Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [4th March]:
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1968, contained in Command Paper No. 3540.—[Mr. Healey.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
'condemns Her Majesty's Government for having undermined the confidence both of the services and of our friends and allies, and seriously weakened the defence capability of this country.'
§ Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
There are three major Parliamentary debates in the calendar year: the debate on the Address, or, as we sometimes call it, the State of the Nation; the debate on the Budget; and the debate on the Defence White Paper, on which we are now engaged.
It is difficult to over-emphasise the importance of the defence debate, because the security of the nation, the nation's interests, and the interests of all those for whom we are responsible, including the dependencies and our friends and allies to some degree, are at stake.
Parliament has a special responsibility in this matter and in the attention which it gives to it, because defence, which is becoming ever more complex in its organisation and more expensive in its operation, is not a matter on which the citizen alone finds it easy to form a considered judgment. Indeed, all too often, when the immediate, nearby threat of danger to him is removed, he turns away in disgust at the unpleasantness of it and the expense involved. In the circumstances, particular responsibilities rest upon the Government of the day in a free democratic society. The first responsibility is to recognise genuine British interests and responsibilities. The second responsibility is to form an assessment of where they are threatened. The third responsibility is to show the House and the country how these interests will be 236 respected and the responsibilities carried out.
Judged by these three criteria, I suggest that the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday was lacking in substance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—as, indeed, was the speech of the Minister of Defence for Equipment, whom also I do not see in his place, though he at least was not lacking in a sense of humour. In his wind-up, he put at the centre-piece of the Government's defence policy a deep-diving seminar which he is organising on 12th March and to which he gave an invitation to all and sundry to be present. It is difficult to think of anywhere more suitable for the present Administration to be consigned than a symposium at the bottom of a deep think tank.
I found it extraordinary that the Secretary of State for Defence gave the House no assessment of the world situation. The Foreign Secretary is not taking part in this debate and, what is more, he has shown no interest in it. Neither have any Ministers at the Foreign Office. I draw that to the attention of the Prime Minister. All we have had from the Secretary of State is a few complacent words on Malaysia and the Gulf, and mutual congratulations all round. I think that he was within an inch of telling us that really the whole objective of the Government's policy had been designed to enable the Gulf and Malaysia to stand on their own feet in their own way.
There was nothing about the ghastly struggle in which the major Powers are now locked in South-East Asia and the implications of it for us in Europe. There was nothing about the steady progress of Soviet penetration in the Middle East. There was nothing about the protection of the sea routes round the Cape becoming ever more important to the Western world. nor are the Government prepared any longer, either in White Paper or in speech, to define unequivocally where British interests lie. In the past, they have done so, and I give them credit for it. More often than not, they have done it clearly. They have recognised those interests, and they have been right in what they have recognised. It is not for that that I criticise them.
In the past, the Prime Minister has often emphasised British interests, and the 237 right ones. So have the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary. I do not criticise them for that. What they have never succeeded in doing is matching their declaration of British interests by their deeds in British defence. I criticise them for that.
It is a British, a Western and a world interest that the United States should not be the sole Western power in South-East Asia. That is quite clear, and the Prime Minister has often said it.
§ Mr. Heath
Let me develop my point. Laos and the settlement in Laos which my right hon. Friends helped to negotiate showed that clearly, and the meeting which took place between the late President Kennedy and Mr. Macmillan at Key West had a great influence on Western policy in Laos and South-East Asia at that time.
If one compares the influence exercised in Washington by the British Government, on which perhaps some of us would prefer to take the account of Louis Heren in The Times of 23rd February rather than what we are always told by Government spokesmen, one will know how much that influence has declined as a result of the declaration by Her Majesty's Government on 16th January.
There are vital British and Commonwealth interests in Malaysia and Singapore. There are vital British and European interests in the Gulf. There are vital British, European, and North Atlantic interests, to say nothing of the interests of so many developing countries, in the sea routes round the Cape. All these interests remain, but the Government no longer declare them. The reason that they do not is because they are no longer prepared to sustain them or even, in most cases, prepared to take any part in supporting them.
It is this which has dismayed our friends so much. They, too, see very clearly where British interests lie, and they know that very often their own interests are bound up with them. They conclude, therefore, that this Government are not prepared to give or cannot give the British people the leadership which will make the effort necessary to sustain those interests seem worthwhile. Even 238 worse, some of them deduce that Britain is so weak that she must sacrifice even the advantages that she has already in those areas.
Those are the facts which dismay our friends and allies across the world. Some of them are bitter at the broken word. Some are angry and say that they cannot trust Britain's word again. Worst of all, most of them are beginning to ignore us, simply because they do not believe that Britain's power or influence matter any more.
That is what this Government have brought about by their decisions, and they have brought it about because they looked not at our interests and resources and how they are inter-connected, but because first they fixed an arbitrary sum for the Defence Budget and then succumbed to pressure from their own party to reduce that still further.
Some hon. Members below the Gangway put forward the alternative proposition that some of the money which has been spent on defence or even all of it should be spent on development in the new countries. I would say to them that for that development to be effective there must be a basic security and stability in the developing world before it can be of use. In that Britain has in the past played an all-important rôle.
§ Mr. Heath
No. Finally the Government in a panic after devaluation made the cuts, which the Secretary of State has told us are still being worked out, let alone being implemented, which have led to higher expenditure this year, a time of the greatest difficulty after devaluation, and will do far greater damage economically to trade, to the balance of payments and to the economy as a whole than any long-term savings which he is able to produce. Purely on the economic profit and loss account, our interests in these areas are far greater than the cost of sustaining them, and the damage will be far greater than any economies which the Secretary of State will be implementing.
§ Mr. Heath
These changes have not helped the £. That, alas, is all too plain 239 to see. The reason is that, contrary to the arguments of many, these changes have not been welcomed by our friends overseas, whether in the Far East, the Middle East or in Europe. Almost all, without exception, have greatly regretted them.
The Secretary of State has now retreated to a purely European posture. But already the pressures are on him and his colleagues in the Cabinet still further to withdraw and demobilise. Hon. Members below the Gangway are shaking their heads in agreement. The Secretary of State may not have meant to convey this impression yesterday, but I fear he may have lent some encouragement to this action when he spoke of moving for a voluntary reduction of forces in Europe between the Warsaw Pact and N.A.T.O. There is certainly no sign of this happening on the Soviet side. Indeed, the reverse is the case. Most observers agree that Soviet armament is better today than it has ever been concerning the forces of the Warsaw Pact. It is a more effective force. The Secretary of State knows full well how quickly the Soviet Union can switch from an Eastern deployment to a Western deployment, should it so wish, whereas we in the West are not in a position to carry that out.
The Secretary of State must be careful not to encourage his friends below the Gangway to increase their pressure, now that he has reached a purely European position, to go still further and withdraw and demobilise unilaterally. I express the fear that his friends will receive quite enough encouragement when the development of anti-ballistic missiles by the super Powers takes place. This is a matter on which we have heard nothing from the Government at any time. The Soviet Union already has an anti-ballistic missile capability deployed. Whatever one's assessment of its effectiveness may be, it is there. The United States of America has announced its programme, controversial though that may be. What will the position of Europe be when both the super Powers can show the world that they not only have intercontinental ballistic missiles, but also anti-ballistic missiles with a certain degree of effectiveness? Whatever the real strategic or tactical position may be, what will be the 240 impact on European public opinion when it realises that the two super Powers have some protection against ballistic missiles, but Europe, lying alongside the Soviet Union, is without any protection of that kind? This is the possibility that we have to face, and it is a very serious possibility indeed.
The Secretary of State in the White Paper says that the NATO study group is working on this problem. I am delighted to hear it, but he and the Government have a responsibility to tell the House how they see the development of the strategic situation and, above all, the impact on European public opinion and how they will handle it as this development takes place.
§ Mr. Heath
I will not give way. Some would justify the Government's present policy as being a modern European policy. The Secretary of State very largely did this yesterday. He made pleas for greater co-operation in Europe. I support him in this. I have often made them in the past. To some, these pleas seem to come rather strangely from one who was formerly so hostile to most of these concepts and whose first act on coming into office was to wipe out British projects and commit himself immediately to larger American ones. But now, having been forced by his colleagues to abandon them, he turns to Europe again with pleas for co-operation, pleas which he now makes from a position of weakness with nothing to offer from the British point of view in similar projects, rather than making co-operative acts from strength. That is what has resulted from the Secretary of State's policy.
The conception which the Secretary of State has put forward here and in the White Paper is not my conception, nor that of my colleagues, of a true European rôle either for this country or for Europe. I have not worked in my own way as much as I could to achieve a wider European unity in order to take a lot of little Englanders into a mini-Europe. That has not been my conception. Europe today has wealth and industrial strength. Yesterday the Secretary of State said that he wanted to encourage Europe to do more to help itself. I agree with that, but it is 241 essential that the United States presence remains n Europe. Nothing must be done to damage that—
§ Mr. Heath
—for this reason, that the United States—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way"]—for this reason, that the United States nuclear deterrent will not be credible without a United States presence in Europe. That is absolutely fundamental. This lesson to a large degree also applies to us. When we had a presence in the Far East and the Gulf our general capability to reinforce was credible, because people believed we would do it. Now the Secretary of State must recognise, from what he says in the White Paper and what he has said in his speech, that our general intention to reinforce no longer has that same credibility once it is known that the Government are withdrawing. I will now give way to the hon. Lady.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr
I wanted to ask whether the price of the United States remaining in Europe and backing N.A.T.O. should be equalised with what the United States are doing in Vietnam, and whether the right hon. Gentleman feels that British troops should therefore be supporting the American effort in Vietnam against the Vietnamese people?
§ Mr. Heath
I knew that it was a mistake to give way, but I was overgenerous. I am coming on to deal with Vietnam in a later part of my speech and I shall deal specifically with the hon. Lady's question.
We would like to see brought about the European co-operation which the Secretary of State wants, but the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State should have been prepared to consider and discuss an Anglo-French nuclear arrangement on the trusteeship basis which I have put before the House in the past and be prepared to discuss and negotiate this with the United States of America in the context of the European Economic Community, because we must face the fact that as time passes we shall have less and less of distinctive value in the nuclear sphere to contribute to any such arrangement. If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of Europe playing a greater part in its own defence, which 242 we welcome, this is one of the difficulties of the passage of time. This is also true, alas, in the civil sector, particularly concerning accelerators and nuclear reactors. We shall have less and less lead progressively over those to whom we want to contribute.
In the context of Europe, the Secretary of State yesterday had a lot to say about N.A.T.O. strategy. I found it difficult to understand his argument against my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) concerning the trip-wire. He said that his conception of a tripwire was something which acted automatically. I do not believe that this has ever been the general concept. The acknowledged understanding of a tripwire is something which will delay and hold up while action is taken either to resolve the difficulty, or, if the conflict were to escalate, to allow preparations to be made for it. I would not have thought that there was any difference between the two sides of the House on that. I hope, therefore, that we shall abandon rather sterile arguments of that kind.
The other argument which I found difficult to understand—both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have used this quotation from time to time—is that there should be only orthodox weapons of enormous size in Europe and that this doctrine is supported by a quotation from my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). Giving the quotation yesterday, the Secretary of State said that my right hon. Friend had argued that what we wanted wasan army in being, equal in armament, training and philosophy"—the Secretary of State says that this is what the British Army is today; indeed, he says that it has better armament than the other countries of Europe—very good—to any other in Europe and of such dimensions and structure, and supported by such reserves, as to be able, and to be seen to be able, to play an important and continuing part in continental warfare."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 1201.]My right hon. Friend spoke of it being "supported by such reserves" as to be able to do what was required. We may differ as to whether the reserves are, in fact, capable of doing it, but, as I understand the Secretary of State, he, too, 243 wants a reserve system which will enable the British Army to do it. So do we. But we take leave to doubt whether the Secretary of State's reserve system will achieve it. We are entitled to have that doubt. I fail to see, therefore, why the Secretary of State pursues this sterile argument in an attempt to prove that the defence policy of this Front Bench is wildly expensive compared with that which he himself is carrying through in this respect.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
I shall not weary the House by repeating passages from articles which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has written, for example, in reviewing a book by General Beaufre. He has very often given the House and the country the impression that he thinks that we and N.A.T.O. as a whole should be prepared for a very long large-scale conventional war in Europe. That is what I was objecting to. It is not rational, desirable or militarily or politically sound.
§ Mr. Heath
If the Secretary of State wants to use other quotations, he had better use other quotations. If, on the other hand, he wants to support his argument by that quotation which he gave to the House, he had better in fairness and frankness say that on this particular point he does not differ from my right hon. Friend.
I say no more about European strategy in that respect, but what does concern me is that Europe as a whole, with all its wealth and riches, is playing no part, or almost no part, in the outside world. I have always hoped that Europe would come to a position in which it would recognise its responsibilities and that, when it did so, Britain would have kept open for it the opportunities to exercise those responsibilities. But it is those opportunities for the future which Her Majesty's Government are now in process of liquidating.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously arguing that Western Europe should have a military defence rôle beyond Europe, that the French, for instance, should take responsibilities in Indo-China and the Dutch in Indonesia? 244 Is that the nonsense which he is suggesting?
§ Mr. Heath
I am coming to that point as well. I think that some hon. Members, certainly some businessmen and some members of the public, think that the Government, in carrying out this policy, are emulating the President of France, that he has pursued a similar policy of withdrawal and that this is what a true European policy means. It is extraordinarily ironic that the Government's withdrawal should be taking place at precisely the moment when French policy is moving forward as it has not done at any time since 1945. That is my answer to the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). Perhaps he and others had better study French policy in this respect. [Interruption.] I say to the Secretary of State that some of us are trying to have a serious discussion about strategy. I am just coming on to explain what I mean.
France is an ally. It is, therefore, a friendly Power which is moving forward while at the same time we in Britain lose trade and influence; but in some respects it is the Soviet Union which is stepping in and occupying the vacuum which we are making. France is moving forward in the Arab world. This is quite clear after the Israeli conflict. France is moving forward steadily commercially, moving forward in black Africa commercially, and in South Africa she is moving forward seriously with military supplies as well as commercially. There is no doubt that if South Africa were forced to turn entirely to France as a supplier of its naval supplies it would be necessary to adapt Simonstown to that situation, which, as the Secretary of State knows very well, would imperil the Simonstown Agreement. These are all facts which must be faced in the developing situation.
On the question of French military policy, this is the moment when the British Government are reducing the number of their Polaris submarines while the French are increasing from three to four, and possibly five; and they are creating their own force, à tout azimuths, as the Secretary of State knows, for all-round defence and for use in any part of the world. This is French policy declared by M. Messmer, the French Minister of Defence. It ought to be taken into account in the Secretary of State's own analysis 245 of the European situation. To those who think that in order to follow the President of France in European policy one has to withdraw entirely into Europe, I say that they should now study the movement of French policy, which is into the outer world again.
The Secretary of State may criticise what I say. He may say that he does not think that it will come about. But to him aid to all such critics I put the question: when will the time come when they stop underestimating the French in modern Europe, the state of their technology, their determination and their willpower to carry through their own national defence policy? The Secretary of State, above all, must recognise the facts.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman in his interesting observations, but has he taken account of the decision of the French Government to withdraw their forces from N.A.T.O. and to take part in the Mediterranean without allied support? Is he aware of that? May I direct his attentian to what General Lemnitzer, the Supreme Commander in N.A.T.O., has said about it?—We are, however, confronted with a possible loss of important French land and air forces from the centre region of Allied Command Europe".
§ Mr. Heath
I recognise only too well, alas, the French withdrawal from N.A.T.O. I recognise also that there is to be a renegotiation in 1969, with all the possibilities which that holds. But I recognise, too, that General Lemnitzer's view happens to be rather different from what the Secretary of State has given us in the White Paper and in his speech. About these other matters we have heard all too little from the Secretary of State in explanation of the attitude which the Government will adopt.
I leave Europe now and turn to the influence of Europe in the world outside. The Secretary of State said very little about the position in the Gulf, save to welcome the meeting of the Rulers to form a union. I, too, welcome it. I hope that we shall hear no more attacks on federations from the Government Front Bench after the welcome which they have given to this move. But the question to be faced is whether the Rulers, with their small populations in Qatar, Bahrain and 246 the Trucial States, have the people to train and to defend themselves. They have the wealth, but it is their wealth which makes them more vulnerable. Who will influence them in the conduct of their foreign affairs now that Her Majesty's Ministers are withdrawing?
There is already intense Soviet pressure, political and diplomatic, right through the Gulf today. All the contacts we have with people in the Gulf show this clearly. There is immense economic effort as well by the Soviet Union. This pressure is being brought to bear in Aden, hence the expulsion of the British officers, and throughout the Gulf. British interests there are immense. We have £900 million of investments, and £200 million of foreign exchange income, and in that area there is more than 60 per cent. of the world's oil reserves. Does not this mean that there is an immense stake for British interests in the Gulf, which we were influencing at the really minimal cost of £12½ million.
The result of the withdrawal is becoming apparent in the claims now being reopened. Iran's claim On Bahrain, the clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which led to the cancellation of the Shah's visit, and the other Gulf claims which have been lying dormant for so long while the British were there are now all coming to the fore and are likely to lead to strife and conflict at the time of the withdrawal. We have lost a £40 million order from the Saudis for Saladins, which has gone to France, and we fear that there are other orders which will also be lost to French manufacturers instead of coming to Britain. The sterling balances, which are large, are obviously endangered by this policy. The United States is immensely worried. She, too, has interests there, but the fact is that Britain is the power with the greatest interests in the Gulf.
§ Mr. Heath
No, I am sorry. The Soviet Union therefore has the opportunity of 247 penetrating deep. There are signs of her going to embark on the purchase of oil from the Gulf. This will put her in a stronger position to deny oil to the Western world when she wants to do so, and to put a stranglehold not only on our industry but also on our defences. This is the all-important question on the Middle East, about which we have heard nothing from the Secretary of State, or the Foreign Secretary, or the Government.
§ Mr. Heath
I am sorry. I cannot keep on giving way.
In that connection the right hon. Gentleman might look at the general question of raw material sources for this country. It is a question to which more and more countries are devoting their attention, and making long-term agreements, not in the old-fashioned way of bulk prices, but on prices which move with world prices. They are securing their sources. We, for all too long, because of the old Empire, have taken them for granted. This country is no longer in a position to do that, and I suggest to the Secretary of State and to the Government that this is a matter to which they should devote their attention most urgently.
The next problem is that of the Cape routes. These are vital now that the Suez Canal is closed. They are, in any case, vital because of large tankers, but they are becoming more and more necessary because of the large bulk carriers being built, those of over 200,000 tons. What are the Government doing from the point of view of South Atlantic defences to protect these sea routes in case of pressure? I ask that because they are essential not only to ourselves but to Western Europe and to the North Atlantic.
In his speech the Secretary of State mentioned the N.A.T.O. Standing Naval Force which has been set up, but this is concerned only with the North Atlantic and has nothing to do with the problem of the Cape routes. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that we ought to knowthat sometimes big oaks grow from little acorns".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 65]248 Not under this Government they do not. All that the Government do is to lop them off and let them rot at the heart. This is the problem to which the right hon. Gentleman ought to be addressing himself urgently. He has endangered our position by the refusal to supply South Africa with the arms that she needs for external defence. I am prepared to believe that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to supply these arms because he knows that this could have prevented many changes in defence policy which are endangering British interests not only there but in different parts of the world. In fairness, I am prepared to give the right hon. Gentleman credit that it is not the policy that he wants to see carried through, and that he believes it is wrong, but the policy is now in effect and it is proving immensely damaging to British and Western interests.
It is in the Far East that the major dangers lie, and about these we have heard nothing. It is there that the great struggle between the Powers is now being fought out. We condemn the fact that this awful war is being waged. We all deplore the cruelty and the suffering. This is the first television war in history, and it is bringing home to many people, and to new generations, what war really means in all its ghastly personal horror. But this cannot disguise the real nature of the war, however horrible it is. What started as a civil war, now has the United States directly involved with the South Vietnamese Government on a large scale, with the Soviet Union and China pouring in supplies from North Vietnam, and the North Vietnamese Government intervening on a large scale. It has become a great international conflict in which the major powers are fully involved.
It seems that there is a considerable amount of evidence that the Soviet Union has now become greatly involved in the supply of arms because it felt that South Vietnam was the cockpit of the modern world for testing orthodox weapons; that this was in fact the Spain of the 'thirties translated to Vietnam in the 'sixties. This is the reason why the Soviet Union is now involved in the supply of equipment to such a heavy degree.
§ Mr. Heath
Any lingering doubts which some may have had that the North Vietnamese were unwillingly waiting for peace negotiations must now be dispelled by the savage campaign and the careful long planning which obviously lay behind it which was launched during the Tet truce. They wish to annihilate the United States forces and drive them into the sea.
I suggest to the House that we should be clear about what the consequences would be were they to succeed. If the South Vietnam Administration were to collapse entirely and the United States were unable to form an Administration there, if the United States' will were to break, the impact on South Vietnam of even further slaughter would be obvious, but the impact on South-East Asia would be just as wide as anybody in this House has ever described.
It has become fashionable to talk about the old-fashioned idea of the domino theory. The old-fashioned idea has just been affirmed by the Soviet Union itself. Last October in a very important article in Moscow the view was put forward, obviously officially, in these words:Mao proposes to include in his 'Reich', apart from China itself, Korea, the Mongolian People's Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, and several other countries in that region. In the second stage of the 'storm from the East', it is planned to expand in the direction of the Indian subcontinent, Soviet Central Asia and the Soviet Far East …That is the Soviet version of the domino theory of what would happen were the situation in South Vietnam to collapse.
Looking back at China's history, one can see her desire to have vassal States wherever possible, but where it is not possible, to have weak States which she can influence. Indeed, in many ways she is influencing Burma already. Were it not for Prince Sihanhouk's vitality, she might have greater influence in Cambodia, and certainly there is the means of subversion close at hand as far as Malaysia and Singapore are concerned.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I would have tried to intervene a few moments ago, but I wanted the right hon. Gentleman to finish this part of his speech. I was trying to follow his argument when he was referring to the Soviet Union regarding Vietnam as a testing ground for weapons. Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to express the view that the Soviet Union did not want to see an end to the war in Vietnam for that reason? If that is his view—it is contrary to mine—has not he answered it by the quotation from the Moscow journal about China? In other words, has not the Soviet Union every reason, because of the factors mentioned by him, to see a quick ending of this war?
§ Mr. Heath
I agree with the Prime Minister, and I do not think that the two are contradictory. I think that the Soviet Union could not see a speedy ending to this war or indeed a means of bringing it about, despite all their efforts from time to time as one of the co-chairmen. Therefore, seeing no means of ending it, they felt that they must themselves provide equipment in this way in this context.
My other thought is that, once they are in this position, it becomes more difficult for them to disengage than it was before and help the negotiations—
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
In the right hon. Gentleman's survey, he has so far missed out any reference to Thailand. Who is seeking to control and occupy Thailand at the moment and who was doing so before the Vietnam war ever began?
§ Mr. Heath
What I am saying is that the consequences, if this were to come about, would be heavy for South-East Asia. I have quoted the Soviet view on that. As to Thailand, it is well-known that the means of insurrection are close at hand there, should this situation arise. No one who has been out there has any doubt about this, no matter to which party he belongs.
To continue my argument, this shows what the consequences would be. The impact inside the United States would, of course, be a period of bitter recrimination, with savage Presidential elections added to racial problems, alas, which would undermine morale and would 251 then affect the United States in Europe. This is where the question comes back to our doorstep, in this country. This is the importance of what is happening out in the Far East, not only to those likely to be affected, but to this country.
This is the obverse of the situation which arose after Cuba. After Cuba, there was a period of stability and the trouble over Berlin ceased, because of the way in which President Kennedy played that hand. Were the situation in the Far East to go wrong, I believe that the converse would be the result and that the Soviet Union would once again exert pressure on the pressure points. Those two main points would be the Middle East and Berlin.
That therefore brings us back to the point at which we started—the importance of the N.A.T.O. organisation and seeing that it is effectively organised[Interruption.]—I have never said, to answer the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short), that we should send troops to Vietnam and I do not say that now. I believe that it is our job to do what we can to maintain stability in Malaysia and Singapore. It is not economic aid which those countries now want and which the Government will apparently offer them, but security and a degree of stability—and that we have been able to give them in the past.
What I am saying is that there could not have been a worse time, from the general point of view in South-East Asia or from the point of view of relations with our allies, to announce the premature withdrawal from the Far East, against the wishes of all our friends. We have every wish to see a negotiated settlement, as much as anyone on the other side of the House. I beg leave to doubt whether the 14-Power Conference will be the way to bring that about, but I do believe that the President's position could bring the North Vietnamese to the conference table. What they would discuss there, so long as they maintain that everything inside Vietnam is purely a matter for the Vietcong, I do not know, but at least to get them started on talks would be something.
We must recognise at the moment the real gap between the two sides in inten- 252 tions, which has been shown very clearly in the last few weeks. There is, of course, no inducement to the North Vietnamese to go to the conference table until they see that they cannot win. I fear that they will not reach this conclusion before the Presidential elections, for the reason that they will believe that, by their own military action, they can persuade the President of the United States to change his policy or, failing that, that they will change the President of the United States and get a President with a new policy. Until that situation is clear, I fear that there is little hope of persuading the North Vietnamese that they cannot win but must come at once to the conference table.
I hope that the House will recognise the great issues which are at stake. I regret that the path on which the Government have embarked gives them less and less influence in these matters which are of such vital importance to the whole world. I would therefore say to the Secretary of State: he has gone back on his own word, he has broken his country's undertakings, he has changed his policies many times. If he thought that he was pursuing the right policy now, he might be able to justify everything else, at any rate to himself, even if not to the whole country.
But he knows in his heart of hearts, and the Prime Minister knows, as does the Foreign Secretary, that he is not pursuing the right defence policy for the interests of this country. We know, from all that he has been fighting for, that he does not think that the premature withdrawal from the Far East or from the Middle East or the sacrifices involved in the South African arms order are policies in the real interests of this country. That is my condemnation of him, that he is now pursuing policies which he personally knows to be wrong and unjustifiable. That is why he should not stay in his present position and why there should be a fresh start.
To the Government, I say that they, like every Government, have two foremost tasks, which only Government can carry through. The first is to maintain the value of the currency and the second is to protect the national interest and security. The Government failed last November in the first of maintaining 253 the currency. They are now failing to maintain the national security—and that is why we shall condemn them tonight.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence for Administration (Mr. G. W. Reynolds)
The Leader of the Opposition has made an interesting speech, including a number of what I think are new ideas, particularly some of those relating to the policy of the French Government. He put forward some opinions on Vietnam, where there are, of coarse, no British troops covered by the White Paper or the Votes which we shall be discussing in the next few days. But most of these points he directed immediately above my head to the Secretary of State, who I assure him will be replying to him on these matters later this evening.
I want to deal with one point which the right hon. Gentleman made, because it is a fallacy which ran through many of his utterances about our possible military presence in the Gulf and the Far East. He said that we were coming out of the Gulf to save a miserable £12½ million a year. I must nail this once and for all. It is not a saving of £12½ million a year but a saving greatly in excess of that sum. The 12½ million is a slight underestimate of the actual local expenditure in maintaining the forces which we have in the Persian Gulf.
But that is only the tip of the iceberg of the problem of staying in that part of the world. If we have two battalions of troops in the Persian Gulf on unaccompanied tours of 9 or 12 months, we must have three or four or five more battalions sitting here at home to rotate with them. As everyone knows, we pay our soldiers, sailors and airmen what is, in effect, a United Kingdom wage, but expect them to serve overseas, and, in fairness, we cannot expect them to do so for long periods without having the opportunity to serve at home as well.
I believe that oil companies work on a different basis, paying a very high overseas rate for people whom they expect to remain there for a very long time. However, for just two battalions there the right hon. Gentleman must count the cost of the others in the United Kingdom for rotation purposes. They will have to have home tours here in the United Kingdom. Naturally they may spend such a home tour in B.A.O.R. 254 If we had two battalions in the Persian Gulf, as hon. Members who have served in the Army Department will know, one has to make provision in a total year of duty for the other battalions which are going to relieve them. One would have to make provision for the continuance of a carrier force of some kind, and that cannot be done with one aircraft carrier, or even one new aircraft carrier. It will require more than that, and they would have to start building them in due course.
It also requires the considerable additional back up in the United Kingdom. One cannot discuss the type of military operation one can get involved in with a military presence in that part of the world and deal only with all the troops there at any one moment. We have to provide additional support in this country or elsewhere in the world to support the small numbers of soldiers there if they are attacked by superior forces.
The £12½ million does not include the cost of providing Royal Air Force aeroplanes. That is the local annual running cost. There are millions of pounds worth of aircraft which would have to be ordered on the Defence Budget all of which would have to be stationed in the Middle East. Let us get away from the idea that it costs £12½ million to stay in the Gulf. It will continue to cost many times more than that amount.
§ Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)
I would like to establish an understanding of the point which the right hon. Gentleman is making. He is saying, is he not—and this is the point I would like him to confirm—that if we do not have these forces in the Gulf, to take his example, we can do without all these other forces in the background. This presumes that the other forces in the background have no other defence duties and can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that saving the two battalions in the Gulf is really going to allow for cutting six battalions off the Army?
§ Mr. Reynolds
In saving two battalions in the Gulf and saving battalions in Singapore and Malaysia, as hon. Gentlemen who have served in the Army Department know, there is a certain amount of double counting in these operations. One has to keep more battalions at home to back up those overseas. I would not put the whole cost 255 of carriers on the Gulf, but if they came out of the Far East and stayed in the Gulf it would cost whatever it is to carry on the Gulf operation. We have to maintain large stores in this country and employ large numbers of civil servants to run them, and hon. Gentlemen Opposite have been criticising us on the number of civil servants we have.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)
What about the general capability mentioned in the White Paper?
§ Mr. Reynolds
The general capability is mentioned in the White Paper, but the more commitments we have overseas the bigger the capability required to back them up and help them needed in the United Kingdom. The £12½ million which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned is not the entire local cost of physically stationing a given number of men in the Persian Gulf. It is nothing like the total of the cost of commitment of remaining in that part of the world.
This has been a slightly unusual debate so far. It was only a week or so ago that the right hon. Gentleman made a speech in which he referred to cuts announced by the Prime Minister on the 16th January as being rather bogus. We have now in effect a vote of censure on the cuts as announced on 16th January, which the right hon. Gentleman described as bogus cuts. I find it difficult to reconcile these two arguments.
An Amendment has been moved by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) in one of the most amazing speeches I have heard, a speech that consisted of 30 quotations linked together by a few words which the right hon. Gentleman made up himself. I must plead with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to allow his right hon. Friend to speak his own mind and not tie him down to quoting other people's speeches, to unzip his lips and speak his mind. I am sure it would be more interesting than the scissors and paste job he has just undertaken. He never told us during that speech yesterday what the Amendment meant. It is a vote of censure because it condemns Her Majesty's Government apparently for undermining the confidence of the Services. I would not deny that at the present time there is a 256 sense of uncertainty in the Services, particularly about future careers, particularly amongst long service members. That is not because of a deliberate decision to create such uncertainties. It is because of policy decisions which Her Majesty's Government have taken.
Those decisions are not mentioned in the Amendment. It talks of undermining confidence of our friends and allies but this is the result of deliberate decisions. If this is so why are the facts not mentioned in the Amendment? I cannot understand why this particular Amendment refers to some of the so-called symptoms but says nothing about what presumably in hon. Members' minds is the cause, which I assume they are saying is our decision to withdraw from Singapore and Malaysia in 1971 and from the Gulf at about the same time. Why is this not mentioned in the Amendment? The Services, about whom they are expressing concern, and the allies and electors about whom they are also expressing concern, have a right to know what Her Majesty's Opposition is thinking on these policy decisions of the Government. We have a right to know the views of the Opposition on this matter, particularly as the right hon. Gentleman, who has been appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party, said a few weeks ago that there was obviously going to be a General Election soon and urged Conservative stormtroopers in the constituencies to get ready for it—it was certain that the Conservatives would win that election. I do not think that either of those things is likely, but we have the right to know, if and when they are returned to power, whether they intend to maintain a military presence in Malaysia, Singapore and the Gulf into the 1970s. On that subject we have not heard a single word from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, the Opposition spokesman on defence. No one has told us whether the hon. Gentlemen intend to maintain a military presence until the 70s.
§ Mr. Reynolds
Now we are apparently told—would the right hon. Gentleman correct me if I am assessing him wrongly—that he agreed with the policy up to 16th January. Am I right in assuming that until 16th January the right hon. Gentleman agreed with the policy?
§ Mr. Reynolds
We still do not know whether right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite intend that into the 1970s, if they get the opportunity to do anything about it, they will maintain a military presence or whether they will withdraw from that part of the world.
§ Mr. Heath
I made the position clear in the debate before. What I have always said is that I believe we ought to maintain a presence in Malaysia and Singapore and the Gulf and that we are capable of doing this. So long as our friends want us to remain there it is possible for us to maintain a presence there.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I will come to that shortly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I will not evade the issue. I will be dealing with that point shortly. At least we have the position somewhat clearer now. I was rather worried by the thought that the Amendment was worded in its present form, in an effort to obtain a unified front in the Lobby tonight, because we know the wide differences of view among hon. Gentlemen opposite on this matter.
We now have it clear—at least, I gather that this is what the Leader of the Opposition was saying—that hon. Gentlemen opposite would wish to maintain a military presence in the Gulf and the Far East for as long as they possibly could into the 'seventies. One must look at the consequences of that. We would need in the Regular Army at least 12 more battalions of troops than are planned at present for the mid-'seventies. That would cost a considerable amount. We would need not just a new aircraft carrier but new aircraft carriers to allow a policy of that nature to proceed. We would need to purchase the F111 or a similar aircraft if we intended to stay in the Far East and the Gulf. We would need to retain literally thousands of civilians in employment in this country 258 to provide the back-up for our forces in the Gulf and the Far East—this at a time when hon. Gentlemen opposite are complaining about the number of civil servants, although if the policy of the Leader of the Opposition were implemented, they would need many thousands more civil servants.
Such a policy would also mean at least—and I stress the phrase "at least"—£200 million to £300 million more on the Defence Budget in the early and mid-'seventies than is proposed in the White Paper. One cannot guess from where hon. Gentlemen opposite would find this sort of money, but presumably there would have to be cuts of some sort in other non-military services. I will only say at this point that I am glad that we at least have a better idea now of their intention, which is to maintain a presence in that part of the world. We can only hope that they realise the grave financial consequences that would be involved in implementing such a policy and the cuts that would have to be made in other aspects of Government expenditure here at home to meet such a liability.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
They are consequences which the Government were intending up to two months ago.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I do not disagree, and I will explain why.
I believe that the decision to withdraw from these parts of the world is right, although I regret that we have had to speed up the withdrawal which was announced in July of last year. This has occurred for reasons which we debated a few weeks ago. The basic decision which we took—and it was the basic decision, and we are still working on it—was announced in July of last year. I believe that it is right and that it is the logical conclusion to the events of the last 30 years.
In the debate yesterday the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Michael Hamilton) criticised the Government and said that we went from scuttle in Abadan in 1951 to getting out of Aden last year. In both instances—
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I must interrupt the Minister. We know that the ice under his feet is exceedingly thin, but need he move quite so fast over it?
§ Mr. Reynolds
Considering the length of time that the hon. Gentleman has been in the House and has listened to speeches, I am surprised that he has not yet managed to generate the ability to listen to a speech and take it in. I regret that he is unable to take in what I am saying, speed or no speed. Most hon. Members have no difficulty in being able to absorb my remarks.
As I was saying, we were accused yesterday of saying that we would stay in Abadan and then of getting out, and of saying that we would stay in Aden and then of getting out from there, too. Our decision to get out of the Gulf and the Far East is, I believe, the logical conclusion of what has been happening in the last 30 years. Indeed, we still have a very long way indeed to go to catch up with the number of overseas bases which hon. Gentlemen opposite left when they were in power for 13 years prior to 1964.
In most of those instances, Conservative leaders said only a few months prior to their leaving that they had every intention of staying. It was, we were told, essential to have Cyprus as a base. But 360 lives later they decided that it was possible to have a much smaller base there. They made an agreement over the Suez base, yet they came out of there leaving behind millions of £s worth of equipment, only a matter of weeks after saying that we would be staying for one purpose or another. They built up a brand new base in Kenya at considerable cost, and then shortly afterwards decided to leave it. They decided in 1957 that the manned bomber could more or less disappear, and then they had to bring it back.
There have been many changes in defence policy over the last 30 years, many of them involving moving out of overseas bases, giving up our overseas presence and similar decisions. Those decisions were taken, in many cases, when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power. We are now progressing towards the end of that stage and it is a logical process that we should give up our presence in the Gulf and the Far East.
The right hon. Gentleman made a sarcastic reference—I use the word in reference to us and not to the Rulers—to the meeting held a few days ago of Rulers in 260 the Gulf area. He said that it appeared that they would be setting up a federation in the Gulf and, sarcastically, he went on to point out that we had condemned federations in the past. Our condemnation of the federations in, for example, South Yemen and Central Africa came about because they were forced upon us. We were the governing power in some of the countries concerned, but we are not the governing power or the colonial power in these areas. This meeting was held freely by the individual rulers concerned and if a federation should arise out of it, I would personally welcome it. It would be different from the deliberately created federation which we set up, completely against the wishes of the people who were living in the area at that time.
I come to some of the problems, which arise for our Forces, in putting into operation the decisions of the Government which have been approved by this House. I refer to the withdrawal from the Far East and the Gulf. We are now in a position when we would wish to link together the withdrawal from the Gulf and the Far East with the announcement, which has been made, of a rundown in the total of forces of something over 75,000. We will be withdrawing by the end of 1971 from the Far East and the Gulf, and will be bringing home, about 50,000 Service men and their families. While we will be bring home these 50,000 men, we will also, over a slightly longer period, be reducing the total size of our forces by 75,000 men, so that the total reduction will exceed the numbers being brought home. This occurs because one must retain a large number of people at home to back up the forces overseas.
During the last 18 months to two years we have withdrawn about 30,000 men from Libya, Malta, Cyprus, Germany and Aden. To accommodate those men and their families in this country, we had to purchase about 7,500 houses and refurbish barracks, costing more than £30 million. Last night the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) quoted my right hon. Friend as saying that to save £100 of overseas local expenditure in the Far East we had to spend £500 in the United Kingdom; and that to save £100 in Germany we had to spend £2,000 here. While his quotation was correct, he misunderstood the position. To save annual expenditure of £100 in Germany 261 or the Far East means our making capital expenditure once and for all of £2,000 and £500, respectively, in the United Kingdom.
This will not apply to anything like the same extent to the withdrawal to which I am now referring, from the Gulf and the Far East, for two reasons: First, we decided early in 1967 to purchase about 600 houses more than we required, at that time, for the withdrawals that were in progress, and to bring a few extra barracks nearer to a usable standard than was the position at that time. We did that deliberately, to put ourselves in the position of readiness against possible withdrawals in any other part of the world. Thus, we now have almost all of those extra 600 houses and the additional barracks, most of which are now near a state of readiness. A large number of them are in Edinburgh and in other parts of Scotland and are at present unoccupied.
The second reason is that we are discussing working out proposals to phase the withdrawals in with the rundown of the forces. As I said, while 50,000 men will be coming back, the total rundown will be of 75,000 men. I hope to give further information about this later in the year. It does not look as if any great requirement for large numbers of additional houses or barracks will arise. There may be some local needs and we may have to provide a few extra barracks in some isolated instances. But, generally speaking, we will be able to phase the withdrawal to fit in with the existing stock of houses and barracks, provided that the withdrawal can be done in an orderly way. I hope to say more about this matter later in the year. I would only add at this point that we will not have to incur this sort of capital expenditure. It has already been incurred and, as the rundown goes on, we will be able to use the capital assets in terms of the further units that are available.
It is right that at this stage of the debate I should say something on the question of Forces pay, because normally every two years at this time of the year we know the position. On most occasions this has been published before the debate takes place. On one occasion it was announced by the Secreatry of State in the opening stages because he was de- 262 liberately deciding to spread the increase over two years instead of one. We are in the position at present of not being able to make an announcement. Hon. Members will remember that a few weeks ago it was announced that the whole matter has been referred to the Prices and Incomes Board.
My right hon. Friend is in a rather unusual position for a Minister. Because there is no trade union for the Forces, he has to act in a double capacity. On the one hand he signs a paper submitting a case as a trade union general secretary to the Board. Then he has to sit as a member of the Cabinet deciding what will happen to the reply of the Board after the submission. We have made a submission to the Board, which is an independent body. We drew attention to the fact that when the original announcement was made, under the normal Grigg arrangements the Forces would be expecting to have an answer quickly. I am sure that the Board will pay attention to that and will give a decision as quickly as possible. Then the Cabinet can decide on it once it is available.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
When does the hon. Gentleman expect to be able to make an announcement?
§ Mr. Reynolds
That is what I have said. I cannot answer because the Prices and Incomes Board is an independent statutory body, and no Minister can instruct the Board to make a report by any given date. What we have done is to draw its attention to the fact that under the previous Grigg arrangements there would have been a reassessment of Service pay and salaries on 1st April this year. I am sure that the Board is aware of the position and will be making a report as soon as possible. One thing we cannot do is to instruct the Board to report by a particular time. It is an independent body. But I have every confidence that it will make a report as soon as possible. As soon as we get the report we shall make an announcement on any recommendations.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
Will the hon. Gentleman say something similarly about local overseas allowance following devaluation?
§ Mr. Reynolds
I was just coming to devaluation. When devaluation took place 263 we introduced a temporary provision to cover the then existing position. That came to an end on 1st March. Since then I have heard many complaints about the way in which the matter was dealt with. Some of those complaints were justified; not all of them, but some.
I want to explain the critical position we were in when dealing with this problem. One wishes that things were simple, but it was not just a question of increasing all pay allowances by 16⅔ to offset the effect of devaluation on Forces overseas. I take the case of B.A.O.R. as an example, but the same applies to troops in all areas abroad. Only two-thirds of the total pay of soldiers and officers in B.A.O.R. is drawn across the pay table. It is easy to see why this is. It is because Income Tax is deducted at source in sterling; National Insurance contributions are deducted at source in sterling; and a large number of soldiers make direct arrangements for sums to be remitted home for their wives and dependants in the United Kingdom. They are paid in sterling and they also have to pay hire-purchase debts and for savings of one kind or another.
For them two-thirds of the total amount of pay that could be drawn is in fact drawn in B.A.O.R. and the same applies in other parts of the world. Of that two-thirds only three-quarters is spent on goods purchased in relation to the Deutschmark. The remaining quarter goes in a number of ways into the United Kingdom account for remittances, savings through the Army Post Office, and things of that nature. What we have to compensate for devaluation is three-quarters of two-thirds of the total pay because that is the amount which has lost some of the purchasing value because of the decision to devalue. We had to allow for the fact that devaluation would have an effect on the standard of living in the United Kingdom. I think I am right in saying that a price increase of about 3½ per cent. was mentioned. We had to make sure that Servicemen in this respect would be no worse off and no better off than citizens in the United Kingdom.
Working out the total sum, three-quarters of the two-thirds, and making allowance for the increase in cost of living, for the B.A.O.R. is not itself a difficult question of arithmetic, but splitting up 264 that money among the 50,000 individuals who are entitled to draw it is very difficult. One has not got the actual machinery within the pay system designed solely to deal with devaluation of the £. So one has to make use of what is known as the local overseas allowance. So we split the amount of money up to make improvements in local overseas allowances, which vary according to rank and marital status, whether there is a family living with the man concerned or at home, and things of that nature.
Local overseas allowance was designed to make an extra sum of money available to be paid to the soldier in order to make his position comparable to that if he were living in the United Kingdom. Yet individual drawings vary. Some draw all the money and some save a large proportion. This is the only machinery we have, the local overseas allowance, but because some people spend the money very differently, some will have gained; and others, I am afraid, will have lost. But we have no other machinery for dealing with the problem than this rather blunt instrument of local overseas allowance, which was never designed to deal with a matter of this kind. We have tried to make it as fair as possible, but I do not deny that some have suffered in various parts of the world.
We are, however, speeding up the full review which is due to take place this year of local overseas allowances, to get back to a new starting position in which we can make sure that the allowances are up to date and genuinely reflect the difference between United Kingdom and overseas stations. Any increases in the allowance which are found to be justified will, of course, be back-dated.
§ Mr. Powell
Is the fall in the internal purchasing power of the £ which has been taken into account in the revision of the local overseas allowances the fall between November and now, or does it also include a prospective fall for a further period?
§ Mr. Reynolds
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that it was announced at the time of devaluation, or soon afterwards, that it was expected over the next 12 months the cost of living in this country would go up by about 3 per cent. That is the figure on which we have 265 been working. As one of the Treasury Ministers said the other day, the cost of living has gone up so far by 1 per cent. Therefore we have not taken off the full 3 per cent. because it is coming into operation at a time before the cost of living has gone up by the full 3 per cent., but it will carry on after the increase of 3 per cent. I think it is reasonably fair. I think the whole thing is fair, but there is the difficulty of splitting up the bulk of the sum among 50,000 people.
I want to say a few words about the run-down of the Services and the redundancy problem. We stated in the White Paper that redundancy would be at the rate of about 2,500 a year. Obviously, because of the shortening of the period and the hastened withdrawal from the Far East, the actual redundancy will now be faster than an average of 2,500 a year. I will give the current figures for this year and next year. In the Navy few if any redundancies will occur until the carrier force goes out of operation. This means no change from the previous arrangement, but nevertheless, it was reduced by 1,800 personnel for 1967–68 and will go down by about another 2,000 in the current financial year.
In the Army 1,000 men were declared redundant in 1967–68. There will be about 1,750 redundancies in the current year 1968–69, but the strength of the Army dropped by 2,000 in 1967–68 and will drop by 5,000 approximately during the current year. In the Royal Air Force there will be a redundancy of 950 in 1967–68; during the year 1968–69 the redundancy will be about 1,600 men. The reductions over this same period were of 3,250 in 1967–68 and about 4,500 during the coming financial year. I am glad to say nearly all the redundancies so far are from volunteers, except for some 240 senior N.C.O.s in the Royal Air Force, and some brigadiers and quartermaster commissioned officers in the Army. We hope to be able to fill as many as possible redundancies during the run-clown period by volunteers of one sort or the other.
Whilst redundancies will continue for some years to come, we still need recruits. Some 40,000 men leave the Services each year in the normal course of events and the average length of 266 service of all soldiers, sailors, airmen and officers is about eight years. We therefore need about 1,000 recruits each year for each 10,000 serving men in the three Services. Most of the redundancies which will be declared will be amongst older men. This enables us to keep the average age of the Forces down. It is essential to have a majority in the Forces of fit young men by declaring redundant the older N.C.O.s and officers, thus keeping open opportunities of promotion for younger Service men and officers; and to encourage them to stay on when there is the opportunity of a career—as there is in the Forces at the present time.
To maintain balanced Forces at the present time, and to maintain those Forces in the entire period covered by this White Paper and into the 1970s, we shall need some 35,000 new recruits every year from now into the foreseeable future. That means, in other words, we have to continue recruiting at roughly the present rate in order to maintain the balanced Forces required in the next ten years. We have to continue advertising as hard as we can on television and in other places.
I would like to mention the advertisement which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, brought before the House yesterday afternoon. I think it is a very good advertisement indeed; it is 99 per cent. correct. The hon. Gentleman has picked on the 1 per cent., and I readily admit that the advertisement does in fact mention "speeding up reductions announced in July", and the White Paper did say the reductions would be rather more than the 75,000 actually announced in July. I apologise for that and that will be put right in any further advertisement of this nature. The rest of the advertisement is completely correct. It says we shall have large Forces by peace-time standards, and that is perfectly true. We shall have very large Forces by peace-time standards. It says the Army will be "strong, with more fire power, a higher proportion of armour and more and better support than any Army we have ever had". It is perfectly true and applies to the other two Services as well. It says that the Army must be ready to go anywhere in the world, will have more overseas training and, most important, our commitment remains the 267 main commitment to the NATO Alliance—all factual statements which are correct.
We shall need 35,000 young men a year who will have to be physically fit, mentally alert and have above average intelligence in order to enable us to carry out these commitments.
§ Mr. Powell
As this is a further aid to recruitment, and the right hon. Gentleman and I are on the same side on that matter, can he give any further indication than the very vague indication in the White Paper and the Grey Paper of what this extra reduction is likely to be? He referred to it just now as "rather more"; the expression in the Paper is "greater", and it is unquantified. This is a great difficulty from the point of view of recruitment.
§ Mr. Reynolds
It is not really a great difficulty from the point of view of recruitment. We know we shall want a very large number of men. What I am afraid of is that we shall want more than we in fact can get. It does not inhibit us in recruiting at the moment, but I do hope by later in the year we shall be able to put more detailed proposals, concerned with this particular matter and others, before the House. It will be more than 75,000 men; the advertisement in that respect is incorrect and I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman and the House for it. We shall want these 35,000 men; we shall be able to offer them an interesting and useful career and, in most cases, they will acquire skills during their period of service, that will be of use to them later in civilian life.
There is, both for officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen at this present moment, whether they come in as adults or apprentices, still, and for many years to come, a good and viable career in the armed services.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I am speaking of the present moment, and it is slightly under 20,000. If the hon. Gentleman takes my rule of thumb and counts 1,000 for every 10,000 this would give him the approximate figure. The figures are in the White Paper.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Has there been consideration of the question of de-recruitment from the Army? It is my proposal, which I often put forward, that with the enormous amount of crime there is an enormous need for police and prison warders. I wonder whether the opportunity will be given for the officers and men in the army to de-recruit to defend the civilian population of this country?
§ Mr. Reynolds
I am glad this point has been made. We do "de-recruit", as my hon. Friend puts it, some 40,000 men every year from the Services back into civilian life. That is the normal run-out termination of engagement, or if someone leaves for compassionate reasons or is discharged for other reasons. It is a large number—40,000 a year.
One impression my hon. Friend has and which I know—from letters I have been receiving—others have, is that because there is a run-down going on we can let anyone leave the Services who wishes to leave. I am afraid that is not so. During the whole of the period of the run-down we have to maintain viable Forces, with units ready to go into action and meet any requirement made of them. Whilst the run-down goes on, the actual redundancy will appear only in certain specified ranks, trade and age categories. We are concerned with getting the number of recruits we need into the Forces, even up to the reduced level.
In conclusion, I must refer to the statement made by two of my hon. Friends in debate some 12 months ago, my hon. Friends the Members for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) and for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), when they called for a defence budget of below £1,750 million. So far as the White Paper is concerned we are now going further than that, with the necessary reductions of commitments which make such a step possible.
In the past three years my hon. Friends will realise that we have been able, by reductions in defence costs, to make a substantial contribution to the improvements that have been made during that same period in social benefits of all kinds. With the White Paper as now published, when the commitments that we shall have for our own defence and for the defence of Western Europe, I believe we have 269 come virtually to the end of that particular road. With the international situation as it is, I cannot see it is going to be possible for us to make any more large savings in the defence budget. We are striving all the time—and this is something which has always been going on—to make savings insofar as is possible for greater efficiency within the Services, but it is the job of Her Majesty's Government to make sure we have adequate defences. I believe we shall have them to meet our commitments in the early 1970's and I believe we shall then be able to get down to a period of stability so far as the Services are concerned. The growth in the economy of this country will enable us, at the same time, to improve the social benefits which everyone desires.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Charshalton)
I do not intend to follow the Secretary of State for Defence in the details of his speech. I want to look at the wider issue of defence which is covered in such a masterly fashion by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
I was impressed by one line in the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday, when he pinpointed the difficulties of asking the right questions in order to get the right, relevant answers. I should like to ask him whether he has ever asked himself what the purpose of defence expenditure was and on what basis we build our defence posture. On the narrow issue today, of course, as in the past, it is the defence of these islands, but there is far more to it than that, as my right hon. Friend pointed out this afternoon.
Since the rise of Communism, with our allies we seek to preserve peace for our whole Western democratic way of life. We sink or swim together. It is generally recognised that we cannot get security for this country or exert our maximum strength and influence in concert with our allies merely by manning the beaches or the airfields in the United Kingdom. This has been recognised for many decades. Before the war the late Lord Baldwin created consternation by saying that our frontier was on the Rhine. Today it is said that our frontier is on the Himalayas; and there is some truth in that. For that reason we had, and 270 still have today, our system of bases all over the world.
This defence posture meets our two requirements. First, we protect our own lines of communication, which are of decisive importance to these islands. I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) yesterday to point out that to these islands our shipping today is as vital as it ever was if we are to survive. Secondly, by our defence posture today we bring encouragement and help to our friends and allies on the periphery of the Communist world. In recent years there have been many examples of timely military assistance from Britain to our friends. The latest example is Mauritius. This readiness and capability to aid our friends and allies is usually referred to as "brush fire policy". That is one way of putting it. We stop incipient wars from escalating.
It is enshrined in national policy under the label, "The object of our defence forces is to stop wars from starting". I believe that both Conservative and Socialist Parties subscribe to that. It is a very good policy. I do not think that anyone can logically argue that we can follow this policy if we confine our forces to Britain and to Europe. Although as yet our European friends do not do much overseas, I believe that they recognise the value of what we are doing. De Gaulle may be an exception at present, but he will not always be there.
Under the latest Government plan which we have had in the last month or two we are making a fundamental change in our defence policy. It is no longer to be to stop wars from starting. That is not all. It was and is recognised that, if one of the free world's defensive segments gives way, in the end all may be lost. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition touched on this point. That danger was well demonstrated by Hitler in Europe in the 1930s. It is one reason why the United States is fighting in Vietnam, has her far flung dispositions outside the United States, has her early warning systems, her fleets all over the world, and has nearly 1 million men in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. Today in that strategic conception Britain stands by the side of the United States and her other allies.
271 In this context I was surprised to read a statement by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs reported in The Times a few days ago. I imagine that it reflects the Government's thinking. The report said:Yesterday Mr. George Thomson made a spirited counter-attack. He pointed out that the decision to base British defence on Europe—which does not exclude military support for the Commonwealth—is the delayed adjustment to the ending of Empire. It marks the inevitable end of an imperial defence system…If the Government really think that, I believe that they represent the modern Rip van Winkle, because that policy is very much out of date.
Time is running out. The policies announced by the Government are calculated to destroy our present defence posture and seriously weaken our links with our allies and our overseas friends. As we know, we are to withdraw to Britain and Europe. That has made very clear the importance which the Government attach to this. They have made such statements as this:We therefore intend to make to the alliances of which we are members a contribution related to our economic capability while recognising that our security lies fundamentally in Europe…That statement appears in paragraph 11 of the White Paper, Cmnd. 3515.
I question that assumption. Is it true at this time? Nobody doubts the great importance of Europe. The military cemeteries demonstrate that only too well, but in the last war Europe went and Britain survived. We survived because we preserved our lines of communication all over the world. I shall not dwell on that, because I want to keep to the wider issues.
The question, as I see it, is whether, by withdrawn from east of Suez, this country in particular, and the Western democratic world in general, is more secure. In judging this issue we cannot neglect the timing of our withdrawal. We on this side have said many times that we do not intend to stay for ever east of Suez; but is it not clear that there are aggressive and expansionist forces waiting now to take our place?
We know the Communist's strategy. If held up in one area, they probe another. Sooner or later the Vietnam war will 272 come to an end. If there is a vacuum created by our withdrawal from Malaysia or other parts of South-East Asia, the Communists will probe there. India lives under the menace of China and her nuclear bomb. She has already been attacked. The Gulf areas are highly unstable without a British presence at this time. The Government's proposed action will expose an enormous gap from Suez to Singapore in the southern front of the Western Powers.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I am trying to reconcile the point of view which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is expressing with the point of view held by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). In a speech made at the Conservative Party conference in 1965 the right hon. Gentleman said:However much we may do to safguard and reassure the new independent countries in Asia and Africa, the eventual limits of Russian and Chinese advance in those directions will be fixed by a balance of forces which will itself be Asiatic and African. The two Communist empires are already in a state of mutual antagonism but every advance or threatened advance by one or the other calls into existence countervailing forces sometimes nationalistic in character.The right hon. Gentleman ended in this way—
§ Mr. John M. Temple (City of Chester)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Gentleman to make a very long quotation in intervention?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) will bring his intervention to a speedy conclusion.
§ Mr. Heffer
The right hon. Gentleman ended by saying this:We have to reckon with the harsh fact that the attainment of this eventual equilibrium in forces may at some point be delayed rather than hastened by Western military presence.How does the hon. and gallant Gentleman bring his argument into line with that of the right hon. Gentleman, who unfortunately is not here at this moment?
§ Captain W. Elliot
I do not intend to go into all the details of a speech made by my right hon. Friend in the past. I had stressed the vital importance of timing. I hope that what my right hon. 273 Friend says will ultimately be so. But at present it is not, and that is why we are there. Look at what is already happening. The Russians are moving into the area. They are now installed on the Suez Canal and are moving south. They have learned the lesson of maritime strategy from Britain and the United States and they are building up their maritime forces. I understand that they are building an aircraft carrier, while we are scrapping ours. When Russia puts out a brush fire war in the future the result will be very different from what it would be if we put it out.
It is no good the Government talking about a capability to operate in other parts of the world. We just cannot send off plane loads of troops for 10,000 miles. Where are the lines of communication, the supporting forces, and the air cover? Without them we cannot send off those forces. In any case, if there is a Russian presence already in the area it would be folly to send forces there. It would be an incitement to war.
The whole balance of power is being upset before our eyes, and I believe that as a result war is closer. What should or can be done? First, I recognise that we may not have the wealth we once had to maintain large, self-contained, far-flung bases with the men and arms needed. Second, although Europe is of great importance at present, the danger areas are the Middle East and Far East. In any case, the Government are not withdrawing forces from east of Suez to build up those in Europe. I understand that they are also withdrawing forces from Europe.
We still have firm, powerful and well-situated base facilities at Gibraltar, Malta and Simonstown, though I do not know how long we shall have them if the Government continue some of their present policies. We must keep those bases. We must keep a presence in the Gulf and Singapore, not forever, but not for any stated period. We want a small presence, and there is all the difference in the world between a small presence and none at all. We can do this at a reasonable cost within our means. Our forces must then be reorganised on the basis of maritime strategy, by which I mean the ability to place a well-balanced force of all arms at a key point and time of our choosing. I do not advocate for one moment withdrawal of our army from Germany. That 274 is a good place to have it, and it must be somewhere.
I do not want to develop today the details of what our mobile force should consist of. An hon. Gentleman opposite made a very interesting speech in which he spoke of one or two technical advances, like smaller, cheaper carriers. To them I would add the vertical takeoff aircraft. A well-balanced mobile force is within our means. At times of growing danger we could split it and have the nucleus of two or more forces. That would give a coherent defence strategy, which is so sadly lacking at present.
Why have the Government made their present decisions? I believe that they are entirely political in concept. The Government think that they will placate General de Gaulle and smooth our entry into the Common Market. They see no escape from our economic difficulties except by entry into the Common Market. In order to get out of an economic mess the Government are abandoning positions of strength, throwing away solid assets in an area and at a time which is crucial to our security and that of the Western world. For that reason, I shall vote against the Government tonight, with the hope that we shall return to power in time to avert the dangers.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
If the apprehensions of the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) about potential Communist aggression are justified, what is the conclusion? Either we surrender or we accept the responsibility, unilaterally or in conjunction with our allies wherever we can find them, of resisting such aggression. Where does the latter conclusion lead us? It would make a demand on whatever Government are in power for the provision of vast quantities of modern equipment and manpower, all the paraphernalia needed in preparation for war. We must accept that those requirements are beyond our means.
The alternative which the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested appeared to be a kind of fragmentation of our forces, however meagre they are, distributing them all over the world, with small pockets here and small pockets there, parcels of men with available material 275 to deal with a situation should it arise. That is completely unrealistic.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Already? Surely not. Allow me to be warmed up a bit. Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman can intervene a little later. I have not the least doubt that I shall be interrupted several times, because the theme I propose to develop may vary substantially from that already embarked upon on both sides of the House.
What disturbs me about this defence debate is that it seems to be completely divorced from reality. I do not doubt that facts have been stated, but conclusions are not consistent with the facts. Before I develop that aspect of the theme which will occupy the attention of the House—I hope not for very long, but long enough to drive it home, because it is about time it was driven home—I shall say just a word or two about the right hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House from the Opposition Front Bench. What a contrast! This afternoon we had a conventional, orthodox—almost ultra-orthodox speech, amiable in delivery and expression, from the Leader of the Opposition. What a contrast with the speech yesterday from the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). Far be it from me to be offensive to him but, with the highest respect, I say that his speech seemed to me to be a denigration, a sustained denigration, of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.
§ Mr. Shinwell
As a Parliamentary method, it is up to form, and I raise no objection, because when I look round this assembly in an important debate on defence—the attendance was even worse yesterday—I wonder whether it is possible to survive in an atmosphere of this kind. It has to be livened up, and the 276 right hon. Gentleman does enliven the proceedings occasionally. But this is a debate on defence and he said nothing about it. That was the trouble. I will not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of indulging in quotations—that is common form with us. Almost every right hon. and hon. Member does it from time to time. It has been going on for years and will go on for several years longer. But he said nothing about the substance of defence.
What do I mean by that? Not merely the number of men, the categories, the finance, the munitions of war, the preparations for war, but strategy—by which I mean how we envisage a future war and, if we have some conception of a future war, what kind of strategy we propose to deploy should it confront us.
Even my right hon. Friend said very little on that subject, indeed, hardly a word. He may have thought that he had, on previous occasions, dealt with the subject, and that therefore it was unnecesary to do so again, but I regard it as what might be described as the solar plexus of the problem, the heart or perhaps the guts of it. We cannot escape from it. We ought to get the facts right.
First, let us take the Cabinet. There has been a division in the Cabinet for quite a long time. The division is between the Europeans and the Asians. I do not mean the Asians trying to come here but those who occupy a position somewhat different from those taking a European standpoint—those who would prefer not to withdraw our forces from east of Suez. That division has been going on for some time, and the Europeans have won. This is of the essence of the Defence White Paper, which makes it plain what the Government's objective is.
It can be found at the beginning of the White Paper, which is where it should be. On page 2, under the heading, "N.A.T.O. and the Defence of Europe", it says:We shall thus be able to contribute to the security of N.A.T.O. on a scale corresponding with our efforts to forge closer political and economic links with Europe.That is the objective. We are back to square one—the Common Market. All our defence strategy, our defence arrangements, our preparations in manpower 277 and the like so far as Europe is concerned are geared to the aspirations of the Government, supported by the Opposition, to gain entry into Europe. That is what it is all about, and let us make no mistake about it.
I shall venture to demonstrate the truth of that contention. Let us get some of the facts right, and for this purpose I have availed myself, unusually, of some notes on the subject. We talk about capabilities. Today my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for Administration talked about manpower and so on. Consider our capabilities alongside those of a potential aggressor. That is how we get down to brass tacks. What are the facts? I can relate them as regards the expenditure indulged in by the countries associated with N.A.T.O. in contrast with the countries associated with the Iron Curtain.
This country is spending more than £2,000 million, despite talk of reductions. The expenditure has gone up a little, but there may be reasons for that. I noted yesterday that my right hon. Friend referred to the proposed reductions as being consistent with the expenditure indulged in by France and West Germany. He is quite wrong. I do not know where he got the figures. The fact is that we are expecting to reduce our expenditure, as a result of withdrawal from east of Suez and withdrawals from N.A.T.O., to about £1,600 million. The expenditure of France and West Germany are almost identical at about £1,350 million.
So even if we reduce our expenditure, we do not reach the level of either France or West Germany. What about the others? Belgium spends £130 million, the Netherlands £300 million and Italy £700 million. The Soviet Union, without regard to expenditure by the other countries associated with the Iron Curtain, spends £30,000 million—more than twice the whole expenditure of the N.A.T.O. countries. Expenditure means weapons, and, to a very large extent, modern weapons. The Soviet Union has modern weapons far more devastating in their effects, if they were used, than anything in our possession.
Then there is the question of strategy. My right hon. Friend spoke about the old concepts of the trip wire and the brush fire—the terms used by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton. I 278 would describe it as a pause in a conventional war of limited character lasting, say, a couple of days or so. That is what all the military experts and the pundits have been saying for years. If it were discovered that our efforts to resist the enemy did not succeed, what would we do? This has been stated deliberately over the years.
I have here the Defence White Paper of 1955. I shall not trouble to read it out to the House. Right hon. and hon. Members should be acquainted with it. Similar terms were used in the Defence White Paper of 1962 and the same terms have been used by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The same terms were used by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), when he was Minister of Defence. They were that they would then use, if a limited conventional attack did not succeed, tactical nuclear weapons. Against whom? A potential aggressor? Why, even East Germany has tactical nuclear weapons—not the whole range of ballistic missiles, continental and inter-continental, but tactical atomic weapons with a range of 150 miles. We have nothing like that in N.A.T.O. What do we have to use against them? If we used tactical atomic weapons there would be a massive retaliation.
I should like to quote what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said in a defence debate last year. He said:If a Western nuclear response to deliberate aggression in Europe is inevitable, the non-nuclear members of the alliance must have some say in how and when the first use of nuclear weapons should be decided.That is only part of it. He also said:As I have often told the House, N.A.T.O. would be compelled to resort to nuclear weapons. Within days of an attack; and within days of starting to use nuclear weapons organised warfare would become impossible…In any case, everything we know of Soviet military doctrine, both from books and Soviet exercises, shows that if a war did break out in Europe Russia would use nuclear weapons from the word 'go'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 111–13.]The idea that we can avail ourselves of the intentions of the Soviet aggressor to enable us to prepare either for a pause or for a brush fire arrangement or anything of this sort is nonsense. It is not realistic. If there was the slightest danger 279 of war, Russia would stand no nonsense and would attack with everything she has. We have not got an earthly.
What is the conclusion one reaches? All the talk about capabilities, N.A.T.O. and defence, are utterly unrealistic. As I ventured to say to the Leader of the Opposition during his speech, France has withdrawn from N.A.T.O. There is no question about that. L reply to my intervention, the right hon. Gentleman said that he understood that negotiations were proceeding. I would invite hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to read the latest N.A.T.O. Letter and the statement made by the Supreme Commander. He made it perfectly clear. Perhaps I had better read part of it; it ought to be on the record. He said:The French withdrawal from N.A.T.O.'s integrated military organisation and the resultant uncertainty regarding the availability of many important facilities has had a profound effect, not only on our operations but also on the flexibility with which we carry out our operational missions. This particularly affects our dispersal communications and logistic capabilities.The fact is that France has done what she has been doing all along—defected.
How often have I warned the House about this! The right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden), who was previously Secretary of State for War, must know how, even when I was at the War Office, I informed all who cared to know anything about the subject that it was well known in N.A.T.O. that France, always ready to put something on paper, never implemented what she promised. That has been going on all the time. I can recall when she said that she would assign 15 divisions to N.A.T.O. She never did. She has defected all along the line and now she is almost completely out.
What is left? We make the most substantial contribution in N.A.T.O. The rest hardly matters. It might be said that Western Germany has 12 divisions. How many divisions has East Germany got? I challenge contradiction on this. If there are members of the Government or experts on the other side of the House with better information, who can contradict what I say, let them do so.
East Germany has 20 divisions. I am not sure whether they are fully up to 280 strength, but neither are ours. We have 24 divisions in N.A.T.O., a few mechanised, a few armoured, a few infantry—24 in all. East Germany has 20 divisions, and I understand has had 10 tank divisions assigned to her by Soviet Russia. She does not need the aid of Soviet Russia if there is a conflict in Europe. The conclusion that I draw from these facts—and if they are disputed, let those who have better information challenge them and give us the facts—is the conclusion that I have ventured to put before the House in defence debates on many occasions.
It is that if our forces were engaged in a conventional conflict, or used tactical weapons in Germany or Europe, they would be annihilated. I make no bones about this. I would withdraw our forces from Germany, install them in this country and keep them here. I would not necessarily reduce the numbers. I accept a strategic reserve. In parenthesis, although this is probably the most substantial thing that I want to say, I am not one of those—although I often disagree with what some of my hon. Friends think on the subject of defence—who accept the view that we ought to have no defence at all. The country would prefer to have defence, because it may represent to our people, a condition of security imaginary or real.
I do not argue the merits or demerits of this, but that is how the public feel. That could be said of the general body of people in the country. They want some measure of defence, and it is better to have it here.
I know that this will offend many people, but I say what I think, and it is about time that it was said: I do not want our troops to be used in order to defend Western Germany, even against Soviet Russia. I see no reason why we should go to their aid. As far as I know, they never came to our assistance in the past. They have caused more trouble than enough.
§ Mr. Shinwell
With the exception of General Blucher at Waterloo. That was a long time ago. The Battle of Waterloo was won on the fields of Eton, it is said. I object to British forces being used to 281 defend Germany. I see no reason why this should be done. If there is a conflict between East and West Germany, let them fight it out; let them devour each other.
I want to say a word or two about east of Suez. I have already expressed the view that I thought it was a calcullated risk to withdraw our forces from east of Suez. I accept that it was inevitable. The Government have come to a decision on economic, and to some extent political, grounds and I accept it and will support them. Nevertheless, I regard it as a calculated risk. We are under an obligation to our Commonwealth partners in that area.
A great deal has been said in this House about complying with obligations, responding to treaties—about our commitments. We have our commitments in S.E.A.T.O. Apart from this, there are commitments to Australia and New Zealand. I suggest that if there is an effort made by Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, or any of the countries concerned in South-East Asia with whom we are allied, to call a conference to discuss the need for military defence in South-East Asia, Britain should take part in it, and I hope that we will. Something should be arranged, something that might be useful perhaps for the purpose of preventing war—a deterrent, if you like. We cannot leave Australia and New Zealand in the lurch. I am certainly not going to be party to it.
As I do not expect Her Majesty's Government to depart from the decision that they have taken—justified, in their opinion—I accept it but I want the next best, some kind of arrangement of a military character, of an economic, political and diplomatic character, with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and, if necessary, the Philippines.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a very devoted Commonwealth supporter, but on the question of the defence of Australia, would not he agree that any invasion would automatically bring in American power so that anything we could do would be purely marginal, and is it not extremely unlikely?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I was in the Attlee Cabinet when the ANZAM Pact was agreed. I protested against our exclusion. 282 I have said that often. When it was decided that the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand should ally themselves in that pact, questions were asked why we were to be excluded, for various reasons which I cannot remember. I protested then for we should have been associated with the pact. We should be drawn in anyway because if Australia or New Zealand were attacked, we are bound in any event to come to their aid in some way. It is perfectly true that America has primary responsibility for coming to the aid of our Commonwealth partners in that area, but why leave it all to the U.S.A.? How could we possibly leave it to them? We are bound to act if there is aggression in the area. I hope that it never happens, but if it does, we cannot run away from our responsibilities.
The conclusions I reach are these: first of all, we should take our troops out of Europe. There is the question of expenditure in N.A.T.O. I hope right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will study the Defence Estimates. Let them take note of the expenditure on some of the "brass-hats" at N.A.T.O. There are some of them, like Belgian and Dutch generals, and admirals who have nothing to do. They would have no job at all except for N.A.T.O. and what service they render I cannot understand. Therefore, on the ground of expenditure there is no reason why that should go on. We should bring the troops back here and build up a Reserve Army if necessary. I am in favour of that. We could even respond to the demands for the rehabilitation of the Territorial Army. I believe there could be something of the kind as a strategic reserve in this country; and if we have the bombers and the ships we can use that if it should be found necessary. But do not take the risk of a conflict in Europe by defending Germany against Soviet Russia.
I know that my theme will not be accepted, though its substance may find some acceptance, but I state it and will continue to do so until we adopt a realistic defence policy within our capabilities and our economic capacity. Until we do so, I shall go on repeating this theme over and over again.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)
I agree with the right hon. 283 Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) in one important respect at least—that the Government's defence policy has been based very largely on political considerations and not on military ones. I agree with him that we should not leave Australia and New Zealand in the lurch; and, of course, I strongly agree with him about the Territorials. I am afraid I part company with him completely when he seems to indicate that our policy should be, overall, to stand on the white cliffs of Dover with pikes in our hands.
It is often said that the generals and admirals are preparing to fight the last war or the war before that, but in fact it is the Government who are doing this today. The Government have entirely failed to realise that a completely new dimension in warfare has come about
Before I develop this theme I would like to say something about this debate and defence debates in general. Defence debates tend to be scrappy and disjointed and are often, unfortunately, not very constructive. To some extent this is true whatever Government are in power, partly because any Government is inhibited by real or supposed considerations of security and partly because any Opposition is frustrated by the lack of information which the present system provides. But this is not the moment to discuss the pros and cons of specialist or Select Committees or any of the various alternatives. I would, however, like to make two points concerning this current debate. If it is even more scrappy and more bad-tempered than such debates usually are, it is because the Government seem to have failed completely to realise the very real worry and concern which their policy of continual cuts, of cut after cut, is causing on these benches and in the Forces, and in the country as a whole.
The general attitude of the Secretary of State—I am sorry he is not here now; he has not been here much during the debate—seems to be that it is only a trivial matter to stand policy completely on its head, to dismiss careful judgments of a few months previously and to twist and turn in the amazing way he has. For him to appear in sackcloth and ashes and say, "I am sorry, we cannot do what we know we ought to do", would be at least understandable. But to turn up grinning as he 284 did yesterday and to present a policy which reverses just about everything for which he has previously stood is an incredible performance.
Can the Secretary of State really be surprised that he and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister are now no longer believed by anybody in respect of anything they say? Can the Secretary of State himself really be surprised that he has lost the confidence of all the Armed Forces, officers and men, who, to be fair to him, were very impressed by him when he first arrived in office? Now he has lost that. The first sign of contrition we have seen in the Secretary of State was this afternoon, when he sat on the Front Bench opposite. absolutely pinned down by the attack led by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
He was in a fairly serious frame of mind. I could see his face. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could not. Debates on defence cannot be constructive unless the scenario has first been discussed. What the House and the country need during this debate is a logical expression of the overall policy of withdrawal from east of Suez and the concentration of forces in the United Kingdom, and why this is now necessary. This is why the Opposition Amendment is drawn in the way it is.
To be fair, I have a certain sympathy for the Government in trying to make a defence policy when their economic policy lies in ruins. It is not an easy job.
Clearly, in those circumstances, all defence spending must be carefully analysed and every penny spent must be justified. But clearly also it is impossible for us to be so completely armed as to be absolutely certain of being able to ensure our own defence unaided in any circumstances. What it is necessary to do is to strike a reasonable balance, to provide sufficient armed forces, to deter aggression and to exert a degree of influence in a world which is far from ready to discard armed forces as a means of settling disputes and to make reasonable provision for the safety 285 of our territorial frontiers, interests and commitments overseas.
But this is a logical process which certainly cannot be done by setting arbitrary ceilings for defence at a level somewhat below that which has obtained in recent years and then to declare, as if by some divine right, that this magic figure represents the best investment in defence. This logical process can be achieved only by looking coldly and dispassionately at the threats which the country has to face. I suggest that these are fourfold.
First, there is the nuclear threat. In my opinion, this is the least likely threat which we have to face, but we must have a deterrent because of the risk of nuclear blackmail, which affects all the other threats. The arguments for this have often been reversed. The second threat is of a conventional land war in Europe. However, the Government obviously think that this is unlikely, because the Cabinet decided only last week to abolish civil defence.
The third threat is that of conventional war at sea, of attack or harassment at sea perhaps below the threshold of what is normally called out-and-out war. The threat of war at sea must be taken increasingly seriously. The Soviet maritime build-up cannot be ignored. Today, the Soviet Union has in full commission 10 times as many U-boats as Hitler started World War II with.
The fourth threat is difficult to describe, but I would call it erosion of western influence east of Suez—what the late President Kennedy called the risk of being nibbled to death in conditions of nuclear stalemate. This is by far the greatest and most urgent threat. Indeed, it is more than a threat: it is the process which is happening today as we sit here. The very ease and comfort of our Western way of life anaesthetises us from noticing the wounds being inflicted on us. This is why we do not take more notice of this threat. This is why I started by saying that the Government have failed to realise that there is now a completely new dimension in warfare.
The main battlefield now lies not on the plains of Europe but elsewhere. It lies in the steaming jungles of Laos and the ruined cities of Vietnam. It lies in the bazaars of Bangkok and the city council of Singapore. It lies in the 286 swamps of Borneo and in the minds of 80 million Indonesians. It lies in the wrangles within the Indian Congress and in the swollen bellies of starving babies in Calcutta. It lies beneath the sweltering sands of Arabia and in the rumour, gossip and intrigue of the small Gulf states. It lies in the alarm to arms now pours out from Cairo radio and from millions of little red copies of "The Thoughts of Chairman Mao". This is the storm from the East to which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred today. But all this goes absolutely unheeded by Britain's Labour Government. This is why I disagree with the whole basis of the White Paper.
The meat of the White Paper is on pages 2 and 3 where the main decisions are summarised. It says:Britain's defence effort will in future be concentrated mainly in Europe and the North Atlantic area.Why should it be? The Government stated only last Thursday in the civil defence debate that the risk of war in Europe is greatly diminished. The Secretary of State said the same thing in this debate yesterday. Why withdraw from the places where the threat is greatest and concentrate on the area where it is least?
The next heading states that the Government intend toaccelerate the withdrawal…from Malaysia and Singapore and complete it by…1971. We shall also withdraw from the Persian Gulf by the same date.This is grave folly, for very many reasons which I should like to summarise. First, we have specific treaty commitments with Malaysia and Singapore and Australia and New Zealand under ANZAM to which the right hon. Member for Easington referred. We also have specific commitments towards our S.E.A.T.O. partners. For all the fine phrases about consultation and the cynical promises in the White Paper, this accelerated withdrawal is a unilateral abrogation of our responsibilities to those countries.
On his visit to Canberra two years ago, the Secretary of State said when talking about the Defence Review, which is supposed to be the great declaration of policy by this Government:The Review has been concerned not with the next few years but with the years from 1970 to 1980 and to some extent from 1980 287 to 1990. I think that the most important conclusion I am able to communicate to you"—that is, to the listening Australians—is that we do intend to remain in a military sense a world power".No wonder the Australians and New Zealanders are so disillusioned with us. No wonder Mr. Paul Hasluck, the Australian Minister for External Affairs, spoke sharply at the S.E.A.T.O. meeting in Washington when he said:Lack of interest in Asia today is isolation in its most feckless form".No wonder the Australians hooted with derision at a quotation from the Secretary of State last month when he said:The risk of war in South East Asia this year is extremely low".They say to themselves, "What is going on in Vietnam?".
At this point, I should like to say a few words about Vietnam. I think that Her Majesty's Government's policy of "sitting on the fence" over Vietnam is quite shameful in every way. The Americans and the Australians, when I visited Vietnam a short time ago, did not reproach me because we are not fighting shoulder to shoulder with them, although I personally think that we should be.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
What they said was "Why now of all times do you talk about clearing out of the Far East?".
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr
Would not the hon. and gallant Member agree that a very large section of public opinion in Australia and New Zealand does not accept that either New Zealand or Australian forces should be fighting in Vietnam and does not accept his whole thesis?
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
I do not agree with the hon. Lady at all. There was fairly recently a general election in Australia which was fought principally on this plank, and it was resoundingly won by the Liberal Party, in favour of continued intervention in Vietnam.
Concerning Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew made a most powerful plea for Britain to stay in Singapore. Many will 288 remember his television broadcasts when he visited London. Many will probably remember what the Secretary of State—I am glad to see that he is here now—would perhaps like to forget, namely, the Defence White Paper of 1965, which said:It would be politically irresponsible and economically wasteful if our bases were abandoned while they were still needed to promote peace in the area concerned…Our presence in these bases. our Commonwealth ties, and the mobility of our forces, permit us to make a contribution towards peace-keeping in vast areas of the world where no other country is able to assume the same responsibility.Perhaps the Secretary of State will be able to tell us, either now or when he winds up, what has changed since those days, except the collapse of the Government's economic policies. Has anything else changed?
§ Mr. Healey
One thing of great importance which has changed is that our forces brought the confrontation to a successful end.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
That is a perfect example of the sort of valuable work they can do. The Secretary of State is making my case for me. That is the point that the White Paper was making. I am obliged for that helpful intervention.
We have very large investments east of Suez which must clearly be jeopardised by our withdrawal. I want to think much wider than just protecting our existing investments, and these are the sort of terms in which a man in the high office of Secretary of State ought to be thinking. He should take a look at the population map and see the huge density of population, particularly in North India, China, Japan, Java and so on. It is not surprising that the greatest political and military pressures are generated in Asia. They are far greater than in Africa and far greater really in the last resort than in Europe. One must look further than existing supplies of tin, rice and rubber, important as these are. One must look to the future markets of the world and the trade routes to those markets. As a trading nation we have a vested interest in law and order throughout the world.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
I am listening with great interest 289 to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but is there not a fallacy in the argument that the maintenance of bases in certain areas where we have investments and trading interests can protect those interests? Was this not shown by the recent war in the Middle East? The fact that we had bases and troops in the area did not stop the oil taps being turned off.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
There is no fallacy here. The hon. Gentleman mentioned oil. There are those who say that the oil must come out, that the Arabs have to sell it somewhere; but there was a parallel with the Suez Canal. Nasser cut off his political nose to spite his economic face by closing the Canal, though many said he would not. There is no fallacy in this in the least.
Another completely separate argument is that the British have a strong moral responsibility towards the under-developed countries. I am sure that hon. Members on all sides will agree about this. It is universally admitted that military force alone is not sufficient to keep the peace east of Suez. Obviously policies designed to relieve poverty and economic difficulties and to redress the imbalance between the "have" and "have-not" countries are the best long term remedy for the problems involved. But freedom from want can never be achieved unless it is simultaneously accompanied by freedom from fear.
This also partly answers the question from the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson). It is useless, in the conditions of subversion which exist in Asia, to think that economic improvements can be achieved for these countries unless simultaneously they are helped to protect themselves from the various external and internal threats which come upon them. It is absurd to see these under-developed countries spend their scanty resources on arming themselves against their neighbours. Confrontation, which the Secretary of State mentioned a moment ago, is a model of the way in which we can help them.
The ultimate aim must be the one so often proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home); that is to say, art Asian regional security system, 290 but it must, in its formative years, be underwritten by the Western Powers.
The last main conclusion of the White Paper is thatNo special capability for use outside European will be maintained…I suggest that this is where the Government completely fail to understand the change in the nature of war, about which I have been speaking, and the relative urgency of the threats which menace the peace of the world. This is the eternal Labour ostrich burying its head in the sands of pacificism. This is the 1968 version of the Labour doctrine proclaimed by a leading Socialist statesman visiting the Winchester constituency in 1939, only a few months before the war, who advised the workers: "Do not help the capitalists in their hour of need. Refuse to enlist in the forces if you are asked and refuse to make ammunition if you are told".
To come up to date, Chairman Mao said,All power flows out of the barrel of a gun".This is a terrible doctrine and nobody wishes to agree with it. Certainly I do not. I have seen enough. But, so long as the world in which we live contains nations which believe this sort of thing, we must pay heed to their words and actions and we must prepare ourselves accordingly.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
I begin on a personal note. I have sat in the House for a total, though not an uninterrupted total, of 26 years. During that time I have very rarely found myself in accord with the party opposite. In fact, I have strongly differed from them on almost every major issue that I can recall. However, I am bound to say that on this occasion I share the deep concern which they have expressed at the continuous erosion of our national defences.
I will not indulge in very many quotations. We had a large number yesterday from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence, must have felt rather like Cassius in the quarrel scene in Julius Caesar where he said:All my words took down,Set in a notebook, learned and conned by roteTo cast into my teeth.291 I understand entirely the feelings of my right hon. Friend, but I must remind him of one debate in which he took part and one quotation which the House has already heard. That was the debate on 27th November last after devaluation. My right hon. Friend gave us a long and, as one would expect from him, an extremely lucid review of our defence commitments. He explained that there were to be cuts of £100 million, but that this was the limit and the process could not go any further. I apologise to the House for reading the quotation a second time, but it is important, because he went on to say:I believe, and the Government share my view, that we must, above all, keep faith with our forces and with our allies in making these cuts. We can have no reversal of the July decisions, which revised British's overseas policy over the next decade and fixed in broad terms the rôle, shape and size of the forces required to support it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 59.]That was a solemn declaration upon which our forces, our Commonwealth partners and our allies were entitled to rely. It seems to me that only the most overwhelming economic necessity could justify our going back on what my right hon. Friend said in the passage which I have quoted. For my part, as I tried to explain in an earlier debate, I am not convinced of the existence of that overwhelming economic necessity.
There may have been a case for gradually running down our commitments in the Far East. I do not believe that there can be any case for the sudden change made before 27th November and 18th January. I shall not go over all the ground which has been covered already by many speakers on the question of particular cuts in our defences. I refer only in passing to the cancellation of the F.111. It was made clear last year by my right hon. Friend that the F.111 was needed not just for operations in the Far East. It was regarded also as an essential part of our forces in Europe. How is the F.111 to be replaced? What is to fill the gap which is left now that we are no longer to have it?
Another aspect of the defence cuts was referred to in passing by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles). My right hon. Friend reminded us yesterday that Europe 292 is a peninsula jutting out into water, and he said:We could ignore this while the Soviet Navy was expected to serve as an ancillary to the Soviet land forces, but in recent years the Soviet Navy has become a power in its own right."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 65.]It is not as recent as all that. For a good many years, the Soviet fleet, or at least the Soviet under-water fleet, has been extremely powerful. I remember vividly, as many of us do, the days of the last war. We lost a good many battles, but there was one battle which we could never afford to lose, the battle of the Atlantic. The Germans began the last war with about 20 submarines, submarines which were not equipped with anything resembling the schnorkel device. Fortunately for us, although they captured that device in Holland in 1940, they never realised its potentialities until near the end of the war. If they had realised them, if we had not been able from the air to attack submarines as they came to the surface, we might well have lost the battle of the Atlantic. Today, however, if we can take the figures provided by the Institute for Strategic Studies, the Soviet Union has 400 submarines, including 335 attack submarines all equipped with the schnorkel device.
In his statement on 16th January, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said:There will also be reductions in the rate of new naval construction, for example, in the nuclear-powered hunter/killer submarines."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th January, 1968; Vol. 756, c. 1583.]Nothing has been said from the Front Bench about that. We ought to have an explanation, because this is one of the most serious reductions of all. We ought to know what it involves and what is its extent. Perhaps, while he is dealing with that, my right hon. Friend might turn also to page 37 of the Defence Review, where there is a reference to Ikara, an Australian long-range anti-submarine weapon system. Perhaps he will reassure us by telling us how much is expected from that new installation.
We have to revise our thinking, not merely considering these matters in terms of Europe as a land mass on one side, with east of Suez on the other. More and more, in the coming months, we 293 shall have to concentrate our attention on the Mediterranean.
I come now to the question of our withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and South-East Arabia. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend spoke of what had been happening in the Gulf and referred to the constructive approach of the Rulers in the Gulf to the problems caused by our withdrawal. Be it so. We all welcome the announcement which was made. But what we are concerned with is more than the intention of the sheikdoms and the countries concerned. We are concerned also with their capacity to provide for their own defence.
Again, I shall not go over ground which has already been covered, but no one can have any doubt about the Soviet interest in this area. If we withdraw before there is full provision for these countries to arrange their own defence, we shall offer a tremendous hostage to fortune, a hostage to fortune of concern to the whole Western world as well as just to ourselves.
I should like a word of explanation from my right hon. Friend regarding what he said in his television interview in January. The suggestion had been made that the sheikdoms, or some of them, might contribute to the cost of maintaining British troops in the Gulf. My right hon. Friend said that he did not wish to see British troops employed as mercenaries. I do not believe—I say this to him as a friend—that he was doing himself justice when he gave that answer. No one has ever suggested that our troops should be employed as mercenaries in the Gulf.
Mercenaries are soldiers who are hired under someone else's command. No one ever contemplated that. For example, supposing that my right hon. Friend and other members of the Government were more successful than they have so far been in obtaining offset costs from the German Government in Bonn, that would not transform our troops in Germany into mercenaries. It is an exact analogy.
Now, South-East Asia. Here I agree with two speeches made from this side of the House yesterday, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams). They referred in particular to the dangers of insurgency 294 warfare. We have seen this. On the last occasion when I addressed the House on this subject, I referred to what happened in Zanzibar, where there was a perfect example of insurgency warfare only a month after Zanzibar had attained independence. As hon. Members have said, there are occasions when the developing countries need military aid just as much, or even more than, they need economic aid. Had it not been for the presence of British troops in South-East Asia, Singapore and Malaysia might have already gone the same way as Zanzibar.
We are told that there is to be a meeting of the five Powers concerned in South-East Asia. Here, I agree with the latter part of what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). I did not agree with the first part, but I agree strongly with the second. Of course, we still have our obligations to Australia and New Zealand. We ought not to rely on the Americans to take those obligations off our shoulders. We must be in a position to discharge them ourselves. This applies to Singapore and Malaysia, too.
I put two questions to my right hon. Friend. The first has to do with Singapore. There have already been references to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Many of us had the opportunity to meet and talk to him when he came to this country a few weeks ago. He said to us, as, no doubt, he said to the Government, that he fully realised that we could not stay indefinitely in Singapore; he fully realised that Singapore must sooner or later provide for her own defence. But he is the Head of a City State, and he is concerned particularly with the air defences of Singapore.
Mr. Lee said to us, in effect, "I can train the pilots by the end of 1971. I can buy the aircraft before the end of 1971. But there are various technical skills to be found particularly in operations rooms which I cannot provide by the end of 1971". The request that he made was that that form of military expertise should be available to him after the end of 1971. This seems a reasonable request, and I hope that the Government will accede to it.
My second question goes a little further. It is one that I asked during the debate on 18th January. I did not receive an 295 answer, so I venture to put it again. We are told that we are to stay in this area just for the three years until the end of 1971. If all goes well, we can peacefully withdraw when that date arrives. But supposing it does not. Suppose, as may well happen, there is a continuing deterioration either in the Gulf or in South-East Asia. Suppose there is, as there may be, another confrontation with Indonesia. If circumstances of that kind arise, will the Government then reconsider their decision, and if necessary stay on with a military presence after the end of 1971? If we could have a favourable answer to that question, if not today, then at any rate in the near future, I believe that it would go a long way to repair the damage which has been done by the panic decisions of last January.
§ Mr. Dalyell
My right hon. and learned Friend has a record second to none in this House on matters of individual rights in Africa and Asia. Would he care to comment on the question of British military support for the regime of Harry Lee Kuan Yew which keeps its political opponents in prison without trial?
§ Sir Dingle Foot
On many occasions I have protested against detention without trial, and I shall be prepared to do it to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, as I have done it to others in different parts of the Commonwealth. That does not touch my argument. Today we are concerned, not with the liberty of the subject, important though that is, but with defence and with Commonwealth relations.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Derbyshire, West)
I am glad of the opportunity to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot). I agree with a great deal of what he said. When he rose I was not sure what line he would take, and I was delighted, as his speech unrolled, to find myself in agreement with a lot of what he said.
I go further than the right hon. and learned Gentleman did in my condemnation of the Government and of the Secretary of State for Defence. As I understood it, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that if the Secretary of State were to assure the House that if there was another confrontation with 296 Indonesia the Government would stay on after 1971 and meet it, this would go a long way to allaying his fears. As I understood the Secretary of State yesterday, he accepted that there would be commitments in the Far East, and that there would be an obligation on the Government to provide forces to meet those political commitments outside Europe if the need arose. The fact is, however, that by then our Armed Forces will be much smaller, and it will take much longer to get them to where they are needed. They will therefore be of much less value and effect than they would be today. This was not mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, but as I understand it he has accepted that we have a continuing commitment, and that we will send our Forces to help our allies and Commonwealth countries if we are asked to do so in the future after 1971.
The obligation on the Secretary of State is to provide primarily for the defence of this nation at home, and, secondly, to protect our interests overseas. It has been said during the debate that the fundamental difference between the two sides of the House is that we believe that we have commitments in the Gulf and the Far East which we should honour, and which entail now, and after 1971, the maintenance of a military presence in those two areas.
By these proposed changes the Government have done enormous and almost irreparable damage, not only to the morale of the Forces, but also to the confidence in us of our friends and allies overseas. I speak with a certain amount of self-interest, because I have a young son at Sandhurst, where he is training to be an officer. I therefore have some idea of the feelings which are rife among younger soldiers. I hasten to add that they are extremely enthusiastic, and keen to make and enjoy a good career in the Forces, but they are bewildered because they cannot see clearly into the future. I shall deal later with some of the things which are causing bewilderment, not only among cadets at Sandhurst, but among young junior officers. The trouble arises mainly from the fact that they cannot see clearly what they are being asked to do.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we are to have a mainly European rôle in 297 the future. So be it. This is the Government's decision, but, within that European rôle, what part is to be played not only by the Army, but by the other Services? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) referred to the question of the Atlantic defences, and the fact that the Soviet Union has an enormous number of submarines operating, or which could be operating, along our sea trading routes. Young officers and ratings want to know how they will be required to deal with this possible threat, a rôle which the Navy traditionally fulfils.
Men in the Royal Air Force want to know what kind of aircraft they will fly after 1971 and from where they will fly to fulfil the commitments which the right hon. Gentleman has undertaken. These duties will arise from our commitments in Europe, and also in the Far East and Middle East, where it is intended we should go to aid any of our allies and Commonwealth friends who ask for assistance.
When the right hon. Gentleman was talking about the nuclear trip-wire policy, he seemed to become confused. At one stage he was arguing that we must not have complete reliance on a trip-wire policy, because this means automatically using the nuclear deterrent, and this was a decision which he and the Government would find intolerable to take automatically. I did not think that there was any dispute about this between the two sides of the House. Nobody expects a trip-wire policy automatically to trigger off a nuclear reprisal.
As I understood it, the right hon. Gentleman then argued that because of that situation we must build up our conventional forces so that they could fight a retaining action—and this was our policy when we were the Government—while diplomatic action was taken to resolve the conflict, but if the retaining action was not successful, and our Forces were faced with overwhelming defeat, the nuclear deterrent would be used.
He then argued that we could not build up a large force with our allies in Europe because we could not afford to sustain it. However, if he does not accept the need to build up a larger and better balanced force in Europe, there would be no question of a retaining action to allow 298 diplomacy to be used. This is another difficulty for service personnel to understand.
The early part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was extremely malicious. I do not want to comment while he is not present, but he argued that we were facing overwhelming defeat by the Russians and East Germans and that the only thing to do was to pull out all our forces back to this country. Coming from the right hon. Gentleman, who has a certain reputation, that is extremely serious, since it is wrong and mischievous. I hope that the Secretary of State will completely refute it, since he must appreciate its effect on unsophisticated people and the younger people in the Services who do not understand these matters.
Another confusing matter was the reference of the Under-Secretary—
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
Things change so much that I am never sure of these titles.
He put forward the extraordinary argument that two battalions in the Gulf would mean four or five maintained at home, but admitted later that those four or five would be here anyway but that even so this would mean a much smaller saving. The saving of £12½ million given by the Leader of the Opposition was much more accurate. The Minister of Defence was trying to blow this us, and he knows that the cost would not be much greater.
The pay and careers of the forces are what those who are serving will want to know about. There is no point in going over all the assurances given in the past, which the Government have accepted, about the review of forces' pay. These are well known. On 1st April, there was to be a complete review of Service pay in the light of economic circumstances and increases in the cost of living, and an announcement about pay for the next two years.
But the Government have referred this to the Prices and Incomes Board and the hon. Gentleman sheltered behind the fact that the Board is independent and probably will not have enough time to report on this in time for a Cabinet 299 decision before 1st April. This is the Government's fault; they should have referred the issue to the Board in time for it to report. Now, officers and men wonder whether they will again be "done in the eye" and whether the Government will welsh on them or keep their word. They want to know where they stand.
If that is the kind of treatment dished out to those serving, no wonder recruitment figures have gone down as disastrously as the Secretary of State said yesterday. I urge the Government to do as much as they can. Of course they cannot direct the Board, but its report must be speedily prepared and the Government should then consider it urgently and announce their conclusions, if possible, at the beginning of April.
The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the pay difficulties of our troops overseas because of devaluation. I will not go into detailed cases: he knows that I have in mind all those serving in Germany. This has created hardship. I accept that the Government are trying to sort it out, but the difficulty is that people do not always spend at the same level. They have differing requirements in Deutschmarks as in sterling. This has not been worked out, and the Government must do so speedily.
The young particularly are anxious about what weapons they will use and the career structure which they will have. I will not go over again the changes which the Secretary of State has made in the last three years, but many keen young soldiers and officers are bewildered about the future, about whether their services will be wanted, and, if so, for what. As I said, my son is at Sandhurst and is being taught to handle an assortment of weapons, but he does not know what he will use as an infantry officer, if as I hope he gets a commission. The same applies, I imagine, to the other two Services. I urge the Government not to change their policy again, much as I disagree with it.
The hon. Gentleman said once again that this is the final figure and cannot be further reduced. I hope so, but we have become so cynical about Government statements that I can do no more than hope. I hope also that he and his 300 right hon. Friend will do everything possible to explain that they are firm in these intentions and will not change them for the worse and cut them again.
Hong Kong has not been mentioned up to now. There is a garrison there, but no one pretends that it can be reinforced and held against real Chinese military pressure. I think that the Government would accept that it is not militarily defensible. It is the only place, however, to which the 6,000 who by 1971 will be left in the Gurkha Brigade—in which I served during my Regular service—will be able to go after 1971, and they will, presumably, have to go with their families. I understand that there is no firm commitment.
The Brigade is uncertain about the future after 1971 and will want to know as soon as possible. I hope that it does not have to go to Hong Kong, because considerable pressures might then be exerted on the Kingdom of Nepal, which could seriously affect the recruiting necessary to maintain this meagre 6,000 force. I would not like this to happen, and I hope that the Government can make some other arrangements, perhaps, with Singapore or Malaysia to keep this force there. I should have thought that the stationing of them with their families in the garrison of Hong Kong will give the Chinese that extra pressure they want to use to stop the British Government from recruiting even the meagre 6,000.
It is shameful that the Government should have introduced this latest set of cuts and it is regrettable that, from the defence point of view, the country should be placed in this position. Our Forces are not well balanced and we must do everything in our power to cure the present very low standard of morale. I appeal to the Government to keep to their word and give some hope to our young people who wish to serve their country that they have a future in the Services.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) paid scant attention to the little matter of paying the bill, and it is to this matter that I want to direct my remarks. I believe if we did everything he wanted we would succeed in bankrupting our nation. I think Government spokesmen are beginning to 301 act sensibly in certain parts of the world and I would like to see them acting equally sensibly in others. The 40 hon. Members who have tabled an Amendment to the Motion are entitled to be heard. They have been asking for many years for some of the things which the Government are now doing. Therefore, we are equally entitled to be listened to with respect in the further proposals that we put forward.
On the question of arms reductions we are in a way acting as inverted Oliver Twists—instead of asking for more we are asking for less. The taxpayer should be grateful for our efforts. We warmly welcome the accelerated withdrawal of troops from the Far East, the Near East and the cancellation of the F111. If these things had been done 3½ years ago when we came into office, as we then asked, Britain would not be in the difficult situation which we are facing today and most of the Government's present problems would have been overcome.
Today there is a renewed run on the £. This results once again from the deficit in our balance of payments which in turn stems from the matter we are discussing. One does not need to be a professor of economics to understand the root of our troubles. As Paul Bareau, a distinguished financial commentator, has said, our commercial relations with the rest of the world show a large surplus. It is Government overseas spending which puts us in the red. This Government spending is largely military spending. If our total spending on the Armed Forces overseas and their arms and equipment were ended it would save £605 million a year. This can be checked by referring to the 1967 Defence Statement, Annexe H. Of this more than £200 million is in precious foreign exchange. That is something near the deficit on our balance of payments. I believe that by cutting this we would be doing something infinitely preferable to cutting our social services. If the Opposition's plans for continuing our overseas expenditure were proceeded with it must be clear to both sides that our balance of payments position would be completely impossible.
Even when the present measures of reduction become effective our arms spending will continue at £2,000 million a year at cash prices. There is plenty of fat on that carcase which should be de- 302 voted to other and better things. It is an illusion to believe that this is, or should be, the end of the road. Take one item, mentioned in the Amendment, that of military research. This amounts to £254 million a year, but there is also a huge amount spent by industrial firms on military research which is not included in this figure. One scientist in five, according to official Government spokesmen, is employed on military research. I believe that indirectly the proportion is even higher. Examination of the 1967–68 Estimates shows that a total Government expenditure of £518 million on research and development contains no less than £271 million on military research and development or 52 per cent. This excludes grants in aid of universities and colleges, where teaching and research are inseparable. From this it is fair to conclude that one out of every two scientists employed by the Government is engaged on war work. They work on such things listed in the Statement as military aircraft, guided weapons, biological and chemical warfare and other horrors. They would be far better employed in medical, industrial or purely theoretical research. The sums devoted to these are small in comparison.
Next there is the purchase of military planes from the U.S.A.—£755 million over the next 10 years for Phantom fighter-bombers and spares and £185 million for Hercules planes. A few minutes ago outside the Chamber I was challenged by an hon. Member opposite about the accuracy of these figures. They were given in a Written Answer on 21st December, 1967.
Another major item of expenditure is £200 million on the B.O.A.R. of which just under half is in precious Deutsch-marks. Even supposing the whole of this foreign exchange is covered by offset military purchases from Britain in the year ahead, it is nevertheless a loss, because the money, manpower and materials devoted to this kind of product could have been devoted to civil exports without having to provide £90 million to Germany in exchange. This brings me to the subject of N.A.T.O.—
§ Mr. James Davidson
Will the hon. Gentleman clarify one point about the cost of purchasing Phantom aircraft from the United States? 303 Although I was one of those who campaigned for the cancellation of the F111K order, does the hon. Gentleman realise that not only is the Phantom fitted with a British engine, but its cancellation would leave the Air Force without any tactical strike and reconnaissance capability?
§ Mr. Allaun
I do not accept that these American planes are necessary. If we are going to have these Phantoms at all I believe we should buy far fewer of them. We should build British planes rather than buy American ones. I was in favour of cancelling the TSR2, and even more in favour of cancelling the F111, because it involved a drain on foreign exchange.
If we genuinely wish to lessen tension in Europe and turn a détente into peace the most likely issue on which to get agreement is one which is in the material interests of both sides. The economic advantages both to East and to West in troop reductions in Europe is clear. So I was delighted to hear the Minister of Defence, with whom I do not always agree, say yesterday not only that N.A.T.O. is now considering balanced mutual force reductions in East and West but also that N.A.T.O. should be willing to proceed by mutual example rather than by formal agreement if we could get the process started.
This is the lead for which the world is waiting. Since 1922 disarmament conferences have come and gone without reaching agreement on anything, the reason being that the Governments of the world are so suspicious of each other that they are always waiting for the other to act first. I am all for unilateral action to end this vicious circle, but, short of that, limited unilateral action would, I believe, lead to reciprocal unilateral action by the other side. Thus the armaments race could be turned into a disarmaments race. This happened on a minor scale in 1963 when Mr. Khrushchev said, "Whatever the Americans do, we are cutting our arms expenditure by the equivalent of £240 million a year". He did that, and then Mr. Kennedy replied with an even larger cut, equivalent to £360 million a year. Unfortunately in March, 1965, the Americans began to pour troops into 304 Vietnam, which halted the process. That is why this process did not continue.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
Would the hon. Gentleman care to continue along that path and bring the argument up to date? What is happening in the Mediterranean, where the British have unilaterally withdrawn? Why do we see nothing but an immense increase in Soviet preparations?
§ Mr. Allaun
I would not like to answer the hon. and gallant Gentleman now because I had no intention of discussing the Mediterranean region. My argument is a fair one.
§ Mr. Allaun
I believe that the Vietnam situation has influenced thinking about the Middle East. The Middle East and Mediterranean questions will not be settled without America and Russia dealing with Israel and Egypt. The Vietnam situation is poisoning the position even in the Middle East. I believe that it would have been possible to reach agreement in the Middle East if it had not been for the poison injected in the Far East.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
The hon. Gentleman is obsessed with the Vietnam position and he brings it into every argument he uses. Would he agree there has been a unilateral cut in arms by Her Majesty's Government? If so, is he now expecting cuts to be made by the Soviet Government and other Powers in Europe?
§ Mr. Allaun
I will come to that. The simple answer is that it will need a cut to be made by N.A.T.O. The Minister's present line of thought could produce far bigger and more lasting results than those which were achieved in 1963, and more power to his elbow. The Minister has been talking not merely about getting an agreement between N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact Powers, which we very much want to see, but also about N.A.T.O. giving a positive lead. In reductions to encourage reductions by the Warsaw Pact. If hon. Gentlemen opposite do not think that, in such a situation, Russia wants to gain by withdrawing its divisions into its own territories and demobilising them, they do not understand the situation in the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his remarks of the last few minutes clash with his earlier remarks? It is clear that he and his hon. Friends really want Her Majesty's Government to get rid of all our defences. Why does not he and his hon. Friends say that clearly in an Amendment?
§ Mr. Allaun
That is not the suggestion. In this debate some hon. Members have said that we should withdraw our armed forces east of Suez. Others have said that we should cut them in Europe. We are saying that we should cut them in both areas. That does not mean that we are adopting a pacifist attitude for Britain. It merely means that, in those two areas, we should not pretend to have a world policing or military rôle.
Recently, General Sir John Hackett, Commander of the N.A.T.O. Northern Army Group, wrote a letter to The Times urging that there should be no reduction in N.A.T.O. forces. I am not tonight discussing the propriety of a general—who is, after all, a civil servant—taking part in public on what is a political and highly controversial issue. However, I ask the Minister to make it clear that he stands by the views he stated yesterday in the House, since it is worrying to find another Government spokesman saying quite the opposite—saying, in effect, that General Hackett's views coincide with the views of Her Majesty's Government. Unfortunately, I am unable to go further and quote the words used because they were uttered by Lord Shackleton in another place.
Sir John's letter to The Times referred to the danger of allowing, by British troop reductions in Europe, military domination by the West Germans. That was rich. For before he wrote his letter to The Times he applied for permission to write it to his immediate commanding officer. Who was he? None other than General Graf von Kielmannsegg, who already commands thousands of British and other troops in Europe.
If we ended the four major military commitments to which I referred—B.A.O.R., military research, Polaris and U.S. military planes—we would save £550 million a year, and what could not we do with that mass of money, manpower and materials?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
My hon. Friend refers to Polaris. Has he read the latest account of a missile test off the American coast, which cost £1,150,000, equivalent to the price of 10 advance factories?
§ Mr. Allaun
I agree with my hon. Friend because if we could save this vast sum each year the problems now facing the nation and the Government would be largely solved. Labour's plans for housing, health, education and pensions, in which we deeply believe, could be over-fulfilled. Industrial re-equipment could surge forward and our contribution to the war on want could become significant. This would be, for most hon. Members and their consituents, something worth working for and it would make politics something bigger than a contest in quotations and misquotations.
What I have suggested is the vital way to back Britain, instead of by the use of cheap and trivial gimmicks. There would be no need to make a mean cut of £5 million a year on children's milk, or £25 million a year by reimposing prescription charges.
Apart from all other considerations, this is what the public wants. When the Gallup Poll asked:Do you think that the Government is spending too much or too little on arms?five out of 100 said "Too little", while 58 out of 100 said, "Too much." The others thought the spending about right. My view is, therefore, not only right but popular.
When the benches opposite are filled, although they are not filled now—[Interruption.]—they are occupied to a large extent by serried ranks of retired generals, admirals, air commanders—the lot. I hasten to add that they are honourable and upright men. I am not saying anything derogatory about them, but when they talk of "making Britain great again" they really mean making Britain militarily great again. They are thinking in terms of the last century when it was possible for Britain to send a gunboat to subdue some small nation. Do not let us think that that is something which is now in the distant past, for it is only 12 years since the Suez invasion, which shows that these ideas are not completely dead.
307 These dreams are no longer realisable because there are much bigger sharks swimming around. Even if we quadrupled our present military expenditure and completely bankrupted ourselves, we still could not compete as a great military Power with either America or Russia. I weep no tears about that. If we want true greatness for our country, as I believe we do, it can be achieved only by securing peace, by bringing the Big Two together and avoiding a third world war.
I will refer to the leading spokesman for the Opposition on defence matters, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I told him that I proposed to do so. On 2nd February he took part in a discussion of the book, "The Iron Mountain" in "The World At One" radio programme. This is what he said—I have the full script and I ask the House to listen carefully to his words:I am strongly inclined to accept the author's thesis that war is, if not in the absolute 100 per cent. sense, essential to the life of human society, at any rate so deeply interwoven with it that policies and behaviour based on the assumption that it is practicable or possibly even desirable to aim at permanent universal peace are self-condemned.Whereupon, William Hardcastle, the B.B.C. interviewer, declared—as well he might:Good Heavens, even in the nuclear age?The leading spokesman of the Conservative Party on military matters believes that peace policies and efforts are impracticable or even undesirable. This was no off-the-cuff remark made in the heat of debate. It was the opening statement made by the right hon. Gentleman and clearly thought out in advance. Nor did he say anything later in the discussion to qualify this statement.
Thanks to televised scenes of the fighting in Vietnam, millions of people in our country have become horrified, even more than before, by the thought of war. They will regard the right hon. Gentleman's words as odious. I believe hon. Members on both sides of this House will reject his viewpoint. The overwhelming majority on both sides of the House put peace first. We may differ, as we have differed in this debate, about the means of securing peace, but I think 308 there are very few hon. Members on either side of the House who regard the search for, and pursuit of, peace as undesirable. However deeply we may be attached to obtaining more houses or better pensions, we know that these things are worthless if we are to be involved in a third world war.
I suggest to right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench that the implications of the right hon. Gentleman's words are very serious. Fortunately I believe the instinct for human survival is strong in our species. People will not only reject as wicked the statement about the undesirability of peace objectives, they will, I hope—despite all the setbacks—reject the view that it is impracticable. Pessimism is the pathway to acceptance and war is something we cannot accept. If we do not end it, it will lend us. We must be eternal optimists because it is these kind of people who get things done.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
I assure the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) that, however serried the ranks may or may not be, I am not one of the generals or admirals. I was not able in my somewhat humble military career to get higher than two pips. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) was certainly a brigadier. Therefore I would not presume to reply to the attack made by the hon. Member on his views because he is quite capable of looking after himself.
The hon. Member said how wonderful it would be if we could stop spending so much money on defence and spend the money in other ways. Of course it would be. In my constituency, and the same would be true of constituencies of other hon. Members, we need new primary schools, we need at least one new secondary school, more houses, more hospital accommodation and more facilities for mentally handicapped children. Dearly would I like to see these things provided and bitterly shall we feel the cuts which are being imposed by Her Majesty's Government. But it is no good saying as the hon. Member said—and he has disclaimed any pacifism in his policy—that we shall have some defence, but not enough defence to be inconvenient, to 309 deprive us of all the things we would like to have.
You either defend yourself or you do not. If the defence is insufficient, if the defence is out of date and unbalanced, if we refuse to pay the premium, we will not get the insurance. When the hon. Member said that he was putting peace first although he disagreed with some of us on the best way of achieving peace, he was recommending to the House a course which would assuredly bring war. He spoke of cutting more fat off the carcase—not a very flattering way to describe the Armed Forces of the Crown, despite what has been done to them by Her Majesty's Government.
I turn for a moment to a speech from the benches opposite which I liked more than the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, East, eloquent though he is. I refer to fie speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot). I nearly said "my right hon. Friend." hope I shall do him no harm by saying how much I agreed with what he said. I agreed with what he said about our broken pledges to allies and Commonwealth partners in the East. I share his fear of a deteriorating situation in those areas from which the Government have announced an accelerated withdrawal. If we name a date for departure it becomes increasingly difficult to keep to the date. That was what happened in Aden. There was more than a deteriorating situation there—there was a disgraceful shambles.
What was done in Aden, or what was not done in Aden almost puts in the shade the disgrace which again was committed under a Labour Government of abandoning the Palestine Mandate to bloodshed and anarchy and in the process earning us the hatred of both Arabs and Jews. Even that horror has been overshadowed by what happened in Aden. As we debate defence here today, there are people in Aden terrorised—who some say have been tortured—who have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment merely because they served Britain or were friends of this country. I indeed share the fears of the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich that we may experience a deteriorating situation in those areas from which we are to withdraw. It seems to me that the right hon. and learned 310 Member for Ipswich is one of the last of the Whig imperialists; he has a sense of mission. He believes that we should fulfil our obligations in the world.
I have found myself diametrically opposed to him on the issue of Rhodesia, but I understand now much more clearly and sympathetically the motives for his position on Rhodesia. He believes passionately in an obligation there. I can respect that although I disagreed profoundly with him. One of the charms of being in this place is that the more one is here—and I have not been here very long—the more one comes to appreciate the motives of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen with whom one may disagree profoundly.
Last time I addressed the House on defence and foreign affairs I spoke of the shameful and perfidious folly of the cuts and the decision to accelerate the withdrawals east of Suez. I do not unsay anything I said then, but I am feeling more conciliatory and constructive tonight. I want to confine my remarks largely to Europe and the North Atlantic, taking at its face value what is said in the Defence Statement on the cuts and what is said by Ministers that the British effort will be concentrated, in the future, mainly in Europe and the North Atlantic.
Whether we like it or not—and if we are not effete I think we ought to like it—we in this country and we Europeans will, in the future, have to shoulder more of the responsibility for our own defence.
There are tendencies in the United States of a new isolationism. It is becoming evident that the United States of America is even more a Pacific Power than an Atlantic Power. The war in Vietnam imposes burdens formidable even for the richest and strongest super-Power. At home in the United States the Americans face very difficult and dangerous internal problems. They have to meet the challenge of racial conflict; the dollar is no longer so dominant and Americans must be aware that, whereas we in this country spend about 6.4 per cent. of the gross national product on defence, their proportion is 9.2 per cent. When the hon. Member for Salford, East spoke of a run on the £ and the strain on sterling this is partly due, I think, to the position of the United States dollar.
311 The United States is no longer, and recognises that it is no longer, able to finance the development of the whole of what is known, optimistically, as the "free world". Those on this side of the Atlantic will not be able to shelter forever under the eagle's wing, and if we nurse that illusion we may have a very rude awakening. I understand the need to conserve our foreign exchange; even after the cuts which we have justly condemned Britain is spending proportionately more on defence than her European allies. We are spending a quarter as much again as France and the Federal German Republic, and considerably more than the Italians. Even so, I wonder whether it is entirely consonant with the new policy of concentrating the British effort in Europe to announce the move of a brigade of B.A.O.R. and a squadron of Royal Air Force in Germany back to the United Kingdom. After all, all is not well in N.A.T.O.; there is considerable disarray.
Sometimes, however, people are too gloomy about N.A.T.O. Circumstances have changed since 1949 and, indeed, in 1969 the North Atlantic Treaty is to be renegotiated and one can say "about time too". It is becoming urgent to have a real European defence system for the future.
I think the Prime Minister, who has stood on his head so often, should think again about what he has publicly said concerning the idea of a European nuclear deterrent. He has repudiated the idea, but he was very ready to criticise the Conservative Government for making the Nassau Agreement. The Prime Minister has said that that Agreement and the gearing of our nuclear defence policy to the United States wrecked the attempt of the then Government to obtain this country's admission to the European Economic Community. He is saying now that Europe cannot have its own strategic nuclear deterrent. I am very glad indeed that my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the Opposition, in his admirable speech, repeated his proposal for which he was much criticised on the benches behind the Government, of an Anglo-French deterrent which could be placed on a trusteeship basis at the disposal of Europe.
We shall have to have somewhat deeper thought about the Non-Prolifera- 312 tion Treaty. The Foreign Secretary comes down here, and the Prime Minister was here earlier today, and we are asked to welcome this Non-Proliferation Treaty—usually there is quite a bit of applause from the benches behind the Government, because the general impression is given that this is a treaty which has something to do with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, although China and, I suppose, France will have nothing to do with it. Then again, it is an international instrument so it must be right, but we do not really know what is in the final text; we do not really know the implications of the treaty. I want to know what the implications of this treaty are for the possibility at a future date of a European defence system possessing its own nuclear deterrent. Europe must have balanced nuclear and conventional forces, because we cannot expect to rest for ever under the American shield.
The Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday that he favoured the search for
balanced mutual reductions of the forces of both East and West…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 63.]This brings me back to the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, East. He and hon. Friends of his below the Gangway are also in favour of reductions of the Forces, but in the Amendments of the hon. Member for Salford, East and his hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), there does not seem to be any mention of balance. Indeed, what they are leading is nothing less than a campaign for unilateral disarmament.
I agree with the Secretary of State that we should try for truly equivalent reductions in the forces of the N.A.T.O. powers and the signatory States of the Warsaw Pact. I would even welcome mutual withdrawal of Soviet and United States forces. This is something which Sir Winston Churchill hoped for in 1953. There cannot be any safe withdrawal of United States forces, however, unless the European allies of the United States have their own effective conventional and nuclear capacity. Even the French recognise this. There has been some criticism of the French.
§ Mr. James Davidson
I am interested to hear that the hon. Gentleman supports the theory that in due course we may arrive at a total withdrawal of United 313 States and Soviet forces in Europe. Does he see the possibility that in those circumstances there would be a mutual guarantee by these super-Powers of European integrity without the need for a European nuclear force?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Whether or not there was a nuclear force, the idea of such a mutual guarantee was in my mind, and the speech of Sir Winston Churchill in 1953 even referred to a new Locarno or a greater Locarno. Sir Winston's conception was of a Europe from which the extra-European Powers had withdrawn but which the extra-European Powers guaranteed. I think that, until the world becomes very different from what it is today, it will be necessary for a European system to have its nuclear as well as its conventional defence.
I think that the French recognise the situation. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said some very good things about not leaving Australia and New Zealand in the lurch, but I thought that what he said about France was somewhat intemperate, let alone what he said about our German allies. Some people seem to be getting a sort of pathologicial obsession about France and General de Gaulle. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that France is an ally, an ally to be respected, an ally which knows how to assert its own national interest. I sometimes wish that we had a Government who were able to assert the British national interest. It is true that the French members of the allied integrated staff have been taken away. The French have left S.H.A.P.E. and AFCENT.
On the other hand, it is not quite as the right hon. Member for Easington suggested. There is still a French liaison mission maintained at a high level and there are still French troops under General Massu who are closely co-ordinated with the German forces in Germany. I believe that there is also still an exchange of radar information.
European defence is not simply a continental matter. As my hon. Friends have said, Europe is not the theatre of main danger. Indeed, the Secretary of State spoke of the danger to the flanks. For European and North Atlantic defence, our strategy must clearly embrace the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which is by way of being an 314 inland sea of Europe. It must also take into account vital interests and positions in both Africa and the Middle East.
The Soviet Union, ably assisted by Her Majesty's Government, have now achieved an historic aim, which was cherished but not realised either by the Czars or by Stalin, of getting its warm water window. Four years ago there were no Soviet warships—except, I suspect, some submarines—on the surface of the Mediterranean. A year ago there were 12. Now how many are there? Perhaps we could hear from the Government Front Bench. Are there 35 or are there 45?
The Soviet Union is not imperialistic, so it has no overseas bases; just as the Soviet Union, being not imperialistic, has no colonies it only has subject populations. Not having any bases, the Soviet Union has base facilities. It now has those base facilities in Alexandria, Port Said, Mers-el-Kebir, and probably in Aden and possibly in Perim. The 6th Fleet—50 or 60 ships, aircraft and Polaris submarines—is more than a match for the Soviet fleet; but we are not thinking in terms of a collision, of great fleet actions. What the Soviet fleet is doing is showing the red flag and bolstering Arab extremism against Israel and the West and making more difficult the task of Arab/Israel settlement. It has the great objective of the oilfields of the Middle East and North Africa, which are so vital to Europe's economy and Europe's defence.
Ironically, the Russian arrival to fill the vacuum is throwing the British Government back more and more upon the goodwill of countries such as South Africa and Portugal. It was ironic that it fell to the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy to say that Her Majesty's Government has given increased responsibility for the defence of the sea route round the Cape to the South African Navy.
I therefore ask the Government to weigh very carefully the words of the South African Minister of Defence, Mr. Botha, regarding Simonstown. We cannot kick allies in the teeth and then expect them to look after our interests indefinitely. It is neither logical nor honourable to expect the South African Navy to discharge this great responsibility for our security and that of Europe and 315 the West and deny them the means of carrying out that responsibility, namely the ships, aircraft and arms. The policy of bans and boycotts in Southern Africa is against reason, it is against Europe, and it is destructive of Britain's interests and security.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)
I hope that the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) will forgive me for not following his argument. I want to deal with some other matters concerning defence. I spoke in the equivalent debate last year and then indulged in a rather global sweep of broad strategic principles. I do not intend to follow that line this evening except to make two points. Obviously the Government were not entirely impressed with the wisdom of what I said last year. But I believe that we were spending far too much on defence matters overseas, that this was a major distortion of our economy, and that we were right to cut it. I am only too happy that the cuts were made.
This is where I disagree with the Opposition Front Bench. We heard a very interesting speech today from the Leader of the Opposition in which he attempted, I thought rather inadequately, to square the circle by explaining just how he would manage to maintain British forces in all the areas of the world where they were maintained when the Labour Government came to office. I put the point to the right hon. Gentleman—I am sorry that he is not here to take it—that there is no evidence, as far as I can see, that the Germans, the Italians or the French have the slightest desire to maintain any forces outside Europe. The right hon. Gentleman made a great play with French expansion. but fundamentally it is commercial expansion. Even where the French are selling arms, it is expansion based on the commercial sale of arms and not military expansion. I hoped that we should have a great deal more realism from someone who hopes to be leader of an alternative Government.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The French hold on in Djibouti, while we have abandoned Aden. They have an Indian Ocean squadron.
§ Mr. Moyle
I am aware that the French have an Indian Ocean squadron, but 316 Djibouti is not exactly one of the major bases in the world, and the squadron is not maintained really for a military purpose.
Fundamentally, my thesis is absolutely true, that the Western Europeans will not commit themselves in great numbers outside Europe. It is living in cloud-cuckooland to believe that they will. However, I do not want to develop that theme, since I want to raise a number of more limited points on defence.
First, it seems to me that from now on the Rhine Army will be this country's major land force. It therefore follows that if there ever were another European war the British Army would be contributing from Day 1 to any latter-day Passchendaele. This must be faced. There may be very good arguments for making the commitment. I do not want to go into them now, but it would do a great service to the country and the people if that fact were brought to their notice. I do not see how a first-class European enemy can ever be defeated without at some stage a Passchendaele or Stalingrad, whatever latter day form it might take. Therefore, we are inexorably committed to it.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence was very fair when he spoke about the Rhine Army in his speech yesterday. He said that it was a very well equipped, professional, highly-trained force and I am sure that it was so. He also said that it was the only European Army which had had fighting experience in recent years. I am sure that that is also true, but it seems to me that one must have mixed feelings about that and hope that its battle experience becomes somewhat less as the years go by.
If it does, its training assumes ever greater importance. Ten to 15 years ago, whatever the political and strategic arguments for a Rhine Army, there was an argument from the military training point of view. One of the criticisms of our Armed Forces when we entered the last war was that very few of our generals had had any experience of handling large formations of troops. One of the great advantages of the Rhine Army 10 to 15 years ago was that it gave British higher commanders a chance to handle fairly large bodies of troops in conditions as nearly resembling modern warfare as 317 one could attain in peace time. The training areas in Germany were much larger than had ever been provided in this country. German farmers were much more tolerant of their chickens being taken by hungry soldiery and their potato and cabbage patches being dug up by tanks, and so on.
But over the past few years we have put infantry battalions into armoured personnel carriers. Taking an infantry battalion out on exercise nowadays is very similar to taking a tank regiment out 10 to 15 years ago. The damage to the country and the space needed are comparable. We must face the situation in the Rhine Army that the amount of land available for training is rapidly contracting compared with the space needed effectively to practise the handling of modern forces. If that is not so at present, that situation is likely to develop very soon. Therefore, we must look at alternative training grounds, and I am glad to see in the White Paper that that will be done more and more, probably outside Europe.
It may be, therefore, that there is an operational argument for maintaining the Rhine Army at its present strength in North-West Europe, but I do not think that this can any longer be true. We see in the White Paper that a Rhine Army brigade has been withdrawn from Germany and brought to this country at a saving of about £4½ million in foreign exchange. The interesting thing is that it will remain at the beck and call of the commander-in-chief of the Rhine Army. Apparently it can be shipped to Germany at short notice, and will go there from time to time in the summer to train. If it is a practical project for one brigade to be handled in that manner, it may be practicable to handle a much larger formation in that way.
We are approaching negotiations with the Germans on an offset agreement. It seems to me that the prospects for a successful conclusion, however one judges them, are not as bright as they might be. Certainly the way in which we tend to beat our new-found European breasts in public has not encouraged the German Government to believe that they are in a weak bargaining position when they meet us round the table.
If we do not manage to get an offset agreement we are committed to a very 318 substantial expenditure of foreign exchange in the years to come, and it is questionable whether it is really a sound investment for this country. The figures quoted, which may be around £80 million a year in foreign exchange for the Rhine Army, are very large sums to spend on the maintenance of a British high commander in the high ranks of the N.A.T.O. armies. That goes far beyond putting the generals in the same class as first-division footballers who, up to now, have been the only ones who have claimed a substantial fee for the transfer of their contract services from one organisation to another.
This side of the matter needs to be looked at seriously. We have a situation where a brigade can be placed in this country and yet used in Germany at short notice, according to the White Paper. I am not saying that we could develop this situation very rapidly, in view of the large numbers of troops returning from other parts of the world. But we must consider that what is sauce for a brigade goose may well be sauce for a three divisional gander in the long run, and we may consider concentrating the whole of our forces here. The argument that we must have British troops in Germany in order to maintain the British share of the command structure in N.A.T.O. is not logical if we can have a brigade in this country which is committed to the commander-in-chief of the Rhine Army.
I should like to raise two points on the subject of the Far East. First, we have the problem of the Beira patrol. At present, I understand that it depends on Singapore for rest and recreation and, from time to time, on the servicing of the ships taking part. I understand also that it depends on the aircraft carrier being maintained in the area, and that this second point has been resolved as a result of my right hon. Friend's statement yesterday. Nevertheless, it is a source of worry that the main base for rest and recreation will be wound up after 1971.
§ Mr. Healey
Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend. Mombassa has been used a great deal for rest and recreation for those ships.
§ Mr. Moyle
I agree. I probed my right hon. Friend in the House the other day, and that is the answer he gave me. The 319 question must be posed in rather pessimistic terms: what is supposed to happen after 1971 to the Beira patrol? I ask not because I am particularly interested in the patrol after 1971, or likely to be, but it is very important that we should not give the Rhodesians the impression in the next year or two that they have only to hang on a bit longer and the pressure of sanctions will be relieved. My right hon. Friend therefore has some obligation to spell out in far greater detail just what arrangements are to be made for maintaining the Beira patrol. I should be grateful if he would do so.
I understand the Government's position to be that we are still committed to the same commitments to our allies in the Far East as up to now. Their argument only is that we do not need large forces in the area of South-East Asia nor large fixed bases there in order to meet those commitments. I agree with that proposition. Just as Australians and New Zealanders came to assist us in the two world wars without maintaining fixed bases and large forces overseas, so we should be able to do the same for them.
If this position is to be broadly credible, several points must be answered. One is that British troops could not be expected, if the ultimate emergency arose, to go from this country to South-East Asia, with its very different climatic conditions, and straight into action at short notice. There will have to be a core of British forces acclimatised, or who have had some experience of conditions in that part of the world, if our claim that we can help the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Malaysians and the Singaporeans is to be established. As yet, nothing has emerged as to how that operation is to be carried out.
Hong Kong does not provide the entire answer, although it might help in the acclimatisation sense from the point of view of circulating British forces through it and giving them experience of the climate. But it will not help with experience of living in the jungle, which will also be necessary for operations in that part of the world. This is something the Government must clear up if some of the points in the White Paper are to be firmly established in the minds of our allies.
320 There is one final aspect I wish to raise about the White Paper. We have in it a new theme—the peaceful uses of military forces. I can see that there may well be a big future for this, particularly when we get more and more of our troops stationed here. I notice that my right hon. Friend has begun a study of the peaceful uses of military forces, the results of which will come out at some time not specified. I look forward to that report.
If we are to have peaceful uses of military forces, it might be a good idea if the study group bears in mind the suggestion that officers too junior normally to command operations should be given a chance to command forces when used peacefully to assist the civil power. After all, the consequences of any mistakes they might make would be less drastic than in war and their experience in command might be valuable training.
I appreciate that such a commonsense attitude is not always easy to apply in practice because, in a peace-time atmosphere in the Services, where everything has to be signed for and accounted for, there is a greater tendency for rather more senior officers to be in control of this sort of operation in peace time than in war. But this is a wrong tendency on the whole, and it would be useful if this study group took the point about training of junior officers in the formulation of their proposals.
§ 7.25 p.m.
Sir Charles Mott-Radcliffe (Windsor)
The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle) made an interesting speech and put some questions which I hope the Defence Secretary will answer satisfactorily, notably with regard to the future of the Beira patrol, which arouses great emotions in some parts of the House, and also with regard to how we acclimatise troops who are to go into action in completely different climatic conditions after they have been flown direct from England.
Listening to the Defence Secretary and the Minister of Defence for Administration, I was in some respects reminded of the dance of the seven veils. Each time they took off a garment, more was revealed—except that, in the dance itself, what is revealed is, in theory, more attractive, whereas, each time the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman 321 made another statement, what was revealed was more alarming.
Great play has been made with the word "redeployment". What has clearly emerged so far is not that there is a vast amount of redeployment in getting out of the Far East and coming back to Europe but that for "redeployment". one should read, in large part; "demobilisation". It is clear from what has been said in relation to barrack accommodation that the intension is to have demobilisation down to the level of the barrack accommodation available. This implication is clear.
It is against this background that I ask what is the meaning of the statement that we shall retain a general capability for British forces use outside Europe. Our friends and allies in the Far East and in the Gulf should know whether or not that statement is meaningless. He would be a brave man who suggested that, in South-East Asia, things were entirely peaceful. The Foreign Secretary, almost exactly a year ago, told the House: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1967; Vol 742, c. 288.]If that was true in February, 1967, I find it difficult to believe that events in the Far East during the last year have made it less true today.
I know that we can fly troops almost anywhere within reason, but we have to have somewhere for them to land—an airfield held by our allies. Even if we land in a crisis, only for a short time can we continue to supply a force with ammunition or stores by air. We have to have some base somewhere from which one can supply the heavy equipment.
In relation to this rather vague commitment of retaining our capability for the Middle and Far East, how does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that we can retain any capability without a base or aircraft carriers? Once we have got out of Singapore, I would not relish the prospect of being Commander-in-Chief, Hong Kong, should anything go wrong there, or supplies are cut off from the mainland, and reinforcements have to be flown out from England, particularly if the right hon. Gentleman is still Secretary of State.
322 Yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman waxed eloquent about the Persian Gulf, with the Rulers of Bahrain, Qatar and the Trucial States getting together and working out a sort of embryo defence agreement. He said:The House may well ask itself whether these great and constructive strides towards greater unity and self-reliance in the Gulf would or could have been taken so rapidly and successfully had the British Government not announced its own decisions on the Gulf in January."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 57.]He takes great comfort from that. All those arguments were just as valid in November when the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs went out to tell the Rulers in the Gulf not that we were to go, but that we were to stay for a while. So much for the argument as to how well it has all turned out—but for our sudden decision to go this would not have happened. It is a complete non sequitur, unworthy of a Minister of State, and still more unworthy of the logic of a don. It is the most extraordinary argument.
He says that we are discussing our treaty relations with the various Rulers. If one wants to renegotiate treaties both signatories sit down and discuss it. They either reach agreement, in which case all is well, or they do not. But the British Government have abrogated, contracted out unilaterally from their part of the Treaty and then said to the Rulers of the Gulf "We are sorry about this. Now you can get on with the other part." That is exactly what has happened.
The right hon. Gentleman also said in the debate of 28th February last year in answer to an interruption from his hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew):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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1967; Vol. 742. c. 395]There was not much idea about what would happen in Aden. What has happened since? We did not even negotiate with a Government. Look at the economics. I do not know what the alleged saving was, but I know that we handed over £30 million in stores and equipment and paid the now Government when we got out £12 million by way of aid. So far all that they have done is to throw out 323 the military advisers that we left behind and arrest a number of former Federal Ministers on the grounds of their being pro-British. They have probably let the Russians into the base. If this is economics, thank goodness that I am not an economist.
When the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues behave this way in that part of the world it is not surprising that there is not much confidence in them. There is still money being spent in Bahrain and Sharjah. We were ready to spend £14 million to £15 million and building is still going on. There must be air-conditioned houses. These are still being built. No doubt just when all the installations and the buildings are complete in about 1971, we will get out.
When the Rulers asked if they could bear a part of the cost involved in retaining our presence in the Gulf the remark on television by the Minister was not only very offensive and inept, but it showed a complete, abysmal ignorance of either the customs or conditions of that part of the world. It violated almost every traditional courtesy which the Rulers of those States always show to us. I am very glad that he was obliged to apologise for what he said.
Having taken the plunge, thanks to pressure behind him, and got out of Aden and Singapore, I can think of nothing more irresponsible than deliberately to jeopardise the whole of the Simonstown Agreement. This brings me to the Navy. I will not attempt to compete with the right hon. Gentleman about the technicalities of the Navy. I was only an incompetent wartime soldier, thrice evacuated by the Navy, and very well. It seems now that we have the presence of the Soviet Union as a maritime force in the Mediterranean there will need to be a complete rethinking of a great deal of N.A.T.O. strategy.
N.A.T.O. is not, as some hon. Members seem to think confined purely to the Northern seaboard of Europe. N.A.T.O. is also concerned with the Mediterranean. Greece, Turkey and Italy are both N.A.T.O. and Mediterranean Powers. The whole of the N.A.T.O. maritime armaments and position must be affected by the Soviet pre- 324 sence in such great strength in the Mediterranean. The right hon. Gentleman did not say a word about that.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
All that the right hon. Gentleman said was that our own naval programme was running down. He made great play of the fact that we were contributing one frigate out of five to the N.A.T.O. frigate force, not in the Mediterranean, but in the North Atlantic. What will be left of British naval forces in the Mediterranean by the end of 1971? The right hon. Gentleman said that big oaks fall from little acorns.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Very well, grow from little acorns. To continue the forestry analogy, the right hon. Gentleman has committed the unforgivable crime of felling hardwood and replanting softwood. That is what he has done to the Navy construction programme.
With the run-down of the Armed Forces, our men will come home from the Far and Middle East. They will then be demobilised, to a figure for which there will be barrack accommodation. Supposing that the Americans, under considerable pressure from commitments in the Far East and Vietnam, wish to thin out of N.A.T.O. a little, which is not entirely unlikely. There might be an extra pressure in Europe, and we could well be asked to reinforce B.A.O.R. If we did that what would be left in these islands would be almost nil in the way of a Regular force.
These islands would be left with no Regular troops. There is to be no Territorial Army, no Civil Defence Corps, and no organised body of disciplined men of any kind to deal with any eventuality or crisis—and I do not mean a war, but serious flooding or some disaster of that kind. This seems to be extraordinarily unwise. The Government are a thoroughly disorganised body, quite incapable of dealing with any crisis, as has been shown, and it is high time that they gave way to someone else.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I hope that the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) 325 will forgive me if I do not follow him through the various courses of his contribution, on the Simonstown Agreement and the question of our position in Europe. I would like, however, to refer to his views about the Persian Gulf and the British Government's future plans there.
It has always seemed to me that had we continued with the plans to increase our forces in the Gulf and to make a permanent military station in Sharjah we would have been contributing not to the peace of the area but to disturbance, and inviting very considerable political chaos. Arab nationalism has always considered foreign forces in the area detrimental to their interests, and, incidentally, the Russians need not imagine that they will be treated in any different fashion from the British, French or Americans, though in this sense the Russians may find if they want a permanent base in Mers el Kebir that it may in the end be a graveyard rather than a staging post for them.
Whether or not one agrees with the kind of speeches made by Cairo Radio or the sentiments of students in Beirut or Tripoli, Arab nationalism has this hostility towards foreign bases, and if after we moved out of Aden we had got deeper into the Persian Gulf it would have been an automatic attraction for all the wildest voices throughout the Middle East, from the Moroccan coast to the Persian Gulf, and we would not have been able to secure the increasingly good relations between ourselves and the Arab world which enabled us, for example, to make a very useful contribution to peace in the November, 1922 Security Council Resolution.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I hope, therefore, that when the decision was taken to get out of Aden the hon. Member objected to his own Government's decision to build up bases in Bahrein and Sharjah.
§ Mr. Jackson
I did indeed. I urged hon. Gentlemen to read a pamphlet which was written about that time entitled "When Britain Goes". It would not be correct for me to name the author, but I thought it was exceptionally well written and something which has stood the test of time. I mention in the pamphlet the fact that in the Persian Gulf—and I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows this area—there never have been 326 permanent British garrisons. We have had the Trucial Omanate States, but, with the traditional culture of the people there, it would have been extremely unfortunate to see large numbers of British Service men going when off duty into Dubai where they would have been an easy target for Arab nationalists. I am very pleased, therefore, that the Government have reversed what I believe was an unwise decision to build up forces in the Gulf.
Secondly, I cannot understand the Opposition's view, generally that we should promise an indefinite commitment in the Gulf. An indefinite commitment attracts an indefinite hostility. As with any increase in the pay of Members of Parliament, there is never a right time; but I believe this as good a time as any. With peace in the Arab world, with the Yemen quieter, and with the British conflict in Aden disappeared from the headlines this is as good a time as any to try to plan for a long-term settlement of the Gulf situation.
I regret as much as anyone the words that have passed between the Governments of Iran and the Saudi Arabia, because I believe that in the long run the stability of the Gulf depends on good relations between those two Governments. To anybody who knows the geography, this makes common sense. But also we have, as a result of the decision to withdraw within four years, seen more progress in the last two months with these States moving towards unity, than we have had in the last 50 years. It is absolutely natural that the Trucial Omanate States should come closer. It is absolutely natural in the long run that they must be on better terms with Saudi Arabia; and it is natural that Kuwait should be a useful and positive force in the Gulf. With four years to go, it is about the right timing for the completion of the job Britain has done but which she could not and should not be expected to do indefinitely.
It is not exactly within the scope of this defence debate, although it comes on the periphery, but I have spent a good deal of time wondering what kind of security force we could have in the Gulf after the departure of the British Forces; whether, for example, the Trucial Omanate States Scouts could be organised with their own joint command structure from, 327 for example, the Arab States on the southern side of the Gulf. Or we could have the example of the Kuwait exercise when Iraq threatened Kuwait, of an Arab League operation. But I still cannot understand the attitude of the Opposition party that we should promise an indefinite extension. It seems to me that that would be inviting trouble.
May I refer to a remark I find equally incomprehensible made by the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that European powers should be extending their military influence outside Europe and with particular reference to France which, the Leader of the Opposition stated, was increasing its Polaris total and its nuclear capability. If the Opposition benches are suggesting that Britain should model her military policy on the military and political conduct of France, I believe this could be a national disgrace—a country such as France which has refused co-operation with N.A.T.O. and has flouted her allies. To copy such action would be putting us back half a century. Then on purely practical terms, if France thought she was going to increase her influence in the world by an extra Polaris submarine or extra nuclear capability in the modern Afro-Asian world she would be mistaken. France, in fact, would be weakened. To be fair to France, however, I believe her ambitions are more on the political, economic and cultural side than was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.
The other main area, apart from Europe, which has been the subject of discussion in this defence debate has been South-East Asia. Here, again, certain hon. Members opposite have in their assessment of the situation had a fundamentally false idea of the threat of Communism in the area. The Leader of the Opposition made a reference to the domino theory, alleging that this had been referred to in a Russian magazine. It would make me even more depressed if the Russians had been fooled by the domino theory in the same way as the Americans have been fooled, when it would be imperative for Britain to take a lead in clarification and understanding.
Indonesia could have fallen two years ago without a single shot being fired, through a coup d'état in Jakarta. American soldiers could have been fighting in 328 Vietnam. B.52 bombers could have been flying and 100 million people in Indonesia could have slipped into the Communist camp. The domino theory of movement step by step is a totally false theory for South-East Asia. In fact, I believe we are now getting, with regard to Vietnam, a counter-productive effect of the American military defence threat. Certain statesmen in South-East Asia, while they are prepared to accept a limited American force in the East, feel that the savagery and brutality that has happened in Vietnam is having an effect on their own people in directly encouraging them towards Communism. I do not think we have yet paid enough attention to all the possibilities of the Asian States Association.
Reference favourable to this treaty has been made from the Opposition benches but with the proviso that there must still be Western backing for a certain time as a long stop behind the treaty. Four years is long enough. If a sense of urgency is not created, people will not get together. The visit of the Prime Minister of Malaysia to Jakarta forms an important contribution to the progress of defence arrangements in South-East Asia. I have become slightly tired of hearing the suggestion today that Britain should be invited to discussions in the area between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, leaving out Indonesia. If one wants that country to be prey to neutralism or Communism, a good way of going about it is to leave out this country which has undergone a significant change and which now has, from my personal knowledge, a friendly Government in Jakarta.
I do not believe that Australia, which had good relations with Indonesia before the worst of Sukarno and which has good relations with Indonesia today, would want Indonesia to be left out of South-East Asian defence talks. With proper aid for radar and ground control in Singapore, with the maintenance of training facilities, I can see an Asian States Association performing a vital protective rôle in South-East Asia. The Chinese will not come down, as the Japanese did in 1941, in their serried hordes. If they did, they would meet not only the resistance of South-East Asia but the collective indignation of the world.
329 Not once in this debate have I heard mention from the Opposition benches of the United Nations. Not a single reference has been made to the rôle of the United Nations in peace-keeping around the world. The Leader of the Opposition talked about force going out of Europe. The best force which has gone out of Europe in the last 20 years, excluding our own country, has been made up of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Irish troops doing a peace-keeping job in the Congo and Cyprus. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) raises his eyebrows, but he knows as well as I do—he knows the area well—that if the United Nations were not in Cyprus today there would be a blood bath.
§ Mr. Jackson
I thought that that was coming. That is why I mentioned the other territory.
As Britain winds up her principal responsibilities in South-East Asia, there is no reason why the Government of Singapore should not invite a United Nations small presence. It would be a very good thing to discourage predatory forces of varying nations in the area. There should be less talk in defence debates about vacuums which need to be filled and big power politics here, there and everywhere. There should be much more emphasis on international security. Britain's reputation in supporting the United Nations—for example, sending our troops to Cyprus—is a good one. This is one aspect of defence policy which we should keep in the forefront of our mind.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson) is Vice-Chairman of the Anglo-Thai Parliamentary Association. I am the Chairman. I was very sorry that in his tour d'horizon of the extreme Orient he did not mention the country which we both of us have so much at heart.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson
I must apologise for that omission. I intended to include Thailand in the Asian States Association.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I shall mention Thailand rather more freely and at greater length. It is relevant to discuss its posi- 330 tion in the context of the so-called cutting of our commitments in the Far East.
There is a legend that what has happened in the last few weeks is that not only our troops in the Far East but our commitments have been cut. The Secretary of State, in previous debates, took great credit for saying that in the various changes of policy he had always ensured that when our forces were cut our commitments were cut, too. Therefore, I inquire, in this vital matter of our obligations to our ally Thailand, exactly what commitment has been cut. Certainly our ability to fulfil that commitment has been enormously reduced. But I cannot see that the commitment has been changed at all.
I have here the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty dated 8th September, 1954. I assume that the Secretary of State and the Government do not just write it off as an engagement entered into by a previous Administration. It is extraordinary that one should have to raise this point. However, the Home Secretary, in another context, on television only last week said that "no Government could bind its successor". The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) is a distinguished international lawyer. He would be the first to confirm that in treaty matters a Government binds its successor.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's corroboration. Governments are bound by what their predecessors have signed for them under international law. But it is necessary to make the point and to be reassured on it in view of the speeches made by some members of the Government.
Article 4(1) of the Treaty states:Each party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the parties or against any State or territory which the parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.Their obligation is to act in the case of aggression. It is true that in a subsequent Article there is an obligation merely to consult in the case of subversion. But in the case of aggression from outside— 331 for example, aggression by North Vietnam against South Vietnam—the obligation is to act. For that reason it is a most solemn and binding obligation signed by ourselves and many other countries in that area.
Article 2 goes further. It pledges us, and we have sworn:In order effectively to achieve the objects of this treaty, the parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and to prevent and counter subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability.In other words, all the parties, including ourselves, have jointly and severally pledged themselves to maintain and develop their individual capacity.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker
As the hon. and learned Gentleman has the Treaty there, will he confirm that under Article 1 there can be no action unless there has been a breach of the Charter of the United Nations and can he maintain that North Vietnam has been guilty of such a breach? Secondly, under Article 6, is it not the case that there can be no legitimate action unless all the parties have agreed, which has never been the case regarding Vienam?
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Yes. I am not citing this Treaty for the purpose of suggesting that we have an obligation under it to go to the help of South Vietnam, because I do not think it applies. To that extent I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I am citing this Treaty as a potential obligation of ours in the case of Thailand. It is a very serious and, I believe, real obligation which might at any moment confront us. This is a serious commitment out of which the Government perhaps ought to get, but they have not. I suggest that the legend that is put about, that our commitments in the Far East have been reduced, is not true. All that has happened is that our ability to fulfil those commitments has been seriously reduced. To the extent that we have pledged ourselves to maintain and develop our individual capacity, the Treaty has been somewhat breached.
Like all other such Treaties, this one has provision for an escape by giving a year's notice. Article 10 provides: 332This treaty shall remain in force indefinitely, but any party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines"—who are the Secretariat for this sort of purpose.
In other words, it is possible to reduce our very large commitments, but we have not done so. We have not done this concerning any of our obligations in the Far East. We have not fulfilled the boast of the Secretary of State for Defence that when our capacities are reduced our commitments are thereby reduced. Why, in that case, is he so intent upon his "general capability"? We do not know very much about it, but he always says, "Of course, we shall be able to fulfil our obligations or commitments by means of the general capability. This means that instead of having our troops present in bases in these far off places they will be flown or transported by water to fulfil these obligations." He is insistent on that point. I am sure that he means it, but it only shows even more that our commitments are not reduced. It just makes it much harder for us to fulfil them.
In a way it is a deception on the people in the Far East not to reduce our commitments if in fact we are reducing our ability to fulfil them practically to zero. Therefore, I suggest that, particularly in the case of Thailand, we should support her. Thailand is under immediate and permament threat not only of subversion—a matter touched upon today by the Leader of the Opposition—but also of armed aggression from the north. Thailand has done a great deal in the way that everybody is always adjuring countries of South-East Asia to do; that is to say, to look after their own defences and put their own houses in order. Thailand is a very great country and an example to the East. It has committed itself firmly on the anti-Communist side and I think that we should support it. On the other hand, it would be quite wrong to let Thailand, as so many other places, think that we would support her if ever the dread moment came when she could rightly invoke our aid under the Treaty if we do not really intend to do so.
I hope, therefore, that the Government, for their own sake, for the good name of the United Kingdom, and above all for the sake of this potential victim of Communist aggression, will let Thailand 333 know what their intentions are. Do they intend to withdraw from the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, as they can under the Treaty, or do they intend to leave the obligation vague, floating and grey, which in all international affairs is the worst of all possible worlds?
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dickens (Lewisham, North)
In his interesting speech, the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) made an effective point. I accept that the logic of the Government's defence policy in the Far East is to give due notice that we intend to leave the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. This must be seen as part of a policy on the part of this Government to reappraise Britain's post-imperial rôle for the remainder of this century and beyond.
The fact that we are now debating the fifth Defence Review in just over three years is a sufficient indication of the difficulties which the present Government have had to face in arriving at their present position, when, after 13 years in opposition—I think it fair to say this on reflection—they had failed to devise a policy or strategy which came to terms with Britain's position in either a military sense or a banking sense. In a military sense, we are now, at long last, seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. We have not yet arrived at that point in our world banking rôle,, with its international reserve currency obligations.
It is a matter for congratulation that the Government have now, in 1968, reappraised our military rôle. I begin by saying to the Government that, as one of their critics on defence matters since my election to the House in March, 1966. I warmly support their decision to leave Singapore, Malaysia and the Persian Gulf by the end of 1971 and to abandon the F.111 contract. These decisions have an overwhelming economic justification, as I shall seek to show.
Throughout this debate, the Conservative Opposition, in all their speeches, have totally failed to face up to the economic realities confronting this country today. The simple fact is that this country was and is living well beyond its means in defence spending. As a nation, we are still, in 1968–69, spending 6 per 334 cent. of our gross national product on defence, the highest figure of any European country outside the Soviet Union. I take issue with the statement made by the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday that the British figure was now roughly equivalent to that of France. According to the Institute for Strategic Studies document, "The Military Balance—1967/68", Table 3, France was spending in 1967–68 4.4 per cent. of gross national product on defence as compared with a figure then of 6.4 per cent. for Great Britain. I should like my right hon. Friend to tell us how France's figure has been increased from 4.4 to approximately 6 per cent. in one year.
The countries of the European Economic Community are spending, on average, about 4 per cent. of their collective gross national product on defence. If we had a figure roughly equivalent to that, it would mean that British defence spending next year would be about £750 million lower than it will be. This would mean for Great Britain a massive reallocation of resources from defence to national investment, the social services and many other sectors of Government spending. I want to see the Government moving towards that position. It is not at all unreasonable or over-ambitious to urge that, by 1970–71, they should be in a position at which we spend about the same as the E.E.C. countries are spending on defence. I want to see the level of defence spending reduced much below that in the Defence Review, although I welcome the reductions there envisaged.
Before I deal with some other effects of defence spending on the economy, I would like to have one item cleared up in connection with our defence spending in South-East Asia. In the Defence Review, at Chapter 2, paragraph 20, the paragraph on Malaysia, there is a discussion on the British defence commitment in Malaya, and our overall defence spending there. There is, however, no discussion of the function of the British Jungle Warfare School at Johore in Malaysia. On 6th November last, when I questioned my right hon. Friend about the functions of this school, I was told that since 1964 we had trained about 1,035 South Vietnamese, and 240 American troops in jungle warfare, at a cost to the British taxpayer of about £132,000. This is, as 335 it were, an underhand British contribution to the American and South Vietnamese war effort in Vietnam. I want to see that contribution brought to an end immediately, and I would like my right hon. Friend to answer this question tonight. Is there any obligation now in Malaysia for the further training of South Vietnamese or American troops at the British Jungle Warfare School, and will there be any expenditure in respect of this in 1968–69?
I believe it to be necessary for us properly to phase our military withdrawal from Singapore, from Malaysia, and from the Persian Gulf. I am not, therefore, basically unhappy about the decision to do so by the end of 1971. I think that this is a responsible attitude to take to this perplexing problem.
I turn, now, to consider the fact that even with these cuts in our defence spending we shall still, post-1971, be spending about £2,000 million per annum on defence. This figure is far too high. Indeed, looking back over the past 20 years, one sees that since 1948–49 this country has managed to spend £32,000 million on defence, almost the equivalent of one year's total gross national product. In the forthcoming financial year, despite the Government's attempts to make reductions, our defence spending will work out at 15s. 6d. per head of the population per week. Our defence spending in the forthcoming financial year, of £2,271 million, may be compared with a spending on our health and welfare services of about £1,650 million, and on housing of about £1,070 million.
Our military research and development budget next year will total £254 million, a derisory reduction of only 2 per cent. compared with £260 million in the current financial year. This figure of £254 million may be contrasted with the budget of the Medical Research Council for the forthcoming financial year of something less than £15 million, or slightly more than 5 per cent. of our total spending on military research and development.
Again, we see in the White Paper that our spending next year on nuclear submarines and Polaris missile systems will total about £70 million. This is broadly the equivalent of the cost of 150 new large comprehensive schools, or the construc- 336 tion of two new towns of the size of Crawley. Let no one, therefore, underestimate the immense strain on the British economy even of the reduced defence expenditure to which the Government are committed.
I have yet to hear one hon. Member opposite mention that a basic weakness of our balance of payments has been the continual rise in the foreign exchange costs of overseas military expenditure. This, coupled with the net flow of private direct investment abroad, has been primarily responsible for our balance of payments deficit. The present Home Secretary, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, was indiscreet enough on 8th November, 1964, when a "fresh man" in office, to admit in an interview given to the German journal Der Spiegel that if this country had not had such heavy overseas defence expenditure it would have had no balance of payments problem in that year.
The foreign exchange costs of defence have risen from £125 million in 1951 to £200 million in 1960 and almost £300 million in 1966–67. That figure must come down and I welcome the indications in the White Paper that at long last the Government are moving in this direction. But still, the cost of defence expenditure in terms of foreign exchange next year will be considerable. Annex H brings out the fact that they will still be £144 million, excluding the cost of the British defence commitment in West Germany, which we estimate at about £90 million.
Mention has been made of the offset arrangements intended largely to deal with the drain of £90 million caused by the British Army of the Rhine and our defence commitment in West Berlin. I put it to the Secretary of State that negotiations for new offset arrangements in 1968–69 will obviously be very much tougher than in preceding years, because of the American Government's determination to make considerable economies in the costs of their forces in West Germany. I should be grateful if he could tell us, first, what the total offset arrangements out-turn is for 1967–68 in West Germany, and, second, the prospects of negotiations for 1968–69.
I do not take it as axiomatic that we have any lasting commitment to keep 57,000 British troops in West Germany and Berlin. I want a phased withdrawal 337 on the same sort of basis as our announced withdrawal east of Suez. In short, by the early 1970s I want a total withdrawal of B.A.O.R. from Germany and a withdrawal from West Berlin. This would contribute significantly to disengagement in Central Europe. We are at present committed to spend £212 million in West Germany next year. We should remember that, not only do we have 57,000 men there, but we also employ over 32,000 German civilians to service those forces. As part of a phased exercise, we should move towards substantial British reductions in West Germany.
The time is now propitious for a political settlement in Central Europe and I can think of no better initiative for this Government than an announcement that we intend now, as part of the N.A.T.O. study of reductions of troop levels mentioned in the Defence Review, to make a token withdrawal of about 10,000 men in the coming financial year. This could be the first step towards the withdrawal of all foreign troops from West Germany—British, American and the remaining French forces—coupled with the phased withdrawal of Soviet troops from East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
This would take us back to the position which we as a party held in 1958, when we argued for disengagement in Central Europe, and could lead towards a general European security arrangement to replace the present N.A.T.O. arrangements in the West and the Warsaw Pact arrangements in the East. It is this towards which we must look.
I now turn to the question of manpower and manpower cuts. We have 417,000 men under arms in Britain, serviced by 380,000 civilian, and the Government expect that by 1974 we shall have reduced the armed forces to something like 320,000 men and 300,000 civilians. These figures, though a much welcomed reduction, must be cut still further. There is no justification at all for an army 150,000 strong stationed primarily in Britain when one hopes for diminished defence commitments in West Germany. I want to see the British defence forces reduced to less than 300,000 men at a date around 1971 and 1972.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
Would the hon. Gentleman continue this inter- 338 esting argument and say what those men would do?
§ Mr. Dickens
As part of the overall strategy of this Government, one would hope in an expanding economy that there would be ample opportunities for peaceful employment for those demobilised. However large the armed forces, I can see no significant problem in that. After all, the Government envisage a fall of 75,000 between now and April, 1974.
§ Mr. Dickens
I can see no basic problem of adding, say, 50,000 men as an additional number to the figures envisaged by the Government over a shorter period.
On the question of research and development expenditure, as I said earlier, we are spending £254 million on military research and development, 52 per cent. of all Government spending on scientific research and development. It is one of the highest figures in any advanced industrial country. This must come down. It is interesting to note that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in a recent Report drew attention to the fact that whereas in Britain, of our total research and development spending we spent 40 per cent. on defence and only 51 per cent. on industrial research generally, West Germany spends 17 per cent. on military research and development and 62 per cent. on industrial research; Japan spends literally nothing on defence research expenditure and 73 per cent. on industrial research, and Japan and Germany have a very much more impressive economic performance in recent years than this country.
Thus I endorse the Government decision to withdraw east of Suez, and the decision to reduce the level of manpower by 75,000 over the next five years. I want to see further defence reductions by a withdrawal of the British Army of the Rhine and impressive cuts made in military research and development expenditure. We can, if we decide on a change of policy on the lines I have outlined, get to a position in the early 1970s where the British percentage of defence spending is no higher than that of our trading rivals in the European Economic Community. This should be our short-term aim.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)
The Minister of Defence for Equipment last night suggested rather charmingly—I hope that his hon. Friends thought that it was done charmingly—that the Secretary of State would tonight be knitting together the ends of this debate. We have seen the Secretary of State do his knitting before, and I beg him not to go in for it tonight.
Above all, we want the right hon. Gentleman to attempt some serious answers to the fundamental points which were put forward today by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. How do the Government see the strategic position developing throughout the world? What is their analysis of future British interests for example, over access to raw materials and the means of getting them to this country? How do we protect those interests and how do the proposals in this defence policy match up to an adequate protection for those interests?
As my right hon. Friend said, it is the duty of the Government, and every Government, to give Parliament—and, therefore, the country—their assessment of these matters every year in the Annual Defence Review and debate. They are—or, at least, they should be—the main determinants of what our defence policy needs to he. But so far, neither in their printed Statements nor in Ministers' speeches, have the Government carried out their duty. We therefore ask the Secretary of State to do that duty when he makes the final speech in this debate.
In winding up for the Opposition, I do not wish at this late stage to attempt to add any new thoughts or arguments. Nor do I wish to go into great detail. My job is to sum up and try to bring into focus, under a number of main headings, the reasons why we cannot approve the Government's current Statement on Defence. Rather than approving it, we think it necessary to censure the Government…for having undermined the confidence both of the services and of our friends and allies, and seriously weakened the defence capability of this country.and to show why the Government's actions are, in our opinion, threatening the long-term security and prosperity of our people. We do not believe, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to believe, that one can separate the long- 340 term security of the nation from the long-term prosperity of our people.
I wish to sum up, too, the reasons why we believe that the Government's actions have dishonoured Britain's word to some of those countries who had the strongest right and need to depend on it, and why they have undermined throughout the world the reliance which can be placed on Britain's constancy of purpose and policy, with the result, as the Leader of the Opposition said, that we will be increasingly ignored instead of listened to in the councils of the world.
The first reason for our censure stems from the fact that this Defence Statement is but the latest in a long series of decision and counter-decision which has gone on in the last three-and-a-half years. It is the fourth regular Annual Defence Review or Statement introduced by the Labour Government—but, of course, there have also been a growing number of irregular or supplementary statements coinciding with each successive economic crisis into which the Government have blundered.
One common theme has run through all these Defence Statements. Each one has contradicted the one before. The only other consistency running through them has been that they have all been introduced by the same Secretary of State.
In 1966 we were given not a Defence Review but "the" Defence Review. We were told that the major decisions had been taken, that the whole panoply of planning had been brought to bear and that the broad course for the future was charted and certain.
It is true that the Secretary of State said that the Defence Review would now be a continuing and permanent feature of government, and that was presumably the concept of the "rolling programme"—a sensible and extremely valuable tool of management and policy control—but what we have had is not a rolling programme but a somersaulting programme, with the somersaults becoming more and more frequent as time has gone on.
This, as has been pointed out by many hon. and right hon. Members, is the fifth major defence announcement in 53 weeks—February, July and November, 1967, 341 January and February so far in 1968, and still another to come in the summer of 1968 because, as is stated in print in this defence statement, it claims to be only an interim one. After all the finality, after all the panoply of planning, this is only an interim statement.
I put one question to the Secretary of State to which I hope he will give an affirmative answer and a promise. It is that this year the next supplementary statement on defence in the summer shall not be introduced only one week before the Summer Recess. Parliament must have a chance to consider and debate it properly before we rise. An hon. Member opposite laughs, but I fear that there is justice for this in the light of experience.
§ Mr. Carr
I cannot quite hear the mumblings of the hon. Member, but I am not very interested in whose joke it is. What matters is that the country should have a chance to give proper consideration this time in the next statement.
There is no need to, nor do I want, to recall all the somersaults of the last years which have been mentioned in this debate, but I must recall those which have taken place since devaluation because whatever might be the rights or wrongs of devaluation or the arguments whether it could or should have been avoided, it was a cataclysmic experience. If the Government after devaluation had made a sudden roundabout change in policy, one might have understood it, however much one criticised them for creating the conditions in which it was necessary.
We have had a reversal and a somersault since devaluation. That proves the panic and wanton lack of any reasonable contingency planning for which this Government deserve to be censured. After devaluation we were first told that defence would have to be further cut at the rate of £100 million a year. Only two months later, on 16th January, the Prime Minister announced these additional severe cuts. On 27th November, the Secretary of State for Defence told the House—I am sorry to quote once again words which have been quoted 342 many times in this debate, but they are the key to this censure:I believe, and the whole Government share my view, that we must, above all, keep faith with our forces and with our allies in making these cuts. We can have no reversal of the July decisions…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1967; Vol. 754, c. 59.]I do not think I need quote the rest. He went on to reinforce that point,We can have no reversal of the July decisions.He added that the Chancellor had said last month that the reductions must be made from within the framework of the defence policies announced last summer. That was after devaluation. His statement, last summer to which the Secretary of State's and the Chancellor's remarks referred, seemed at last to be the rock bottom, but now they have proved not to be the rock bottom. How can a Government with any vestige of responsibility go back on the programme which they stated after devaluation was the minimum requirement to keep faith with our allies and our forces and to secure the interests of this country? How can the Secretary of State be party to this somersault and still remain in office?
We cannot help contrasting the Secretary of State's action with that of the present Home Secretary who realised that he could not continue in his previous office once his fundamental policy had been upset. He knew that, whatever the necessity for that policy might be, its credibility and hope of success would be irreparably damaged if he remained the Minister in charge of carrying it out. We cannot understand, and I do not think the country can understand, that, having made that solemn declaration as I believe the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) called it this afternoon, of what was needed to keep faith with our forces and our allies and to secure the interests of this country, the same Secretary of State should carry on in his office.
The second main cause for our censure of the Government flows directly from the first. The Government have let down friends and allies who had every reason and need to depend on us and whom it was, and still is, in Britain's own national interests to support.
My right hon. and hon. Friends, in too many speeches to mention individually, have given chapter and verse for the 343 ways in which the letter and, still more, the moral obligation, of our commitments have been dishonoured in the Middle East, in Asia, Australian and New Zealand. The House should take very seriously the remarks my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) made a few moments ago, when he questioned how much the former commitments had, in fact, been cut. It is even more dishonourable to pretend to maintain commitments but to remove the resources which alone can enable their fulfilment. In this connection the humbug of this Government seems to know no bounds. They now present as virtuous and right the surrender of commitments which, only a few months ago, they were presenting as being essential to British interests and our contribution to world peace.
I have in mind particularly parts of the speeches of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 18th January to this House, of the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday, and of the Minister of Defence for Administration this afternoon. If all that the Minister of Defence for Administration told us this afternoon was right, what gross miscalculations the Government must have been guilty of up to two months ago. They really cannot have it both ways.
I am going to recall, in order to highlight this humbug, one of the examples given in this debate about the Government's falsification of commitments, namely, our commitment to Australia. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) reminded the House yesterday, the Secretary of State for Defence said in an interview which he gave to the Sunday Times in January this year that the Government still acceptedthe same moral obligation to help Australia and New Zealand, if they are ever under direct threat, that they accepted in our case in two world wars".But, as my right hon. Friend also reminded the House, this obligation is, by the Secretary of State's own testimony, now impossible to fulfil. It is humbug.
The Secretary of State told the House on 1st May last year, when talking about the need for the F111, which has now been cancelled: 344It is difficult to think of any contribution which we could make to Australia's defence which would not require us to have this type of capability in our armoury."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 112.]Those two statements cannot be married together with honour. In our view, this retreat from responsibility, this dishonouring of commitments, both actual and in the sense made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen—that we have given up the means of fulfilling those we are nominally keeping—is not required by economic necessity. We are convinced, on this side of the House, that even in the present economic situation we could still hold at least to the positions maintained in the Government's defence statement of last July, which the Government themselves, after devaluation, promised they were going to maintain and said they had to maintain. We believe the country could bear that burden, even in our present economic situation.
The economic need following devaluation, as Ministers never tire of pointing out, and rightly, is to get a quick release of resources, to reinforce the capacity of the export-earning and import-saving industries. But, by their own admission of the obvious, these further defence cuts can have no effect in the immediate future. Indeed, in the short run they add to our burden to some extent. The release of resources which flows from them is in the much longer term, as the Government have admitted. The Prime Minister himself said this in his Statement on 16th January.
Are the Government really expecting us still then to be on our knees economically in the early 1970s? Is that the message that they are giving to the country and to the world? I hope not. Nor do I believe that that is the Government's real reason. No; the main motivating reason for the Government eating their post-devaluation promises of November is one of internal Labour Party politics. The Government never gave way to the strong reasoned arguments of men like the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). They may disagree with them, as we do, but they never gave way to them. Right up to and after devaluation they kept on rebutting those arguments and holding at least to the minimum essentials of their previous policy.
It was only during the political horse-trading of the Christmas Recess that 345 Britain's interests and commitments were sacrificed to provide a sugar coating to the economic pill. The Government have not bought off the Left Wing, just as blackmail never can be bought off. As the Amendment in the names of hon. Members opposite proves, the appetite of the Left Wing for defence cuts is still voracious and this was made even clearer by the speeches we heard today by the hon. Members for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) and Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens). Make no mistake about it: the Left wing of the Labour Party, having got us out of Asia, will not rest in its attempts to get us out of Europe as well.
§ Mr. Carr
I admit that it is not only the Left wing that has this desire, but I regard the right hon. Gentleman as a rather distinguished anachronism in this matter.
The third main reason for our censuring the Government is, in the words of our Amendment, the undermining of the confidence of the Services.
§ Mr. Roebuck
Rubbish. The right hon. Gentleman's argument is so false. Surely he recognises that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) wants us out of Asia. I do not particularly want us to go, but the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West does.
§ Mr. Carr
Before the hon. Gentleman takes up the time of the House in interruptions of that kind, he should read carefully what my right hon. Friend said. Some of it was read this afternoon. They ought not to omit the critical word "eventually", which my right hon. Friend used. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite seem to regard this matter of timing as a mere peccadillo, a mere detail. As I shall show later, it is so important as to be a matter of principle.
I was saying that the third main reason for our censuring the Government is, in the words of our Amendment, the undermining of the confidence of the Services. That, too, is a point which has been brought out over and over again with irrefutable clarity in many speeches. In winding up, all I need do to bring the 346 point home is to recall, as has already been recalled, another statement by the Secretary of State in last November's debate in which he specifically repeated what he had said in July. This is what he said:the Forces need, above all…a period of stability in which they can plan manpower and careers and adapt their equipment, training and support programme to changes in their size and shape…Service men and women are usually the last to complain…That is all the more reason to provide them with the basic reassurance to which they are entitled regarding their futures…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 77.]That was regarded as essential by the Government last July. They repeated it after devaluation. This was their final word, their solemn pledge. It has now been broken and upset; and all again is uncertainty. Therefore the confidence of our services has been undermined, as has been shown by many speeches from this side of the House in the debate.
The fourth reason for our censure is that the Government's decisions leave vital gaps in the equipment of our services in the 1970s. Ministers now talk loudly and proudly about the strength, efficiency and fine equipment of all three Services. That is true for the next few years, due more than anything else to the procurement decisions taken some years ago by the Conservative Government. Nearly every one of the main weapons or weapons systems so often repeated, Polaris, Chieftain, Harrier—Kestrel, as it was called—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Carr
There would be no Harrier today if we had not built the Kestrel.
What cannot be denied is that on the testimony of the Government the Services are now doomed in the 1970s to be without important items of equipment which until a month or two ago the Government said were absolutely vital to their needs. Two of the most outstanding examples in the Royal Air Force are the F111, which, apart from its continuing rôle, was claimed to be vital to bridge the gap between the phasing out of the Canberras and the coming into service of the A.F.V.G., and the A.F.V.G. itself, which was to have been the core of our future programme, operationally and industrially.
347 The fifth reason for our censure is the effect of the Government's vacillations on equipment on the industrial capability of this country, particularly in the advanced technology essential to defence. Of course, Britain can no longer make for herself the whole range of vastly complicated technological equipment required by modern defence forces. We must buy some from other countries, including the United States. We must make as much as possible on a joint venture basis, particularly with our allies in Europe. But we must also maintain our own independent industrial capability, and that is what is now in danger. The present chaos in the aircraft industry is the clearest example of that danger. It also reflects on our overall industrial and economic strength for peaceful purposes.
I would never advocate for one moment a policy of deliberately going in for immensely expensive defence projects merely for the benefit of technological fall-out throughout the rest of our economy. But if a country must have modern defence equipment, as we must, it should get as much benefit as possible from that necessity. In other industrial countries in a similar position the defence effort is made an integral part of the country's industrial strength and is seen to be such. When we cancel or fail to go ahead with some of the most advanced technological projects required by our defence effort we not only impose on ourselves a serious balance of payments problem but also a positive handicap on our technological strength, a mistake not made by other countries in similar positions. It is nonsense to suggest that Britain is no longer large enough, strong enough or rich enough to maintain that independent capability. Sweden, for example, which has no pretence to be in the first league of world powers, finds it economically as well as politically worthwhile to maintain her own advanced aircraft industry.
Finally, underlying and encompassing all the other reasons for our censure of the Government is our condemnation and rejection of the defeatist and narrow view of Britain's rôle in the world implicit in the Government's latest policies. We harbour no delusions of grandeur. We cannot dominate the world or any part 348 of it as perhaps we once did, nor do we want to do so. The old nation States like Britain are not in the same league as the super-powers of the modern world. But we do reject utterly the opposite outlook of "little England" and the concept of "fortress Britain." Such a concept would meet neither the needs nor satisfy the spirit of the British people, and if it were necessary for the British people to make some short-term sacrifice to avoid that concept, I believe that they would do so if that question were put to them.
Equally, we regard as inadequate and dangerous the concept of "fortress Europe". It surely ought to be part of Britain's rôle in the modern world to stimulate an increasing interest and participation by Western Europe in Asia and Africa, certainly not to sink herself inside an inward looking Europe, which is the course we fear the Government have embarked upon.
However that might turn out, Britain, unlike perhaps some other European countries, can only maintain her present population in prosperity by being active and involved in the world—trading, investing, getting our raw materials and making sure that we get them here. At least for the time being, that must require a limited but specific defence contribution outside Europe. How long that commitment will remain cannot be forecast. It may be—and no one would be better pleased than we on this side—that the time is only for a few years. But we cannot with certainty say when it will end. We cannot forecast, for example, as the Government are doing, that it can safely and suddenly end in 1971 or any other arbitrary date fixed years in advance. Meanwhile, until it does end, we must work through our alliances in our own interests as much as those of the interests of our allies, and, therefore, we must be believed to be constant and dependable allies and must make the effort and, if necessary, the sacrifice to be so.
In these circumstances, there are three essential purposes which our defence policy must meet. The first priority, of course, is our own immediate security, and that has to be based on Europe and N.A.T.O. To this extent, we agree with the Government and also with what the right hon. Gentleman said about Europe becoming more self-reliant in providing 349 her own defence in the years ahead. But the second and third of these three purposes are to protect our wider interests throughout the world—the sort of interests referred to by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—and to make some contribution to maintaining peace in the world outside Europe in places and circumstances where it is much better and safer that the superpowers should, if possible, not be directly involved.
It is these second and third purposes which the Government are now throwing overboard and for which we censure them, because, as my right hon. Friend made clear, these wider interests are not purely British interests. They are also the interests of Europe as a whole. They are too, of course, the self-interest of the countries in the Middle East and Asia and other parts of the world.
Of course, it might therefore be argued that the burden should not rest on Britain so much as it does but should be more fairly shared. But that is one of the inheritances of our past which we cannot just slough off when we wish to. Of course, it would be fairer and better if other countries shared more of the burden with us. Of course, we want these countries in the Middle East and Asia to become more self-supporting in their own defence. All this is agreed. But this is no reason for creating a vacuum there. It is no part of our policy to want to stay in these places for ever. But, as I have said, timing is not just a matter of detail; it is so important as to be a matter of principle, and one cannot forecast precisely in advance when the timing will be appropriate to relieve ourselves of some of our present burdens.
So we must honour our commitments as long as we have them. We must play our part, which includes a defence rôle in promoting security, stability and self sufficiency, and I quote for the last time what the Secretary of State said in our defence debate a year ago. He said:In South-East Asia during confrontation, as in East Africa on a much smaller scale during the Army mutinies of 1964, British forces helped to create a situation in which the local people were able to achieve peaceful settlement of their problems on their own…There would have been chaos in East Africa and in a large part of South-East Asia if we had not been willing and able to perform this rôle350 He went on:This achievement…was only possible for certain reasons. First, we were operating from a secure base in Singapore and Malaysia, with support not only of the local government, but also of the local population.That was a condition of our ability to prevent the chaos of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, and it is a condition which he is now to nullify, and for this we censure him. What will happen when this is nullified?
I continue the quotation:…the purpose of our is to foster developments which will enable the local people to live at peace without the presence of external forces…He developed that as the purpose of our policy and said that in the meantime our forces would help. He ended:In my view, to renounce all capability for this type of action now would be not only to violate formal obligations, but also to abdicate a precious power which we have to contribute to world peace and to prevent needless human suffering."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 116–17.]"Precious power." We agree. That is what, under this Government, we are now giving up, and that is why we are censuring them.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
With the leave of the House I will speak again. We have had many thoughtful and constructive contributions from the back benches over the last two days, and I will certainly reflect on the interesting points made by my hon. Friends the Members for Horn-church (Mr. Alan Lee Williams), and Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson) on our rôle outside Europe, and on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) on N.A.T.O. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell) will forgive me if, much as I appreciate his personal support, I do not follow him all the way on Europe.
I can assure my hon. Friend for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) that, as I said yesterday, we look forward to joining our Commonwealth friends in a five-Power conference on the problems of South-East Asia within the next few months. One subject likely to be on the agenda is the provision of an air defence system for Singapore and Malaysia. I 351 hope that that will go some way to reconcile my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) to some of the decisions that we have recently taken and debated.
As to the Opposition Front Bench, its speeches today were at least a good deal more relevant to the nation's defence than the speeches yesterday. I must confess that during the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) I dozed off and at one point I dreamt that he was making the speech that we heard in this House six weeks ago. Then I woke up and found that he was. Even worse the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew), when he wound up, made the same speech once again, though I confess that, from the purely histrionic point of view, his studied gestures added something to it.
For much of his speech the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) made the same speech once again, but I agree that he made it in a much more measured and moderate tone, and added some interesting, important and positive comments at the end.
I do not object to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, to quote the Daily Telegraph this morning coming:…to the fray laden with faded Defence White Papers, old copies of HANSARD, yellowing newspaper cuttings and transcripts of television programmes.But it would be nice now and again to hear something new, even if we have to give up all hope of hearing anything constructive. On the other hand the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made a speech this afternoon which was full of important and constructive ideas, though some of what he said about Vietnam may not appear directly relevant, either to the Motion we are debating or the Opposition's Amendment.
He asked me if I would say something about the problems which might face the European members of N.A.T.O. if the Soviet Union and the United States proceeded to deploy a comprehensive antiballistic missile system. He went on to argue that Britain should seek to pool its nuclear forces with those of France. I should like to deal with those issues at a little length, even if it means leaving some other questions raised by hon. 352 Members to be dealt with in later debates during the separate Service Estimates.
I want to begin by talking about the anti-ballistic missile problem. I must tell the House that the problems we have to discuss here have quite horrifying implications. I hope I will be forgiven if I appear to discuss them more coolly than ordinary people would wish and, indeed, if I fail to discuss them as adequately as I would wish because I have only half an hour altogether at my disposal and there are other matters to discuss.
Let me first say that although the Russians appear to be deploying an A.B.M. system to cover part of European Russia there is as yet no firm evidence that they intend to deploy this system so as to cover the Soviet Union as a whole. The United States Government have declared their intention of deploying a light A.B.M. system, primarily as a defence against a Chinese missile attack during the early years of the next decade, but they have so far indicated that they do not propose to extend this system so as to give them comprehensive cover against an attack on a scale such as the Soviet Union might be able to mount. Therefore, we do not at the moment have clear evidence of a decision by either of the major nuclear Powers to deploy a comprehensive system.
The second point I should like to make as a background is that the effectiveness of the type of A.B.M. system which the Russians and Americans are now deploying, even in the area it can cover—which is limited—is nothing like 100 per cent.; and such systems could not prevent an unacceptable level of destruction if the enemy improves the penetrability of his offensive missiles or is able to saturate them with the number of his offensive missiles. And, of course, an A.B.M. system, as we now understand it, could be evaded either by very low-trajectory missiles or by low-flying aircraft. Another interesting thing at present, although it is not likely to be true for more than another 10 years, is that there is no effective defence at strategic level against an aircraft in very low flight.
Nevertheless, the development of A.B.M. systems and their deployment, even on a scale of which we now know raises some disturbing questions. Ever since the first explosion of nuclear weapons such protection as the world has enjoyed against nuclear war has 353 depended on mutual deterrence. That is, the ability of a country which is threatened by nuclear attack to convince the potential aggressor that he has the power to inflict unacceptable damage on him with his surviving nuclear capacity, even after absorbing a first attack. There has always been, therefore, a fear that if any nuclear power could produce an invulnerable protection against nuclear attack the stability of existing balance of mutual deterrence would be destroyed since that country would have the ability to attack its enemy without fear of retaliation in kind; which is why the right hon. Gentleman was right to treat this problem very seriously. I am glad he has given me an opportunity of saying something about it.
The N.A.T.O. Governments have, of course, been considering ever since they first received indications that the Russians might deploy an A.B.M. system, whether that moment may now be on the way. This problem has been a major item at meetings of the Nuclear Planning Group of N.A.T.O. during the last 12 months in which I have been attending them. But we have unanimously reached the conclusion that nothing at present known about A.B.M. systems need upset the balance of nuclear deterrence, since a country which might fear attack by a country which has A.B.M. could saturate any A.B.M. system now available by increasing its offensive power, which would be very much cheaper than the cost to the other side of deploying A.B.M.s.
As many hon. Members will know, this argument was made at some length and with great force by Mr. McNamara in a speech which he made in San Francisco on 18th September last year and in his annual statements to Congress. I should like to take this opportunity to say how much all members of the Alliance will miss his wisdom and energy in our counsels.
When the Nuclear Planning Group first discussed this problem, we all felt that the force of Mr. McNamara's arguments made it unlikely that the United States would react to the Soviet deployment of A.B.M.s by deploying A.B.M.s herself. In the end, however, the United States did decide to deploy the light A.B.M. system which they call "Sentinel" primarily for a temporary protection against an infant 354 Chinese missile capability. They recognise that it would not be much use against the Chinese threat developed in terms of numbers or penetrability.
The Nuclear Planning Group discussed the implications of America's decision at its meeting in Ankara last September. Since it has yet to reach a final conclusion, although I hope that it will do so at our meeting in The Hague next month, perhaps I should confine myself to giving the views of Her Majesty's Government, although I believe that they are broadly consistent with those of our European allies.
In principle, we feel that to the extent that some A.B.M. capability renders the United States less vulnerable to nuclear attack herself, it should strengthen the allied deterrent by making her more ready to use nuclear weapons in support of her allies in case of need. But we were also conscious of the risk that if Russia and America now enter into a new round of the strategic nuclear arms race this may have damaging consequences for the prospects of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons since many non-nuclear countries believe that vertical proliferation among the nuclear Powers—the creation of A.B.M.s, the F.O.B. system, and so on—may be as much a danger to peace as horizontal proliferation among the non-nuclear Powers. I agree with them. There is also the risk to which the right hon. Gentleman referred that unsophisticated opinion in Europe may feel that the United States is trying to build a Maginot Line behind which it can retreat to a sort of Fortress America.
For these reasons, there is no doubt that the whole of N.A.T.O. shares America's hope that she might yet be able to reach agreement with the Soviet Union against the deployment of A.B.M. systems on either side. The House will know that the American Government have been trying very hard to reach such an agreement with the Soviet Union for at least the last 12 months.
We have also considered whether in the present situation or in the situation as it may develop there may be a case for Europe to deploy an A.B.M. system for its own protection. We have decided, however, that there is no place for this in circumstances which can now be foreseen, and I shall tell the House why. 355 First, given the proximity of Europe to the Soviet Union and the very large number of Soviet medium range ballistic missiles, and, in addition, given the very large number of Soviet bomber aircraft, no A.B.M. system could save Europe from totally unacceptable damage in nuclear war. On the other hand, an A.B.M. system would cost an enormous amount of money, and this money would inevitably, in the real world in which we live, have to be diverted from areas of defence where the need for strength is far more urgent—the lower end of the spectrum.
There is another reason which is not sufficiently understood by the public. The missiles and the warheads which are used in an A.B.M. system have, for all practical purposes, the same capability as offensive nuclear missiles. They have the same thrust and the same explosive power. The only difference is that the warhead goes off in space instead of on or just above the ground. Since they would have to be fired within seconds of warning that a nuclear attack was on the way, the problem of pre-delegating the authority to use them might well be insuperable.
It certainly raises the most difficult problems. Most important of all for the Soviet Union, a European A.B.M. system might be as provocative as a European offensive nuclear system, and it would be far more costly. I hope that I have said enough to answer the right hon. Gentleman's points about the A.B.M. system, but I want to pass on to the related question that he raised, as he has on several occasions in the last two years, that Britain should seek to pool its nuclear forces with those of France.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
The right hon. Gentleman referred to low-flying aircraft and we mentioned the TSR2. He said he would deal with that. Will he deal with it before leaving this part of his speech?
§ Mr. Healey
I will deal with that immediately, but there will be a chance to debate the question in full on Thursday in the Air Force debate. Concerning strategic nuclear systems, none of us in N.A.T.O. believes that low-level bombers are a necessary increment to the overwhelming capability which the West al- 356 ready has in this sphere. It was never our intention to develop the F.111 in this particular rôle.
§ Mr. Heath
I think it would have been helpful if the right hon. Gentleman had given us this information yesterday afternoon, so that we could have thought about it and debated it. It is a matter of great importance. The Secretary of State could have volunteered the information without being asked for it. We will obviously want to think about this very carefully. I should not like the Defence Secretary to think that we accept all the arguments which he has put forward. I should like clarification upon one point. When the right hon. Gentleman, quite rightly, says that an A.B.M. deployment as at the moment constituted could be saturated, is he accepting that in Europe at the moment the power is sufficient to saturate, or would he follow the McNamara policy of increasing the power in Europe now?
§ Mr. Healey
McNamara does not want to increase the strategic nuclear power in Western Europe. That is not necessary. Nor indeed does Mr. McNamara believe that any steps are now necessary to deal with the A.B.M. threat beyond what America intends. With respect, I do not think I ought to go into this in greater detail. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt have read Mr. McNamara's so-called posture statement this year in which he deals with this in great detail.
On the question of raising this matter yesterday, with respect to the right hon. Gentleman, there have been two meetings of the N.P.G. on this question, both followed by detailed Press briefings. If I had been given any indication by right hon. or hon. Gentlemen opposite that they wished me to deal with this matter I would have been glad to do so. We have not had any questions about it, although during my speech yesterday I was interrupted 12 times, making my speech 18 minutes longer than necessary, entirely on questions which had nothing to do with this. It does not lie with the right hon. Gentleman to make that complaint.
I will now deal with another question which the right hon. Gentleman has never before raised in the House. Had he done so, I would have dealt with it yesterday. 357 He raised the question of the pooling of our nuclear forces with those of France. This is something that he has raised outside, because I have heard him. I assume that he means we should pool our forces with France within the N.A.T.O. framework, because he has stressed many times, and did so again this afternoon, that Europe must retain a credible nuclear guarantee from the United States. On this, at least, I fully agree with him. Would he say whether he means it within the N.A.T.O. framework?
§ Mr. Healey
With respect, if the right hon. Gentleman wants me to comment on these remarks he will have to tell me what he means. [HON. MEMBERS: "Help him out"] The right hon. Gentleman has clearly thought a great deal about the problem, but I cannot understand how he believes his proposal is a starter, at any rate in the sort of world in which we live now, or indeed why, if he does believe in it, he did not propose it when he was negotiating with France for Britain's entry into the Common Market when French opposition was the major obstacle we had to overcome. I would be delighted to have a debate on this issue later in the Session.
I will explain why I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is a starter. In the first place, for Britain and France to set up a nuclear condominium within Europe would be quite unacceptable to countries of comparable size like Germany and Italy. The Germans and the Italians welcome the existence of Great Britain's nuclear forces so long as they are fully integrated as part of N.A.T.O. with America's nuclear forces. But France is not prepared to be a part of N.A.T.O. in any field, least of all the nuclear one.
Indeed, it is a cardinal principle of President de Gaulle's strategic thinking that the very existence of nuclear weapons has ruled out for France the very possibility of integration in defence. This has been made clear again and again by President de Gaulle himself, and most latterly by his chief of staff, General Ailleret in an article to which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman referred. As the right hon. Gentleman himself pointed 358 out, General Ailleret has recently, with President de Gaulle's endorsement, described French nuclear policy as defence à tous azimuths, at all points of the com-pass, and he argues that, because no one can possibly know who will be France's allies or enemies in a future war, France must endeavour to constitute a system of defence which will be world-wide and at every point of the compass, but a nuclear system of defence, thus enabling her
during future crises which may rock the world freely to determine her own destiny.It is impossible to conceive of integrating nuclear forces with a French Government so long as that Government hold these views, and even less possible to do so within the N.A.T.O. framework. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, who, clearly, had not thought the problem through because he was not prepared to rise when I challenged him on it, to think about it a little harder.
To take the next point which the right hon. Gentleman raised, and setting it against this background, I cannot regard what he called France's recent moving forward in the world in quite the same light as he appears to do himself. It certainly provides no hope for fruitful military co-operation between Britain and France outside Europe. I agree strongly with my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle) on that. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of France's present policy in the Arab world. Whatever one may think of that—there are strong views about it in Israel—it does not involve new military commitments in the Arab world. On the contrary, France is shortly to leave her base at Mers el Kébir, as she left Syria and the Lebanon 20 years ago. Nor can the right hon. Gentleman just brush aside French activity on the Quebec issue in quite the way he did today. This is a matter of deep concern to the Canadian Government, who are our partner and ally in both the Commonwealth and N.A.T.O.
The final answer to the right hon. Gentleman on this point is that President de Gaulle has repeatedly made clear, in public and in private, that he is not prepared to consider Britain even as a candidate for membership of the Common Market so long as she retains a worldwide military rôle, and, according to 359 recent newspaper reports, his Government regard even Britain's presence in the Mediterranean as inconsistent with her entry into the Common Market.
I hope very much that all this will change. I hope, too, that Europe as a whole will be prepared in future to accept wider responsibilities in the world than she does today. I certainly want to cooperate with France wherever possible. Under this Government, we have started co-operation with France in four major new projects, and a fifth from which the French themselves withdrew. But I ask the right hon. Gentleman to recognise that intimate co-operation on defence strategy requires prior agreement on foreign policy. The right hon. Gentleman said that I did not take France's growing power seriously enough. I beg him to accept that I take it very seriously indeed. But his weakness—it has been a weakness for many years—is that he does not accept that General de Gaulle is President of France, and he does not accept that de Gaulle is de Gaulle.
If I may pass to the less constructive parts of the Opposition's contribution, so far as I could identify the grounds—
§ Mr. Heath
Now that the right hon. Gentleman has finished that part of his speech, may I remind him that, far from not thinking this through, I have been thinking about it for many years. He does himself less than justice is being so dogmatic about this matter, because the words which I used were that the Prime Minister should have been prepared to discuss with President de Gaulle an arrangement in the nuclear field. There is no doubt that this should have been done, and an arrangement can cover, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a wide variety of possibilities which are not limited in the way in which he himself has described.
§ Mr. Healey
With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I was interested in what he said this afternoon so I read again his speech at a conference organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies about 18 months ago. On that occasion he expressed the view that the French attitude towards integration was changing completely, and he was quite hopeful that they would shortly accept political integration in the Common Market. That 360 shows that the right hon. Gentleman has failed to understand the basic instincts which dominate French policy as long as President de Gaulle is there.
§ Mr. Healey
With respect, the right hon. Gentleman did not do so. If my hon. Friend will get the quotation, I shall give it later.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
On a point of order. If someone quotes from a document, ought it not to be on the Table?
§ Mr. Healey
I pass to the less constructive parts of the Opposition's contribution to the debate. So far as I can identify the grounds for criticism of the Government, they seem to be as follows: First, that we have changed our policy more than once in the last three and a half years. But the right hon. Gentlemen opposite should be the last to criticise the Government for changing their policy. After all, the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby), who, unlike all the Front Bench spokesmen in this debate, has direct personal experience of these matters as a Minister, was honest about this yesterday, and said:Nobody who has served in a Conservative Administration can pretend that there were never Defence Reviews in the past…I went through a few of them, when I was at the Admiralty…It is easy to forget what a tremendous rundown there has been over the past eleven years in the defence Services. How many bases have gone? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 90–1.]The hon. Gentleman then reminded us that his Government had handed over Simonstown to South Africa—with the defence of the Cape routes—Trincomalee to Ceylon, and closed the Royal Dockyards at Hong Kong and Malta. As I said in the last debate, the Conservatives tended to change their Defence Minister every time they made a major change in policy.
361 I have now received the text of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I referred earlier. He said nothing about President de Gaulle. He said:I am not at all certain that the present French attitude towards integration is going to remain unchanged. I always have a feeling in the back of my mind that the French have been so successful in the Community in every economic argument that they will before long"—the right hon. Gentleman may try to ride out on "before long"—draw the conclusion that they could be equally successful in the political sphere were the Community to move on to political development.The right hon. Gentleman said nothing about President de Gaulle. To hear the right hon. Gentleman speaking in this debate, one would think that they never cancelled 30 major aero-space projects, and set Army recruiting targets bouncing up and down like a yo-yo. It does not allow them to criticise us for changing policy.
The question is whether the changes were right and necessary in all the circumstances. We believed that, for economic reasons, further defence cuts were necessary. In that case, we had to cut our commitments too. I cannot understand whether the Opposition believe that it is wrong to cut any commitments or that we have cut the wrong ones.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has been telling us for years that we should get out east of Suez, that we have and can have virtually no military influence in South-East Asia—I am quoting him—and that our presence in the Middle East can do nothing to protect our oil supplies. How can the Leader of the Opposition, who keeps the right hon. Gentleman in his post as defence spokesman, reconcile this with his view that we should stay in the Gulf and the Far East to protect our interests?
I will answer a question put by the right hon. Member for Mitcham. I believe—I have said this many times in the House—that it is scarcely ever wise or possible for a country in the modern age to seek to protect economic interests in foreign countries by military force. I should have hoped that the experience of the party opposite in Suez, when the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Whip, would at least have taught them that. 362 Access to raw materials, trade and investment—these are things which must be separated from military force or they will suffer and not gain.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), whose general approach his right hon. Friend has likened to that of Rip Van Winkle or a retired Indian Army Colonel, believes that we should cut our forces in Europe in order to do more east of Suez—
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
The right hon. Gentleman is, as usual, misquoting from memory. I specifically said that we might, after consulting the N.A.T.O. Council, feel that, from the allied point of view, it was better that some of our forces might be deployed outside Europe.
§ Mr. Healey
The behaviour of the Opposition is very good training for my visit to Cambridge on Friday. Hon. Members opposite who do not like the way in which some students voice their protests would do better not, every time we have a wind-up speech on a censure Motion, to behave like superannuated members of the Hitler Youth—
§ Mr. Healey
We have taken these decisions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."]—Exactly. There they are: the beatniks.
The Government have taken the decisions which we are debating because they believe them to be economically necessary, because they believe that all our national problems for a generation and more, not only in defence and foreign policy but at home as well, can be summed up in the single phrase, "We have been living beyond our means". By the steps which the Government have taken in the last few months, we have demonstrated the determination of this country at last to live within its means. It is for that reason that I ask the House to approve the Motion.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—364
§ The House divided: Ayes 222, Noes 316.367
|Division No. 82.]||AYES||[10.00 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Murton, Oscar|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Goodhart, Philip||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Astor, John||Goodhew, Victor||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Gower, Raymond||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Awdry, Daniel||Grant, Anthony||Nott, John|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Onslow, Cranley|
|Balniel, Lord||Gresham Cooke, R.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Grieve, Percy||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Batsford, Brian||Gurden, Harold||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Hall-Davis, A. C. F.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Percival, Ian|
|Biffen, John||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Peyton, John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Pounder, Rafton|
|Blaker, Peter||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Boardman, Tom||Hastings, Stephen||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Body, Richard||Hawkins, Paul||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hay, John||Pym, Francis|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Braine, Bernard||Heseltine, Michael||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Brewis, John||Higgins, Terence L.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hill, J. E. B.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hirst, Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Bryan, Paul||Holland, Philip||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Hordern, Peter||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hornby, Richard||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Howell, David (Guildford)||Royle, Anthony|
|Burden, F. A.||Hunt, John||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Campbell, Gordon||Hutchison, Michael Clark||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Carlisle, Mark||Iremonger, T. L.||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Sharpies, Richard|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Jopling, Michael||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Clark, Henry||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Clegg, Walter||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Smith, John|
|Cooke, Robert||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Stainton, Keith|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neil||Kershaw, Anthony||Stodart, Anthony|
|Cordle, John||Kimball, Marcus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Corfield, F. V.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, s.)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Costain, A. P.||Kirk, Peter||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kitson, Timothy||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Lambton, Viscount||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Crouch, David||Lancaster, col. C. G.||Teeling, Sir William|
|Crowder, F. P.||Lane, David||Temple, John M.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Tilney, John|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Dance, James||Longden, Gilbert||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Loveys, W. H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Mac Arthur, Ian||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Doughty, Charles||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Wall, Patrick|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Walters, Dennis|
|Eden, Sir John||McMaster, Stanley||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Emery, Peter||Maddan, Martin||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Marten, Neil||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Farr, John||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mawby, Ray||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Fortescue, Tim||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G.||Miscampbell, Norman||Wright, Esmond|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Monro, Hector||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Mr. Jasper More.|
|Abse, Leo||Fernyhough, E.||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Albu, Austen||Finch, Harold||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Alldritt, Walter||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Allen, Scholefield||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Anderson, Donald||Foley, Maurice||Luard, Evan|
|Archer, Peter||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Forrester, John||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Fowler, Gerry||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McBride, Neil|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Freeson, Reginald||McCann, John|
|Barnes, Michael||Galpern, Sir Myer||MacColl, James|
|Barnett, Joel||Gardner, Tony||MacDermot, Niall|
|Baxter, William||Garrett, W. E.||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Beaney, Alan||Ginsburg, David||McGuire, Michael|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Gourlay, Harry||Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mackie, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Gregory, Arnold||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Booth, Albert||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Boston, Terence||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Boyden, James||Grimond. Rt. Hn. J.||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Bradley, Tom||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Hamling, William||Manuel, Archie|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hannan, William||Mapp, Charles|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Harper, Joseph||Marks, Kenneth|
|Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Marsh, Rt. Hn, Richard|
|Brown, R. W (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Buchan, Norman||Haseldine, Norman||Maxwell, Robert|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hattersley, Roy||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hazell, Bert||Mellish. Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Cant, R. B.||Heffer, Eric S.||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Henig, Stanley||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Molloy, William|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hilton, W. S.||Moonman, Eric|
|Chapman, Donald||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Coe, Denis||Hooley, Frank||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Coleman, Donald||Hooson, Emlyn||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Concannon, J, D.||Horner, John||Moyle, Roland|
|Conlan, Bernard||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Murray, Albert|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Neal, Harold|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Newens, Stan|
|Cronin, John||Howie, W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hoy, James||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Huckfield, Leslie||Norwood, Christopher|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Ogden, Eric|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hunter, Adam||O'Malley, Brian|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hynd, John||Orbach, Maurice|
|Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.)||Irvine, Sir Arthur||Orme, Stanley|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Padley, Walter|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Park, Trevor|
|Dell, Edmund||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parker. John (Dagenham)|
|Dempsey, James||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dickens, James||Jones,Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dobson, Ray||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Doig, Peter||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, west)||Pentland, Norman|
|Dunn, James A.||Judd, Frank||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Kelley, Richard||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Kenyon, Clifford||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Eadie, Alex||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lawson, George||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Leadbitter, Ted||Probert, Arthur|
|Ellis, John||Ledger, Ron||Pursey, Cmdr, Harry|
|English, Michael||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Randall, Harry|
|Ennals, David||Lee, John (Reading)||Rankin, John|
|Ensor, David||Lestor, Miss Joan||Rees, Merlyn|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Snow, Julian||Wellbeloved, James|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P 'c'as)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Whitlock, William|
|Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Swain, Thomas||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Roebuck, Roy||Swingler, Stephen||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Taverne, Dick||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Rose, Paul||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Ryan, John||Thornton, Ernest||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Sheldon, Robert||Tinn, James||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Tomney, Frank||Winnick, David|
|Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Urwin, T. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Varley, Eric G.||Woof, Robert|
|Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton, N. E.)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)||Yates, Victor|
|Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wallace, George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Skeffington, Arthur||Watkins, David (Consett)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Slater, Joseph||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)||Mr. Ioan L. Evans.|
|Small, William||Weitzman, David|
§ Main Question put:—368
§ The House divided: Ayes 313, Noes 220.371
|Division No. 83.]||AYES||[10.10 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Dalyell, Tam||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Albu, Austen||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Alldritt, Walter||Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hamilton,. William (Fife, W.)|
|Anderson, Donald||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hamling, William|
|Archer, Peter||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Hannan, William|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Harper, Joseph|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn, Alice||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Delargy, Hugh||Haseldine, Norman|
|Barnes, Michael||Dell, Edmund||Hattersley, Roy|
|Barnett, Joel||Dempsey, James||Hazell, Bert|
|Baxter, William||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Beaney, Alan||Dickens, James||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Dobson, Ray||Henig, Stanley|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Doig, Peter||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Dunn, James A.||Hilton, W. S.|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dunnett, Jack||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Hooley, Frank|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Eadie, Alex||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Booth, Albert||Edelman, Maurice||Horner, John|
|Boston, Terence||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Boyden, James||Ellis, John||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||English, Michael||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Bradley, Tom||Ennals, David||Howie, W.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Ensor, David||Hoy, James|
|Brooks, Edwin||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Faulds, Andrew||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Fernyhough, E.||Hunter, Adam|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Finch, Harold||Hynd, John|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Irvine, Sir Arthur|
|Buchan, Norman||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Foley, Maurice||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Cant, R. B.||Forrester, John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fowler, Gerry||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Freeson, Reginald||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Chapman, Donald||Galpern, Sir Myer||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Coe, Denis||Gardner, Tony||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Coleman, Donald||Garrett, W. E.||Jones. J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Ginsburg, David||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C||Judd, Frank|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gourlay, Harry||Kelley, Richard|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Kenyan, Clifford|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)|
|Cronin, John||Gregory, Arnold||Lawson, George|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Ledger, Ron|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Lee, John (Heading)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Norwood, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Oakes, Gordon||Slater, Joseph|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Ogderr, Eric||Small, William|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||O'Malley, Brian||Snow, Julian|
|Lipton, Marcus||Orbach, Maurice||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Orme, Stanley||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Oswald, Thomas||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Luard, Evan||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Lubbock, Eric||Padley, Walter||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Swain, Thomas|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Paget, R. T.||Swingler, Stephen|
|McBride, Neil||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Taverne, Dick|
|McCann, John||Park, Trevor||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|MacColl, James||Parker. John (Dagenham)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|MacDermot, Niall||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Pavitt, Laurence||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|McGuire, Michael||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Tinn, James|
|McKay, Mrs, Margaret||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Tomney, Frank|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Pentland, Norman||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Mackie, John||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Maclennan, Robert||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|MacMillan, Malcolm (Wetern Isles)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Wallace, George|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Price, William (Rugby)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Probert, Arthur||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Weitzman, David|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Randall, Harry||Wellbeloved, James|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rankin, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Rees, Merlyn||Whitaker, Ben|
|Manuel, Archie||Reynolds, C. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mapp, Charles||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Whitlock, William|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Maxwell, Robert||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P 'c' as)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Mellish. Rt. Hn. Robert||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Roebuck, Roy||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Molloy, William||Rose, Paul||Winnick, David|
|Moonman, Eric||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Ryan, John||Woof, Robert|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Sheldon, Robert||Yates, Victor|
|Moyle, Roland||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn, Frederick||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Murray, Albert||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Mr. Ioan L. Evans and|
|Neal, Harold||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong.|
|Newens, Stan||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Bryan, Paul||Doughty, Charles|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec|
|Astor, John||Buck, Anthony (Colchester)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Bullus, Sir Eric||Eden, Sir John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Burden, F. A.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Campbell, Gordon||Emery, Peter|
|Balniel, Lord||Carlisle, Mark||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Eyre, Reginald|
|Batsford, Brian||Cary, Sir Robert||Farr, John|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Channon, H. P. G.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos, & Fhm)||Clark, Henry||Fortescue, Tim|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Clegg, Walter||Galbraith, Hon. T. G.|
|Biffen, John||Cooke, Robert||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan|
|Birch, Rt. Hn, Nigel||Corfield, F. V.||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Costain, A. P.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Blaker, Peter||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Boardman, Tom||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Body, Richard||Crouch, David||Goodhart, Philip|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Crowder, F. P.||Goodhew, Victor|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Gower, Raymond|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Currie, G. B. H.||Grant, Anthony|
|Braine, Bernard||Dalkeith, Earl of||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Brewis, John||Dance, James||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Grieve, Percy|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Gurden, Harold|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Hall-Davit, A. G. F.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Royle, Anthony|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||McMaster, Stanley||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maddan, Martin||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Scott, Nicholas|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Marten, Neil||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Sharples, Richard|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mawby, Ray||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hay, John||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Smith, John|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Miscampbell, Norman||Stainton, Keith|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Stodart, Anthony|
|Heseltine, Michael||Monro, Hector||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Montgomery, Fergus||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Holland, Philip||Murton, Oscar||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hordern, Peter||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Temple, John M.|
|Hornby, Richard||Nicholls. Sir Harmar||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Howell,, David (Guildford)||Nott, John||Tilney, John|
|Hunt, John||Onslow, Cranley||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Jopling, Michael||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Wall, Patrick|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Percival, Ian||Walters, Dennis|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Peyton, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pink, R. Bonner||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Kimball, Marcus||Pounder, Rafton||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Kirk, Peter||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Kitson, Timothy||Prior, J. M. L.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pym, Francis||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Lane, David||Ramsden, Rt. Hn, James||Wright, Esmond|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wylie, N. R.|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Younger, Hn. George|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Longden, Gilbert||Ridsdale, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Loveys, W. H.||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Robson Brown, Sir William||Mr. Jasper More.|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1968, contained in Command Paper No. 3540.