HC Deb 24 November 1965 vol 721 cc497-8
22. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what modifications there have been in the Government's proposals for an Atlantic Nuclear Force.

Mr. Healey

I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to the hon. Member on 4th November.

Mr. Blaker

Since nobody seems to be enthusiastic about this proposal, not even the Foreign Secretary, will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Government are looking at alternatives? Will he say whether they are looking carefully, for example, at the proposal of Mr. McNamara for a nuclear committee in N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Healey

I told the House six months ago that I welcomed Mr. McNamara's proposal for a special committee. I am sure that the hon. Member will know that I am going to attend a meeting of the special committee on Saturday and will meet Mr. McNamara on Friday to discuss some of the issues which it raises.

Mr. Paget

Since we on this side of the House are all agreed that an independent nuclear force is of no value to us, and since it is now clear that a contribution to the N.A.T.O. force from us is neither of military value nor of political use, cannot we get on with our policy and get rid of the thing?

Mr. Healey

I am afraid that since I cannot accept either premise of my hon. and learned Friend's supplementary question I cannot accept the conclusion either.

Mr. Powell

Will the right hon. Gentleman clearly repudiate any suggestion that Her Majesty's Government would contemplate as an alternative to the A.N.F. selling or reselling the British Polaris force to the American Government?

Mr. Healey

I must confess that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on this. This is the most extraordinary suggestion that I have ever heard, and I cannot believe that it would ever be put forward seriously.