HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc409-10
20. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Defence in what respects the present control by Her Majesty's Government over Great Britain's Polaris submarines and their assignment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation differs from the situation agreed in 1962 and published in paragraphs 6 and 9 of the White Paper, Bahamas Meetings, Command Paper No. 1915.

Mr. Healey

Her Majesty's Government's control of the Polaris force and its commitment to N.A.T.O. a re fully in accordance with the Nassau Agreement.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Have the Government made some secret new agreement so that the Polaris force is no longer available for supreme national interests or is it a fact that the British independent nuclear deterrent stands absolutely intact?

Mr. Healey

I have said many times in the House, and it is still the case, that of course we retain the right to use it independently if we wish to do so, but I cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we should so wish.

Mr. Ramsden

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the position on the Polaris force in regard to N.A.T.O. is exactly the same as it was under the previous Government and under the Nassau Agreement—governed, assigned and targeted, in the terms of the Agreement—and that no change has been made in the previous position?

Mr. Healey

Certainly regarding N.A.T.O. it is the same but whether the previous Administration had a national targeting plan is not for me to say.