HC Deb 04 March 1970 vol 797 cc388-9
8. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will indicate the nature of his reply to the National Peace Council letter to him regarding the proposal at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Defence Ministers' meeting in Brussels of the initial defensive use of nuclear weapons against a real target.

Mr. Healey

In my reply to the National Peace Council I simply repeated what has been said on a number of occasions in debates and answers to questions in both Houses of Parliament. In particular, I would refer my hon. Friend to my speech in the Defence debate on 4th March, 1969.—[Vol. 779, c. 239–44, 270, 288.]

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister at least give the House an assurance that the decision for the initial use of nuclear weapons will not be left to commanders in the field rather than to statesmen, as that would be even more alarming?

Mr. Healey

I am delighted to give that assurance, and, in doing so, flatly to deny the report to the contrary in The Times this morning

Mr. Moyle

While maintaining a proportionate contribution to Western defence, will my right hon. Friend continue to resist suggestions for all defence policies which might automatically involve the reintroduction of conscription?

Mr. Healey

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I shall be dealing with this aspect of the problem in today's debate.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Does the right hon. Gentleman's answer mean that the new guideline arrangements are not complete, and that there is still an American finger on the trigger?

Mr. Healey

The thesis and hypothesis of that question did not follow one another properly. The guidelines are complete. The House would not expect me to prejudice Allied security by revealing the content of the guidelines.

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