Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [27th February]:
That this House welcomes the fact that the Government is conducting its Defence Review as a continuing exercise in reducing the burden of British commitments forces and expenditure overseas with due regard to the limits imposed by the national interest and security and approves the Statement on Defence (Command Paper No. 3203) as a further contribution to this end.—[Mr. Healey.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Brown)
First, may I say a word of sincere appreciation to the Opposition for offering me, of their own volition, the courtesy of being allowed to open this second day of the debate. I am very grateful to them.
Yesterday, as the House knows, I cut short my visit to The Hague partly to be in the House for Question Time and partly so that I could hear the opening of this two-day debate on defence. I looked forward to the speech which was to be made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I have seldom been so disappointed in all my life. It was the sort of speech that can collect a cheer in the House, but cuts absolutely no ice whatever outside. It contained not one single constructive remark.
But, as the right hon. Gentleman began with a compliment to my right hon. Friend, perhaps I should return the service. I thought that his speech put him firmly into the class which the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) used to head so well. I merely draw attention to the seat in the House which the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames now occupies when he is here.
No matter what the right hon. Gentleman tried to prove yesterday, we have brought home troops in large numbers from many areas of the world. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday gave the House the detailed figures, but the important fact to remember is that, by April, 1968, 25,000 men and 6,000 Service families will have returned to this country from outside Europe on our present plans. We can be quite clear about this. We are now ahead of our 282 target schedule in bringing men home and we are doing better than our target savings in defence expenditure.
These savings have been made and are being made within a complex equation of considerations of foreign policy. As the Defence Review of 1966 said so clearly:Defence must be the servant of foreign policy and not its master.We regard the United Nations as the keystone of our policy and believe that the most effective method of peacekeeping would be through the United Nations. But today, the effectiveness of the United Nations in peace-keeping work is severely limited. Some major Powers will not pay their share of operations. The same Powers continue to refuse even the voluntary contributions which the United Nations has unanimously asked for. In the major task of deterring or repelling aggression, the United Nations is hampered by the need for virtual unanimity among the great Powers. Whatever our hopes and ambitions for the future, this is the situation with which we have to deal now.
Quite clearly, therefore, if we are to survive and be able to affect events, we need friends and we need allies. The three decisions of principle which were taken in the 1966 Defence Review demonstrate the realities of interdependence and the limitations of our strength today. May I remind the House of these three principles: first, that we could not and should not undertake major operations of war except collectively, either under or for the United Nations, or with our allies; second, that obligations to defend a country could only be accepted if that country were prepared to grant facilities to make assistance effective in time; third, that we would not attempt any longer to maintain bases in an independent country against the wishes of that country.
To these principles must be added the clear statement in this Defence White Paper, that our aim is that we should not again have to undertake operations on the scale of confrontation outside Europe. The plain fact is that we can only think in terms of partnership with our friends, and this is true both east and west of Suez.
However, friends and partners do not necessarily bring with them an automatic 283 relief from the burden of our commitments. They are the key to survival, but not the secret of an easy life. The main purpose of the continuing process of reviewing our defence expenditure is to bring it into balance with our resources. It is no good taking the line—as some hon. Gentlemen seem to do—of insisting that the sun should never set on our defence forces, strung out across the globe in large numbers, and, at the very same time, calling for a strong and expanding economy at home. Behind that attitude lies a clear delusion.
At the same time, it is no good hoping for quick and simple solutions, a fast retreat to a "Little England", without regard to the consequences, with no concern for the responsibilities which we have inherited, particularly in the Commonwealth and with no heed for the appalling dangers.
By dangers, I mean not just the obvious temptations to others to exploit a power vacuum, not just the dangerous loss of confidence in those whose peaceful stability we need to see assured, but the danger to our reputation among our allies and in the world at large if we were tempted to break unilaterally our firm promises.
When we examine and re-examine the burden of our commitments, we have to consider our own interests and the consequences for our friends and allies. We have to consider, too, the economic consequences for people who have a claim upon us and we have to consider the effect of what we do in terms of military balance and strategy. All these considerations have themselves to be balanced against the paramount fact that we must lessen the defence burden on this country.
In many cases, the choice is not between staying in a place at our present strength or withdrawing completely. The problem is often finding a way in which we can stay in a reduced, but still effective, and less costly form. In other cases, the decision to withdraw completely can and must be taken. The problem of timing is fundamental, but timing is not just a matter for us alone to decide. We do not have a completely free hand. Others depend on us and count on us.
The difficulties in doing this are clearly formidable. One only needs to look at 284 the case of Malta, into which I shall not go in detail, because discussions are going on. However, this is clearly an example which must show the House how sharp is the knife-edge on which all our calculations about these things are balanced.
The same considerations of economic consequences for the local Government, the local people, could apply just as forcibly to Singapore as to Malta. Lee Kuan Yew has shown that there is a place for a democratic progressive Chinese-majority State in South East Asia. He needs our support, and, in particular, he has a right to expect from us full consultation in good time about any reductions in the employment we now provide in Singapore.
The right hon. Gentleman chose yesterday to raise the case of Aden. There, when everything is taken into account, the view of the Government quite firmly is that the balance favours decisively the withdrawal of our garrison when Aden reaches independence. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite decided the date for independence. But what sort of independence had they in mind? Was it to have been an independence dominated by a British defence interest? Do they think that on this basis the United Nations and the Arab League, which the South Arabian Federation will wish to join, would ever have accepted that South Arabia was a truly independent State?
May I repeat that our departure from Aden does not break a treaty commitment or involve any bad faith. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Under the existing treaty with the Federation we are committed to defend it until its independence. We are doing that. And our troops are doing it under the hardest possible conditions. In the face of subversion, organised and equipped from Yemeni territory, we are carrying out our responsibilities for the external defence of the Federation and for the internal security of the Colony of Aden. Our forces are doing this difficult and testing job with moderation, good humour and humanity. They deserve our thanks and our encouragement.
The defence of South Arabia after independence will rest partly with its own forces, to whose expansion we are making a very substantial contribution. Perhaps the House would like to have the figures. 285 On military aid alone we are paying to Aden £5½ million on capital account and £10¼ million for three years after independence. The level of civil aid has not yet been determined, but civil aid will also continue for three years after independence. The allegation that we are not helping and that we are breaking faith or that we are leaving them alone is without any foundation at all.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
Would the right hon. Gentleman clear up three points which, I think, are very important? Would he read from the treaty, which I have here, any clause which supports his statement that we have an obligation to protect the Federation only until independence?
As to the question of our undertaking, is he not fully aware that this is a complete breach of the understanding which was given to the Federation in the conference of 1964, when we promised them independence at their request? They asked for independence and defence and we promised them the two. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how he maintains that that is not a breach of faith going back on one-half of the undertaking?
§ Mr. Brown
As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, in paragraph 38 of the White Paper it was stipulated that there should be a conference to discuss these things. He well knows that that conference never took place because of the South Arabian inability even to agree on an agenda. That paragraph which he mentioned therefore lapsed. He knows that as well as I do.
§ Mr. Brown
I know the fears of some hon. Members opposite. But in my view they are the fears of those who still seem to think that any lessening of the British presence anywhere in the Middle East must automatically be accompanied by appalling disasters to British interests.
We do not share these fears. I see the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) leaning forward. May I say this, in passing? Last night, he chose to make what I thought was an outrageous and abusive attack, in the well-known technique of allusions, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson). He failed, 286 under great pressure from my colleague the Minister for Defence, to withdraw it. I understand that this morning he has sent my right hon. Friend a perfectly appropriate and very necessary private apology. Is he willing to make the same gesture in public?
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
If the right hon. Gentleman reads the OFFICIAL REPORT of the whole debate he will see that I said that I unreservedly withdrew any implications which were attributed to me by the Minister of Defence (Administration). It was the over-agile mind of the Minister of Defence (Administration) which jumped too rapidly into the gutter of suspicion, and that was done purely because he wished to distract the House from the argument which I had been advancing against the Government's policy in Aden. I withdrew that implication at the time.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, merely continuing to stand will not make him give way.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
On a point of order. May we be allowed to know whether the Foreign Secretary, who has referred repeatedly to a private letter, has given my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) notice that he intended to do so?
§ Mr. Kershaw
Further to that point of order. In view of the fact that the Foreign Secretary has now admitted that he did not give my hon. Friend notice that he intended to refer in public to that private letter, ought he not now to apologise to the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. There are still 50 hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who wish to debate defence. I hope that we can get on with the debate.
§ Mr. Brown
The House will make its own assumption of what happened [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I mean the whole House and not just hon. Members opposite.
In the Persian Gulf we are doing a job which, for reasons of history, only we can do. And it is a worthwhile job to keep the peace in a small, but important corner of the world, while it uses its wealth to bring about progress and development and to create an indigenous balance of power that can manage without us.
It is true to say that we are building up from one battalion to two in the Persian Gulf, but that is only one point of an operation which is enabling us to cut down from six battalions to two in the whole Middle East theatre.
We are also bringing home our troops in large numbers from South-East Asia. They have done there, also, a superb job. They have helped to create conditions in which Malaysia and Singapore could get on friendly and honourable terms with their neighbours. I shall not at this moment relate the story of confrontation —it is told in Chapter II of the White Paper—but behind the rather dry official prose there is a story of much heroism, much devotion and much sacrifice by thousands of Service men to whom not only we in Britain, but millions in South-East Asia, have cause to be grateful.
There is also a story of careful and determined diplomacy. Never has our diplomacy been better employed to save lives and to protect our own interests, and those of the Commonwealth and of the area as a whole. Diplomacy and military skill, working within a single purpose and within a great Commonwealth alliance, have—this is not overstating it—transformed dramatically the possibilities and prospects for the peaceful development of that part of South-East Asia.
In genuine regional co-operation between the countries of South-East Asia there lies the great promise for the peaceful development of that area. But regional co-operation is at the moment tentative, fragile and, unhappily, not sufficiently 288 comprehensive. Many countries do not yet feel safe enough to stand alone. They need us to help them build the stability which that area has not yet found. And we have said, and they know, that when they no longer want us, we shall be thankful to go.
The equation east of Suez is complex enough. But we certainly cannot solve that by trying to cut our commitments in Europe. The one thing that would make no sense at all would be to keep troops at the furthest and most expensive end of the line and not defend our own front door in Europe.
Our troops are on the mainland of Europe as an essential part of the defence of this country. They are there as part of the interrelated commitments of the Atlantic Alliance. And those commitments not only bind us to our allies, but they bind our allies to us—others are committed to us by virtue of these commitments.
It is worth remembering that these are commitments which have kept the peace in Europe since 1945, for a longer period than the peace we knew after the First World War. They bind the United States to the defence of Western Europe, which was, perhaps, the missing link between the two world wars, and they enable Germany, firmly embraced within a system of collective security, to play her part in the defence of Western Europe.
The consequence of any ill-considered withdrawal of our forces from the mainland of Europe would be disastrous. We cannot leave Central European countries to face by themselves the problems they have had to face before. So long as we and the United States are there in sufficient strength, some of the things which we all of us think dangerous—even disastrous—will not happen.
As the House knows, we are at the moment faced with a serious problem of foreign exchange costs arising from the stationing of our forces in Germany. I spoke about this during the foreign affairs debate on 6th December and the House has been kept fully informed of later developments. As it knows, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State is at this moment in the middle of the latest stages of these negotiations.
Our objective, as we have said repeatedly, is to cover these foreign exchange costs by one means or another. 289 If they cannot be covered by financial means, we shall have to consider proposing a substantial redeployment of forces to this country in order to lighten the burden. This would mean that some forces would then be stationed here rather than on the European mainland. I want to make it quite clear that it would not mean that these forces would then cease to be available to N.A.T.O.
In any case, in the present situation, both politically and technologically, we believe that some redeployment of this kind is justified. We are not attached to the present level of forces in Europe if the size of the threat does not require it. It may be that the Alliance will be able to achieve a lower level of forces without disturbing the balance of power. This is what we are looking at in N.A.T.O. now. We must decide with our allies to what extent this could be done: and, of course, from such a reduction we ourselves would benefit.
But beyond that, if tension can be lowered between East and West, as the détente, which is already happening in its early beginnings, moves on, the whole question of mutual reduction of forces to lower levels in Central Europe becomes a practical possibility. In my view, it is there that all our hopes for a substantial lessening of the defence burden, not only in the West, but also for the countries of Eastern Europe, really lie.
The fundamentals of maintaining peace in the world have all too often been ignored in the past with disastrous consequences. We need to remind ourselves of them constantly if we are not to repeat the appalling mistakes of history.
With the quest for peace must go, paradoxically enough, the concern for one particular means by which it can be achieved, namely, defence. World peace, unhappily, today is in large measure the produce of military balance of power and, so far, has always been so. As I said earlier, however, our constant endeavours must be to change this situation. But meanwhile, whether we like it or not, power vacuums tempt military adventure and the weak cannot hope that their weakness will save them from attack. If we are to enjoy peace, we must provide adequately, but within our means, for our own defence: and since we know 290 that world peace is indivisible, we must clearly be ready to shoulder our proper share of the responsibilities for peace in the world as a whole.
There is always a price to pay for peace, but the price is not constant. The international situation develops, and our ability to shoulder the defence burden also changes. In setting out the equation of defence there are no constant factors.
I recognise, too, as one of my hon. Friends pointed out, the dangers of policies building up a momentum of their own, of their continuing for want of adequate questioning and reassessment. It is precisely for these reasons that this government decided that we must review continuously Britain's defence rôle to ensure that it lies within our means, that it is effective, and that it conforms to the realities of the international situation.
In the final analysis, foreign and defence policies are pursued because they are in the interest of this country. Our troops are on the mainland of Europe and in Asia not because we suffer from delusions of grandeur, not because we want to impress this statesman or that, but precisely because whoever else may benefit we ourselves benefit from having them there.
These policies have brought peace to our country for over two decades. I do not argue that we have to go on spending in the future £2,000 million a year; nor that we can afford to. I could not have been Secretary of State for Economic Affairs for as long as I was without understanding fully the feelings, the views and the arguments which lie behind them, of many of my hon. Friends. We must seek for ways to do the job for less. I do not say that we have always got to have troops where we have got them now, or in the numbers we have them now. We must constantly search for other and better ways to do the job.
But do not let us delude ourselves that we can gel the kind of world we want—a world of peaceful change and development—without supporting the broad policies which this Government are pursuing today. The Motion upon which we ask the House to vote takes full account of all the complex and sometimes conflicting considerations involved in this matter.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)
If I may say so to the right hon. Gentleman, he was much shorter and stuck more strictly to the script than perhaps he has on past occasions. There would be few hon. Members on this side of the House who would disagree with a large proportion of what he said.
Three points emerged, some of which are new. First, he laid it down that our defence forces should be in balance with our resources. It is significant that they are to be in balance with our resources and not with the threats or with our commitments, and that is why we quarrel with the Defence White Paper and why quite large numbers of hon. Gentlemen opposite disagree with it.
The second point was that there would be no unilateral breaking of our firm promises. I only wish that that policy had been in existence for the last two and a half years, and I wonder whether or not this section of his speech is a teach-in for the Labour Party and perhaps an indication of future action. Certainly it has not been an indication of past action, particularly in respect of Aden.
Yesterday, we had a devastating speech from my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, West (Mr. Powell). It was probably the most effective speech that I have heard in my 13 years in this House. He exposed the degree to which the figures had been "fudged". Having read today's papers and having heard the whole of yesterday's debate and particularly my right hon. Friend's speech, I would say that the sooner we have television in the House, the better it will be for the image of our debates outside. I only wish it could be colour television, to show up the red faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
What my right hon. Friend showed with such devastating effect was that, year after year, during 13 years of Conservative rule the slice of the gross national product taken by defence went slowly but inexorably down—
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) says "Quite wrong." Would he care to 292 enlarge on that? He was not in the House, but, if he looks at the figures, he will find the facts are that they went down, except for the first two years. Mr. Attlee's Government had organised a big rearmament programme, and in our first year of office, 8.4 per cent of the gross national product was spent. It went up to 10 per cent. in 1953, after which it came inexorably down to 6.5 per cent.
§ Mr. Dickens
It is true that I was not in the House at the time, through no fault of my own, but it is quite untrue that there was any consistent pattern of a steady downward trend year by year to indicate a fall in the amount of the gross national product spent on defence. It varied from year to year. There was, in fact, no consistent downward trend.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I will not take up the time of the House now, but I have the figures before me. They went down steadily from 10 to 6.5 per cent.
While I was at the Admiralty, I asked for a survey to be done and an extrapolation undertaken to see roughly what we spent of our gross national product in 1909, 50 years previously. The estimate given was that, even at that time, we spent between 6 and 7 per cent. of our gross national product. Those hon. Members below the Gangway and people in the country who say that we cannot afford to spend this slice of our national product are not arguing from history or from the facts. We can afford to go on spending about that portion of our national product and maintain our economic position in the world.
§ Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Bosworth)
Can the hon. Gentleman say what, in 1909, was the extent of our foreign exchange costs on our overseas military expenditure? That is what the argument is about, and not the internal spending. The important thing is what the foreign exchange expenditure was.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
The hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) is wrong and has not got the core of the argument. We are saying that overseas expenditure as set out in the White Paper will not go down. Nor, as shown, will the cost of defence truly go down, and the figures are "fudged".
At a time when the Civil Vote has gone up markedly by £660 million, it is 293 strange and perhaps typical of a Labour Government that the only item which should stay moderately stationary is defence, and the country will judge them sorely if they skimp and "fiddle" on defence and do not provide adequate equipment for our forces.
During their two and a half years of office, we have had all sorts of excuses for readjusting our defence programme. There was a tremendous build-up about the defence reappraisal. When it came out, there was bitter disappointment because it was not a true reappraisal.
The main reason given in last year's defence programme was that we were bringing people home because there was "over-stretch". A subsidiary reason given was foreign exchange. The following year we had more emphasis on the overseas exchange aspects, and an entirely new one which was raised yesterday by the Secretary of State for Defence when he said:… I must tell the House that the current manpower trends in British society as a whole suggest that this would be necessary even if there were no financial limitations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 110.]He was referring to the overall reduction in the size of our Armed Forces.
Here is another reason given for reducing our Armed Forces. It seems strange that the manpower of our nation should be under strain when we have 600,000 people unemployed at the moment, and when Lord Shawcross made an assessment last year that something like 1 million people are grossly underemployed due to manning restrictions or restrictive practices in our trade unions.
It is hard to believe that we are woefully short of manpower at this stage, and I suggest that perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is being advised by people who believe that the gross national product and our production will go forward as it did in the last six years of Conservative rule, at the rate of 3.8 per cent. per annum. It is not going forward at that rate. It is horribly and desperately stagnant under the right hon. Gentlemen who sit there, and under those circumstances I cannot believe that our manpower will be under very great strain. This is just another excuse for cutting our numbers in our defence forces.
It is quite true to say that it is cheaper to employ defence people at home than 294 it is overseas, although it is only true in the long term. In Aden we have the barracks, the schools, the hospitals, and the stores. If those people are brought home, these will all have to be recreated in this country. The same applies in Malta. We have very good modern barracks there. We have our stores and our training facilities. All those will have to be recreated in this country.
We were told yesterday that 20,000 married quarters will have to be built in this country over a period of three years. That appears in column 118 of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I estimate that that will cost £60 million or £70 million. In addition, there is £20 million reserved in the Defence Estimates for mobile homes.
It this really true economy? It seems that we have overlooked the effect on recruiting, the efficiency of our forces, and on morale. All will be desperately affected if there is little overseas service. Apart from these effects, I claim that there will not be a net saving on the Defence Vote.
I notice in the Defence White Paper that over £10 million is tucked away in the Ministry of Public Building and Works which presumably does not come within the global total of £2,000 million which the right hon. Gentleman is so fond of quoting. We were told last night about the equivalent of a township of between 40,000 and 50,000 people. I should like to hear an estimate, because we were not told, of what it would cost to construct from the start a township of this size, to accommodate 10,000 men coming back from the Far East, 10,000 coming back from Aden, and 5,000 from South Africa and the Mediterranean area.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that another 5,000 or 10,000 might shortly be coming from the Far East. We then had him speaking in very different terms from those of the Foreign Secretary when speaking about pulling troops out of Germany. We heard estimates of 10,000 or even 20,000. All these extra troops from the Far East, and any who may come from Europe as a result of negotiation, will be added to the burden.
If I may summarise, the excuses have been that they set a defence ceiling of £2,000 million without attending to the 295 commitments. It was an arbitrary, unthinking, defence ceiling. They then gave the excuse that our defence forces were overstretched. They then gave the excuse that overseas currency was in scarce supply. This had some validity until suddenly the Malta withdrawal came up, which blew that excuse right out of the water, as there is no foreign exchange in Malta.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
There is foreign exchange in Malta. I said the other day that we shall be saving £6 million a year on foreign exchange when our planned withdrawal from Malta is completed. I gave details to the House during the Malta debate, The hon. Gentleman was not there. He should have been, or he should at least have read HANSARD.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I should like to have more details of how, if Malta is part of the sterling area, there is a saving of £6 million across the exchanges.
§ Mr. Healey
The hon. Gentleman must be aware that almost all defence expenditure abroad, except in Germany, is in the sterling area. It is also foreign exchange. Hong Kong is in the sterling area, as also is Singapore. This was explained to the House. The right hon. Gentleman should have been present during the Malta debate. Foreign exchange expenditure is expenditure overseas which counts as a claim on our exports. In other words, it is unrequited exports.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I only hope that the right hon. Gentleman stays where he is at the Ministry of Defence and does not become Chancellor of the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) will deal with this point when he winds up this evening. The fact is that all these plans to bring people home will cost a large amount of money in bricks and mortar. That is why we on this side of the House agree with what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said. He quite rightly recognised that expenditure of this sort was at the expense of equipment for our troops. In his speech made at his resignation on 22nd February, 1966, at column 257, he said:The cuts apply to all three Services and amount to one-sixth of the total Budget"—296 that is, £350 million—Some of these reductions were to cut out waste. On the other hand, the cuts are overwhelmingly in the realm of equipment and weapons …He went on:It represents a very heavy cut indeed in military capabilities."—[OFFIcIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1966; Vol. 725, c. 257.]This is exactly our accusation, that they have not cut the commitments but that they had cut the military capabilities. That is why we will vote against the White Paper tonight.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Would the right hon. Gentleman put the House out of its misery? We hear constantly from the Opposition benches that the Government have too many commitments for their resources. Can we be told plainly if the policy of the Opposition is to cut commitments or to increase the defence budget?
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I have been at pains to explain that we would not find it necessary to bring people so rapidly away from our overseas bases, that this would represent an extra cost to our defence Votes. When the balance is done I am sure that it will be realised that we will spend more on bricks and mortar than we could have spent if we had left them there in situ. I come to the question of West Germany, because on both sides of the House there was considerable anxiety about this matter. It struck me that there was a different tone—we all noticed this on this side of the House—between the terms used by the Minister of Defence when he opened the debate and the much more statesmanlike terms used by the Foreign Secretary in his speech today. Of course, we acknowledge that there is a considerable amount of foreign exchange spent in West Germany, and we said so in the 1958 White Paper—I am surprised that no one has quoted that yet.
I do not wish to weaken our negotiating position at this stage, but are we being realistic when we ask that all foreign exchange costs should be met by the West German Government?
It should be remembered, and it will be seen at Appendix H of the White Paper, that the United States N.A.T.O. forces spend each year between £30 million and £35 million in dollars in the 297 United Kingdom. So perhaps one will consider this as an offset to the expenditure of our forces in Germany.
A second question I should like to ask is why has the cost of our defence forces in Germany swollen progressively over the years? In 1961, when our forces were approximately at the same level, it was costing us £60 million. In 1963 the figure was £76 million. In 1964 the figure was £83 million, and for the 1966–67 period it is variously estimated between £89 million and £94 million.
It appears, therefore, that despite the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman, the expenditure has gone up by £11 million in Germany, with roughly the same forces, in the last two years.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman know the reason for this? Does he know anything about defence matters? Is he not aware of the fact that the amenities, the married quarters, and all the improved conditions which have been provided for our forces on the Rhine, are far in excess of what they were seven years ago? That is why it is costing so much money.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I have seen those quarters in Germany, and I must say that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that they are absolutely first-class. That is another reason against bringing people back at this stage. They are going into second-rate accommodation here from first-class accommodation there. The right hon. Gentleman makes my point for me. There has been an increase of £11 million since 1964, but one wonders whether there is not some room for economy. Is it necessary to have 32,100 German civilians employed by 63,000 armed forces? Could not some economies be made here? Are we setting too lavish standards compared with the standards of equivalent people serving in this country?
§ Mr. Healey
As the White Paper points out, we are making savings totalling about £10 million in all in the cost of our forces in Germany on the basis of the present numbers. The figure which the hon. Gentleman gave showed an increase of £20 million in the cost of the forces during the last two years of Conservative rule. There has been an increase of 298 only £6 million during the first two years of a Labour Government.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
Yes, and I remember the ridicule to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon Thames (Mr. Boyd Carpenter) was subjected when he got a £54 million offset from the Germans as a contribution. We were told that it was ridiculous. Now we are trying to negotiate £31½ million and this is not so ridiculous. We got much more by way of offset then than the right hon. Gentleman has so far succeeded in doing, but I wish him well for the future, and I hope that he will be more realistic.
Yesterday the Secretary of State spoke in glowing terms about the détente between the East and West in Europe across the Iron Curtain, and I had thought that the Foreign Secretary might touch on this today. He was much more realistic and much stronger. I think one should recognise that in a dictatorship very quick changes can be made in foreign policy. Those who recall what happened in August, 1939, will remember the years beforehand when Hitler's Germany had been shouting abuse at Stalin's Russia, and yet suddenly overnight there was an entente cordiale between the two. There was a pact of non-aggression between Germany and Russia, and that started World War II. One therefore has to look at the military strength—and this is very formidable—and at the combat divisions now available to Russia.
§ Mrs. Ann Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)
Was not that because of the utter failure of the Conservative Government of that time, in conjunction with the French and the Russians, to stand together with regard to the agreement which then existed? Was not this the reason which really gave Stalin the green light? He was fearful of losing so many people as he did, 20 million during the Second World War.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I am sure that the hon. Lady, who has a unique view on this matter, will have an opportunity of taking part in the debate. It is not for me to answer that extraordinary assertion. We on this side of the House would like to point out that in a dictatorship there can be a switch of policy very quickly, and when Russian combat divisions are 299 on internal lines they can be moved, should it be in their interests. Therefore, if there is to be a lowering of tension, and a decrease in forces on both sides—which I think both sides of the House would support—I hope that it will be properly balanced and supervised so that there will not be the danger of this occurring.
Nearly every hon. Member who has spoken during this debate has mentioned Aden. Many hon. Members, on both sides, have spoken in the most moving terms, and are horrified at what has been going on there. I see that the Leader of the House, speaking at Thame, was reported in the Sunday Telegraph of the 19th February under the heading, "Defence cuts 'with honour'", as saying:Defence cuts in Aden and Singapore must be made without causing distress … I believe we shall have to make such cuts in Aden and Singapore, but we must do it in a way which is not shameful and does not let people down.I am sure that everybody endorses that view, and even at this late hour I hope that the Secretary of State for Defence will consider whether we can do something to underwrite the independence of this nation which is so sorely threatened by 50,000 troops whom Nasser has deployed in the Yemen, and which has been undermined by Nasser propaganda which is giving great succour to the rebels, and no help to our troops or to the Adenese.
Is it not possible to leave the radar control equipment, the signals equipment, and perhaps one squadron of fighters there? Is it possible not to rely, as the right hon. Gentleman so shamefully did, on three United Nations organisations to look after the Constitution, but to rely on instructors from this country? It is no good just giving the exchange grants to which the Foreign Secretary referred, £5½ million and £10½ million. What they want is equipment, training, and instructors to help them build a viable Federal force which can stand up to threats from the north and from Nasser's troops, and this must be done quickly.
I turn now to the Far East. The White Paper takes considerable kudos, and I think correctly, for the success of confrontation in the Far East. The Foreign Secretary gave us one new piece of information today when he said that the 300 Government did not envisage ever again having to undertake an operation on the scale of this confrontation in the Far East. I hope that the Government are right, but this is a bit of wishful thinking. We may be faced with a similar operation, one which, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, was conducted cheaply from the point of view of casualties, and yet the results were extremely effective.
There is nothing in the White Paper about what will happen when the aircraft carriers are phased out. It may not be a confrontation on quite the scale of the Malaysia one, but we might have minor operations all over the Indian Ocean where we have great and considerable interests. What will be done to protect our troops and ships? We may not have bases from which to deploy fighters. The aircraft carriers may be phased out. We were told that they would be defended by surface-to-surface missiles. We have all asked questions about this, but have been given no assurances. There must be some sort of ship which is capable of deploying vertical take-off aircraft if the eyes of the Fleet, and the strike of the Fleet, are to protect our ships, our commando carriers, and our commandos going on their duties. All these and our supply ships have to be protected, yet we have heard nothing of the future in this direction.
There are other very good reasons why we need forces east of Suez until such time as we can encourage other nations to build up their strength, to form alliances, and perhaps bear some of the responsibility which we have carried for nearly a hundred years. First, we need them to contain Communism. Is it morally right that we as a nation—and I am speaking to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—should opt out of containing Communism east of Suez? We have had great success so far. We may be faced with this problem again, and it would be wrong to leave it entirely to the United States.
§ Mr. Healey
Is the hon. Gentleman speaking for his right hon. Friend? He will recall that only a fortnight ago his right hon. Friend described young Conservatives who took this view as Rip van Winkles living in the nineteenth century.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
The right hon. Gentleman perhaps did not know that I 301 preceded that paragraph by saying that we should stay there until such time as the strength of the local forces was built up. We have always taken this view. My right hon. Friend said so in his Brighton speech.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
He did. I have studied my right hon. Friend's speech most carefully. The right hon. Gentleman cannot drive a wedge between us on this issue. Australia and New Zealand are both bearing their share, as are the United States, in helping to contain Communism in this area. This is why we should continue to accept this responsibility until others can help take the strain.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I cannot give way again.
There is a third and valid reason, which is not often mentioned, why we should remain east of Suez. This is because of British investments in this part of the world. As a result of our investments in the Far East, we receive about £70 million a year in dividends in foreign exchange. From the Middle East, mainly from oil revenues, we receive about £200 million. We receive about £270 million from that part of the world, and we therefore have a considerable stake in maintaining stability in this area, and in the flow of international trade. Anything that we can do to maintain this stability must be to the good of Britain. Those figures show that our defence outgoings in foreign exchange expenditure are only a small portion of what we receive from investments made in that part of the world. This fact should be borne in mind before we too readily pull out.
Would it not be wise for us to take over the leadership in defence exercises with ex-Commonwealth nations? They look to us to do this, and they would follow us. If we do not take over the leadership in terms of training, exercising and equipping them, no one else will. In this way we can build up their defence capabilities until they can take some strain on their own shoulders.
Our accusation is that the Defence White Paper has been fudged and the figures have been arranged. The percentage of gross national product is about 302 the same as it was in our last year, but there is one thing that has not been noticed; whereas we were paying for our aircraft as we went along—research and development, and progress payments before delivery—all those payments have been shifted to the right, and have been pushed off until the period between 1970 and 1977, generally speaking, which means that the Government are storing up wrath for themselves or their successors in the period from 1970 onwards. That is another reason why we say that these figures are fudged.
There have been deceptions and excuses. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues are determined to bring more and more of our defence forces home, with the saddest repercussions. They will do this, as they have in Aden, regardless of the wishes of the local people. Once they are home we feel pretty certain—as was confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday—that the Government will cut the overall strength of our defence forces. Is this right? Do the right hon. Gentleman and his Cabinet colleagues believe that the world is a much safer place today? Does not he remember that British forces have been involved in no less than 40 different types of action—some major and others minor—since the end of the Second World War?
This is the peace that we have succeeded in restoring as a result of prompt action, in parts of the world where our vital interests or those of our allies are threatened. The right hon. Gentleman may be able to economise temporarily, but in the long run, if he continues this policy the nation will find him guilty. That is why we shall go into the Lobbies against the White Paper tonight.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The hon. Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing) had one special virtue in his speech; he praised his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). He regarded his right hon. Friend's speech as excellent. He need not have emphasised his view of his right hon. Friend's speech: his right hon. Friend always makes good speeches. That is not the problem. The problem lies in his right hon. Friend's curious ideas—his idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. His views are very odd. I suspect—it is no more than a suspicion—that his 303 Opposition Front Bench colleagues find his views rather peculiar, to say the least. He has caused a bit of trouble on that side of the House—but we also have our troubles. For several days reports have appeared in reputable newspapers—The Times, for example, which is read only by the top people, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express—and also in the less reputable newspapers, about an impending revolt on the Government benches.
That is nothing new. Acute controversy and high tension on the subject of defence and foreign affairs has existed in the Labour movement ever since I can remember—and that goes a long way back. I can recall when, at about the turn of the century, I was blossoming forth into political life, being engaged in propaganda on street corners and in the market places—propaganda which helped to bring quite a number of my colleagues into the House.
I recall the controversy between the Independent Labour Party—of which I was a member—and the Social Democratic Federation. The Federation believed in a citizen army. When the First World War broke out, as no doubt many of my colleagues have read in the history books—if they have not, I can supply them with one of mine—the Independent Labour Party was essentially pacifist while the official Labour Party believed that the war was a just one.
This controversy is nothing new. There is every reason why those of my colleagues who hold pronounced views on the subject of defence costs should express their views and should use their powers accordingly. Nobody on this side of the House —not even my colleagues on the Front Bench—wants to incur excessive defence costs if they can be avoided. There is no difference of opinion on these benches about the need to reduce defence costs. There are certain reservations, however, which must be explained, and I shall have something to say about them.
First, I want to refer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Hendon, North, in supporting his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, namely, that over a period of years while successive Tory Governments were in office there was a downward trend in 304 defence costs. Several of my colleagues did not agree with that view, but I happen to know better.
§ Mr. Dickens
The assertion was made by the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing) that there had been a continuous, year-by-year reduction in the proportion of the gross national product taken up on defence spending. I have here a statement made by the Minister of Defence in response to a Question by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) which shows that there was a fall between 1956 and 1959; an increase from 6.8 per cent. to 6.9 per cent. in 1959–60; thereafter stagnation for three years, and then a decline. There was not a year-by-year reduction.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If I may be permitted to interrupt my hon. Friend—why should he make such heavy weather of this? The facts are that in certain years, because of readjustments in manpower, costs were reduced. My hon. Friend must know that when I was Secretary of State for War and then Minister of Defence the number of men in the forces was far in excess of the present figure. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), who was Secretary of State for some time in the Attlee Government, also knows this. We had National Service, and all the consequences associated with it—vast numbers of Regular troops having to undertake the training of the National Service men. The costs were immense. Gradually, under pressure from us, successive Conservative Governments reduced the number of men in the forces. They never would have thought of it if it had not been for us.
I see that the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) is here. He was the best goalkeeper that the Conservative Government had. We could not get past him. He held on to manpower with all the strength in his possession.
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has his facts a little wrong. I was the Minister of Defence who ended National Service.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Of course—and my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself pushed him into it. I recall the speeches which we made from the Opposition benches. It is within the recollection of 305 many hon. Members opposite that we forced him to terminate National Service. He now makes a virtue of necessity.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I must get on with the subject. I am making a speech about defence. To be quite plain with my hon. Friends on all sides of the House—and some hon. Gentlemen opposite are friends of mine, at any rate temporarily —I want to speak about defence, and not everybody has been speaking in this debate about defence. Anybody can pick holes in any Government White Paper. I have been doing that for years. There is nothing new about it.
But when we consider defence, let us be realistic about it. First of all, decisions are made through commitments entered into by the Foreign Secretary. Sometimes commitments are entered into without the knowledge of back bench Members—more often than not. Sometimes hon. Members discover that commitments have been entered into, and Questions are asked in the House. When they are asked we receive very unsatisfactory and evasive answers. All that is well known. Let us not go on deceiving ourselves like a lot of young children. That is no good any longer.
These commitments exist and they have to be met. In other words, if hon. Members do not want any defence, there should be no commitments. A significant feature of the debate is that not a single hon. Member so far has made the demand that we should abandon our defence—not even my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), who is not present at the moment. All he did was to refer to the excessive cost of the Polaris submarines, and I do not entirety disagree with him about that. But every right hon. and hon. Member who has spoken on either side of the House has agreed that there must be some measure of defence. Let us make that our jumping off point. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) is directing my attention to the Amendment, but not even in the Amendment is there a demand that we should abandon our defence entirely. What is being asked in the Amendment is that we should reduce the cost. My point has been accepted. Nobody demands that we should abandon all 306 defence and have no defence at all. That was the kind of demand that we used to make in the past. We do not make it now.
The question, therefore, is—how much defence? I say, in parenthesis, if we are to have defence, we must consider whether it should be adequate or inadequate. We must not let our forces down. If we are to have defence it must be adequate and effective, otherwise our men will suffer, and we cannot have that.
The question, therefore, is not whether we shall have any defence but how much can we afford and how should we adjust it and use it in the interests of our security. That is the problem, and successive Governments over and over again have tried to deal with that baffling problem. Why do I say that? It is unusual for me to bring with me a mass of documents—I do not understand them anyway, I will put them back again. I have been doing a little study—what is called, in the new jargon "study in depth". What did I discover? What have we been asking over and over again in our Defence White Papers for several years? I challenge contradiction on this point. We have said that we cannot have a conventional war of any value in Europe in the hope that we can end with victory. Such a concept is completely ruled out. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence argued eloquently yesterday—he cannot deny it, for it is all on the record—that our only hope in Europe if a conflict occurred would be to use nuclear weapons. But in the Defence White Paper of 1957, that is precisely what the right hon. Member for Streatham said. He said that there was no hope of achieving victory by conventional means in Europe if there was an act of aggression. Does he now agree with that?
§ Mr. Sandys
I well remember that those words, which are very similar to words in the present White Paper and in the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence, were violently criticised by the Labour Opposition.
§ Mr. Shinwell
That is not the point. The right hon. Gentleman must not try evasion with me. I am not as innocent as all that. He must admit that he is as guilty as anybody—and I mean that in no offensive way. He had discovered 307 something. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has discovered it, too. We have all discovered it. It is that there is no use attempting conventional war in Europe, because it will not succeed. If we are attacked, then after a period of 24 hours or 48 hours, or maybe some other period, we must rely on nuclear weapons.
What does that mean? It means that we shall be wiped out. What a pleasant prospect! We do not like the thought of being wiped out. We therefore have to try to prevent wars from occurring, and that is being done, in a half-hearted way. I think that more could be done and should be done. I am not too happy about the United Nations Organisation, which I think should be more effective than it is. But it cannot be effective if member nations are not ready to encourage and support it. I will not now discuss that.
Let us look at the position in Europe. I have a suspicion that some of the speeches yesterday in support of retaining our forces in Europe were associated with entry into the Common Market. I heard the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth). I am sorry that he is not present. No doubt he did not know that I would be called to speak today. Indeed, one does not know oneself. He began his speech by saying that it was on the subject of defence and then he said that what we had to do was to enter Europe. He said that in one paragraph. Some people have the idea that we can solve all our problems simply by entering Europe. Having made that statement, in one paragraph, with no argument in support of it, and no attempt to sustain the argument, he proceeded to talk about aircraft. He knew something about that. He is an expert on that subject.
The same comment applies to other hon. Members. Even my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary tried it on this afternoon. He stated the case for retaining forces in Europe, so it is clear that the question of entering the Common Market arises, which shows conclusively how closely defence enters into this subject. I will put a question to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) to which I should like an answer. I hope that he will not leave 308 until he has answered it. I put it to the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), one of the most intelligent Members of the House, I put it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I put it to anybody else who cares to enter the lists.
Every one of the countries in the Six —someone will think that it is the whole of Europe but it is not; that is the way they talk, but never mind that—every one of the countries of the Six has conscription. The question I put is, if we are to enter the Common Market can we escape conscription? I put that to the Liberal Party who are against conscription. Can we escape conscription? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Oh no, we cannot. We cannot enter the Common Market and associate ourselves with the countries of the Six without accepting precisely the military technique which they believe to be inviolable and essential for their security.
§ Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)
My right hon. Friend will not have to wait long for an answer, because I have a Question to that effect on the Order Paper for tomorrow.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Whether my hon. Friend will get a satisfactory Answer is a different matter. I have given my view about Europe. I have never made the suggestion that we should take the whole of our troops out—not at all. Time and again I have asked my right hon. Friends to reduce the forces there, not only because of the exchange costs but because from a military point of view we do not require the number of forces we have there.
By the way, I think my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said yesterday that we had committed ourselves several years ago to four divisions. It is perfectly true that it was a commitment which was entered into by Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Avon, who was then Sir Anthony Eden, but there are not four divisions there now in spite of the commitment. I remember the Lisbon Conference which was attended by Sir Anthony Eden, as he then was. I remember from the Opposition benches combating the proposition. I asked what they were demanding at Lisbon and what did they agree. It was that we must have 60 to 70 divisions in 309 Europe. Nothing of the kind occurred. Now we have 50,000, as I pointed out in a speech at the Labour Party conference which lasted for only three or four minutes. We have 50,000 troops, 33,000 children, 19,000 wives and 36,000 German civilians. It is incredible and it is not needed. This is one of the reasons for higher costs through amenities and increased pay. I agree about that, but we could easily reduce the manpower without detriment to the security of this country. I ask my right hon. Friend to give that aspect of the subject his attention. Some men may want to leave the forces: let them go, so long as we retain a balanced force. In my view, a token force of 20,000 would be as much as we want.
I add this and I am vehement because I have been asking this for years—can we be told in this House, the place where it should be stated, how many troops are provided by the Dutch, and how many by the Belgians? I will leave Luxembourg out. How many are provided by France to N.A.T.O.? I think of the controversies I had on that subject in the past when I had to meet Pleven when he was Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. Jules Moch and Rene Mayer on this subject, and they presented 15 divisions to me—on paper, but they never left the paper. There was no such thing. Now they have left N.A.T.O. They were never really in it. We shall be told that the Germans are now providing 10 divisions.
§ Mr. Shinwell
My right hon. Friend says it is 12. They are a masquerade, meaning nothing at all. For us to bear the burden—
§ Mr. Shinwell
Wait a minute. No, not you.
I have the White Paper for which the right hon. Member for Streatham said he was responsible. I can quote White Papers of recent years to show that we are being overburdened and that our contribution is out of proportion compared with what is provided by the others, apart of course from the United States contribution.
310 I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence and to the Foreign Secretary—as he is absent he might be told about my view and asked to read tomorrow morning what I am saying—what has this to do with exchange costs? It has to do with the military situation. I know that some people in this House despise the views of General Montgomery, but he does know something about military affairs, more than anyone in this House, and he has said—I agree with him—that 20,000 troops would be enough over there.
I turn to east of Suez. What concerns me is not the defence of Singapore for, after all, Singapore one of these days will be Chinese; it has gone Chinese already. Am I not right? It will go completely Chinese one day and it would be untenable from our point of view. What I am concerned about is Australia and New Zealand, and Malaysia to some extent. We have a commitment to Malaysia. Perhaps we were mistaken in entering on the commitment to Malaysia. I agree with every word that has been said in praise of our troops and what they did there. What a lot of jungle fighting it meant in Borneo and other places. I am concerned, not with Malaysia or Singapore, but with Australia and New Zealand.
Some years ago, when I was a member of the Attlee Cabinet, we were informed about a pact entered into by the United States, Australia and New Zealand known as the Anzus Pact, to provide security in that part of the globe. I thought we should be included because of our interest in that part of the world. For various reasons we were excluded. Would this mean vast forces? I do not think so. Would it mean another aircraft carrier or anything of that sort? In association with the United States, Australia and New Zealand we could fulfil a commitment to our kith and kin in those Commonwealth countries. I do not think we should throw that overboard as easily as some of my hon. Friends imagine.
I want to see a reorientation of defence strategy along those lines, in the European theatre as I have said; in the east of Suez theatre as I have suggested briefly and it could be argued at great length. I conclude with this comment to my right hon. Friend. I noticed that yesterday after 311 his speech some of my hon. Friends praised him. What occurred to me was that:It is all very well to dissemble your love, but why did you kick me downstairs?I am going to praise him. I think he has done a good job particularly in trying to integrate the forces. It is not complete and much has yet to be done, but he is doing a good job.
I say this about the Government. I am worried about the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are worried about you."] They are not worried about me. They know that I shall always express my opinion, but I shall not be so foolish as to vote against them and I never was an abstainer. I say what I please. I am worried about unemployment and the effect of the Selective Employment Tax. I am worried about these matters. Bits of news come to my ears and I am worried. I think it is about time the Government pulled up their socks and began to realise that they have to be a little more conciliatory on some items of public policy which are worrying many of our friends in the country. I shall not put it higher than that. I think I understand the situation and the temper of our friends in the country and I advise the Government to be careful—just be careful.
On this question of defence I think we should be reasonable. We want to reduce costs and I have indicated how that can be done. It will take a little time but eventually it will have to be done. But for heaven's sake do not throw the whole of defence overboard yet. One day the nations of the world will come together and decide that there will be no more war. Until that time comes let us be realistic.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
I would like to say a few words about the present situation and the future outlook in the Arabian Peninsula. The Government are pursuing a calamitous policy in that area. Their decision to evacuate Aden has produced precisely the results which we foretold when the announcement was made a year ago. They destroyed at one stroke the prospect of peace in the Yemen. The Egyptian attempt to consolidate the revolution, engineered from Cairo, had totally failed. It had become evident that the 312 rebel régime was entirely dependent on the support of Egyptian troops. These had become increasingly unpopular, and outside the three main towns they had virtually lost control of the country. As a result, Nasser was on the point of pulling out and ending a cruel and costly adventure which had brought nothing but misery to the people of the Yemen.
But, with the announcement of the British withdrawl, all this was changed Nasser was able to claim the credit for pushing the British into the sea, and overnight defeat was turned into victory. He cancelled his decision to evacuate the Yemen and declared his intention to stay on until the British left.
From that moment—my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) referred to it yesterday—terrorism in Aden was stepped up, and the rate of casualties was doubled. Those who took this decision bear a heavy repsonsibility for this. As the British Government have themselves recognised, these acts of indiscriminate murder are being organised and financed from Cairo. This has been admitted from the Government Dispatch Box.
Nasser's objective is quite clear. It is to create conditions of violence and disturbance in Aden, in the hope that, after independence, law and order will break down and an excuse will be provided for Egyptian forces to come in and set up a stooge régime, as they did in the Yemen. Once Nasser has gained control of Aden, there is nothing to stop his forces from moving along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula and up the Persian Gulf, mopping up one British-protected State after another. In next to no time, our garrison at Bahrein, which the Government are foolishly enlarging, would find its position untenable.
The other day the Foreign Secretary denied that our departure from Aden would leave a power vacuum in that area. I really do not know how he can possibly deny that; for that is precisely what it will do. The right hon. Gentleman knows this quite well. Anxiety has been expressed to him from all quarters. The Governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Ethiopia, Israel and the United States are among those who have shown their concern about the consequences of the British Government's decision. 313 We on these benches have over and over again pointed out the irresponsibility and perfidy of the Government's policy. I say "perfidy", because the Government are unashamedly breaking faith.—[HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] Of course they are. There are solemn treaties which they cannot wriggle out of—solemn treaties, not only between the British Government and the Federation, but also with each of the States separately, under which we have pledged ourselves to protect their territory against attack. The treaties provide that they cannot be altered except by mutual consent.
The Foreign Secretary today implied that our obligation to protect South Arabia ends with independence. That is not true. I do not know how he can say that, and I hope that the Secretary of State for Defence, when he winds up, will show us which clause in the treaty supports this contention. Which clause in the treaty supports the contention that our obligations for the protection of this area end with independence? There is no mention of independence in the treaty.
§ Mr. George Brown
The right hon. Gentleman is flinging charges around rather wildly that could do a lot of harm. Which paragraph in the White Paper, for which he was largely responsible, commits us to now doing what he is saying we should do?
§ Mr. Sandys
There are two points. I have not got the White Paper here with me, but if anybody has it I should be glad if they would hand it to me.
§ Mr. Sandys
Please let me finish. I know it pretty well, because I wrote it myself.
There are two documents. One is the treaty. The other is the White Paper. Let me deal first with the treaty. The treaty, as I said, provides that we will protect South Arabia and that it shall not be amended except by mutual consent. That is perfectly clear. The Government are trying to make out that, because of independence, the treaty becomes null and void. There is nothing in the treaty—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree with this—which says that these treaties end on independ- 314 ence. There is no reference to independence.
I come now to the right hon. Gentleman's other point, which is the 1964 Conference. I have made my point on this over and over again and it is perfectly clear in the Report. The whole of the request from South Arabia is contained in one single sentence. It was devised and insisted upon by them for that very reason. They requested that we should give them independence not later than 1968 and conclude a defence agreement for the continued protection of South Arabia. They made it perfectly clear all along that, much as they wanted independence, they would sooner not have it if it involved the withdrawal of our protection, since, in their view, independence without the means of preserving it would be nothing but a farce.
§ Mr. Healey
I am trying to clear up a point on which the right hon. Gentleman has confused me. If, in fact, the treaties which existed before independence remain legally binding after independence, as the right hon. Gentleman claims, why was it necessary for the federal delegates to insist upon a new defence agreement being drafted to cover the period after independence?
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that there is a little confusion in the right hon. Gentleman's mind. What they said was that, if we considered that independence would abrogate the previous treaties, they would sooner not have independence.
§ Mr. Sandys
That is a clear statement. They said that they had a firm undertaking from us that we would protect them. In addition they said that they would like independence. Everybody recognised that the treaty would have to be greatly modified on independence. Whether it is called a modification or a new treaty is neither here nor there. Everybody recognised that there would have to be a new piece of paper signed to continue protection after independence.
But the point is that they made it quite clear that their request for independence was coupled with a request for continued protection and that, if we were not prepared to give them a defence agreement or, alternatively, to amend the existing defence agreements so as to make them 315 compatible with independence, they would sooner not have independence because they regarded independence without the means of preserving it—independence which might last only a few days or a few weeks—as less advantageous to them than the continuation of the existing position.
§ Mr. George Brown
That may well be so, but it is extremely important to get the matter cleared up. Flinging charges about between ourselves about lack of faith does not so much damage a party as damage Britain's image in that part of the world.
All that Parliament knows about this, not what is in the right hon. Gentleman's head or in his memory, is what appeared in the Conference Report White Paper, Cmnd. 2414. In paragraph 38 of that White Paper, we read:The delegates asked that Britain should agree to independence for the Federation, while continuing thereafter to assist in its defence. They requested that as soon as practicable the British Government should convene a conference for the purposes of fixing a date for independence not later than 1968, and of concluding a Defence Agreement under which Britain would retain her military base in Aden for the defence of the Federation and the fulfilment of her world-wide responsibilities. The Secretary of State announced the agreement of the British Government to this request".The request was for a conference.
§ Mr. George Brown
The request was for a conference. All the records show that that was what the Secretary of State agreed to. The conference was never convened. The purpose of a conference is to discuss the circumstances or context in which one will do something. That is all that the Secretary of State pledged Britain's word to, and it never happened.
§ Mr. George Brown
I am not wriggling out. It is what the right hon. Gentleman said. He was Secretary of State, and we know what he had in mind.
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman cannot wriggle out on that. It is no good saying that he knows what the Secretary of State had in mind. I was the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Sandys
No, that is not the point. The right hon. Gentleman has read out what appears on that piece of paper, and it shows perfectly clearly that they requested independence—
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with it like that. They requested independence not later than 1968 and, whatever the words are—I have not got the White Paper in front of me—the continuation of British protection. They did not request a conference.
§ Mr. George Brown
Yes, they did. That is what the right hon. Gentleman agreed to. I pass the White Paper to him. Let him read it himself. All he agreed to was the conference.
§ Mr. Sandys
All right. There were two requests. They requested independence, with Britaincontinuing thereafter to assist in its defenceand they requested a conference to fix the date of independence.
§ Mr. Sandys
No. This is a very serious matter. It is a question of the good faith of Britain in this matter.
It is perfectly clear that the conference to fix the date for independence and to conclude a defence agreement, was all part of the same proposal. But even supposing one read it the other way, can it be imagined that we could get out of the commitment by saying that we were unable to convene a conference? Let us be clear about this, too, if the Government wish to take their stand on a niggling point. What was the purpose of the conference? The delegatesrequested that as soon as practicable the British Government should convene a conference for the purpose of fixing a date for 317 independence not later than 1968, and of concluding a Defence Agreement …How can the Government say, "We cannot have a defence agreement because we could not convene a conference, but we can ourselves arbitrarily fix a date for independence"? How can they fix a date for independence without the conference?
§ Mr. George Brown
If the right hon. Gentleman had agreed—let us remember the charges of breach of faith—to independence and a continuing defence arrangement, what was the conference to be about? I put it to him that the reason he agreed to call a conference, or agreed to the request for a conference, was that he had never at that point had authority from his colleagues to agree to defence going on after independence.
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman had better leave the previous Conservative Government to be responsible for their own decisions and not try to argue that I committed my Government to something for which I had no authority. The question is very simple. If the present Government want to take their stand on what I call this niggling point, they must answer it. Apparently, they say, "We cannot have a defence agreement because we were not able to convene a conference, and we are therefore absolved from the commitment to have a defence agreement". That is the argument. It was the argument put forward by the Foreign Secretary a moment ago.
I therefore put the question to them: why pick out one half of that sentence? The conference was to do two things—to fix a date for independence and to conclude a defence agreement. The Federation made it clear that they would prefer not to have independence if it was to be a complete farce, if it would disappear overnight owing to the absence of any proper protection.
It is, therefore, a complete breach of faith to pick out one half of the undertaking without implementing the other half of the bargain, and to say, "We will not give you a defence agreement, but we will force independence upon you". I hope that the Secretary of State for Defence will pursue this matter a little further tonight. It is not my wish to throw charges about, but these charges are being thrown about and have been 318 thrown about now for a year in the Middle East. I believe that there is solid foundation for them.
§ Mr. Healey
May I intervene on this matter again now, as I have so many things to deal with later tonight? The request referred to in the White Paper, which the right hon. Gentleman published, was a request to call a conference for certain purposes. Among the purposes were independence, the possible provision of a base, and a defence agreement to cover our presence in the base.
I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman can possibly claim that a commitment on the part of the British Government to convene such a conference is a commitment, for example, to retain a base whether we wanted it or not. The base is just as much one of the items on the agenda as anything else, and the Government have always made clear—it has never been contested—that we were free on this matter as on either of the others to take our decision in the light of the facts.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have not said that we should retain the base if by base the right hon. Gentleman means a very large garrison.
§ Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. is it not about time that this—shall I call it—argument between two right hon. Gentlemen came to an end? I do not want to speak, but there are other back benchers who wish to do so. Will the right on. Gentleman get ahead with what he has to say and let us have time for other hon. Members to take part in the debate?
§ Mr. Sandys
I did say that I would confine myself to little more than 10 minutes, but this argument has arisen. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] This is a very important point, one of the most important points in the whole debate.
The Government deny that they are leaving the Federation defenceless. Only yesterday, the Secretary of State for Defence said—the Foreign Secretary repeated it again today—that the Federal Government were receiving £5½ million towards the capital cost of expanding their armed forces, including the provision of an air force component. What sort of defence is that? We are discussing 319 all these enormous figures in the White Paper. What sort of defence can the Federation obtain for all three Services for £5½ million? I believe that the air component consists of only a few trainer planes. I quite understand the problem. It would be ridiculous to suggest that in one year, even if money were no object, we could put the Federation in a position to defend itself against Egypt, which has over 60,000 troops in the Yemen and a modern Russian-built jet air force.
Nobody questions the desirability of reducing our military expenditure in Aden. When the Federal Government take over responsibility for internal security a big reduction in the number of British troops will at once become possible. To avert the dangers to which I have referred, what is needed is not a great base, but the conclusion of a temporary defence agreement, and the continued presence of a small element of the Royal Air Force to demonstrate to Nasser that we really mean business. It need not be an open-ended commitment. It could be stipulated that the agreement would lapse when the Egyptian forces are withdrawn from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Federal Government have already said that to the Government.
In the meantime, I believe that it is essential to transfer responsibility for law and order to the Federal Government as soon as possible. It is no good transferring those problems to them on the very eve of independence, nor is it fair to bequeath them a situation which has been allowed to get completely out of hand. Internal security is deteriorating rapidly all the time. Only yesterday we heard that rival groups of terrorists are beginning to fight one another. There will be civil war there soon. The British authorities are giving the impression of weakness and indecision, but it is not their fault. They are being closely controlled by the Government in Whitehall.
The other day the security forces arrested one of the ring-leaders of the terrorist organisation, Mohammed Bassendwa, who had boasted over the Taiz Radio that he had sent a bomb in a parcel to Mr. Thorne, the Assistant High Commissioner, which had blown off several of his fingers. But he was not kept very long in detention. After a few days, he 320 was released on orders from London. That kind of thing dispirits the security forces, who are risking their lives every day. It boosts the morale of the terrorists and undermines the resistance to intimidation of law-abiding citizens.
Speaking in Glamorgan last Saturday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in a moment of frankness:We cannot clear out of Aden and leave the situation in a mess.But that is exactly what the Government are in the process of doing. Both internally and externally they are pursuing a policy which will bring disaster to Aden, disaster to the Federation and disaster to the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
It will save us very little money, and if we have to mount a rescue operation, which is not improbable, it could cost us a great deal more, not to mention the fact that Britain's name has been blackened throughout the Arab world, where broken promises are not easily forgiven.
The Government's only solution seems to be to dump the whole problem on the plate of the United Nations. The visit of a United Nations mission will solve nothing; it will merely be a focus for more disorder. One of the leading terrorist organisations has already announced that it will organise strikes and demonstrations when the mission arrives.
However one looks at it, the Government's policy in South Arabia makes no sense. Even at this late stage, they should think again and draw back from the path of folly and betrayal.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his arguments, for I did not come prepared for what is really a foreign affairs debate. I do not deny that some aspects of foreign affairs should be involved in the debate, but strictly speaking they are not relevant to the speeches made from the Government Front Bench, particularly by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. If he deals with that subject in his reply tonight I hope that he will do so only in passing; it is more for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
Having listened to defence debates since 1935, when Mr. Ramsay MacDonald 321 issued the first Defence White Paper, I have observed a certain pattern in all defence debates and maintain that if we are to consider strategic matters we should preface our defence debates with a foreign affairs debate. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for sketching today—it was only a sketch—a background against which we could discuss the possibilities of defence and reducing its cost. He told us something of the commitments and also made what I thought was a very pregnant remark that seemed to suggest that some aspects of the strategic picture might result in the achievement of some of the things sought by my hon. Friends who put down an Amendment.
My right hon. Friend said that so long as we were able not to disturb the balance of power we might maintain defence with smaller forces. If I understood him aright, he was trying to say that if it is possible to get a détente between East and West it might be possible to reduce our forces in B.A.O.R., reduce the cost of defence and at the same time maintain a pose of realistic defence.
Memories are short, especially in the House, which is only natural, for we are constantly being refreshed with new and younger Members. I hope that they will permit me to make one or two remarks about how N.A.T.O., which was the progenitor of European defence, was brought about. The enemy was specified, and every hon. Member who has been connected with military affairs knows that it is most important to define one's objective. That means that one must define one's enemy. The enemy at that time was undoubtedly Russia, with her satellites, and N.A.T.O. was set up to prevent what everybody in those days thought would be aggression from the East and a further spread of Communist territory like the take-over of Czechoslovakia, by military means.
Indeed, I believe that it was in 1948 that Russia showed her hand, when she attempted to starve out Berlin. It was only by the introduction of air forces from outside Europe that her effort was defeated. I mention this as a possible illustration of part of what my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary has set out in the White Paper—how defence may be conducted from a distance, as it were, 322 through remote control and not necessarily through the imposition of large ground forces on the spot.
Before the war, Defence White Papers were pulled to pieces by a right hon. Gentleman whom the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) knew very well. How did the late right hon. Member for Woodford do it? He did not lose a lot of time discussing whether one form of aircraft was effective or not. He discussed the strategic picture and went on to show, most powerfully, that we were not prepared to meet the dangers which confronted us.
My criticism of the Defence Secretary today is that he spent too long in his speech on weapons and matters like that, which appeal to only a very few Members who are technically qualified and are, therefore, capable of dealing with these points. It is in the nature of a camouflage of what we really are discussing and has led to some of my hon. Friends putting down Amendments which really do not attack the main point. I am not here referring to the first Amendment on the Order Paper, standing in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and others of my hon. Friends, for he himself dealt with that last night.
The second Amendment, standing in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) and others of my hon. Friends, merely lists like a shopping list various things that they think will achieve what they want—which is, they claim, to reduce the cost of defence to £1,750 million from the £2,000 million which my right hon. Friend has placed as his target at 1964 prices. Both of these Amendments are wrong, but so is my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend. I do not want to divert him from what is obviously a planned line in his speech, but I hope that he has not forgotten the third Amendment on the Order Paper, which does exactly what he thinks should be done. It challenges the defence policy in relation to foreign policy and not the other way round.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) and if I had to vote tonight on any of these 323 Amendments, the third Amendment, which stands in his name and the names of several other of my hon. Friends, is the one that I would choose because it deals with the strategic picture, although, of course, it does not go into details on how that picture is to be drawn. If we are to discuss defence, we must be realistic.
I am bound to say to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that I can compliment him on his speech yesterday only in one respect. It was a first-class debating speech which might have been made at a university debate. He attempted to demolish the whole of the White Paper by figures which bore no real relation to defence. What does it matter if the Conservative Government were able to reduce defence costs by a decimal fraction year after year or that my right hon. Friend can boast, as he does in the White Paper, that he has been able to reduce the costs by a decimal fraction?
My main point was enunciated by Clausewitz—defence policy follows foreign policy and when diplomatic means fail defence comes into its own and war takes over. That was the thinking of that clever man and it is as true today as it was then. That is why I asked that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary should come into this picture before my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary.
N.A.T.O. is in the course of disintegration. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) referred to the opting out of N.A.T.O. by France. Why do we mislead ourselves in talking about our own duties? N.A.T.O. included a number of countries. Throughout the Algerian trouble, France removed her troops physically from the N.A.T.O. area. Indeed, there is provision in the N.A.T.O. Treaty for a nation to remove troops in order to deal with a matter affecting her own security. Today, we have listened to the right hon. Member for Streatham talking about obligations under the Aden Treaty. The N.A.T.O. Treaty was just as sacrosanct as the Aden Treaty, about which, I must confess, I do not know a lot.
Now France has opted out of N.A.T.O. and where are we now? She has with- 324 drawn her troops from the integrated command of SACEUR, which is tantamount to saying that she will suit herself when trouble arises and will dispose her forces as she thinks fit. In other words, France has completely broken the essential part of the N.A.T.O. Treaty.
But, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington has truly said, N.A.T.O. has never lived up to the target of 60 divisions, reached at the time of the Lisbon Conference. Britain has never lived up to the undertakings she gave even at the time of the Paris Treaty. What, therefore, does it all boil down to? It is true that we have been able to maintain peace. We have done so partly because of our deterrent force, partly by a bit of luck, and partly, perhaps, because Russia never really intended to do what we thought she might do, certainly not after the Berlin crisis—that is, physically to try and occupy the rest of Europe, although we knew very well that, if she had wanted to, she could have swept through Europe, including B.A.O.R. and the Americans, and got to the coast in no time.
The main point now is whether we are not perhaps over-insured with the forces that we have in B.A.O.R. Are we not paying too heavy a premium, as some of my hon. Friends seem to suggest, by keeping these large forces there despite the fact that, militarily, they are not really necessary? We know how France has dealt with the matter. To all intents and purposes she has torn up the treaty.
But the matter is not so simple as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington suggested yesterday, in an intervention. When my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary said that 7,000 nuclear weapons were in Germany, ready to be used and would be used from the word "go", my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington suggested that we should take all our forces out of Germany. I believe that to do this, for whatever reason, would be next to madness.
I advocate a reduction in our forces in Germany, but not on the same grounds as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, issuing an ultimatum to Germany that if she does not pay in cash we will remove our troops. What do we expect from a man like Mr. Strauss, who says, "Then remove them. We 325 shall not pay."? He is a blunt man with a good deal of common sense. When N.A.T.O. was started, Germany was under no obligation to pay for the forces who were stationed there to protect Germany. It was the British and Americans who insisted that Germany should have armed forces, after saying just after the war that she should never have them again. In the debates in those days, I supported the proposition, which came from a Conservative Government and which was supported by a majority of the Labour Party, that Germany should again have armed forces.
But since then, whatever my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington may say about its efficiency, Germany has created an army of 12 divisions, largely with American support. Having seen some of them, I think that they are by no means negligible forces in the defence of Europe. Why should not the Germans defend their own country? Germany would be the first to come under attack if war started. Why should she not pay for, train and organise her own defence? I add only one condition, which is that it should be as part of an integrated force under N.A.T.O. I would not agree to Germany having her own isolated defence, although that would be militarily impossible today when all the logistics and so on are arranged under SACEUR. Germany alone could not defend herself against attack from the Russians, or any of her satellites.
However—and here I divert into foreign policy for a moment—is there not some alternative to the pistol which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others are pointing at the head of Germany? For instance, what has become of the Rapacki Plan, which, hon. Members will remember, was a plan, no doubt under Russian auspices and for Russian purposes, for disengagement? I believe that that is the sort of arrangement which we are beginning to reach. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today seemed to be talking about a balance of forces, but of smaller forces. I believe that diplomacy will achieve that end, no matter how it comes about.
It may come about because Russia is now confronted with the problem with which Germany has always been confronted, that of the possibility of war on 326 two fronts if she becomes involved in war, on the Chinese-Russian front as well as on the European-Russian front. Russia has some able military men and I am sure that they have assessed all these factors. It does not matter to me whether Russia is fearful of China or not, and I do not want to discuss those problems, but it is a bit of luck for the West and we should follow it up.
If we could get smaller forces in B.A.O.R. by withdrawing some of the men now there, we would achieve three things. First, the cost in foreign exchange would be reduced, which is something which we all seem to want. Secondly, my hon. Friends who want to reduce the defence budget would be satisfied. Thirdly, we would get nearer to what we all want to achieve—peace.
It might be an uneasy peace, as we had between the wars. I remember very well that after the First World War the War Office assessment of the time—and this is why our military forces were run down so much and I suppose that the appreciation came from the Foreign Office—was that there would not be a major war for 10 years. That is how it worked out, although in the process we did not realise that living in Germany at the time was a man called Hitler who was to rise in Germany as Stalin rose in Russia.
What I have to say with all the force at my command is that there is nothing certain in military defence, neither in cost nor in numbers. I go so far as to say that my right hon. Friend's target of £2,000 million at 1964 prices could easily be upset by the much more sophisticated weapons which are now being invented. The more we rely on our 7,000 nuclear weapons in Germany, the number of which will probably be increased, certainly be increased if the Americans have any say in it, the more the cost will rise if we are to make our contribution.
There are two significant passages in the White Paper to which I want to call attention. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will explain them tonight. On page 13, it is stated:A Programme Evaluation Group has been set up to assist the Secretary of State and his senior advisers of the Ministry to assure themselves that, in any major area of policy, the right questions are being asked …Is it my right hon. Friend's military advisers who are to be assured? I have been in charge of a military Department 327 and I know how difficult it is—especially during the time when I held office and when my job was to demobilise the Army rather than to build it up—particularly for a layman to know what the right questions are. How can he get the right answers if he does not know the right questions?
This also applies to hon. Members. It is probably the reason why the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West played safe yesterday. All of his speech was documented and it consisted almost entirely of quotations from Ministers. It was no wonder that many of my hon. Friends challenged him to say what his policy would be. I sympathised with him. He could not answer the question, for it was not the right question and he could not give the right answer. No right hon. or hon. Member in opposition has the facts to which the Government have access. Apparently, my right hon. Friend will know the right questions and be able to get the right answers.
However, I have been an hon. Member for a long time and it is my view that hon. Members do not know the right questions and cannot get the right answers. Before the war, only Sir Winston Churchill knew what questions to put, and he caused a good deal of trouble when he put them. But there was no other hon. Member, certainly not in opposition, who could do so, although many had studied the subject as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has done in his time. Churchill was the only one who could prick the bubble to which the right hon. Member for Streatham referred when he was nearly court-martialled for giving the House evidence of what he knew as a Territorial officer. Hon. Members will know to what I am referring.
On page 3 of the White Paper my right hon. Friend speaks of the revision of N.A.T.O. strategy. This is a very big subject, but the White Paper says very little about it. There is only a paragraph of a very few lines. The paragraph begins:Ever since October, 1964, the British Government has argued inside N.A.T.O. that allied strategy must be designed to fit the forces which the national governments are prepared to make available".My right hon. Friend goes on to say that discussions are taking place. They 328 are not likely to conclude in the North Atlantic Council, as I see it, for some months yet. All that we are saying today must be shots in the dark. We have very few facts to go on. We can express our wishful thinking as some of my hon. Friends did. I do not say that by way of criticism; I do not blame them. They are quite right to want our swollen defence budgets reduced. All that I say is that they do not give the right reasons. How do they propose to do this? They talk about a need for a defence policy, about reducing our rôle on the Continent. What is our rôle? Let us define it first and then we can tell how many forces we need there.
I shall not be one of those who abstain from voting tonight, because although I have been a little critical of my right hon. Friend, and of his White Paper, I think that he is on the right road. He may take longer than some of us want, and he is subject to forces and pressures which many of my hon. Friends do not understand, because we are not told about them.
In conclusion, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for lifting the curtain aside for a moment today so that we can look, in conjunction with the excellent map which has been provided for many years in the White Paper, at what our rôle might be, where our forces are, and whether they can be reduced. I hope that they can, but it all depends upon events, and not even my right hon. Friends are completely in control of world events.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
When one comes to speak towards the end of a two-day debate it is perhaps inevitable that a great many of the points which one would have made, speaking earlier on the first day, have already been made by preceding speakers. Therefore, hon. Members on both sides of the House will be relieved to hear that I intend jettisoning a great deal of what I would have said, which will give more time for other Members who wish to speak.
I make no apology, however, for returning to and concentrating upon one subject which has been dealt with at length, but which I consider to be of enormous importance. It concerns an area in which I believe it is still possible for the Government to change their policy, a policy 329 which would be wrong, dangerous and misguided, and it is their policy towards Aden and towards the South Arabian Federation. The worst way of economising on overseas defence spending, and in the long run the most expensive way, is to withdraw from a position, leaving behind conditions of chaos and instability. Yet this is precisely what seems likely to happen in Aden.
Last year, the Government announced increases in military aid to the Federation. These increases, together with the buildup in the Persian Gulf, will eat away much of the theoretical saving earned from abandoning the base. Even so, do the Government really claim that this aid will enable the Federal forces to reach a standard of training and equipment by the date of independence sufficient to enable them to resist any external attack?
Are the Federal Government satisfied on this score? For our part, as has already been said, we believe that, as a matter of good faith and good sense, we must guarantee the security of South Arabia until the South Arabians are clearly able to look after themselves. The Government have refused to do this. Are they really saying that if the Federation was attacked after independence, possibly even before it became a member of the United Nations, they would allow it to be overrun without doing anything to save it?
The Government must also reckon with the possibility of subversion. This is more likely than direct invasion. The pattern of the Yemen might repeat itself. A group of revolutionaries might gain control of the town of Aden and call for Egyptian intervention. The result would be a civil war of the kind from which the Yemen is suffering. This means that there must be a political understanding before independence, to make sure that the country does not fall apart immediately afterwards.
Yet on this front no progress seems to have been made in the year which has passed since Sir Robert Hone drafted a constitution. After many delays the composition of the United Nations mission which is to help South Arabia with these problems has been announced. We do not know how it is to function or to whom it is to report. Do the United Nations accept the authority of the Federal Government? Have the British Government 330 abdicated responsibility for seeing that a political settlement is reached?
There is next the question of terrorism. Last year, 19 British people were killed and 336 were injured. The number of Arab casualties was several times as high. If the Government allow the situation to drift, as it is at the moment, attacks are likely to multiply as the different political groups manoeuvre for position. As British troops are withdrawn in the course of this year, the wives and children of those remaining will be in the greatest danger.
I understand, from the statement of the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday, that the withdrawal of Service families is time-tabled for July. What advice is being given to the many British civilians who will have to remain in Aden up to and after independence, if South Arabia's economy is not to be dislocated?
The Government have persistently refused to see any connection between what happens in South Arabia and what happens in the Yemen. The connection is surely obvious. A total of 60 per cent. of the labour force in Aden is of Yemeni origin. The Republican Government in the Yemen claims that the whole of South Arabia is part of the Yemen. Last July Egyptian bombers bombed a village within the Federation. We have warned the Government time and again that as long as an Egyptian Army of more than 50,000 is fighting a war in the Yemen the security of South Arabia must be at risk. The Government have invited the United Nations to help solve the political problems of Aden. Surely they must also get the United Nations to make a new effort to bring the horrific fighting in the Yemen to an end and obtain the withdrawal of the Egyptian Army of occupation?
The action that the Government are to take about Aden and the South Arabian Federation will indicate whether there is really any logical thinking at all in their east of Suez position. One must assume that the Government's reason for holding a position east of Suez is to try to exert a stabilising influence in the area. In other words, a military presence is considered necessary and worth while because it stabilises unstable situations. The Government have certainly not remained east of Suez in order to support the United States actively in its Far East involvements. They have repeated that 331 they do not intend to become involved in Vietnam and have said that they will not even become involved if there should be trouble in Thailand.
I entirely concede that the object of staying to stabilise unstable situations is a valid one, but the proposed withdrawal from Aden, in circumstances which would cause a major disruption in the area, without giving adequate safeguards to the South Arabian Federation and in circumstances which might compel us to return later in even greater numbers, strikes at the very basic thinking of the Government's policy east of Suez.
In their dealings with Aden and the South Arabian Federation in the immediate future, the Government still have an opportunity to show that in this area at least they are not just muddling along in their foreign policy but are trying to pursue a coherent policy. There has been no indication from what has been said that they intend to do so. However, I hope that before the debate concludes they will be able to give some satisfaction to right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House who have spoken on a matter of crucial importance to the security of the Middle East and the reputation of this country.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I wish to deal with the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friends and myself on the resolution passed at last year's Labour Party conference. However, before doing so, I should like to say a few words about the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).
I should have thought that those of us who were critical of the Government's east of Suez policy would have had his support. In his speech at the Tory Party conference two or three years ago, in his speech at the Young Conservatives' conference this year at Brighton, and in the speeches which he has been making at universities, and so on, he has pooh-poohed the Government's east of Suez policy. In this House, however, he does not say the same things as he says outside. He is supposed to be a man of undisputed character who follows his words right through. He cannot do that, because it is not the official policy of the party 332 for which he is defence spokesman. However, he should be truthful and say what his personal views are about the Government's Far East policy, which is on record and is well known.
I should like to refer to the launching of the latest Polaris submarine, last Saturday. It was not a very edifying sight to me to see the wife of the Secretary of State for Defence of this Government launching such a weapon. I hope that when she reflects on the matter she will think that she could have done rather better things. I should have much preferred seeing her opening new blocks of flats and houses in my constituency with the money which could have been saved from such a venture as this.
That brings me to the issue of Britain's nuclear policy. We in the Labour Party fought the 1964 General Election on the basis of ending the independent nuclear deterrent. We are on record on that matter. Immediately after the 1964 election, the Prime Minister railed at the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) in relation to the independent nuclear deterrent and his policy of maintaining such a deterrent. But, unfortunately, the Labour Government are maintaining independent nuclear weapons and are building and launching nuclear submarines so that they can carry that policy forward.
This is in complete contradiction of what was said by those of us who fought the election. We spent a great deal of time prior to 1964 trying to get within the Labour Party an acceptable policy on nuclear weapons and to get rid of the independent nuclear deterrent. Yet here we are in 1967 launching submarines with weaponry to be supplied by the United States which are to cost this country about £80 to £90 million each when fully equipped.
In The Times of Monday this week David Wood quoted the Prime Minister's words about getting rid of the "expensive delusion of national grandeur" of the independent deterrent. It is very sad that we should be going ahead with this policy, since we were told by the Secretary of State yesterday that there are 7,000 nuclear weapons in Western Europe at present. What part can four Polaris submarines play in this issue? This does not make sense. The Foreign 333 Secretary said today that the time when Britain fought wars independently is over. We all agree with him. Then what do we want an independent nuclear deterrent for? The British people will question this issue, because in 1964 they voted for the ending of this deterrent. It is about time that it went.
I come now to the question of Germany and support costs. I agree with much of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said. The Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday that a war in Europe was highly unlikely and that nobody thinks that it probable. We are, therefore, keeping up a façade in Germany and by maintaining the N.A.T.O. Alliance, which is long out-dated. It is a fluidity in Europe which should be exploited both in the West and in the East in order to get a genuine détente in Europe.
The Secretary of State said yesterday that if anything happened because of the nature of the weapons we should be in a nuclear situation possibly in a matter of days, if not hours. Therefore, to keep 55,000 British troops on the Rhine is an expense which this country cannot afford and which we can drastically reduce. I do not think that this has anything to do with European commitments. Whether one is for or against the Common Market, it should have nothing to do with Europe. If it has anything to do with it, it means that defence is at the bottom of the Treaty of Rome. Consequently, we should act completely independently.
I turn now to the question of South-East Asia. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) asked what those of us who oppose the policy have to offer. He said that this was a matter of foreign policy. The fact that the Foreign Secretary has spoken in the debate is an indication of how closely aligned defence and foreign policies are. They are indivisible. Therefore, those of us who tabled the Amendment say that it is not a question of getting cost-effectiveness, however important that is—it is important and I think that the present Minister has done more than anybody else in that respect—or of reducing our forces and commitments as much as possible in each area; it is a question of getting rid of the commitments. That is the basic political issue.It is the 334 commitments that must be tackled. While we maintain commitments, we will overstretch our resources in trying to provide facilities and logistic support which is not feasible and suitable in any case. In consequence, we will still run down our resources at home.
It is interesting to note that in the Defence White Paper it is impossible to find the total of our foreign exchange costs of military expenditure. The total is not available because we have to await the outcome of the discussions with the United States Government and the Federal Republic of Germany. We know, however, that the figure is over £300 million. We know that the total of our foreign exchange problem is in the region of £470 million, including all our commitments. Our military foreign exchange cost is possibly about £330 million to £350 million. That is the issue with which we are concerned.
Britain is in an economic crisis. She is in pawn to international bankers. She has to take from the United States and the International Monetary Fund a loan of £1,000 million because over the last 10 years our balance of payments has been, on average, approximately £125 million "in the red". We say that if we are to reduce that, if we want to do something about unemployment at home and about providing social services and housing, we have got to cut the defence expenditure. By "cutting" I do not meant getting cost-effectiveness, but cutting the commitments so that we can reduce the cost overall.
How long can Britain go on pretending that she can police two-thirds of the world? How many other Western nations still have the illusion that they are responsible for peace in the world, whether in the Middle East, Aden, West Germany, the Gulf or the Far East? How much longer can we have this delusion that we are so important and that we must maintain a nineteenth century attitude in the twentieth century?
Holland had overseas commitments. Belgium has cut her overseas commitments. What about France, of all countries? She was in South-East Asia, in Vietnam—Indo-China as it was then called. She was heavily defeated at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954. She was heavily committed in Algeria with, I 335 think, the largest settler population that any country had ever had. Faced with the possibilities of a Fascist coup at home, France overthrew those commitments and recognised that she has an important part to play in the world, but a part which is not military or a military world rôle.
In consequence, France has the best balance of payments of all Western nations. She does not have the strain of the foreign bankers on her back. It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) to laugh about this, but facts are facts and my hon. Friend should face them. I listened to his arguments yesterday. His defence budget would cost more than the present defence budget.
The Defence White Paper is a delusion. It goes to great lengths at the beginning to say how much we have cut off the defence expenditure. But it has gone up this year by £33 million. Since 1960, under Conservative and Labour Governments, defence expenditure has gone up by approximately £100 million a year. I have the figures with me. So we are not cutting the Defence Estimates or defence.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington has arrived, because in an entertaining and very witty speech he took some of us genuinely to task about where we stand in relation to defence cuts. I remind him of two important points. He asked why we have such concern and why we carry it to such lengths. At least, that was the inference of what he said.
I remind my right hon. Friend that at the 1965 Labour Party conference he went to the rostrum and said to my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Robert Edwards), who moved a motion on arms reduction, "Do not push at an open door. The Parliamentary Labour Party has unanimously agreed that defence expenditure should be drastically cut, more so than in the programme. You have nothing to worry about. In consequence, the Government will tackle this issue." The Government have not tackled it. The defence budget is still escalating.
That motion was published and is common knowledge. The inference of it was that to keep the defence budget at £2,000 million at 1964 prices was not 336 acceptable to the Parliamentary Labour Party, who wanted to go further and faster. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington assured that Labour Party conference that that was exactly what the Government would do. Unfortunately, we have not done it, because the defence budget went up by £135 million last year and it is another £33 million higher this year. It continues to escalate.
That is the issue which my right hon. and hon. Friends who object to the defence budget are putting to the Government year after year. The Government are trying to maintain our commitments. We have not got rid of one basic commiment since we came into office in 1964. We are to get rid of Aden in 1967–68. We were to have run down our Malta commitment, but, unfortunately, I see that there is a possibility that even this might be extended.
As the editorial in the Daily Telegraph, on Monday, said:It is, in theory, ridiculous to dispense large sums of money under the heading of defence for the sole purpose of enabling the inhabitants of distant lands to remain profitably employed during the off-tourist season.I recognise that there is a problem when one has been for many years, perhaps centuries, in these territories. Everybody says how difficult it is. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today made the case for Singapore as a Socialist democratic Government. We know how difficult it is, but we are asking for positive steps to be taken to end those commitments.
The Government are not ending those commitments. That was why we said in the Labour Party conference motion that these commitments should and must be ended by 1969–70. If people know that these commitments are then to be ended, we can start making genuine attempts to help to get their economy on a firm footing. It would be far cheaper to have the troops out and give them money than to maintain the escalation of the cost of forces, families and logistic weapons overseas continuously.
Why are we maintaining this Far East rôle? Is it because the Americans want us there? Is it because we have made definite arrangements with them? Is it because we are giving the Americans tacit support, in effect, for their war in 337 Vietnam? This is the question which we must ask.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington mentioned Australia and New Zealand as being two Commonwealth countries with whom we have close ties. I agree, but I do not think that Britain's moving from the Far East will jeopardise them. We cannot stay in these areas for the rest of our lives on the assumption that they might be attacked by A, B, or C, or come under threat. It is much better to strengthen the United Nations and to see some form of security pact. It was a great pity that the Maphilindo concept was not developed in relation to South-East Asia.
§ Mr. Christopher Rowland (Meriden)
Whatever my hon. Friend's views on this matter, would he not agree that the views of the United States, Australia and New Zealand are factors which any British Government must take into account?
§ Mr. Orme
Certainly I would but, in my view, the British Government must make up their own minds what to do with their resources and what is Britain's rôle.
Without wishing to develop the issue too far, I want to come to the central point, which is Britain's world rôle. The Defence White Paper lays the basis for Britain maintaining a world rôle for the rest of this century, if it is not basically altered. It does not go only to 1970 or 1980, but beyond. At this period in history, what right have we to decide that we have still a world rôle?
We are an important nation in terms of commerce and in terms of our opinions. However, for us to maintain a world rôle, particularly in special relationship with the United States, is outmoded. We are moving into a world where the African, Asian and South American countries are beginning to assert themselves. They are becoming independent. The neutral nations are not necessarily going into the Soviet camp, or the American camp. They are acting independently. They have their own policies, and they disagree with one another, but the basis of the whole concept is an independent outlook, and I do not believe that maintaining white forces in an area such as South-East Asia will help the situation. In fact, it may be very explosive in character.
338 We have to allow these people to decide for themselves eventually the type of Government and the type of country that they want. Sometimes they will satisfy us and sometimes they will not, but we have to face that fact, just as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will have to face the fact about the Middle East that President Nasser is there to stay, and they might as well recognise it. When right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, it could be said that they fired the first shots in Suez to set the Middle East situation off on the wrong track. It is no good arguing about the Middle East and trying to support outdated oil sheikhdoms—
§ Mr. Walters
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that King Feisal is still there, and that his presence is a factor which must be recognised?
§ Mr. Orme
He is there, but how long he will remain, we do not know. As the years go by, we will see which is the dominant factor in the Middle East.
What some of my hon. Friends and I are saying is that we have this millstone of defence expenditure round our necks. Its saving would result in our balancing our payments at home, our independence and being able to stay independent. That is the issue which is facing us. At this time in history, with unemployment running at the level it is and with the economic problems as they exist, we feel that the Government have to make drastic changes in their policy. It is because of that that many of my hon. Friends and I will abstain tonight, to show the Government and impress upon them the urgent need for change.
This morning's Gallup Poll figures show clearly that 55 per cent. of the people of the country feel that we are spending far too much on defence. Only 5 per cent. feel that we are not spending enough. In my opinion, the people will support a drastic reduction in our commitments and a rephasing of our economy to assist people in this country who need it. Let us fetch the troops home. Let us cut our commitments. Let us alter our foreign policy to suit the present situation. It is on that basis that I support the Amendments on the Order Paper.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I agree entirely with some parts of the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme). What worries me about the Government's defence policy is the increasing stress which is laid upon atomic weapons. The balance between atomic and conventional weapons is a subject about which I have often spoken before. I am always a cool supporter of atomic weapons. It would be a mistake to throw them away. However, I am a strong supporter of conventional weapons. If we are faced with an act of aggression and we are lamentably weak in conventional weapons but have atomic weapons, we can do one of two things. Either we can blow up the world, or we can capitulate. There is no other choice, and the whole course pursued by the Government makes that situation more dangerous.
Take, for example, the proposal not only to pull our troops out of Germany but to deprive them of their reserves of ammunition and stores. That is the exact opposite of what the Labour Party said between 1960 and 1964. Speech after speech was made by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister without Portfolio saying that it was wrong not to fulfil our full obligations in N.A.T.O. and that we must build up our conventional forces there to such an extent that atomic weapons would not have to be used, at any rate for a very long period. We are now putting ourselves deliberately in a position where they would have to be used at once if the Government carried out their threat.
The same thing has happened in the Far East. In the troubles which we have had in the Far East, in East Africa, in the blockade of Beira, in the Gulf and in confrontation, carriers have played a dominant rôle. Now we are to scrap them and, as a partial substitute, we shall have 50 F111s.
What could they have done in any of those situations? If we buy 50, we have to have 10 or 15 of them in an operational conversion unit in this country for training purposes. Some are bound to be destroyed or damaged in training, and it is a complex aeroplane which is difficult to maintain. At the most, we should never have more than 24 in the air at 340 the same time. What would be the good of 24 bombers dropping conventional bombs in the vast area of the Indian Ocean? How many thousand sorties a week do the Americans fly in Vietnam, and with what results?
The only point of them is that they are intended to be nuclear bombers, and the only good that would be got out of them would be a MiG a day. They are no good for anything else. There is no technical fall-out and we are being put in danger at a vast expense. I cannot believe that this could have happened had not the whole system of the organisation of defence been destroyed.
There is a very interesting book by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) which some hon. Members may have read. In it, he makes the interesting point about carriers that. by any standards, the carrier issue was an important one. It meant that we destroyed the power of the Navy for ever to operate in the open sea, and that meant that we were going nuclear in the Far East. The hon. Gentleman wrote to the Minister of Defence and said that he wanted to put that case to the meeting of Ministers which was to decide this, and the Secretary of State for Defence replied, "You can come to the meeting, but you must not speak." In other words, those who took these decisions in the Government did not know what they were deciding or why they were deciding it.
Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have condoned various acts. As the hon. Member for Salford, West said, they were pledged to abandon nuclear weapons before the 1964 election. They have condoned that. They have condoned the greater risk of the use of atomic weapons in Europe. They have condoned the risk of atomic weapons in the Far East. One thing I beg them not to condone is something which was hardly noticed, and it is a passage in the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday when he said:… there is no country on the Continent which does not believe that a prolonged conventional war would inflict damage on it quite as difficult to bear as … a strategic nuclear exchange."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 112.]Surely if there is anything that everyone is agreed upon, whatever their views on defence, it is that atomic or nuclear 341 warfare is something different in kind if not in degree from anything we have had before, particularly in the amount of suffering that would be involved. Goodness knows, this generation has suffered its horrors. We have seen the terrible destruction that was caused in the last war and the concentration camps in Russia and Germany where things were done which would make Gengis Khan turn in his grave. We have all seen or heard of such horrible things, but we have not yet seen the final horror of an atomic war. When people with computers work out that on the first strike there may be 30 million deaths on both sides, one realises that that is a great deal more difficult to bear thinking about than even a conventional war, ghastly as it is.
I hope that the hon. Gentlemen opposite, having condoned so much, will not allow the Secretary of State to get away with a sentiment of such obscene wickedness.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) will forgive me if I do not comment on the particular aspect of defence which he discussed. His speech led us a little away from the main theme of this debate which is a criticism of the attempt of the Government to maintain a world peacekeeping rôle with totally inadequate resources.
This policy of cutting our resources, of bringing troops home, while keeping our commitments, has been the theme of an attack from all quarters of the House, and the disadvantages of such a policy have been fairly well spelled out.
By withdrawing our troops and bringing them home, while we keep our commitments, we will throw an extra strain on the troops who stay overseas. It will mean increasing the risk of military challenge to them and decreasing their capacity to meet that challenge if it occurs. That policy will also mean increasing our dependence upon our allies, especially upon the United States, in Asia.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) pointed out—and he was one of many speakers from both sides of the House who pointed this out—the policy of reshuffling men from a hard currency 342 area to a soft currency area really makes no effective economies in expenditure.
The fact is plain, that if we want to make big economies in defence, it is no good shuffling men from one part of the world to another. We have to demobilise them. If we want to make big economies in defence, it is no good our trying to prolong our aircraft carrier fleet on the cheap. We have to take the necessary foreign policy decision to remove the need for any aircraft carrier fleet whether on the cheap or with the new carrier CVAO I. If we want to make big economies, it is no good our closing down a part of the Singapore base. We must leave Singapore, and then we can make the big economies.
All these big economies involve cuts in our commitments. The only real hope of a drastic reduction in our expenditure is to make these commitment cuts. Once we have made up our minds to make these commitment cuts; once, as in the terms of our Amendment, the Government have decided that by 1970 they would be clear of Singapore, Malaysia and the Persian Gulf, then substantial economies become possible immediately, working up, as our Amendment says, to a total of well over £300 million a year by 1970.
This figure has never been challenged by the Government. In my view, we have under-estimated it. According to my latest calculations, the saving on the policy which we have outlined in our Amendment would be nearer £400 million. It would also make possible—and this has never been challenged by the Government—immediate substantial cuts in those items of expenditure which will not bear fruit, in any case, for several years, and which are only needed for the east of Suez rôle in the 1970s.
I was asked yesterday by the Secretary of State for Defence to explain my point of view on troop withdrawals in Germany. I would say that our Amendment asks for a reduced rôle in Western Germany. The Amendment neither rules out unilateral withdrawal of troops nor does it demand unilateral withdrawal of troops. My view is that the position in Europe is greatly improved, and I, like my right hon. Friend and supporters of our Amendment, am looking forward to a reduced rôle for our forces in West Germany. I hope that is clear.
§ Mr. Mayhew
A reduced rôle in exactly the terms which my right hon. Friend has stated. He stated that it is no longer appropriate for us to maintain a large number of troops in West Germany. He said so plainly yesterday. He said that we should withdraw those troops, that we should negotiate with the Warsaw Pact and the N.A.T.O. Pact and make very drastic re-arrangements of our defence capacity there.
The main point of this debate has been the attack made on the Government from all quarters of the House for extending their commitments beyond their resources. On this I am sure that the official Opposition and the unofficial opposition agree. Where we part company with them is that we have an alternative policy and they do not. The Opposition have got themselves into quite an absurd position. Speaker after speaker on the Opposition Front Bench has attacked the Government for giving the troops commitments beyond their resources and Members on this side of the House have, one after another, asked them whether their solution is to cut the commitment or to have a bigger defence budget—and not one hon. Member on the Opposition Front Bench has answered.
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West was particularly disappointing. How well we remember those stirring questions that he put about east of Suez at the Conservative Party conference at Brighton. What a good place is Brighton for reviewing defence. What a falling-off to see the right hon. Gentleman bowed over the official Dispatch Box, weighed down by the white man's burden. Why does he not come clean? Why does he not stand up and say the things about a Suez rôle which he really believes?
His hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Humphrey Atkins) went much further, and said:Our criticism is that the Government are inviting us to approve their action in reducing commitments when in fact they have not reduced any at all …".Later, he said:Our complaint is that the Government have not withdrawn by agreement from any of their 344 defence commitments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 21 –2.]Surely the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West could pluck up his courage and at least keep abreast of his hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden. In the meantime, what are we to think about an Opposition in this position? I think that the best contribution I can make to the debate is to try to answer what I believe to be the two major objections raised to the policy outlined in our Amendment, the policy of the British Labour Party. The two major objections are, first, that in leaving as we suggest, we would leave behind a dangerous power vacuum in the Middle East and South East Asia, and, secondly, whether or not it is right to leave, we are proposing to leave too soon. I think I can fairly say that these are the two major objections to our policy, and I shall try to face them frankly.
No one can deny that if and when we withdraw from these places the whole pattern of power will change. The question is not whether the power pattern will change, but how it will change, and whether the resulting pattern of power will be unacceptably worse than the existing one. This is the question which we have to ask ourselves.
I concede that we cannot forecast exactly how the pieces will readjust themselves on the board when we leave. Will the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms at long last start to co-operate with each other? Will they form some kind of alliance or federation with Saudi Arabia? Will Bahrain, and Muscat and Oman seek independence, and, like Kuwait, join the United Nations? Will the United Nations play an important rôle in the security of the Persian Gulf in these circumstances? None of these possibilities can be ruled out. Not one of them would necessarily be contrary to the interests of the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms, nor contrary to the interests of this country.
But the fact that it is impossible to forecast precisely what new order would result is no objection to our stating clearly now our intention to leave the Persian Gulf. On the contrary, unless and until we state our intention to leave, no consideration at all will be given to any alternative means of security in the Persian Gulf. The States there which lean on Britain will continue to do so. 345 They will continue quarrelling with each other in their ancient, sterile, traditional way under the umbrella of our jet fighters. Nothing will happen.
It was the same in India. Until we named a date to leave India, it seemed impossible to leave, but once a date was named all the pieces on the board reshuffled themselves, and it not only became possible to leave, it became impossible to stay.
It is argued—and a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite will argue, and I want to face this frankly—that the Egyptians will move in. This is primarily an argument against the Government's decision to leave Aden, not against their critics' suggestion that two years later we should leave the Persian Gulf. It is not an argument which the Government can use against their critics. That is obvious.
Though the precise timing and methods of the Government can be criticised, I would defend the Government's decision to leave Aden. No one denies President Nasser's ambition to unify the Arab world under Egyptian leadership, but that is not the end of the story. There are a number of questions which I have to ask. First, why has President Nasser not yet mastered the Arab countries a great deal nearer home—Syria, Iraq, Jordan and the Yemen? It is not for want of trying. He has had Egyptian troops in more than one of these countries. Why has he not mastered these countries nearer Egypt? There are no British troops in them.
Secondly, how could Nasser control the Gulf without first controlling all those countries, and in addition Saudi Arabia? Thirdly, granted that many Arabs in many Arab countries accept this Nasserite concept, how far and for how long is Britain morally obliged to oppose this concept by force? And if Britain is morally obliged to oppose this concept by force, have we the resources to do so in the long run?
I do not deny that there are dangers either way. There is a danger that in disengaging we might open the way for Egyptian aggression. But there is another danger, that of getting involved, with inadequate resources, in a major war in the Middle East, a war in which we get 346 no support from other major Powers or from the United Nations. This is a road which we have walked along before, and listening to one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite I get the feeling that they are thirsting to repeat the Suez adventure. I ask them to reflect on the fact that militarily they put up a very poor show in 1956, and I ask whether they have studied the changes in the military balance of power between ourselves and Egypt in the 11 years since?
It seems obvious that our general policy in the Middle East must be not to get further in, but to disengage. This must be our policy, and the Government's decision to build up in the Persian Gulf after leaving Aden seems to me sheer lunacy, showing a total inability to understand the realities of politics in the Middle East at the present time.
The Government are in danger of making similar mistakes in South-East Asia. May I again try to face frankly the power vacuum argument against our leaving there. It is argued—and I think that this was argued by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly)—that there is a great danger of Chinese aggression, and those who argue this can point to India attacked by China, to Chinese intervention in Korea, and to her militaristic ideology. They can point to the confusion in Peking at the moment and suggest that the leaders are almost on the border-line of insanity. That can all be argued, yet if we take a calm and cool view we see that there are more reassuring factors on the other side.
There is the fact that Burma and Cambodia are totally defenceless—they have no Western troops—and yet they have not been interfered with by the Chinese Government. Indeed, it is notable that the Chinese are most militant where the Western Powers are most obtrusive. This is something that we should bear in mind.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Tibet has long been accepted as being within the boundaries of China, including by the British Government. I do not for a moment support the atrocious suppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese. I am only saying that in international law, according to the British Government among others, Tibet has always been regarded as part of China.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I cannot give way. The point is irrelevant anyway.
It is not easy to make a judgment about China's future intentions, but if one looks at Burma and Cambodia, at the limitation on the aggression against India, the withdrawal at a pre-planned stage, at her conventional order of battle which is not designed for military aggression, one sees that there are factors on the other side, and it is not necessarily naive to suppose that if the countries of South-East Asia were genuinely nonaligned, as are Burma and Cambodia, it might not be felt by the Chinese to be worth attacking them.
If that is not so, I ask those who oppose our point of view to say what size of military deterrent they would need to deter the Chinese. Let them work it out. Already there are 450,000 American troops in Vietnam. There are all those planes, all those ships, and all that determination and courage to contain not China, but the Vietcong, and, frankly, not yet succeeding in mastering the Vietcong. I ask those who oppose our policy how many more ships, more planes, and more troops, they would need to contain the Red Army of China, and where these forces are to come from? They say that we shall not be able to produce a genuine deterrent, but what could be worse than half-measures in a matter like this. Enough Western troops to create tension, enough to provoke without enough to deter, still less enough to win victory in the event of the deterrent failing—this seems to me to be getting the worst of every possible point of view.
§ Mr. Healey
I follow my hon. Friend's argument and agree with a great deal of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] Oh, yes —I said so in the debate last year. But what makes him think that the possession of one more aircraft carrier would allow us to perform the rôle, as he has defined it, of containing China?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I invite my right hon. Friend to read the book just recommended to the House by the right hon. Member for Flint, West.
There are dangers either way, as in the Middle East. There is the danger that if we do not build up some great Western 348 conventional military force in South-East Asia we may open the door to unopposed Chinese aggression; but there is also the danger, on the other side, of going in and creating tension and doubts, and perhaps even precipitating Chinese military action which might not otherwise have happened.
If I were in South-East Asia I would be inclined, weighing up the balance of danger, to think that there might be less danger in adopting the posture of Burma and Cambodia, unaligned with the West, rather than that of Thailand and South Vietnam, with their Western military alliances. I believe that this view is increasingly accepted.
My right hon. Friend says that he agrees with much of what I have said, but he says, "It is too soon. You are asking for us to leave too soon." As I explained yesterday, the Government have no right to attack us for suggesting leaving too soon; it was not we who decided on the year 1968 for leaving Aden. We suggested that by 1970 we might leave places not as directly threatened as Aden. Nevertheless, it is true that the date of 1970 was selected a year ago, and that it is now only three years instead of four years ahead. I might be speaking for a number of supporters of the Amendment when I say that if the Government had named some other date, not too far ahead, they would have gone a long way to meeting our general point of view on this issue.
But they have not named a date. They are not going to name a date. They are not even going to say plainly that they are ever going to leave. There is confusion among Ministers in their opposition to the Amendment. Some say that it is wrong to leave; some say that it is wrong to leave so soon, and some say, "We shall leave, but it is wrong to say so." We have heard all those arguments. Some Ministers have put forward all three in the same speech. We would like my right hon. Friend to sort this out.
The Government Motion hints at a policy of cuts in commitments, and the word goes round that we need not worry too much, that it will be all right; the Government are on our side. I treat this with some scepticism. We notice that the Government are going on spending as though they were going to stay there 349 for ever. They are going to have between 100 and 150 VG aircraft and 50 F111Ks. We do not need these if we are not going to be east of Suez. It is a nice calculation, and I will not venture my arm, but if we are going to reduce our commitments seriously east of Suez the number of VGs required would be so small as to make the whole project non-cost-effective.
§ Mr. Rowland
Is my hon. Friend still in favour of the establishment of a British base in Australia, as he said he was after his resignation? If so, what would it cost and what would it represent?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I have made a rough costing. I am assuming that we would still be in Hong Kong. In those circumstances, a small military presence in Australia would cost between £30 million and £40 million a year, which would give us a saving of over £300 million a year when we carry it out. My hon. Friends may not agree with me about our presence in Australia, but that is my personal view.
If the Government are serious in their hints that they propose to leave, why are they going on spending money on the F111A and on the VG, and on Phantoms for the carriers? On my basis they could at last safely phase out the carriers, and cancel the orders for naval Phantoms. If they are going to leave their bases east of Suez and have spent all this money in the meantime, it will be a waste of public money to make the TSR2 affair look like a fleabite. Let the Government make up their mind whether they will go or not. If they are going, they must start now to make provision for the consequences, economic, defence, and political.
We remember last year the very clear statement on Government policy. We remember my right hon. Friend's statement:We intend to remain and shall remain fully capable of carrying out all the commitments that we have at the present time, including those in the Far East, the Middle East, and in Africa and other parts of the world.We remember the statement of the Prime Minister in June of last year, which is very firmly on the record. After confirming what my right hon. Friend had said he went on to add:What about India? Does anyone think India wants us to leave her to become a 350 cockpit, forced to choose between Russia and America to protect her against China? … Africa? Is it really argued that we have no rôle there? If we abdicate responsibilities who will exercise that rôle? Asia? Perhaps there are some Members who would like to contract out, and leave it to the Americans and Chinese, eyeball to eyeball, to face this thing out. The world is too small for that kind of attitude today. It is the surest prescription for nuclear holocaust I could think of.Is this still the policy of the British Government? If it is not the Prime Minister should say so clearly. If it is not the policy of the British Government he should clear up the position with his allies. This would be a vital change in British policy, and he should start planning now the economic and security consequences of withdrawal from some of these places. He should not wait until the last moment.
But if this is still the policy of the Government today—the adoption of this huge, ambitious world military rôle—then the Government must stop boasting about their cuts in defence expenditure. They must go to the nation and demand from it a far bigger military budget than that which they have now got. They must give the troops the weapons they need. They must give the Navy a proper, up-to-date carrier fleet, to carry out the huge task placed upon it by the Prime Minister.
But it is clear that for this country, with its limited military and economic resources, to attempt to fulfil the rôle laid down by the Prime Minister in a world which is becoming increasingly armed, throughout the 'seventies and into the 'eighties, would be sheer lunacy. Not only is the rôle too big for our defence budget; not only is the defence budget too big, anyhow, for our economy, but the whole conception of white Western peace-keeping in Asia is an anachronism. The whole rôle is becoming strangled by obvious historical changes east of Suez.
Some supporters of the Amendment normally tramp loyally through the Lobbies with the Whips—not all the supporters, but some of them. But it is right, now and again, that we should assert ourselves. It is right that we should show that the growth of party discipline—the increased power of the Executive—has not yet made us automata. It is quite plain—the debate has confirmed it—that in this vital field of 351 defence the Government are showing a dangerous lack of principle and direction. This belief is widely held in the House, and increasingly widely held outside it. We should warn the Government tonight in the Division that although they may persist in these mistaken policies for the time being, in the long run it is the Members of this House and their electors who are the masters.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
We have had the sort of skilful, energetic speech from the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) that we could have expected. He twitted us by asking what was our defence policy, but, while asking in what way we would reduce our commitments, he did not say where he thought this country should operate.
I was most impressed when the Foreign Secretary this afternoon paid tribute to Britain for her actions in South-East Asia and remarked that they had led to great promise for the peaceful development in those areas. I believe that is so. Obviously, we cannot do everything with our limited powers, but we can do something. I was rather surprised that the hon. Member for Woolwich, East did not refer to what is known as a "fire brigade" rôle. He was in office, was he not, when we gave help to East Africa? I think that a typical example of what we can do. In those days, and I believe still, the putting out of those small wars was and is probably a vital way of avoiding escalation into a major war. [An HON. MEMBER: "In Rhodesia?") So far as I know, there is no war going on in Rhodesia at the moment.
I want to deal with another aspect of this White Paper on Defence. I do not think that by nature I am a fearful man so far as the future is concerned. I think that I am as bad as the average Briton when, seeing another country overrun or overthrown, I take the view that it cannot happen here. But there was one paragraph in the White Paper which set the alarm bells ringing in my system and the speech by the Minister of Defence did nothing to quieten them. I thought that he was much too dogmatic in his assessment of the political situation in the world and in Europe and his assessment 352 of the sort of way in which a war might develop. I should like to take those points in turn and then quote the paragraph in the White Paper which has so upset me.
First, on the general situation. Paragraph 6 refers to relaxation of tension, particularly in Europe, and the Minister of Defence referred to this in his speech. Of course, that is not the case in the Far East. The situation there is anything but relaxed. The terrible events—and they are terrible—in China make that country most unpredictable, but we recognise that Europe is still of prime importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing) sounded a note of caution.
I think that the signs there are disquieting. We sometimes think that the quarrel between China and Russia at present is driving Russia into the arms of the West. That might well happen, but I do not agree with the statement of the Minister of Defence yesterday:I find it difficult to conceive that overnight, in a flash, it could change so fundamentally as to allow Russia to contemplate a war in Europe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 111.]I believe that that is exactly what can happen with dictatorships. I think that the situation can change in a flash, as did the situation between Germany and Russia before the war. I am told that Germany is turning more and more to the East. I find that worrying. Some of the election results in that country are also worrying.
I am not in the inside confidence of N.A.T.O., but it appears to me that N.A.T.O. is slowly disintegrating. In paragraph 7 of the White Paper it is stated that none of the major Governments has made a full contribution. France has gone and the headquarters are being moved to Brussels. Britain is threatening to withdraw large numbers of her troops. I am told that the United States, during the next three or four years, might well do the same. I saw in The Guardian yesterday that Turkey and Norway, both members of N.A.T.O. and on the borders of the Iron Curtain, are dissatisfied. Now Britain is disarming. I do not think that anyone should have any doubt about that.
If we turn to page 8 of the White Paper we find that, quite apart from the 353 cuts already made, for example, the carriers to go from the Navy, there isThe first stage of the reduction in Cyprus…There is no longer a military need to retain any substantial forces in Malta … In Libya the Royal Air Force staging base at Idris has been closed down …the withdrawal of the squadron from Gibraltar … In the course of the next few months we shall withdraw the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic and the frigate on station in the area.The Aden station is to be closed. If it is suggested that when this chain of bases should be closed, or greatly reduced, that we can maintain 50,000 men in Singapore, I cannot agree.
My first point is that the political situation is not half so stable as the Minister appeared to think it was. My second point is about nuclear war. For many years the assumption has been that the West would not accept defeat in conventional war without it escalating to a nuclear war. Yesterday, the Minister took this view. In a remark which has been already quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), he referred to the damage of a prolonged conventional war and the fact that no European country would accept it. That would not be the case in a war at sea.
It is curious that the Minister barely mentioned a maritime war. He mentioned, or seemed to imply, that if the Russians by accident or design—which he said was most unlikely—threatened the land frontiers the possibility was that 7,000 nuclear weapons might be released with enormous devastation. If 200 submarines started operating on the trade routes, does he think that those 7,000 nuclear weapons would be fired? I do not think that they would. This assumption about the inevitability of nuclear war is partly due to the fact that the last two great wars ended with the demand for unconditional surrender. That was not so in earlier times. I do not believe that it is necessarily so in the future.
I agree with the assumption that nuclear war would be unleashed if there was a possibility of the defeat of the West as a whole, but the loss of a battle is not the loss of a war. The loss of one country is not a defeat of the West. In spite of what the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said—if he had been here, I should have posed a question to him—I 354 have come to the view that it is increasingly likely that a conventional war could be fought without it escalating into a nuclear war. This is particularly so of a war at sea.
I go even further. If a nuclear weapon —for instance, a nuclear depth charge—was exploded at sea, is it reasonable to think that Washington, New York, Leningrad and Moscow might be incinerated? I do not think that it is. Russia probably agrees with me. Why, if she does not agree, does she feel it necessary to have a submarine fleet of between 500 and 1,000, according to estimates which have been made? Russia is a realistic country. Russians are realistic people. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of a force of that sort knows the extraordinary industrial and naval effort which is necessary to maintain it.
If a conventional war is a possibility, I believe that it raises most serious considerations for Britain, particularly because of a statement in the Defence White Paper. For many years, all Governments, both Conservative and Socialist, have assessed our defence needs on the basis that this country would never fight a major war by itself. The Foreign Secretary repeated this this afternoon. It is logical. There is N.A.T.O. Attack on one country is attack on all. As a result, our forces, particularly our naval and anti-submarine forces, have been looked on as part of a pool. This is perfectly reasonable.
As a result, over the years large portions of our strength have melted away. Under this nuclear doctrine our reserve ships, too, have been gradually reduced in numbers, particularly A.S. ships. Again, this was perfectly logical. There is no time under the nuclear threat to bring them forward out of reserve, so there was no point in having them. There was disquiet as a result of this policy, but we were told by successive Governments that there was no need for us to have a large number of ships, that we had the allied ships in the pool, and that that was quite enough.
I admit, of course, that alliances are an integral part of our security. What now do we read in this White Paper? This is the first time I have ever seen a statement of this sort:N.A.T.O. must be ready at sea, as well as on land, to demonstrate its will and its ability 355 to respond appropriately to any act of aggression. But it is no longer realistic for the Alliance to attempt to provide maritime forces for conducting a prolonged war at sea after a strategic nuclear exchange.That statement has very grave and far-reaching implications. We are first told that we will never fight a war alone, that the pool of allied ships is big enough to provide for our security. Now we are told that the Alliance will not provide the pool, that it is not necessary. It is assumed that there will be a nuclear war, so that pool is to go.
I believe that if there is a prolonged war—it is a possibility—the only prolonged war there can be is a submarine war at sea. That is why Russia has 500 to 1,000 submarines. What would happen if an attack was launched by 200, 300, 400, or 500 submarines? To give the House a comparison, at the outbreak of the last war the Nazis could put 24 submarines at sea. At the height of the submarine war, when we were in desperate straits, they had something over 100 submarines at sea. Now we are faced with a far greater threat to our sea lanes.
I do not think that the Minister would contradict my assertion that Britain certainly has not the forces to combat this threat. It relied on the pool. We are now told that it is unrealistic for the Alliance to provide that pool. All our bases are going and we needed them before to combat the threat. These islands would starve. We are the only country that I know of that would be so affected.
In these circumstances—this is what I would have liked to ask hon. Members opposite, particularly the right hon. Member for Easington, but he is not here—would the rest of the world incinerate itself to rescue us? Would that be a rescue? Is it realistic to expect that they would attempt it? I do not believe that it is. We are the only country that could be put into that state. Paragraph 15 of the White Paper throws our defence strategy as a whole into the melting pot. The Government will be guilty of a terrible mistake if, to obtain a pretext to cut our forces, particularly our maritime anti-submarine forces, they delude the country into believing that conventional forces are of little value because a massive nuclear war is inevitable.
356 This is not an argument about east of Suez or an argument about buttressing faded imperial glory. It is a matter of national survival. The doctorine that it is not realistic to provide maritime forces for conducting a prolonged anti-submarine war is not tenable. If there is no allied pool, Britain must strengthen her anti-submarine force. This means aircraft as well as ships. If we do not, the country will be a hostage to fortune. The Secretary of State said that the size and shape of forces in the future depend upon the revised shape of N.A.T.O. strategy in the future.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I wonder whether my hon. and gallant Friend has considered whether, in the sentence he has read from paragraph 15, the word "after" should be "before". Then it would read:… it is no longer realistic for the Alliance to attempt to provide maritime forces for conducting a prolonged war at sea"—before—a strategic nuclear exchange.This would surely make sense. The broken-back concept, as printed here with the word "after", does not seem to us to make sense. Perhaps the Secretary of State might like to deal with this in his winding-up speech.
§ Captain Elliot
I am not sure that my hon. Friend is right. The Secretary of State left me clearly with the impression that he did not think that it was possible for a minor war to escalate to a major conventional war without unleashing the nuclear deterrent.
§ Captain Elliot
I see that the right hon. Gentleman nods.
In conclusion, I ask the Minister, when he is considering our future forces, to take a searching look at the shape of Britain's maritime forces in the light of paragraph 15 in the White Paper. If the pool is not there, where are our forces which will save this country if a massive submarine attack is launched on us?
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)
The hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain Elliot) showed great mastery of the details of naval warfare. If I may say so, the impression he left 357 upon me was that, if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence endeavoured to produce a defence policy to take care of all the hon. and gallant Gentleman's worries, a major part, a very substantial part, of Britain's economic activity would be devoted to maintaining land, sea and air forces in a state of military readiness, and we should be so over-insured that the policy would be quite impracticable.
I shall not follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman further. I have been sitting here now for the better part of two days, and I have found it fascinating to watch the development of the trends in the debate. First of all, we had my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and they committed themselves to the positive policy which is set out in the series of Defence Reviews which have been published since the Labour Party was first elected to office in October, 1964.
Then, yesterday, we had the spokesman for the Liberal Party, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). I must say that I admire his moral courage, because, even at the distance from Government which the Liberals are, the hon. and learned Gentleman took a firm stand and declared exactly what the defence policy of the Liberal Party is. He stated unequivocally that he wished to be out of all positions east of Suez by 1970, and that he would not in any circumstances withdraw any of our forces from the Rhine Army without the agreement of our N.A.T.O. allies. He said that although this latter point must put us almost completely at the mercy of any initiative taken by the West German Government in negotiations should they wish to do so. It is clear that anybody who votes for the Liberal Party in the future will be voting for that policy.
I admired the eagerness, almost the dogma, with which the hon. and learned Gentleman was able to have quite clear in his own mind that our whole defence policy should be committed to a defence of our position in Europe. I do not say that he may be wholly or necessarily wrong, but it is not beyond the bounds of being arguable that the whole of our military experience in this country casts 358 doubt on that principle. It is arguable that our military experience has taught us that we could lose Western Europe and not suffer fatal damage. It could be argued that on the only occasion when we managed to hold Western Europe—I refer to the 1914–18 war—we suffered pretty well irreparable injury.
I would have thought, too, that the same principle could be argued in respect of the last war, that apart from the general debility of warfare which always sets in, none of the defeats we suffered at the hands of the Germans did us any fundamental strategic damage. On the other hand, it could be argued from one point of view that the defeats which we suffered at the hands of the Japanese inflicted serious damage upon us as a Commonwealth of Nations.
Although I should be the last person to be dogmatic about what one can learn from history, as a war in Europe will either not happen or it will lead to obliteration, it is still possible to argue the same thesis even in the modern age, in spite of the fact that we are now no longer the imperial Power we were. I believe that our commitment outside this country, although it may have been affected very deeply by our imperial commitments, was, in fact, based more on trade rather than on our imperial situation.
However, if these faults are apparent in the Liberal Party's position, it is very difficult to pick out any faults in the Opposition's position for the simple reason that we do not know what it is. I listened with great enjoyment to the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I always enjoy listening to him, but, with all respect, I thought the crunch came when my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) asked him what he would do as an alternative. He was unable to satisfy anybody, I thought, as to what the Opposition would do if they were in power.
It is my considered view that, if the Opposition were the Government—I do not think it likely—they would be prepared to accept almost any humiliation from the West German Government in order to maintain our Rhine Army as a ticket for admission to the European Economic Community.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
I am sure that, as a relatively new Member and one who is greatly respected, the hon. Gentleman will not mind my pointing out that, when the Labour Party were in opposition, we were constantly asking where they stood on defence. On one occasion, in March, 1963, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), speaking on behalf of the Army in a defence debate, said:It is not our function in a debate of this sort to explain the Opposition's defence policy. This is, essentially, a time when we want to have from the Government a statement of their defence policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1963; Vol. 673, c. 146.]I have lots of other quotations in similar vein. This is not an unusual position for an Opposition to take.
§ Mr. Moyle
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but, if I may say so, he knows what the Government's defence policy is. We have issued a series of White Papers. What we are anxious to have is the Conservative Party's defence policy to set against it. That is what the Opposition have not given us.
Whatever my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) may have said on this topic, my point is that, if the Conservative Opposition wish to criticise the Government's defence policy, they have the moral duty to put forward the alternative which they advocate. This they have not done in the debate, and anyone who votes for them will be voting for a pig in a poke. If the Liberal Party, with its small resources, can afford to do that sort of thing, right hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to be able to do it. But, of course they do not know what they would do, or at least, they would not admit it if they intended to do it.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
Could we sum up the hon. Member's argument by saying that he wants to know what the defence policy of the next Government is?
§ Mr. Moyle
Before right hon. and hon. Members opposite have any chance of becoming the next Government, they must tell the people in the Galleries and the nation generally what they would do if they were in our place. They have not done so.
360 To turn to the Defence Review, after that lengthy diversion last year's Defence Review caused a certain amount of controversy, which was dramatised by the resignation of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). This year, the controversy has not been dramatised, but it has, possibly, been a little more widespread. Some of the optimism about possible figures for national growth which was evident last year is not apparent this year. Some of the problems are more readily discernable. East of Suez is the subject of the most keen controversy in the problems which face us as a nation when we are considering our defence policy.
However, I am glad to see—this is one of the encouraging features of this year's defence debate—a growing desire to question the size, the shape and the cost of our British Army of the Rhine. It has been set in immobility, from the point of view of military strategy, for many years, and now, for the first time, we are having a major debate about what it should be in the future and what it should do. This debate should be encouraged. Whatever arguments there are for the Rhine Army, they are not military. We want it there either because we want to buy a ticket into the European Economic Community, or perhaps because we want to reassure the Russians that the Germans will not have a finger on the nuclear trigger, and we think that we shall have a better chance of influencing the West Germans in this respect if we have the Rhine Army there. But those are not military arguments. They are diplomatic arguments, and are not necessarily related to a magic figure of 55,000. I am, therefore, glad to see that there has been a keen debate on the size of the Rhine Army.
Nevertheless, the phrase "east of Suez" looms largest in our controversies on defence policy. It is a great pity that the phrase has come to such prominence in the past year or two, because when the nation as a whole wants to be rid of as many quasi-imperial commitments as possible it has come to the fore and rather obscured the fact that it was the Governments of Elizabeth I rather than of Elizabeth II that committed us east of Suez, when they founded the East India Company many years ago. 361 When the present Government came to power we were east of Suez, and we must start our consideration of the problem from that point. I am sure that in historical terms it is the job of this Government and its successors to preside over further phases of withdrawals from that area. I therefore think that any controversy on the subject of east of Suez is one of emphasis rather than principle. I understand from many hon. Members who have spoken that the commitment to Australia and New Zealand is not at issue. Therefore, if there is a desire to reduce the defence budget to £1,750 million a year over a period one is only committed to doing somewhat more quickly what the Government will do in the long run anyway.
"East of Suez" is a fairly emotive phrase. It is also a huge global problem area of the world which is much larger than Europe, and to try to deal with it in one global phrase is impossible. The more one talks in terms of the whole area, the easier it is to get away with the idea that the action of the defence forces of this country in it is an anachrostic waste of time. It is easy to make claims to that effect.
However, if one gets down to specific instances it becomes much easier to see why we have a force east of Suez. For example, let us take what I think is—at least on this side of the House—our most unpopular military commitment, our commitment in the Persian Gulf area. I listened with keen interest to what my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East said about that and I did not altogether disagree with him on the facts he put forward.
But I drew slight conclusions and emphases from those facts. In talking of the consequences of our withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, he asked so many questions about so many options that he established that we cannot tell at present what would happen in the Persian Gulf if we withdraw our fairly modest forces from that area.
Why is the commitment so unpopular? There is a number of small, backward States in the area. Being as charitable as I can, I will say that the rulers may have great personal charm, but I have a considerable degree of lack of sympathy with them as political figures. I am sure that most of my hon. Friends find the 362 same thing. I suppose that the most constructive job our forces there could be said to be doing is protecting the oil flow. That argument may appeal to some, but it is not likely to warm the cockles of the heart of many hon. Members on this side of the House if it stands alone.
The climate in the area is unpleasant, the tour of duty will be unaccompanied, the amenities will be minimal and even from the point of view of the serving man life in the Persian Gulf will not be very attractive. It is easy to ask why we should be there at all, and no doubt many hon. Members ask themselves that. If we turn the question round, and ask how we shall get out, the problem is totally different.
It must be admitted that we are there now and very few hon. Members would deny that at present our troops are a source of stability in the area. What would happen if they went? The short answer is that we do not know. But we know that a lot of very backward and unattractive little States would be left to fend for themselves, and it is not just a question of considering Egypt in those circumstances. One would have to have regard to what Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia would do. It may well be that to protect themselves, if not to acquire further oil resources, one or the other or all three would try to move in. One does not know, but that is a possibility.
If they do, what would be the great Powers' reactions? It is impossible to calculate China's reaction at this moment, but what about Russia's reaction? All we know is that relations between Russia and China are not good, and that the area we are considering is within a few miles, relatively speaking, of the Russian southern frontier. Therefore, if China started to dabble in that area, which was rendered unstable by our departure—and the chances are that it would be rendered unstable by our departure—would not Russia also move to try to protect herself? If Russia moved in, what would be the United States' attitude?
One does not want to over-dramatise the situation and talk about the necessity of world war, but a Congo situation could easily be created there, with a cockpit of the great Powers struggling for advantage against one another. That would be a highly inflammatory situation, 363 resulting directly from our withdrawing our troops, and we cannot contemplate that situation in view of the relatively minimal expenditure on our forces there at that time.
In the long run, there will come a point when the main rôle of British troops, if we are not careful, will be to provide jobs for anti-colonialists who would otherwise be unemployed. We must watch that situation carefully and try to find some sort of successor who will maintain stability in the area and to whom we can hand over.
Who will it be? Hon. Members on this side of the House who support the Government would be much happier if we had greater confidence that the Government were working for a successor in the area. One would obviously hope that it would be the United Nations. But, let us face it, nobody can plan for the United Nations succeeding us in a power vacuum if we moved out, in view of the reluctance of some of the great Powers who are nominal members of the United Nations to support its peace-keeping rôle.
We must, therefore, also take into consideration the local powers. Can we build one of them up to take over our position? Looking forward at this time, one can only say that the position is not altogether hopeful. But at this moment our forces contribute to the area's stability and we cannot withdraw.
We are being urged to pull out by 1970, a fairly firm date that has been written into the alternative policy as a result of the debate. Would it not be silly for us to pull out in 1970 in accordance with a hard line in Government policy if we thought that by staying in the Persian Gulf until, say, 1972 we could tie up all those matters and leave a stable situation behind us? That is one of the fallacies of the argument against the White Paper.
I have dwelt at length on that one example because I think that it is a highly unpopular example in the minds of many people in this country. It is not the sort of commitment that will warm the cockles of British people's hearts and arouse a national will to maintain ourselves in the area. Yet, given the situation we inherited, the responsibilities are almost inescapable.
One could go on giving example after example east of Suez. But I do not think 364 one would gain more by doing so because, with variations, many of the arguments which apply to the Persian Gulf can be applied to other areas. Therefore, I think that the difference on the question of east of Suez is mainly one of emphasis.
I believe that the Government have made a very good attempt to resolve the practical difficulties. They have to act in the situation. It is their responsibility and it is a responsibility that many of us have not. They have made a very good attempt to resolve the various conflicting issues and I shall vote for the White Paper.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peel (Leicester, South-East)
The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle) has got the question of tonight's vote slightly wrong. He said that anyone who goes into the Opposition Lobby will be voting for a pig in a poke. But that is not the Motion before us. The Motion before us is tabled by the Government in support of their White Paper and the Opposition are going to vote against that White Paper for the good reason that it does not put forward a defence policy at all. That is far from voting for the Opposition.
The peace, security, and freedom of the West very largely depend on N.A.T.O. strategy. But it is obviously completely in the melting pot. We are told that we shall hear what the negotiations have come to at the end of June, but I wonder whether we shall know what the new policies for N.A.T.O. are by then. I hope so.
I very much disagree with the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), who said that N.A.T.O. is disintegrating. I do not believe this to be so. Although France has dealt N.A.T.O. a severe blow and has made the position extremely inconvenient, she is still a loyal member of the Atlantic Alliance on which N.A.T.O. is based and I am convinced that the new arrangements which are being made for N.A.T.O. will make it a continuing, viable and powerful deterrent to war and an instrument for peace in the world.
The White Paper mentions political guidance to the military advisers of N.A.T.O. in relation to the revision of N.A.T.O.'s strategy. I am interested in this passage because I remember that, from 1962 to 1964, there was constant 365 pressure from the Labour Opposition to bring the strength of our conventional forces in Europe up to the agreed level. Nothing was said then by the Labour Opposition about the foreign exchange costs or the balance of payments. It never took these things into consideration and never mentioned them.
The only thing the then Opposition suggested was that, if we found it difficult to afford to bring our conventional forces in Europe up to the agreed strength, we should throw away our nuclear deterrent. But what is the attitude of the Government today? These very same people have stood that policy on its head. The deterrent is kept. We hear no more about the denegotiation or renegotiation of the Nassau Agreement. We hear a threat to withdraw considerable forces from Europe if Germany does not meet our exchange costs.
It would appear from the White Paper that the Government's strategy is turning nuclear and that the conventional forces are taking a back seat. What has induced the change? Naively, the Government say that the Alliance has deterred attack despite the non-fulfilment of the agreed force levels. That is nothing new. The Alliance was deterring attack very effectively between 1962 and 1964 when they were demanding that we should increase our conventional forces in Europe.
The fact is that the Government, although they have not come out clearly and said so, are turning nuclear, based very much upon the nuclear strength of the United States, because they think that it will be cheaper for Britain. But any serious and large-scale withdrawal of conventional forces from Europe at the present time would be bound to have a bad effect on our position in Europe and on the N.A.T.O. Alliance, which at present is suffering from the French withdrawal.
Another suggestion, contained in the speeches of the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary, was that quite a number of the N.A.T.O. forces might be held in their home bases and not within the area of deployment itself. Again, this is presumably an attempt to save foreign exchange. They say that this could be done because of the greater air transport ability now available to the Western allies. This may be true of America but I wonder how much better our air transport 366 ability is. In any case, I believe that such a move would be dangerous and thoroughly discouraging to our Continental allies and that, if we did it, a very strong lobby in the United States Congress would want America to do it as well. That would very much depress our N.A.T.O. allies on the Continent.
Furthermore, I wonder whether this proposal really takes into account the speed at which a dictator country like Russia can turn on the heat when she wants to. It is said that she is now concerned with facing east and the threat of China. Russia is spending considerably increased sums on her defence forces. I believe that she could turn and move her military forces with great speed towards the west if she wanted to and I wonder whether air transport could meet any threat that might come.
I should like to know what the American view is on the question of moving troops out of Europe to home bases. How would the Germans react to this proposal? By agreement within N.A.T.O., they already have large forces committed to N.A.T.O. Would not the Germans say that they would have to strengthen their own contribution? How, in such circumstances, would Russia react and what would the other members of N.A.T.O. think about that?
The question of nuclear weapon planning and consultation has been very difficult and has exercised the Atlantic Alliance for a long time. The Americans first put up the suggestion of a multilateral nuclear force to meet what they considered to be the legitimate wish of Germany that she should have an adequate say in the control and use and deployment of nuclear weapons. I have always thought that this was unnecessary because Germany had solemnly declared that she did not intend at any time or wish to have a finger on the trigger or physical control of nuclear weapons. It produced unnecessary difficulties for the Alliance.
When the Labour Party came to power, we had the Atlantic Nuclear Force suggestion. Personally, I never thought that that was serious. It seemed to be just one of the spin-offs which the Prime Minister was constantly popping away in order to show that he was full of initiative and ideas. I do not believe 367 that it ever got off the ground. If it did, it is now certainly sunk without trace.
Now we have the McNamara Committee, and in the White Paper the Government claim that they have played a leading rôle in the work of this Committee, enabling it to make more progress in 12 months than had been made in the preceding 17 years. That is a very sweeping claim. The implication is that the problem of the nuclear deterrent within N.A.T.O. is virtually solved, or at least on the very threshold of a solution. If that is the case, I wonder whether the Government would tell us whether our non-nuclear allies are satisfied, especially Germany, to whom we have given a great deal of consideration in this matter. The House has a right to know something about it.
The Government also make a very big claim in the paragraph on disarmament and arms control. They say that the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference has increased prospects of success towards general and complete disarmament. We have heard less about the activities of the Minister for Disarmament than about almost any other Minister, with the possible exception of the Paymaster-General. In view of that paragraph, we deserve to be told a little about it. We have heard that the non-proliferation agreement, which presumably has come mainly out of the initiative of America and Russia, is well along the road and that the British Government have had a good deal to do with it. We ought to be told a little more about that. What is the reaction of the other nuclear and non-nuclear Powers to this non-proliferation agreement which we appear to have on the stocks and, in particular, how is it viewed by the French? We should be told more about what other progress in disarmament is being made. Those are some of the many questions which the White Paper leaves unanswered.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
If the hon. Gentleman cares to consult them, he will find the minutes of the Committee of 18 in the Library. He will not find them very exhilarating reading, but they are there.
§ Mr. Peel
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that interven- 368 tion. That is precisely what I thought, and it seems to give the lie to this paragraph in the White Paper.
Once again we return to the fact that this White Paper is totally inadequate, does not put forward a viable policy for defence and leaves us, as last year's did, waiting to know what the Government propose to do to defend Britain.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. R. B. Cant (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I realise that if I throw away my brilliant introduction and my equally brilliant peroration, one other hon. Member might have the opportunity to say something at the end of this two-day debate. However, I will preface my brief remarks by saying that I am not as expert as many hon. Members who have spoken, in the sense that I know very little about foreign policy and even less about the technological aspects of defence. One of the things which worries me is the esoteric language which is creeping into much of this debate about uses and types of weapons.
My main interest is in the economic aspects of our discussions. Although these have been mentioned from time to time during the debate, a certain amount of confusion has been evident. I say as a first propositon that I entirely agree with those who want the burden of our defence expenditure to be reduced. However, I agree with those who say that it is very much a question of timing, and I am on the side of those who would take rather more time than less. I am not prepared to talk in terms of 1970 and would much prefer to talk in terms of the late 1970s.
I see this matter as being very much a question of short-term considerations with something quite separate in the nature of longer-term considerations. I want to make some comments on the short-term aspects which have not been given enough emphasis in the sense that once they are considered together, they may be regarded as the main considerations.
We have to accept that the economies of overseas countries and our defence expenditure are intimately interwoven and that there is no question of rapid withdrawals—whatever the moral or political implications might be—on economic grounds. We have had an 369 example of that already with Malta, but it is quite obvious that one of the great issues which facets the Americans in Vietnam is the fact that when peace comes to this tormented land, not only has the United States to rebuild the economy of Vietnam, but she has also to be carefully concerned about the economy of all the countries of South-East Asia which are now very much dependent on her. Practically the whole of the Japanese balance of payments surplus of about £2,000 million dollars is represented by American off-shore procurements in Japan. This is obviously a major consideration.
But for our own country, economically the short-term arguments appear to be decisive. It is all right to talk about rapid withdrawal and bringing troops to this country. We have been told that we have to pay them and provide food and shelter for them and provide land for various military exercises, but I do not think that the Secretary of State for Defence has clearly worked out the budgetary implications, quite apart from the real resource implications, of this exercise.
I agree with those who say that we cannot merely say that we are economising in foreign expenditure. By too sudden adjustments, too sudden economies in our foreign exchange expenditure, we may impose a burden on our Budget which would upset us far more than the minor economies which we are to make might help us.
If we go to our balance of payments position quite obviously we have to accept that of the hundreds of millions of pounds about which we talk in terms of foreign exchange, even that which is spent in the sterling area, is foreign exchange because alas, people who hold sterling are changing it into foreign currency. We must accept all this as a total loss. Have we worked out clearly what will be the impact on our balance of payments, in the short term, of the addition to our import bill, because we have all of these troops stationed in this country? How much is our residual policy expected to cost?
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) was a bit vague here. It may be that when we have made certain economies we find that they represent, as someone once worked out, our expenditure on tobacco abroad, or half of our total 370 expenditure on tea, coffee and cocoa. Looked at in this context, we need to be a little cautious. Exactly how much will we add to our aid bill once we have made reductions in foreign currency expenditure in Malta and all the other places from which we might withdraw?
As a short-term problem, what about the countries which, unfortunately, hold these very large, or relatively small sterling balances? It is all right saying that we will come out of country X, if suddenly, as Malta has done, officially or unofficially, we are told that country X will withdraw its sterling balances. If we try to retreat too rapidly from our world obligations the short-term economic repercussions for us and for the countries concerned might not be disastrous, but extremely uncomfortable.
I want to refer to what I will call an assessment of the so-called burden of defence expenditure. I know that I will get myself into very hot water with my hon. Friends below the Gangway about this; and perhaps it is as well that one of them has not spoken, otherwise I should have replied at some length. Without being too reactionary we can overdo even the long-term effects of defence expenditure on the economy if we are to argue that they are, on every occasion, adverse effects.
I know that the National Plan, at page 182, gives immense authority to this doctrine and thesis, that defence expenditure is the nigger in the woodpile—it is the cause of all of our economic troubles etcetera, etcetera. This is supported by Mr. Catherwood, who again adds his authority to this argument, throwing in the disaster of overseas foreign investment for good measure. I do not believe that this is something that one can swallow hook, line and sinker. One cannot use a simple opportunity-cost doctrine and say, "Ah, well if we do not devote all our resources to this expenditure on defence we can transfer them to other uses" which some of my hon. Friends have mentioned. It could he argued that we might build schools and other such things.
I do not believe that for a number of reasons, but mainly because we have to accept that defence expenditure has not only a quantitive impact on the economy, but has also a qualitative impact. There was a time when we used to say, as good old Keynesians, that we should have some 371 defence expenditure because this helped to maintain the level of aggregate demand in the country, and prevented too much unemployment.
Nowadays, we have reached the point when we have to accept that so much of our defence expenditure is connected with industrial development which taps the frontiers of knowledge that a country which does not indulge in this activity is losing something. I am sure that the Germans want to develop various areas of military technology because they want the sort of technological fall-out which comes with it. When we say that this imposes too great a burden on taxation and thereby destroys incentives we are equally suffering from something of a misapprehension. I am sure that as our economic equation begins to take a different shape as miiltary expenditure falls, we shall have just the same amount of taxation to finance different public objectives.
I refer now to the external strain of defence expenditure on the economy, not in the short term, but in the long term. It can be argued, and it has been argued either directly or by implication, that defence expenditure abroad places an intolerable burden on our balance of payments. It is true to say, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) said, that if we look to the Common Market countries and then if we look to our balance of payments net of Government transactions, we are the only country which in the last six years has had a current credit balance and the only net capital exporter. But I should doubt very much whether all our balance of payment problems would be solved if we got rid of this overseas expenditure.
There are only two small suggestions which I would make to the Secretary of State. First, he might mitigate the problem slightly by asking countries which are the recipients of sterling to place it in a blocked sterling account so that it is not immediately transferable into other foreign currencies. I would ask him to do what his obvious example, Mr. McNamara, in America, has done and that is to say to his defence spending Departments, "You can have a two dollar to the pound foreign exchange rate, which automatically makes all your imported equipment more expensive than 372 that produced at home." That has had quite a useful effect in America.
If we think of the problem of defence expenditure, not in terms of the absolute strain on the economy, but in terms of whether it contributes in a decisive way to the crises which we have—that is, if it is an explanation of the cyclical character of our balance of payments problems—then I would argue even more that this is not the cause of our troubles. If we had no military expenditure over the next five years, I would hazard a guess that we should still have our balance of payments crises because the nub of the problem is, first, that we have too great a propensity to import and, secondly, that we have too low a propensity to innovate, which is producing an unsatisfactory state of affairs in exporting.
I support phased withdrawal, but at a much slower rate than that proposed by many of my hon. Friends. The Secretary of State is quite right in saying that, because the options in terms of foreign policy must be open this year, he cannot specifically state what he will do in future. We should not as a party argue that defence spending is the root of all our troubles and that if we reduced or eliminated it we should have no troubles.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
When the Government's White Paper was published, it never occurred to me that I should listen to a speech by an hon. Member opposite with every word of which I would agree. However, it seemed to me that every word of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) was admirably sensible—and I regret the effect that my commendation may have on some of his colleagues.
Having praised one Government back bencher, I should also welcome at least one decision that the Government have made—their decision to set up a Joint Services Defence College. I was, however, rather alarmed by the remark made last night by the Minister of Defence (Administration) that only half of the students there would go forward to take a full degree course.
The Government contemplate reductions in the size of our Armed Forces and we are steadily slipping back in the comparative power league. It is difficult today to remember that when the 373 Conservative Party left office in October, 1964, our forces in the Far East constituted the most important and most powerful non-Asian force on the mainland of Asia. Now, I estimate, the Americans deploy about 15 times our power on the mainland of Asia.
Last autumn I landed at a Thai airfield which is also a comparatively minor air base of the Americans in Thailand—Ubon. On one side of the runway were parked as many Phantoms as our Government plan to buy from the United States. On the other side of the runway were parked as many C130s as we plan to purchase from America. And yet this was only one of eight major American air bases.
A little later I had the privilege of visiting the American First Air Cavalry division in Vietnam, a magnificent fighting machine which has integrated within the divisional structure some 500 helicopters. The cost of raising that division and equipping and maintaining it in combat for one year is the equivalent of nearly half of our Army Estimates for one year. I do not believe that we can compete in this league or that we should try to compete. When it comes to the quality of our training, and particularly the quality of our officer training, however, it seems to me that we ought to try to compete.
At West Point, at Annapolis and at the American Air Force Academy, America's Regular officer corps are given four years of first-class academic education. Anyone who doubts the quality of that education has only to look at the record of West Point men who come to Oxford University for postgraduate study. In our cutdown forces, I doubt whether we can afford to offer a permanent career through to the age of 55 to many officers who do not have the intellectual quality to obtain a degree course.
We should also note that the new Defence Academy will have to cope with a number of rather unusual subjects. The first of these new subjects is what I would call Healeymaths. I would put this in the department of camouflage, because Healeymaths, or Healey-mathematics, consists of an attempt to obscure the true position by the discharge of a large number of figures which may or may not be related to anything at all. Students of Healeymaths will be required to spend 374 a great deal of time studying Annex H to this year's Statement on the Defence Estimates, and particularly the Secretary of State's brief speech in the Malta debate.
Language students at the Defence Academy will have to add to their studies Healeywords, which consist of taking an old procedure and dressing it up with a flashy new name to make everyone think that something revolutionary has happened. A prime example of Healeywording can be found on page 30 of this year's Defence Statement under the heading "Value Engineering", which is defined in these words:…the technique of examining components and identifying the least expensive that will satisfy a given specification.That sounds like another startling development by our gritty Government. However, if one looks at what is involved in it, one discovers that it is what purchasing officers attached to the Roman legions which accompanied Julius Caesar 2,000 years ago were doing, yet it is dressed up as some new marvellous technique.
I hope that students at the Defence Academy will spend a certain amount of time studying various relevant aspects of our recent military history, because they will then see how difficult it is to withdraw from existing commitments and how disastrous can be the result of botching our withdrawals. No doubt students will spend a considerable time looking at the method and manner of our withdrawal from India and, in particular, from Kashmir, where the way in which we withdrew precipitated calamitous friction between India and Pakistan. The friction which was created by our botched withdrawal has more than vitiated all the aid which we have given to both India and Pakistan in the last 20 years.
Then there is Cyprus, where some of us warned that independence would likely bring about a bloody clash between the Greek and Turkish communities after independence. When that happened, because a great deal of care and effort had been taken to draw up the agreement before we withdrew from the area, it was possible to restore the situation. When the communities flew at each other's throats, we had the sovereign base areas, we had the right of access, and we 375 could provide logistic backing for the United Nations Force which eventually took our place in Cyprus. Care having been taken, we were able to retrieve a potentially dangerous situation.
Although the present Government often preach withdrawal, unfortunately they never seem to learn how to do it. Their handling of Malta could hardly have been more calamitous. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has said, it is an object lesson of how a great Power should not treat a friendy small Power.
Fortunately, the Government have been made to realise the extent and depth of Britain's affection for Malta. When our present Prime Minister studied the Healeymathematics and looked at the figures, plainly he realised that the estimated saving was not worth the political damage which would be done. I would not be at all surprised if, as a result of this fracas, we end up by spending a good deal more money to a good deal less effect than we might have done before these economy cuts were proposed. Perhaps the only good thing to emerge from this conflict is the better realisation, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central pointed out, that military spending can be just as important a prop for fragile foreign economies as aid of an entirely economic variety.
The same is true of Singapore, where our defence spending is the main prop of the economy. It is also true in Aden, where the unemployment figure will increase to no less than 25 per cent. by the time we depart on 1st January, 1968. There will be economic collapse in Aden when we depart, but this fact has been somewhat obscured by the uproar over, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) so rightly pointed out earlier this afternoon, our unilateral defaulting on an existing defence agreement with the Federal Government.
Our attempt to get out of Aden has not ended the awkward questions that we face. When, for example, are we going to hand over responsibility for internal security of the town of Aden to the Federal Government and to the Federal Army? The way in which the hand-over is carried out, and the time at which it takes place, may strengthen the last remaining chance of peace in 376 South Arabia or it may shatter it for ever.
The Government have also to face the fact that our forces in Aden are becoming increasingly frustrated. Naturally, Service men with families are upset about the prospect of their families returning to totally inadequate accommodation. Sometimes there is laughter in the House when we try to see whether there is any difference between a caravan and a mobile house, but it is certainly not a laughing matter for Service men in Aden whose families may have to come back to sub-standard accommodation.
Then there is the question of security. Many of our Service men believe that if they manage to catch a terrorist, he will never be punished. They know that our main source of information in Aden was the interrogation centre. Of course, the Government have to take allegations of torture and maltreatment very seriously indeed, but the effect of Amnesty's recent charges about the interrogation centre has meant the neutralisation of the centre, which was really our sole source of reliable intelligence, because if every allegation has to be investigated seriously, it does not require very much intelligence on the part of anyone to see that a flood of wild allegations can bring business to a halt. At the moment there are so many allegations being flung around that the interrogators have to spend most of their time investigating each other.
Then there is the frustration for our forces of seeing expensive buildings and installations, such as the enormously costly new Falaise Camp, being handed over for nothing, and to be used for nothing. In a matter of months the camp will be uninhabited.
Then there is the frustration of believing that terrorism will increase as the final withdrawal date grows near so that Nasser can be seen to be pushing us out. Our soldiers can play a constructive and adventurous rôle there, as they did in Malaysia in the days of confrontation. One can see what one must do, but the belief, indeed the knowledge, that what they are doing in Aden is merely going to end in a bloodbath must be an immensely depressing factor on morale.
In South Arabia today our friends and our forces need more than a kind word and an occasional gesture of support. If 377 they are to think that their work at the moment is worth while, and is going to lead to something at the end of the day, they have to know that the area is not going to be allowed to run into chaos, and I join those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have asked the Secretary of State for Defence to think again about the possibility of giving some form of guarantee to the independent Government when it takes over on 1st January, 1968.
I do not believe that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite can really be happy about what is happening in South Arabia. I am sure that they want to do well by our forces. I do not question their motives. I only wish that on occasions they were just a little more successful.
§ 8.58 p.m.
Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)
I am faced with the problem of having to telescope a speech of about a quarter of an hour into five minutes, but I should like, nevertheless, to raise one point which has not been raised during this two-day debate.
It is my view that the fragile East-West détente which we have at the moment rests very much on the central power balance in the world today. I think that when we talk about a withdrawal east of Suez, or a withdrawal of troops from Germany, we have to look carefully at how this will be affected. The East-West détente is very fragile indeed, and I think one could argue a case, though perhaps not in three minutes, to prove that Britain's rôle east of Suez very much underpins this détente. Briefly, the ingredients of my argument are that if Britain withdraws from certain strategic places in the Far East the Americans may be tempted to underpin that power vacuum. If they do, they may further be tempted to withdraw troops in large numbers from Europe. If this were to happen, I think it would be possible to argue the case that the European détente would be weakened, and we could be back to where we were during the 1948–49 period.
Nobody is yet sure precisely what are the intentions of the Chinese. We can only speculate. I do not take an over-gloomy view in believing that China is necessarily embarking on a policy of 378 worldwide domination under Chinese leadership and inspiration. This is an absurd proposition. Nevertheless, we do not know what she intends to do, and it would be extremely unwise to allow the Americans alone to offset Chinese influence because, from the situation in Vietnam, we have seen that the Americans, having got themselves into a military situation, are not always so skilful in being able to contain it.
I would have thought that the case one could make—hardly in 30 seconds—for Britain's rôle in the Far East being beneficial for peace was a good one, and on another occasion I hope to be able to argue it.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Barnet)
We have had a long and wide-ranging debate, but we all regret that more time was not available. I know that many hon. Members wanted to speak and I would have liked to hear the hon. Member for Horn-church (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) develop at more length his interesting argument, to which he had to speak so briefly. Also, if we had had more speeches we might have heard a few more in support of the Government. As it was, they were very few and far between. I have been here for a good deal of the time and have heard very few speeches in support of the Government.
The speeches that I have heard praised have been those of the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and the speech that commanded full-throated support from the benches opposite, the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). He ended his speech to the applause of all those hon. Members opposite who are poised to abstain in an hour's time. It is not my business to speak for them. They can speak, and have spoken, very eloquently for themselves, and I understand that they will act eloquently when the Division comes at 10 o'clock.
My purpose is to sum up the arguments that have been put forward from this side of the House against the Government Motion. If, in doing so, I repeat a number of the criticisms made so vigorously yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), backed up today so vigorously by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing), it is 379 because no answer has been given to any of those criticisms during the debate so far.
The Minister of Defence (Administration) spoke briefly but rapidly last night and dealt with a number of interesting points, some of which were of a minor character, but he answered none of our criticisms. As for the Foreign Secretary, his speech, once again, was an interesting speech on foreign affairs, but dealt not at all with the criticisms made of the defence policy of the Government, or the reasons why my hon. Friends and I intend to divide against the Motion.
The Motion suggests that the House should welcomethe fact that the Government is conducting its Defence Review as a continuing exercise in reducing the burden of British commitments, forces and expenditure overseas …".The reference to reducing the burden of overseas commitments must either mean reducing commitments or meeting them at less expense. In neither case are the Government sustaining the argument for the Motion. As my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Humphrey Atkins) pointed out last night, the commitments abandoned by the Government overseas are very few indeed. They amount in Guyana and Aden —and the abandonment of Aden is a major error of Government policy.
To the extent that the reductions in expenditure are real—and that is in some doubt—they have been achieved solely by impairing the ability of our Armed Forces to meet our remaining commitments, as the hon. Member for Woolwich, East pointed out very forcibly this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman made some grandiose claims about them, but they carried no conviction with the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), or the hon. Member for Salford, West, who said that it is difficult for the Government to argue that increasing their defence estimates means spending less on defence. As for their claims of reducing overseas expenditure, the famous Appendix H, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West so clearly pointed out, is totally bogus in the absence of any figures for 1967–68, which the Government admit cannot be produced at present.
The economies so far as the Budget is concerned are, once again, in many ways 380 bogus. For example, there is the simple fact, which was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North this afternoon that they are rolling forward a great deal of defence expenditure and claiming as an economy the fact that they are not making progress payments, but merely reserving increased expenditure for a future year. This is bogus economy.
As to building costs, we have heard a great deal about bringing troops home but rather less about building barracks for them here, a point which was made by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant), in a thoughtful speech. We were told by the Minister last night that the accommodation required for the first 25,000 will be the equivalent of a new town of 50,000 people. We have not had a figure showing how much a town of that size would cost. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking rather gloomy.
This new town for 40,000 or 50,000 people would be irrespective of the additional withdrawals from the Far East and the massive withdrawals from Germany which the Chancellor says he may be contemplating in certain circumstances. So the total additional expenditure for providing accommodation in this country will be larger than that suggested in the White Paper and may go a long way to cancel such real economies as the Government have been able to effect.
The real cost can best be measured in the percentage of the gross national product spent on defence, which, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, was falling in the years of Conservative administration, but is not falling at present. While the Chancellor is here, I will talk about the gross national product, because the figures in the White Paper clearly anticipate a substantial fall in the gross national product for 1967–68, a fall of something over £200 million. If one does the simple arithmetic one finds that the effect of the opening paragraph is to predict that not only industrial production, which is bad enough, but the whole gross national product will fall in the coming year. If that is the case, I hope that the Chancellor will go home and think again.
The great mistake which the Government have made is to try to fit our defence expenditure into a rigid financial ceiling. 381 It is not a matter of black and white and saying that we can afford this and no more. It is always a question of margins and saying that this additional expenditure will cause us to give up something else no doubt, but we must balance the requirements of defence against other requirements in the economy. We cannot say that it is black and white and that we can afford or cannot afford it. We cannot fit the defence expenditure into a totally rigid financial ceiling. The House must realise, as we on this side certainly do, that what is needed for the defence of this country's interests must be provided.
The results of the Government's policy can be seen in the Far East, in Aden, in Malta and in Europe. In the Far East confrontation has been very successful, as the right hon. Gentleman said, as a result of the policies which this Government inherited from the previous Administration, but now the Government say they do not intend to be able to do the same again. They say that it is not their aim. I think that the phrase is:Our aim is that Britain should not again have to undertake operations on this scale outside Europe.Of course, it is our aim not to undertake an operation like that outside Europe. Of course, anyone's aim is not to have any military operations at all. What the Government mean is that they do not intend to be in a position to do the same again. They do not intend to be in a position to do the sort of operation which a few years ago, was so valuable in helping our friends in East Africa, because they will not have the forces to do it.
What forces will they have available east of Suez under their policy, which, in the view of many hon. Members opposite, is still too extravagant a policy? They are phasing out the carriers. What will the Navy have instead? What will it be possible to do without carriers in the sort of operation which has been so valuable in recent years. What about the surface-to-surface guided missile for the Navy, referred to by many hon. Members on this side in the debate?
What about the very cogent criticism made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West about the rôle of the F111 east of Suez? How many of these 50 aircraft at any given time are likely to be available for operational purposes 382 east of Suez? What operational non-nuclear purpose could they in practice carry out in these States? It is quite clear that as to the Far East the Government's search for economies has produced little in the way of economy but much in the way of impairment of the British ability to carry out the sort of task we have found it so valuable to carry out in recent years.
I come next to Aden. Here, there is a clear case of a breach of agreement, of a threat to our communications with the Far East, and of undermining the stability of the Middle East, which is of vital importance to this country. I deal, first, with the question argued across the Floor earlier this afternoon about what we undertook to do. I refer again to the words quoted from the 1964 White Paper. Then we undertook toconvene a conference for the purposes of fixing a date for independence not later than 1968, and of concluding a Defence Agreement under which Britain would retain her military base in Aden for the defence of the Federation and the fulfilment of her worldwide responsibilities.Surely it is absolutely clear in the ordinary meaning of language that the purpose of that was to say, "We intend to go ahead and arrange a date for independence and arrange for a defence agreement", and the two things were completely tied together. The language cannot mean anything else. When the right hon. Gentleman says that all we were promising to do was to call a conference, he must know that that was disingenuous. The Government should be ashamed to use a wriggle of that kind to get out of a clear commitment.
§ Mr. George Brown
The right hon. Gentleman should be ashamed. The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) knows very well that he did not accept the commitment to enter into a defence agreement. The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) knows that his right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham was authorised only to enter into a conference. The right hon. Gentleman knows it and he should be ashamed to wriggle as he is now wriggling.
§ Mr. Maudling
The commitment was given on behalf of the Government and the commitment in the ordinary understanding of the English language can mean nothing else. The consequences of the Government's action in Aden are becoming more serious all the time. This afternoon the Foreign Secretary said that power vacuums attract military adventurers. Is not that precisely what is happening now in the Middle East? My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle), and many other hon. Members have spoken of this, and spoken rightly, because this example of the Government's economy in commitments overseas is an example of how dangerous their policies are going to be to Britain's interests and, indeed, to Western interests as a whole.
Consider the situation which has developed in the Middle East. There has always been the explosive situation of Israel and the Arab countries. Added to that recently has been the explosive problem of the tension between Nasser's Egypt and the other Arab countries. We have a deep interest in this area. We have treaties with Kuwait, with Bahrein, and with the Trucial States. These are countries that look to us and which are important to us, not only because of the oil there, not only because of the sterling balances, which are immensely important to our financial stability. They are countries which are important to us because we have an obligation to fulfil to them which we should be determined to fulfil.
There are many countries, little countries—for instance, Abu-Dhabi or Dubai —getting oil in large quantities, countries clearly very much open to attack, either overt or covert. A little while ago Nasser had been brought to a halt in the Yemen. He was completely bogged down in the Yemen. His finances were under strain. He was deterred by being bogged down in the Yemen from a possible strike in the direction of Libya, another country to which we have a continuing obligation. There was a real prospect of stability in the Middle East, with the growing friendship of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and the position of Iran north of the Arab countries provided a balance to the North. 384 There was then a real prospect of stability growing in this area. Into this situation the Government threw a stone which has destroyed almost all those prospects.
I was in the Middle East when the announcement was made. I know very well that it caused dismay to our friends and joy to our enemies. It caused Nasser to decide straight away to remain in the Yemen, whence, as he knows well, he can turn the flank of Saudi Arabia, he can move through South Arabia, Muscat and the Trucial States. He can turn the flank of the Saudia Arabian position. More than that, more than undermining the strategic position, we undermine the will of our friends to resist aggression if it appears that Britain no longer intends to stand by her friends.
What are we doing for the South Arabian Federation? We are providing financial aid. The Foreign Secretary stressed this—£5 million capital and £10 million current—but this will not provide the Federation with an air defence against the Egyptian air force. We must all recognise that. It is nonsense to suggest that a sum of that size can, in the next year or two, provide the South Arabian Federation with any defence against the Egyptian air forces. To pretend otherwise is futile, and I am sure that the Secretary of State for Defence, who understands these things, will not try to do so.
As a result of the Government's foolish action in Aden, not only is there a sharp upward curve in the number of casualties, not only the increase in bombings and terrorism which followed so rapidly after the Government's announcement, but the whole future of Arabia and of peace in that part of the world is gravely undermined.
Now, Malta. Here, also, the Government have taken extraordinarily ham-handed action in the search for economy. Again, the economies are largely, or to a considerable extent, illusory. I take, for example, the question of accommodation. As many of my hon. Friends have said, there is excellent accommodation available in Malta, but not in this country. We know how pressed the Government will be to provide accommodation, even at great expense, for the forces coming home. This must weigh heavily in the balance against any economy in defence 385 expenditure which can be claimed from removing our forces from Malta.
What about the effect on the balance of payments? The Secretary of State entered into an argument on finance today with my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North. I suggest that he should think again, perhaps, in the intervals in his defence pre-occupations, because the only improvement to the sterling area balance of payments can come if the external expenditure of the sterling area is reduced. For the United Kingdom balance, what matters is the extent to which additional United Kingdom expenditure automatically generates further British exports to the particular country.
In the case of Malta, there is no doubt that further British expenditure there would generate pretty well in entirety further British exports, which means, in practical terms, whatever the theoretical argument may be, that the saving to the balance of payments would be very little.
There was an appalling lack of proper consultation on Malta. The Secretary of State appeared at the airport waving an ultimatum, which put backs up in Malta to a deplorable extent. Now, the Government has been forced to withdraw. I am glad that they have withdrawn. It is right that they should, and I very much hope that an agreement can be reached. But what a sorry chapter the present Government have written in relations between this country and the Island of Malta.
Now, the question of Germany and the cost of our troops there. This has hardly been handled with outstanding tact. In the past, the Prime Minister has been wont to abuse my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) for the agreement which he made. The right hon. Gentleman would be glad to have that agreement now. We were getting £54 million a year under it, and. what is more, we maintained relations with our N.A.T.O. allies substantially better than we seem to be enjoying now under the technique of open threat, which does not seem exactly consonant with many of the things rightly said by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. There is certainly in that dispute and the way it has grown 386 up a threat to our negotiations with the European Economic Community. Whatever the Foreign Secretary may have protested in a previous speech, one cannot really distinguish those two things. One is bound to influence the other.
The second point is that the Government are now in the posture of appearing to demand a withdrawal of British forces from Germany irrespective of strategic requirements, which, once again, seems to me totally contrary to what the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon about the consequences of ill-considered withdrawal from Europe being disastrous. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer saw the Foreign Secretary's brief for this afternoon's speech. I think that he would find it difficult to reconcile in places with some of the more exuberant threats he has issued in the past few weeks.
It may be true that there is a military case for reducing our forces in Germany. If so, it has not been made. It is difficult to maintain that we should withdraw our forces irrespective of strategic requirements purely because of the United Kingdom's financial requirements. The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon, "Oh, well, we are bringing the forces back to Britain, but they will still remain committed to N.A.T.O. and available to N.A.T.O. when they are here."
Do our N.A.T.O. allies accept that argument? To judge from newspaper reports that is far from being the case. As the Foreign Secretary rightly stressed this afternoon the enormous importance of maintaining the N.A.T.O. Alliance and the enormous importance to this country of working closely all the time with our American and continental European allies in N.A.T.O., I hope that he will take fully into acount their views on whether they accept the proposition that the availability to N.A.T.O. of troops in this country is the same as their availability on the Continent of Europe.
The truth is that the White Paper is long on statistics, but singularly short on policy. Seldom has there been a Defence White Paper which produced so little information about future defence policy. In a way that is not surprising, for the Secretary of State for Defence himself said:The main policy problems on which we must decide in the immediate future are the size and shape of the Services in the 1970s.387 What has the Defence Review been about? What have the last White Papers been about if the Government has still not begun to take decisions about the size and shape of the forces in the 1970s?
There is a certain amount of suspicion that what lies behind this is an intention during the course of the next few months to make substantial reductions in the total number of our Armed Forces by disbanding many units coming home. That may or may not be a fact, but it is an impression that has been given. It would also probably command the support of the majority of the right hon. Gentleman's party, but that is another matter.
I want now to come to nuclear policy, because the White Paper says very little about it. The Secretary of State for Defence said quite a bit in his speech, and he said one extraordinary thing to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West rightly called attention this afternoon. The Secretary of State for Defence said:…there is no country on the Continent which does not believe that a prolonged conventional war would inflict damage on it quite as difficult to bear as the damage resulting from a strategic nuclear exchange."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 109–12.]Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that? Does he really think that he can compare a prolonged conventional war with the effect of unleashing upon Europe thousands of nuclear weapons of kiloton and megaton size, which are now available to the nuclear powers? If he thinks that those two things are comparable I doubt whether he is qualified to be Secretary of State for Defence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Childish."] If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that observation is childish perhaps he will look again at what the Secretary of State for Defence said and see whether he agrees with him. I doubt whether he will.
The reason why so little is said about nuclear policy is obvious, because the Government's nuclear policy is totally at variance with what they have said in the past and what most of them believe now. The hon. Member for Salford, West said that he and most of his hon. Friends fought the 1964 General Election on abolishing this country's nuclear forces, 388 and he asked what will happen about that.
Nothing is to happen about it. The Government are to continue in the same way—after all the things that the Prime Minister said in the past when deriding our nuclear armament. He called it a dried pea on the top of a mountain. That was a graphic phrase. Our latest nuclear submarine has now been charmingly launched and we hope that it will be an addition to the fleet. But it will cost over £50 million, which is a high price for a dried pea, or possibly even a split dried pea, because it is only a small proportion of the deterrent.
How can Ministers go ahead with the nuclear programme—as indeed, they should be—while at the same time eating all the words they said so boldly in the past at so many elections? What about their various devices for getting out of it? What about the Atlantic Nuclear Force? Yesterday, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that there is not much active interest in it now. He can say that aagin!
The Prime Minister has spoken about internationalisation of the nuclear force, but we have never yet had an answer to the question whether and in what way the Government intend to internationalise our nuclear deterrent east of Suez. Who do we internationalise it with? The Americans? There is no one else. It is clearly the policy of the Government to maintain the independent nuclear Deterrent East of Suez and it would be better for all concerned if they came clean and admitted it.
Then there is the astonishing statement in paragraph 17 of the White Paper that there has been…more progress on the nuclear problems of the Alliance in 12 months than in the preceding 17 years.Has the Defence Secretary never heard of the problems of the non-proliferation agreement? Would he say that nonproliferation was irrelevant to nuclear policy? I doubt it. The fact is that this agreement and the proposals recently put forward are causing very great difficulties indeed for the Alliance. I agree with what the Prime Minister said today about the immense importance—it is probably one of the most important things we are handling at the moment—of securing agreement on this matter if it can be achieved. 389 Two things must be borne in mind, however. First, an agreement of this character is valuable only if it is effective. A semi-effective agreement may, indeed, be positively dangerous. Secondly, what is clear is that the Government have totally misunderstod the reactions of our European friends and allies and our allies in other countries throughout the world to these proposals. It illustrates the Government's total misreading of the situation in nuclear matters that they could possibly come forward with such an absurdly complacent statement in the White Paper.
It is true that all Governments of this country face the basic dilemma of how to maintain forces on an adequate scale east of Suez, to maintain an adequate presence in Europe and to avoid an excessive burden on the economy. It is a very difficult problem to solve and no Government have yet found the answer. If anyone does find the answer, it will be a blessing.
But the present Government, so far from improving the situation and moving in the direction of a solution, have made matters infinitely worse. They have impaired our ability to carry out our obligations east of Suez—and these are serious obligations to which we are committed as a country. They have impaired our ability to maintain our interests east of Suez.
When hon. Members opposite talk about the folly of trying to maintain a presence of east of Suez, I ask them, first, whether they really want to leave everything in that part of the world to the United States. Secondly, do they really believe that we in Europe can shut the door on the rest of the world? All history tells us that this cannot be done. The United States has not been able to do it. The Soviet Union cannot do it. Least of all can we in Europe, with all our connections, history, tradition, trade and commerce, believe that we can shut the door on the rest of the world and let them get on with it.
We must maintain a moral and physical presence east of Suez and maintain our position in Europe. In trying to meet these two objectives and trying, above all, to produce economies for the sake of his own party, the Defence Secretary has undermined our total defence position. His problem is clear. He is a man of great energy and vigour, but he is suffer- 390 ing from a total lack of clarity in his Foreign Office brief and from excessive clarity in his Treasury brief. That is why his policy is a total failure.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) has repeated, in his usual good-humoured way, almost word for word the criticisms which were made of the Government's policy by his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and his hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing). I do not complain about that, but it is a pity that the right hon. Member for Barnet was not here for most of the evening, because, if he had been, he would have heard three excellent speeches in a row from hon. Members behind me supporting the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He would have heard many others if he had been here earlier this afternoon and yesterday, notably the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who has apologised for not being able to be here this evening.
I shall deal later with the major criticisms of the Government's defence policy, but I want first to take up some questions which were raised in the debate and which I was specifically asked to answer. A number of questions were asked about the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft, notably by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West and also by some of my hon. Friends in the course of their speeches. In an excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) went a long way yesterday to answering some of the questions which were worrying some of my hon. Friends.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West made a lot of fun of the fact that the A.F.V.G. is the core of our long-term programme, both industrially and operationally. It will take six or seven years to design and develop before production begins and delivery to the British and French Services starts. Of course, we shall review this programme at regular intervals, like any other long-term project. But the point which I want to make—and I know that there are many hon. Gentlemen opposite with an interest in the aircraft 391 industry who will bear me out—is that without this project there would be no design work for the British aircraft industry after work on the Concord finishes, and without that design work there would be no future for the aircraft industry not only in Britain, but in Europe. That is the sense in which this is the core of our long-term aircraft programme.
The right hon. Gentleman asked some questions about its rôle. He should know, because it has been clearly stated in successive White Papers, that the rôle of the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft is to succeed the Canberras and the V-bombers, complementary to the F111K, in the middle 1970s. The rôle of this aircraft, as we envisage it, is very much the same as the rôle of the TSR2 which the previous Government planned, and I will give some details of what it is and how it fits into various types of military commitment in various parts of the world. Probably the most important rôle is reconnaissance. The hon. Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Humphrey Atkins) pointed out yesterday that, if forces contracted and problems increased, adequate intelligence was probably the most important single requirement and the central role of the variable geometry aircraft and the F111K—because in this sense they overlap in rôles and complement each other—is to provide this type of intelligence by aerial reconnaissance.
The other rrôle of this aircraft isr—
§ Mr. Healey
If I can finish this point, I will then give way to the hon. Gentleman. The other rôle is as a tactical conventional strike aircraft. Its purpose in this rôle is essentially to deter the escalation of the local conflict, to deter intervention by other powers in a peace-keeping operation by our own forces, as we successfully deterred, with the Canberras, such an escalation and intervention during the three years of confrontation, by convincing a potential escalator or intervener that we had the capacity to strike his forces by land or sea.
A lot of questions have been asked from the benches opposite about our plans for replacing the capability of the strike 392 carrier in the maritime air strike rôle. The Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft will do this. To some extent so will the F111K. It will have the capability of finding and striking enemy ships menacing our own fleetr—from land bases.
Radius of action is enormous and may often be required particularly in the maritime rôle when it is working from land bases which may be distant from a possible centre of operations. The right hon. Gentleman should recognise that one advantage of radius of action is that one can use it very often in order to have great flexibility in one's approach routes to a possible target, which may well be short of the total radius of action of the aircraft. Any hon. or right hon. Member opposite who has served in the Air Force will know the capital importance of this, even if the problem is not that of striking a target at the extreme radius of action of the aircraft concerned.
This aircraft and the F111K were not intended only for east of Suez commitments. The French want the A.F.V.G. for Europe, they have no east of Suez commitments of any sort; and the last Government planned the TSR2, which the F111K and the A.F.V.G. will replace, essentially for a rrôle in Europe and not outside it, to give Rhine Army some of the support which it lacked as a result of some of the cancellations of Army weapons under the previous Government.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The right hon. Gentleman said that the A.F.V.G. aircraft would be phased in in the mid-1970s. Is he really saying that the Canberras, which are 12 to 15 years old and virtually on their last legs, and the V-bombers have to continue until then?
§ Mr. Healey
As I made clear last year, the F111K will begin to come into service in two years, and we shall have 50 of them. We believe, and I am not allowed to refer to the advice of the Air Staff, but it is generally believed in my Department that the V-bombers will be perfectly adequate to cope with less well defended targets up till about 1975r—[HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] With respect to the hon. Member, who follows these matters carefully, this was all said very clearly in last year's Defence White Paper, and never contested.
I would like to deal with a point about mobile homes raised last night. Mobile 393 homes are not caravans, they are prefabricated houses on hard standings, fitted with electricity and water. The number of mobile homes which we expect to require is about 20, and the number of caravans we expect to require for our forces returning under the Defence Review decisions will be about 120. We shall be producing many thousands of permanent married quarters and many thousands of new private houses to accommodate those families at the same time.
One question raised during the debate was: where will our aircraft operate from in the absence of carriers, and are we doing anything about the British Indian Ocean territory? We have surveyed Aldabra to see whether we required it in order to increase the flexibility of our air transport forces and the rest of our Air Force. We have found that it will be suitable and the cost of developing it will be very small, although there are certain problems which arise; for example, the learned societies are very concerned to preserve the wild population which consists of boobies, frigate birds and giant tortoises, rather like the Front Bench opposite.
I turn to the major criticisms which have been made of the Government, on the one hand, by the official Conservative Opposition and, on the other hand, by unofficial Members, both Liberal and Labour. In my opinion, the unofficial criticisms had one great merit which was totally lacking in the criticism of the official Conservative Opposition, and that is that our critics said, not only what they thought was wrong, but what they would do instead. This was totally lacking from the Opposition Front Bench.
The only complaint which I make about the unofficial critics is that they disagreed very widely with one another about what should be done instead. [HON.MEMBERS: "No)."] Yes. I will give an example. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said that we should spend more both east and west of Suez. My hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) said that we should spend less both east and west of Suez. Some of my hon. Friends said that we should spend less east, but more west; or at any rate the same west. The most extraordinary criticism came from the spokesman for the Liberal Party, who has 394 apologised that he could not be here. He said that we should get out of east of Suez entirely in the next two years but should keep our present forces in Europe even if the military threat entirely disappeared because—and I quote his words —it would make the Russians feel happier.
I do not complain that all the unofficial critics of the Government were not totally united on precisely what they would wish us to do instead of what we are doing. After all, my hon. Friends the Members for Pembroke and Bosworth do not claim public support as a potential Government.
§ Mr. Healey
I think that many hon. and right hon. Members will privately echo that intervention. The actual Government—I am speaking for the actual Government—must decide between all this conflicting advice about what to do and how to do it, and we cannot avoid that responsibility.
We have shown that we believe that we must have a substantial reduction in our commitments and forces east of Suez. In the White Paper this year we describe firm plans for bringing 25,000 men home during the next 12 months and achieving a rate of saving of £75 million by the end of the period. I know that many of my hon. Friends want us to go even further and faster, but even this achievement is considerably better than we expected or planned a year ago. In particular, some of my hon. Friends would like to fix a date, and they say 1969–70 for complete withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, Malaysia and Singapore.
I wish to say a few words about this side of the problem. I agree with a great deal of what my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, particularly about South Arabia. Incidentally, the date of our withdrawal—of independence there, from which our withdrawal date came—was fixed by the previous Administration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The date of independence was fixed.
§ Mr. Sandys
We did not fix the date for independence. What we fixed was that before the end of 1968 there would be independence coupled with a defence agreement—quite a different thing.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman is confirming what I have just said. Incidentally, it was not before the end of 1968; it was by 1968.
I agree with very much, although not with everything, which my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East said about China and the Far East. Indeed, hon. Members will recall that I said very much the same things myself during a foreign affairs debate in the House after the election last spring. Where I disagree with him is on the necessity for fixing a date for our withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and fixing a date for our withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore.
My hon. Friends the Members for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle), Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) and Horn-church (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) made extremely powerful contributions supporting the Government's view. Before we fix a date in this way, we must have an idea of what will happen when we go. We must give our diplomacy a chance to construct a different basis for the security of the countries which we are leaving.
I readily confess that these are not questions of principle. They are difficult questions of judgment and timing. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East, who made a very powerful speech, has himself during the last five months changed his view radically on the timing of our withdrawal from the Far East. Only last October my hon. Friend spoke eloquently for total withdrawal from Malaysia, Singapore and the Gulf by 1969–70, in two and a half years' time from then. Only the other day, when we were discussing this matter on television, he said that he thought four or five years would be adequate.
I do not complain about my hon. Friend changing his view. He made it plain tonight that subsequent events have made him think about the problems of withdrawal. I ask him, however, to recognise that the Government must think these things out before they take a decision, and that they are not always easy to decide. We face here not only limitations imposed by the problems of foreign Governments. We are also dealing with limitations imposed by housing problems. and by accommodation and training problems, in our own country.
§ Mr. Mayhew
What my right hon. Friend is saying is of great importance. Can he then assure us that the difference between the critics and the Government is one of timing: that the Government have decided to leave Singapore, the Persian Gulf and Malaysia, and that the difference between us is one of timing? Will my right hon. Friend make that clear?
§ Mr. Healey
I cannot do that. [Interruption.] I ask my hon. Friends to read the White Paper, in which we say that our aim is to produce a situation in which the local Powers can reach agreement on a framework of stability for themselves without the presence of external forces. When we are satisfied that that aim is achieved, we shall certainly leave; but we believe that, until it is achieved, it may be possible for British forces to contribute to the military conditions in which that type of stability becomes possible without a continued foreign presence.
That is exactly the sort of problem which we find in the Gulf and in the Far East. In the long run, we hope that we shall be able to leave, but we are not in a position to be able to say at this moment when that long run will be.
§ Mr. Healey
I want to turn to the criticisms made by the official Conservative Opposition. I start with something which is, I hope, entirely non-controversial and non-partisan. I want to quote the words of the right hon. Member for Barnet in The Times about a fortnight 397 ago, in a letter to his constituents. This is what he wrote:The negative side of opposition will not carry conviction unless it is based on evidence of solid purpose in the service of the nation. It is no good trying to pretend that problems with which we grappled as a Government no longer exist when we become the Opposition. The public are not taken in and they will respond only when we give evidence of tackling the problems that persist with new vigour but with maintained realism.That was good advice. Why did he not take it, and why did his right hon Friend not take it? I suppose that they were working on the old motto "Have you ever heard of a signpost walking the way it is pointing?" The fact is that everything said by the Front Bench opposite was totally negative. They did not even dare to table an Amendment to the Motion, because they would not be able to agree on its terms.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West gave one of his best Parliamentary performances, and I applaud it as such. It was strongly applauded by his supporters. It followed a different line from his speech last year. Last year, he said that the offset agreement was deceit, that the assumption that confrontation would end was spoof, and that the F111K aircraft had no military reasoning. This year, he argued that there is no such thing as an east of Suez role, anyway; that no defence review had taken place; that there were no savings, and no runaway train. Apparently all the debates forced last year by the Opposition were about nothing. There was no carrier cancellation, and no TSR2. It was all a dream.
His hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North was a great deal more candid with the House. He attacked the Government and gave his grounds. He said, first of all, that the Government were making cuts in defence expenditure, that we were bringing the troops home, and that we were planning to review the size of our forces. The fact is that all we had from the right hon. Gentleman yesterday—and it was repeated by his right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet this evening—was a brilliant exercise in sleight of hand. However, it was based on a total misrepresentation of all the basic facts.
398 I will puncture the bladder presented by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West with one simple set of statistics. He said that there was no runaway train, and that defence expenditure had not been going up under the Conservative Government. Let me give the facts, at current prices and not constant prices. In 1961–62, Conservative Estimates went up 2.35 per cent. The next year, they went up 3.93 per cent. The next year, they went up 6.8 per cent., and in 1964–65, the year of the General Election, they went up 8.76 per cent. Those are the facts of the Conservative Estimates which cannot be denied. It was a runaway train and it took some getting under control.
The Labour Estimates in 1965–66 went up 6.03 per cent. In 1966–67, they went up only 2.43 per cent. This year, they went up only 1.52 per cent.
Let me put it into cash terms. Over the last two years of Conservative rule, the Estimates rose £278 million in cash. Over the first two years of Labour rule, they rose only £85 million in cash. That is a difference of well over £200 million, whether it is calculated on constant prices or current prices, between the last two years under the Tories and the first two under the Labour Government.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Since the right hon. Gentleman's Motion talks about the burden of defence expenditure, is he not interested in the relationship of defence expenditure to the national income?
§ Mr. Healey
Yes, Sir, I am very interested in that, and, although the national income has not risen as much as we hoped, this year our Estimates are 6.5 per cent. of the national income. Mr. Thorneycroft, as Minister of Defence, speaking in the House three years ago, said that he planned to maintain a steady 7 per cent. of the national income on the assumption that it would rise 4 per cent. a year for the next five years. I want to ask the Opposition what is their solid purpose in the service of the nation, to use the right hon. Gentleman's words. What would they do if they were in my position?
We had no hint whatever from the Front Bench opposite of what they would do about commitments. They did not 399 even make it clear whether they would plan to stay in Aden or not, although they criticised us very heartily for leaving.
We had only one clear statement from the benches opposite on what should be done. That was from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) who said that we should send forces to Vietnam.
All we do know about the policies of right hon. and hon. Members opposite is their policy on forces and expenditure. We know nothing about their policy on the commitments they would support. We know that they would keep the carrier. We know that they would have kept the TSR 2, the 1154 and the 681. We know that they would not have reorganised the Territorial Army, and we know what that would have cost, because the party opposite costed the proposals when it was in office, and the costs were checked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet when he was Chancellor. It was no good, he said, trying to pretend that the problems with which they grappled as a Government no longer exist when they become the Opposition.
That is what he said in his advice to his constituents in Barnet the other day. The fact is that he knows, because he checked the figures, that the cost of the defence policy which he approved as Chancellor would have been £366 million more than that of the Labour Government this year—on his own figures.
That is not the end of it, because in fact the party opposite has committed itself to a great deal more than what it committed itself to in office. It says that it wants a fully viable carrier force,
§ Which means five or six carriers instead of three. It says that it would spend a good deal more on the Territorial Army in its old form to re-equip it. The right hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends today said that they would prepare for a prolonged conventional war in Germany.
§ The plain fact is that if the proposal, to which they committed themselves in Opposition, were added to those which they supported in Government, the defence budget would be right through the roof and we would be facing an increase this year of more like £500 million over the present Government's estimates instead of the increase of £366 million of the last estimate they formed as a Government.
§ This is the issue—and I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to recognise this—on which the Opposition propose to divide the House. On the one hand, we have a Government fighting to bring commitments, forces, and economic needs into line, moving faster and further in this task, and determined to continue on with it. [Interruption.] On the other hand, we have an Opposition deeply divided—[Interruption.]—on what policy our forces should support, united only in their desire to bankrupt the economy by a runaway defence expenditure. [Interruption.]
§ I know that some of my hon. Friends are wondering what to do tonight. [Interruption.] I ask them to search their consciences. Can they really maintain neutrality in the face of that?
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 270, Noes 231.403
|Division No. 281.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Alldritt, Walter||Bradley, Tom||Cronin, John|
|Allen, Scholefield||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Anderson, Donald||Brooks, Edwin||Crossman, Rt. H. Richard|
|Archer, Peter||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George|
|Ashley, Jack||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Brown, Bob (Nc'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Buchan, Norman||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Bence, Cyril||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Cant, R. B.||Delargy, Hugh|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Dell, Edmund|
|Binns, John||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Dempsey, James|
|Bishop, E. S.||Chapman, Donald||Dewar, Donald|
|Blackburn, F.||Coe, Denis||Diamond, Rt. Hon. John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Coleman, Donald||Dobson, Ray|
|Boardman, H.||Concannon, J. D.||Doig, Peter|
|Boston, Terence||Conlan, Bernard||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Boyden, James||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Dunn, James A.|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jones,Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Probert, Arthur|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Judd, Frank||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Eadie, Alex||Kelley, Richard||Randall, Harry|
|Edelman, Maurice||Leadbitter, Ted||Redhead, Edward|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Ledger, Ron||Rees, Merlyn|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Ellis, John||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Richard, Ivor|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Ennals, David||Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Ensor, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Loughlin, Charles||Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)|
|Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Luard, Evan||Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Finch, Harold||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McBride, Neil||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McCann, John||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)|
|Floud, Bernard||MacColl, James||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Foley, Maurice||MacDermot, Niall||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Macdonald, A. H.||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Ford, Ben||McGuire, Michael||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Forrester, John||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Fowler, Gerry||Mackie, John||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mackintosh, John P.||Slater, Joseph|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Maclennan, Robert||Small, William|
|Freeson, Reginald||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Snow, Julian|
|Gardner, Tony||McNamara, J. Kevin||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Garrett, W. E.||MacPherson, Malcolm||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Ginsburg, David||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Stonehouse, John|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mahon, Simon, (Bootle)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mapp, Charles||Symonds, J. B.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Marquand, David||Taverne, Dick|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mason, Roy||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Maxwell, Robert||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hamling, William||Mellish, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Hannan, William||Milian, Bruce||Urwin, T. W.|
|Harper, Joseph||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Moonman, Eric||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wallace, George|
|Hattersley, Roy||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hazell, Bert||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Weitzman, David|
|Henig, Stanley||Moyle, Roland||Wellbeloved, James|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hooley, Frank||Murray, Albert||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Neal, Harold||Whitlock, William|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Oakes, Gordon||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Ogden, Eric||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Howie, W.||O'Malley, Brian||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hoy, James||Oram, Albert E.||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, Clifford (Abertilery)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Hunter, Adam||Padley, Walter||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hynd, John||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Winnick, David|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Pentland, Norman||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Yates, Victor|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn.R. E.|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Mr. Grey and Mr. Lawson.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Brinton, Sir Tatton|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Biffen, John||Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-COI.SirWalter|
|Astor, John||Biggs-Davison, John||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & Md'n)||Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Bruce-Gardyne, J.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Black, Sir Cyril||Bryan, Paul|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Blaker, Peter||Buchanan-Smith,Allek(Angus,N & M)|
|Bainiel, Lord||Body, Richard||Buck, Antony (Colchester)|
|Batsford, Brian||Bossom, Sir Clive||Bullus, Sir Eric|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Burden, F. A.|
|Bell, Ronald||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Campbell, Gordon|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Braine, Bernard||Carlisle, Mark|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Brewis, John||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Holland, Philip||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Clark, Henry||Hooson, Emlyn||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hordern, Peter||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hornby, Richard||Peel, John|
|Cordle, John||Howell, David (Guildford)||Percival, Ian|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hunt, John||Peyton, John|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Crawley, Aidan||Iremonger, T. L.||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Crouch, David||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. Enoch|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pym, Francis|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Dance, James||Jopling, Michael||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. (Ashford)||Kershaw, Anthony||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kimball, Marcus||Ridley, Hn.Nicholas|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Doughty, Charles||Kirk, Peter||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kitson, Timothy||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Roots, William|
|Eden, Sir John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Farr, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Forrest, George||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Sharples, Richard|
|Fortescue, Tim||Longden, Gilbert||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Foster, Sir John||Loveys, W. H.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Lubbock, Eric||Smith, John|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Stainton, Keith|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||MacArthur, Ian||Stodart, Anthony|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Tapsell, Peter|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McMaster, Stanley||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maddan, Martin||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Gower, Raymond||Maginnis, John E.||Teeling, Sir William|
|Grant, Anthony||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Temple, John M.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Marten, Nell||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Grieve, Percy||Maude, Angus||Tilney, John|
|Gurden, Harold||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Turton, Rt. Hn, R. H.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, Ray||Van Strauhenzee, W. R.|
|Hall-Davis, A. C. F.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wall, Patrick|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Miscampbell, Norman||Walters, Dennis|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Monro, Hector||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Webster, David|
|Hastings, Stephen||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Mott-Radclyfie, Sir Charles||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hay, John||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Murton, Oscar||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Heseltine, Michael||Neave, Airey||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hiley, Joseph||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Nott, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Onslow, Cranley||Mr. R. W. Elliott and Mr. More.|
That this House welcomes the fact that the Government is conducting its Defence Review as a continuing exercise in reducing the burden of British commitments, forces and expenditure overseas with due regard to the limits imposed by the national interest and security and approves the Statement on Defence (Command Paper No. 3203) as a further contribution to this end.