to be a matter of mystery. I appreciate the usual conventions about this, but many people all over the world know that there are British V-bombers in the Far East and think that there are nuclear bombs there. What is the commitment?
If the purpose is to provide a British independent guarantee of stability through the presence of a nuclear deterrent, I think the Government are making the greatest possible miscalculation. It is completely to misunderstand the size of the problem in the Far East and to perpetuate the myth that a British nuclear guarantee can protect India.
I hasten to make my position clear on this issue. It is time that India faced the reality of her situation. There are only two Powers in the world capable of guaranteeing the integrity of India; the United States and the Soviet Union. In the long term we are doing no good to India by perpetuating the illusion that we can defend her with nuclear weapons.
1609 In the defence debate in January 1964, the Prime Minister, then Leader of the Opposition, said: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 thermo-nuclear Suez. As I have said, Cyprus and 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th January, 1964; Vol. 687, c. 439–40.]I entirely agree with those words, but the presence of the independent nuclear bomb and the V-bombers in the Far East must he utterly irrelevant on that reasoning.
Has the Prime Minister changed his mind? Does he contemplate now the use of the nuclear deterrent against a non-nuclear Power in the Far East, or does he contemplate the threat to use it? Does he now think, contrary to his view this time last year, that it could be used or that its use could be threatened in Indonesia or China?
Although I am completely opposed to the independent deterrent, I can at least understand the arguments of those who are in favour of it. What I have found extremely irritating are the mental gymnastics of the present Government and their supporters on this question.
There are certain factors in the gyrations which are profoundly offensive to the British public and which, from the national point of view, are deeply alarming. This example of "double thought" and "double think", as demonstrated between the Labour Party's manifesto at the last election and the over-blown generalisations contained in the White Paper, may be small beer indeed to hon. Members opposite who lived in the days when Labour's defence policy as defined at Blackpool was one of complete nuclear disarmament. I find it repugnant that the British voter should be subjected to what one might call this sort of "switch selling" between the votes counted and the Government coming home to rule!
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that when the Socialists assumed power the realities of the situation and the reality of holding power resulted in the facts of life being rammed down their throats?
§ Mr. Hooson
The Labour Government are almost as bad as the Conservative Government from the defence point of view, for they both run away from their true responsibilities.
If the present Government have come to the conclusion that there is a rôle for the independent nuclear deterrent in the Far East, they should at least say so and plainly. They should also say why. We know exactly what views the Leader of the Opposition holds on this matter. He has not tried to hide his views, but what we have not begun to learn are the Government's true views on the rôle of a British independent nuclear deterrent in the Far East. It is time that they came clean on this matter.
The public are sick of seeing millions of pounds wasted on defence. They will afford all that is necessary to ensure our national security and to contribute to world stability, but there is a wholly justified feeling that much of the defence expenditure of past years has not been relevant or justified in the defence of our real interests. Defence expenditure of well over £2,000 million a year is more than our economic base can stand for any length of time. In the White Paper there is held out no prospect of closing down or reducing our bases abroad, including Aden.
The economic cost of indulging in what is a mystical independent worldwide rôle is high indeed. As I see it, our economic position will be further undermined if we maintain serious major military commitments of a general kind east and south of Suez, particularly when our main competitors, Germany, Italy and France, do not. Even the United States are beginning to feel the need to retrench on their overseas commitments. Despite all this, here is a Labour Government increasing Britain's defence expenditure by well over £100 million. While they indulge in what I can only describe as this Kiplingesque posture, the Prime Minister assumes the white man's burden and, so to speak, sets off on the road to Mandalay.
I have no doubt that the Secretary of State for Defence genuinely intends to get value for money. I assume that previous Secretaries of State have genuinely intended to do the same. We all know that the only way to reduce 1611 our defence expenditure is to reduce our defence commitments; and the sooner we face this the better.
I appreciate that Britain must fulfil her specific and proper obligations and treaties to, for example, Malaysia, SEATO and India, but we must not assume a sort of global responsibility, like a policeman with a kind of lateral beat, from Suez through the Indian Ocean. After 1956 I never thought to say of any Socialist "that he would be somewhere east of Suez". Indeed, if the present Government and Prime Minister are right about our overwhelming responsibilities and rôle east of Suez, the Labour Party may come to the conclusion that the Tories were right about Suez in 1956 after all. The tragedy is that they were not. They were wrong.
It is time that we took steps to review our obligations in the East. Is there any need now to keep a base at Aden? I am sure that that is the first expendable base we have abroad. It is no longer necessary to protect our oil. It costs us between £100 million and £200 million annually and there are already Cyprus-like murmurings there. In any case, of what use is a base in hostile or potentially hostile territory these days?
We should be looking towards internationalising our bases, such as those in Cyprus and Aden, possibly by putting them at the disposal of the United Nations peace-keeping forces which we must build up. We can, in the meantime, if we have local treaties arrange for staging post facilities to be available as far as they are necessary. It seems to me that the haunting spirit of early Victorian Empire builders has settled on the undermanned Transport House.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
I am somewhat confused by the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. I follow him in his criticism of being over-committed in some areas, but how can he say in one breath that he accepts that we have obligations towards Malaysia and responsibilities of some kind towards India, and at the same time say that we are being absurd in accepting a rôle east of Suez? I do not understand the logic of his argument.
§ Mr. Hooson
Had the hon. Gentleman listened to me more carefully he would 1612 have heard me refer to a "general" rôle. The Prime Minister spoke of a general rôle east of Suez. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads what the Prime Minister said on this issue. I do not accept that it is necessary to maintain, for example, our base at Aden, particularly since there is a westward route to the East as well, a route which is used every day by the Americans.
As to the oil argument, every other European Power is able to buy oil on a good customer basis from the Middle East. The countries in the Middle East have to sell all their oil, and that is not easy at present—
§ Mr. Shore rose—
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I know, but for two days I have listened to nothing but Labour and Conservative speeches, and he cannot imagine how irritating that can be.
The Government seem to be content to cling with foolish nostalgia to a lost imperial past, and even to have exaggerated this by pretending that we have an independent and, it seems to me, a permanent nuclear rôle east of Suez.
If we are to have even a temporary policeman's rôle, I urge the Government to ensure that the policeman is armed with the policeman's conventional weapons, that is, weapons of the truncheon and handcuff type and not what might be called the clanking, costly ironmongery of the independent nuclear deterrent. Almost any policeman will say that the last thing he wants is to be armed with a revolver, because he feels that he then increases his own danger. I have often been told that if there is ever any suggestion that the police should be armed, half of them will resign. It is exactly the same with the international policeman's rôle.
One assumption in the White Paper could be one of the most dangerous assumptions since Munich. It is assumed in one sentence that war in Europe is virtually ruled out. It is quite obvious that the possibilities of war in Europe have been greatly reduced. By a firm defence policy in Europe we have largely excluded the possibility of miscalculation on either side. The presence of our forces in Germany has very great political significance, and nothing should be done in Europe without complete agreement on 1613 all sides. It should be particularly remembered that the American presence in Europe is essential unless we are to fall gradually under the domination of the Soviet Union.
We should not forget that Russian policy, especially at the present, is liable to change very quickly. One only has to think for a moment to appreciate that the advent of a pro-Chinese line in Russia, or a Chinese success that would stir Russia to try to reassert her leadership of the Communist world, could lead to immediate pressure being put on Berlin or elsewhere. It is not likely to happen, but it might happen. We should realise that our first obligation is our own defence and that of Europe.
This can only be achieved through a credible Atlantic Alliance, with one centre of nuclear decision, and there is a crying need for any Government to take the initiative to ensure the firm construction of a European pillar for the Western Alliance, and for the Western Alliance itself to think out its future rôle in relation to world problems and the need to maintain world peace. Britain's special rôle is, if anything, in co-operation with other European countries and with the Americans to provide, through the United Nations, guarantees to threatened countries in the Indian sub-continent and the South-East Pacific.
We must not forget that the future of N.A.T.O. is itself threatened, and that major effort is needed to bring cohesion into the Alliance. We can best play our part by being a good European country, and fully appreciating the great importance of a permanent European-American alliance. France has already chosen the path of proliferation, and we should do nothing to enable her to break the bonds that bind Europe and the United States together. The French independent deterrent seems to me to deter her friends more effectively than it deters her enemies. I find myself in considerable agreement with what the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) said yesterday about steps to be taken to cement the Atlantic Alliance in the future.
There is not the slightest doubt that it is in our interests, and everyone else's—and I agreed entirely with the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) on this point—to develop a security 1614 force under the United Nations as soon as possible. This is now a matter of urgency for the world. If the world is to survive we should now be in the transition period from a national to an international world. Of necessity, because of our history, our preconceptions, and so on, the process of transition is long and complicated. At times there have been sneers in this House at the United Nations. It may be easy to do that at times, but it is fearsome to contemplate the consequences of our failure to build up an effective world organisation within measurable time, because the price of delay now could be the demise of our civilisation—
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Cheltenham)
Would the hon. Gentleman propose that the force should come under the Security Council or under the General Assembly?
§ Mr. Hooson
I would suggest that it came under the General Assembly, and not the Security Council. I think that the Security Council will have another rôle in the transition period. I think that the rôle of this force should essentially be a peace-keeping one, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.
I think that an investment of one-twentieth of our military budget—£125 million annually—in a permanent United Nations peace force would be a sounder investment in our future security than almost any of the other expenditure in our defence budget.
My colleagues and I will be voting against the Government this evening for grounds almost directly opposite to those actuating the Conservative Oppositon—
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Member knows perfectly well that, except for small changes of emphasis, there is really no difference between the policy that has been advocated by the Labour Front Bench and that advocated by the Conservative Party when in power. The Conservative Front Bench has made its greatest capture in years—it has captured the Government on defence—
§ Mr. Mendelson
The hon. Gentleman refused to answer my hon. Friend the 1615 Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), who asked him how he combined a policy of supporting a rôle of defence in India with the denial of any rôle east of Suez. The answer, of course, is to be found in the fact that in the General Election the Liberal Party asked for a severe reduction in taxes and an increase in all kinds of expenditure.
§ Mr. Hooson
The Liberal Party is accustomed to such misrepresentations. If the hon. Member had only listened—or, indeed, my words may have gone in at one ear and out of the other because there is nothing in the hon. Member's head to stop them—he would know that I referred to specific obligations east of Suez, but said that we should not accept a general policeman's rôle—
§ Mr. Hooson
The perpetuation of the myth of the British independent nuclear deterrent in a new Far Eastern rôle, the increase of over £120 million in the defence budget, and the perpetuation of the schizophrenic approach which prevents us being good Europeans while not enabling us to fulfil a realistic and effective world rôle, are all perpetuated in this White Paper. They are all matters of potential danger to the security of this country and the stability of the world. That is why we shall vote against the Government this evening.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey de Freitas (Kettering)
I was most interested to listen to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). It seems that the Liberal Party has considerably improved, because the hon. and learned Gentleman definitely told us which way he intended to vote, even though his reasons were different. I remember, as do many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, that when the Liberal spokesman concluded his speech at the time of steel nationalisation we had to ask him which way the Liberals intended to vote.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
It is very curious that we should be attacked for not saying which way we intended to vote on steel nationalisation, considering that we hammered at this point all the way through the election.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I was talking about the time when the original Bill was before the House in the 1940s. I was praising the hon. and learned Gentleman's party on its improvement. I was a little worried when the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Labour Party had been subjected to years of conversion by Liberal Members of Parliament. I remember very well that in defence and Service debates year after year—I have heard most of them since the war—the only thing to which we could have been converted by the Liberals would have been silence, because there was not a single spokesman for the Liberal Party in debate after debate.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I know. I was commenting on the improvement. It should be no part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's case to claim any credit for the great development in the understanding of defence which we have in our party today. I was also pleased to hear that the hon. and learned Gentleman was an enthusiastic supporter of the development of the United Nations peace-keeping force. I will come to that later.
I was surprised to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement that we should not act as if we were the world's policeman. This is the very point of paragraph 5 of the White Paper, which I commend to the hon. and learned Gentleman:Similarly, world peace and stability can best be assured by strengthening the peacekeeping powers of the United Nations, and this must remain our principal objective.We are not saying that we can act as the world's policeman. We are saying that at present there is no world policeman and we will do our best. At the same time, the major point of our policy is development of the United Nations, and particularly of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
§ Mr. Hooson
The Conservative Government used to say exactly the same. The White Paper shows the difference between what has been spoken at the Dispatch Box and what has been done. It is what is done that matters.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will remember the interchange which took place 1617 today and those which took place in the other debates, which show a difference in the attitude towards the United Nations peace-keeping force. The hon. and learned Gentleman was not here, perhaps, for Questions on Tuesday of last week. If he had been here, he would have rememberd it. It is a most important difference.
I found the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) most interesting, but he accused my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence of paying lip-service to the United Nations. It was a pretty big lip—it took a full column of HANSARD. My right hon. Friend spoke about the specific issue of the United Nations, as did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today. It is a fact that we have made the United Nations a very important part of our policy.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) made one point with which I entirely agree. I have heard him make it before and I have joined him in it.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
No, not that one. The one which my right hon. Friend said was his most important point, namely, that since we in this House lack any all-party defence committee with access to information we are at a disadvantage in discussing defence compared with our colleagues on the Continent. I am to spend two days in Paris next week, discussing Western European defence and a number of common defence problems. I have been invited there because I am the chairman of our party's defence group. I am sure that the chairmen of the Opposition defence groups have also been invited. We shall be the only people there who will not have had access to official information. From the nature of things, the chairmen of the French, German and other defence groups will have better information about the disposition of British forces, because they are allies with us and therefore they must know. This is a constitutional problem, but it is a fact. I was interested to hear my right hon. Friend make this point again.
There are two subjects which have run through the debate and which have been 1618 dealt with from both Front Benches. They are connected. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of his hunch that Russia might be drawing closer to the West. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today spoke of the United Nations peace-keeping force. I shall concentrate on these two points because they are connected. There will be no peace-keeping force, and possibly no United Nations, unless we can get Russia into some political arrangement.
I do not want to weaken N.A.T.O. I would not like the Warsaw Pact to be weakened. We must let sleeping dogs lie. I believe, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday, that the Russian leaders know the power of destruction as well as we do. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to the balance of deterrence. It can be called anything—the balance of deterrence, the balance of terror, or a triumph of common sense. I do not mind what it is called. I am content to leave things as they are on a sort of tacit agreement.
I, like many hon. Members, am far more worried about Chinese expansion. Several years ago—1957—I wrote a letter to The Times pointing out that though some Europeans and most Americans thought of S.E.A.T.O. as an alliance against Communism, the politicians I had met in South-East Asia all thought of it as an alliance against Chinese imperialism. Therefore, they would welcome, they said, the adherence of Japan. I ended my letter by saying that, when I had asked South-East Asian soldiers, "How would you strengthen S.E.A.T.O.?", they had always said, "Get Russia to join it". This was regarded as rather odd in those days, but it is not so regarded today.
Nowadays it is often difficult to get this point across, but it was much more difficult in 1951. I was a delegate at Strasbourg. When I suggested one day that it might be possible, when we had rearmed, to arrive at an alliance with Russia and that the threat would come from Asia and not Europe, I found no one who would accept the proposition that Russia could ever be an ally. I meant by that not only a military ally, which is going very far, but a political ally.
1619 I returned ten days ago from the United Nations, where I was a delegate. Because the session never got under way, I had time to browse around. I had been a delegate 15 years ago. I was astounded this time by the obvious—the way power had shifted in the Assembly. In 1949 there were four African delegations. There are now 35, nearly one-third of the whole membership.
Anti-colonialism is the overriding concern of these new Asian and African nations. But there is an interesting development. Hitherto Russia has been able to escape criticism of her colonialism in Asia, because these new countries were interested only in the colonial rulers they once knew. The fact is that as the colonies of the Western Powers become fewer and fewer there are few opportunities for these new countries to make criticisms of the colonialism of the Western Powers. Each time a colony becomes independent, it is removed from the agenda of the Committee of Twenty-Four.
Able men and women from Africa and from Asia are at the United Nations and I think that the anti-colonial criticism will broaden to include the Russian colonies in Central Asia. I say this because the Chinese embassies in country after country in Africa are constantly reminding African politicians that Russia is becoming a "have" country and is essentially a "white" country. The Chinese embassies in Africa tell many of these politicians, who did not know about it, of the subjugation of large areas of Central Asia, such as Tashkent and Samarkand, just 100 years ago, in the 1860s and 1870s. The Chinese embassies remind African politicians of the suppression of nationalism and national culture in these areas. Only a year ago this month, at the so-called Afro-Asian Solidarity Meeting in Algiers, the Chinese delegate went so far as to say that Russian expansionism had made it difficult to draw a line between them and the imperialists and colonialists.
I am not saying that this criticism will bring Russia right into our arms or anything like that—that would be far too sweeping a statement—but it is significant that Russia is becoming sensitive to it. One of the most dramatic 1620 moments I can recall was when the Albanian representative, acting as Peking's mouthpiece, demanded a vote of the General Assembly and Russia stood firm with Britain and America—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting away from the matters of defence which we are discussing.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but my point is that, in our thoughts about redeployment in the West, we should not think of ourselves as for ever locked in a grip with Russia through N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I do not know whether you were here when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, but the last part of his speech did not touch on the Defence White Paper at all but dealt entirely with United Nations matters.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Foreign policy and defence cannot be separated, and my arguments were related to disarmament, the United Nations and collective security, rather as the hon. Gentleman's remarks are now related, I think.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As the right hon. Gentleman says, foreign affairs and defence are closely related, but the hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) was dealing too much with foreign affairs and not relating his remarks sufficiently to defence. I hope that he will now do so.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
Certainly, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I pass to my next point and deal with the proposal for a United Nations peace-keeping force.
I think that we should encourage Russia, if we see the opportunity in the next few years, to co-operate with us. Indeed, I say this particularly about events in the next few months because, as I said at the beginning, without such co-operation the United Nations is doomed, and without such co-operation there can be no United Nations peacekeeping force.
There is the United Nations Committee of Thirty-Three, of which we are 1621 one of the member countries. It has been set up to do two things, to find a formula to cover the liquidation of debts of the past, and to find a new basis for setting up a United Nations peace-keeping force. Unless the Committee can find a solution, this adjourned Nineteenth Session may be the last of the United Nations, and it may become a mere footnote in history. I must stress that, although I was a delegate at the United Nations, I do not know and I have no reason to know what the Government's policy will be in the negotiations in the Committee of Thirty-Three. I speak as a private Member.
We must help Russia out of the hole which she has dug for herself. She has got into it, and it is not enough for us to sit on the edge and say, "There you are. You are in it". We must not surrender to this easy emotion. I regret to say that a large number of Americans have surrendered to it. We must remember that there can be no victories in this. There must be compromise. We must meet Russia in some way. The very point on which decision was postponed must be settled if we are to set up the United Nations peace-keeping force.
The second task of the Committee of Thirty-Three is, as I have said, to find a new basis for a peace-keeping force. There are both political and military problems here. The major political problem was brought out in an intervention during the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, namely, whether the United Nations peace-keeping force should be under the Security Council or the General Assembly, a question of tremendous controversy on which there has been disagreement in the past. Nevertheless, I remind the House that, as recently as July, 1964. Russia advocated the establishment of a peace-keeping force. This is encouraging, and we should fasten on to it. This is one of the reasons why the Government's offer of logistic support for the equivalent of six battalions is important not only in itself but in its timing.
There are many military problems, and here we have much to offer. We have practical experience. Paragraphs 74 to 77 of the White Paper refer to an operation with which I was concerned—the mutinies of a year ago in East Africa. The sequence of events is somewhat misleading, but the substance 1622 is correct. There is a good deal of understatement. It is said, for instance, that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary "Hebe" evacuated British subjects from Zanzibar. But there is no hint whatever of the confusion caused when this ship, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, heavily loaded with ammunition being brought home from Mombasa, and bristling with all the derricks and cranes that these ships have, arrived off Zanzibar with a most unusual silhouette and things sticking up in all directions. She was thought by many to be a new type of Royal Navy missile ship, and her unusual silhouette caused a very great deal of confusion. There was the further complication that she was seen in Mombasa flying a red flag, which signified that she had ammunition on board. But it so happened that it was exactly the same flag as that of the deposed Sultan's.
The whole East African operation was successful because of military skill and the political wisdom of the military who did not deviate one inch from the political direction they were given by the Government. Here were three newly independent African States asking the former colonial Power for white British marines and soldiers to put down mutinies by their own black African soldiers. Can anyone imagine a more difficult political situation? Yet, because our senior officers are trained to take such guidance, they never put a foot wrong and never made a mistake. If they had made a mistake, we might have had the chaos of the Congo. It is from here and elsewhere that we in this country have gained a great deal of experience, political and military, which we can now offer to the United Nations for developing a United Nations peace-keeping force.
I was disappointed last month at the United Nations to find how little of its studies have anything to do with the military problems. I met the distinguished Indian major-general who is military adviser to the Secretary-General and I saw on the list the names of five colonels or officers of equivalent rank. They make up the military staff committee secretariat, but in the world of 115 ambassadors and numbers of enormously important civil servants, the people studying military problems should be generals. They should be at that level, like a chiefs of staff committee. In fact, United Nations military planning 1623 has been terribly neglected, although, as Dr. Bowett in his recent book "United Nations Forces" points out, ever since 1948 somewhere in the world there has been a force of military people under United Nations control keeping the peace or acting as observers.
There must be searching studies made of what can be learned, for example, from the Middle East, from Korea or from the Congo, and from the very different United Nations observer operations in Kashmir, the Lebanon and Vietnam. I have visited these areas and I have spoken to the people who either served in the United Nations forces there or worked with them, and, from what I have learned, I fear that there is appalling waste of money and resources in these operations. There must be searching inquiries. There is not the staff to do it at the moment, but there must be searching inquiries and post-mortems.
For example, I am told that in Cyprus, which I have not visited, waste was so taken for granted that United Nations commanders were shocked when they were told that they had to account for British military equipment and stores. I was shocked also to learn that a girl secretary in the U.N. Force headquarters who received nearly £2,000 a year had a daily extra Cyprus allowance of over £3 a day. This information confirmed what I had learned in Leopoldville and elsewhere, of the squander-mania of the United Nations. The United Nations must learn from what has happened in the past and apply strict standards in the future.
To sum up. First, our relations with Russia could be entering an entirely new phase due to the balance of terror and Chinese imperialism. Let us be prepared militarily to maintain that balance but politically to think afresh. Secondly, let us put all we have on the United Nations peace-keeping force. This is not only important in itself but doubly important in that it is a means of getting nations into the habit of working internationally.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
The hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas), as befits a 1624 returned proconsul, enlivened his most interesting speech with reminiscences from his imperial past, and these reflections of scarlet and gold further enhanced the Kipling spirit that is pervading our deliberations. At the risk of being somewhat pedestrian and perhaps more controversial than many of the speakers we have heard today, I want to devote a few moments to what seems to me to be the central problem of this country's defence policy-what The Times has called the critical equation between manpower and commitments.
This problem is stated frankly and vigorously by the Government in the first sentence of the White Paper, with the usual backhander at their predecessors to which we have become accustomed. But in the whole of the following 226 paragraphs the Government do not make the slightest attempt to find any answer to the problem.
The fact that our forces are overstretched is one that I can hardly dispute, because I have been saying it for years. But even the present Government have to admit, as the White Paper does admit, that our forces have, possibly by good luck but also by a great degree of good management, succeeded in their various commitments with a remarkable degree of success. If the present Administration do as well in this respect as the last Government, they will be extremely lucky.
Added to the admission that our forces have fulfilled their task very well, we had the Secretary of State for Defence's generous acknowledgment last November that the defence position he took over was the best weapon that any Defence Minister of this country had yet had. Those statements make nonsense of the rather cheap party political points which the Government make in the first sentence of this so-called State paper.
Meanwhile the problem remains. Our forces are over-stretched and will stay over-stretched until the Government do something about it. What are they going to do? There are only two courses available. Either they can increase the strength of our forces or they can cut our commitments. There is nothing in the White Paper or in the speeches we have heard from the Government to show that they intend to do either.
1625 What they must remember, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition reminded them, is that there is only one way in which they can significantly increase the strength of our forces and that is by reintroducing conscription, as the Paymaster-General has urged so often and as I urged the last Administration to do. The Paymaster-General used to put this view from the position from which I am now speaking. I wonder what he thinks about it now.
The other solution is, I suspect, the one that, in the long run, the Government will take. It is to cut our commitments. Outside this country the weight of the commitments falls in two main theatres—the Far East and Europe. The White Paper is perfectly clear about the Far East situation. We are to maintain our strength in the Far East. There have been no cuts there.
The lack of ambiguity on that score is something that will be welcome by most of us on this side. Whether it will be equally popular with some of the Government's own supporters, if that is the word for them, is less certain. I wonder what the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) thinks about it.
§ Sir F. Maclean
I can see that. I like the policy that The Times calls… the Government's imperceptible slide into nuclear strategy …I have also found pleasing the reference in the White Paper to the Chinese nuclear explosion as if it had taken everyone by surprise, and the conclusion that, in the meantime, our nuclear policy must help to provide some reassurance to the non-nuclear Powers. I wonder how the 15 per cent. of the Government who are nuclear disarmers feel about that sentence.
Once again, a Labour Government are learning, if belatedly, that they cannot go naked into the conference chamber althougth of course, as that progressive periodical, The Observer, rather uncharitably pointed out, it drives a V-bomber through the Labour Party's election promise to abandon Britain's nuclear rôle. What it does to the consciences 1626 of hon. Members opposite remains to be seen. I have a feeling that we shall see them all in their own Lobby tonight.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am voting for the Government because I do not want to see the Conservative Party in again and putting another £500 million on the Defence Estimates.
§ Sir F. Maclean
Evidently the hon. Gentleman feels he has a choice between two evils. That is rather like the position of the Liberal Party, which finds itself in the unhappy position of having to agree with one of the two major parties—or having to appear to agree with one—and to go into one Lobby or the other. That is something that is always inclined to be painful to the Liberal Party and this time it really is in torment.
It is not only in the case of nuclear weapons that the Government have given such a convincing display of what the Liberal shadow Minister of Defence—if I may call him that—called the Kipling spirit. They have also shown their readiness to take up the white man's burden by retaining a very high proportion of our conventional forces in the Far East and by reaffirming our commitments to S.E.A.T.O. and to the Malaysian Government. These show quite clearly—and I applaud it—that they realise the importance of standing by our allies and of checking aggression from wherever it may come in South-East Asia. There is no doubt that South-East Asia is an extremely hot spot at the moment, and nowhere is the principle of interdependence better illustrated.
Our American Allies have perhaps taken a rather long time to recognise this, but I am glad to say that they have done so now and they are modifying their attitude towards Dr. Soekarno accordingly. Somewhat belatedly again they have realised that if Malaya or Malaysia were to fall either to Communist aggression—and the recent riots in Kuala Lumpur showed that this is not simply a fantasy from the past—or, for that matter, Indonesian aggression, their own position and that of their allies in South Vietnam would very soon become untenable. We recognise, and I am glad to say that the Government recognise, that the converse 1627 is equally true and that if South Vietnam were allowed to fall under Communist domination, not only the whole of South-East Asia, but probably the whole of Asia would be in jeopardy. At least Malaysia and Burma and India would go down like ninepins, and for this reason I personally welcome the American stand in South Vietnam, although, naturally, we all want political negotiations if a satisfactory political outcome can be found that way. In the meanwhile, I welcome the American stand and the steadfastness with which Her Majesty's Government are supporting their American Allies in this theatre.
Unfortunately, even the greatest optimist could hardly claim that things are going well in South Vietnam at the moment. As T. E. Lawrence once said, making war on guerrillas is apt to be messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife. Heavy bombing, though certainly hard on the guerrillas' nerves, as I can testify, is not the real answer. It is like taking a sledge hammer to swat a gnat.
In guerrilla warfare, there are three basic principles. If the guerrilla is to succeed, he must possess mobility; he has to enjoy the advantage of surprise, and he has also—and this is perhaps the most important of all—to have a satisfactory relationship with the people of the country in which he is operating. This is something which, at the moment, the guerillas in South Vietnam seem to have. As Mao Tse-tung put it—and his views are of interest in this context—the guerilla lives among people as the fish lives in water.
If one's aim is to defeat guerrillas, one has somehow or other to deny them these three advantages. They have to be denied mobility by being pinned down or encircled and cut off from access to their bases. In none of these do the South Vietnamese Government troops seem to be succeeding at the moment. They have also to be denied the element of surprise by superior intelligence, and it does not look as though the South Vietnamese troops have that either. Finally, they have to be denied the support of the local population.
This can be done, as I know from having been at the receiving end, for some of the most unpleasant moments of my life 1628 were caused by an enemy who had learned to apply these three simple principles in reverse.
We certainly succeeded in applying them in Malaya. We had a system of strategic hamlets, admirable intelligence and a troop ratio of 10 to 1, which is what is needed to pin down and encircle guerrillas. There is no reason why, with patience, the same method should not be applied by the Americans and their allies in South Vietnam, but it requires patience. Mao Tse-tung said to Mr. Edgar Snow the other day, "The Americans will tire; they do not have the patience for this".
§ Sir F. Maclean
It is naturally very frustrating to the Americans, with their Seventh Fleet and their Fifth Air Force and a total force amounting to 220,000 men, to be held to ransom, as they are being, by a few thousand undernourished guerrillas. But if they have the patience and use their troops and resources in the right way, I am sure they can win, just as we won in Malaya.
I hope the House will forgive me for this digression, but what is happening in South Vietnam concerns us all, and guerrilla and counter-guerrilla operations are an aspect of defence which must necessarily bulk large today.
To return to the White Paper: applaud the Government's declared determination to stay in the Far East, but that will not save them any men, which is what they are short of. On the contrary, there seems to be a very good chance that our commitments there will increase, and they will certainly increase if the Government give what amounts to a guarantee to India against aggression by a Chinese Army of 2½ million.
There are no signs in the White Paper or in the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that any reductions will be made in the Middle East.
What about Europe? We have had hints in the White Paper and in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. We are told, and I agree, that there is less likelihood of war between the Soviet Union and the West. We are reminded that Britain has hitherto sought to maintain three major rôles and that we have to 1629 review the balance between them. Finally, there is talk of the need for a revision of the strategic concept which governs the deployment of N.A.T.O. forces in Germany.
Naturally, the Press and most hon. Members have drawn from that the conclusion that the Government intend to cut our contribution to N.A.T.O. This may seem a little surprising in view of repeated statements by official Labour Party spokesmen, both when in opposition and since they have been in power, that it was their intention not to reduce but actually very substantially to increase our contribution to N.A.T.O.
I remember the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who made a most interesting contribution to the debate yesterday, saying in March 1963 that if the Labour Party came to power it would increase our N.A.T.O. contribution to 80,000 men and wipe away all our bases East of Suez. I remember taking him up on this very point. Now they seem to be about to do exactly the opposite to what they said they would do then. It is not only what they said two years ago, but what the Minister of Defence for the Army said as Minister of Defence for the Army at the end of last year. He talked of increasing our contribution to N.A.T.O. What is more, as a N.A.T.O. Parliamentarian I have heard that statement made by Labour Party spokesmen at the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. What will our N.A.T.O. allies think about that? But by now we are accustomed to the Government saying one thing and doing another, or saying one thing and doing another at the same time. What is much more important is whether the course which they now apparently propose to adopt is the right one.
It is perfectly true that the likelihood of an armed clash in Europe is much less than it was 5, 10 or 15 years ago when Ernest Bevin first brought the Atlantic Alliance into being. What we must remember, however, is that one of the reasons for this without any doubt is the deterrent effect of the Alliance. The question is, should we be wise to do anything to reduce the efficacy of the Alliance or to impair its deterrent effect? It is not possible that such action on our part would also lead the Russians to review their position and possibly to 1630 arrive at conclusions very different from those which govern their conduct at the moment?
Something in the nature of a two party system shows signs of coming into being in Russia. There is a Chinese party which certainly reproached Mr. Khruschchev and which now seems to be reproaching his successors with being feeble and hanging back in the struggle against the capitalists and imperialists. Might not a sudden reduction of the strength of N.A.T.O. strengthen the hand of these very people? The hon. Member for Kettering had some very interesting things to say about a possible link up with Russia. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said something to the same effect. From what I know of Russia, I think that this is possible now. It would have seemed very surprising 10 or 15 years ago, but now it is something which one can contemplate.
The Russians have always admired strength, and they are much more likely to come together with a strong Western Europe, a strong Atlantic Alliance, than they are with a weak one. Let us face it: if we reduce our contribution to N.A.T.O., especially if we do it against the wishes of our allies, what is to stop them doing the same? In the long run, why should the Americans keep 400,000 men defending a Europe which cannot be bothered to defend itself? This is not just an idea of mine; it is an idea voiced very freely in isolationist circles in the United States. Is there not a real danger that, if we pull out, the whole Alliance will simply unravel like an old sock and that the Russians will find themselves confronted with a situation simply full of tempting possibilities?
Is there not also the old danger about which we have all spoken—though the Secretary of State for Defence said that he did not like the use of these sorts of expressions—of so lowering the nuclear threshold that even a relatively small incident could face us with a choice of using nuclear weapons or doing nothing? It seems a very short time since we heard these theories expounded from these benches by Members of the Labour Party.
There is another possibility. If we reduce our contribution to N.A.T.O., the gap will be filled by a greatly increased 1631 German contribution, and Germany will then become one of the strongest military Powers in Europe. Is that a possibility which Members opposite, on the back benches in particular, would regard with equanimity?
Finally—and it seems to me that this is the most important thing of all—we must member that our military presence in N.A.T.O. is, and always has been, just as much a political symbol as a military fact. It is of immense importance and always has been right back to 1949. I do not want to make any more of a foreign affairs speech than I have done already, but, with all the trends going on in Europe and in all three parties in this country, is this the moment either politically or militarily, for us to show a greatly diminished interest in Europe?
We are told that the Government are to undertake a review of our defence policy and all its implications. These are some of the questions to which I think they should try to find answers. I suggest that until they have faced these problems, which clearly they have not done, and have found solutions to them, they would do better not to attribute blame in the way that they have to the supposed shortcomings of their predecessors.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I rise with some trepidation to make a contribution to this my first defence debate, having listened to some of the contributions by Members on both sides of the House. I would only say that over a course of years, in a rather academic fashion, I have been to most of our overseas bases to talk to staff college candidates going in for promotion examinations in the subject of international relations. I have, therefore, in my own way managed to carry out a private survey of where, perhaps, we may make cuts in defence expenditure when the Government review takes place.
When considering defence cuts abroad, two problems face us, regardless of particular details. First, there is a base mentality—and when I say "base mentality" I mean a desire to have an overseas military position—which is widespread throughout British public and British political life. One reason for this is, perhaps, our involvement in the Arab world in World War I and World War II 1632 and the feeling that British power was, in some way, dependent on our soldiers being on the ground in a particular country.
More than ten years ago, R.A.F. stations in the Middle East at Shaiba, Basra, Shajah, Habbiniyah and Mafraq were all held to be vitally necessary. None of them, it was said, could be cut. For instance, the movement from Mafraq might weaken Northern Jordan and that if we did not have Basra and Shaiba the southern part of Iraq would go. Then when the question of the Suez Canal being evacuated arose, immediately there was the feeling that we must have a base nearby, and so the Cyprus complex began to grow. This desire to be on the spot overseas is a point peculiar to the British. Historically, perhaps, it has some relation to the British presence in India in a military sense. That mental blockage is one obstacle which faces us when we consider defence reductions.
Secondly, within the Army one must obviously consider promotion prospects, and promotion prospects demand a wide base and a long way to go to a narrow pinnacle. There is, therefore, a built-in sense of the need for officers overseas in staff jobs. When senior officers are looking for cuts, they realise that if they find them they will remove a post for one of their younger friends. There is a kind of Parkinson's law among senior officers. We know of the present situation in which there are more admirals and fewer ships, more generals and fewer troops and more air marshals and fewer aircraft. Therefore, if the Ministry of Defence is looking for cuts, it will find this second obstacle of the built-in desire to preserve opportunities for officers, which in itself is not unnatural. It exists also in industry and in education. It is something that one has to face.
I should like to suggest where, when the defence review gets under way, certain cuts might be made. One that stands out immediately and clearly to me is Cyprus. As I said to begin with, it seems that Cyprus as a base was a kind of reaction from the Suez withdrawal. I have seen the Cyprus base growing over the years at Dhekilia and Episopi—concrete office block after concrete office block, and expensive quarters after expensive quarters in the generally deserted scenery of this part of Cyprus.
1633 It has always appeared to me that the two greatest empires in the world, were, without doubt, the Roman and the British. We have been particularly successful in matters like law and parliamentary government, but the Romans have always had it over us in the field of ruins, and very successfully so at Leptis Magna and Cyrene. It seems as though, through the medium of the British Army, we are rather trying to catch up with the Romans in ruins. There is not the slightest doubt that, in 30 or 40 years' time, these bases in Cyprus will stand deserted just like the Roman theatres nearby. Hon. Members who know the Army overseas personally will knew that it is a favourite joke amongst those serving in the Army, whenever they see a military cantonment going up, to say, as is being said in Aden now, "It is the kiss of death. We are on our way out. They have started to build."
In Cyprus, I cannot see any positive rôle that we can usefully play in a peacekeeping capacity. The British did it only once, in 1958, in the Jordan operation, when Hussein was about to topple; and this was, perhaps, a justifiable, useful action. At the moment, however, I should prefer to see Dhekelia made as the first offer by Britain for a United Nations base overseas, to be used by the United Nations as such. The suggestion has been made that six battalions should be made available for United Nations forces. I would not rule out the possibility of having one of our battalions in Cyprus at Dhekelia for that specific duty. I would not reject either the idea that some command staff could be used. Certainly, it would be extremely valuable to have a United Nations base bearing in mind the constant danger of the Israel-Arab dispute over the Jordan waters. Cyprus could be useful in that rôle. I would, however, look forward to the defence review cutting out Cyprus and the British Army there, although not in the air sense or for certain other facilities of a security nature.
I should be anxious to see as soon as possible, as looks like happening, the end of Libya as a military commitment. It has seemed to me that for a long time the British Army in Libya existed for one main reason: so that officers' wives could go shopping in their local 1634 souks and so keep the local inhabitants alive. Now that Libya has a large oil income of her own, our armed forces could, perhaps, get back to the rôle for which they are properly suited, and that is fighting. We could expect to keep training facilities within Libya—there is no indication that we would not—and I should like to see Malta reactivated as a British defence base in the Middle East. It is an island which has always been closely attached to us and one where the tradition has been to maintain the connection with Britain. If there should be a rapid deterioration in Libya which required our presence, a British establishment in Malta would be available, and in view of the rundown of the Navy in Malta, I think that we owe something to the Maltese people to keep it as a major defence base.
Going east of Suez, I find nothing Kiplingesque or out-of-date about this. We have important Commonwealth territories east of Suez. I would hope to see the Aden base reduced, although not eliminated. I believe that in time we shall see Aden linked to the Arab world within the Arab League. I should like to see the same kind of relationship with Aden as with India which joined the Commonwealth as a Republic. I do not see why we should not search for a solution which will enable Aden to remain part of the Commonwealth, while at the same time being part of the Arabian Federation.
Such facilities as we are able to have there, although not a large military cantonment, would be for staging post reasons. Incidentally, the actual location of the military cantonment in Aden is about the most unpleasant that anybody can imagine since Aden was used by the Army as a punishment camp. I remember Air Marshal Elworthy saying that Aden had switched the other way, from being a prison camp to being a leave camp. The last thing that we want to do is not to afford proper facilities for soldiers and their wives overseas. But there is a general tendency in our defence forces to have too much tail; too many supply forces, and not enough people for the front line. When there are soldiers, sailors, and airmen overseas constantly concerned about local domestic problems, their fighting efficiency is reduced. It would save us a great deal of 1635 money if, as the defence review goes ahead, we were to consider the greater use of soldiers on short periods overseas—as we have in the Persian Gulf—for six to twelve months, and have a far larger number of soldiers based in Britain.
I equally do not think that we need an Aden base because of rebellions against Governments in East Africa. The real answer is to afford proper training facilities for the Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda Armies to be adequately equipped and able to discipline themselves, rather than our constantly having to keep watch against mutinies in these regions.
In conclusion, I should like to make two general points about British defence policy. First, as regards our overall commitment in Asia, I think that we need to look much more in the direction of general reference with other nations in Asia rather than Britain bearing the burden alone. I should like to see the S.E.A.T.O. replaced by a wider defence force in which one of the key factors is India.
With the Chinese threat in Vietnam, if we could get a negotiated settlement there it could lead to neutralisation. But the Americans would not accept that unless there was some guarantee that the domino theory of one country after another falling would be prevented by some wider defence system. A number of hon. Members have said that Britain cannot maintain her rôle alone in the East, and I believe that it would be more acceptable if we were to associate ourselves in a kind of N.A.T.O. east of Suez, on a wider basis than CENTO.
Finally, if we are to reduce personnel in the Army and Air Force overseas, and yet maintain our effectiveness, we have to consider a much improved transport command service. We have had progress in this direction, but much more needs to be done. We have to consider a plan for air convoying west across the Atlantic and across Canada, as well as through the Middle East areas. It could easily happen that the whole of the Arab world would be made impassable to us; there are already difficulties about overflying rights across the Sudan. It would be fatal to discover this too late and find our forces in the Pacific left without an alternative route of access.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I much admired the facility with which the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spen-borough (Mr. Jackson) deployed his points without having any notes, but I thought that his opinion that we are in our bases overseas in order to keep top officers in jobs and to enable officers' wives to go shopping in the souks fell below the level of the debate so far. I also thought that his policy for ensuring that troops should go on unaccompanied tours abroad, leaving their families at home, would pose immense problems in respect of married quarters in this country and would not be likely to continue the good results in recruiting which we have recently seen.
Like other speakers, I deprecate the beginning of the White Paper. I would not have thought it necessary to introduce these remarks, because I do not believe that the arguments in them are valid. It is irrelevant to complain about spending £20,000 million—which I agree is a very large sum—if peace has been maintained by doing so. It does not lie in the mouth of this Government to complain, when they are proposing to spend even more, proportionately, according to the current White Paper. It is not fair to project costs on the basis of the previous White Paper before those costs have been subject to the pruning which the Government have rightly given to previous proposals. It is not fair to say that a Conservative Government's expenditure would have been 8.9 per cent. more, because that would not have been true after the usual formula and disciplines had been gone through.
It is relevant to point out that our expenditure on defence has risen while that of the United States and Russia is decreasing. Russian defence expenditure is going down by 12 per cent. of the gross national product and American expenditure by 10 per cent. Furthermore, they are reducing their expenditure because they have such an enormous plethora of weapons that they do not wish to arm themselves any further. It is irrelevant to compare our defence position—which should be judged on its own—with the defence position of other countries which are operating under different circumstances. The same paragraph in the White Paper says that our 1637 forces are over-stretched. That remark seems to lack logic. I am driven to the conclusion that in this, as in some other things, the Government have made rather a bad start.
After all that, like other hon. Members who have spoken in this long debate, at the end of two days I wish to congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the conversion which practical facts have forced upon them. I do not wish to congratulate them too loudly, however. because I fear that their Left wing may overhear what I am saying and wag their tails so much that, in the end, the Government's policy will change. For the time being, however, I am very content with what they have done and I add sotto voce my congratulations.
Before the election I said that I doubted whether it would be possible for the Labour Party to get rid of the nuclear weapon. I do not see how any party, Labour or otherwise, could do that. After all, how does one give it away? To whom does one give it? The United States does not want it; the French would not accept it, and the Germans would not be offered it. There is nobody to whom we can give it at present. We could cluck it away—drop it in the Atlantic—but I would have thought that that would be a futile gesture. In the first instance, who would believe that we had done it? No one would believe that we had not kept one or two back in the cupboard to use in an emergency. Even if we could convince them of that, they would bear in mind that we could always manufacture some more if we were so minded. The proposition with which the House should familiarise itself is: once a nuclear Power always a nuclear Power, whether we like it or not.
I hope that at some time there will be an international organisation to which we can give our nuclear weapons. Nothing of the sort exists now and if we are to give so great a weapon and power over our own country it would be necessary that such an international organisation should have some sort of political unity and existence which would guarantee that our voice would be reasonably heard in its counsels. By giving, so to speak, or by the possibility, rather, of giving such a weapon, we might stimulate, and even bring into being, an 1638 international organisation suitable for the purpose, to which we could safely and happily hand over these nuclear weapons. I hope that one day that will come to pass. For the moment there are one or two suggestions as to what an international organisation of that short should be.
There has been, at least until fairly recently, a suggestion that it should be the M.L.F. I stand here as, I believe, almost the only person who has never said a good word about the M.L.F. in this House. I have always condemned the M.L.F. as being military nonsense. It would never work. But it was never designed to work as a military weapon at all and it certainly had some sort of political validity. It always depended on having political agreement behind it which would make its absudity as a military weapon irrelevant. It would give us the opportunity of working with our allies. The resolute and unbending French opposition to M.L.F. always made it a non-starter, so we have to consider the possibility of some other sort of international organisation, namely, the A.N.F. which, I venture to say, is militarily just as useless as the M.L.F. and politically even more of a non-starter. As was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) its only validity so far has been that it sunk the M.L.F. without trace.
It means offering to the United States weapons which she does not want and does not need. Its obvious purpose is to reduce, so far as possible, the influence which Germany shall have on any nuclear weapons. That is a point which I do not wish to debate now, but the purpose is too plain to suppose that our allies have not seen it. The French maintain their opposition to the A.N.F. just as to the M.L.F. and now we shall have Germany against us as well, and the result, I am afraid, is that the A.N.F. has two opponents among our allies as opposed to the one opponent of the M.L.F. Therefore it is an absolute non-starter.
I hope that this weekend, when the Prime Minister goes to Bonn, he will not urge it too enthusiastically, or arrive with his eyes all glistening with enthusiasm about the A.N.F., because he will be due for a rebuff. I am afraid it is true that when the Prime Minister goes to 1639 Germany he goes with his reputation for being anti-German round his neck. I hope that he will be able to live this down. There are facts of life which one has to live down when in office. But in these early days of his Administration I do not think we can expect the Germans to receive the right hon. Gentleman exactly with open arms or without suspecting that any gifts which he may bring may have some sort of concealed trigger and not a safety catch. The Germans will also recollect what was, if I may say, the rather tactless remark of the Secretary of State for Defence about "decent Germans", implying that a good many of them were not. This is not designed to begin the conversations in too good a spirit. As I do not think that the scheme is a good one, I hope that he will not nail his flag to that mast.
I read in the White Paper with some surprise paragraphs 17 and 18, which refer to the British Army of the Rhine. They clearly mean that there is some kind of reduction in our forces in Germany to be proposed. In the past, of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) pointed out, the sayings of the Labour Party have been the opposite of this. I do not complain too much, although I have some right to do so, because the First Secretary of State called me a lunatic when I proposed something of the sort which is now in the White Paper. Nevertheless, I am very glad to see that they are capable of changing their minds, though I think that they have changed their minds at the wrong time. We will have consultations with our allies, I suppose. The Prime Minister promised this when he was speaking from that Box, but I hope that it will be much better consultation than we have had with our allies over some of our recent moves in the diplomatic sphere. We had consultation with them, I understand, about the 15 per cent. surcharge, but they did not seem to like it or think that it was sufficient consultation. I hope that we have better consultation than we had over that.
If we are to reduce our forces in Germany, could we ask some questions about it, and will the right hon. Gentleman who replies for the Government be able to give us some information? How much 1640 are we to reduce these forces? A month or so ago, the Minister of Defence for the Army told me, in answer to a Question, that he did not intend to reduce them at all. If we are now to reduce them, by how much will we reduce them? If we bring the Army back here, where will we put them and their families? Will we disband them? As has been said in this debate, that is the only way of saving money. It is more expensive to build barracks here than to keep those which they have in Germany. What about the barracks and the quarters which they have in Germany? They have been more or less completed, at enormous expense over the past few years. Will we make a formal application to N.A.T.O. to reduce our troops, and, if so, when? Will it be at the next Ministerial meeting to be held here in May?
Another thing which disturbs me about these paragraphs about B.A.O.R. is that they seem to envisage a return to the trip-wire policy, which at one time or another most of us have condemned as being extremely dangerous. It seems that our troops in Germany, as envisaged in the White Paper, will be very small in number. After all, their position is, we are now told, to guard against an incursion across a very heavily guarded frontier which has been made by miscalculation, or has been made in an unpremeditated way. How can one miscalculate going across a barbed wire frontier sown with mines? How can one do that in an unpremeditated way? Clearly, if that is all that the troops are designed to resist—this very remote chance that somebody will blind across a frontier post—we hardly need anyone there at all. A token force would be certainly quite enough. If that is so, we are back to the trip-wire policy, and the trip-wire policy, as the right hon. Gentleman will agree, has the fundamental danger that one is incapable of fighting any sort of conventional action without turning to nuclear weapons almost at once.
Therefore, I think that this is a very dangerous proposition. I think that the arguments in those paragraphs should be looked at very closely and explained to the House. Certainly, if that is our policy now, it will be very unwelcome to the United States, which has a policy of 1641 graduated response. It would be extremely unwelcome to Germany, upon whose territory any nuclear war will be fought. The only person it can possibly please is General de Gaulle, who does not believe in the possibility of war in Europe and who will be pleased to have confirmation of the fact that England is once again turning her back upon Europe.
Nor do I agree that there is no military threat in Germany. There may be none at the moment, because the frontier is fairly well guarded, but if we begin removing our troops and set an example of taking troops away, we may find N.A.T.O. in great difficulty before long, and in those circumstances no one would be in the slightest degree surprised if the Russians take advantage of it.
I beg the Government to realise that the troops in Europe have a political value as well as a military value. In this country we find it necessary to make up our minds about our policy towards Europe, and this is not the moment to withdraw from Europe some of the bargaining counters which we possess. It is the last moment to do it. Only when a political settlement has been reached or in the course of a political settlement should we take our troops away.
It would, of course, be welcome if N.A.T.O. understood that we are assisting them in our operations east of Suez, but I do not think that we shall get them to contribute to our expenses and dangers there until we have arrived at a political settlement in Europe. We cannot expect them to put their hands in their pockets and to say, "Here is £100,000 to go on with. Do that job in Malaysia again". That is not the way things work. We are finding it difficult to persuade the Germans to contribute to the cost of maintaining our troops in Germany. How much less can we expect them to contribute to our troops in Malaysia and elsewhere? But if we arrive at a political settlement in Europe, which these troops will help us to reach, we shall find that they will be willing to do so.
I read with some anxiety the paragraphs in the White Paper describing our reserves as being "archaic". What does that mean? Does it mean that it is proposed to call up the Territorial Army without a proclamation? I do not see the value of alterations in legislation in 1642 this respect. If we call tip the Territorial Army we have to go through certain processes of issuing orders and regulations, and it is as easy to make a proclamation as to send telegrams telling the troops to go to their bases.
What is the meaning of the statement, "Our reserves are archaic"? What are the Government's intentions? I put a direct question to them: have they in mind abolishing the Territorial Army? This is the way in which these paragraphs are being interpreted. Is it possible for the Minister of State to add to the notes which I hope he is now getting from the Under-Secretary to tell me whether it is the Government's intention to abolish the Territorial Army?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)
I am writing the damned thing down.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I am told that he is writing the damned thing down. I do not know whether he is referring to the Territorial Army or to his notes. At any rate, I have made some impact on him, and perhaps I shall get an answer to my question.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
We come to the end of a two days' debate. In some ways it has been a strange debate. It is probable that in whatever part of the House we sit there are very few of us who do not regret that defence affairs become matters of political and even party controversy. Of course, they always have, so we need not blame ourselves too much. Probably they always will, but I cannot see that it is not a regrettable thing.
We are, after all, all in the same boat in this matter. There is no room here for class or sectional difference. If we get the answer wrong we are, as the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) reminded us yesterday, on the edge of a precipice. It is our survival which is at stake.
The really technical nature of the discussion—the secrecy with which, rightly or wrongly, the whole issues of procurement and deployment are envisaged—make it a dangerous thing to express opinions and make it inevitable that hon. Members of one party may very often 1643 differ among themselves, and probably hon. Members of a Government Front Bench or an Opposition Front Bench might very likely express different opinions from that which their collective wisdom compels them to utter in public. That has been true of me over a number of years. I dare say that if the truth were known the same kind of picture would be presented of the Front Bench opposite.
The debate has been strange, no less because of the Government interventions. The Secretary of State, whom we are glad to believe will answer the debate, spoke when he moved the Motion in a strangely muted vein for him. No doubt he was reserving his more rumbustious fire for the moment when nobody would be able to answer him. We look forward to it with pleasure.
The Prime Minister made another strange speech this afternoon; a strange speech, but, if he will forgive me for saying so, a characteristic one. He began by saying that the temperature had dropped in defence debates and he then treated us to his usual shower of insults and abuse. Even I, unworthy as I am, when I ventured to get up to make what I thought for once was an uncontroversial remark—because I was about to say to the Prime Minister that my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) was stuck in a snowdrift—even I was treated to an absolute shower of vulgar abuse before I was allowed to intervene.
Having deluged the Front Bench opposite with a mixture of boorishness and sneers, the Prime Minister then gave us an obviously sincere and extremely passionate preroration about national unity—not before, however, he had adjured us to take part in secret discussions with him in which one or two selected Privy Councillors—to include the Leader of the Liberal Party when and if he remains a Privy Councillor—in the most cherished secrets of defence. I can only say this to the Prime Minister about that. I am far from trying to cause any interference with this mutual interchange of secrets, but if he really wants national unity in matters of defence and if he really wants to achieve some kind of objective examination of what are, after all, our common problems, he must first give 1644 up his practice of Government by sneer and insult. If my right hon. Friend decides to be lured into the right hon. Gentleman's parlour, as I hope that he will be, on the terms that my right hon. Friend has indicated, he must at least carry his party behind him, and how can he do that if, all the time these important and secret and frank and friendly interchanges are taking place, in public the Prime Minister is indulging in this kind of vulgarity and abuse.
It is true, of course, that in our hearts—and I have no doubt that this is as true of the Prime Minister as it is of any other hon. Member—we sincerely wish, however much we may differ, that these matters were not the subject of bitterness and controversy. But all the same, all the legitimate differences which can exist between two groups of Members, or between members of individual parties, cannot really explain the dominating fact that has, after all, been the recurring theme through this debate on all sides—in the numerous speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends, the many interesting speeches from the benches opposite, and the solitary speech from the Liberal bench which we, or some of us, heard this evening. That dominating fact is the complete volte face in Government policy revealed, or rather concealed, by this White Paper.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has missed the performance which I had specially designed for his enjoyment, but I will not repeat myself. I will only say that I am very glad that he has come to hear the Secretary of State, as we are all looking forward to doing.
The completeness of the volte face that this White Paper reveals has been the recurring theme of this debate over two days. That is partly due to the volte face over the deterrent, because the White Paper says plainly that the deterrent—our own and our allies'—has removed or, to quote the exact phrase from paragraph 9 has "almost entirely excluded" what is described asThe only direct threat to our survival …According to the White Paper we owe that to the deterrent. But it is not unfair to remind the House, and it is not unfair to remind the right hon. Gentleman, that only a few years ago, at the Scarborough 1645 conference of his party, the present Minister of Technology was saying, speaking then for the successful but revolting minority—and I mean, of course, revolting in the literal and not in the metaphorical sense:The National Executive Committee believe that the policies of the Western Alliance and our own country ought to be based on the theory of having the bomb. We think they ought to be based on the opposite theory of not having the bomb.That was his view then. There was nothing about the metaphysical discussion of whether or not our own deterrent was independent—that was a pure phantom conjured up by the right hon. Gentleman. The Minister of Technology was complaining of the whole thing.
A year later, the Secretary of State for the Colonies was saying, "I am implacably opposed to Britain's nuclear strategy and to the presence of another nation's nuclear bases on our soil". There was no question there of being opposed only to the British deterrent. He was implacably opposed to the American deterrent as well and to the deployment of it recognised by the then Conservative Government.
Since Henry IV of Navarre thought that Paris was worth a mass, right hon. Gentlemen have thought that a seat on the Government Front Bench is worth swallowing what they were implacably opposed to then. They are all going to vote in the same Lobby. They are now solidly behind the White Paper, which says that the only direct threat to our survival is almost entirely excluded as a result of the thing to which they were then implacably opposed.
It is not only the deterrent. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) pointed out that in conventional arms the volte face has not been less complete. He quoted from the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) two years ago when he was then shadow Minister for the Army. The hon. and learned Gentleman was then speaking for the Labour Party. He said that the Labour Party would increase our deployment in Europe to the extent of 80,000 men, instead of 55,000. That was repeated last year. Instead of doing that, right hon. Members opposite are putting their names to a White Paper under which the 1646 deployment in Germany is 62,000 and the deployment east of Suez, to which they were then objecting as a subordinate rôle, including the Gurkhas is 72,000, or 10,000 more troops. So the volte face is complete in the conventional as well as in the nuclear rôle.
Never since St. Paul went to Damascus has there been quite the same change of mind. The only trouble is that these Paulines continue to persecute the Christians here, who have been right all along and preaching the Gospel all along. No wonder there are hon. Members below the Gangway who think that they have been swindled. Of course they have been swindled. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton, at the very beginning of his remarkable speech last night, said that he had been waiting in vain for an explanation of why the policy of the Labour Party, which he said rather pathetically had been worked out over such a long period of time, over so many years, had been abandoned in favour of the Conservative defence policy. I will let the hon. and learned Gentleman into one secret. He will not get an explanation from the Secretary of State for Defence when I sit down. I will give him the explanation now. The explanation is a very simple one. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been talking nonsense for 13 years, out of touch with reality; but when they came into contact with the actual facts they then realised the necessity for the policy which we have been pursuing all along.
The Secretary of State for Defence asked us yesterday afternoon, in that thoughtful opening speech, what we are congratulating the Government on. This is a question which I can answer, too. We congratulate the Government on breaking their election pledges. We congratulate the Government on throwing consistency to the winds when they realised that the country's security demanded an opposite policy.
But this does not get rid of the hon. Member for Gorton, whose speech we much enjoyed. The hon. Gentleman spoke with all the fervour of a mediæval friar, with the love-hate relationship towards hell fire betrayed by a Calvinist preacher. There were the paving stones on the way to the eternal bonfire. There was the precipice over which the Government were about to fall. There were the 1647 good intentions which would lead them to perdition. It was all there, but, like the pardoner, in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", when the hon. Gentleman condemns sins he is about to consort with the sinners in the Lobby. We wonder at his versatility, but, surely, political servility has never reached such a nadir. But we sympathise with the hon. Gentleman. He gave us the explanation that he thought that the Government would once more be converted to the eternal way of life.
This leads me inevitably to discuss the first paragraph of the White Paper. I agree with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood. Although party polemics are well enough on the Floor of the House, they are wholly out of place in a Government White Paper. This is a wholly objectionable and, I think, unprecedented constitutional departure. It is also a gross abuse of public funds. If we had any real cost-effectiveness in this country, to use the fashionable word, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State would be surcharged for the extra expense out of their official salaries.
We know why they did it, of course. In order to entice the more gullible members of their party into the Lobby, they had to make some rude noises about the Tories. So they sacrificed constitutional propriety for political expediency. That is what the White Paper is about. It is not about defence. It is about the Division at the end of the debate. It is a pure exercise in public relations. But that does not really get them off the hook.
Hon. Members on both sides have pointed out the fundamental inconsistency between paragraph 1 of the White Paper and the body of the document. When we were studying Biblical criticism, we were told that there were three Isaiahs. There was the proto-Isaiah, the first Isaiah, who was a cloudy sort of fellow who saw a lot of smoke in the temple. There was the second Isaiah who tried to do a public relations exercise with his folk below the gangway and began, "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith the Lord". I am only sorry that the hon. Member for Gorton failed to be comforted.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I am deriving a great deal of comfort and 1648 joy from the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Hogg
That only shows how I return good for evil, because he said in his speech that he was sorry that he was causing so much joy amongst my hon. Friends.
The Government are like the First and Second Isaiahs. They have failed to see that there is no consistency between paragraph 1 and the body of the document. It starts by saying that our forces are over-stretched and under-equipped. One would have thought that to be the prelude to a great new policy of cutting commitments, increasing recruitment and buying a lot of new stuff. But the only new stuff they are buying is a number of obsolete planes from the United States. That is what they are having to buy in order to slaughter the British aircraft industry and to pay for their election pledge, for it costs approximately the same sum of money to free the prescription charges.
The Government have cut no commitments. They have added to them the commitment to the United Nations and the commitment of the A.N.F. They are proposing to recruit no new troops. Having failed to do all this, they have gone on to tell, in the Third Isaiah, of a record of unbroken success in every part of the world by troops superbly trained and adequate to what was demanded of them and who were transported and who employed equipment adequate to the task.
But the most pitiful pretence of all is the pretence to have saved money since October. Do they suppose that we do not know that the period October to February is the rutting season for Treasury Ministers? They would have had a very poor time amongst the hinds of the spending Departments if they had not got at least as much as that out of any Government. They come out of the lush pastures of August and disappear at the end of February into the monastic seclusion of the pre-Budget period and, in the meantime, claim to have cut expenditure by the sacrifice of the ceremonial dress of the Royal Air Force.
But the real vice of paragraph 1 of the White Paper is that it fails to highlight our real problems and our real 1649 policies. Here I must say that I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Gorton. He speaks on the other side of the hill. I never have questioned either his sincerity or his lucidity although how he manages to reconcile either with his intermittent membership of the Labour Party is beyond me. However, he is a most agreeable Member of this House. If we are to be denied Mr. Kosygin later in the year at least we have the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton.
If the hon. Member had been writing this White Paper it would, I think, have been a more realistic document. It would have begun, surely, instead of this cheap piece of party political propaganda, by pointing to the spectacular secular change in the strategic position of the country. When most of us were born it was an era when the Straits of Dover were our frontier. We went on to think that our frontier was the Rhine and the weapon a piston bomber. At the end of the war it was the atom bomb and the jet bomber and probably the Elbe. The intercontinental ballistic missile pushed our frontier further back still. Soon will come the armed satellite, possibly the manned satellite, even perhaps the moon station. Now this secular trend which the Government have to face is not a legacy left by the Tories. It is a secular trend which the country, under whatever Government, will have to face.
The corollary of modern weapons of war is nothing short of a world authority. It is no good trying to soothe people with talk of general and comprehensive disarmament, important and valuable as these may be. It is no good trying to make them think that collective security on the traditional model is enough, because as long as these weapons exist and can be manufactured, openly or by stealth, the only corollary to the modern weapons of war is a world authority.
But there is one advantage which this country possesses and of which no Government can deprive it. When we spoke in the past as one of the most secure and confident of human communities, as we did, fortified by a two-Power Navy and an impregnable island position, we spoke with authority. But I believe that we speak with greater 1650 authority still today, when in place of our security we have vulnerability, when we have become one of the most precariously poised of all the societies of men on the face of this earth, almost the ideal targets for modern weapons of war, of which the atomic range is only one and of which the atomic range is only one of the first.
They will listen to us because, unless we get the answer right, we are doomed men and women. This must be true. They will listen to us because others may survive the nuclear exchange. The Chinese may survive; masses in Asia and Africa may survive; for aught I know, the Russians and the Americans, after having suffered immeasurable damage, might after a fashion survive, too. I do not know, but one thing I know, and that is that we would not survive, and when we speak about these matters we speak with all the moral authority of men and women who will be doomed unless we get the answer right, and unless we not only get the answer right but persuade our fellow men of the truth of what we are saying.
It is not enough to talk in terms of authority. Here I echo something my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said earlier. The need for any authority must go hand in hand with a set of moral principles which are acceptable to men and women on both sides of the Great Divide. Nothing else will do. We must speak in terms which will demand of each and all a common set of moral principles and a common standard, of conduct, and these must be related to the needs of the countless men and women who inhabit the globe.
The human race, so we are told, has been upon the planet for about a million years. It is not a small thing that we should live in an age when, for the first time in human history, race is confronted with race and continent with continent. We need not be ashamed that in this sudden confrontation there have been unedifying incidents and bloody episodes. But it is a great thing to live at this time and a great thing to be a subject of Her Majesty the Queen in a period when the British Isles have not forgotten their precedence of teaching other nations how to live.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
First, I must beg the House's leave to speak again.
Let me start by welcoming the first sortie of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) into military territory. I think that all of us enjoyed his jokes almost as hugely as he did himself. I must say one thing about his speech. I never realised until tonight quite what a sentitive plant he was. He shrunk with offended modesty from any hint of criticism in the speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister earlier today. If he seriously believes that the very friendly banter, which I assure him it was, with which we greeted his intervention was vulgar abuse, then he is stark, staring bonkers.
We did not learn very much about defence from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. We learned a lot about the Old Testament and medieval English literature, and we had a first-rate Parliamentary performance. Indeed, I think that it is a question for the connoisseurs whether, as a Parliamentary performance, it was better than the brilliant performance of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft). They were both very funny speeches and very entertaining; but, frankly, neither of them seriously attempted to deal with the very serious problems of defence which face the nation at present.
There are three Amendments on the Order Paper. I find the Liberal one rather difficult to understand, except as a device for trying to justify a vote against the Government with the Conservatives. If I may suggest it to the Liberal representative here, the members of his party have been a little too frightened of the Press campaign which seeks to represent them as being too close to the Labour Party. If they really want to distinguish themselves from the Government, they should choose their issues a little more carefully.
They made the same mistake on aircraft the other day, when they opposed the first attempt by any Government to make sense of our aircraft industry and to liberate resources for the pressing needs of our economy. Tonight, they have chosen to oppose the first Defence White Paper for 13 years based on relating defence policy to foreign policy 1652 and to the objectives of strengthening the United Nations and disarmament. If the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) listened to the eloquent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), I do not think that he can be very proud of his own contribution.
§ Mr. Hooson
If the right hon. Gentleman had been here while I was speaking, he would have understood that our criticism of the Government was that they have simply perpetuated Tory defence policy. They have gone back on almost all the pledges which they made during the election.
§ Mr. Healey
I shall deal with those points in a moment.
As the Prime Minister and I have said, we can accept with reservations the criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman). But a more fundamental criticism was presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget)—a rather odd combination. It seemed to me the oddest political alliance since August, 1939. The criticisms of my hon. Friend the Member for Gorton are not unfamiliar to me or to anybody in the House. I know that he has sincerely disagreed with me for a number of years. The quotations which he made last night from my speeches going right back to 1960 show how consistent both he and I have been in the views which we have held for so many years, and why we disagree today as we disagreed in 1960.
What I find a little odd, after that evidence of my consistency, was my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton accusing me of inconsistency. I thought that a lot of his argument was a little odd even for one of the House's favourite eccentrics [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] I say that with affection. [Interruption.] Oh yes. My hon. and learned Friend and I are old friends. I appreciated yesterday, as I have appreciated so many remarks which he has made in the past, his statement that he was in favour of cost escalation becauseIt is the only promising disarmament line I have yet seen."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1965; Vol. 707, c. 1370.]1653 I found it a little odd, however, when he accused me of abandoning the policy on which the Labour Party fought and won the last election.
The main burden of my hon. and learned Friend's criticism was that the Government are putting Polaris submarines into an allied nuclear force and emphasising their obligations East of Suez. I respect my hon. and learned Friend's sincerity, but that is a bit thick. He should know the Labour Party's election policy, because he played a leading part in framing it. He told the House last year from the Front Bench opposite—and I quote his words:Outside that there is the world of new nations"—these are eloquent and perceptive words—being born in difficulty, needing time, needing a chance for second thoughts when something goes wrong, needing a second chance, which we provided in East Africa the other day, which we are guarding for Malaysia and which we are providing painfully in Cyprus. We need many things for this task."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 549]Those were my hon. and learned Friend's views last year. He went so far as to ask us what would happen if we lost the Aden base, how we should then manage for seaborne forces, and to suggest that that was what we should be spending money on. Those were my hon. and learned Friend's views last year. He sat at my side a year ago cheering me on when I told the right hon. Member for Monmouth that the Labour Party would put Polaris submarines into an Alliance force if this seemed sensible, although we had no interest in the Polaris programme as a contribution to an independent British deterrent.
Again, my hon. and learned Friend went even further. The House will remember our debate on 16th December, 1960, when he said that the Polaris submarine… seems to be almost from the pacifist point of view, to be the ideal weapon."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1960; Vol. 632, c. 822.]He then went on to argue—I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) remembers this very well—
§ Mr. Healey
—and so do many other of my hon. Friends—that we should not give the Americans a base at Holy Loch unless they let us have some Polaris submarines free of strings. After hearing us both yesterday, the House can judge who has changed his views in the last 12 months.
§ Mr. Paget
I fail to see this change which is put. The case which we put all the time was that no nuclear deterrent in our hands could be credible because we were totally vulnerable and totally indefensible. I have always believed in the Western deterrent and in providing a base for that deterrent. As to the Indian Ocean, I entirely believe that we are right, as I said in my speech, to be in Malaysia helping a new nation to be born, but, as I said, our interests are altruistic. That cannot go on for ever. Our policy should be designed to terminating our commitments there, not visualising things which will go on indefinitely after the new nations which we have brought into being are on their own feet.
§ Mr. Healey
I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. In fact, I said the same thing myself in my speech yesterday. I ask my hon. and learned Friend to look again at what I said, because he will find his words almost repeated there.
Now I move to the Amendment put by the Opposition, the Conservative Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It was moved brilliantly by the right hon. Member for Monmouth and supported in particular by the right hon. Member for Marylebone in speeches which were very funny, but it was dismissed a good deal more perfunctorily by the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay), both of whom made speeches in which they took defence problems very seriously, and made many points of great importance and consequence.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth gave me a lot of interesting advice. He told me to do the opposite of what he did when he had power. That was very good advice, but his motto right through was, "Do not do as I do: do as I say". 1655 He asked me for more details on policy. I gave him 10 pages on it. In his White Paper he gave the House only one page on policy. The right hon. Gentleman asked for more details on hardware. I gave a great deal, and was congratulated by hon. Gentlemen opposite for doing so. The right hon. Gentleman refused to give us any.
My right hon. Friend the Deputy Secretary of State and Minister of Defence for the Army quoted the right hon. Gentleman's words on helicopters in his winding up speech last night. He did so to the embarrassment of the right hon. Gentleman, who did not ask for any more facts on aircraft. He has steered rather clear of that question since we had the final judgment of the Chairman of Hawker Siddeley on the facts.
The right hon. Gentleman praised the form of Part II, as did other hon. Gentlemen opposite. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman adopt that form himself? He produced two White Papers. The party opposite was in power for 13 years. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman think it out? He had the opportunity to do so.
The right hon. Gentleman talked, as did other hon. Members, about the need for more integration, for what he called functionalism. Why did not he do it? I can see why the right hon. Gentleman is worried about Service separatism. We saw what happened on the benches opposite, both yesterday and today. The old battle between the Navy and the Air Force was fought between the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) and the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney), and, more interestingly, we had a fight between two ex-Ministers. We had the lovely spectacle last night of the hon. Member for Henley arguing for a five, six or seven carrier force east of Suez—and I must say that I appreciated the sour look on the face of the right hon. Member for Monmouth when he did so—and then we had the Air Minister in the last Government arguing that carriers were not worth anything and that we should rely on a land-based aircraft strategy.
No doubt the memory of these events is a bitter one for the right hon. Gentleman, but the fact is that the present Government 1656 are actually coping with the problem. The right hon. Gentleman failed to produce a common aircraft for the Navy and the Air Force. We have done it with the Phantom. The right hon. Gentleman talked about rationalising air power. We are doing it with a committee under General Templer. But I warn the right hon. Gentleman of one thing, and this is a very important point. He talked a lot last night about the need for changes in the machinery for decision. He will not solve the problem by changing the machinery for decision, by shuffling the pack of cards in the Ministry. Getting the right decisions and getting the Services to co-operate depend on having a Government with the determination to take a decision, and the authority to impose it, which is what we never had in 13 years from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am not surprised, when the right hon. Gentleman has so many skeletons in his cupboard, that he is now covered with embarrassment in the rôle of defence spokesman. I hope that he will prove a worthy successor to the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) now that he has taken over responsibility for home affairs.
The central theme of Opposition spokesmen—[Interruption.]—I know that hon. Members opposite do not like it, but they are going to get it—the central theme of Opposition spokesmen was stated by the hon. Member for Henley last night, when he said that 99 per cent. of the White Paper was good stuff. We were told by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon that the only reason why he was voting against the White Paper was the first paragraph. But he did not offer us any rebuttal of the first paragraph.
What is our criticism of the legacy that we have inherited? It is that our forces are overstretched. Does anybody deny that? If they do I would ask them to read the brief provided by the Conservative Political Centre when dealing with this point, which said that it was true that the forces were over-stretched at the present time. The second criticism we make is that our forces are under-equipped. We dealt with this point in detail in the aircraft debate a fortnight ago, and we were supported overwhelmingly by the country, including the aircraft industry itself.
1657 We criticise the previous Government because they were spending too much. The hon. Member for Henley tried to play some games with the figures, but he blew the gaff when he said thatwe always knew that in the first two or three years covered by the White Paper"—that is, up to 1967.the increase would be much more than 3½ per cent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1965: Vol. 707, c. 1435.]We have brought it down to 2.8 per cent. I hope that the House is duly grateful for that.
The hon. Member said that the other 99 per cent. of the White Paper, after paragraph 1, was good stuff. I agree. It is first-rate stuff. I only hope that the hon. Member really believes it, but if he really believes that the defence policy that we have outlined in the White Paper is the right defence policy, he and his other hon. and right hon. Friends opposite were just playing politics when they attacked the aircraft programme a fortnight ago.
This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition said that he supports savings on equipment providing that they do not harm our fighting men. The savings that we have made under the new aircraft programme amount to £300 million and give our forces the aircraft when they need them. But they were voted against on the censure debate, on a three-line Whip by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, only a fortnight ago.
I pass now to the crux of the problem. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite say that they now agree with our policy on Britain's nuclear weapons. If they do, they were just playing party politics for the whole of last year, both before and after the election. Everything in the White Paper was said by myself and my right hon. Friend in the debate last December, when the present Opposition divided the House on a three-line Whip against the Motion of censure. Everything was said there.
But where has been the talk today and yesterday from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite about a seat at the top table? Where has been the talk that we had last year about needing nuclear weapons in case we ever had another Suez, and were blackmailed by a nuclear Power? We heard nothing about that 1658 today. Where has been all the talk we had before that no country can be great in the modern world unless it has an independent nuclear deterrent of its own? Nothing at all was said about that. Today the Opposition have supported every word about our nuclear policy in the defence White Paper—words which they attacked violently throughout the whole of last year, and words on which they divided the House last December.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Has not the right hon. Gentleman now established a bomber force with a nuclear capacity in the Far East, completely under British control, and independent? Is it not a fact that until an Atlantic force comes into being—which is very unlikely—the bombers and submarines will be independent and under British control?
§ Mr. Healey
No—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—I will answer, give me a chance, there is nothing more that I should like than to answer.
It is perfectly true that we have bombers which could carry nuclear weapons. We always made clear, in opposition and since, that we would keep those bombers throughout their useful life. It is true—[HoN. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes, again and again in defence debates, and we were strongly opposed by some of my hon. Friends below the Gangway. It is true that in 1968 we shall begin to have operational Polaris submarines and that they will carry nuclear weapons. But these are not an independent deterrent—[HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"]—ah, let me explain to hon. Members opposite what the occupants of their Front Bench have already discovered, and evidently hon. Members opposite are not yet aware of.
The reason why members of the Opposition Front Bench and the Leader of the Opposition have dropped all this talk about an independent nuclear deterrent is that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition knows that it does not exist, and has never existed. He knows that the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten, was talking the literal truth when he said at a Press conference in Australia that Britain does not have an independent nuclear deterrent. Those are the words of the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is praised very highly and who served the 1659 right hon. Gentleman in the Ministry of Defence so well and so ably for so many years. The fact that is all-important here is the one to which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone drew attention— [HoN. MEMBERS: "Who controls it?"]—if hon. Members will listen, they will hear the facts, and it is high time they understood them as the Opposition Front Bench has learned to understand them in the last few months.
The crucial fact is the one to which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone drew attention at the end of his speech. It is that the use of nuclear weapons by this country independently would bring total destruction to the whole population of our island. No sane British Government could ever conceive in any circumstances taking on the whole weight of the Soviet Union thermo-nuclear power single-handed. They have learnt this fact now but they have learnt it very late and that is why the party opposite have changed their tune.
The second reason—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—why hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have changed their line and dropped this talk about dropping bombs on Russia if we get into trouble at Suez, the second reason—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—that they have dropped it is that they know perfectly well the extravagant and provocative—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Dr. Horace king)
Order. The Christians and the lions have been very friendly tonight. I hope that they will not now start shouting at each other.
§ Mr. Healey
The second reason why the party opposite has dropped its boasting about an independent nuclear deterrent is that it has learned sense. Hon. Members opposite have thought about the problems of foreign policy in the quietude of opposition and realised that the sort of extravagant, provocative boasting in which the Leader of the Opposition indulged in the last year or two, about being a first-class major Power in Europe because we had a nuclear deterrent of our own, is a major obstacle to any attempt to improve relations with our allies in Europe or anywhere else. This is why we have had a change of tune from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen 1660 opposite in the last four or five months. This is why they have been saying the opposite of what they said in December. This is why they have not said any of the things they said before the last election. They know perfectly well that this country could never go it alone in a thermonuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, and to think that we could do so is a major obstacle to building up the sort of world we want.
I do the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone the credit of believing that he was sincere in what he said in the last five minutes of his speech. He talked very seriously indeed about the need for world government. He talked very seriously about what would happen if any thermo-nuclear exchange took place. He understands these facts. He knows that if we ever loose off this weapon, life on this island would be extinct within three days. But the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition did not realise this a year ago, or if he realised it, he kept it quiet.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to recognise—which he apparently has not—that our nuclear deterrent weapon is a second-strike weapon. Has he never taken that in?
§ Mr. Healey
I should like the right hon. Gentleman some time to explain to the House—as we have asked him to explain again and again—in what circumstances he would press the button. We have never had an answer to that question. He was asked again by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister only last December. He did not reply because he could not reply. Had he replied, the whole myth of an independent nuclear deterrent would be destroyed.
The change in nuclear policy among the parties in this country has happened on that side of the House, not on this side. All their talk in the last few days has been just a smokescreen—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—to cover their change of idea about the independent British deterrent. I welcome this change in their attitude. I welcome the different way they are talking today from the way they talked in December, in a debate covering exactly the same issues and on the basis of exactly the same statement by Her Majesty's Government as that 1661 which is included in the White Paper. I welcome it, and I think that the last two days of debate has shown that the change in the policy of the Conservative Party may make it possible now for us to discuss seriously the real problems of defence, something totally ignored by the right hon. Member for Monmouth, in office and outside; something not even touched upon by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone in his speech this evening.
This vote which the Conservative Party will cast against Her Majesty's Government's defence policy tonight, which is justified by their objection to the first paragraph in the Defence White Paper, accepting though they do 99 per cent. of the White Paper—what we say about aircraft, what we say about the Atlantic nuclear force, what we say about a contribution to the United Nations—is a very small price for us to pay if, from now on, we will have serious contributions to this serious problem from the party opposite.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk rose—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Edward Short) rose1662
§ in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
It must be a long time since a Motion moved by the Government on the subject of defence could not be kept going until 10 o'clock by the Minister winding up the debate. The right hon. Gentleman realised that there was so much opposition from his own side of the House that the sooner he sat down, the less damage he would do. [Horn. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] By doing that, he made his most constructive contribution to this two-day debate. Having said that, I think that I should be able to ask my right hon. and hon. Friends with enthusiasm to vote against the inept performance of the Secretary of State for Defence in putting forward the Government's proposals.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 298, Noes 293.1665
|Division No. 70.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Ensor, David|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Chapman, Donald||Evans, loan (Birmingham, Yardley)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Coleman, Donald||Fernyhough, E.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Conlan, Bernard||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Barnett, Joel||Crawshaw, Richard||Fletcher, Raymond (IIkeston)|
|Baxter, William||Cronin, John||Floud, Bernard|
|Beaney, Alan||Crosland, Anthony||Foley, Maurice|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. R .H. S.||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Bence, Cyril||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dalyell, Tam||Ford, Ben|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Darling, George||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)|
|Binns, John||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Bishop, E.S.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davies, S.O. (Merthyr)||Garrow, A.|
|Boardman, H.||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||George, Lady Megan Lloyd|
|Boston, T. G.||Delargy, Hugh||Ginsburg, David|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Dell, Edmund||Gourlay, Harry|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Dempsey, James||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Boyden, James||Diamond, John||Gregory, Arnold|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dodds, Norman||Grey, Charles|
|Bradley, Tom||Doig, Peter||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Donnelly, Desmond||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Driberg, Tom||Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Duffy, A. E. P.||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Dunn, James A.||Hale, Leslie|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Dunnett, Jack||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Edelman, Maurice||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hannan, William|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Harper, Joseph|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||English, Michael||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Ennals, David||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mahon, Simon(Bootle)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Hazell, Bert||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Manuel, Archie||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Mapp, Charles||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Marsh, Richard||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mason, Roy||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Maxwell, Robert||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Holman, Percy||Mayhew, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Horner, john||Mellish, Robert||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Millan, Bruce||Small, William|
|Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Milne Edward (Blyth)||Snow, Julian|
|Howie, w.||Molloy, William||Solomons, Henry|
|Hoy, James||Monsiow, W alter||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Hughes Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||steele, Thomas|
|Hughes Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheffield Pk)||Stonehouse, John|
|Hunter, A.E. (Feltham)||Murray, Albert||Stones, William|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Newens, Stan||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hynd, John (Attercllffe)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Irvine A. J. (Edge Hill)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Jackson, Colin||Norwood, Christopher||Symonds, J. B.|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Oakes, Gordon||Taverne, Dick|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Ogden, Eric||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jeger George(Goole)||O'Malley, Brian||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & st. P'cras, S.)||Oram, Albert E (Ham, S.)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jenkins Hugh (Puntney)||Orbach, Maurice||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Orme Stanley||Tinn James|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oswald,Thomas||Tomney Frank|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Owen, Will||Tuck Raphael|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Padley, Walter||Urwin, T. W.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W. Ham,S.)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Varley Eric G.|
|Jones, J. Idwal(Wrexham)||Page, R. T.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Palmer, Arthur||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Kelley, Richard||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Kenyon Clifford||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, George|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Parking, B. T.||Warbey, William|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'Worth, Central)||Pavitt, Laurence||Watkins, Tudor|
|Laswson, George||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Ledger, Ron||Pentland Norman||Whitlock, William|
|Lee, Miss Jennie(Cannock)||Perry, Ernest G.||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham||Popplewell, Ernest G.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Prentice, R. E.||Willy, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Probert, Arthur||Williams, Mrs, Shirly (Hitchin)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Randall, Harry||Willis, George (Edinburg, E.)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Rankin, John||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|McBride, Neil||Rees, Merlyn||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|McCann, J.||Reynolds, G. W.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|MacColl, James||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|MacDermot, Niall||Richard, Ivor||Woof, Robert|
|McGuire, Michael||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mclnnes, James||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||W Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St.Pancras, N.)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|MacMillan, Malcolm||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Rowland, Christopher||Mr. George Rogers.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Brewis, John|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Berkeley, Humphry||Brinton, Sir Tatton|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Bessell, Peter||Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Biffen, John||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)|
|Astor, John||Biggs,-Davison, John||Bruce-Gardyne, J.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bingham, R. M.||Bryan, Paul|
|Awdrey, Daniel||Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Buchanan-Smith, Alick|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Black, Sir Cyril||Buck, Antony|
|Balniel, Lord||Blaker, Peter||Bullus, Sir Eric|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Bossom, Hn. Clive||Burden, F. A.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Batsford, Brian||Box, Donald||Buxton, R. C.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Campbell, Gordon|
|Bell, Ronald||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Carlisle, Mark|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Braine, Bernard||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Pearson, sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Peel, John|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hirst, Geoffrey||Percival, Ian|
|Chichester-Clarke, B.||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Peyton, John|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hooson, H. E.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cole Norman||Hordern, Peter||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Cooke Robert||Hornby, Richard||Pounder, Rafton|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Cooper-Key Sir Neill||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cordle, John||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Pym, Francis|
|Costain, A. P.||Hutchison Michael clark||Quennel, Miss J. M.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Iremonger, T. L.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. Sir James|
|Craddock, Sir Beresfod (Spelthorne)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Crawley, Aidan||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Jennings, J. C.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnson Smith, G.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Curran, Charles||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jopling, Michael||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dance, James||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr,)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Roots, William|
|Dean, Paul||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Royle, Anthony|
|Deeds, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kershaw, Anthony||Russell Ronald|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kilfedder, James A.||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kimball, Marcus||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Doughty, Charles||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Sharples, Richard|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kitson, Timothy||Shepherd, William|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Eden, Sir John||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig Sir John|
|Elliott, R. W. (N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Emery, Peter||Litchfield, Capt. John||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Stainton, Keith|
|Farr, John||Lloyd Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Fell Anthony||Longbottom, Charles||Stodart, J. A.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Longden, Gilbert||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Fletchr-cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Loveys, Walter H.||Summers, Sir Spender|
|Fletcher,-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Lubbock, Eric||Talbot, John E.|
|Forest, George||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Taylor Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Foster, Sir John||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Taylor, Edward M. (G"gow, Cathcart)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Temple, John M.|
|Gammans Lady||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Gardner Edward||McMaster, Stanley||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Gibson-watt, David||McNair-wilson, Patrick||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Maginnis, John E.||Thompson, Sir Peter (Conway)|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Maitland, Sir John||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Marlowe, Anthony||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Glover Sir Douglas||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Mathew, Robert||Tilney, John (Wavertres)|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maude, Angus||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Goodhew, Victor||Mawby, Ray||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Gower, Raymond||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Grant, Anthony||Maydon, L t.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||vickers. Dame Joan|
|Grant-Ferric, R.||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Gresham-cooke, R.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Grieve, Percy||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Miscampbell, Norman||Wall, Patrick|
|Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mitchell, David||Walters, Dennis|
|Monro, Hector||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||More, Jasper||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Gurden, Harold||Morgan, W. G.||Webster, David|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Whitelaw, William|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Murton, Oscar||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Neave, Airey||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Wise, A. R.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Hastings, Stephen||Onslow, Cranley||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hawkins, Paul||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Hay, John||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Osborn, John (Hailam)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Hendry, Forbes||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Mr. MacArthur and Mr. McLaren.|
§ Main Question put:—1671
|Division No. 71.]||AYES||[10.14 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Floud, Bernard||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Foley, Maurice||Loughlin, Charles|
|Atkinson, Norman||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||McBride, Neil|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Ford, Ben||McCann, J.|
|Barnett, Joel||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||MacColl, James|
|Baxter, William||Freeson, Reginald||MacDermot, Niall|
|Beaney, Alan||Galpern, Sir Myer||McGuire, Michael|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Garrett, W. E.||Mclnnes, James|
|Bence, Cyril||Garrow, A.||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Ginsburg, David||McLeavy, Frank|
|Binns, John||Gourlay, Harry||MacMillan, Malcolm|
|Bishop, E. S.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Blackburn, F.||Gregory, Arnold||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Grey, Charles||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Boardman, H.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Boston, T. G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange)||Manuel, Archie|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mapp, Charles|
|Boyden, James||Hale Leslie||Marsh, Richard|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mason, Roy|
|Bradley, Tom||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Maxwell, Robert|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hannan, William||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Harper, Joseph||Mellish, Robert|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Harrison Walter (Wakefield)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Hart Mrs. Judith||Millan, Bruce|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Hattersley, Roy||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hayman F. H.||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hazell Bert||Molloy, William|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Monslow, Walter|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hill J. (Midlothian)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheffield Pk)|
|Chapman, Donald||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Murray, Albert|
|Coleman, Donald||Holman Percy||Newens, Stan|
|Conlan, Bernard||Horner John||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Norwood, Christopher|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.||Howarth, Robert L.(Bolton E.||Oakes, Gordon|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Ogden Eric|
|Crosland, Anthony||Howie, W.||Oram, Albert E.(E. Ham, S.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Hoy, James||Orbach, Maurice|
|Cullen, Mrs Alice||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orme, Stanley|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Darling, George||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Owen, Will|
|Davies, G Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hunter, Adam (Danfermline||Padley, Walter|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Palmer, Arthur|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Jackson, Colin||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jannner, Sir Barnet||Pargiter G. A.|
|Dell, Edmund||Janner, Sir Barnett||Parker, John|
|Dempsey James||Jay, Rt. Hn. (Douglas)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Diamond, John||Jager, George (Goole)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dodds, Norman||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Doig, Peter||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Pentland, Norman|
|Driberg, Tom||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Perry, Ernest, G.|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Dunn, James A.||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jones. Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Probert, Arthur|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Kelley, Richard||Randall, Harry|
|English, Michael||Kenyon, Clifford||Rankin, John|
|Ennals, David||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Ensor, David||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Lawson, George||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Leadbitter, Ted||Richard, Ivor|
|Fernyhough, E.||Ledger, Ron||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Fitch, Alan(Wigan)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Robertson, John(Paisley)|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St.Pancras.N.)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||Weitzman, David|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||stonehouse, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Stones, William||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Rowland, Christopher||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Whitlock, William|
|Sheldon, Robert||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Swingler, Stephen||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Symonds, J. B.||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tie-on-Tyne, C.)||Taverne, Dick||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Silkin, John (Deptford)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Silkin S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Thornton, Ernest||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Tinn, James||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Skeffington, Arthur||Tomney, Frank||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Slater, Mrs Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Tuck, Raphael||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Urwin, T. W.||Woof, Robert|
|Small, William||Varley, Eric G.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wainwright, Edwin||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Snow, Julian||Walden, Brian (All Saints)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Solomons, Henry||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Wallace, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Warbey, William||Mr.Sydney Irving and|
|Steele, Thomas||Watkins, Tudor||Mr. George Rogers.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Cordle, John||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Corfield, F. V.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Costain, A. P.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Astor, John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Crowder, F. P.||Hastings, Stephen|
|Awdry, Daniel||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hawkins, Paul|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Curran, Charles||Hay, John|
|Balniel, Lord||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Dance, James||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Hendry, Forbes|
|Batsford, Brian||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Dean, Paul||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bell, Ronald||Deedes, Rt .Hn. W. F.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, Dr.Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Doughty, Charles||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hooson, H. E.|
|Bessell, Peter||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hordern, Peter|
|Biffen, John||Eden, Sir John||Hornby, Richard|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tie-upon-Tyne, N.)||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Emery, Peter||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Errington, Sir Eric||Hunt, John (Bromley)|
|Blaker, Peter||Farr, John||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Fisher, Nigel||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye)|
|Box, Donald||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Forrest, George||Jennings, J. C.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Foster, Sir John||Johnson Smith, G.|
|Braine, Bernard||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Brewis, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Jopling, Michael|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.Sir Walter||Gammans, Lady||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Gardner, Edward||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gibson-Watt, David||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Bryan, Paul||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Buck, Anthony||Glover, Sir Douglas||Kimball, Marcus|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Glyn, Sir Richard||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Burden, F. A.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Kitson, Timothy|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Goodhart, Philip||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Buxton, R. C.||Goodhew, Victor||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Campbell, Gordon||Gower, Raymond||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Carlisle, Mark||Grant, Anthony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Grant-Ferris, R.||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gresham-Cooke, R.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Grieve, Percy||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Longbottom, Charles|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Cole, Norman||Gurden, Harold||Lubbock, Eric|
|Cooke, Robert||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neilt||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Peyton, John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Temple, John M.|
|McMaster, Stanley||Pitt, Dame Edith||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Pounder, Rafton||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Maginnis, John E,||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|MaitMnd, Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,s.)|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Prior, J. M. L.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Pym, Francis||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Mathew, Robert||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Maude, Angus||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Mawby, Ray||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Mills, Straiten (Belfast, N.)||Ridsdale, Julian||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Mitchell, David||Robson Brown, Sir William||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Monro, Hector||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Wall, Patrick|
|More, Jasper||Roots, William||Walters, Dennis|
|Morgan, W. G.||Royle, Anthony||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Russell, Sir Ronald||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Webster, David|
|Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Murton, Oscar||Sharpies, Richard||Whitelaw, William|
|Neave, Airey||Shepherd, William||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Sinclair, Sir George||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig, Sir John||Wise, A. R.|
|Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Onslow, Cranley||Speir, Sir Rupert||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Orr, Capt. L. P.S.||Stainton, Keith||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Stanley, Hn. Richard||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Stodart, J. A.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley||Younger, Hn. George|
|Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Talbot, John E.|
|Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Peel, John||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Mr. MacArthur and Mr. McLaren.|
|Percival, Ian||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1965, contained in Command Paper No. 2592.|