HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1184-5
16. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the results of his consultations with Australia and New Zealand concerning proposed reductions in the United Kingdom's military expenditure in that part of the world.

43. Mr. Dickens

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has had with the Government of Australia and New Zealand about the forthcoming reductions in the United Kingdom military expenditure in Asia.

Mr. Healey

I have had no further consultations on the level of our forces in the Far East since the 1966 Defence Review was published.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say why he is not continuing discussions with Australia and New Zealand, in view of the declared intention of the Government to reduce these commitments as soon as they can? Is it not the case—it was certainly understood by hon. Members on this side of the House—that these talks were continuing on that specific basis?

Mr. Healey

My discussions with the Australian Government in January last year covered all the contingencies to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Mr. Dickens

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since January of last year certain things have happened, most notably that the official policy of the Labour Party in this country has changed in favour of decisive cuts east of Suez? Will not my right hon. Friend open consultations now with the Governments of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with a view to implementing that change of policy by 1970?

Mr. Healey

I must explain to my hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government's policy is determined by decisions taken in the Cabinet and not by decisions taken elsewhere, although we take all relevant factors into account. I can assure my hon. Friend that if there were any question of a change in the basis on which we consulted Australia and other allied Governments last year we should certainly wish to consult them about it.

Mr. Costain

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that Australia takes cognisance of statements made at Labour Party conferences, and will he make it clear to the Australian Government that Her Majesty's Government rule this country?

Mr. Healey

The Australian Government are in no doubt that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is decided by Her Majesty's Government and not by other bodies, including Her Majesty's Opposition.

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