HL Deb 08 May 1957 vol 203 cc451-543

4.7 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I return from the subject of the slaughter of animals to that of the slaughter of people. That is, of course, what we are debating this afternoon—or, rather, it will be, should our efforts to prevent another war prove unsuccessful. I think that two main points emerge from the present White Paper on Defence. The first, a positive one, is that we have at last realised that we can no longer afford the huge sums necessary to run our defence programmes as they have been run in the past—programmes that have been increasing from year to year—and that in future our defence organisation must be smaller, less costly, and very much more mobile. The second point is a negative point: that we have not yet realised the importance of our Commonwealth. We still to a great extent attempt to plan our defence in an insular manner, disregarding the tremendous opportunities which we have if we work with our Commonwealth as a united people. Looking back over our history, and reading this Defence White Paper, it seems to me that we may well ask what has been the use of all the tremendous efforts and suffering and the great determination we have had to build up our Empire over the centuries and, when the time is ripe, to hand over these fine territories to self-government, if we cannot work together as a united whole, both in peace and in war.

If we look first at the positive approach, we see in paragraphs 3 and 5 of the White Paper something which many of your Lordships have advocated for a considerable time—recognition of the need for a new approach to the whole subject. This approach must, of course, be practical. That we are going to save considerable sums which we could never, in fact, have afforded is all to the good, but we must ensure that the sums we do spend are used in the best way. At present, by far our greatest problem is the cost of our nuclear weapons. We all admit that at the moment we in the Western Alliance are relying to a great extent on the United States of America. I must add, however, from these Benches, that we are glad we already have atom bombs and the bombers to deliver them, and that we have megaton bombs ready for testing. Some of us, particularly on these Benches, are not happy about the manufacture of this kind of weapon in this country, just as we are not happy about the effect on humanity of the dangers of nuclear tests. But until there is international agreement on these things—and may I say how pleased I am that this country is taking a leading part in trying to bring this about?—we must be right to protect ourselves in this way. I am also glad to see that we are adding ballistic rockets to the V-bombers we have already. May I ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their intention to manufacture these weapons in this country, or are we going to take them from the United States, as stated in paragraph 16 of the White Paper?

The real weakness of the whole case, of all our plans, is shown in this way. Paragraph 12 states that there is no way of providing adequate protection to the public of this country against nuclear attack, and it continues to say that, however successful our fighters might be, some bombers with these weapons would be bound to get through. Yet in paragraph 16 it is stated that nuclear weapons will be delivered by V-class medium bombers, presumably (I say "presumably" because it does not say so definitely) from bases in this country. The first target of any enemy must be these bases, and if it is admitted that some bombers, possibly carrying nuclear weapons, must get through, how can we possibly defend these bases? Paragraph 17 emphasises the importance of defending bomber airfields. What is the use of emphasising this aim when it has already been admitted that they cannot be defended? So, if we cannot defend, or cannot guarantee the defence of, this country (the White Paper admits that we cannot do so; and at this particular stage I do not see any way we can), how can we site our deterrent weapons here? What is the use of having air bases, however widely dispersed, in this country if it is such a vulnerable area?

I come back to a point which I am afraid I make every time I speak in a Defence debate—I refer to the negative approach which If mentioned a few moments ago. Why do we not spread the whole of our deterrent nuclear power at strategic points throughout the Commonwealth? If an attack were made on this country, then we could make immediate retaliation at any point in the world. Surely this is the only real possibility of averting war; and that, I think we all agree, is the one thing that we must do. I would go a little further. I should like to set up a prospective wartime Cabinet able to act at a place in the Commonwealth which is secure from initial attack, a Cabinet which would come together if there was any danger of a war—and I would remind your Lordships that the next war will start without any declaration being made.

I believe that it is our duty to point out to any aggressor that the devastation to him would be infinitely more appalling than the destruction of a city like London. The only reply that I received from the Government spokesman last year when I referred to co-operation with the Commonwealth was [OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 196, col. 732]: We attach the greatest importance to our agreements and our obligations in the Commonwealth countries. That is not quite the point. It is not the obligations and agreements of the past and present that matter; it is the commitments of the future. By ourselves, we are in a hopeless position. With the Commonwealth behind us, we are in a strategic position that surpasses that of any other country, or group of countries, in the world to-day.

In paragraph 66, there appears the only reference in the White Paper to the Commonwealth. Ten lines in ten pages are all we have about the Commonwealth, and what is said is very vague and does not meet the real point. May I ask a straightforward question? Can we use strategic points in the Commonwealth now and build them up as defence points, to be used for counter-measures against any enemy that attacks either the British Isles or the Commonwealth as a whole? I do not want your Lordships to think for a moment that, by saying this, I am belittling the Western Alliance. Of course, it is of the utmost importance. Nor am I belittling our own position. But cannot we, with our Commonwealth, go as an equal partner with America in the Western Alliance? Without our Commonwealth we can be only the 49th State. I do not want to go into the delicate point of the unpopular individual political statements made in the United States from time to time. We must realise the tremendous help that the United States have been in keeping the peace of the world since the Second World War. But, in my opinion, to boost our own Commonwealth in no way minimises the importance to world peace of America; nor should it lessen our gratitude for all they have done and for what they are doing at the present time.

So far, I have touched only on general principles. May I go into one or two details of the White Paper? First of all, there is our position in regard to N.A.T.O. Our support of this Organisation is obviously of the greatest importance, and I am delighted to see in the White Paper—and this has been stressed this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft—that we are giving far more than our fair share. It is made clear in paragraph 11 that, while we shall continue to pull our weight, we expect others to do the same. A strong ground and air defence in Western Europe is this country's forward defence line, but that would not in any way help us against modern nuclear weapons used against this country.

A word or two now about civil defence and the Territorial Army—and these must still play their part in the defence of this country. Because we admit that there is no adequate defence, that does not mean that we have to leave the population completely undefended and not do our best for them. We still have our responsibility to the man and woman in the street, and I think that civil defence should be tackled with the greatest energy. Unfortunately, civil defence holds no glamour to the average man—its mere name is enough to put anyone off. So far as the Territorial Army is concerned, those in it hardly know from day to day what their job is or what is in store for them; even whether, in actual fact, they are wanted. Both these organisations are based on part-time service, be it that of the middle-aged man (I suppose we have to call ourselves that) who served in the last war, or the youngster who wants to do something for his country in his spare time. Both need encouragement from Her Majesty's Government, with the promise of a worthwhile job and a real interest which will draw them away from the many pastimes, pleasures and hobbies that are so easy to come by in this modern age. But, particularly, they want to be promised continuation of employment. The Army has another term, but the politest way of putting it in your Lordships' House is to say they want no "messing about". That is exactly what they have had since the war finished. I am a great believer, as your Lordships probably know, in the Territorial Army, but I would say that it is infinitely better to give it up altogether than to leave it lingering on in its present state.

I now come for a moment to the question of a Central Reserve. After the debacle of Suez—and I refer here solely to the military and not to the political aspect—it is essential that what is laid down in paragraphs 34 and 35 of the White Paper should be completed as soon as possible. Why it has not been completed yet I do not understand; but there is no doubt that last year nothing was ready. How long will it be before we can genuinely claim to have a force capable of rapid mobility? That point was raised strongly by the noble Lord who initiated this debate. It is of the utmost importance that we should have a force, however small, that can move immediately from point to point; and I mean by such a force, a composite force of personnel and equipment of the three Forces as we now know them. How long, too, will it be before we have a substantial fleet of transport aircraft ready? Have we enough transport to carry, say, two divisions? When are we going to have this? Again, it certainly was not available last year. I would agree entirely that we should encourage the continuance of the names of regiments, of ships and of squadrons—that is all-important—but I still feel that we should encourage a unified command under which they can all serve. Finally, I should like to see the three Forces coming under one full command.

Then there is the question of National Service. I think we are all delighted that it looks as if that is at last coming to an end. However necessary it may have been, it has always been uneconomical, and, in my opinion, the greatest disincentive to joining the Regular Army. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said that he wanted to see a volunteer Army, but he has never seen a way in which that could have been raised since the war. I believe that the real reason why we could not raise a volunteer Army is because we have had National Service, and it is only if we stop National Service that we may have the opportunity of again building a genuine volunteer Army. However, it is going to take more than that, because things change from year to year; jobs become easier and more well-paid. I wonder whether the plans that Her Majesty's Government have given us in paragraph 53 of the White Paper can be adopted quickly enough, and especially in regard to civilian employment after service.

I am delighted to hear that the Government have put this matter high on their list of priorities. It is not long since we had an increase in pay in the Forces but, if we are honest, we know that much more is necessary if we are going to get our volunteers; otherwise the threat of continuing National Service will have to be carried out. When one considers the present pay of a subaltern, one finds it does not bear very favourable comparison even (shall I say?) with that of an agricultural labourer. To reduce the grand total spent on the Forces is not only desirable, but essential, but to withhold adequate compensation to the individual who is working in the Forces is, I feel, useless economy.

I should now like to refer to the penultimate paragraph of the White Paper, where it is said that the expense, amongst other things, is due to the Higher cost per man of Regular forces, and the fact that proportionately more civilians will be employed. That last reads to me like an admission that civilians will continue to be paid at higher rate than their counterparts in the Forces. It is a dangerous thing to say. If you want your volunteers, you must pay them in exactly the same way as if they were doing the job in civilian life; otherwise you will not get them. I feel that that is one of the things that must be remedied. Industry to-day holds out tempting offers, and it will do so even more if National Service is stopped, because then it will get the young apprentice who knows that he does not have to go away for two years and that he can concentrate on the job from the day he goes in. I feel that the whole of this subject needs careful study.

To conclude, I would say that I look forward to these major reforms proving of real benefit to the country. In an ever-changing world it must be difficult to plan, and there is, no doubt, a great deal still to be done. But, with this reservation, I feel that what is proposed in this year's White Paper is far better than anything that we have had for some considerable time.

4.27 p.m.


My Lords, in the first place. I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his concentrated and clear exposition of the White Paper, and, equally, the Government on the White Paper and what is contained in it. Then I should like to congratulate, most sincerely—and your Lordships will not be surprised that I say this—the Minister of Defence on having become a real and effective Minister of Defence, with the result, as the White Paper shows, that we now have a policy-maker for three combined Services and not a policy, or a decision given by an umpire, between three competing Services. The result is that we have a long-term plan and firm decisions on policy. I think the Minister was right when he said in another place that the policy in the White Paper is a mixture of old and new. There is nothing new in the deterrent being the dominant motif. As your Lordships will remember, the decision to base the whole of defence policy on the nuclear deterrent was accepted, as was publicly stated at the time, by the whole of the Commonwealth in the Commonwealth Conference three years ago. What is new in the White Paper is the firm and logical series of decisions to give effect to it.

The noble Viscount who spoke for the Opposition said that grave and serious risks were being taken. Of course risks are being taken; you have to take risks; it is impossible to insure against every possible contingency. However, I would say that the worst risk that could be taken, and which would be the certain corollary of what the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said, would be the risk of bankruptcy and failure by attempting to carry out the impossible. Almost anything is better than to give to each Service an insufficient and ineffective ration. Therefore I would sincerely congratulate the Government on having decided to do a limited number of things, but to do them thoroughly.

I should have thought that it went without saying that we must make the hydrogen bomb. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of almost everybody in this House, was absolutely right when he decided—he was a little bit secretive about it at the time—to make the atom bomb. It is an inescapable corollary—and I think he would agree—that we should now make the hydrogen bomb. Obviously, we must have the basic weapon. People who say we could do without it would be as foolish as anybody who had said that we could have done without Dreadnoughts before the First World War.

If we must have the bomb, then I am sure we cannot risk not making it ourselves but relying upon the United States. Unless we manufacture it ourselves we become limited partners and we should forfeit our right and fail in our duty to play our full part in world policy. If we must make it, then, obviously, we must test it. I am glad to say that we have not heard in this House to-day the peculiarly stupid criticisms made elsewhere—this House is too intelligent. But, really, some of the criticisms one hears and reads which are made elsewhere are rather sickening. An unlimited number of tests made by the Russians are passed over in servile silence. This country, after due announcement and with the greatest of care where it is to take place, makes a single experiment and that is greeted with a howl of execration. I think it is about time that charity or, at any rate, common sense began at home.

On guided missiles, I am much more ready to rely, temporarily at any rate, upon the United States. I hope that here, in the field of guided missiles, there can be a full and close partnership between us and the United States in design and production. I am sure that pooling of knowledge, co-operation in research and development, and in manufacture, will make for economy, efficiency and speed both for us and for the United States.

Another element in defence policy upon which we must be satisfied has been emphasised by the Minister who opened and, indeed, by the other speakers. We must be satisfied that we can and will continue to play our fair and proper part in N.A.T.O. That Grand Alliance remains the bastion of defence of the free world. As the United Nations Organisation—I regret to have to say it, but I think it should be said—proves to be increasingly irresponsible and ineffective, the importance of N.A.T.O. increases. N.A.T.O. is the one firm rock in shifting sands. Incidentally, I would add this. If U.N.O. cannot be relied upon to give an impartial judgment, should not the free nations, who really count in the defence of justice and freedom, try to make more use of the International Court of Justice?

I do not think that we or our Allies need fear the effect of this policy. It is realistic and forward-looking. It gives us a comprehensive and integrated force which is designed to be—and I believe is the only way we can get it—an effective deterrent. After all, to have that effective deterrent is the main purpose of N.A.T.O. I believe that this policy, steadily and resolutely pursued—and I hope the Minister will stay in his job to pursue it—will best serve this country, the Commonwealth and the Grand Alliance.

If we accept the premises on which this policy is based and which I believe are essentially sound, we must, I think, accept the consequences to the three Services. Of course there will have to be reductions in numbers of personnel. But that, coupled with the policy which is set out in the White Paper, should mean and I hope will mean—and here I agree with the noble Lord who spoke from the Liberal Benches—an ever closer integration and opportunity for officers of each Service in the other Services.

I think there are some functions which progressively and perhaps even now can be completely unified and combined. I have never seen why there should be different medical services for each of the three Services. After all, when we get ill after we have left whatever Service we were in, we go to the best doctor we can find or afford. I am sure that we should get not only economy but efficiency and better service if the medical services of the three Forces were combined. The same applies to feeding and catering, of course always allowing the Navy to have a special rum ration at a cheap price—I must not fall foul of the chairman of the Independent Unionist Peers by suggesting there should be any infringement of that privilege: but, subject to that undue preference, I should have thought that a good deal of unification could take place in the catering services. The same is true of clothing. With regard to pay it always seemed to me that there were an unconscionable number of different pay offices and regimental records. After all, great companies concentrate their records; an insurance company does not have twenty different offices at different places writing out policies. I should have thought that a good deal could be done in combining pay. No doubt there are some functions which will be increasingly discharged by civilian personnel.

When that is all done, the most difficult and yet the most important problem is how to offer a career which will enable good officers to find their opportunities in each of the three Services. As novel strategy and new tactics develop, and with these new and intensely complicated weapons, each Service will need the best men it can got. But with reduced numbers the ablest men will not opt for a Fighting Service unless they can see a wide career open to talent. I am sure we cannot today—it may be a very long time, if ever, before we can—combine or amalgamate all the three Services in one single Service. The Trinity must stand; and, indeed, there is great imponderable but inestimable value in the traditional loyalty of a man to his regiment or to his Service—not only loyalty when he is in it but the tradition which has, generation after generation, taken men into the same regiment. The problem is how to combine that individual loyalty with opportunity over the whole field to make the Trinity—I hope I am not being profane; I say it very sincerely—a Trinity in unity of these three great Services. I am sure that those who are responsible will seek, by increased combined training at every stage, to encourage interchange between the Services. That ought to be easier now, when nearly every operation is a combined operation. I am sure of this: that, whatever the march of science and these wonderful new inventions that come along, the human element will always be the most important.

At the same time, I feel it is better for everyone, both those in the Services row and new entrants coming in, that they should see what the policy is and be able to see the future clearly. I hope that real help will be given to those officers and N.C.Os. who become redundant. I have no doubt that civil aviation will give many opportunities to pilots. At the same time, when I say that, I hope that some critics will stop talking about guided missiles as if they were going to supersede the whole of the Air Force to-morrow morning. That is absolute nonsense from a technical point of view. I am glad that the noble Lord agrees with that. I am sure it is nonsense, from a technical point of view, but it is very unsettling to the people who are in the Service now, and still more to the boys who are thinking of going into it.

I would ask this question of the Government. The numbers who will become redundant have been stated. The Government have a special responsibility in this matter. Cannot they find opportunities—special, exceptional opportunities—for these men in the Civil Service? The Defence Services are going to contract but, so far as I can see—I am not criticising the Civil Services—they will tend to expand. It seems to me not unreasonable that the Government and Government Civil Services should try to place some of those who become redundant in the Fighting Services.

There is one other matter that I wish to touch upon. I am sure that the creation of a Mobile Reserve and the concentration of forces in a Mobile Reserve is sound. But that Reserve must be mobile if it is to be effective. A major war is unlikely; but a cold war engenders local conflicts or emergencies. And if, as I think is quite right, garrisons and locally-stationed forces are to be disbanded or reduced, then the Mobile Reserve must be ready and able to move in. I ask, is the transport available? If not, when will it be? In a major war, of course, you can collect all the civil aircraft that there are; they can be swept in. But you cannot do that in a localised conflict or a temporary emergency. The great lines must go on, and, indeed, the other civil operations must, too. I was not quite satisfied about one point. The noble Lord did not slur it at all: do not let him think I felt that; I do not think he slurred anything in his speech; but he did say, "We rely on Transport Command but we also rely on the resources of civil aviation." If it is not pressing the noble Lord too much. I should like to know a little more about how effective Transport Command is and how quickly those civil resources upon which he also relies can be made available. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was quite right: I am not saying whether certain operations were right or wrong, but the time it took to assemble anything, whether it was by sea or in the air, to carry those forces was rather horrifying.

There is another prerequisite for the mobile force that is to be carried by air, and that is, bases and staging posts along the route. It is essential for the Mobile Reserve and for Commonwealth communications. One by one we have seen air bases on which we depended in imperial communications and in strategy I was going to say, "fade away", but certainly pass out of any possibility of our making effective use of them. I know that the increasing range of aircraft to some extent compensates for that; that we do not need as many staging posts as we did; but we want enough. Even the longest-ranged animal has to come down and get a drink; it cannot stay in the air for ever. In world politics, the position of Cyprus, for example, and other strategic points, will come up. It is vitally important that we should consider where for imperial communication and for strategic needs we must have our staging posts. The Navy also is important in this regard. I think that the creation of these aircraft carrier units will be helpful to the Mobile Reserve, and also, as they can be sent at short notice to any threatened point which is, at any rate. "get-at-able" by sea. I hope they, too, are adequate.

If I have made any criticisms, they have, I hope, been constructive. They were intended to be, and intended to help, because I rejoice in this White Paper. I am sure that the Government in this matter of defence have taken the long view and the right road. For my part, I wish the Minister every success. I know that in carrying out this great undertaking he will have the full co-operation of his associated Ministers and all the Service chiefs.

4.48 p.m.


My Lords. I am not competent to comment upon many of the revolutionary changes contained in the White Paper. I am prepared to accept the present opinion of the Ministry of Defence and, in the future, to judge by results. I rise rather to deal with another side of the subject, upon which the noble Earl who has just spoken has already made some observations—the human as apart from the technical side of the many problems in the White Paper. Unless the necessary number of men come forward in the next few years, the whole basis of this scheme will be destroyed. Unless the esprit de corps that now binds together the units of the Fighting Services is maintained, the Services will break up into fragments. Unless, further, there is the closest possible contact between the Regular Services and the general public, there will be no chance of making the kind of public appeal that will bring in the numbers of recruits that are necessary when National Service comes to an end.

Let me, in a very few minutes, apply those principles to the Service about which I know most, the Air Force. I think that my comments probably affect all three Services, but I take the Air Force as my example. A force like the Air Force, a very technical Service, always runs the risk of becoming, shall I say, a mechanical organisation of technicians and scientists. The late Lord Trenchard saw this danger at the very start of the peace-time Air Force. In his historic White Paper, which was the charter of the Air Force, he emphasised the danger of the Air Force becoming a Service of chauffeurs. My Lords, with all these incredible technical and scientific developments, the danger that Lord Trenchard foresaw in 1919 is, in my view, becoming more and more imminent Inevitably the changes that are foreshadowed in the White Paper will weaken some of the sentimental ties that mean so much in the Service, inevitably, also, they will weaken the contact between the Regular Air Force and the general public. As the Air Force becomes more specialised, more a Service of technicians and scientific experts, and less a Service of general duty units, so the general public will run the risk of losing contact with it; and the result will be a gradual drying up of voluntary recruitment.

If these things are not to happen, the need is first to stimulate more and more actively the esprit Lie corps in the Service, and secondly, to increase by every possible means the contacts between the Regular Air Force and the general public. I am sorry to say that in recent months the Air Ministry have not only ignored these two needs but have acted in a way diametrically opposed to them. I take my example from the abrupt disbandment of the flying units in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. I am not arguing whether or not the disbandment was necessary, whether or not there was a place for these units in the new dispensation that is contemplated in the White Paper: I am drawing attention to the way in which the disbandment was actually carried out. Suddenly, without warning, the squadrons were disbanded, and all flying was stopped. I do not wish to bring in my own experience as an example, but it is worth saying that I have been intimately connected with these squadrons from their start, and I have been an honorary Air Commodore of two of them for a great many years. The first notice that I had of it was two days after the flying stopped. Was this the way to treat these very remarkable units? Was this the way to encourage voluntary recruitment in the Air Force in the future?

My Lords, these units were unique in the Air Force. They were formed with two objects: first, to attract into them young men of courage and of enterprise who were determined to put into them all their energies. Secondly, they were intended as an invaluable means g contact between the Regular Service and the various great centres of industry in the country. In both those respects the units achieved in every way what was required of them, in fact, looking back over many years of ministerial experience I cannot think of any instance with which I was even remotely connected in which there was not so continuous a series of success and so complete a realisation of what was originally intended.

If noble Lords need any further evidence of what I am saying—they may think me biased from the close connection I have had with these units—I would ask them to read a book which has just been published called Night Fighter. In it is told the story of the incredible achievements of one of the squadrons with which I have been connected, No. 604, the pioneers of night-fighting. John Cunningham and his operator, Rawnsley—two civilians, be it noted—were the pioneers of night-fighting. It was they who not only brought down, together with their colleagues in the squadron, 132 enemy machines, but developed the tactics and strategy of night-fighting and applied the inventions of the scientists to the conditions of actual fighting. If the late Lord Trenchard was the father of the Air Force, John Cunningham and his colleagues were the fathers of night-fighting. I quote that achievement as an example of what these squadrons were able to do. Yet not only has this chapter come to an end, but it has been brought to an abrupt end that has left behind it bewilderment, disillusionment and resentment among the 300 officers and 3,000 airmen who have been so abruptly disbanded.

My Lords, I ask you whether this is the way to attract recruits in the future and to preserve a close and friendly contact between a great Regular Service and the chief centres of population in this country. Let the authorities in the Air Force (I am sorry that there is not a representative of the Air Ministry present here today on the Front Bench) learn a lesson from the events that I have just recounted; and let them, if they will, take note of a suggestion that I venture to make to them.

The flying units of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force have now been disbanded; I fear that there is nothing more to be done about the disbandment—it is finished. But noble Lords may not know that there are no fewer that 21 non-flying units of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force still left in being. I am intimately connected with one of them. These units do the radar work and the control work for the Regular Force. Hitherto, it has always seemed to me that they have not attracted much attention. They have been left rather isolated; nobody has quite known what was their exact position. I venture to say to the Air Ministry to-day: let them now look at these units; let them try to make amends, by making more of these ground units for the harm they have done by destroying the flying units. The unit with which I am connected has a strength of about 750 men and women—patriotic men and women who go night after night to the headquarters to do the plotting and planning that is now more than ever necessary. Let the Air Ministry now make something of these people. Let them be used as the contact between the Regular Force and ordinary civil life. In this way, the Ministry may be able to make some amends for the great damage that they have done by the abrupt termination of the splendid flying units.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, I know that on the occasion of a maiden speech, your Lordships always respond to a plea for mercy. I think that possibly never was your indulgence required as it is to-day. It is an extremely short time since I took my seal in your Lordships' House, and this early intervention might be looked upon as being impetuous.

But I find, on the examination of my life up to now, that a depressing portion of it has in fact been spent either fighting or involved in some form of warfare—I refer to the part of my life since I left home; I should not like to give your Lordships a false picture of my life as a child or even of my younger brother. But my embattled existence began at the age of nineteen when I was appointed a war correspondent in the Spanish War, and ended, I certainly hope, when I stumbled gratefully off the Korean battlefield, nearing my fortieth year. Now, as a result of some curious twist of military administration, I find myself registered on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers, never having been qualified or even inclined for that status. I should think, in fact, that a clumsier and more unnatural soldier never served the Queen. And it is inconceivable to me, that either Her Majesty or Her Generals will find any further military use for me. I can therefore speak with feeling, but also with a certain detachment—a greater detachment than, for instance, my noble and gallant friend Lord Thurlow, who can speak of the same matters with so much greater knowledge and force.

The day after the White Paper was published I took it to Germany with me and I discussed certain points in it with officers, warrant officers and sergeants of Rhine Army. Physical courage one expects from Regular officers of our Army, but I should like to record in your Lordships' House how impressed and how moved I was by the other sort of courage, with which every officer that I spoke to commended in the most definite terms, this new policy, even though many of them thought it would, or might, bring an end to their own chosen career.

The White Paper makes it clear that many of them will in fact have to go. Even before a definite statement was made by my noble friend Lord Mancroft, I had no doubt whatever that this Government, appreciating their position and their tine service, would treat them justly and generously. But I think your Lordships will agree that there are other degrees of justice than the actual mathematical amount of the cash settlement. I hope that perhaps some assurance can be given that the earliest and longest possible notice will be given to those who must go, allowing them the maximum feasible time to prepare for their new life before leaving the old. My right honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State recently made this statement, which I thought particularly welcome and appropriate. He said: I believe that just as civilians made good officers in the last war, so to-day officers who have to retire can make good civilian executives. They already know the leadership and management of men, and the problem will be to obtain the necessary technical qualifications. The War Office will help in this through re-settlement courses, but they will need the sympathetic understanding of industry, commerce and the professions. I hope that I shall not be thought impudent if I suggest, further, that as many members of your Lordships' House are powerful and influential figures in the world of commerce and industry, such noble Lords may soon be on the look-out for talent at present in the Services, not, obviously, as a matter of obligation, and still less of charitableness, but because of those qualities. The qualities which lead a man to dedicate his life to his country's service and enable him to achieve promotion in that service are qualities which could serve industry equally well. It is a fact that the German Government are finding it extremely difficult to provide their Army with field officers and general officers, simply because, after the war, such officers were absorbed into industry, and industry is not keen to let them go.

But once merit has been recognised and rewarded in this respect, we are bound to remain principally interested in the Army that will remain—in the new Army. As I see it, the success of this whole plan (I hope I am not over-simplifying) will depend upon the success or failure of recruiting. This matter has been mentioned before to-day, but to me it seems a tremendously important point and one worth mentioning again. I have heard estimated a possible gap of 10,000 or 20,000, between the desired strength and the number of volunteers forthcoming, by the time that conscription is planned to end; a gap to be met, initially, by some limited form of conscription. If that turns out to be essential, it will have to be faced. But I cannot see any form of selective conscription which could fail to cause I feel that the most intense effort must be made to avoid that necessity. Moreover, it is not simply the numbers who come forward that matter vitally; it is also the quality of the men that come forward, which will matter tremendously to this highly technical Army. And to obtain both the numbers and the quality, the inducements of to-morrow will have to be very different from the inducements of to-day.

I do not want to cover the ground already covered by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, but I should like to give it a point which, frankly, I borrowed from somebody else. One of those to whom I spoke in Germany was a regimental sergeant-major—a thoughtful, lucid man, as far removed from the legendary terror as I can imagine. He summed up the situation with a phrase which I cannot possibly better. He said: The Army has not kept pace with the Welfare State. In the old days the kind of men who joined the Army were going to live, at least in peace time, in conditions equal to, or better than, those they enjoyed at home. That is positively not the case to-day. The opposite is the case. Conditions which once made it worth while to accept discipline and danger present absolutely no inducement to-day, compared with the home life of the ordinary working man in this country. Nor does the pay of other ranks offer any inducement whatever. A soldier on leave may come home to find his younger brother earning, with overtime, far more than he himself is getting, even though he may be called upon, in case of necessity, to work twenty-four hours a day. The fact that regular overtime is a permanent condition of military service should be taken into account in determining basic pay. I also feel (and this, I think, is in harmony with one theme introduced by the noble Viscount. Lord Alexander of Hillsborough) that Army pay should be linked to some form of index, just as wages and salaries are. I have spoken about the contrast between civilian and Army pay, but I am sure that the contrast obtains more or less equally in other Services.

Obviously, a great deal can be said about the very important matter of recruiting, but I believe I am right in supposing that detailed discussions should be kept for a purely Service debate. I certainly do not wish to over-step the boundaries in this debate, the first in which I have taken part. But I should like to offer this point of view, to be considered when the agonising moment arrives for some units to be disbanded or amalgamated.

The White Paper makes it clear that some will have to be "axed". The sympathy of the country will go out to those regiments. But part of my sympathy will go to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who will have to do the "axeing". Heartbreaking issues will be involved. And if I may be allowed, as one who has been privileged to share, and to be inspired by, regimental pride and tradition, to make a point, it is this. The relative standards of regiments do not remain constant over the centuries. The regiment which reached its peak of efficiency and glory one hundred years ago, may not have sustained those qualities until to-day. The glory and tradition will remain; the efficiency may be in abeyance, and under normal conditions might perhaps return in fifty years. But normal conditions there are not going to be. In 1960, we must have a new, concentrated Army; and I believe that that Army must consist of the best units as they stand to-day, know that unfairness will be involved, but this Army of 1960 will be the mould of the future; and a mould cannot afford to have any cracks or weaknesses. Again, I hope your Lordships will not think this an impudent contribution from one who has served in the Armed Forces in only the most humble capacity.

I have one or two other anxieties on reading the White Paper and I believe that I am not alone in feeling those anxieties. They are in regard to the general problem of Defence. I mention them in the lively hope that they will be allayed in the course of this debate. The idea of a Central Reserve in this country, with an enormously expanded R.A.F. Transport Command to carry them out to any point, is an immensely attractive one. But one serious danger appears to stare me in the face. Transport Command presumably can be expanded indefinitely, or at least till the Treasury "scream". It is a huge undertaking. As some measure of the size of that undertaking, it may be worth mentioning that all the military transport aircraft possessed at this moment by the entire American Army are insufficient to lift one whole infantry division at the same time. All the same, theoretically, the military Transport Command can be expanded more or less indefinitely to carry light forces. There is no aircraft in existence which can carry a medium tank, and I am told that there is no likelihood that such an aircraft will be developed.

I see as a possible outcome of that fact a lightly armed expeditionary force, flown promptly and expeditiously to some other part of the world to engage an enemy. But if we set down a lightly armed force to operate on exterior lines against a well-armed enemy operating on interior lines, I see two alternatives: either they will be massacred a long way from home, or we shall have to drop the biggest bomb we possess to prevent their massacre. It may be argued that we shall be operating only from prepared overseas bases. What strikes me, however, in that case, is that this policy, which makes overseas bases more essential than ever, also proposes to reduce those bases. Frankly, that strikes me as a policy of losing on both the roundabouts and the swings.

Technically, we cannot put a Centurion tank into "mothballs" for three years in a tropical climate, and then fly out a crew to drive it into battle at two days', or even two weeks', notice. A regiment of Centurion tanks was sent to Korea to cope with the Josef Stalin III, the gigantic Russian tank. Those Centurions performed glorious service without ever meeting that Russian tank, for it did not choose to put in an appearance. A great deal was made of that fact by a dear and distinguished friend of mine who was trying, the other day, to argue me out of this anxiety. Dear and distinguished as he is, I rejected his argument, and continued to reject it. We cannot base our preparations on the mere fact that "they did not do it last time."

I believe that there is a rational alternative to the cost of maintaining large overseas bases and the impossible task of building a vast aircraft capable of carrying a medium tank. Ever since I first joined an armoured regiment I have heard prophetic, technically-minded officers crying out for a good light tank and for a policy which would reverse this urge to make ever heavier, huger and more unwieldy monsters, which fewer and fewer roads and bridges could carry, which block more traffic and consume more petrol. I am convinced that the best and heaviest practical tank we shall ever make was, and is, the Centurion. I am told that we are making vast quantities of a new lightly armoured highly mobile vehicle called the Hoffmann. But it is being made in British factories for the German Army and to German specification.

There are two aspects of that which I would submit to your Lordships. The Germans are no fools in military matters, and they stand a good deal closer to the Russians than we do. I think we should pay careful attention to this new doctrine, which has for some time been held by certain thoughful officers in our own Army, shared, I believe, with the French Army. That doctrine was formerly based on the idea of a recoil-less gun, a weapon which, in the event, was never perfected; and that weakened the theory. But that gun has since been superseded by the development of the smaller nuclear weapons.

I believe that we can now arm a light tank with a devastating weapon. Unfortunately, we have no light tank. The only light tank we have in service—not in production—is the Cromwell, which is a contemporary of the Mark IX Spitfire and the Lancaster bomber. That is pretty dated, as I think your Lordships will agree. I believe that there is a strong need for a light tank carrying an atomic weapon and, if possible, a ground-to-ground guided missile (though I do not know the technical possibilities of that) transportable in a Beverley freighter. I think it is possible to evolve such a weapon. I hope that this debate may reveal at least some proposal to produce such a weapon, which has not yet been announced.

I feel a more parenthetical anxiety with regard to armour, if the central reserve has to be held in the United Kingdom. In that case, it bears pointing out that there is nowhere in this country where an armoured regiment can exercise or train. We have Salisbury Plain. But if an armoured regiment is deployed as it should be in modern warfare, the rear troop is entering Salisbury Plain as the forward troop is leaving it. That is not a serious military exercise. It may be said that we have available training areas in Germany. It is true that there are Luneberg Heath and other areas, but they are becoming more and more overcrowded as we begin to share them with the German Army.

What a number of armoured officers would like to see is a new training area in North Australia, where the territory is unlimited. I think we can take it that the Australians would welcome such a force, and would wish to take part in it, and it would be well positioned there for any possible hostilities in the Far East. If the reply to my rather ambitious suggestion is that we are not in future to have sufficient armoured force to merit that area, if the answer is that, effectively speaking, armour is "on the way out", then I must say, with unaccustomed boldness, but I think not unjustified boldness, that in my view that concept is entirely mistaken. If we are to talk in terms of limited war at all, with or without nuclear weapons, mobility is bound to be an imperative element. Furthermore—though I confess that I am now theorising—in anything but the immediate area of an atomic explosion I should feel safer and snugger inside some armoured vehicle, than on the open ground. Clearly, if a bomb dropped on the top of a tank, one's impression of snugness would disappear.

But the burden of my argument is that after such an explosion tanks might remain in operation, whereas infantry certainly would not. There would be available some immediate force to react to an atomic-supported or atomic-prefaced attack by the enemy, from which infantry would have to take shelter. I believe that that could be a decisive factor in the battle and in the campaign; and a war can, of course, he lost by a single campaign. It may be that my theory will be confounded, in the course of the debate or at the end of it. But until it is confounded, I shall continue to hold it. It will be hard, in any case, to shake my conviction that there is no substitute for mobility in warfare—and I mean mobility over the ground, not simply mobility in the air, if we are going to consider operations overseas, we must not leave the tank behind.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State, invoked Lewis Carroll to illustrate the lessons of the past which he will incorporate into the Army of the future. The last thing I want to do is to join in a literary dispute, or in any dispute, with my right honourable friend. I hold him in the warmest personal affection, as well as political respect. But my own recollection of the White Knight in Alice Through the Looking Glass is not so much that he was rendered ineffective by over-equipment but that he was so engrossed in developing ever more fantastic gadgets for the next encounter that he neglected weapons he had for the fight in hand, and their best exploitation.

My Lords, I have another worry, rather off my beat, but I can speak as one who has travelled in a cargo-capacity in war time in convoys, and who has suffered certain passages of alarm. Also—like most of your Lordships no doubt—I have lost close friends through the action of enemy warships against convoys. On an occasion in London last year, General Gruenther, Commander in Chief of N.A.T.O. pronounced himself very bothered indeed by one fact; and that was the size of Russia's submarine force. The grim fact is that to-day the Soviet Union has 500 U-boats—that is ten times more than the Germans had at the start of the war—and is building at the rate of 80 a year. If we recall the German menace then, and multiply it by ten, we find that figure pretty startling. But how is that startling fact taken into account in this White Paper? Paragraph 24 of the White Paper, speaking of the defence of Atlantic communications against submarine attack, states: Britain must make her contribution, though, for the reasons explained earlier, it will have to be on a somewhat reduced scale. I am bound to ask whether we can really feel satisfied about the result of this statement.

The closest I have been able to find to a reassurance on this point, was a statement made by the American Admiral, Admiral Wright, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Atlantic—and even that was not very reassuring. He said last month: N.A.T.O. has not got the number of escort vessels we need for furnishing direct active protection for merchant fleets, but it hopes to keep the loss rate within reasonable limits. I feel it reasonable to ask: what room is there here for a reduction of escort vessels? No one is likely to forget how close we have been brought to defeat, in two world wars, precisely by the enemy's ability to sink our merchant shipping. No one is likely to forget what a terrible burden is laid on the Navy, and how nobly it fulfils its task. Perhaps, in those circumstances, a landlubber may ask: is it fair to make that task harder and even, perhaps, impossible? Is it not a measure of suicide? My Lords, I know that I have stretched your indulgence to the limit, but I should like to speak for a moment about one aspect of the Government's determination to press on with our own development of nuclear weapons, an aspect which has been brought into prominence by the present visit to Germany of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. I believe that this determination is giving great relief and comfort to our neighbours in Europe. It is clear that the interests of America are not always identical, at least in degree, with the interests of our part of the world. That comment is not anti-American; it is simply logical. The part which America is playing in the defence of Europe is beyond dispute and beyond praise. But, in a given situation, if identical information, shared between us, is fed into that great electronic brain, the State Department, it may come out with a totally different answer from ours. That has happened recently. It came out with one answer in the autumn, and six months later, after feeding-in very similar information, it has given out an absolutely opposite answer, an answer similar to the one which America so heartily condemned when we reached it ourselves.

A modern war, it is agreed, can be lost in six days, let alone six months. And, for all America's generosity, the nations of Europe are not entirely happy that she will always interpret a European issue in European terms. It was put to me in this way by a German Socialist Member of Parliament, with whom I spoke for three hours in Bonn in the Bundeshaus, last month. He said: We in Germany are territorially closer to Russia than anyone else. We are being asked to stick our necks out further than anyone else. We are being asked to put our trust in N.A.T.O. and the good faith and power of America. But lately we have seen two of America's closest and most dependable allies driven to a needless and humiliating defeat, by an American decision. In the light of that event "— Your Lordships understand that this was a German M.P. speaking— we are bound to ask ourselves, as Germans, what may be our position, as a fairly recent enemy, in any possible agonising reappraisal of the future. I am not pretending that all Germans are exercised by that same fear, but I am saying that I believe that this fear in some degree permeates Western Europe to-day. And as we in Great Britain become more closely bound to the other nations of Western Europe, especially if such agreements as the Common Market are entered into, it is natural that we should re-assume protective leadership among our neighbours: because our problems and viewpoints are more closely interlocked with theirs than America's can be. The Government are enabling us to assume that protective leadership. I feel sure that the present visit of the Prime Minister to Germany will serve to reaffirm our readiness, and that the White Paper, after he has explained it further, will serve to reinforce the morale in Western Europe, rather than reduce it, as has sometimes been suggested.

I am of the absolute opinion that this policy we are discussing is wise and farsighted. It means that, for once, we should not enter a new war prepared for the last one. I have voiced some anxieties, not exclusive to myself. Some noble Lords may think that they are groundless and misdirected. I hope that your Lordships will recognise that they are all thoughtful and all sincere. At all events, I must thank your Lordships humbly for the notable patience with which you have heard me.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords. I am sure that I shall be speaking for everyone in your Lordships' House in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, on a notable maiden speech. He speaks with a great deal of personal knowledge and experience, and a great deal of common sense. I am sure that we shall be glad to hear the noble Lord again. One or two of his points I shall take up a little later. I do not intend to detain your Lordships long, because unfortunately I shall be unable to be present tomorrow owing to an engagement, but I should like to submit one or two points to your Lordships.

I rather welcome this White Paper, because it has a note of realism. I have seen a great many White Papers, some of them most notably unrealistic. Some of the earlier Papers were composed of essays by the three Departments limply joined together with a little mild sentiment. This White Paper hangs together much more, but we see there the two perennial dilemmas of all defence questions: whether we are to have security or economic stability, and the dilemma of how much to put in the ultimate weapon and how much for smaller occasions. I am glad to see that the White Paper faces realistically the fact that, if we come to hydrogen bomb warfare, we shall not be able to carry on a war. There is no more talk about "broken-back warfare": we are just going barely to survive. In fact the only thing that belongs to that theory is civil defence. I do not think that there is much place for civil defence. In hydrogen bomb warfare we shall get a certain amount of improvisation by such people as are left, but I do not believe that any elaborate civil defence organisation will survive a hydrogen bomb.

The next thing that comes out of the White Paper, which is also very welcome, looking back to the past, is the full recognition of the fact that there is no defence whatever against the hydrogen bomb and no question of national defence. If we want to get anything like defence or security, it must be collective. To me that means that there must be the fullest co-operation with the democracies, and I do not think that we have yet attained that. This point arises on the question of tests. A test is made in the United States. We say that it is not sufficient for us; that we must have one ourselves. Why? One test should be quite sufficient among allies; but we have never yet had full cooperation with the United States on this line of country. I can carry my mind back to 1945 when we thought we almost had it; but we did not have it.

There is still far too must waste among the Western Allies. Every country pursues lines of research independently of the others. There has been a good deal of controversy on the question of tests. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said he thought it monstrous that we should not have a test. Then we are getting a great deal of disturbing information from scientists. Of course scientists, like doctors and judges often disagree; in fact they seldom agree. But some scientists think that we are going to poison the upper atmosphere and destroy future generations. Others, I know, do not take that view. I should like to give the benefit of the doubt in this matter to posterity, It is not a case of saying, "The Russians can do it, but we must not." The Russians are doing it. How much they are poisoning their own people we shall probably never know; but obviously the cumulative effect of experiments done by all the Powers may lead to great danger to the human race. I cannot see that it is so urgent that we should have a test in the next few months, and I think that we are perfectly right in saying that there should be full consultation about this.

I am glad to see in recent approaches on this matter of the control of the production of nuclear weapons a more hopeful approach than we have had for some time. I have never been a believer in the idea that we could ban nuclear warfare and carry on with other kinds of war. The possession of the weapon upsets the balance between the various powers. I have never believed in any "Queensberry Rule" by which we could ban nuclear weapons. In fact, we have reached the stage in which we have either, somehow or another, to reach some agreement with regard to disarmament or face the prospect of the destruction of our civilisation. Some people seem to think that it is extraordinary to say that civilisation may be destroyed. It would not be extraordinary at all. Many civilisations in history have gone down, generally by their own follly; and it may happen again. I think that people, particularly younger people should take serious thought on this matter. I am thinking of posterity, because perhaps at my age my interest is not: so serious.

Another point is that it is futile to think of getting disarmament without some kind of political agreement. I have had plenty of experience of the difficulties of doing business with Soviet Russia, but we ought to try again; we should really try to get down to disarmament. I welcome what has been done. But I say that we shall not gel it by a mere technical agreement. Technical agreement may help to get a political agreement, but the two must go together.

Like my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough I have been rather shocked at the way in which conventional weapons have become unconventional. We usually think of conventional weapons as the kind of weapons one handles oneself—the rifle and field gun. Now, apparently, they have all become atomic; and when we consider that, we have to consider how we are going to use them. It is felt by some that we could use atomic weapons discharged from the ground and yet avoid all-out atomic warfare; I do not believe that that would be possible. Then we have the question of what is called the "lesser occasions." Suppose you have what are called colonial wars, as part of the work of the policing of the world. Does anyone contemplate using nuclear weapons for trouble in Kenya, or Malaya, or somewhere like that? Obviously not. It is suggested that you might have them for holding the lines, so to speak, in Europe. But you have to look at what that means, The line does not run along the Russian frontier, but through Germany and by Poland. Are you going to get the West Germans to use nuclear weapons against the East Germans? I think it is a complete illusion. If you are going to have any banning, you must get rid of your ground nuclear weapons as well as those discharged in any other way.

We hear a good deal about the long-range rockets. I remember that when I was still responsible for affairs these things were said to be very much in the distance; the hydrogen bomb was not on the horizon, nor were long-range rockets. In fact, the scientific developments seem to accelerate, one after the other, almost as quickly as Ministers of Defence in a Conservative Government. I agree that it makes it extremely difficult for any Government. What we want our conventional weapons for is really only a form of police work. I think we should try to build up the local defence forces. It is not so expensive as having people sent all over the world. I am sure that in Australasia our main base should now be with those Dominions. They will largely have to accept responsibility there.

We talk, and rightly so, of having a highly mobile and highly trained Reserve; but that does not mean that it should be only in this country. I think we have to look out for new bases. There is a great deal of out-of-date thinking about bases. We still seem to think bases valuable which were valuable in the days of navalism but which are not valuable in the days of air warfare. Cyprus is a point. The idea in the White Paper that Cyprus should be a kind of advance launching station for long-range weapons of one kind and another seems to me absolutely monstrous. The island is much too small and much too vulnerable; and, also, it is inhabited by people. I think it is quite wrong to put Cyprus up as a target, like a tied goat waiting for the tiger. In these days of great exposure to attack on any base, you cannot ask people to accept that position. If you want that kind of base, you must accept the risk yourselves. Granted that air transport is important for a Mobile Reserve, I do not think we have developed that nearly enough.

Then we come to the supervision of Forces, Air, Naval and Army. We now have a proposal, which I think is absolutely right, to get rid of conscription. In my view, we were right to have conscription when we decided for it, and we were right to carry it on: but it is wrong to carry it on in other conditions. Now the fact must be faced: are you going to get the men? I could not detect any real note of confidence in the speeches made by Ministers in another place. That is because I think we still regard entry into the Services as either a point of duty or the compulsion of necessity. We are still looking at a time when labour was an expendable commodity. To-day it is not. You must give proper conditions if you want to get people into your Fighting Services. People in the Services now, so far as I can make out, all become highly trained specialists. I look in vain for what we called the common or garden. poor old infantryman, accustomed to doing all the hard jobs. He is now a specialist of one kind or another, well trained and fit. He is not what used to be called "a stupid fighting animal".

Now the Government have the task of, somehow or other, before 1960, getting an attraction into the Services. I do not think you will do it by a bribe of money. You have to offer much more in the way of amenities, such as getting rid of the old barracks, providing decent married quarters and other things of that kind. But, above all, you have to give a firm promise of a secure job for your officers and men. It is not enough to say that there are special labour exchanges, and so on. I think you have to train these men and give them, say, a year on full pay while they are being trained for other jobs. Your modern officer is worthy of a proper job. The old idea that the ex-officer was only fit to be secretary of a golf club has gone.

To begin with, they are needed, and often badly needed, in industry for personnel management. People are much more adaptable than they used to be. I always used to hear the theory from very dull people who said that no one could learn his job who had not gone in at the age of fourteen. Often the intelligent man went in at a much later age and was much better at the job. I would say this to the Government. It is no good saying that you are going to deal with this question next year. The question is: what are you going to do with the people, you are squeezing out now? I understand that there is a considerable feeling of insecurity in the Services. What are you going to do with those people now? Are you going to have people hanging on, trying to get jobs, or will a real effort be made to see that before a man is thrown out he will be worked into a job somewhere else? I think that what you are going to do now is the crucial test, if you want to get the people you need.

Now I wish to comment for a moment on organisation. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, talked about "Trinity and Unity" and "Unity and Trinity". For years I have been rather a devout Service Trinitarian. The Government have made a fourth person in a superior Chief of Staff of the Services. I do not think that that was a good idea. I think the alternative is to continue to have a Trinity, or a Unity, with one Chief of Staff and a much bigger approach to amalgamation of the Services. I am well aware of all the sentiments one has for the Services of the past, regimental feeling and so on, and I share them all. But we have to face up to the new conditions, and I think the tendency will, and must, be towards a much closer integration, if not amalgamation, of the Forces.

I noticed, by the way, that the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, talked about combining the medical services. That is something that struck me at once when I was Prime Minister, and I set up a Committee to examine it, but they reported dead against it. My noble friend Lord Nathan will be speaking later, and he may have a word or two to say on that matter. The trouble is that when you investigate it, it is not so easy, failing a complete amalgamation. It is like the proposition put forward so often by Sir Winston Churchill: "Cut off the tail arid add to the teeth." When you come to look at it, you find that if you cut off all the tail you have not much teeth left and the animal cannot bite. As I say, it is not so easy. But amalgamation of a good many of the services, notably the catering and possibly the paying services, is worth examination. I think we ought to aim at that.

Finally, I would say that I do not think there is any real reason why there should not be a full inquiry into these matters again. The Esher Committee and other Committees have shown the value of a real inquiry into the Services. It has to happen outside: if you think you can do it inside the Service you are wrong; you never can. You never get away from the traditions, and you have to bring new minds on to it. We have been asking for a long time for an examination of this matter, and I think the Government will do well now to accede to that request.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, as I have to refer extensively to nuclear weapons in the course of my remarks, it seems proper to emphasise before I begin that I am speaking for myself and not—I repeat, not—as a member of the Atomic Energy Authority. As has been said, we are facing a revolution in our defence policy. Briefly, it is based on the assumption that there is no way of preventing bombardment by rockets except by the threat of retaliation. This view may well be correct. For the first time, thanks to the hydrogen bomb, the West is in a position to inflict mortal injury on Russia, whose vast distances have swallowed up so many armies in the past. That is why the Kremlin is so anxious that we should promise not to use them.

It is a good many years now since Sir Winston Churchill in another place explained that the increasing power of nuclear weapons might prevent war. I will not go into the case for having conventional weapons as well: the possibility of wanting them for broken-backed war, the need for a N.A.T.O. trip-wire to prevent gradual infiltration; the possibility of having them for what the last speaker, rather rashly, I thought, called colonial wars, knowing that "colonial" is a word that is a red rag to a bull in certain parts where it is not realised how much Britain has done in keeping the peace and raising the standard of life of backward nations.

Nor do I propose to discuss whether the forces that are proposed in the White Paper are of the right size or type. I will pass over—I think the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, mentioned it—the danger of having a gap between the time when our aircraft become out of date and the rockets are ready for service. It is not unknown that rockets should be a little later in their arrival than the date for which they were promised. Personally, I am old and cautious, and in the matter of weapons I think it is a good thing to be on with the new love before you are off with the old. But I feel certain the noble Earl who is to reply will reassure us about this matter.

I now turn to the main proposition, which I think everyone has accepted here—namely, that we must possess such formidable means of attack that it is not worth anybody's while to commence hostilities. Though they accept this, some people ask whether it is necessary to develop these weapons ourselves. As has often been pointed out, it is the very people who are most insistent that the United Kingdom shall have an independent policy of its own who are the first to suggest that there is no need for us to have thermo-nuclear weapons of our own, as we can rely on the protection of the United States. I do not think I need waste time with that view. If we had to rely on the United States we should become a client State—in fact, literally a protectorate. I think the noble Lord mentioned the possibility of our being the 49th State of the Union. I am not so sure that the Americans would welcome us in that form. They are a robust, self-reliant people, and I am not by any means convinced that they would like to have a Welfare State on their hands. But that is by the way.

I will start with the premise that noble Lords agree that we need a deterrent to keep the peace, and that we must have it in our own hands. What I cannot, for the life of me, understand—and I am glad to say it has not been mentioned here this afternoon as it has been outside—is how anybody with a logical mind can argue that we ought to have thermo-nuclear weapons but ought not to test them. Really this displays such a formidable degree of technological innocence that it makes discussion rather difficult. People do not seem to realise that the step from fission bombs to fusion bombs involves the most colossal scientific and engineering problems. The step is much greater than that from an old steam pinnace to a modern speedboat. Of course, we all know the principle of the fusion bomb; but how to arrange it and design it so that it can be made to detonate is a very different matter. We all know that a mixture of petrol and air if ignited will explode and can be used to move a piston and drive a motor car. But it is a long step from there to making a Rolls Royce engine, or even an engine that will work at all.

Even at the risk of shocking some people, I am bound to say categorically that I hope that in the course of the next few years we shall make a number of tests, as the Americans and the Russians have found it necessary to do. It is too much to hope that our first thermo-nuclear bombs will be perfect, any more than the first cannons were perfect. After all, we had cannon at Crecy and Waterloo, and we still needed Shoeburyness. If we are making these bombs as a deterrent, they must be efficient and of the right shapes and sizes to be fitted to our rockets. We must be able to control the amount and type of fall-out. Even cost cannot be altogether neglected.

The arguments outside this House for stopping our tests, which, as I expected, have not been brought forward here, are sometimes silly and always unconvincing. Some people say that our doing so would shame the Russians into giving up tests altogether. Can any argument be more futile? For years we have not tested any thermo-nuclear weapons. Has this shamed the Russians? They let off five bombs within a fortnight only a few weeks ago. Even if they did promise to stop their thermo-nuclear tests, and actually did so, we should be left at an appalling disadvantage, for they have plenty of tested models which they can put into production. We have not tried a single one. It is exactly as though, in the early days of flying, we had proposed to deter a potential aggressor by threatening to bomb his capital when everybody knew that he had a fleet of aircraft which had passed every flight test, while we had nothing but a design on the drawing board without a single prototype. Would anyone in his senses consider this a deterrent?

Other people say, "Well, at any rate, let us postpone our tests while we negotiate with the Russians and ask them to stop theirs." Nothing could suit the Kremlin better. It would leave them free to go on producing their well-tried weapons while we had to hang about waiting to see whether the bomb we had designed would explode, if and when we were courteously allowed to test it. Frankly, I find it hard to reconcile such a proposal with the normal processes of human thought. If we are to rely on deterrents we must have something we know will deter, and not something which our people think may work all right, but which everyone knows might not and is certainly not going to be the last word. Quite apart from this, the idea that one car turn bomb tests of this nature on and off like going out for revolver practice betrays an extreme ignorance of the real facts. Thousands of people are involved, and tens of thousands of tons of shipping which all have to be in the right place at the right time. Climate and weather are vital considerations. Months of preparations go into these things.

I now come to the other type of argument which has been paraded in many versions at great length and with considerable pomposity, namely, the story that our tests constitute a danger to the health of humanity. I do not think I shall hurt anybody's feelings in this House if I say that this is unmitigated nonsense. As shall show in a few minutes, these tests cannot in any circumstances cause any significant increase in the number of stillbirths or defective children or cases of leukemia or cancer of the bone. Unless we make them, we shall never get the deterrents on which we are counting to save the world from global war. Clearly, we must keep our sense of proportion. Surely we all agree that almost any sacrifice is worth while to prevent subjugation by Communism or the Communist Powers. We are prepared to sacrifice numbers of lives in Service training to avoid it; we are spending £1,500 million to help to maintain our freedom; we willingly accept the resulting diminution in the standard of life of our people—more than £2 per week per family. And, if war came, we should certainly lose hundreds of thousands of men before we submitted. Yet the advocates for stopping the tests insist that we must not risk any lives, trivial though the risk is, in preparing the deterrent which is to prevent the war.

Over 5,500 people were killed on the roads in 1955 in Britain alone, and over 250,000 were injured. This could all be avoided if we stopped all the motoring. But nobody proposes that. Why? Because we think the convenience and economy of motor transport justifies the risk. Not only that, but thousands of people die every year as the result of accidents in getting in and out of their baths. Yet, nobody says that we ought to stop having baths. For we hold that the hygienic and other general advantages of having baths outweigh the occasional fatalities. The statistical evidence for a connection between cancer of the lung and smoking is much stronger than exists for a connection between radio-activity and bone cancer. But nobody suggests that we should stop smoking, though this would do very little harm to anyone except the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the excitable, sometimes almost hysterical, people who rush forward ordering us to stop our bomb tests leave out of account altogether that to do so would prevent our having a deterrent which would probably save us from a war costing millions of lives. And we are to do this because they, in their wisdom, contrary to the best opinion, believe, or at any rate assert, that our tests might harm the health of a completely negligible part of the human race. The harm a world war would do they do not seem to care about.

But I need not rely upon this argument, conclusive as it is; it is simpler to refute the story that our tests will create risks to the world's health. As has been said, a great number of people are genuinely worried about this matter. The question has been investigated by the highest authorities, who have agreed that the risks are negligible, not to say nonexistent. But, for some reason, people tend to believe the views of much less knowledgeable men, whose assertions are widely circulated as though they were the last word. And I need scarcely say that the conclusion they draw is that our tests should be stopped.

The ringleaders in this campaign are certainly a very curious collection. Oddly enough, none of them seems to worry very much about the Russian tests. These they seem to assume will do no damage to anyone. It is the British tests they insist will poison the world. The Daily Worker, of course, has been in the forefront, of the movement. A variegated lot of scientists have also given tongue. Some seem to be ordinary fellow-travellers; some are emotional pacifists; some appear to be publicity-mongers, and some are just honestly misguided.


I cannot believe that so many eminent members of the noble Viscount's profession—the scientists—could be such terrible people as he has just told us they are.


I am sorry to say that many members of my profession are not very good when it comes to considering political matters. Many of them even vote with the noble Lord who has just sat down. All of these gentlemen are, of course, described in the Left Wing Press as "leading scientists". It is quite a joke now in scientific circles that if anyone wishes to be advertised in the newspapers as a great nuclear expert, he has only to write in ponderous terms saying that he thinks the British tests at Christmas Island ought to be stopped. None of these gentlemen had access to inside knowledge—at least, I sincerely hope not. But this does not deter them. Although the Medical Research Council appointed a completely unbiased body of the most able men in the profession, including eight Fellows of the Royal Society, who were given complete insight into all the relevant data and issued a unanimous Report (Cmd. No. 9780), these self-appointed prophets are quite ready to set up their opinions against the collective conclusions of their more expert and more experienced colleagues. The word "effrontery" seems to me the mildest term by which such action can be described.

I have no quarrel with the hosts of kind-hearted, trustful, well-meaning people who cannot bear the idea that anyone should be hurt. They seldom know very much about the subject or about the credentials of the men who are spreading their propaganda from the house-tops. Nor, for that matter, do I complain about the escapists, whose hearts rule their heads and who seem to hope that, if they do not have anything to do with these naughty weapons, all will be well. All of them have just been misled. I must say I was very shocked to see that the Lancet had seen fit to countenance this campaign and had supported the views of some unofficial group which contradicted flatly the conclusions of the Medical Research Council Committee. It is amazing that such a journal should have so little regard for the leaders of the profession.

Amongst other cardinal errors, the conclusions countenanced by the Lancet are based on the assertion that one ten-millionth of a curie of radium would cause one man in 200 to develop cancer of the bone. According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, this quantity is permissible; and "permissible" is defined as not expected to cause appreciable bodily injury to a person at any time during his lifetime". "Appreciable bodily injury" is defined as any bodily injury or effect that a person would regard as objectionable and/or competent medical authorities would regard as being deleterious to the health or well-being of the individual". Presumably, cancer of the bone would be both objectionable and deleterious. So the whole argument is based on an assertion flatly contradicting the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

I will mention later some of the other questionable assumptions on which the conclusions depend. All I would say now is that it is very undesirable that such tendentious views, clearly based on wishful thinking, directly at variance with the conclusions of the most distinguished men who form the International Commission on Radiological Protection, should be promulgated as though they were authoritative. This sort of thing becomes particularly obnoxious since various universally respected figures like the Pope and Dr. Schweitzer have been persuaded to intervene. How they could allow themselves to be taken in by the inaccurate propaganda of the friends of Russia is hard to understand. The true facts have been set out, both here and in America, by scientists of the highest repute with access to all the secret data. Frankly, I am surprised that men in high positions without: scientific knowledge or exact information should brush all this aside and issue appeals on quantitative scientific questions which they are really not competent to judge.

Just one example of the incredible muddleheadedness that prevails in these matters. In a debate in another place a few weeks ago, the Opposition moved an Amendment asking the Government to put forward effective proposals for the abolition of H-bomb tests through international agreement. These so-called "leading scientists" might have explained to the Opposition the distinction between the fission of the heavy nuclei which does form radioactive products that might in excessive quantities be harmful, and the fusion of H-nuclei, which cannot in any circumstances produce fall-out emitting rays harmful to man or beast. To concentrate their objection specifically on the after-effects of the harmless H-component might lead people to question whether the Opposition really understand what they are talking about. The fission of uranium or plutonium, on the contrary, does produce comparatively long-lived radioactive substances like Strontium 90 and Caesium 137, some of which emit gamma rays, and those substances do fall slowly to the ground and to some extent enter into the food chain so that human beings are exposed to a minute amount of internal radiation.

Let us first consider the argument about the gamma ray isotopes which, we a-e told, jeopardise the future of unborn millions in the world. All the unborn millions have been and always will be subject to cosmic rays, which produce mesons and gamma rays, as well as to the gamma rays from the radioactive components of the rocks and the soil. This has been happening ever since life appeared on the planet. Whether or not these radiations are the cause of any of the mutations which appeared in living creatures from time to time and which by natural selection have led gradually to the emergence of the human race we need not examine. Most people seem to think that it is only a small fraction. All that matters is that for thousands of millions of years these cosmic rays have been beating down upon the earth, absorbed to some extent in the air, yet reaching the ground in a measurable if somewhat attenuated form. At 10,000 feet the dosage is about 130 per cent. greater than at sea level.

The gamma rays to which we are exposed from the fission products of all tests up to date are 150 times weaker than the radiation to which everybody is exposed anyhow in the course of nature. To frighten people by making out that this slight increase, two-thirds of 1 per cent., is going to increase the mutation rate—in other words the number of malformed babies or still-births—by an appreciable fraction is deliberately dishonest. Anyone who goes to live 200 feet higher up is subjected to a greater increase in effective radiation than he gets from the result of all the nuclear tests put together. I think the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, who lives on a tower surrounded by granite, is in a rather ominous position. As for the man who wears a luminous wrist-watch, he gets far more than all the tests put together would subject him to. Large numbers of people live and breed many feet above sea level. I have never heard that the Highlanders are notably less healthy than the Lowlanders, or that the number of still-births or of defective babies is greater in Switzerland than in Holland. Yet they are getting many times more radiation from the sky than the tiny percentage added by all the nuclear tests which have been made. Even in Tibet, where cosmic rays are four times as strong, where radiation is 40 per cent. higher, people seem to live and breed quite happily—at least they did until the Communists invaded them.

Nor is this surprising. For even the most cautious experts agree that the effect of adding an extra 100 per cent. or 200 per cent. to the natural background dose would be negligible. Yet 0.6 per cent., according to our vociferous "cranks," means danger to the human race. Everybody gets thirty times as much from the potassium contained in the human body. If it comes to that, the number of gamma rays we get from the radioactive materials in the walls of our houses is fifty times greater than the amount to which we are exposed by the nuclear tests. If the protagonists of stopping the tests had any logic in their being they ought to tell us all to go and live in tents.

The lengths to which certain people will go is shown by the "whispering campaign" which seems to have been started, hinting that the radiation from the debris of our bomb tests may cause sterility or even impotence. A very effective lie! It is, of course, the height of absurdity. It would take about 10,000 times the gamma radiation caused by all the tests which have been made up to date to cause sterility in a woman, and 15,000 times for a man. To suggest that the effect of our Christmas Island tests, adding only a fraction to the radiation from past tests—not 10,000 or 15,000 times more—could have any effect whatsoever is quite ludicrous. If there were any truth in that story, anyone who lived a couple of thousand feet above sea level and who would therefore get several times more gamma rays than from all the tests put together, would be sterile. Yet there are millions of people who have been living happily in mountainous countries for generations. And as to impotence, this is not caused by radiation at all. I will not speculate as to how this lying tale started and by whom it is being put about.

Then we have the ingestion of the celebrated Strontium 90. This seems to frighten people just because it has been linked with the hated word "cancer." It is quite true that Strontium 90 is radioactive, and therefore can be detected in minute quantities. But it is equally true that in any case there is radium in the bones of everybody, and that it is much more active than Strontium. It has been known for many years that people who work with radium are apt, unless precautions are taken, to assimilate an amount greater than usual. After elaborate tests the Medical Research Council, I think it was, laid down a figure for the maximum amount of radioactive matter permissible in the bones of people working with luminous paint, which of course contained radium.

I expect noble Lords know how cautious the doctors are in these matters. For my part, I feel sure that the limit they have laid down is much more likely to be too low than too high. Yet according to the Medical Research Council's investigation, the amount of Strontium 90 which we have absorbed up to date, and which, like radium, belongs to the second group, and therefore tends to be deposited in the bones in a similar way, is 1,000 times less than the amount they consider safe for people working in factories where radioactive materials are used. Even if we allow a factor 10, in case infants absorb more Strontium 90. or are more sensitive than adults, we still have in hand a safety factor of a hundred.

In their determination to make our flesh creep, the people who wish to stop our tests are prepared to make use of strangely contorted arguments. As I have said, the latest version, rushed through by a self-appointed group to be in time for Christmas Island, starts from the assumption, rejected by the International Commission for Radiological Protection, that one ten-millionth of a curie of radium will produce bone cancer in one man in 200. It then introduces the hypothesis that one six-hundredth of the equivalent amount of Strontium 90 will cause bone cancer in one man in 120,000. Well, no one can be sure what will happen with radiation of such low intensity; but if anyone were to tell you that because half the people who took one grain of some poison died it followed that taking one six-hundredth of a grain would kill one person in 1,200, I think you would be rather surprised. I am riot saying it is quite impossible in radioactive things, but it seems unusual.

I will not examine all the uncertainties involved in estimating the amount which may accumulate by 1970, as they do. There is the radioactive decay of the Strontium 90; the fact that what gets into one's bones does not stay there for ever the possibility that some of it will be washed out of the soil in twelve years, and so on. The amounts of ordinary radium in the soil are sixty times greater than the amount of Strontium 90, and radium is about ten times as obnoxious as Strontium 90. Though radium does not enter into the food chain in the same was as Strontium, it is, to say the least of it, striking that 600 times the effective activity appears to be harmless.

These uncertainties are not emphasised by our clamant critics. Having started with a faulty premise and added a dubious hypothesis, they make clear assertions which culminate in Press statements that each megaton equivalent exploded in a test will cause the loss of a thousand lives. I must say that I am surprised that such bald statements are allowed to pass uncorrected. Anyhow, the men who have been uniformly written up in the Left-Wing Press as leading scientists because they have said things lending to discourage our nuclear experiments cannot possibly know how much Strontium 90 will be produced in our Christmas Island test. As I have said, the fusion explosion produces no Strontium or radioactive fall-out whatsoever. Only those who have detailed knowledge of the design of the bombs and know how much Strontium is produced in the detonator or blanket can form any idea of the amount the Christmas island test will add to the atmosphere. It is monstrous that, lacking this essential datum, anyone should allow the assertion to appear in the Press that the debris of every megaton equivalent will kill a thousand people. I do not know whether our vociferous critics claim to possess knowledge of the design of our bombs. If they do, they can have acquired it only in flagrant breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Certainly, this debris will be only a fraction of the total in the atmosphere from previous tests. And that total, as I have shown, is quite incapable of causing any of the harmful effects predicted by ignorant or biased persons, however vociferous. The efficiency of the Communist propaganda machine is shown by the fuss that is being made about these few test explosions. Christmas Island is as far from Tokio as Delhi is from London a good deal farther than St. Helena from here. Yet the Japanese are running round in circles, claiming that these tests should be stopped. The Russians, who have just let off five bombs much closer to Japan, have scarcely been criticised. To say the least of it, this is a curious coincidence. I find it very hard to unravel the motives of the people who are so busy trying to stop our tests at Christmas Island. The straight Communists and fellow travellers are, of course, simply doing as they have been told by Moscow. Very cleverly have they set about it—dropping dark hints to terrify prospective mothers and murmuring suggestions about cancer to frighten the men, with whispered undertones about sterility and impotence. But it is really shameful to see how many decent, honest people are being taken in.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount once more, and no more? Would he say that the Prime Minister had been taken in? The Prime Minister said on April 17: I am worried about the possible medical effects of the tests in years to come. But we must not get even that out of proportion. Does the noble Viscount share the worry of the Prime Minister in any degree?


I do not think so. But then, of course, I am a professional physicist; I do not know these political phrases so well.

These well-meaning dupes forget that even if the tests did add to some tiny extent to the number of people who suffer from bone cancer or to the number of still-births, this would be a small price to pay for developing a really effective deterrent which would prevent war; and, as I have explained, the risk is quite negligible. But it is extraordinary how they take for gospel and repeat the tendentious reports of self-appointed, so-called "leading scientists" with very scant knowledge of the facts, who rush in and contradict the greatest experts in the world who have been given all the secret data. They do not seem to realise that, whether they know it or not, they are playing the Communist game.

It is because so many men and women, full of good intentions, have fallen victims to the exaggerated tales so assiduously put about, that I have ventured to detain the House so long on this rather technical scientific question. I reiterate that it is moonshine to insist that the gamma rays resulting from debris of nuclear tests will cause adverse genetic effects. Quite apart from the gamma rays—scores of times more intense than those due to fission products—which are showered on us from the soil, the rocks and even the bricks in the walls of our homes, every living being on the planet is, and has always been, exposed to the effects of cosmic rays, which anyhow increase by about one per cent. for every 300 feet we live above sea level. All the nuclear tests up to date have increased the general gamma ray dose by only two-thirds of one per cent. And our Christmas Island tests will acid only a fraction to this. Anyone who seriously believes that adverse genetic effects will flow from this extra fraction of two-thirds of one per cent.—equivalent to living a fraction of 200 feet higher than we do already—should consult a psychiatrist. As to the alleged danger of cancer due to Strontium 90 accumulating in our bones, even the most pessimistic assumptions by our critics have only been able to make out that this amounts to one-hundredth or even less of the quantity which the International Commission on Radiological Protection has declared safe for industrial workers. To raise a scare because this may be increased by a fraction is, to say the least of it, irresponsible.

These questions are plain, scientific matters of fact. There is no Party issue involved—at any rate, there ought not to be. The highest authorities in the land, with all the data at their disposal, have examined them conscientiously and have published their considered views. It is from their Report that I have extracted the figures I have used. They agree as closely as can be expected with the figures and conclusions in the independent American report. And the fact that the Russians persist in carrying out tests in the heart of their own territory seems to show that the Communist propaganda against making them is "for export only." Misguided as it is, I can understand the position of the convinced pacifist, who cannot stomach the idea of the use of force in any circumstances. But he should try to achieve his ends by converting his fellow-citizens to his views by argument—not try to bring them in by a side-wind. It is scarcely honest, it seems to me, to try to stop us from making H-bombs by backing tendentious propaganda seeking to prevent us from testing them, on the pretext that this might endanger the health of the world. If anybody disapproves of the fundamental thesis of the White Paper, namely, that the best way to avert war is to build up a stock of nuclear deterrents, it is for him to say what is his alternative. But if the policy is accepted one thing is abundantly clear; we must make these weapons ourselves.

Unless we are given complete details about the American bombs—which is forbidden by American law—we must find out how; and for this, tests are absolutely essential. To give up our right to make tests would nullify the whole policy set out in the White Paper. I should be agreeable to the United Kingdom's undertaking not to carry out more tests in all than the number which had been made by Russia or America. But it would be little short of criminal folly to limit ourselves to a much smaller number, and even worse to delay the tests at Christmas Island. To face the Communist world without power to retaliate against attack with nuclear weapons would be to deliver us, the Commonwealth and the Empire, bound hand and foot to those nations which possess a stock of bombs. Surely no-one who has any feelings for Britain's great traditions and glorious history would be content with this.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, I think I ought to declare my interest, to the extent that I am still a member of an organisation which is probably the biggest manufacturer in this country of defence equipment for the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force. I hope your Lordships will not consider that any of my short comments are for that reason unduly biased.

There are no doubt certain feelings of dismay in the Services and in industry on account of the White Paper. In the last ten years, vacillations of policy, often mainly due to the changing political situation, have caused a great deal of wasted work and wasted scientific endeavour in the Services and in industry; plans have been made and scrapped; new equipment has been designed and scrapped. I have had first-hand evidence of a small section of the effect of vacillating policy in the investigation (of which I am chairman) which is being carried out for the Secretary of State for War into the conduct of Works Services for the Army; and I am glad to see that this particular matter of better accommodation receives high priority in paragraph 53 of the White Paper.

Many of us have for a long time been aware that the whole of the defence set-up required a "new look", and for that reason I welcome, with certain reservations, the White Paper as a brave step in the right direction, something which will enable all of us to plan the way ahead with a little more firmness. I do not propose to argue the relation between the dropping of National Service and the nuclear deterrent. The Prime Minister made it perfectly clear in winding up the debate in another place on April 17 [OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), Vol. 568 (No. 96), col. 2042]: Short of general disarmament…the end of conscription must depend upon the acceptance of nuclear weapons. My first reservation, after accepting the fact that we are "putting our shirts (and also our trousers) on" nuclear weapons, is that I only hope Her Majesty's Government will concentrate on their ability to deter or handle properly the more serious limited wars, which not only represent the real Communist threat but in my opinion are the real danger of starting a global war. So much, therefore, must hinge on skilful diplomacy and a correct policy in development and production of the more conventional weapons, which the noble Earl, Lord Atlee, pointed out were no longer necessarily conventional. My second reservation is that I question whether it will be possible to raise even the limited numbers now contemplated without some form of call-up, more particularly in the Army. I therefore regard paragraph 53 of the White Paper as one of the most essential paragraphs in the whole document.

My third reservation refers to the guided-missile policy. I understand that, with two or three notable exceptions in the fighter class, we are jettisoning our efforts on future supersonic fighters and supersonic bombers. It may be perfectly logical to assume that guided missiles will be effective in taking the place of manned aircraft in, say, "x" years, but "x" years may be a long time—longer than the Minister of Defence estimates—and I, for one, do not believe that manned aircraft will be completely superseded, for defence purposes, for many years. It is the normal experience that every offensive weapon is overtaken by defensive equipment, and there is no reason to expect that this may not happen again; and that, to some extent, will mitigate the killing effect of guided missiles.

At the annual aircraft constructors' dinner held at Boscombe recently (it was, I think, a light-hearted affair), some interesting and well-informed opinions were expressed. May I quote from an article in Aeronautics: The point was put that the change to missiles might never be a complete change and that the probability was that manned aircraft would always form a large part of any military force. The other point made was that, even where missiles do replace the manned aircraft, they will do so—if those who direct our defences are wise—according to a predetermined time scale set by the rate of progress with the missiles themselves and by the amount by which they can be proved to be superior to manned vehicles. These were the serious lessons taught by men, who are in a better position to know the facts than any others. We advise all who wish to launch into statements about how our future defences should be organised to heed them. What I am trying to point out to your Lordships is not only the danger of the time scale in the development of a long family of guided missiles, but also the fact that, though we may have some very good rocket weapons from the United States, there are many other varieties of guided weapons which have to be developed: and unless we are prepared to buy them they ought to be developed here.

Another reservation I wish to make, and perhaps the most critical, is the dangerous impact of the White Paper as regards the general effect on the aircraft industry as a whole, a young and very great industry in which I have had some experience. It is true that some of the companies concerned may be able to replace their present production by turning over to some form of guided weapons, but apart from that at the present moment their future looks somewhat grim. I cannot believe that your Lordships will disagree with the fact that travel by air, apart from what I have tried to postulate as certain defence requirements, is going to increase on much the, same scale as it has done in the last decade. It seems to me vital that this country should play its part and have a healthy industry, and should not allow the United States entirely to monopolise the field.

The finance required, as in so many other fields to-day—for example, steel, super-tankers, atomic energy and transport—is immense, and if we are to keep a virile aircraft industry it must have—I will not put it higher than this—a sympathetic Government policy. We have had our temporary successes with Comets, Viscounts, and Britannias. I might say, in passing, that in my opinion one of the greatest mistakes we ever made was to "crash" the V-1000. Now we have to try to catch up. America has an enormous advantage in the fact that the Administration place large military orders for different kinds of machine, which can then, without any great efforts on the part of the companies concerned, be converted to civil requirements.


May I ask the noble Lord, in view of what he is now saying, whether he will support the request put forward from these Benches on many occasions for an inquiry into the aircraft production industry?


I do not think it is for me to express a view on that matter, because I am one of the people concerned with this particular point. I do not suggest for one moment that I am asking for a further inquiry into the industry.

The last point I wish to make is not so much a reservation as a question mark on further integration of the Services—a matter touched on very well by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I can claim to have seen at first-hand during the war the working of the machinery of the Services and Supply and also, to some extent, the War Cabinet. Since then, I have been intimately connected with trying to provide all types of Service equipment, thus looking at the matter from the other end. I cannot believe that five Ministries—Defence, War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry and Supply—are necessary to run Forces of the size contemplated, which are now being shaped to meet the ability of this country to pay for them.

Like many others, I have for some time been advocating that the whole of our defence organisation needs to be closely examined, working up to a Minister of Defence who has full responsibility and the power of decision. Though I am much tempted to do so, I am not to-day trying to throw a very large brick at the Ministry of Supply, who, at different stages, have done some very fine things. But I think it is fair to say that perhaps the greatest bugbear in interpreting Service requirements by industry is the fact that this Ministry is interposed between the user and industry, especially in the case of the Army and the Royal Air Force. The noble and gallant Viscount. Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein gave his views on this question of integration very clearly, in a speech which he made to the Royal United Service Institution in November, 1956. under the title: "The Panorama of Warfare in a Nuclear Age." His speech is far too long to quote, and I daresay that many of your Lordships have read it. I commend it to your Lordships, as it says, in much more authoritative terms, what I am trying to say now.

The noble and gallant Viscount made some of the following points. We must not blind ourselves with Service partisanship; the trend in Service organisation to-day is towards Service self-sufficiency (I think I have noticed on several occasions that it goes further, and I would even say that there was departmental self-sufficiency); since a lot of Service controversy results from competition for the most important tasks, perhaps the rôles and the missions in force to-day need revision. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal then referred to the possibility of a single Service, though he made it clear that he realised fully that that would not be acceptable to many people to-day. He gave very good reasons why that is so. He favoured unified command, whenever possible, and the provision of more well-rounded Staff Officers, men who have a working knowledge of all Services. And this would involve a more comprehensive unified system of military education.

I am well aware that, when opening the debate in another place, the Minister of Defence announced the setting up of a Defence Administrative Committee to make a comprehensive review which must obviously cover many of these aspects of integration. In my opinion, this is another step in the right direction, and no doubt some extremely useful recommendations will come from that Committee. Those of us who were privileged to visit Greenwich last Friday were told how the Admiralty were tackling this particular plan. I agree very much with what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said earlier. Looking back over the years, the Esher Committee, in the early part of this century, did a job which laid the foundation of the excellent conduct of the last war. I believe, just as the noble Earl stated, that it would not be at all a bad policy to set up some further long-term machinery—not departmental—to examine the sort of central machine of defence that we should be aiming to achieve in eight to ten years' time.

I wish the Minister of Defence every success in carrying out the policy of this White Paper. I am very glad to support at the same time expressing the hope that any dangers arising from its implementation will be adequately safeguarded; and also that Her Majesty's Government will not hesitate to carry out the necessary defence reorganisation which the situation will demand, and (to quote a famous First Sea Lord) to carry it out ruthlessly, relentlessly and remorselessly.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, in wishing the Minister of Defence well of his White Paper. I admire the courage which informed him in preparing it and presenting it to Parliament. And, if I may say so, I admire the way in which the Parliamentary Secretary presented it to your Lordships' House to-day. Like Lord Weeks, I have certain reservations, and I should like to make a further observation on the question of Supply, about which the noble Lord knows so much. I avow myself an opponent of the present system of Supply. I have worked with it and seen it in operation; and I believe that the Ministry of Supply is a faulty organisation and that responsibility is not properly placed. We have not had the best results from the expenditure of money on research, development and production, particularly of aircraft, that we ought to have had, owing to the defective system under which we have been working. I should like to see responsibility placed much more fairly and squarely on those who have to use the weapons, because in the interval between the ordering and the using of arms a great deal of effort and knowledge runs to waste. I think that we might well start with an examination of the Supply question if we are talking about examination of the Defence Services.

Another reservation which I share with the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, is that about guided weapons and fighters. If we are to have reduced expenditure on defence—and I do not quarrel with that necessarily arbitrary decision—it is perfectly clear that some things have to go which are highly desirable and needful; but the experience with the production of guided weapons and missiles is not happy, as the noble Viscount. Lord Cherwell, said. If we are to have any effective development, I believe that we as a nation should be well advised, and that the Government would be well advised, to put a far greater effort into the production of guided missiles than apparently is proposed.

There is one statement in the White Paper with which I cannot agree. I do not believe that it is possible to have an air defence of vulnerable points. Last year's White Paper said, almost in terms, that we could not have, an aerial defence. This year it has turned up as a defence of strategic bomber airfields. That is papering a crack—and the crack is there. It would be much better to face it firmly. Perhaps it may mean sonic really concentrated work in getting a real defence. It is not for me to say—and I am not in a position to do so—what we ought to economise upon in order to get better and more effective expenditure on these weapons. Though, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, mention of broken-back "war has this year been excluded from the White Paper—at: any rate, in terms—it seems to me to turn up under naval expenditure. With respect to the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, I am not impressed by the very few fighter aircraft and the sixty submarines, either in the Active or the Reserve Fleets. If we have a hydrogen war and are subjected to nuclear attack, I do not believe that submarine warfare means very much; and even if we were to have that kind of warfare, in my limited knowledge of naval tactics, I do not see the relevance of a large submarine fleet. I would rather see the money spent in an effective defence of guided missiles.

We have had some reference to N.A.T.O. Although some of the money we have been spending in the last seven or eight years might have been better spent, I do not take the view that our policy has been misguided and our objectives misplaced. I believe that the great North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been an effective deterrent to Russian aggression. I believe that, although we have spent a great deal of our national treasure, on the whole it has been spent economically, because we have given the country and Europe a far greater feeling of security and a smaller fear of being menaced by Communist aggression and subversion. Would anybody, looking back and putting himself in the position in which we were at the time of the Berlin blockade or the invasion of Korea, expect Western Europe to feel even relatively so secure as they do to-day?

While we have been preparing, quite rightly, and concentrating upon the arming of the nations of the West, and upon our co-operative effort, many things have been happening in the world. One of these great events was the death of Josef Stalin. Although I do not place any greater reliance on the good behaviour, morals and intentions of the present rulers of Russia than I did on those of the late Josef Stalin, great developments have flowed from the release of the Russian Empire from his vice-like grip. In particular, relations between Russia and the satellites have changed. I do not believe that, with the experience of Poland and Hungary, the Russians will any longer have a keen incentive to try to communise and subjugate the rest of the Western European Nations. I think a great deal of the courage of the sorely tried nations in Eastern Europe, who have been suffering so long under Russian tyranny, for revealing that state of affairs.

If we are to reduce our contribution to N.A.T.O., as we intend to do, then we should redouble our efforts to get a far higher degree of integration, political and economic, as well as military, in Western Europe. The results of Suez may be variously estimated and according to one's political predilections. But one thing that has been shown, so far as America is concerned (the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, adverted to this in a remarkable maiden speech), is that Europe is only one of several areas that America considers to be vital. Whether or not they are right in their priorities remains to be seen—we cannot judge. But we can no longer expect that Europe will be regarded as the only object of American policy.

We are entering a phase in which the new ardent nationalists in Africa and Asia are only too ready to play off Communist Russia against capitalist America at the expense of Western Europe. When we consider the pace of events, and, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, the extraordinary developments of weapons, we cannot fail to notice that the inter-continental ballistic missile will be upon us before very long. When that day comes—although no doubt the United States would like to have our early warning radar system—it will fundamentally alter our relations, in a military and political sense, with the United States. I believe that we ought to use that time to try to integrate Europe and to see that the voice and power of Europe are felt in the councils of the world. Surely Great Britain must take a lead in that—a really active lead. We have not too long in which to do it, and, while we admire America and regard her as our friend, we should not neglect the recent manifestations of her policy.

The hour is not late but there are a great many speakers still to come and I will not detain your Lordships much longer. On the whole. I give my support to the policy outlined in the White Paper, but I would make certain that the good intentions which are expressed therein are given effective form. It is one thing to say what you are going to do and another thing to persuade the Treasury to "ante up" the money. It is much easier for the Treasury to cut down the expenditure, and to let the Minister say what he is going to do in this direction, than it is to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the time comes for the Annual Estimates to be presented, to find the necessary money for particular projects. Unless the defence we have after these cuts take place is really effective, unless we spend money on research and development, and put weapons, instead of plans and drafts, into the hands of our men, then we shall get the worst of both worlds.

Finally, I shall regard the treatment of the officers and men who will be displaced by this new policy as an earnest of the Government's intention. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, express himself in such unequivocal terms. I must tell him, however, if he needs to be told—though I do not believe that he does—that when it comes to an argument with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury officials, every excuse will be found to cut down what he wants to do. I myself have had some experience of this. I hope that he will be "tough" with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that, if he does not get satisfaction, he will take his protest to the point of resignation.

6.59 p.m.


My Lords, to save time let me say at once that to a large extent I agree with the broad conception of the White Paper on Defence, but, like the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, to whose speech I listened with great interest and a good deal of agreement, I have certain reservations. Indeed, I have considerable anxiety on one or two points, on which I must touch. To put it bluntly, I am worried about the time scale.

The White Paper envisages that Britain is setting out on a new system of defence based, in the first place, on the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons, and ultimately for the defence of our bomber bases on a ground-to-air guided missile system. As regards the method of delivery of the deterrent, it is apparently envisaged that before long the manned bomber will be replaced by ballistic rockets. I do not quarrel, with this picture, but I do ask myself when it is likely to become a reality. When shall we have these ballistic missiles for the offensive and these guided missiles for defence, developed, perfected and deployed in sufficient numbers? My experience is that designers and constructors the people that we in the Air Force call the "boffins"—are apt to be optimistic and to foresee their pet products becoming ready for practical use years before they actually do. I am wondering whether the Minister of Defence has been led a little too fast along that path. I am sure that the push-button era is going to come, but perhaps it may he further away than some of the experts, at any rate, think.

Nor, I think, can we be 100 per cent. confident that the enemy will not find some means of neutralising our ballistic missiles. They depend, I assume, for instance, for their control on radar and radio, which can be jammed. So it seems to me that there is a danger that in, say, about ten years' time we may be faced with a period when our new, highly scientific weapons are not ready, or are not ready in sufficient numbers, while our conventional weapons have become out-of-date and are, therefore, to that extent, useless. Of course, I see the difficulty: we cannot afford two systems of defence simultaneously. But I suggest that we should, as an insurance against the possibility I have envisaged, continue with the development, to at least one further stage, of our conventional weapons—and I refer particularly, of course, to air weapons.

In paragraph 61 of the White Paper we are told: The Government have decided not to go on with the development of a supersonic manned-bomber which could not be brought into service in much under ten years. The implication, clearly, is that within ten years we shall have perfected, developed and produced ballistic missiles which will replace the manned-bomber, and missiles, moreover, which the enemy cannot defeat. This may well happen but is it wise to rely entirely on its happening? I suggest that as a precaution, or as an insurance, we ought to proceed with the development of the supersonic manned-bomber. I am informed that the Americans and the Russians are both continuing this line of development, and we ourselves, I know, have already made considerable progress. The amount of money involved in this line of development is trivial compared with what will be the totals of our Defence Budget over the next ten years. The question of whether or not this aircraft would be put into production could, of course, be postponed for the present, and we should watch the progress of our ballistic missiles in the meanwhile.

There is a further point in regard to the supersonic manned-bomber. Undoubtedly, within the next ten or fifteen years we shall require a supersonic civil transport aircraft, both for use in Transport Command and in civil aviation. Much of the basic research and development into the supersonic bomber is applicable to the development of the supersonic transport. There is no suggestion in the White Paper that a supersonic transport aircraft will be developed, but unless this is done, and the money is provided, we shall find ourselves in some ten years' time in the same position vis-à-vis the Americans as we have found ourselves in respect of the big, fourengined, long-range, trans-Atlantic civil aircraft. Here we have lost the race to the Americans, and we have the picture of B.O.A.C. buying the American Boeing 707. Unless we are prepared to spend money on the development of supersonic aircraft we shall find ourselves in the same position in the late 'sixties in regard to this supersonic aircraft I see that in paragraph 63 of the White Paper it is stated that increased emphasis will be placed on the development of nuclear propulsion for maritime purposes which has great civil as well as naval importance. This seems to indicate that the Government are prepared to take civil as well as military interests into account in the development of ships, but not, apparently, in the case of aircraft.

I now turn to paragraph 62 of the White Paper, where it is stated that the Government have come to the conclusion that the R.A.F. are unlikely to have a requirement for fighter aircraft types more advanced than the supersonic P.1 and that work on such projects will be stopped. This point was also referred to by the noble Lord. Lord Weeks. Here, again, it seems to me the same arguments apply, and it may conceivably turn out in years to come that our ground-to-air guided missiles system is lagging behind and that the P.1, our only supersonic fighter, is out-of-date and of inferior performance for the task which it has to perform. One hopes that this will not be so, but, at the same time, it seems to be taking a very big chance not to develop a successor to the P.1.

There is also the point, as I understand it, that the range of our ground-to-air guided missiles, indeed any ground-to-air guided missiles at present envisaged, is comparatively short and it may well be that we shall find that we shall need a manned fighter to operate outside the range of our guided missiles so as to prevent the enemy bombers from having a free run into the vicinity of the target. Finally, on this same matter, there is the point that we have to be in a position to fight a limited war, and I should have thought that manned fighters would continue to play some part in a limited war for a considerable time to come.

I should now like to turn to paragraphs 34 to 36 of the White Paper, in the section headed "Central Reserve". In paragraph 35 it says that the Central Reserve must possess the means of rapid mobility and that for this purpose a substantial fleet of transport aircraft is being built up in R.A.F. Transport Command. I should certainly like to know what are the Government's intentions as regards the building-up of Transport Command. What do they mean by "a substantial fleet"? Certainly the numbers of transport aircraft at present in service and on order for Transport Command can hardly be called substantial. I understand that some eight Comets and thirteen Britannias are in use or on order. There are a couple of squadrons of Beverleys, and some elderly Valettas and Hastings. Beyond those numbers, so far as I know, no orders have as yet been placed. This small fleet of transport aircraft is pathetically inadequate for transporting a Central Reserve even at, say, brigade strength. It is true that some civil aircraft could be brought into play both from the Corporations and the independent operators; but even with these the numbers of aircraft would be inadequate, particularly as the Corporations would have other important tasks to perform.

I think it is an essential corollary of the strategy of the White Paper that Transport Command should be increased, perhaps quadrupled, within the next few years, otherwise it seems to me it is futile to speak of the mobility of our Central Reserve. I also think that in the late 1960s we shall find that we need a proportion of supersonic transport aircraft, which reinforces my argument against the dropping of research and development into supersonic manned aircraft. One advantage—and I am treading on rather delicate ground here—of an augmented Transport Command might be that it could undertake in peace time the function of air trooping, and thereby put an end to the somewhat virulent discussions and arguments that are going on at the present time about how and by whom this function should be carried out.

To sum up, my points are that, first of all, I think it is a mistake for the sake of a few million pounds to drop the development of the supersonic manned-bomber; secondly, that, as an insurance, development of the supersonic fighter should be carried beyond the P.1 stage; and, lastly, that if our Central Reserve is to be really mobile, Transport Command will have to be strengthened in numbers far more drastically than seems to be at present envisaged.

7.13 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome the provisions of the White Paper, and hope that it will mark a real step forward in the evolution of the three Fighting Services. I should like, however, to make some comments upon it, more especially on those sections dealing with manpower and recruitment. Paragraph 41 of the White Paper starts by saying: Britain has a long and honourable tradition of voluntary military service. That is quite accurate, but I think that we should also remember that Britain has a long and, unfortunately, not so honourable tradition of the neglect of her Fighting Services in time of peace. I hope—in fact I am sure, from the tone of the White Paper and from the speeches of both my noble friend in this House and my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence in another place—that this attitude will change. But it is so ingrained in the country that I think we must keep watching it.

We need not look back very far to see how good intentions can so easily slip. We need look only to the disbandment of Anti-Aircraft Command and the treatment that was supposed to be special treatment for the officers, especially the majors, those of an age when it is most difficult for them to find any form of civil employment. In the end, it boiled down to the fact that they were retired en the ordinary compulsory retirement terms—and nothing more. As I say, I hope that on this occasion the intentions of the Government will break through that barrier, which was referred to by my noble friend Lord De L'Isle, and which so often frustrates the best intentions. The employment of these redundant officers, some 5,000 to 7,000 we are told, will present an extremely difficult problem.

Mere money grants, as was stated by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, are not enough, and something in the nature of a training course is most important. In Germany there was—I do not know if there still is—an Army college which gave vocational training to all ranks before leaving the Army. That was of great value for the younger man, but I do not think it was much use to the man of middle age, who is much the hardest to place. There are various ways in which he can be employed, but none of them give any great scope for any great numbers. A certain number are employed as retired officers in the three Services at the larger headquarters, but the scope there is not great, and they cannot be employed for too long or there are no vacancies for anybody else to fill.

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, mentioned the possibility of bringing officers into the Civil Service. With the greatest respect to him, I believe that that is an extremely difficult thing to do, because the age at which they are wanted to go in is again this middle age, where, by virtue of their age and seniority, it is extremely difficult to fit them into the structure, not only financially, but because they would have to occupy a post at which they must have a considerable background of knowledge of the particular branch of the Civil Service in which they are serving.

May I pass briefly to recruitment in the future? That, as has been stated many times this afternoon, is a most imponderable problem, because until National Service is stopped it is impossible to tell what voluntary recruiting will be. You cannot have a half-way of slowing down National Service and of expecting voluntary recruitment to come up at the same time. National Service must be cut completely before we can really tell. That is going to be the most testing time for the Government—as to whether they have the strength of mind to stand out over that difficult period, which inevitably will come. Given the right approach and the incentives which are mentioned in the White Paper, in my opinion the recruits will come. But the inducements and incentives must be there.

I personally do not think that pay is very important now; I think the pay is reasonably good. I do not think it will ever be practicable to get it on entire equality with pay in the highly-paid civilian industries, largely because so much of Army pay is in kind and it is very difficult indeed to assess what it really amounts to. What is wanted, as has been stressed, is a great increase in the amenities in barracks. Even though they are rather difficult circumstances, I was shocked to hear this afternoon of a battalion which for the last three years has been living in tents—I suppose in more or less a peace station.


At home?


No, abroad. None the less, for three years these men have been intents. The young men who will volunteer are men who enjoy a communal life. Therefore the amenities in barracks are extremely important, so that the men should have a place of which they can be proud and also that they should be in a Service of which they can be proud and in which they find an interest. In order to make that so, it is essential that the training should be really alive. The point raised by my noble friend, Lord St. Oswald, on the complete inadequacy of even the largest training areas in this country, was a very real one. It will be of great importance that we continue to use the big German training areas, especially in Paderborn, where the units, indeed the formations, can train with proper realism. In addition to that, it is equally important that weapons and equipment should be provided not only up to date but also up to scale, so that never again may we have the sight of the Army playing, and not training, with wooden dummies and coloured flags representing the most vital weapons.

The next really important thing that the Army and the other Services have to face is inducing the men to take on for long engagements. I think that possibly, so far as the Army is concerned, that will be helped slightly by the stoppage of National Service. While having nothing but the best to say about the National Service man, I think that the continual coming in of these untrained men was very wearing indeed for the warrant officer or non-commissioned officer who had to train them. In addition, a great many of the men are married, and it is essential, as stated in the White Paper, to have considerable improvements in married quarters; and also, continuing what already has been started satisfactorily, there must be a loosening-up of the very tight rules about married quarters, marriage allowances and all the small helps like transport when a man is moving from one home to another.

Finally, there is one point I want to raise about the integration of the three Services. As my noble friend Lord Weeks said, it is excellent that the Defence Administration Committee should have been set up. I am also glad that it has the Service members of the three Defence forces, the Board of Admiralty and the Army and Air Councils, as members of it, though only attending, I understand, when their own particular subject is brought up, so that the user will always be in front of the Committee. That integration will obviously start at the top and will affect the relationship between the three Service Ministries and the Ministry of Defence. That, obviously, will bring up a large number of complicated administrative problems.

There is one point I want to raise affecting the personnel. It is most important for the morale of each Service that the men in it feel that they have somebody at their head who is in a really strong position to look after their interests. The Trinity or the Unitarianism which will be the outcome of this Committee, I think, should take very great note of that point—the prestige of the head or somebody to whom each Service can look to guard their own interests. Lastly, the great reductions which are being made give cause for a great many qualms and warnings. I would ask Her Majesty's Government not to forget the profound value of the long-built-up traditions in each of the three Services and to think carefully, as I am quite certain they will do, how these may best be preserved

7.26 p.m.


My Lords, in accordance with our normal practice I, too, must declare an interest in this debate, because I am connected with an organisation which is concerned with the supply of aircraft and other equipment to the Forces. I think it is generally agreed that some reappraisal of our defence policy in the light of the hydrogen bomb and the huge cost of modern weapons is necessary. Certainly the outline given in the White Paper is a bold approach to the problems which confront us, of reconciling security with economic strength, and of preserving the balance between nuclear and conventional weapons. But in my view the changes proposed, though they are drastic and far-reaching, lack something in balance and wisdom.

When proposals are made for revolutionary changes to familiar and well-tried institutions, it is always difficult to approach them without emotion. The far-reaching changes proposed in the Defence White Paper are certainly no exception, particularly for those of us who have had the privilege of serving in Her Majesty's Forces. But it is our duty, I think, to study such proposals objectively and calmly, to determine whether they meet adequately the dangers which confront us, and to judge whether they retain as much good from the past as is possible, for it is undoubtedly true that the fine traditions and high morale of our fighting men have served the cause of freedom well. No amount of money or scientific equipment can ever replace that fine spirit. I was delighted to hear the Parliamentary Secretary lay such emphasis on that point.

I must say frankly, however, that I have gained the impression from the White Paper that Her Majesty's Government decided, in the first place, that great economies must be made and National Service abandoned; and that to some extent, at least, the arguments in the White Paper have been marshalled to show that the reductions needed to achieve these targets are not only possible but logical—and, indeed, desirable. This, surely, is the only explanation for the very great risks that are being run by the policy outlined in the White Paper in the almost complete reliance on the nuclear deterrent. The relative importance of nuclear and conventional weapons has been argued at great length, and I do not want to become too involved in that argument, except to emphasise again what I believe are the appalling dangers for this country which total reliance on the nuclear weapon involves.

The result of an all-out global war fought with hydrogen bombs would be so devastating that every normal human being will shrink from any action which could precipitate such a calamity. If, therefore, we rely entirely on the nuclear deterrent, a situation can all too easily arise in which we are faced with the alternative of giving in or of starting a Third World War. We might, for instance, have to deal with Communist infiltration or interference in a number of important areas; and, because of this dreadful dilemma facing us, we should be forced to give in at every stage. For this country a series of defeats involving our vital overseas interests, but not immediately threatening the United Kingdom, could in the end be equally disastrous as a direct all-out assault.

Then, again, what is the purpose of the huge Russian submarine fleet, growing every day in size and quality? The Russians could probably put at least five times as many submarines into the Atlantic as the Germans ever deployed at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic. A blockade by those submarines could be dealt with only by adequate naval forces, or by the use of the nuclear deterrent, the hydrogen bomb. Similarly, a threat in Africa or the Far East, or the fomenting of trouble in the N.A.T.O. countries, could not be dealt with solely by rockets, guided weapons and H-bombs without the certainty of converting local conflict into global war. Thus the complete reliance on the nuclear deterrent can so easily lead to capitulation and ultimately defeat in detail, with global nuclear war as the only alternative, the very outcome we are bending all our efforts to prevent.

Those who call themselves realists—all too often another name for defeatists—will no doubt argue that such situations as these are unrealistic, because if the aggression was clearly against the Western world as a whole, then it could be stopped only by the threat and, if necessary, the use of H-bombs, in concert with our Western Allies. If, however, a hostile act was directed more specifically against our own interests, then, so the argument runs, we should have to take action through the United Nations and rely on them to settle the dispute, since Suez has shown conclusively that we cannot again act alone. That is the kind of argument which is all to prevalent to-day. I am convinced that the action we took last year was right, and that the failure to achieve the success which the courageous decision deserved was due, at least in part, to the lack of the necessary equipment.

The lesson to be learned is not that independent action is no longer possible, but that we must be adequately prepared for it. If the policy of the White Paper leads to such neglect of conventional weapons that it will make independent action impossible in any circumstances, then without doubt we in England shall become just an unimportant island off the north-west corner of Europe. My Lords, it is, unfortunately, still necessary to stand up for our rights, for experience has shown that, if we do not do it, no one else, neither the United States nor the United Nations, will do it for us.

For these reasons I believe that many of the proposals in the White Paper give rise to serious risks. The disregarding of the submarine threat, the decision not to have a supersonic bomber, the almost complete reliance, ultimately, on guided weapons and long-range rockets, to the exclusion of aircraft—all these, my Lords, seem to indicate an "all or nothing" approach: peace at almost any price; but if not peace then global war and devastating destruction. My criticism, then, of the policy outlined in the White Paper is that it lays too much emphasis on the deterrent of the hydrogen bomb for preventing global war. It leaves us exposed to more conventional means of attack—by, for instance, the submarine menace. And a premature abandonment of military aircraft in favour of guided weapons and rockets will destroy much of the flexibility of our forces and leave them ill-equipped to defend our vital interests overseas.

It is always easy to criticise proposals, and no one has the right to do so unless he is prepared to face constructive alternatives. First, it is necessary to put the problem in perspective. The Defence Estimates for 1957–58 amount to £1,483 million. In 1956, consumer expenditure on tobacco and alcohol was over £2,000 million, an average of £40 for every man, woman and child in the population. Government expenditure on the Health Service, subsidies, National Insurance benefits, and what the Economic Survey calls "other current grants to persons" amounted to over £2,000 million. Both these items, it will be noted, are substantially more than we are spending on defence. To meet what I believe are our additional requirements in naval and air forces, an additional annual expenditure of perhaps £250 million would be needed. There is no disagreement among us that economic strength is a prerequisite to military strength, but it cannot be too often repeated, first, that all the benefits of a high standard of living will count for nothing if our security is jeopardised; and, secondly, that the economy of this country, which depends so greatly on international trade, cannot be sustained without stability in our overseas territories and sources of raw material supply. Unfortunately, in present conditions military strength is still necessary to maintain that stability. It is needed in a flexible form which can be applied to local and limited conflicts, and in this imperfect world it is needed as an essential support to the moral forces at our disposal which some people so naïvely think are sufficient in themselves.

So my Lords, I cannot give my wholehearted support to the policy of the White Paper. With too great an emphasis on saving money, it relies, in my view, too much on the nuclear deterrent; and in so doing it leaves gaps in our defences which I believe will have serious consequences in the years to come. Much could be done to fill these gaps by relatively modest increases in expenditure on anti-submarine forces and aircraft, and on the maintenance of conventional air forces, both because of their flexibility and because of the existing limitations of guided weapons, to which reference has already been made.

In relation to other expenditure less essential to our survival, the amounts involved, though very substantial, are not unrealistic, and some at least could be obtained by further economies in the administration of the Services and the arrangements for the supply and manufacture of weapons, about which I should like to say a few words before I sit down. The new circumstances of defence require much greater interdependence between the Services, but while I am not in any way in favour of complete integration, because of the great damage which that would do to the traditions and morale of our forces, I sincerely believe that much could be done to improve the efficiency and economy by a greater concentration of power in the Ministry of Defence, to give the Minister of Defence and his Ministry power over the overall planning and the strategic control of our forces.

Particularly am I convinced that the Ministry of Supply should be a department of the Ministry of Defence. There is no doubt at all in my mind that the staff of the Ministry of Supply do a good job, a necessary job, to make the provision of aircraft, electronic equipment and the like, which are common to all the Services, efficient and economic; but they are working within the wrong framework. I have not the slightest doubt that their work could be much more effectively done within the Ministry of Defence, where they could meet Service requirements of those equipments for which they would be responsible under the direct authority of the Minister of Defence.

I envisage the Minister of Defence with four Ministers of State under him—the three Service Ministers of State and the Minister of State for Supply, with full financial responsibility in the Ministry of Defence. That last point is of the utmost importance. Some of the delays to which the noble Lord. Lord Weeks, referred are, I believe, bound up with what has been called the dead hand of the Treasury—at any rate, Treasury interference or control in matters with which they are in no way familiar. This is not a suitable subject, certainly not at this hour, for debate; but I am convinced—


May I ask the noble Viscount one question? This is an interesting point. The noble Viscount is really in favour of 100 per cent. integration. He wants complete financial control at one point, and purchasing of all equipment at one point. I think that is full integration, is it not?


My Lords. I certainly do not mean integration of the fighting parts of the Services. There would still be the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. What I would suggest would be that the Minister of Defence should be chairman of the Defence Committee on which would sit the Chiefs of Staff of the three Services and which would have under their control the strategic planning and control of the three Services. The Boards of the three Services could sit under their own Service Ministers of State and the Chiefs of Staff would naturally be members of the Boards, so that all the detailed administration of the Service, the training and that kind of thing, would be controlled by the Service itself.

It seems to me that a set-up of that type would take away the necessity for all joint planning committees of the type that are now in being, to make sure that the Services co-operate properly. In that way, there would be great savings in money and manpower, without taking away the great traditions of the three Services. We almost have that situation now, so far as the Services are concerned, but it seems to me that it is done in a very clumsy way. So far as the Ministry of Supply are concerned, the trouble at the moment is that that Ministry have a policy of their own. It would seem to me that the Ministry of Supply should merely do what they are told by the Ministry of Defence, after full discussion of all the needs of the Services which have been put in.

My Lords, may I, finally, refer to one paragraph in the White Paper? Paragraph 60 says: The agreement in principle for the supply of American rockets should result in savings of time and money and will enable work to be concentrated upon more advanced types. I suggest that there is a serious fallacy contained in that paragraph. If you do not develop a weapon at some particular point you cannot skip that stage and do as well at the next stage—that just does not work. In stage two, you simply make all the mistakes that you would have made in stage one, if we take the American rockets—it may be the right thing to do—we must face the fact that we shall not keep abreast of development in that sphere. I have spoken for too long, but before I sit down, I would say that, while giving rather lukewarm support to this White Paper, I recognise that it represents a really bold and courageous approach to the problem. I have tried to indicate where I feel it is wrong, but problems of defence are greater than ever before. The stakes are alarmingly high. We have inherited great traditions, great treasures and responsibility from the past, and we want to pass them on as best we may to our children. It would be a tragedy if at this stage we lost the battle simply because we were not prepared to pay the necessary insurance premium.

7.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am very conscious of the experience of noble Lords who have already addressed your Lordships, or will do so in the continuance of this debate. These noble Lords have a wide knowledge of the techniques involved in this White Paper, full of possibilities, and I enter this debate for a few minutes with such thoughts in the front of my mind. I should like to submit some observations on aircraft and the aircraft industry, with which I have been actively concerned as pilot and engineer for close on fifty years.

The Minister has given us a lot to digest and is right in telling us that the whole character of the defence plan has to be revised in the light of recent scientific and technological advances. He has given us, therefore, as other noble Lords have pointed out, an opportunity of which we must make use. But I suggest to your Lordships that the curtailment of the aircraft industry's activities is in itself a mistake. For example, the abandonment of the supersonic bomber project (paragraph 61) and all supersonic fighter projects other than the P.1 (paragraph 62) is really ironical when we have this month available for the first time at the National Aeronautical Establishment at Bedford the finest supersonic wind-tunnel in the country, or for that matter in the world.

My Lords, from whence will our share come of the estimate of £5,000 million of civil aircraft business over the next fifteen years if we have not the techniques in full operation for these new designs? For defence purposes the bomber-fighter programme should, I think, not be made shorter, as now, but extended. If curtailed, as now suggested, this curtailment must mean the disappearance of any hopes that we shall ever find ourselves in a competitive position in the design and manufacture of supersonic aircraft of any kind, including the commercial types referred to by my noble friend Lord Douglas of Kirtleside.

The suggestion I have just made is surely in line with the White Paper, which states, in paragraph 58, that research and development must be continuously maintained. Your Lordships know, I think, that in the United States the research and development programme directed to manned aircraft is going full steam ahead. As is natural, the abandonment of an entire generation of fighter-bomber aircraft has caused much alarm amongst the research engineers and technicians in the industry. Unless they are reassured that there is to be a continuance of the work on which they have been engaged up till now, many of our best men will go to Canada or the United States. This is a situation which we cannot afford.

Might I ask my noble friend who is to reply at the end of the debate tomorrow whether I should be right in assuming that the conclusions on which the White Paper decisions were reached are based on the following assumptions: first, that guided missiles are more effective than manned supersonic fighters in defeating an attack by manned supersonic bombers—effectiveness being measured by the percentage of attackers that get through—and, secondly, that ballistic rockets are able to deliver a more effective attack than manned supersonic bombers against targets defended by guided missiles? I beg to suggest that the conclusions in the White Paper must have been reached by studying the performances and potentialities of the P.1 supersonic fighter mentioned in paragraph 62, as also the Avro supersonic bomber O.R.330, the only aircraft that complies with the reference in paragraph 61.

If my estimate of the assumptions of Her Majesty's Government is correct, then I submit that such does not take sufficient account of the great advances in aeronautical science that are being made, and will continue to be made, since the designs of the P.1 and the Avro were begun. Finally, these advances operate to place the manned aircraft in a position of superiority vis-à-vis the unmanned missile; and it seems to have been overlooked that the very characteristic which makes the ballistic trajectory superior to the horizontal trajectory—namely, its mathematical accuracy once its course and speed are established—is also its weakest point, since its predetermined trajectory reveals its target at an early stage and enables preparations to be made for its interception and destruction while it is still a great way off.

Having regard to the fact that neither a successor to the P.1 nor the proposed supersonic manned-bomber would incorporate any of the latest advances in aeronautics, the decision of Her Majesty's Government that "work on such projects will stop" (paragraph 62) is undoubtedly right; but in view of the possibilities now known to exist, the further decisions that "fighter aircraft will in due course be replaced by a ground-to-air guided missile system" (paragraph 17) and that "the Government have decided not to go on with the development of a supersonic bomber" (paragraph 61) are, I suggest, wrong, and ultimately will prove to be disastrous.

I submit that the only and the obvious policy must be to press on with research on and the development of manned aircraft in parallel with that of guided missiles. We need both; but so certain are the means of destroying the ballistic rocket, that we may well leave its development to the United States of America, since, in any case, it will be superseded by the manned supersonic bomber—a military weapon which, by the way, does not commit its user to the tragic and suicidal "nuclear deterrent" (paragraph 14), since it can be used to deliver either nuclear or conventional high (explosive weapons at will.

7.52 p.m.


My Lords, I want to raise only three points. I want first to support the noble Lord who has just spoken in regard to pressing forward with research on the supersonic bomber, not only for its own sake but for the effect which that course undoubtedly will have on civil aviation in the future. A few years ago the Estimates Committee had to pass very considerable expenditure at Bedford which was largely based on the requirements of supersonic research. All that money seems at risk to be thrown away, and it appears to me a very bad moment to choose to cut out the research on this supersonic bomber that has been carried out so well.

The second point I want to raise is the question of McKinnon Road. I have been asked to raise this matter by friends of mine in East Africa. That project was put forward, I believe when a Socialist Government were in office, on the advice of all Chiefs of Staff, and £1,777,000 of the taxpayers' money was spent. Then the place was abandoned. Under this scheme in the White Paper, mention is made of reorganisation of colonial garrisons, and it is important to know who owns the McKinnon Road depôt, particularly in view of the enormous amount of money spent on the harbour of Mombasa in that connection and on improving rail and road communications between the port and the depôt.

A great many people believe that the decision to make our strategic base in Africa was the right one and that it was a mistake to cancel all that and to concentrate on Cyprus. At any rate, no explanation has been given why it was ruled out that Cyprus should not come under N.A.T.O. Had N.A.T.O. had control of Cyprus, we should have been saved a great deal of money. As the First Lord of the Admiralty is here, I should like to ask him to deal with that question. The harbour and port facilities of Cyprus are deplorable, and if there is now any question—as I understand there is—of spending nearly £1½ million or even more on trying to improve Famagusta and Limassol, in spite of the fact that we have had sufficient evidence lately to show that this is not a suitable place on which to base troops that have to move, it is most important that a reassessment of the value of Cyprus as a base should be made, remembering that Cyprus was a happy, peaceful island where many of us enjoyed ourselves until it was taken over as a base. I feel that we have also had enough experience in the Canal Zone to let us realise that hostile territory is not the best place for a base. One of the most urgent matters arising out of the White Paper is to find out whether the location of the strategic base should be in Cyprus or elsewhere.

Finally, I want to support what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, about having a Committee to go into the whole question of the defence set-up, on the lines of the Esher Committee, to see whether or not great economies can be made by reorganising the set-up of the Ministries of Defence and Supply and the three Service Departments. If I may be forgiven for again quoting the Estimates Committee, I would point out that they strongly recommended, after most careful consideration, that as the Services diminished in size it was really unnecessary to retain the Ministry of Supply except as a sub-department of the Ministry of Defence. It is not without interest to note that as quickly as we reduce the uniformed members of the Forces, more civilians seem to be employed; and it is an extraordinary position that if we could now do something to release some of the scientists who have been working under the ægis of the Ministry of Supply they would either find occupation of great value outside, in industry, or would continue their work without duplication—which is so often happening at the present time.

I am very concerned about the lack of mention in the memorandum or by the First Lord of the Admiralty in regard to nuclear power for submarines. There is a slight mention. The United States Fleet have to-day given instructions that no vessel, whether surface or submarine, shall be constructed for the U.S. Navy unless it is nuclear powered. Therefore, it seems to me that we are in a position in which some explanation is necessary. If we are so far behind, it not only is bound to affect what we do in naval construction it also means that merchant ships built in U.S. yards will, as a result of experience in nuclear propulsion, get a great share of the large orders that are going in South America and elsewhere. I hope that before this debate ends we may have from the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, some reassurance that we are not so far behind that we cannot easily catch up with the United States in this branch of naval construction.

7.57 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will be pleased to note that I hold in my hand a very small piece of paper and to know that my remarks will be proportionate. I really rise at this hour in the evening to say that I welcome the White Paper and its contents, which I have carefully read. It is now nearly ten years since I ended my service and I am therefore a little out of date; I think some of the speakers in this debate to-day and to-morrow will have even less-recent experience. But, having been away from close contact with these matters for ten years, and therefore being a little ill-informed, it is unnecessary for roe to comment on a Paper produced by he greatest experts available, in whom, personally, I have confidence.

May I make two very small points of reservation in that statement, first on a matter touched upon by several noble Lords, none better than by the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, whom I should like to congratulate, as have other noble Lords, on his maiden speech. He spoke clearly and he brought in facts, which is not always the case in speeches. And he was audible, which seems a sound basis for a speech. The point to which I refer is that of redundant personnel. I should like to put forward for the consideration of the noble Earl who will reply to the debate to-morrow what may perhaps be considered a revolutionary proposal. We have heard a lot to the effect that "everything possible will be done…", "it is hoped that industry will absorb…", "compensation will be made…" and so on. That is, in principle, exactly what will be done. But I should like to suggest the possibility of ensuring that no man, whether officer, warrant officer, petty officer, N.C.O. or other rank should leave the Services until, in fact, he has a job to go to, or at least the promise of a job, and that the rate of the run-down should be governed by that factor. The rule should be that when a man can be absorbed into industry, at home, abroad or in the Commonwealth, then he can go and not before.

This would no doubt slow down the releases but it would surely be a humane way of treating these people. Otherwise, I feel that when the cold, dead hand of the Treasury is once again applied it will be the same story: "We are sorry, but what can we do?" I do not think that that excuse will be quite good enough. The noble Viscount, Lord De L'lsle, startled Lord Mancroft with the suggestion that he should press this to the point of resignation. I would not go so far as that, but it is obviously an extremely important matter. If the noble Earl who is to wind up this debate will give some definite assurance upon this matter, as opposed to pious hopes, I am sure it would be widely appreciated.

The other point has already been raised by my noble friend Lord Moynihan. It is a point he has mentioned before—namely, the deployment of forces on bases for defence in the Commonwealth. There is a tendency, I think, strategically to sit tight on a target such as Cyprus or Hong Kong and to try to defend it, as opposed to having bases somewhere from which a counter-attack may be made if the worst came to the worst. I think that was at the back of the noble Lord's mind, but unfortunately I had no opportunity to discuss it with him after he had made his speech. To me it seems a pre-eminently sound idea—this deployment of forces, where it can be done, on Commonwealth bases. In that connection, in Lord Mancroft's opening speech there was mention of Hong Kong. I was there a few months ago and I would go so far as to say that it is virtually indefensible. Perhaps with the United States Seventh Fleet in the Formosa Strait, where it is normally based, or not many hundreds of miles away, it might be possible; but without it, certainly not. Though the defence measures taken by the Governor of Hong Kong are, no doubt, the best possible with what he can get, I cannot think that they would be effective for more than a few days if there was nowhere from which a counter attack, if necessary, could he made. I merely mention that because Lord Mancroft referred to Hong Kong in his speech and I happen to have had recent personal experience of that place.

Before resuming my seat, may I say that I am sorry that Lord Mancroft is not in his place, for I should have liked to put this point to him—I know him well enough to feel sure that he would not have taken exception to it. He said that the statement he made was probably the most important statement made from that Dispatch Box for a very long time—perhaps ever. If we could have had it delivered a little more slowly, the less nimble-witted Members of your Lordships House—among whom I include myself—would perhaps have been able to follow it a little more closely and to appreciate it a little better. It is a fact that on a matter of this importance the Government Department concerned is responsible for a great deal of what is said. Nevertheless, if it could have been propounded in a little more detail so that we could have taken it in better, I, personally, would have appreciated it, if this expression of opinion could be passed on to the noble Lord I am sure he would take it in good part.

8.4 p.m.


My Lords. I think that any of your Lordships who may have glanced at the White Papers of last year and the year before will readily agree with Lord Mancroft that this year's White Paper is a much more important document than any of the White Papers issued in recent years. In the circumstances, that is not surprising. I suppose that one of the most difficult tasks for any layman who is in office as Minister in one of the Service Departments of Her Majesty's Government is to decide when the moment has come to sum up the arguments for and against a piece of equipment put forward by his technicians and to take the responsibility of going into production on that piece of equipment.

By and large, that has not been happening in previous years, but it looks very much as if those decisions are being taken now. Everything in the White Paper points to the fact that Her Majesty's Government, for better or worse, have taken decisions not only on the risk to be taken in certain directions but on the share of collective defence which we should in future shoulder. As the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said, the fact of taking these decisions has brought the Government to a point of no return. For my part, I do not regret that. I think the time was coming when, for better or for worse, it was necessary for this country that we should come to a point of no return. I regard the circumstances surrounding this White Paper as being the right point at which to take that decision, weighty though it is, because I do not believe that any better decision would have been taken if it had been put off for another year.

We have had from different parts of the House a large measure of welcome for the White Paper; and we have had it from speakers—at least on these Benches—as widely apart in age and experience as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and my noble friend Lord St. Oswald, whom I should like to take this opportunity, following other noble Lords, of congratulating on his maiden speech, which showed not only great experience of the matter in hand but also how much thought he had given to the matters of which he spoke. So these decisions have been taken, and the Government have decided that the correct moment has come to settle on the types of nuclear equipment and similar equipment to be put into production.

They have taken decisions on how far nuclear weapons of different kinds can supersede the conventional weapons with their high demands on manpower. That is a point which a good many noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Caldecote, have mentioned. Lord Man-croft, in opening the debate, referred, rightly I think, to the importance of keeping a balance between conventional and nuclear forces. Lord Weeks referred to the same point in rather another context, pointing out the relief that would be given to industry by the knowledge that decisions were taken which kind of equipment could go forward in production and which kind should cease to be developed. I think that at this point I should say to my noble friends in front that, while there was a very large measure of welcome for the White Paper, few noble Lords, in any part of the House, were disposed to take what one might call promise for performance. In other words, while we welcome the sentiments and the intentions expressed in the White Paper, we are all extremely anxious that the action foreshadowed should be followed up with the greatest vigour.

May I now go back to this question of conventional and nuclear forces? I feel that this matter is an important one because, if we are talking in terms of deterrence, which I think are the right terms to talk in, we should bear in mind that we want not only a deterrent in the nuclear field but also a sufficient deterrent in what we may call the conventional field. It does not follow, merely because certain nations of the world have nuclear weapons, that any future war will start on the nuclear plane. In fact, I would say that all the available evidence is to the contrary. Therefore, we need to have conventional deterrents to stop any kind of small war or conflict starting by civil disturbance. The nuclear deterrent is no good at all for that sort of thing. I think that my noble friend Lord St. Oswald mentioned this point in connection with the need for having armoured fighting vehicles with our mobile forces: and there I would thoroughly agree with what he said.

The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, referred to the hydrogen bomb tests, and again I am sure that he is right in what he said; because if the hydrogen bomb is to be effective, it must be a real deterrent—that is to say, it must be a weapon of proved capacity. Having the hydrogen bomb without a test would be about as effective as having a dummy in our shop window. I hope we shall not have that. There is another reason why I think that these decisions embodied in the White Paper have been taken at a good time. It seems to me (and I hope I am right) that we are now at the moment when we have reached greater agreement than ever before with the United States, even if we have not reached agreement with the other N.A.T.O. countries—agreement which I hope will involve not only progress in collective defence but also in something else which goes with it—that is, progress in collective research.

The disagreements with other countries were mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in his reference to Suez, but I would suggest to him that Suez was a special matter and not connected with our general arrangements for collective defence with the various regional defence organisations like N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. I hope, too, that we shall not be unduly dismayed by the rather cold reception that some proposals in the Defence White Paper have recently been receiving at Strasbourg from Continental countries. After all, let us remember that we, too, have ventured to criticise certain Continental countries over the shortness of their period of National Service. On that matter we have agreed to differ. We shall agree to differ this time; but if we are right, as, broadly speaking I think we are, then sooner or later our Continental friends will agree with us. They will come round to our opinion in time.

I do not think that in the long run these disagreements will affect in any appreciable degree our powers of cooperation with the countries in Western Europe. We may not always consult them; but, after all, since the time of Suez have we not got into the habit, when talking about consultations, of taking the line that if we consult other nations we ought to do what they advise, even though it is not what we ourselves want? I have no objection to consulting people, but I reserve my right not to take their advice if I know that in our case it is not good. So I would agree with my noble friend Lord De L'Isle, despite what I consider these minor defects, that there are still excellent prospects of future co-operation with the N.A.T.O. nations, and that that co-operation will not suffer.

I also hope—and I say this with a certain amount of thought—that my noble friends in front of me will not be too dismayed by the expressions of regret at the Government's decision to carry on with the atom bomb tests. Without attempting to minimise the anxieties which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, expressed at the end of his speech, we should remember that, while the Government and their advisers have information which is not available to people like ourselves, outside the Government, other unofficial bodies and individual Members of Parliament who are obliged to consider these things are handicapped by not having enough knowledge, and therefore every now and then sentiment plays a more preponderant part in our verdict than it would if we had the full knowledge which I trust my noble friends in front of me possess.

May I come for a moment to the question of manpower and National Service? in my mind there are two separate things: National Service and national training. By "National Service," I mean operational service, as in Western Germany and Malaya; and by "national training" I mean training for a future emergency, and nothing more—as was done in the time before the Second World War, when the late Lord Hore-Belisha was Secretary of State for War. The arguments against operational service are fully deployed in the White Paper. The arguments for and against national training are not deployed at all. It is suggested that National Service has been uneconomic, but preparations for war are seldom economic in that sense, and we ought to take great care (here I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote) that we are not arguing backwards in these matters from some supposed need to save some supposed amount of money.

Whatever may be said now about National Service. I think that National Service was right at the time it was started and for the period during which it has continued. We must be very careful that, although we plan now to finish with National Service at the end of 1960, we take full account of the difficulties which might occur between now and then in realising what I believe to be a right aim. Of course, there are strong arguments for the relief of National Service, and these arguments arise not only in the industrial world, where they are particularly strong; they are also strong in the Regular Army, because only those who have been professional soldiers (this refers more to the Army than to the other two Services) know what a burden dealing with National Service men has thrown on professional soldiers of all ranks. Again, the more people who are released from handling National Service men, the more quickly will our Central Reserve be formed. Against that we must remember that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that we shall realise the aim of getting rid of the National Service men by 1960. We still have to get the Regulars to make up the numbers—my noble friend Lord Templewood mentioned that point. We are also assuming, I hope and pray rightly, that the world situation will not deteriorate and make that aim impossible. So much for National Service.


My Lords, I appreciate very much the attention the noble Viscount has given to that point. No doubt he noted that asked for some figures of how the proposed result in personnel is to be obtained. I think there is no doubt that we could not have got through the period of what has been called the "cold war" without the years of National Service and I am not at all sure—obviously I speak only for myself—that we are to be free of a similar period of cold (war in future and that we can get all the Regulars we need to deal with it.


I fully appreciate the remarks of the noble Viscount, and to a large extent I share his views on this matter. As I say, national training is a different thing, and if we are going to abandon national training as well as National Service—which may, or may not, he right; it has not been argued in the White Paper—we may, to a certain extent, conflict with the paragraphs in the White Paper dealing with the importance of civil defence. Here, again, is a point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. Civil defence under present conditions might, I think, be described as basically a matter of keeping order, and keeping order will be much harder with people who have not been trained or subjected to any discipline.

This brings me for a moment to the point that the Territorial Army will help in that regard. Although the noble Lord. Lord Moynihan, is not here, I feel obliged to say for the record that I do not consider his remarks about the Territorial Army either constructive or entirely warranted. I have seen, perhaps at rather closer quarters than has the noble Lord, the great efforts that the War Office made to handle the Territorial Army in difficult circumstances; and although I realise that noble Lords who were connected with anti-aircraft units had a rough time, I cannot entirely accept the strictures that the noble Lord made.

So we come back to the question of the importance of Regular recruits and the need to overhaul conditions, as was said. "in no niggardly fashion". Here, again, I must repeat to my noble friends in front of me that we expect performance to match promise. It is no fault of Members of this House that we are still reading White Papers which say how important these things are. One should not job back more than is absolutely necessary, but I would remind your Lordships that early in 1954 there was an important debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell. I could go back further, though I admit I have not consulted Hansard, and I have distinct recollections of asking noble Lords opposite, who were then on this side of the House, whether it was the case that housing for married men in the Army was not keeping pace with the housing scheme that was then being put forward by Mr. Aneurin Bevan. Here we are, nearly ten years later, saying the same thing. That is why noble Lords like Lord St. Oswald and Lord Moynihan were perfectly right, and why I welcome so much the thought that my noble friend Lord Weeks is now chairman of the committee dealing with these matters.

A great deal has been said about the need to resettle officers. I will not say much on that point, but merely that I spent about six months in 1921, at the time of the "Geddes Axe," wondering, what was going to happen to my own' career as a Regular soldier. I was therefore delighted to read the speech of my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour in another place and to feel that this matter was being tackled seriously. This time, as opposed to 1921, we are in a period of full employment, and, to my mind, with care, the resettlement of redundant personnel of all ranks is quite capable of fulfilment.

I would come back for a moment to the matter of the Central Reserve. I do not feel that I can subscribe to the plan if the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, of dispersing the Reserve. I feel much happier about the idea, which I think is the one in the White Paper, of a Central Reserve, with proper means of transport for a relatively small force, and then, no doubt, arrangements for the impressment of aircraft now in commercial service. But it has been a great weakness of our strategic position in the last few years that we have had no Central Reserve. The Central Reserve will affect, also, our power to assist Commonwealth forces in other regions of the world. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who talked about the Commonwealth and complained that not enough was said about the Commonwealth in this White Paper. I feel that I should recall that this is a White Paper produced by Her Majesty's Government in Great Britain, and therefore it does not discuss the arrangements made by the Commonwealth countries in their own spheres.

I do not feel that there is anything in the Commonwealth sections of the White Paper which is incompatible with what I believe, and, in fact, know, to be going on in the way of discussions between the British Government and the Governments of (shall I say?) Australia and New Zealand; and it is common knowledge that my noble friend the Leader of the House was out in Australia and New Zealand quite recently attending to those important matters as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations at the S.E.A.T.O. Conference. I do not think, therefore, that the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, on the lack of coordination on Commonwealth matters are really justified.


My Lords, perhaps I may revert back to the matter of housing which was mentioned by the noble Viscount. I appreciate very much the efforts he made at the time when I was at the Ministry of Defence to get better housing amenities. But I would say that he was not unsuccessful, because we introduced a Bill to switch to a new basis the financing of houses for the troops. We do it now by loan, instead of depending on the goodwill of the Treasury every year. In consequence, thousands of houses have been built since that time. If troops are to be cut by half, we look for some information as to what will be the actual requirements.


The noble Viscount is quite right, and I should not like to minimise the gratitude we should feel for the Housing (Loans) Act. But that Act did not come at once, and possibly remarks on the lines of what I have just said may have had something to do with encouraging the then Government to produce the Housing (Loans) Bill, which the noble Viscount will remember we supported wholeheartedly.

I have two further short points. First, I am sorry, as I think my noble friend Lord Swinton was, that no specific mention is made in the White Paper on the extension of the powers of the Minister of Defence. I think that that extension is logical and inevitable if the full results are to be obtained from the implementation of the policy the Government now have. How far we should commit him to setting up a committee to prove what I think a number of us feel to be obvious, I do not know. All I would hope is that if such a committee were appointed it would not be used, as so many of these committees have been used in recent years, as a reason for delaying doing the things we all know are urgent and right.

Finally, a word on tradition. As so many noble Lords have said, it is vitally important that we should make these changes with full regard to tradition. However, I would say one other thing about that matter. Tradition, if it is to be properly used and if it is to be the right sort of tradition, involves not only pride in the past but a sense of purpose of the present and a sense of mission for the future. If those last two factors are absent, we shall end up by having the Services, and particularly Her Majesty's Army, not as organisations really useful for purposes of defence, but tending more and more to become a regimental museum.

8.29 p.m.


My Lords, I know that all my colleagues appreciate the serious contribution of the noble Viscount who has just spoken, and while he will forgive me for not taking up all his points, I should certainly like to endorse, as the whole House has more than once endorsed, his tributes to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald. I think the shortest and clearest compliment that I can pay him is to assure him that I was asked by one of my noble friends what was his, name in another place and was he a certain Under-Secretary for War. It will be appreciated that he is regarded as a thorough professional in military politics, as well as a brave soldier.

We have listened to a number of remarkable speeches which no doubt will be commented on tomorrow, and the House will not wish me to speak for long, although I have been given stern advice by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, against speaking too fast, so that perhaps your Lordships will be detained for a few minutes longer than you would have been if that exhortation had not been delivered. I think that anybody must regard this White Paper as impressive, courageous and, as my noble friend Lord Attlee said, realistic and facing the future. Broadly, the pure strategy involved seems to me indisputable. It may or may not be ahead of events. The noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, suggested that we might be inclined to move over to something which is a little further on than we suppose; but, by and large, events must be going this way and we must give full credit to the Minister for the courage he has shown in producing the Paper. If the Government wish for any credit, let them share a little with the Minister.

There are, however, a number of points which have been brought out, and will be brought out further, which give rise to criticism. Some arise on what might be called the level of administrative implication, and we have been told by more than one noble Lord that the new powers of the Minister of Defence might have been clarified and his ascendancy might have been carried still further. I agree with what has been said from this side on that subject, and in particular I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, the noble Lord, Lord Weeks, and others in desiring a Committee which could investigate the whole subject very thoroughly. I doubt myself, speaking ahead of such an inquiry, whether the time has yet come to abolish the Service Ministers, or, as I think was suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, in an interesting speech, to turn them into Ministers of State. I admit that my mind wobbles on this subject. I do not know what I have said in public, but I have not, in fact, a completely clear record in my own mind, because I think it is an extremely difficult subject.

Before abolishing the Service Ministers, we must first overcome the question of loyalties involved—and those, I think, can be overcome in a sense. I do not believe loyalty to the Service Minister is the most profound aspect of the allegiance of a soldier, sailor or airman. But, even so, we have to remind ourselves that, by common consent, the Foreign Secretary is worked to death, as is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. You would be installing the Minister of Defence with two Ministers in each of the Service Departments, two Ministers in the Ministry of Supply, and an Under-Secretary of Defence. You would be equipping him with something like nine assistants, and, in practice, if that had been done for a year or two, I wonder whether you would not try to unload him as one is talking of unloading the Foreign Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is more than doubtful, in my mind, whether the time has come yet to abolish the Service Ministers. But I think this inquiry should be set up and integration must go forward, as I am sure it will. Let it go forward quickly.

I do not wish to raise many points of detail. The Navy League, as the noble Earl is aware, is not particularly enthusiastic about his White Paper. I speak as an old occupant of his office which I held for a short time, and I am full of sympathy both for him and for the Navy League. We shall be having a debate on the Navy Estimates later on, but I should like to call attention to one rather striking omission which was touched upon, although perhaps not in this form, by more than one speaker. There is no reference in the First Lord's statement to the Russian fleet, and particularly to the vast submarine fleet hitherto regarded as a supreme menace. In view of the fact that the same topic has been touched upon by others, I hope that the noble Earl—for whom I wish, of course, all success in his great office—will to-morrow say something regarding that omission. It is apparently rather striking, and we are left to wonder whether the noble Earl feels that the submarine menace—


This is nearly a charge. I can assure the noble Lord that this is a Memorandum of the Royal Navy and not of the Russian Navy. That is the only reason why it was not included. To-morrow I will give the noble Lord as much information as he likes.


I am afraid I shall not be here—I have a call to a remote part of the country—but I hope the noble Earl will say something on that matter, because it must be in his mind and I think some misunderstanding has occurred.

The noble Earl is no doubt aware that there is regret in many circles that there is no replacement programme. I do not know whether he will be in a position to-morrow to say why there is no replacement programme. But there is anxiety about that matter. It was always hoped, in any naval circles with which I am in touch, that the time would come when there would be a replacement programme, but there appear to be no signs of the kind which would convince naval experts. The noble Earl might care to say something to-morrow as to whether a replacement programme is to be denied us indefinitely, or whether one is contemplated. There are many other points of that character relating to all the Services which will no doubt be raised when we come to the Service Estimates.

Coming to general strategy, I would speak on only two aspects of it which have not been discussed much to-day—although I know the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, had the whole matter very much in mind and sees it all much as I do—before coming to the ethical question where the noble Viscount and I feel so strongly, as do other noble Lords. I would say one word about the diplomatic implications of the Government's exercise. It does not seem to me that the Government have been diplomatically successful. In the well-delivered, if rapidly delivered, speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft we were told that one of the main points of the Government's programme was the fact that our defence must now be regarded as part of a collective effort. That has been said ever since the war, but I cannot think of any year in which that home truth seems to have been so neglected as on this occasion. As any reader of the newspapers must know, there is a widespread disquiet in Europe about the way we have proceeded. It may be that those anxieties will be relieved, as I hope they will be, by the Prime Minister in his present visit to Germany.

I would offer one or two thoughts on that subject. I had a long conversation last night with a great friend of mine whom I think might be regarded as an expert observer of the European scene and who has just returned from a tour of Europe. He assured me—and this must be the information of the Government—that in Western Europe the purpose of the whole thing is misunderstood. I think the Government themselves must feel that they have not been properly appreciated that the real beauty of their conception has been neglected or underestimated in Western Europe. The Government appear to have weakened our forces in Western Europe, and although it is claimed that in some mysterious way by cutting down the bill we have strengthened our total strength—and that I will not stop to argue—the amount of strength which we are putting at the disposal of N.A.T.O. appears to have been weakened. It may be that we have decreased our strength there, and increased it in our own hands. But we appear to the Europeans to have decreased the power available to N.A.T.O. Therefore, it becomes the important task of the Government to convince the Europeans that the powers will not be used solely to deter someone from attacking us, but will be used just as honourably and just as automatically to deter the aggressor from attacking Western Europe.

I am sure that the Prime Minister is hard at work at this moment, or has been curing the last few days, trying to relieve anxieties on this subject, but I feel that to-morrow the noble Earl should say something clear and firm on that point. Are we simply saying that, in the last resort, if the Russians come to us we will hit them back with everything we have, or are we saying that we will hit them just as hard and automatically if Western Europe is invaded? The Prime Minister said something which seems to have been said off the record, though some of the more lively papers carried a summary. He seems to have said something about that yesterday, and to have drawn some distinction between minor actions and major threats. It was not clearly reported.

But what major actions can there be in Western Europe, if that is what we are talking about? One could imagine, I suppose, an invasion of some part of Western Germany by East German police. That could be dealt with by the existing N.A.T.O. forces. But, leaving out that particular operation, any aggressive act in Western Europe must be major, because it would involve the use of Russian troops or satellite troops under Russian orders. Such troops cannot cross the frontiers of Western Europe without involving us all in our N.A.T.O. obligations. When our N.A.T.O. obligations become involved, is the deterrent also automatically involved—the deterrent which rests under our own control? Therefore I put this question to the noble Earl: will the defence of Western Europe under this new policy be treated just as much as a direct threat, as a threat involving automatically the full deterrent, as would any act of aggression against our own shores or soil in any way? That is the question on which I think the noble Earl could say something that might help our national cause in Europe.

Finally, I should like to come to the ethical question. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, is with us no longer, because he spoke very sharply about almost everybody who disagreed with him. The Pope came in for castigation and so did my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. It must be the first time that the Pope and the noble Viscount have found themselves in the same "basket". Any scientist who differed from the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, on a scientific point was written off as a man of very inferior claims, probably a fellow-traveller. Generally speaking, rebukes were administered all round.


Scientific objectivity.


Yes, that is true—scientific objectivity. I will not argue with the noble Viscount on scientific points. No doubt, many scientists will be arguing with him for many months to come. But I must try to bring home to him the fact that it is possible to feel very strongly indeed about nuclear warfare, to have the most profound anxieties without being any kind of fellow-traveller or even without requiring psychiatric attention.

I must make this plain. I suppose something like half the country is worried about the terrible implications of nuclear warfare. I do not come here as one whose own morals provide him with a basis denied to the rest of us in arriving at a conclusion. I speak as a man in the street; and the noble Viscount, and many others, feel the same—that here is a new moral problem. War, we all know, is disgusting, just as the noble Earl, Lord De L'Isle—


I am not an Earl.


I see. Those like the noble and gallant Viscount, whose military services would certainly have entitled him to an Earldom, and to a still greater distinction, would be the first to agree about the disgusting character of war, whether ancient or modern. But many of us must ask ourselves whether nuclear war, and in particular war with the hydrogen bomb, is inherently more evil than other forms of war. That is a question to which I am sure many of us address ourselves in many moments of the day. It is certainly not a question on which I would venture to offer a dogmatic answer.

Many of us must feel that there is something more detestable in nuclear warfare than in any other form of war which we have officially practised. It may be that some of the citizens are most horrified at the thought of the tests and the harm done to the human race. The noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, may be right about the tests, and we may be able to carry out tests which in fact eliminate this particular danger. Even so, to my mind the special horrors of nuclear warfare would not have been avoided. When all is said and done, under nuclear warfare you are killing indiscriminately. It was always claimed in the last war that we did not indulge in indiscriminate bombing. I do not know whether that claim could be substantiated in every case. I do not know what other countries think about that—they may say that we did. If we did so, the only justification would be that others did it first But, by and large, we do stand for the idea that it is one thing to kill soldiers and another thing to massacre large numbers of civilians. No one can deny that one H-bomb would kill vast numbers of civilians, including women and children. For that reason, that its effects apparently are quite unforeseeable (I am talking of its use in war), to many of us it provides a great moral stumbling block.


I am not disagreeing in the least with the perfectly fair analysis which the noble Lord is making, but would he agree that the Government of this country have to make up their mind and base their decisions one way or the other; that there is no escape from the dilemma?


Yes, I agree entirely with the noble Viscount. I agree very much with what the Prime Minister said on this, in a perfectly good-tempered way: that the private interests of churches and citizens may differ but that the Government must make up their mind. To put it another way, the Opposition cannot be expected to make up its mind in such a united form because it has not the direct responsibility. But the Government must either govern or get out.

Here a decision is required. The Government must make it one way or the other. That being so, one has to make up one's mind whether one rejects it totally on ethical grounds. Some people who are not complete pacifists say that we must not use it. I myself do not take that stand. I do not think that most of my Party do, though no doubt there are some who feel that they must take a stand of that kind. However, I feel that the situation imposes a special obligation, if possible an even more urgent obligation than before, to press on with disarmament. No doubt we have all been keen on disarmament in one way or another, and have all done a little bit in that direction. But when we are faced with something so colossally evil as the hydrogen bomb, faced with the national duty of preserving our country and the free world by threatening to use the hydrogen bomb, we must redouble every effort to ban the bomb itself and to secure all-round disarmament.

If we were trying to be clever, I have no doubt that some noble Lord would put to me the question, "Are you ready to accept a ban on nuclear weapons even if we cannot get all-round disarmament?" I think that is a perfectly fair point. I do not think it is such a practical question as it sounds, because I cannot easily envisage a ban on nuclear weapons, which would involve much inspection, without a general disarmament also involving inspection. If that issue ever really became clear, that we could secure a ban on the bomb but not a ban on other armaments, I should find it difficult to reject an all-round ban on the bomb. I do not think it is very likely to arise as a practical possibility in that way. Therefore, we must press on with all-round disarmament and, above all, with banning the bomb.

In the meanwhile, I agree with what was said by one noble Lord opposite (I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember who), when he argued that, from the ethical point of view, there was nothing purer in allowing the Americans to produce it and to defend us with it than that we should use it to defend ourselves. I am not arguing the point from the diplomatic point of view, whether we should have it or whether the Americans can be entrusted to deal with the situation alone. But once we agree that the bomb is necessary, until we can get this all-round ban, we must push on with it and produce it. I agree, however, with what noble Lords on this side have said: that it would be a wonderful thing for the world if we could postpone the tests.

It is very easy, if I may say so, for the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, to mock at any sacrifice of some small advantage, but I cannot believe that it would endanger the country. We know that the Americans have already got plenty of hydrogen bombs. I cannot believe that holding up our own tests for a few months would in any way increase the dangers to Britain. It would be a gesture. It may save a little life. It may be that Lord Cherwell is right and that the dangers are exaggerated. But that side of the matter is not the one that worries me so much. Now we have the chance. We have a little advantage coming to us. If we can say to the world, "We could test the bomb but we are prepared to forgo that and will suspend the tests for a short while," I believe that would have as good a chance of making a real impression on this disarmament situation as any step that anyone has suggested since the war.

It is easy to say the Russians are completely evil. I do not believe anybody is completely evil. Let us assume, however, that the collective mind of the Kremlin is about as evil as anything we are likely to encounter in our mortal span. Even so, they have a self-interest, and they are capable of watching their self-interest. It might be that, if they saw we were ready for this ban, they might realise that they too would have an advantage. I do not think the Russians believe that a world war is in their interests. I am not crediting them with any virtues, though we all have a few virtues; but it is not in their interest to have a world war. How could it be in anybody's interest to have a world war with hydrogen bombs floating about? I feel that, in their own interest, the Russians might seriously be ready for a suspension of tests all round. That would be some gain, leading to a ban on bombs and, it may be, a general disarmament.

I am simply saying that it rests in the power of Her Majesty's Government to give a lead. It is a propitious moment. The advantage lies with us. We can do it or not do it. We can deny ourselves something or not deny ourselves something.


Just how long does the noble Lord want to postpone the test? Supposing the negotiations fail, at what time do we authorise the Government to make the test?


I would say three months would he the minimum. It the talks seemed to be leading somewhere, I would not say that because the three months were up we must proceed: I would certainly give them a proper chance. I mention three months as an absolute minimum. I do appeal to the noble Earl—he cannot, of course, reach an epoch-making decision by himself—not only to think how he will reply to me to-morrow but to discuss the matter once more with his colleagues before the die is finally cast. We do not pretend on this side to have higher ethical standards than noble Lords opposite. But we do in this debate, I think, speak for a great number of all Parties whose consciences would be very much clearer if a further effort were made to avert this terrible development. Therefore, respectfully approving many things in the White Paper and wishing the Government nothing but good in their efforts to defend the country, I implore the noble Earl to consider, with his colleagues, whether, even now, it would not be possible to suspend the tests.


I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.