§ 2.45 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order), on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Mancroft; to resolve, That this House approves of the Outline of Future Policy of Defence (Cmd. 124).
§ The FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE EARL OF SELKIRK)
My Lords, it was said yesterday that this was one of the most important debates in your Lordships' House for some time. The contributions made in yesterday's discussion were well worthy of such an occasion. A large number of points were raised which I know my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence will look at very carefully. I shall certainly not be able to deal with all of them this afternoon. I should, however, like to take this opportunity to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, on his maiden speech yesterday. It seemed to me to combine experience and thought in a manner which makes us hope that he will join our debates on many occasions.
Before dealing with the points raised, may I shortly reiterate the broad principles on which we are proceeding in this Defence White Paper? First, we do not want to prepare for the next war in terms of the last. Equally, we should be very foolish if we made up our minds too precisely, to the exclusion of all other concepts, exactly how any warlike situation might or might not arise in the next twenty years or so. We must never make the mistake that the Germans made in 1914 when they had only one plan to put in operation and no alternative to it. It is very much for that reason that we have still kept a substantial measure of conventional forces, as described yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft; and the White Paper itself states that the possession of nuclear air power is not by itself a complete deterrent. We have, in association with our Allies, considerable forces, and their strength is greatly supplemented by their mobility.
The second point I would make is that we have to take the world as it is and this country as it stands at the present time; and in particular we must build our defence within the strength of our own economy. Some may well argue that after the war we went too rapidly in building up the Welfare State. It is 550 certain that by the year 1950 our budgetary position was already tight, even before the rearmament programme, which followed the Korean War, was set in motion. During that period we bore immense additional burdens of defence. In the last four years or so we have lightened the burden in real terms, arid my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour has said that employment in defence production has already been reduced by some 200,000, including a fall of 70,000 last year. I know it is often said that lack of funds never stopped anyone from arming. That may be true in the short term, but I believe that the decay of every empire is more a question of morale and economics than of a military decline; and that our defensive power is in fact greater for being well within our economy rather than con stantly bursting out of it. It is therefore the wise and right basis that our plan should proceed within the economic strength of this country.
The next point I would make is that we are not alone. That has constantly to be emphasised. We have a system of alliances which can promote co-operation in a wide variety of emergencies. These alliances are integral to our whole defence position. Without N.A.T.O. the nature of our vulnerability would be very disturbing. Nor do I wish to underestimate the importance of the Baghdad Pact, with all its wide implications in that disturbed area; and, again, there is the S.E.A.T.O. Pact. We have been accused of disturbing these alliances by unilateral action. I do not think that that accusation is either fair or correct. No country has played a bigger part than we have in building them up; and no country, with the exception of the United States of America, has made a larger contribution towards maintaining their strength. But each country must contribute in the mariner in which it best can do so, within its own economic strength. We have not the slightest intention of retracting from our obligations. All that we have done is to change the nature of our contribution.
It is something of a revolution that to-day countries in Western Europe no longer view with anxiety the growing military strength of their neighbours; they view it rather as reinforcing a common defence system. I remember that before the war countries in Europe 551 viewed with pleasure the growth of Communism in a neighbouring country because that made that country weaker. That situation no longer exists. We each make our best contribution within our economic strength and in the knowledge of our alliances. That means that none of us can have entirely balanced forces designed for use in isolation.
We are a small nation but highly industrialised, with an output in engineering among the highest in the world—as can be seen by our export trade. In these circumstances, it seems to me that the manner in which our contribution can be most effective is clearly dictated. We cannot contribute vast armies in the sense in which some countries in the world can do. What we can do is to provide a compact, highly trained, well-armed mobile force. The success of the new defence plan depends on achieving this, and perhaps most of all on the Services and the Service personnel themselves. They must feel a sense of vocation; that they are wanted; that they have a job to do and can do it in a fine career.
The structure of our defence must be related to the nature of the threat as we see it. First, there is the danger of nuclear destruction of this island, and even of our Western way of life. Whatever may be the position twenty years hence, to-day the most effective protection is Ole knowledge that we can give in the same kind as we get. There may well be ways round this threat in the realm of disarmament. An immense amount of trouble has been devoted to this subject, but until we get agreed solutions we shall be most unwise now to give up our most effective manner of deterring nuclear attack on the West in general and on ourselves in particular. It could be argued that the dangers are so great here and that the horrors are so far-reaching that we could more safely contract out of it and maintain our peace through the assistance of the United States Strategic Air Command. I have no illusions about the need for the closest co-operation with the United States, but I do not think that that association can best be served by leaning too heavily on our friendship. And let us equally not forget here that the purpose of the nuclear deterrent is not to fight a war but to prevent it. To maintain this object we must first be 552 perfectly ready technically to use it, and, secondly, show that we are prepared to do so.
If I may turn now to the R.A.F., may I say that the R.A.F. is already equipped with Valiants. Vulcans are coming into service this year, and Victors will be coming in the year after. These will in due course be supplemented by the ballistic missile, but at the moment we anticipate that the V-bomber will continue for some time because of the development of the power bomb. Thai will take us a good long way ahead. The result of this development may be that by the time the supersonic bomber comes into operation it will have an in sufficiently long operational life, before it is fully replaced by ballistic missiles, to justify its inclusion in the development programme to the exclusion of other projects. The manned supersonic bombers have therefore been cancelled, but I do not want to give the impression that we have in any way terminated research on supersonic problems of air transport. Indeed, a very large volume of supersonic research and development remains in our programme. Much of this may well be of benefit to supersonic air transport, whatever form it ultimately takes.
The cancellation of the present bomber does not affect the Government's determination to press on with the study of supersonic transport aircraft, which has been launched in consultation with a number of aircraft companies.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
The noble Earl used the word "study". Does that imply determination to produce a prototype?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I think studies have first to be completed. We have to study whether it is worth while producing a prototype. I think it is fair to say that no final decision has been taken yet, but measures are being taken which could lead to a prototype being built.
I was asked by Lord Pakenham whether I had anything to say about the Russian threat at sea. He seemed to think that I ought to have included something about it in the Memorandum on the Navy Estimates. I said that we did not do that sort of thing. I should just like to repeat what is already pretty well 553 known. We certainly did not omit from our consideration the development of sea power in the hands of Russia, a country never formerly greatly interested in sea power and which has no essential overseas connections. One cannot help wondering just why she has developed it.
At the present time the Russian Navy consists; of four fleets—the Northern, at Kola; the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Far East. Each fleet consists, roughly, of six cruisers, 40 to 50 escorts, rather over 100 submarines and 700 aircraft. This gives a total of about 500 operational submarines to-day, all in full commission. By 1960, that figure will probably be 700. In fact, they are constructing annually nearly twice as many submarines as the total number in the Royal Navy at the present time. In two or three years' time they could probably keep about three times as many submarines continuously in the Atlantic as the Germans could at the height of the last war. Their crews, which are all comparatively long-service, are probably not as good as the Germans, but on the average they are not to be despised. This, of course, is a serious matter, but we must remember in this connection that we are very closely connected with the N.A.T.O. Powers. We have a common planning system and an agreed Command structure. Moreover, we are developing a formidable range of weapons—homing torpedoes, LIMBO, sonobuoys and, not least, our own submarines. This may be a big task, but we are certainly not overwhelmed by its magnitude.
Now may I turn to the subject of Transport Command, about which a number of questions were raised yesterday? I understand that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Air will be explaining fully this afternoon the building up of Transport Command. But what I can say is that our garrisons are not being reduced all at once; and when they go it is intended that Transport Command shall be in a stronger position than it is to-day—indeed at least three times as strong—to meet the requirement. The White Paper recognises quite frankly that for different situations different types of transport are necessary. For instance, in the area of operations Beverley freighters will be used, whereas for longer range, quick transport, Britannias may be necessary. In the case 554 of very substantial movement, civil aircraft from the independent companies will be added. I am afraid that I cannot encourage the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, in thinking that trooping by independent companies will be wound up with the development of Transport Command. Finally, the White Paper clearly recognises circumstances in which the use of ships will be more suitable—this is obviously the case, for example, when carrying more heavy equipment.
This policy of mobility has been advocated for a long time but is now for the first time being clearly laid down. We are now at a stage in which I think any point in the world can be reached in thirty hours, provided, of course, that landing facilities are available, and it is the obvious manner in which the resources we have available can be most suitably used.
Part of our mobile force is, of course, the Royal Navy. In this field, the Navy will continue to play its part. Certain factors have given naval mobility a new significance. The first is the declining number of bases which we can readily use to-day, compared with the position some twelve years ago. It is therefore of increased importance to be able to bring a mobile airfield, in the form of a carrier, to any trouble centre at short notice, so that we can take immediate action should that be necessary. Such action could be supported by Royal Marine Commandos, landed, where appropriate, by helicopter. Moreover, in this rôle of maintaining stability throughout the world, naval forces can be greatly assisted in certain cases by Commonwealth Navies. These are gradually growing in strength, and they all have a common interest in maintaining peace and stability. Discussions of the common problems took place at Greenwich only last week, at the Commonwealth Naval Conference, which has been referred to. At these discussions there were present eight Chiefs of Naval staff, and representatives of three colonial navies. May I read an extract from a speech which was made on this subject of mobility and the naval rôle by the late Mr. Ernest Bevin. It is as follows:What astounds me about the history of the British Navy is how cheaply we have policed the world for three hundred years. I often think, when I read this history, that it is a 555 good job no one called our bluff very often for really, looking back over the discussions in this House on Budgets and Estimates, you did take some frightful risks at times.I think the world was policed largely by the British Navy with less than 100,000 men. That is a very cheap police force, if you consider the size of the world.May I turn now, for a moment, to the question of compulsory service? This involves large numbers of short-time men, and at present there are about 150,000 training or in training establishments in the United Kingdom. The abolition of compulsory service should enable the personnel remaining in the Services to become more competent and, at the same time, enable the economy to be strengthened by bringing additional men into industry, on whose general strength our defence effort necessarily depends. My right honourable friend the Minister of Labour has explained his proposals in another place. May I just outline them?
The number which we could call up by the end of 1960 is estimated at 570,000. We do not think, however, that we shall need much more than half that number—of course, it depends to some extent on the success of our recruiting effort. We could reduce the number either by ballot or simply by age. The Government do not like a ballot, unless there is no practical alternative. It would raise a great number of difficulties. If, however, we did it purely by age, then in the latter years we should be calling up almost exclusively those who had been deferred and who would not only be older but be almost entirely composed of highly skilled and trained men. It is clear that this is most undesirable, because a number of them would have to be employed on substantially unskilled jobs. Therefore my right honourable friend proposes to strike a balance between those who are deferred and those younger people who become available for registration. To do this there will be, as from next April, two registers, from which the men who are posted to the Forces will be taken—registers of those who have been deferred and those who have not. A percentage will be taken from each. This scheme will be explained in detail in a White Paper which my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour will be presenting to Parliament in the very near future. Of course the scheme has its disadvantages, but in all the 556 circumstances I have no doubt that this is the fairest way in which it could be done.
May I say a word about civil defence, a matter which was raised by the noble Earl. Lord Attlee, and other speakers yesterday afternoon? I think that the position is clear. It is accepted that we cannot provide adequate protection, in the sense of preventing nuclear attack on this country, with its attendant devastation, should the deterrent fail. Therefore our first need and principal concern must be to prevent war. But should the deterrent fail, and the disaster occur, there is much that could be done to save life and to provide a framework for the preservation of organised society. For this reason, civil defence must remain an essential part of the defence plan. It is the Government's intention, subject to economic considerations, which limit the funds which can be made available, to provide the necessary resources for the maintenance of local civil defence organisations and other measures of home defence as an integral part of the home defence structure.
In the course of his remarks the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested that in a hydrogen bomb war only "a certain amount of improvisation" would be possible. It is one of the main objects of the civil defence preparations to provide an organisation around which survival measures could be organised. Improvisation would no doubt be necessary on an unprecedented scale, but clearly it would be much more effective if there were an advance plan and some special training in what could best be done in the terrible conditions that undoubtedly would exist. I should be very sorry if local authorities concerned in civil defence, and the half-million volunteers, should conclude from anything which the noble Earl said that their efforts were of no avail.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, asked about civil defence measures taken by other N.A.T.O. countries. What we do in this country does not necessarily depend on what others do. No doubt your Lordships will have seen the Press conference given by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Ismay, who until lately was General Secretary of N.A.T.O. He said in his report at Bonn 557 last week that it was the bounden duty of every Governmentto do its utmost to make plans which would ensure that in the event of the unspeakable catastrophe of thermo-nuclear war the civil population and its activities would be sufficiently controlled and directed.The noble Lord's report was adopted by the N.A.T.O. Council. I mention that only in reply to the noble Viscount.
A good deal was said yesterday about the integration of the Services at different levels My right honourable friend has said that we cannot hurriedly decide on major changes of structure; and he mentioned that the Defence Administration Committee has already been set up. I think, however, that we should not be wise in assuming that an organisation necessarily works more efficiently because it is bigger. At the present time the Service and civilian "employees" of the Defence Departments number about 1,400,000, and although this figure is coining down the remainder will be still quite substantial. Of course it need not be thought that measures of co-operation and the interlocking of the Services cannot be carried a good deal further. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made a good point in regard to doctors. It so happens that this suggestion has been examined, as the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest probably knows, four times in the last thirty-five years, and every time it was colic/tided that there was no particular value in amalgamation of the medical services. I mention that only to show the difficulty, and I do not know whether a new Committee to-day might come to any different conclusion.
Another question which I regard as of great importance is the question of traditional loyalties. They are of tremendous value in our fighting units and of special value in recruiting. I agree that a measure of rivalry does no harm but, if I may say so to my noble and gallant friend Lord De L'Isle, it is a pity to stimulate in any way jealousies between the Services. The essence of what we are trying to get is that the Services should realise all the way through that their tasks are essentially complementary.
VISCOUNT DE LISLE
My Lords, I hope that I said nothing yesterday to stimulate jealousies. I think that a necessary priority should be considered—that was the purport of my remarks.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
If my noble friend accepts the implication of what I say, I am happy. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, dealt also with loyalties in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. The noble Viscount was good enough to tell me that he could not be here to-day, but I assure him that I greatly appreciate and fully recognise his views. He knows the reason why this disbanding action had to be taken. He made certain suggestions and I am certain that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Air will look carefully at all he said.
As has already been explained by my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence, there will be a sizeable surplus of officers, petty officers and N.C.Os. over the number required in the reduced Regular forces. Unless this problem is handled with sympathy and understanding it is likely to have serious effects, and the Government fully recognise this. It might affect the morale of the Services themselves if officers and men felt that their services were likely to be dispensed with, and particularly if they were kept in suspense for a considerable period. Further, there would be discouragement among young men contemplating entering the Services as a career. We are very conscious of this, and we are determined to minimise any evil effects from this source.
A scheme of compensation for redundant officers and men is being worked out at present, and we hope that the details will be announced in a very few weeks. We wish to ensure both that the scheme is fair in itself and that it appears so to Parliament and the country, as well as to those directly affected in the Services. Moreover, we recognise that officers and men will be as much concerned with their future employment in civil life as with compensation. Therefore the Government are taking all possible measures to assist these surplus officers and men to obtain speedy further employment in civil life. The machinery already exists under the control of my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour, and it is only a question of expanding and amplifying it, rather than of creating a new machine.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, has emphasised that performance ought to match promise. In that case it is not 559 the slightest use for me to make any further promise than this: the arrangements for compensation and for resettlement go together, and it is the Government's intention to ensure that under both heads redundant officers and men will get a square deal.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I appreciate all that the noble Earl has said, but do I understand that in regard to the men from civil establishments the Minister of Labour will inaugurate special training schemes to fit them for other occupations?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I was talking at that moment purely about Service personnel. However, I am glad that the noble Viscount has mentioned the subject of civil employees of the Government. As the noble Viscount is aware, they fall into two categories: the established and the unestablished. I think that in the majority of cases there should not be a serious problem in regard to the un-established personnel, so long as employment remains at the righ level at which it is now. With regard to the established personnel, with a few exceptions, such as those who have already reached pensionable age, they will continue in employment. I am aware that it will in some cases involve a change of location which entails a measure of discomfort and uprooting but, as the noble Viscount is aware, that is one of the conditions of the Service. I want to make it clear that there is no question of the Government repudiating their obligation to the established personnel.
I was asked a question by the noble Viscount about married quarters. I can only say that since the war the three Services, between them, have erected something of the order of 45,000 married quarters. Broadly, the position now reached is that the back of the problem has been broken, and the Services have reached the marginal stage where they must go cautiously until they know exactly the sites where the remaining quarters will be needed. With regard to barracks, progress is being made in their improvement and modernisation. But as I think the House knows, there is still a long way to go in that respect, and even though we are contracting the size of the Forces, we are not reducing expenditure 560 on barracks in 1957–58; indeed, it is being increased, and the three Services between them are providing £10 million this year, as compared with £8½ million last year.
Then I was asked a question about nuclear propulsion. I do not want to make any forecast of the speed at which development in this field is likely to take place. It is very difficult to forecast. A large and heavy nuclear pile, such as that at Calder Hall, may not be very suitable for putting in the confined spaces of a ship. Nevertheless, we do attach the utmost importance to this form of propulsion. Its advantages for warships and commercial ships are beyond question, and no doubt in the life time of some of the younger Members of this House nuclear propulsion will become not only normal but, perhaps, almost universal. However, that will be some decades hence. We are aware that the Americans have a start on us in applying the new principle to warships, just as we were quicker off the mark in using nuclear power for producing electricity on a commercial scale. Close co-operation already exists between the Admiralty, the Atomic Energy Authority and those responsible for engine and ship design, and we have every intention of pressing on with this development, on which I quite agree, the whole future of our mercantile marine and shipbuilding industry may well come to depend.
We must not exaggerate the development which is taking place in America. So far as I know, they have only one nuclear-powered merchant ship project in hand, and it is certainly not correct to say that all the ships built in future for the United States Navy will be nuclear-propelled.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My noble friend Lord Attlee raised the interesting point of trying to get a wider circulation of information between Allies—
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I was just coming to that matter. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, raised the question of co-operation in research and development. I entirely agree that we must seek closer co-operation both with the United States and with Western Europe on this subject. That is our intention. Reference is made to that matter in the White Paper, but 561 I think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, knows very well just what some of the difficulties are. On the other hand, there is a fairly wide field in which co-operation and exchange of "know-how" is fairly common practice, and we are at present actively examining the possibility of working more closely in this field of defence research with our Western European neighbours.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am glad to know that; but I should like to know whether you are getting the "know-how" about the nuclear driving power for submarines from America.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
Discussions about this are proceeding, but I would rather not say at the moment how far we are actually receiving help from them. Then there is the Standing Armaments Committee of the Western European Union which examines these problems. So I can say that we are getting to grips with them.
I am afraid that I have not covered all the points raised, but I have already spoken for long enough. I should, however, like to make two other points. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, raised the question of whether the major deterrent would be used to assist Western Europe. I think my answer to that is that our obligations to N.A.T.O. are quite clear. For example, there was the recent communiqué which stated that:The Atlantic Alliance must be in a position to use all available means to combat any attack which might be launched against it.We have thrown all our forces into war to assist Europe on two occasions. Today we have more specific obligations to do it than we ever had before. I think, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, can rest fully assured on the point he raised.
We have before the House a broad and bold plan, which has, on the whole, been welcomed—indeed, I would say, with certain reservations, cordially welcomed. It is a big plan and requires many details to fill it in, but it does demand modern forces, in which men in the Services can take a pride in what they are doing. I would add one point on which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, ended his speech. He talked about the moral question. War always raises a moral question, because 562 we all hate it. But I do not think that anyone can question our right to defend ourselves, and no Government could possibly fail in that primary duty. Without the most powerful weapons, no one has yet suggested how we could do it.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
May I ask when we might get the information I asked for, about what are going to be the numbers of personnel to be used in the future for nuclear and technical weapons, and what will be available for all the other widespread tasks? I have had no answer on that point. I do not know whether the noble Earl the Leader of the House can give it later in the debate.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I think the noble Viscount had better put down a special Question about that. I am not certain whether he is talking about now or in six or seven years' time, and I think it is a detail which cannot be filled in at this moment.
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, your Lordships will be grateful to the First Lord of the Admiralty for the comprehensive statement he has made to us to-day covering a wide field. He ended upon the note that every nation has the right to defend itself and to have the most powerful weapons for the purpose; and with that general proposition we shall all agree. The question we have to consider is not whether we have the right to defend ourselves, but whether, in fact, the proposals made to us afford us the most effective means with which to do it. Let me say at once that it must be clear to anyone who reads the White Paper that it has been prepared over a period of time and after a great deal of consultation amongst Ministers and with the martial figures involved in consideration of these problems. It is a document that ought to be treated with respect. It is from that standard that I approach it. Whether it is as realistic as some have been inclined to suggest is a question on which there may be some modicum of difference of opinion. But that it is a serious document designed to place before the nation a programme spreading over a period of years for the defence of the country, no one, of course, will attempt to question.
563 It seemed to me, in reading the White Paper and in listening, to the speeches which have been made—not least that of the First Lord—that if this White Paper is to be regarded as realistic, it must in the first instance be regarded as so realistic as to make it clear that in the nuclear age effective home defence is out of the question. This is a matter which has been debated, partly on my initiative, in this House on previous occasions. I have been inclined to attach—and I attach to-day—enormous importance to home defence, even if from no other point of view than that of the morale of the people, which may gravely be affected by whether or not they feel that adequate preparations have been made for their defence in the event of war.
I am bound to say that, in reading this White Paper, I find my doubts reinforced as to whether, in fact, anything effective can be done for home defence in the event of a nuclear attack upon this country. I know that the Home Secretary in another place yesterday intimated that he would take effective action against some local authority which had shown itself obdurate in this question of instituting a civil defence organisation. Between that statement of the Home Secretary in another place yesterday, and the statement made in this White Paper, I found a discrepancy, and one which I think, from the point of view of the morale of the people of this country, requires to be dissipated. I hope that the noble Earl the Leader of the House, when he replies later this evening, may be able to reconcile what seemed to me to be two discordant statements—the one in the White Paper, and the other made by the Home Secretary yesterday.
I agree that we must do our utmost to support the morale of the people and to maintain the viability of the country in the event of nuclear attack, but I believe that that will depend upon the improvisation of a few bold and masterful spirits in each locality. But I agree, also, that if there can be an organisation around which they can gather in the locality, it will be all to the good. I believe, however, that the facts and the prognosis are against any likelihood that such an organisation, even if established in peace time, will remain in existence so as to function in the event of a nuclear attack in the places where civil defence 564 would be most required. So I feel rather sceptical about that matter. But I am ready to be assured that something effective can now be done. Certainly until a short time ago, it was the Government's view that it could not. They may, in the light of further experience and information, have changed their minds. The country is entitled to know exactly what it is in the way of home defence for which they can look.
It seems to me that the stark fact which emerges from this White Paper is that we must set ourselves ever more resolutely to search for disarmament. I am in some measure relieved to sense a feeling of optimism around Lancaster House these days, and I profoundly trust that it may develop into positive action; even though the beginnings may be relatively slight, it is likely to lead to more if once we can breach the blockade on progress. I know that a good many people place their faith in control. While control is no doubt better than nothing, it is certainly not sufficient, and at the crucial moment it is sure to break down. For us in these islands it is a case, in a phrase, of "Disarm or die". By that I do not mean, of course, anything in the nature of unilateral disarmament, but that it is the duty of the Government and all of us to bend every effort to secure an effective measure of mutual disarmament while time is still with us. Our lives indeed depend upon it.
The White Paper is based upon the hypothesis that the hydrogen bomb is a deterrent and that it is going to be used. But I wonder what happens if that hypothesis, which is the whole basis of the White Paper and of Government policy, turns out, in the event, to be unfounded. What happens if the deterrent, intended to be a deterrent for an enemy, in fact turns out, now that the enemy is equally armed, to be a deterrent to us? Many of your Lordships will remember how, in the days before the late war and in the early days of the war, Germany was thought to be going to use gas and bacteriological warfare. A statement was made by the Government of the day, by Mr. Churchill and others, that if the Germans were to indulge in gas or bacteriological warfare we were equally well equipped to do so ourselves, and we would do so "good and proper." In the event there was no gas and there was no bacteriological warfare, because either party to this 565 mighty contest could do equal damage to the other. I make no pronouncements, but merely ask a question; have the Government considered, and if so what is their answer to the suggestion that, in the event, the fact that Russia possesses nuclear weapons no less than ourselves will mean that neither will use those weapons?
What happens then? Are we equipped lo defend ourselves in a war of a different character from that envisaged in the White Paper? For the White Paper and the whole of Government policy in this matter is based upon one narrow contingency—nuclear warfare. The White Paper contemplates nothing except nuclear warfare, and provides nothing for the defence of the country without nuclear warfare. It provides nothing effective for our taking part in a world war if there be no nuclear warfare. May not the plain fact be that if we once find ourselves involved in the kind of warfare envisaged in the White Paper, everything in the nature of civil defence, and much else, too, will go? May it not be that, instead of a nuclear attack, we shall find ourselves confronted by a conventional attack by conventional aircraft, conventional paratroops conventionally armed, and in much the same position as we were in during the last war?
I agree, of course, with what the First Lord of the Admiralty has said, that we must not prepare for the next war on the footing of the last war; but I believe that in contemplating the next war we have adopted a position in which we may find that we have reached a stalemate so far as nuclear warfare is concerned, and that we have too lightheartedly discarded conventional forces and conventional arms. I think that the Minister of Defence himself is not quite clear upon this subject, and that, whilst so much in what he has said and written has been put both clearly and adroitly, here there has seemed to be some feeling of uncertainty, and uncertainty which I feel is to a large extent justified.
Relevant to that is what the First Lord of the Admiralty said with regard to the Navy and Russian submarines. I surmise, but I have no information, that the Government, in the light of the view they take as indicated by the White Paper, will refrain from making great stockpiles of materials, food and otherwise, in this country. If, therefore, there should be a 566 nuclear attack which will gravely affect large parts of the country but not put us out altogether, or if there is no nuclear attack and we have to survive a war along more conventional lines, what provision has been made for the sustenance and feeding of the people of this country who depend upon supplies of food and materials coming here regularly week by week? No stockpiles here—but I shall not complain of that, because I see the danger and the difficulty of them.
How are we to survive nuclear attack and be sustained and nourished? And if there be no nuclear attack but a submarine attack on ships passing across the Atlantic, how then are we to be fed and sustained? I should like to hear something from the Government about that matter. It is perhaps notable that the First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking here just now, was silent upon that vital aspect of our affairs?
I want to say just a word about the Central Reserve. I know it is going to be streamlined in equipment, command and organisation. I should like to know how it is going to be trained and armed. Is it going to be armed and trained exclusively for warfare with nuclear warheads, or is it going to be trained, either alternatively or also, for conventional warfare with conventional weapons? It is a matter we have to consider, because the only wars we have had thus far—the warlike operations in Korea, Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus—have all been with conventional troops and conventional weapons, and we should be the last people in the world to say that nuclear warheads should have been used on any of those occasions.
I notice that the First Lord said with regard to the deterrent: "We must be ready to use it"—by which he meant that we must have it ready to use, and I agree—"and we must be prepared to use it"—I agree that we must be prepared to use it—"at the proper moment." it is a difficult question, and will be at the time to come, to decide which is the proper moment. I believe that, apart from strategic—or perhaps, more accurately, tactical—questions, apart from political questions, the real question that will arise will be a moral question: that is, whether the people of this country will allow the hydrogen bomb to be used for the first time, in any circumstances, on the initiative of the people of this 567 country. I do not know the answer to the question, but I say it is one which will gravely arise; and I think that perhaps for the purposes of practical business that is one of the most important matters which any Government will have to take into consideration, should the occasion arise.
I am glad, of course, that National Service is within sight of being ended. From the economic standpoint we cannot afford it; and, naturally, my noble friends agree that we can have a defence organisation only within—to use the noble Earl's terms—the limits of our resources. From the economic standpoint, therefore, we cannot afford it. But as National Service comes to an end, we should not underrate the value that it has been to us in many imponderable aspects of our national life, unrelated to economics or to the necessities of defence. In one sense, it has been a great ameliorative influence in increasing the understanding and good will between various classes of the community by mixing them together. So far as I, as an employer, am concerned, I have in these last few years preferred to have—exclusively so, as far as I could—those who had done their National Service rather than those who had not. I am bound to say that I have found it has been a very great advantage.
I should like to tell your Lordships of an incident which came to my notice on this subject, something so unusual, to my mind, that I think your Lordships may be interested. A friend of mine, speaking to me on this whole question of the bringing to an end of National Service, told me this: "The other day I had an extraordinary experience which I never looked to have. I was talking to a woman from a working-class home and she said to me, 'Well, I don't like your making an end of this National Service. People like you have got the universities you send your sons to; you have got the public schools you send your sons to. Our sons had nothing but Mum. The National Service came. National Service sent our sons away as your sons are sent away, and gave them a chance, as your sons had been given a chance, of becoming men and a chance of learning something of the world outside on their own, away from Mum. And then they came back, formed men, to Mum. They had not been with Mum all the time and 568 then married young and just found a new Mum in their young wife. They had never had the wider experiences that your sons had. I should like to think that my young son could have had the experience which his elder brother has had in the Army and your sons have had at their public school or university. Our sons have so far had the Army, and now they are not to have that: it's 'back to Mum' for them."
I thought that that was interesting as showing, as the result of experience, what people no doubt may feel about this. Because my experience is that parents have always been very hesitant about their elder sons going into the Forces; yet when they have had the experience of their elder sons coming back they have said. "How soon is it going to be before our young son can get in and have the same advantages?" I would call National Service the university of the young working man.
I want now to say a word about redundancy and recruiting, to which the First Lord has already referred. So far as redundancy is concerned, it is really wrapped up with the question of recruiting, because unless the right thing can be done by those who are going to be taken out of the Armed Forces, there will be a lot of difficulty in securing new men to come in. Time and again in my experience young men have been "led up the garden"; they have been told they are wanted in the Army, wanted in the Forces, and they have joined; and then there has been a "rearrangement" or "reorganisation". Some new provision has been made and they have been sent back to civilian life. Now we have a group of men, mostly officers, warrant officers and N.C.Os.—it does not apply, of course, to the Regular soldier in the ranks who is serving his engagement and who will be staying on. There are 5,000 to 7,000 officers, mostly of the upper ranks, and 5,000 to 7,000 warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, mostly, I suppose, of the higher age brackets. It is essential that the proper steps should be taken with regard to them. I know from the earnestness with which the First Lord spoke that he has a full appreciation of this fact; and indeed I know, also from the speech of the Minister of Labour in another place that the Government as a whole has. But I cannot impress too strongly upon the Government 569 the necessity for seeing that these officers, warrant officers and N.C.Os. are properly and generously treated.
I know that there is, or has been, in industry a feeling that there is not much room for the Service man, especially the senior Service man. I have been interested in the senior officer and I have taken some steps to try to help him from time to time to some place in industry. I have had a senior officer with me in connection with my own activities and I am looking for another now. A senior officer of a certain standing who has been to the Staff College is a first class man for many kinds of undertakings.
I should like to tell your Lordships an experience in this regard because I think it may be helpful to senior officers that it should be known. There is a senior soldier, a General (I will not mention his name, of course) of my acquaintance who has filled many offices of high responsibility in the Armed Forces. Some little while ago he came to ask me whether I could help him to a position in civilian life. I told him that there was a prejudice against military men but I would do my best. Soon after, at a dinner one evening I met the head of one of the great industrial firms and I spoke to him upon this subject; but I found him very "sales resistant"; I did not find him at all receptive. But I asked him, as a favour to me, at least, to see this officer, and he agreed. They got on very well together and in the end they agreed to make a try of it. So this General entered the employment of this firm, whose name would be well known to many of your Lordships, and he was given a task involving administrative work of a high degree of importance.
I asked the Chairman of the firm, some time afterwards, "How is General so-and-so getting on?" and he said, "He has been magnificent. We are delighted that you made the suggestion. Can you find us another like him?" As the result of experience he "asked for more". I will conclude the story by saying that when I asked the General how he was getting on with the firm he said, "I am getting along splendidly. I have only one thing to say about them; from the Chairman down they insist, all of them, on calling me 'Sir' ". But do believe, my Lords—and I hope that the outside public, those who have the 570 responsibility of providing places and occupations, will realise—that in those men who have attained the upper ranks of the Armed Forces or the position of warrant officers and N.C.Os. you have men who can do a powerful lot of good in more ways than one, both amongst your employees in general, in personnel management and also in administration.
I want, in a sentence, to ask whether the Leader of the House, in replying, will tell me something about the place in defence and the reorganisation which is visualised for the Territorial Army. I will not expand the point now; I will just put it, and I think it will be clear to the noble Earl that it is a matter of some importance to a large number of patriotic young men who are devoting themselves to the public service in the Territorial Army.
As regards recruiting I think there is going to be very great difficulty. I am not very optimistic about it, unless the Government first take the proper steps with regard to those who are redundant, to provide adequate housing and the rest of it. The First Lord said just now that married quarters have been very much improved, and I quite believe it; but have they been improved to the standard of a man of the same status in civilian life? Because it is the wives who count as regards married quarters, and it is the wives who will say to their husbands, "Why should I go there when I can do so much better in a council house "(or whatever it may be)" in such-and-such a place?" I do not say they can always be as fine, or as convenient, but they can be something so near that the wives and the mothers will be very glad to go there, and that will be a great gain. Indeed, almost everything depends on that.
There are two questions of the first importance with regard to recruiting, apart from the question of pay. One is that the housing should be right, both in barracks and in married quarters, and the other is that the soldier should be satisfied that in fact he will not be cast upon the world when his service conies to an end; that there will be some place reserved and ready for him. The First Lord said that there ought to be a feeling in the Service man that the Service is a vocation. I agree about that. He also said Service men should feel that they are wanted. Sometimes they do not feel that they are 571 wanted. The Government must see that they are.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, speaking yesterday of integration, referred to a Committee of which, just after the war, by his appointment when he was Prime Minister, I was Chairman, and which considered the question of the integration of various of the common services of the Forces. I was not asked, with my distinguished colleagues on that Committe, whether or not we recommended integration; we were asked how integration could be secured, and I am bound to tell your Lordships that in my recollection we came to the conclusion that integration would not save much to the Services in the way of manpower or money. There have been a number of Committees after the recent wars: there was the Mond-Weir committee after the 1914–18 war and this Committee of which I was Chairman after the late war. They have all, I think, been in favour of co-ordination rather than integration: but I believe it should be co-ordination only just short of integration.
I am rather troubled by the idea of integration, because it means the sacrifice of much that has been built up in the separate loyalties and traditions that are invaluable to the Service men, especially in times of stress. But I should like to see a single Minister of Defence, with the other three Service Ministers subordinate to him, and with a single Chief of Staff and a single Chief of Staff Organisation. I know my noble friend Lord Pakenham takes rather a different view on that point. That is only another indication of what my noble friend Lord Attlee said yesterday, that there really is ample room and, indeed, necessity for an inquiry, on the broadest scale, into the whole question of the organisation of the Armed Forces of the Crown, especially since, in the conditions of to-day, the problems they present are so entirely different from the problems of yesterday. I would add my voice to that of my noble friend in asking the Government once more favourably to consider the suggestion that the whole of this vital problem should be submitted to an inquiry by men well equipped to make such an inquiry and whose names carry confidence with the nation.
§ 3.51 p.m.
My Lords, so much ground has been covered and re-covered up to now in this debate, and so much more ground is going to be covered again, or discovered—if there is any more ground left to discover—that I do not propose to go into the matter in any general sense. I shall confine myself to just one point, and for a short time, in respect of paragraph 14. Before I come to that, however, may I say how much I welcome this White Paper, because it seems to me to indicate, if I may say so, not in any patronising sense, a great step forward in the attitude and mentality of those who are responsible for the defence of our nation and our Commonwealth Those particularly in Parliament who are so responsible must, of course, be advised by technicians and experts whose own experience is derived from history and from their own experience in the fairly recent past, when conventional warfare was the only sort of warfare. We know that when we came to the discovery of gunpowder and of dynamite various people said, "Now the end has truly come. We cannot go on with warfare because it is completely destructive." As we know, that was not so. I may be a Rip van Winkle in reverse—so to speak going back—but I think the time has now come when it is indeed totally destructive.
In talking to people in ordinary conversation in this country, I suggest—but again not in a patronising way—that it is only those with considerable imagination who really appreciate the total horror which is just around the corner, of the whole of civilisation lying dead in poisoned ashes. I do not think enough people take it in. It is in terms of the last ten centuries that our defence programme has to some extent had to be formulated, and I think that, with that qualification, this White Paper shows a great step forward. The First Lord of the Admiralty made what I thought was a fundamental remark in emphasising that we must arrange our defence well within our economy; indeed, if we organise it outside our economy, there is nothing left to defend. Some of us, in fact, have been saying recently, over the last year or so, that our tremendous expenditure on our defence programme surely is outside our economy—first, 573 because our economy is relatively small; secondly, because we have no possible hope of keeping up with the big Powers like Russia and the United States in all they are doing in nuclear development; and thirdly, because, with the present rate of development in science, it is more than likely that, of this £1,500 million a year which we spend on armaments, the vast proportion will simply be thrown down the drain, since most of the things on which we spend that money are likely to become obsolete possibly in ten years, possibly in four years, and possibly in two years.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in his most striking speech which I read to-day (I was unable to hear it) seemed to argue—arid it rather agree with him—that we cannot all experiment with nuclear weapons because, of course, the effect of everybody trying a little bit soon makes it a habit. More and more people will experiment, and more and more will be done until we just fall over the edge of the precipice before we know we are there. If it is not out of place in your Lordships' House, I would remind your Lordships that in all the big, well-founded, deep religions force is absolutely abominated. Frankly, I have not the moral courage to say that we should "turn the other cheek" and open our country to anybody to conic in and do with us as they would. But I am not convinced that the policy of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is really the inevitable one.
Now I come, through that, to paragraph 14, which is led up to by paragraph 12 on the nuclear deterrent. There the White Paper says that it is frankly recognised that there is no means of protection at the moment. Paragraph 13 says:This makes it more than ever clear that…planning must be to prevent rather than to prepare for"—war. I think we are all at last agreed, on that, and it cannot be too much underlined. But paragraph 14 brings in a point which I challenge. It says:…the only existing safeguard against major aggression is the power to threaten retaliation with nuclear weapons.That is a widely held theory. But I challenge the assertion that it is the only safeguard.
My Lords, I hope I may be forgiven if I return to an old hobby-horse of mine 574 —namely, if only we would disseminate Truth through propaganda! By "propaganda" I do not mean distorted news, or trying to make people believe what they do not want to believe; I mean trying to make those who are potential enemies of ours know what we really stand for—that what they call our colonialism has done an enormous amount of good in the world, and that we are not planning to stab our potential enemies in the back: that we want them to be our friends. I do not believe that the millions of people in Russia and China, behind the Iron Curtain—and well behind the Iron Curtain—have the slightest idea that we are anything other than villains of the type described to them. Throughout the world people are sitting with loudspeakers in their houses, or on the ground outside their huts, which tell them what bad people we are and that unless they pull themselves together to resist us, the "wicked capitalists" with the dreadful theories of Western civilisation, they are in for an intolerable time. If we could somehow spend on good propaganda, on overseas information on truth, anything like the amount we spend on defence, I feel that this would banish the prospect of war right into the background and that we should never have any further need for such defence measures as have to be proposed at present in Papers such as the one we are discussing to-day.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I think that your Lordships will agree with me that sometimes on these occasions the borderline between defence and foreign affairs is extremely narrow, and I hope you will therefore forgive me if, here and there in the few comments I have to make, I trespass over that border into the field of foreign affairs. I am perhaps fortified by just having heard the noble Lord, Lord Rea, who has definitely, and quite legitimately, as I see it, trespassed away from the strict terms of defence for a moment.
I am going to confine myself to only those paragraphs of the White Paper in which I happen to have some personal interest and which I certainly find provocatively brief—that is, the section on the Middle East, paragraphs 25 to 28. So much water has passed under the bridge in these last three years that it 575 seems to me that we are justified in making a completely fresh reassessment of our defence requirements so far as the Middle East is concerned. Three years ago we had a base on the Canal and we had no Baghdad Pact. To-day we have a Pact and we have no base on the Suez Canal. Then there is another modification to which paragraph 28 draws our attention, when it tells us that as a result of the termination of the Treaty with Jordan Britain has been relieved of the responsibility for defending that country in the event of attack.
I find that particular comment extremely interesting, because I think I am right in saying that on certain occasions within the last few months it has been suggested by Her Majesty's Government that that is not the case; that in fact some obligation to Jordan exists—I refer particularly to the Tripartite Guarantee of 1950, that other agreement which, of course, also covers the defence of Jordan, and around which, as it seems to me, a certain mystery has lingered ever since the Suez incident. I personally have maintained that that Tripartite Guarantee could be regarded as "as dead as the dodo", and certainly, by implication at least, paragraph 28 of the White Paper could seem to confirm that view.
Nevertheless, if that obligation now disappears, what a lot yet remains! At one time it seemed as if the Suez incident might cancel out our contribution to the Baghdad Pact. Your Lordships will remember that there was a meeting of the Pact Powers to which we were not invited. It now appears that that was just a phase, and I should make a guess that perhaps one of our most important commitments in the Middle East to-day is just the ability to be able to move planes, material and men into the Baghdad Pact area. It seemed to me rather significant that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, yesterday referred to nuclear weapons, presumably from this country, in connection with the Baghdad Pact.
Apart from the Baghdad Pact, we have also been reminded, particularly yesterday by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, of those other responsibilities which still remain. Paragraph 26 refers to them: the obligation to defend the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf, the obligation to defend the Aden Protectorate, the obligation to 576 secure what is the one and only base which one could call British, Empire and Commonwealth territory on the Arabian Peninsula—the Aden Colony.
It seems to me that in considering all these various commitments of ours, our mind inevitably and over and over again comes back to the position of Cyprus, which the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, referred to as a "vital staging post" in connection with these commitments in the Middle East and also as a fully developed base, presumably in association with the North Atlantic Treaty. I therefore make no apology for considering Cyprus as the hub and focus of defence, both in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. What seems to me so utterly frustrating is that the three partners mainly concerned—Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom—all face the same foe and have one single, common purpose. It would seem logical that we should at least be able to separate the military requirement of Cyprus from politics and reach agreement.
In that connection I would remind your Lordships of a leader which appeared about a fortnight ago in the Greek paper Kathimerini, which usually voices the official Greek view and which indicated some sanity and realism in the approach of the Greek Government. This is what the paper said:If the North Atlantic Treaty's involvement in the Cyprus affair assumes the character of a discussion on the Island's strategic merit in Atlantic defence plans, this might be regarded as quite legitimate and Greece could not not possibly oppose it.The leader went on:It is up to us now to facilitate even a temporary settlement in order to restore the climate of allied solidarity which is now heavily overclouded.That seems to indicate some advance on the Greek Government's previous rigid resistance to any suggestion of a North Atlantic Treaty Association with the affairs of Cyprus.
But what is our attitude over this matter? Your Lordships will recall that the Radcliffe Report reserved Defence to the Government. The terms of reference for Lord Radcliffe laid down that the Constitution was to be framed bearing in mind that the use of Cyprus as a base was necessary for the fulfilment by Her 577 Majesty's Government of their international obligations and for the defence of British interests in the Middle East. If the international obligations of Her Majesty's Government, as distinct from our own personal requirements, can be met by the North Atlantic Treaty Powers or any group of those Powers, surely it is our duty not to hesitate but again to continue to press for a North Atlantic Treaty solution so far as the North Atlantic Treaty is concerned—that is, in so far as the international obligation is concerned. I cannot regard this as any abandonment of responsibility, for it seems to me to be merely the rational process of asking those who share a common objective to make a common contribution after common consultation.
There is an old adage which says: "You can do a lot of good if you don't mind who gets the credit." Let any one of us, or all three, take credit for the defence not of the isolated island of Cyprus but of the free world. What I hope to have suggested to your Lordships is that that could be separated from the political issue and not placed at the disposal of the unpredictable whim of the Archbishop. Of course, one makes one qualification: that the rôle which Cyprus has to play as a staging post for those other commitments referred to in paragraph 26 must not be relinquished. I see no difficulty whatever in coming to an arrangement by which our own peculiar and particular position in Cyprus could be safeguarded arid recognised within the bigger frame of the defence requirements of the North Atlantic Treaty.
May I therefore, in conclusion, turn to those other commitments? I fully agreed with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, when he referred yesterday to the strain that is going to be placed al the Regular forces in the future, forces which are to be reduced to 375,000 by 1962. Within that figure a fair guess is that the Regular Army would stand at about 160,000, and it seems to me that as a matter of simple arithmetic it is going to be impossible for the Army to retain its present overseas commitments (and in the Army estimates there is a formidable map showing those overseas commitments), to be able to fight a jungle war in Malaya and a Mau-Mau war in Kenya, to be able to defend an Aden frontier 578 and have anything left over for an emergency reserve here at home. I am therefore putting in a plea for a build-up of the status, strength and terms of service of indigenous overseas forces. The officer problem alone is going to be extremely difficult if the infantry (and it is mainly the infantry which supplies officers for these overseas forces) is to be reduced on the scale suggested in the White Paper and we are still to find between 500 and 1,000 officers, the total which I believe are now serving in overseas indigenous forces.
I suggest that a build-up of these overseas colonial forces will be a contribution to our own manpower problem and also of very significant value to the countries concerned. I have always nursed the hope that it might be possible to resuscitate something of the nature of an Indian Army, an overseas Army analogous to the Indian Army system, by which an officer, after leaving Sandhurst and doing one or two years' secondment at a British unit, could pass over to an overseas army. I know the difficulties. I am told that officers would, in a few years, be quite out of date; and it is true that if one takes an officer from a Yemen frontier and puts him into Germany he will take quite a time to catch up with the technical demands of his profession. It is also true that it works the other way round. I will not press for this parallel Service but I ask that these terms of service be stepped up, that five years be regarded as the minimum period of secondment, and that such service be not regarded, as it has been in the past, as a commanding officer's opportunity to lose an officer who cannot pass his promotion examination, but be regarded rather as a privilege for the selected few.
As to the financial implications of such a build-up, I believe that the sacrifice of a single modern destroyer would more than meet the requirements of placing terms of service on a really sound and attractive basis. That is not a great price to pay for stability, security and friendship among scattered peoples throughout the Commonwealth who do not want the promise of an unseen guided missile when an enemy appears but who do want the visible presence of what Lord Mancroft called yesterday "the man with a rifle on his shoulder". This is the concept—and it is a very logical one—of a Central Reserve from which troops can be moved 579 rapidly by transport to any position in the British Commonwealth. But I ask your Lordships to bear in mind that we can be misled by the tidy appearance on paper of such a scheme and its convenience for argument. I can think of many situations in which, I will not say it will not work but in which something on the ground already will work much better—something more accustomed to local conditions, in tune also with the local political situation, and, incidentally, less expensive.
As to the other side—the value of an indigenous force to the countries concerned—I would ask that steps be taken to put across the idea that, in overseas territories, a strong, well-disciplined, well-led Army is a nation-building agency and has a value apart from its purely practical military aspect. That certainly was the experience of India and Pakistan. And I would ask where the important little Kingdom of Jordan would be today had it not been for the Army with which, to put it mildly, some fine British officers had some association. I would ask that, so far as the Middle East is concerned, we accept a standard which is not less than that of the British officers we gave to the Arab Legion in Jordan. I know the political difficulties that arise in the way of being able to depend upon moving a colonial force from one territory to another—being able, for example, to regard the King's African Rifles as available for use in either Somaliland or Aden. But I suggest that if this matter is put clearly by the right man and with sympathy to political leaders in those countries, we can go a long way towards being able to count on a flexible Colonial Army to help us to take the strain. In the process, I suggest, it is not going to be very difficult to induce the new political leadership to see the significance for their countries of the type of young man to whom Kipling paid his tribute when he adjured him toGo to your Gawd like a soldier.
§ 4.14 p.m.
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Lord who has just sat down into questions relating to the defence of the Middle East or military affairs generally. I should like in the first place, to add my congratulations to Her Majesty's Government, and more especially to the Ministerof Defence, upon 580 producing the most realistic defence plan for many years. I should say that it is the first time that this House and the public have been brought face to face with the facts of modern warfare. But let us be quite sure that the plan is adequate. We are, in fact, streamlining our defence, based not only on the new weapons of war, which have been succeeding one another at an alarming and increasing rate, but also on our incapacity to sustain financially a heavy defence programme. It is, unfortunately, true that we cannot go on voting such a large part of our resources to defence as in the past. We are, in fact, going to have a cheaper defence, by taking advantage of the power of nuclear weapons, but I suggest that we must be quite sure that our rundown in conventional weapons and manpower will still enable us to carry out our responsibilities in the various parts of the world in the event of a limited war. I suggest that it is the limited war that has the great potential of a global war, and it can easily spread, like a forest fire, unless it is quickly quenched; and conventional weapons will certainly be very necessary for these operations.
I have little doubt that Russia will continue to seek means of consolidating her power and influence in the world by any means short of global war. She will be tempted to exploit any weakness in Western defence, and it may well be that a shortage of conventional weapons will add to this danger, but that seems to be a risk we must now accept. If we are going to rely more on nuclear weapons, they must, of course, include tactical nuclear weapons. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has raised the question of nuclear policy. I would point out that it is not made clear in the White Paper whether tactical nuclear weapons would be used ultimately to enforce a decision in the event of a limited war. Your Lordships will remember that in the White Paper last year it was stated that:In limited war, the possible use of nuclear weapons cannot be excluded.I began to wonder whether there had been a change in policy, but I understand from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, yesterday that the scale of the military effort would depend upon whether it was a matter of life or death, and that the use of tactical nuclear weapons could not be ruled out.
581 That is, of course, a realistic point of view, and it was supplemented by the very important statement that tactical nuclear weapons can be of small size and with little more power than, perhaps, an artillery barrage. On the other hand, we must bear in mind that little nuclear bombs may lead to bigger bombs, and eventually to the all-powerful one. But this is another grave risk which I think we must accept. Those of your Lordships who attended the Commonwealth Naval Conference will remember the exercise which indicated very clearly the position of the losing force contemplating the use of a tactical nuclear weapon, and the difficulties and doubts involved. I suggest that we are now only on the threshold of these difficulties, and that a great deal of hard thinking will have to be done before a realistic policy can be worked out.
I much enjoyed the thoughtful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, yesterday, and I thoroughly endorse his view that we must protect ourselves with the manufacture and test of the H-bomb until there is some kind of satisfactory international agreement. He inquired why we do not spread our deterrent nuclear power at strategic points throughout the Commonwealth, so that we could always be certain of immediate retaliation. I certainly agree with the noble Lord's view, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government already have such a plain in mind. Lord Moynihan went on to say that he could not understand why so much emphasis was placed on the defence of bomber airfields which, in his view, could not, in fact, be defended. I think it is true to say that they cannot be defended individually, as interception of enemy bombers and guided missiles must, of course, take place many miles away from any individual aerodrome which is the target. Therefore it really resolves itself into a defence of the country as a whole. The present difficulty of protecting our airfields emphasises the importance of our Carrier Fleet, with its movable aerodromes, and I am delighted to see that the use and power of the Carrier Fleet is now fully acknowledged and recognised.
I am not very happy about the reference in the White Paper to the rôle of the Navy as a whole. I feel that it is rather ambiguous, and, of course, stems from 582 doubts as to the course of a future war after the initial nuclear bombardment had taken place. I think I am right in saying that the general trend of military and technical opinion in the last few months has veered towards a recognition of open warfare, both during and after the initial nuclear attack, and that the country might not be completely devastated, as is assumed in some quarters. The enemy's vast fleet of submarines would be at sea long before war developed; Russian cruisers would be preying on our merchant ships, and the rôle of the Navy would be essential to maintain supplies of food and material. I do not want to get involved in a Navy Estimates debate this afternoon, but I hope that some of the economies which no doubt can be achieved in the administration and maintenance of the Navy will be devoted to maintaining an effective anti-submarine force and a sufficient number of carrier groups to hunt down and destroy the Russian cruisers.
In the course of the debate, mention has been made of the possible integration of the three Services. I feel sure that a great deal could be done in many directions, such as in the medical field arid in victualling; and this integration might even extend into the electrical and radar field. But I agree with the noble Lard, Lord Nathan, that integration should not go much further than this, because there is a danger of our losing esprit de corps. I understand that a Government Committee are now examining such proposals. Perhaps the noble Earl who is to reply for Her Majesty's Government can give some indication of when that Committee are likely to report and also, perhaps, their terms of reference.
I join with many of your Lordships in emphasising the importance of giving a fair deal to those officers and men who will have to give up their careers in their chosen Service. Unless this is done, I feel sure that there will be grave difficulties in securing officers and men to serve in future. Families who for generations have supplied the backbone of the Forces will think twice before sending their sons into the Services, if they are likely to have their careers blasted at an early age and compelled to retire with insufficient compensation and with no job found for them. I was delighted to hear the success story which was related to 583 us to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give the whole matter their earnest and careful attention. In conclusion, I would say to those of your Lordships who may have some misgivings about the far-reaching scope of this White Paper that it is really a five-year plan, and one which can be modified in the light of experience. But I trust that Her Majesty's Government will not be too drastic in their reorganisation and rundown before this experience has been gained.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ LORD CONGLETON
My Lords, it is getting late and there are many noble Lords more qualified than I am to speak in the debate, so I will be as brief as possible. I feel that I have been waiting for more than ten years for this White Paper. It is about that time ago, some months after the original bombs were dropped on Japan, that I was in a position to see the results and talk to the scientists and doctors who were at Hiroshima. I was convinced then, as a member of the Forces, that this was a weapon which we ourselves should have to employ. Nothing I have heard or read since has convinced me otherwise. That is why I have been waiting those ten years.
I suppose that this type of weapon would affect this country more than any other country in the world, apart from Japan. Since we are told in the White Paper that there is no answer to it, the only thing to do is to threaten a similar reprisal. I accept that wholly, as it is put. I suppose we could have asked Russia to supply us with the weapon, but I doubt if they would have let us have it. Owing to their law, the Americans are not allowed to supply us with the information. There is only one solution left: we must manufacture it for ourselves. That has been done, and I am glad to hear it. There is one point in connection with atomic warfare which has been left out for the moment. I understand that the United States are giving us, free, gratis and for nothing, the rocket equipment, less the atomic heads, with which the Army is to be now equipped. I think that we should be extraordinarily silly not to accept it. Although one may think of them in other 584 terms on other matters, it is very generous of them to do this.
I would pass on to something which is nearer to myself—that is the personal side of the Army. Some three and a half years ago I went through the "sausage machine" of release from the Service, and I was impressed by the excellent service which the Ministry of Labour gave when one left the Armed Forces. We were taken in hand by excellent men, full of knowledge and advice and prepared to help anyone. I understand from what the Minister of Labour said in another place that this is to be extended, and that decision cannot but be excellent I would make one other point here. So far as I know, there is no section to make contact with the Dominions High Commissioners. Many of the men will have served for long periods overseas, and some of them may well want to settle in the area where they have been serving. This has happened before, although often the men were forced to settle. I believe that at one time Scottish regiments were disbanded in such different places as Montreal and Paris. But if the power to do something in this matter can be given to this section of the Ministry of Labour, it would greatly enhance what could be done quickly for the men who wish to settle overseas.
The personal problem affects those in the Services and those who will be in the Services—it is impossible to separate the two. We have been told that a Committee are considering which squadrons, regiments, units or sections may be cut down or disbanded altogether. There are many personal associations attached to individual squadrons and regiments, and many men considering going into the Services, if they could join a particular unit, will now be left "in the air," simply because they do not know whether the unit they would wish to join will be in being in, say, six months' time. From what the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said I have great hope that we shall hear in the next few weeks the results of that Committee's inquiry.
I should like to mention a small point in connection with normal recruiting. I do not wish to appear critical of the recruiting service as a whole, but only this week I had a letter from an R.A.F. ex-Service man who wished to rejoin the 585 R.A.F. I think he misunderstood the recruiting officer, because when it came to the point of rejoining the Service, the conditions which he had understood would hold for him in the Service were not so. I think that probably there was fault on both sides, and, of course, a contract of service of this sort is quite a complicated document. In many cases, possibly it is not fully understood by the people who either present the document or sign it. I think it would enable recruiting officers to do their job more easily if that document could be simpler, or if there could be a memorandum explaining it more carefully. Definitely there is some misunderstanding.
Finally, I come to the question of the almighty deterrent. As I have said, I think we in this country are affected more than any other country in the world, apart from japan. Surely it must he bound up with the political link in N.A.T.O. At present there are the two sides of the world, and we lean in one direction. I read, and I am told, that the service of American Service men in Europe is unpopular in the United States, and it may well be a political plaything, if I may use that term. At some future time the situation may arise—possibly when inter-continental ballistic rockets are available—when the Americans might consider withdrawing all their forces from Europe. I feel that if we, as the leader of Western European Union, are then able to say that we have the almighty deterrent as well, we shall be in a much better position to argue for either the retention or removal of those forces. I have nothing further to say, because I find that all the other matters I had intended to speak on have already been covered by other noble Lords.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD TEDDER
My Lords, I sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Congleton, on his, not complaint, but comment that most of the subjects he wanted to talk about have already been covered, because that applies to me, too. However, with your Lordships' permission I should like to emphasise or comment on certain points which appear to be of particular importance to one like myself who has had some years' experience of inter-Service co-operation and the working of Chiefs of Staff, and who. I hope, is still in fairly good contact with 586 the Services and Service personnel, and therefore has some idea of their reactions to this White Paper and to all the many and difficult problems which it poses to us all. To say that this White Paper poses many difficult problems is no criticism of that document. Some years ago in your Lordships' House I put up an urgent plea that the British people be told frankly what atomic warfare meant—that was before the hydrogen bomb had come over the horizon. Now our latest Defence Minister has told us, and told us with a bang, and I should like to join the many noble Lords who have congratulated him on his courage, or, as I see it was expressed in another place, his "guts". I admire the stark way in which he has faced us with the main issues.
The position is simply that we can no longer afford to maintain conventional forces armed with conventional weapons on a scale large enough to provide effective defence against a full-scale attack from the East, and we must therefore rely on the new nuclear weapons to redress the balance against the Eastern hordes. The logic is simple and, I think, un-answerable, and we must accept it and all its implications. War in Europe means atomic or nuclear war. Incidentally, I hope we shall not allow this issue to be clouded by suggestions that there will be tactical atomic weapons which could be used without leading to the use of the ultimate so-called strategic weapon. I think that to believe that would be to live in a fool's paradise. I am sorry, but I cannot agree with my noble friend Lord Teynham on that point.
Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord. I did not quite make that point. What I tried to indicate was that little bombs sometimes lead to bigger bombs; in fact, I said that.
§ LORD TEDDER
In that case I must have misheard the noble Lord, and I apologise. I feel that no more with atomic weapons than with any other weapons can you draw a hard and fast line anywhere between strategic and tactical. Those are matters of operations, not matters of weapons. As the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said yesterday, there will be no Queensberry Rules in atomic warfare. Atomic, or perhaps I should say nuclear, war is total war; and the more clearly that fact is understood 587 throughout the world—and I am thinking of what the noble Lord. Lord Rea, said about spending money on getting at the other side of the curtain—the more hope one feels that even the most ambitious dictator, or the most frightened dictator, will be deterred from the suicidal folly of starting another war.
All the Defence Papers I have known—and I have known a number—have inevitably, and rightly, indulged in a good deal of crystal-gazing. This latest one, however, is unique in that it has tried courageously to delve much further into the future than has been done on previous occasions. Scientific and technical development has moved so fast, as has been pointed out during this debate again and again, that the guesses have got to go further into the future than ever before if we are to avoid being left behind. But prophecy is a tricky business, and I imagine that the Minister himself would be one of the first to agree that his crystal globe may prove not to have given a fully accurate picture of the future.
Personally, I would accept the broad picture painted in this White Paper as a reasonable basis on which to work, with one proviso: I agree strongly with noble Lords who have expressed nervousness on the time scale which is implied by two particular decisions which it is proposed to make. If the development of these mystic missiles or misguided projectiles proves, in fact, to be slower than anticipated, the failure to develop the supersonic manned bomber and the successor to the P.1 might well result in leaving us facing a dangerous gap in our defences. It is true that in many respects development, as I have said, has been very rapid but, on the other hand. I think it is as well to remember that the Americans, with almost unlimited resources, have poured many millions into development and research in this field for the last twelve years. I believe they are still hunting the Snark in Central Brazil. The time scale may be right—I do not say it is not—but the penalty if it proves to be wrong is so heavy that I do urge that we should insure against that risk, and that the development of those two aircraft should be resumed. I do not say that because I was once an airman.
There are two further points in this connection which I should like to put 588 before your Lordships. First, I would strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, said about the supersonic manned bomber in relation to supersonic air transport. The supersonic transport for civil aviation will certainly come in due course. It is a fact that in this country, as in the United States, practically all civil aviation development has sprung directly from basic research and development carried out to meet defence requirements. I believe one has to accept that as being an inevitable condition, and I am sure we should only be deceiving ourselves if we thought that firms would, or could, on their own, undertake research and development on the scale and in the way in which it is now done, thanks to the Defence contracts.
Frankly, I cannot feel greatly reassured by the use by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, of the word "study" as regards supersonic aircraft. I have heard that word before, and I am afraid it does not reassure me. I hope that in due course we may get something more substantial than a study. I believe that no British supersonic manned bomber means, quite literally, no British supersonic civil aircraft. That means, of course, that once again we shall let the market go free to the Americans, which I think is a pity.
My second point in this connection arises from the statement in paragraph 7 of the White Paper, where it says:An undue proportion of qualified scientists and engineers"—I am talking only about scientists—are engaged on military work.I hope that that does not imply any intention to make drastic cuts in Defence research and development. Surely to goodness the mere switch from conventional to unconventional must, in itself, call for not less, but more, intense research. Moreover, I suggest that it is perhaps misleading to single out the scientists employed "on military work", to use that phrase.
I have already instanced the reliance of civil aviation upon prior basic military research and development. I believe the same to be true of almost every other main industry in the country. It is certainly true in the field of chemicals, metallurgy and electronics, to mention just three. Take, for instance, the case of the electronic brain which one hears 589 so much about, and the electronic controls for automation. All that development stems directly from Defence requirements, and we should never have had it, now, or probably for years, if it had not been for that original Defence demand. If we starve military research and development, we starve industry. Nor is there, believe, any evidence to show that industry is longing to get back scientists who are at present working on military contracts. My information—and I have information—is to the contrary: in other words, if the Defence research contracts are terminated, in many cases those particular scientists will be out of a job.
This White Paper is a revolutionary document and, as I have said already, courageously and rightly so. But—and this is being wise after the event—I think it would have gained had it placed some emphasis on evolution as well as revolution. As it stands, and as it has gone out, there can be no disguising the fact that it has had a shattering effect upon the morale of all three Services and all ranks. I imagine that many or most of your Lordships have had some experience of the demoralising effect in Industrial and business life of rumours of take-over bids, mergers, amalgamations, wholesale redundancies, and so on. The Services are now one seething mass of such rumours. My noble friend the First Sea Lord I am sorry to see has gone, because I was hoping he would he here. His original bid to take over Coastal Command has, according to rumour, now been raised to a bid to take over the whole of the Royal Air Force. A contrary bid, which I am alleged to have inspired, has been given for the Royal Air Force to take over the Royal Navy. There is also a bid for the Army to take over all the new weapons. There is to be a "carve-up" of the Air Force between the Army and the Navy. All the Service Ministries are to be abolished. There is to be unification, or perhaps I should say nationalisation, of the three Services into one—no longer three Services incompatible, but one Service incomprehensible. There is to be the abolition of historic regiments, and so on. There are scores of these rumours seething around amongst the troops.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I hope the noble Lord is not lending the weight of 590 his great name to these rumours. I mean that, because the fact that he mentions them to-day gives added advertisement to the other utterly irresponsible sources from which some of the matters which he mentions emanate.
§ LORD TEDDER
I am hoping that by mentioning them and getting them into the open they can be put out of the way as foolish and childish, as they are. That is why I have mentioned them, and why I think I am right in doing so. I hope that the noble Earl who sums up will be able to dispose of some of these things forcibly. The fact—and it is a fact; and I do not wish to be alarmist about this matter—is that the very foundations on which Service morale and esprit de corps are based have apparently been blown to pieces in the sort of nuclear explosion of this White Paper. I say, with all seriousness, that it is a situation which calls for rapid action if the morale of the Services is not to suffer grave and permanent damage. I ask your Lordships to believe that I am not being an alarmist over that. It is an extremely serious thing, and if we do not act quickly, any possibility of being able to rely on voluntary service, which, after all, is the basis of the whole new policy, and rightly, will go.
I am sure that the Minister and the Government are not unmindful at all of this vital human aspect of the problem. I was immensely relieved to hear the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, in opening, refer to this aspect of the problem. I think I am right in emphasising it. After all, as the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, so eloquently pointed out yesterday, our recent experience has not been a happy one. The discourteous, cavalier—I think one might almost say brutal—way in which the Auxiliary squadrons had the hangar doors banged in their faces without a word of warning, explanation or apology, is not a happy example of the way to treat one of the most truly voluntary and active Service organisations in the country. While accepting the operational argument against the fighter squadrons, as I do, I find it difficult to see why no way could be found of transferring that magnificent spirit into some other activity in support of the country, because those men were working for the country and were prepared to live and die for it—and there 591 they are in the street. I do not want that to rankle, but I think we should always remember it as the supreme example—we all make mistakes—of what not to do and how not to handle men. I am sure we can be confident that nothing like that will happen in the handling of this terrific problem which faces the Minister and the Services.
I think I can appreciate to some extent how difficult this problem is if one accepts the urgency of some specific action. After all, it must take months, and in some respects years, to work out all the implications of a new policy. But I fear that this question of morale cannot be left untouched for months. I would sooner that it was not left untouched for days. I suggest it would be of immense use if only a few landmarks could be restored for each of the Services, landmarks on which people can recover their bearings and focus their esprit de corps. The first loyalty in any of the Services is to the unit—the ship, the regiment or the squadron. I recognise, and it is obvious, that no finality can be given at that level for many months, and probably for years. But at the other end of the scale the ultimate loyalty is, of course, to the Service itself. If that foundation is sure, then the more local loyalties, the regiment, the squadron, the ship and that sort of thing, could, I think, be given time to settle down. But as things are that very foundation is no longer sure. There is widespread uncertainty as to the very future existence of each of the Services.
There has been considerable discussion outside and in your Lordships' House on the subject of what is called integration, and I think that that is largely responsible for a good deal of the unrest. Personally, I have always been a firm and practising Trinitarian. Admittedly, the Trinity is not always easy to work, but the very fact that there has to be discussion and argument before decision ensures that the decision is at least well balanced. In fact, the Trinity, although, as I say. I have been one of them, quite often can work extremely well. On the other hand, I believe it is true that inter-Service rivalry (which I would regard as being healthy) can, when it gets near the top, near Whitehall, develop into internecine warfare between Departments. For that reason, coupled 592 with these revolutionary changes in the nature of war, I am now inclined to be a Unitarian at the top while remaining a firm Trinitarian all the way below.
I believe that the absorption of the three Service Ministries—and the Ministry of Supply, so that the customer and the producer can once again get into direct contact, but that is rather a side issue—into one real Ministry of Defence might well lead to valuable economies. It might also lead to fewer compromises and more and quicker decisions. I do not know, but I can see that that is the trend. On the purely military side, I see no really serious obstacles to such an amalgamation. I agree, of course, that steps have to be taken to improve joint staff planning and that sort of thing; but there is no difficulty about that. After all, there is nothing new about joint staffs; we have had them for many years, we have some now, and they are working perfectly well. As I see it, the new, and real, Ministry of Defence would have a joint staff for each of the main fields of work—operations, intelligence, personnel, supply, finance and so on. That joint staff would be fed from lower down by subordinate specialist branches (land, sea and air) which might possibly in the course of evolution merge themselves into joint branches. I can see the amalgamation spreading downwards.
But—and to my mind it is a vital "but"—employment on this joint staff and appointment to this Ministry of Defence should never divorce an officer or man from his parent Service, its uniform and its traditions. I am glad that there has been virtually no support in your Lordships' House during this debate for that egregious Frankenstein, a single Defence Service. The esprit de corps—which means literally the very life of each of our fighting Services, because, after all, there can be no life unless there is spirit in the body—depends utterly and finally on the traditions and history of each Service. It is those very foundations which have been so gravely shaken during the past three or four weeks.
I realise that it is impossible at this stage clearly to define the future rôle of each Service, but we cannot wait for the report of the Committee to clear this main issue. Some firm basis is urgently needed. I hope that the noble Earl who is to sum up this debate will 593 be able to tell us clearly, and without any question, that under the new policy the three Services will continue to operate closer than ever before but still each with its entity clear and untouched. If he can do that, I think it will be well possible to check the demoralisation which is now threatening not only the Services as they are now but the whole voluntary basis of the new policy. My Lords, I believe the new policy to be right; but its success or its failure now and in the future will depend on the human factor.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, it was quite evident, while the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, was speaking, how deeply your Lordships were impressed by his speech; and without wishing in any way to seem uncomplimentary to other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, I think it may be said, and will be found, that Lord Tedder's speech has largely dominated the debate and will undoubtedly have a profound effect upon future thoughts on defence matters.
To come to the White Paper, I think largely it emphasises past mistakes, omissions and neglects; the failure in the past to come to decisions about the shape of things to come. In that respect, the White Paper undoubtedly marks a very considerable advance, and certainly it puts an end for ever to the saying that we are "preparing for the next war in terms of the last"—the saying which the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk quoted. I think the noble Earl was amply justified in applying the adjective "cordial" to the reception which this White Paper has had. It still, however, leaves us very dependent upon the United States, and that dependence may, now and again, influence us to conform our foreign policy to hers.
We are committed to the deterrent, but the White Paper puts major reliance for the nuclear deterrent upon the United States of America. The White Paper also says that as we cannot afford two full-scale deterrents, the nuclear and conventional deterrents, we are reducing on the conventional side and are really putting our faith in the "big bang", instead of in mere numbers. This position is forced upon us: we are not entirely acting, I imagine, upon free will. The White Paper represents a military 594 rationalisation of our economic necessities. The policy is not a choice, perhaps, but something forced upon us by our economy, by new strategic conceptions and by tardy recognition of past technological shortcomings which have accumulated over many years.
I feel that one of the most satisfactory features of the defence position at the present moment is that we have at long last got a Defence Minister who looks like staying where he is for a considerable time ahead. The White Paper emphasises the undesirability of changing defence policies. My Lords, it is even more undesirable to keep on changing Defence Ministers; and these changes in the policy which the White Paper deplores proceed very largely from the too frequent changes of Defence Ministers. The Prime Minister has given the Minister of Defence new powers, very sweeping, very remarkable new powers, which, if used, will turn him into a real Defence Minister. Because I think that past Defence Ministers have been handicapped by not having these powers which have now been given to Mr. Sandys. I can only say that I hope he will use them to the full. Of course his new powers are at the expense, to some extent, of the political heads of the Defence Services, but I think that has been obvious ever since 1936, when the question of setting up a Defence Ministry was first spoken about in another place. I remember (if I may strike a personal note) that, while I favoured the policy of setting up a Defence Minister, I wrote a letter at that time to the Spectator, pointing out that this must inevitably be to the detriment of the position of the political heads of the Defence Services, who would be reduced to something in the nature of Parliamentary Secretaries.
With the reduction contemplated, I wonder how long it will be justifiable to maintain separate Ministries for the three Services—for instance, a very large Admiralty establishment to administer a very attenuated Navy. I was encouraged in my view by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, who appeared to me to find merits in a unified Defence Ministry, though not a unified Defence Service. I think myself that a great deal of integration is bound to come. It will, of course, meet with much obstruction. The United States passed an Act as long 595 ago as 1847 providing for a unified Service, but that has not yet come about; and I gather from what I read and am told that one of the main reasons why it has not come about is that none of the three Services believe that any other Service can do their particular job. The Navy does not feel that the Air Force can do its job; the Air Force reciprocates; and both the Navy and the Air Force are reluctant to confide their functions to the Army. That, I believe, is why the proposal has made no progress in the United States. Nevertheless, there is one thing I have always advocated and which I feel is possible and would be good—that is, that there should be one Defence Estimate, instead of the three Service Estimates. I think if the Minister of Defence could present one Defence Estimate the country would get a much clearer idea of our defence needs. That would put an end to a great deal of the argument which goes on between the three Services to-day about their "slice of the cake."
There is another point I should like to make (it has been referred to), about the criticism abroad of our White Paper and the new policy it adumbrates. I do not think the White Paper need or ought to have surprised our Allies in the least. If one looks back, it follows completely logically upon the policy which has been developing during the past three years; that defence policy must be within our means; that it must be based on deterrent weapons, and that it must provide for the small mobile force. If we look back to the past White Papers we can see that thread running right through them. To-day's policy is a completely logical outcome of the White Papers of the past, and therefore I do not think it ought to have surprised our Allies or that it gives them any just cause for criticism.
Now, my Lords, I come to a few slightly critical remarks on the White Paper. It is stated in the White Paper that the new policy "has been clear for some time", and we seem to have been slow in developing (again I quote) the "new and ever more formidable weapons".
I do not wish to hold the United States up as an example and as perfect in everything, but the United States of 596 America long ago embarked upon what the White Paper terms a "comprehensive re-shaping of policy", and a re-shaping of policy upon which we are only now embarking in earnest. Certainly it is always difficult to foresee the future, but the attempt to do so has to be made, and in the past, perhaps, the attempt has not been very coherent. I recognise, too, that one difficulty about this "crystal-gazing" is that the scientists are always coming along with some new weapon or piece of equipment which completely outstrips the planners—some "toy" always more complicated, always more expensive. It may have been natural that the planners should say, "Well, we must wait and see how these things work out." They have been waiting for the new things which the scientists have been planning or producing for them. But the best is the enemy of the good, and the time arrives when it is necessary for the Government to make decisions about their plans. I welcome the White Paper for that reason, if for no others.
But even taking the White Paper as it is, so satisfactory, there is still a good deal of "crystal ball" stuff in it. If one reads through it carefully, one comes across these phrases:…Britain…must possess an appreciable element of nuclear deterrent power…atomic bombs are…in…production…A British megaton weapon has now been developed….We are told that ballistic rockets are intended; and that we are to have missiles from the United States, but not their warheads. I would ask: where will the warheads be stored, and what will be the procedure for getting hold of them? Then again, we see these words in the White Paper:A manned fighter force…will progressively be equipped with air-to-air missiles…Fighter aircraft will…be replaced by a ground-to-air guided missile system.We see also that bombers based on Cyprus are to have nuclear weapons, and that the Navy is to rely upon guided missiles. I do not think we have a guided-missile ship to-day.
In all these quotations (I do not wish to weary your Lordships by giving the precise reference, although I have noted them) there is so much of what I call "crystal ball stuff." The emphasis is all upon what we are going to have, what we hope we shall have some day; but 597 there is an absence of any definite information about what we have at this moment and when we may hope or expect to have these things. We are told that atomic artillery "will be introduced" to mitigate the reduction in B.A.O.R.; that the Second Tactical Air Force "will be provided with atomic bombs"—and so it goes on. I do not wish to be too critical on this point because I realise the past difficulties of the planners. But they are difficulties which have been overcome in the United States, particularly in the Navy. They decided a long time ago on what sort of a Navy they were going to have, and they now have it.
The White Paper shows a great deal of emphasis upon missiles. We must not, however, underrate what is involved in developing the missile service. The noble Lord, Lord Tedder, referred to what went on in the United States. I think we all realise the gigantic effort and the colossal sums of money that America has put into that job in the past decade, and of course they are very far ahead. The Army now has three, and two projects; the Air Force has two, and six or seven missiles developing; and the Navy, I believe, has some seven missiles, and one project.
My Lords, I have no wish or intention to turn this debate into a foreign affairs debate, although it is extremely difficult to separate the two questions of foreign affairs and defence. But the White Paper says that the large forces abroad are necessitated largely by our foreign policy. I cannot refrain from pointing out that our foreign policy has brought us into great dangers. The great thing, surely, is to have a policy which avoids the risk of major war. But Suez brought us within sight of such a war. It brought us the threat of a rocket attack, and if that had matured, could we have retaliated in kind? The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said—I hope that I have it right—something about "We can give as good as we get,"or", We shall be able to give as good as we get."
§ LORD WINSTER
But we are certainly not in a position to do so at the present moment, while we are relying upon the United States. Had that threat matured, it would have been difficult for the United States to come to our rescue in consequence of a policy against which she protested so bitterly.
598 Then there is the question of Cyprus. That has torn a gash in the right flank of N.A.T.O. It locks up large forces which the White Paper is so anxious to see brought home. It keeps two N.A.T.O. States at loggerheads. Greece will not even join in N.A.T.O. manœuvres; the Greco-Turkish-Yugoslav understanding has been disrupted by what is happening in Cyprus. Yet, with the island no nearer a settlement—and nobody can regret that more than myself—we propose to establish a nuclear bomber force there. The present Prime Minister, when he was Foreign Secretary, admitted the right of Cyprus to self-determination. How can the Government possibly reconcile the decision to establish a nuclear bomber force in the island with the principle of self-determination? Again, the White Paper says that Britain has been relieved of responsibility in Jordan. Are we relieved of responsibility there? Are we prepared to see Jordan dismembered? If not, Jordan is still a British commitment.
Then we come to the point mentioned in paragraph 10. I hope that other countries of the free world recognise that defence must be collective. This involves the N.A.T.O. system of quotas from the Member States, yet the obligations have not been honoured. What is the prospect of the promises in regard to collective defence, if any existed, being honoured in the future? There is one point that I should like to mention here. I think the idea of this integrated force—this force for collective defence—emphasises the need for the highest possible degree of standardisation and for-avoidance of duplication. In these matters I cannot help feeling that the American laws about secrecy may to some extent be a handicap. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, asked yesterday why we need test the H-bomb, when America had carried out the test, so that we know the thing will go off. Do we know that? Is it a standardised H-bomb? Are the American and British H-bombs standardised? If they are not, if there are things that the Americans have devised of which we are not in possession, then the argument that, because America has tested the H-bomb successfully we need not, falls completely to the ground. I do not know what is the position on that.
Some critical remarks have been made about the defence of the civil population. 599 The impossibility of such defence is, of course, a truism. We have no monopoly of defencelessness; but I notice that paragraph 17 says that the defence of bomber bases is "feasible". Perhaps something will grow from that, for if it is feasible to defend bomber bases from nuclear attack, then as time goes on it may become possible to give civilians more adequate defence than is possible at the present moment, because the whole history of weapons goes to show that, in the long run, the defensive always overtakes the offensive. Meanwhile, although there is a certain inconsistency in the White Paper, when it is said that, though we cannot defend the civilian population, nevertheless some planning for civil defence must go on, I think that is perfectly right. Let us have the training, because even if 100 per cent. of that training is found to be impossible, something, at any rate, will be found possible which will be of great help to the civilian population.
How time moves on! I remember the horror when the earlier nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan. They have now become conventional weapons. I understand that the tactical nuclear weapon that we propose to employ is the equivalent of the bombs dropped on Japan. No doubt it will take its honoured place among the weapons of chivalry; but I find it difficult to reconcile all the protests about tests of the H-bomb while we are accepting as a conventional tactical weapon a bomb equivalent to that dropped on Japan.
I think that the paragraphs about the Royal Navy are best discussed when the Navy Estimates come along, when the question of redundancy of dockyards and their modernisation will have to be taken up. Something has been said in this debate about the large Russian submarine fleet. I am in possession of no secrets, but from what I hear a very effective "reception committee" has been arranged for those Russian submarines—so much so that I have been wondering whether vodka is to be added to the medical stores which our warships carry, in order to afford a little comfort to the survivors. One thing I notice from this White Paper, taking it at its literal value and having regard to what has been said in your Lordships' House in the past about the Royal Air Force and the Royal 600 Navy, and about how the Air Force can do the Royal Navy's job; it seems to me that manned aircraft are much more likely to go before we have such a thing as an unmanned ship. The Navy seems to be coming back into its own.
I should like to add my voice in support of what was said yesterday by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, about the effectiveness of Transport Command. I could not agree with the noble Lord in his suggestion that R.A.F. Transport Command should take over the work at present done by the independent air lines, because, as I understand it, those independent air lines are dependent on the trooping work that they get; and if that work were to be taken away from them I believe that it would mean the end of the independent air lines. My own wish is that they might get better contracts for that trooping work, which would enable them to buy modern replacements—something they are unable to do at present. But the necessity for an effective Transport Command is one of our most urgent needs, for even if we were to treble the existing Transport Command that would not give us the required mobility for our Mobile Reserve. That will give some idea of the size of the task of producing an effective Transport Command.
I do not know how many Comet IIs are in service, but I believe that there are thirteen Britannias on order and that only about twelve Britannias are being produced each year. I do not know whether the R.A.F. has an option on the whole yearly production; if not, it looks as if it will be some time before Transport Command gets those Britannias. I must also endorse, if I may, what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside and Lord Tedder about the gamble which Her Majesty's Government are taking in dropping the development of the supersonic bomber. To do so seems to me to discard the idea of insurance against delays with the rockets and missiles which are coming along. Surely we have learned from the past that in these matters there nearly always is delay, for things never come out on the predicted date. The development of the P1 and the supersonic bomber were surely an insurance against such delays.
On the question of manpower, I have to confess that I am very doubtful 601 whether the Services will be able to get along without National Service. I regret having to say that, but I honestly believe that they will have very great difficulty. How do Her Majesty's Government propose to get the improvements in recruiting and to get skilled men of the type required? To do so they will have to make the conditions approximate as nearly as possible to the standards prevailing in civilian life. Generals in the Army have condemned the barracks in the most sweeping terms. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has over and over again urged action in regard to deficiencies in the arrangements for the education of children of R.A.F. men. The Navy has always been a dedicated life, and unfortunately the spirit of self-dedication is to-day getting a little rarer than it has been in the past.
The White Paper says that reserve forces have an important part to play, but paragraph 57 is very discouraging to the reserves; and generally the upset in the Service, referred to by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, must have a most unfortunate effect upon morale. In that respect one must remember that the training of the men depends upon rather junior officers, and it must be very difficult for them to throw their whole hearts into the essential work of training while they feel that their own future is so much in danger. I hope that I have not spoken too long and wearied your Lordships, but I have tried to call attention to some of the inconsistencies in the White Paper. Behind these reductions which the White Paper foreshadows lies the fact that the expense of modern arms and equipment is enormous. We simply cannot build six "Forrestals" of 68,000 tons: we just have not the money. The expense is tremendous. Moreover the scientists are always coming along with something more expensive. So I feel that the defence plan is a marked advance. It is a coherent plan to cut our military coat according to our economic cloth and to give us the best fitting military coat that we can get. My final word is that I feel that a good deal of the White Paper lies in the future. "Hope springs eternal" in the critic's breast—and certainly in this critic's breast.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, like Lord Winster, I am sure that every Member of your Lordships' House who heard it must 602 have been deeply impressed with the great speech of Lord Tedder. While I was listening to it I could not help regretting very much that there was not one of our senior officers of the Royal Navy—of whom we have several in this House—who could also have taken part in this debate; for while people like myself may intervene, who in the world can be expected to attach the smallest importance to what we say? We try to express our opinions, but they are all lumped into the wastepaper basket—and quite rightly. But after a speech like that of Lord Tedder, I feel that if only we could have had something equivalent from the Navy, and perhaps also from the Army, what a great advantage it would have been to this debate and perhaps to the country as a whole!
Now I turn to the White Paper. I have studied it from the point of view of the Navy. I cannot help remarking that there is much speculation in the White Paper as to what is likely to happen in another war. Is it going to be a nuclear war? Is it going to be a conventional war? Or what sort of war is it going to be? My Lords, while wars and weapons may change, the essential problems, I submit, still remain. The White Paper seems to be quite uncertain as to what is the rôle of the Navy. Surely, with regard to the rôle of the Navy, whether the war be a nuclear war or a war of conventional weapons the central problems remain: how to safeguard the trade routes; how to get the food in, and how to get the oil in—and without oil, what is to happen to the Air Force?
It seems to me that anyone who studies the naval history of the last two great world wars must come to the conclusion that the essential problem of the Navy remains exactly the same as it was, and that it does not depend on whether the nuclear battle is going to be immediately decisive. You will get the submarine attack just the same as in the last war, and you may well get it in an intensified form, because of the enormous submarine force which the Russians have available if they decide to use it. If Russia were going to war with the West, I submit that these submarines, as in the case of the German submarines in the last war, would all be out in the Atlantic on their positions to attack our trade routes, whether the war were a nuclear war or 603 not. And no doubt they would develop their attack to the utmost.
Paragraph 37 of the White Paper stresses the importance of the aircraft carrier. Of course it is a very important class of ship, but I think we ought to remember that when the aircraft carrier has flown off her aircraft she is just a "sitting rabbit" and nothing else. She is a very vulnerable type of ship indeed. Paragraph 38 of the White Paper says that there is going to be a small number of aircraft carrier groups. Of course the number will be small, because we have so few of these ships. We have four first-class operational aircraft carriers—one will be in process of modernisation—and that is almost all we have got. In the course of a little time we might reinforce them by two more; but we cannot reckon on more than four aircraft carriers as immediately available. One of them has to be in the Indian Ocean; therefore we shall have three aircraft groups—task groups if you like—which will be operating somewhere in the Atlantic.
Paragraph 38 of the White Paper also tells us that cruisers are to be reduced and replaced by ships of the "Tiger" class. Great play is made with the "Tiger" class. No doubt they will be—at least I hope they will be—very formidable ships. But, remember, you are talking only about twelve six-inch guns. Surely there are going to be secondary automatic guns and various conventional weapons also. These are new ships, comparatively speaking, though they have been lying in the Gareloch seven or eight years or more. But they are not comparable with the older, formidable type of cruiser such as the battle cruiser or something of the sort. We are going to scrap all battleships and the Reserve Fleet. It is easy enough to scrap the Reserve Fleet, but we cannot reproduce operational ships in a day. One only hopes that the decision in this connection will prove to be a wise one.
Paragraph 59 of the White Paper suggests that we are relying on ballistic rockets and guided missiles. What degree of importance can we attach to a ballistic rocket and a guided missile? We have never been told what the chances are of registering hits with guided missiles at 604 very long ranges and on objects which are, perhaps, completely out of sight. I hope that the Government will be able, at some time, to give a little more information on these weapons, so that the country may be able to judge of their efficiency.
Paragraph 72 of the White Paper produces a most menacing remark. It says that as the active Navy is reduced "proportionately more civilians will be employed". I think that that is perfectly appalling. I suppose it is only a relative remark but there it is. One would have thought that if the Fighting Services were to be reduced, civilians who minister to their needs and requirements in the Service Ministries would also suffer an equivalent reduction of numbers. But it appears that so far as the Navy is concerned that is not likely to happen.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, perhaps I might intervene on this point. That statement does not really apply to the Royal Navy, because the structure of the other Services is rather different.
§ EARL HOWE
I am grateful to the noble Earl for the correction, which is a welcome one.
Having made those few preliminary remarks, may I say that the White Paper is one of the things which we have available to guide us in reaching a decision. It is supported by the First Lord's Explanatory Statement which we shall have the opportunity of discussing in the future. But there is one other circumstance in respect of which I should like to pay a most wholehearted tribute. I was lucky enough to be one of those who attended the last session of the Commonwealth Naval Conference at Greenwich the other day. In the course of my duties as a subsidiary naval officer, I have been through two advanced courses and I know occasions of this sort rather well. Never in my life have I been to anything half so interesting or excellently organised as was this Conference.
It enabled those lucky enough to be there to have a much greater appreciation of the organisation of the Navy generally and of the value of the various weapons, changes in tactics, and so on, and I am certain that it enabled us to realise that the Navy is keeping up with the changes in events and the employment of 605 the new weapons that it has to use. I was simply thrilled with this Conference. The only difficulty was that so much was fired at us at the time that rather than a brain one ought to have had something like a tape recorder in one's head to take it all in. I should like the noble Earl the First Lord to realise how deeply grateful one of the people who was there is for being given the chance of attending such a wonderful occasion. I would not have missed it for the world.
As I have said, the rôle of the Navy is to safeguard the trade routes. There is a terrific potential attack developing overseas and an attack on our trade routes may be vital. If successful, it could bring us to our knees without any necessity for a hostile Power to discharge nuclear weapons at us. In fact, I cannot help wondering whether we are right in assuming that there will ever be a nuclear attack on this country. It might well be argued that the Russians would use their gigantic submarine fleet, all in full commission—not submarines just hurriedly commissioned and sent out in twenty-four hours—in such force as to cut the Atlantic lifelines completely. If they did that, what would be the public reaction? If we were not using the nuclear weapon, the public might well expect the Government to use it. The public might say, "We have these weapons and we must use them"—in which case, no doubt, we should be repaid in kind from overseas, and there it would be. I submit that if we had to do this, we might-be in a terrible position. Are we likely to be able to get merchant seamen to take our merchant ships to sea unless they have some assurance that they will be adequately protected? That is a matter which should receive consideration: no doubt it has. Lt is assumed by some people that the next war is going to end in a few days, in a nuclear bombardment and counter bombardment; but will it? Nobody can say that for certain; it is a matter of speculation and individual opinion.
Let me take the Navy as we see it to-day and as outlined in the White Paper. We have no hint of any replacement of aircraft carriers. We have some eight to eleven at the present time and no further programme whatever is contemplated. We have perhaps three "Tigers", but, apart from that, nothing whatever is con- 606 templated. We shall have four guided-missile ships, perhaps in 1965 but not before, and there is no programme for further construction of these ships. No doubt that is intelligible, because they are largely experimental; but there it is. Twelve frigates are to be constructed in 1957 and twenty-one are under construction, but no more are ordered. No destroyers are to be ordered and no Fleet training ships. Three maintenance ships are to be taken in hand and it will be at least five years before we see anything of them. The effect of all this on the Navy is that existing ships are getting older all the time and there will be nothing effectively to replace them before 1965. I think we are allowing the Navy to run down to a very large and dangerous extent.
Will the Government tell us what size of Navy we are likely to have in ten years' time? That is an important point and we ought to be told; otherwise we have no means of gauging the position. Could they tell us what the guided missiles will be able to do, and when will the Navy first have them? Can guided missiles be fouled? I should like to know, because it is really important. If these missiles can be fouled by the enemy, we have achieved but little. I submit these questions in the hope that they will be answered, because we cannot fight a war on blueprints or any sort of rhetorical humbug. What we must have is concrete and definite information, which only the Government are in a position to give.
There is not much in the White Paper to show that the Minister of Defence has a real, first-class appreciation of the problems of the Navy. We need to know the sort of Navy we shall have and the sort of war it will have to fight. It becomes more and more important that we should be told what can happen. So far as the submarine menace is concerned, at the present time we appear to have only some 200 ships, all told, and we cannot focus all these at one time in mid-Atlantic or even on the Western approaches, because we have always to allow for a proportion of ships re-fitting and not available, and when we have finished scrapping and relegating to the Reserve Fleet we shall have practically nothing to fall back upon. The same old choice is forced upon us: guns versus 607 butter. Since the war we have been trying to run a Welfare State and keep up our Services to the requirements of N.A.T.O. It does not seem to me that the country can do both. We have always had the choice before us of the Welfare State or the adequate defence of the country. Well, the White Paper has made its choice.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, before the noble Earl resumes his seat, I wonder whether he would allow me to ask him a question? I did not want to interrupt him when he was speaking. I understood him to say that when a carrier has flown off her aircraft, she is then defenceless. Is it not the case that a carrier carries her own fighter protection over and above the strike aircraft which she carries?
§ 5.50 p.m.
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, mentioned the Greenwich Conference which he and I, among other noble Lords, were invited to attend last week. I should be glad if the First Lord would convey our sincere appreciation to the Board of Admiralty. My business has largely to do with the theatre, and I see a great many productions in the course of a year; but I have never seen a better one than that produced by Vice-Admiral Pedder and his directing staff. I should like to assure him that I would gladly recommend him to any of the West End theatre managers when he retires from the Navy, because I am sure he would be an acquisition to the London stage.
The Defence White Paper has tried, perhaps for the first time, to outline the drastic changes necessary in all three Services to fit them to cope, so far as possible, with any situation which may arise in the foreseeable future. That, of course, is an extremely difficult task, because one has to consider the cold war, limited war and global war. It is quite impossible to cover all risks within the limits of our 608 economic resources; and, therefore, as is stated in the White Paper, it is necessary to decide which requirements are the most urgent. There are many unknown quantities. It is true to say that the rôles of the Army and the Royal Air Force have been almost completely transformed by nuclear weapons, nuclear strategy and tactics. But I think it is an extraordinary thing that three speakers, all ex-officers of the Navy, have come to the same conclusion—namely, that the rôle of the Navy is not, as stated in the White Paper, somewhat uncertain, but is quite clear; and it is, as it was from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1939 to 1945—and, indeed, as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said, as it has been throughout history—to protect our shipping from attack by hostile craft, which in modern times are mainly submarines but which also include surface vessels. If that rôle is not fulfilled, with the help of the Air Arm, our island will be paralysed and the people will be starved, due to the loss of overseas communications. I might interpolate here that oil will play an even more important part in any future war, and greater stocks than ever will have to be transported to this country.
I am glad to see that the carrier task force is indicated in the White Paper as a major rôle. I am particularly pleased about this, because some of your Lordships may remember that it is something I have advocated strongly in many debates in your Lordships' House. It is the only way of getting an air striking force to a remote part of the world in the event of a sudden outbreak of limited war, It has already been proved in the Korean campaign how necessary the aircraft carrier and the mobile air arm are. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, intervened on the remark of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, about the "sitting duck". Of course, the answer is that in an operational carrier, properly conducted by a competent air officer, the landings and take-offs are so arranged that the carrier is never without protection. There are always certain aircraft "at the ready" to protect the ship, quite apart from any guided missiles with which either the escorts or the carrier itself may be armed.
Paragraph 24 of the White Paper visualises two possible forms of global war. It talks about an all-out nuclear bombardment which would end the war 609 in a few weeks, or even days, in which case (it states) the Navy would have little or no part to play. Then it goes on to say that there is a possibility that the nuclear battle might not be decisive, and that there would be attacks on our Atlantic communications, in which case the Navy would be needed. I notice that the White Paper does not use the phrase "broken back", which is now rather out of fashion. I venture to suggest that a third possibility should have been mentioned. I believe it is quite feasible that several hundred hostile submarines would be sent to prearranged stations all over the world, and that the war might well start by all-out submarine warfare.
Yes, unidentified submarines. This would make our situation extremely difficult, and would perhaps put us in the position of having to take the initiative in nuclear action. It would certainly be very bewildering, and a most difficult situation to cope with. I should like to remind your Lordships of something which was said by Marshal Zhukov. He, a soldier, said:The struggle at sea may be more important in a future war than in any war in the past.That is a remark of which we must take great account.
Another serious matter, to my mind, is that the submarine has absolutely no value whatever in the cold war; so that these 500 Russian submarines must have beets built for use in global or "all-out" war; there can be no other reason for their being built; and the Russians are able to increase those numbers by some 30 a year. I would remind your Lordships that the Germans started the last war with only 57 submarines. In view of what I have said, I do not think there is sufficient emphasis in the White Paper on providing the Navy with the means to cope with the submarine menace, whether it be anti-submarine vessels or anti-submarine air squadrons.
In that connection, I should like to appeal to the First Lord with regard to the Naval air squadrons. I accept that the disbandment of the fighter squadrons, as in the case of the R.A.F. Auxiliary squadrons, may have been necessary. I will not enter into that argument one way 610 or the other. But there were, in addition, a small number of R.N.V.R. antisubmarine squadrons, which were highly trained in this technical art of antisubmarine warfare. I should like to appeal for the technical knowledge of these squadrons to remain available to the Navy. I believe that a way could be found for doing this. These young men have been tremendously enthusiastic arid have put in long hours, both in the air and in training on the ground. I am sure that they are vitally necessary, because all anti-submarine knowledge will be needed, should war unfortunately come.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to suggest that he might perhaps add a corollary to his argument? So long as the submarine danger was regarded as one of our certain dangers in a new war, it was accepted that it should be met partly by defence against the submarine, but partly also by a carefully considered provision of stores of food and raw materials in this country. The stores have been run down on the assumption that, with the prospect of a nuclear war, this submarine danger does not hold the place that it did. If we return, as the noble Lord is suggesting, to the submarine as a principal danger, should there not be the same counterpart that was recognised before, of storage of materials in this country?
The noble Lord has made a good point. I am not dealing with this particular question of storage, but I agree with him that it is something that ought to be considered.
I should like to mention Coastal Command. I am not entering in any way into the take-over bids mentioned by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, but I would say that Coastal Command is dangerously small and that there is another factor to be considered. In the last war, when necessity arose, the Royal Air Force was able to reinforce Coastal Command from Bomber Command, because the aircraft of Bomber Command were easily adaptable to Coastal Command operation and use. I think the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, will agree with me that that would be quite impossible in any future war, and that the modern bomber could not possibly be used to reinforce Coastal Command. I do not wish to detain your Lordships 611 any longer, except to say once more that I hope the very real menace of the submarine will not be underestimated when planning for the future.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I intend to devote myself to one subject only—a very important one—and that is the care of the population of this country, which means the civil defence of the population with all the institutions in our towns. We had it in the last war, and before the war actually came the doctors in all towns in the country were given an instruction what to do in the case of an attack on the towns where they lived and on the institutions in which hospital and other work was carried on. It became an elaborate organisation. I know about it, because I took over the whole London area and I gave the instruction to doctors in the London area on which they acted during the war. It meant an extensive organisation of the medical profession, and, of course, the setting up of places where people could be detained and treated and given some chance of recovery. Without that the morale of the civil population would have gone down to zero.
It is essential in the case of a war such as we had, and such as we shall have again if, unfortunately, we have another war, to maintain the morale of the civilian population. The best way to do that is to be sure that, so far as possible, everyone who is physically affected in the attack is treated and looked after very quickly indeed. Unless that is done the population will get into a state of nervous irritation and hysteria. They will not carry out their work properly and they will be afraid of living under those conditions. No Government could possibly leave out the organisation on a large scale of civil defence, which, incidentally, will need the employment of a large number of doctors all over the country, with special hospitals and special methods of treatment, and so on.
I do not propose at this hour of the night and at this stage of the debate—and this is only one part of it—to do more than emphasise what I have said, because it is essential to realise that unless the civil population are looked after in that respect the whole of the 612 nation might easily go to pieces. It is not easy to do this work. There will be a great demand for doctors, and instead of the rather objectionable remarks which have been made about them and which we have seen in the Press, they will be the people regarded most highly, with nothing but praise for their activities. There is always the question of the organisation of men and women who will take part in hospital work and take the people from where they have been injured to hospital. They will take on the whole duties of Civil Defence as we knew it in the last war. That will be a complicated business, but it is a way of maintaining morale, which is a valuable thing. It is essential that it should be well done, because if civil defence is not well done, and if the people in their homes are not protected as well as they might be—if they get into a state of hysteria and a state of complete breakdown of morale—then there will be catastrophe, and we shall be beaten whether or not the enemy send down more bombs on the towns than they have already sent at the time when morale begins to deteriorate. It is necessary to remember how vital it is to have this treatment of the civilian population on a large scale. In every inhabited area there must be an organisation of this kind, and that is going to be a very big affair.
§ 6.9 p.m.
My Lords, coming to the end of a very long and interesting debate, I will attempt to be brief, like the noble Lord who has just sat down. But, along with so many noble Lords who have spoken, both yesterday and to-day, I should like to welcome the White Paper which we are now discussing, in that it brings a sense of realism into our thinking. That does not mean, by any means, that I necessarily agree with all the conclusions. I certainly agree with paragraph 6, in that our military power obviously depends upon the health of our internal economy, on which, in turn, depends our influence in the world. I agree, again, that it must be recognised that our present defence expenditure places too large a burden on our economy, though even there I think some qualification is needed in the sense that the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, referred to it when he was talking of the importance 613 of scientific research and its benefit to the country as a whole. I agree, also, that one cannot put the clock back as if all the present-day scientific developments had never been. We have to face the facts as they are now, unpleasant though they may be.
Lastly, I agree that at some point the break has to be made which is being made now, or is indicated now, by the White Paper. When it comes, that break is liable to carry with it some degree of risk. All that being so, I do not dispute the general decision for drastic reductions over the years in the three Services, and in the case of the Army the decision to get back to a comparatively small, highly efficient, mobile force. I might have added one further word there, a "professional" force, but I want to say something about that particular aspect in a moment. What I am less assured about, and a point to which many noble Lords have also referred, is the method of carrying our this reduction and whether in fact it will work.
That brings me to the two points I want to make, both of which arise from paragraph 47 of the White Paper in which the announcement is made of the intention to end National Service in 1960. The first point refers to this question of Regular recruitment to the Regular Army which, I understand, is intended to be of the order of 160,000 men, or slightly more. At the moment the figures I have seen show that we have fewer than 80,000 men serving on engagements over three years. The question then arises: how is the gap to be filled? The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, speaking last night—I read his speech—sensed a lack of confidence in Ministers' statements in another place as to whether that gap could in fact be closed. I must admit that I am inclined to agree with him on that point. Indeed, reading between the lines of paragraph 52 of the White Paper, I think the doubt is implicit there. We have been told that some 5,000 to 7,000 officers and about the same number of warrant officers and non-commissioned officers are to become redundant. I suggest that, however generous he terms may be for ending their service—and I pray that they will be generous—it is a bad beginning to any recruiting campaign. It is not much encouragement to the young men themselves, and, what is important even in these days, it is not 614 likely to encourage their parents to give them the sort of advice we should like.
That brings me to paragraph 53. I entirely agree with that paragraph when it says that it is not merely a matter of pay; it is also a matter of quarters and amenities. But it is not merely a matter of that kind. There is also the question of looking ahead many years to the future employment of those individuals when they come out of the service—when their long-term engagements come to an end. But, to my mind, even that does not really get down to one of the fundamental problems that arise. Surely, the intention behind the change of policy stems primarily, as has already been said, from scientific discovery; and from there we go to the development of nuclear and other increasingly technical forms of equipment. It follows, I think, that, whatever the necessity may be—I do not dispute it—for infantry in its normal sense, the new Army as envisaged must surely become increasingly a force of specialists and technicians, highly-skilled ones with just those skills and aptitudes which are so much in demand in industry to-day, for which industry is prepared to pay until it gets them and to which industry can give continuity of employment without any break. To my mind, it is that which points the nature of the problem which is facing us and which I believe a long-service Army will tend to accentuate rather than diminish, in a way that would never have been the case in days long since gone by when the Army relied on manpower, on the rifle and, perhaps I might also add, on the horse.
The young man of to-day, at home with—and, indeed, part of—the modern machine and scientific age, is surely more likely to be attracted to Service life for a few years when he is young than to a long-service career in the Army. Of course, there may be some counterbalance to that, in that men who have achieved those skills in the Service may be equipped when they come out—we do not know—with technical skills which, it can be argued, would readily be absorbed into civilian occupation. But, of course, their occupations must be in keeping with the station—with the rank, one may say—that they have achieved in the Services. I do not think we ought necessarily to take that easy demand too much for granted. 615 So I would say, on that point, that the question of Regular recruitment calls for more than an ordinary amount of thought. I am not asking my noble friend when he comes to reply for any answer on that point now. In fact, I should be sorry if he gave a short answer, because the answer that one wants is something more of an assurance that the wider, long-term aspects of this problem are being studied to the fullest possible extent.
Before I leave that point, I would make this observation. Paragraph 41 of the White Paper refers to thelong and honourable tradition of voluntary military servicethat we have known in this country. No one is prouder of that form of service than I am. But there is another tradition that hangs very close to it, and I wonder whether the time is not approaching when we ought to give serious thought in some degree to reversing the traditional idea of a long-service professional force. Is it in keeping with modern life, with all its complexities, scientific problems and so on, to-day? Ought we perhaps—I will not say more than this—to examine the alternative of trying to achieve a smaller, long-service element in the Army and, if not the retention of National Service on a more selective basis so that the numbers may be controlled, at any rate some extension on very attractive terms of the short-term engagement principle for the adventurous type of modern young man? When I say "attractive", I have in mind particularly the effect of a short engagement on those men who may be either interested in being apprentices or in university education.
That brings me to my second point. I want to say one word on the proposed ending of National Service as a whole. On financial grounds, on grounds of economy, I welcome it. It is obviously a popular decision, perhaps a natural step to take; but I do not think we ought to let it go by without recognising that we shall also be losing a great deal that is good. Undoubtedly, boys will start their careers earlier; they will have their careers in those early years unbroken. Industry will be pleased to be able to get those young men and to feel that they have got them indefinitely. I admit that there must be several young men who have gone into the Forces, done their National Service, and not come out the 616 better for it. But, my Lords, can we really dispute the fact that with a very large number of young men who have done their two years' National Service, that period of two years has been a period which in years to come they will themselves recognise as a period of permanent value, to themselves and their characters, both physically and, using the term in its widest sense, educationally.
I think we ought to ask ourselves whether that type of benefit, which we have had over the last fifteen years but which is perhaps not always recognised to the full, should be entirely lost to the nation. I have already mentioned paragraph 6 of the White Paper, referring to the importance of the internal economy of the country. Surely on a par with that, what I have just been saying is equally important under present demands; that is, the wellbeing of our manhood, with the added physique and stamina, the understanding of discipline and the increased self-confidence that National Service has obviously given to a great number of young men, as well as a wider knowledge of their fellow beings. All of that, and more in many cases, those two years have given those young men; and they will benefit from that all their lives.
I suggest that here we have a really serious matter that demands fundamental thought and study, so that even if National Service as we know it now comes to an end, some way might be thought out whereby something of what is best in National Service can be retained for the benefit of alt our young men of the future. I have not had an opportunity of discussing this point with my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, but I noticed that in his speech he differentiated between national training and National Service. I wonder whether this point that I am making was also at the back of the noble Viscount's mind when he made his argument. This is not the time to suggest ways and means of how this might be done, but I earnestly hope that some serious thought will be given to it. I do not know by whom it should be done; hardly entirely by the Ministry of Defence. Perhaps the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health—they are all interested. I will merely say, in conclusion, that in approving the White Paper which we have been discussing, and so 617 giving our approval to the intention to end National Service, we ought not to allow this very important matter for study to go by default.
§ 6.25 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, this debate which is held annually in your Lordships' House is always important, but to-day's debate has been more than ever so, because it is concerned with the revolutionary reorganisation of the Armed Forces which is consequent upon a new strategic conception. Given that the Government's strategic appreciation is correct, and given that the Government have seized the right time to put it into effect, then the adaptations which are necessary in the three Services are in some degree inevitable consequences. We shall be able on the different Service Estimates to return to the more detailed questions as they affect the individual Services, and I think that the task that I can best perform for the House to-night is to try to mobilise the general arguments for the White Paper and to consider some of the objections, and, indeed, to deal with the main themes of those who have spoken in this debate.
To the purely strategic reasons for the White Paper and for action, I must add the economic. A nation cannot exercise its maximum influence and cannot be an asset to its Allies if its economy is in a condition of chronic overstrain. For many years now in this country we have deliberately shouldered a burden of defence which has been really beyond our strength. We have done that deliberately. But now, with the astronomic costs of modern weapons, and the need to conserve manpower and direct it into the most productive channels, there was an inescapable duty on the Government to produce a defence plan which was within the earnings of the country. Of course, an obligation lies upon all of us in the country to earn sufficient wealth to cover a defence plan which will give us security. But our claim in this White Paper is that if this plan is completed, and when it is completed, we shall be able to shoulder a fair share of the defence of the free world, and it will be within the resources at our command.
My Lords, the strategic appreciation, to which I come now, faces the facts 618 of international life. We face a potential enemy who, if it pays him, will stop at nothing and for whom the end justifies the means. Russia has the capacity to wage total war, and she will be deterred from waging total war and from delivering that knockout which will give her world mastery, only if she has the knowledge that her bases and her country would be instantaneously subjected to the same kind of annihiliation. We are in one of those situations—and the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition rightly called attention to it yesterday—where we have to take the most horrible decisions; but they are no better and no easier if we shirk them, and there is no advantage, it seems to us, in postponing them. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion—and I think it is widely shared by our Allies and by the countries of the Commonwealth—that the free world must retain the nuclear deterrent.
If the free world retains the deterrent, the deterrent must be produced in this country, so that we may have an adequate supply which is absolutely under our own control. It is for that which this defence plan provides. We say that we must have the nuclear bomb; that we must make it, and that we must test it so that we and the world know it is, in fact, a real deterrent. Were we to forgo making the bomb, the United Kingdom would not only stand as a permanent temptation to an aggressor because of her weakness, but we should forfeit any foreign policy of our own. As I have gore round the world—no doubt like others of your Lordships who have travelled—I have found that the anxiety in foreign countries is not that Britain is strong, but lest Britain should be weak and undecided in her policies.
There is one way (the noble Lord, Lord Nathan called attention to it) in which the nations can save themselves from the hazards of radiation, such as they are or might become, and from the ultimate catastrophe of nuclear war; and that is by disarmament. The noble Lord was right to call attention to it, and, of course, there is little doubt that we could, if the will were there, arrive at a satisfactory disarmament scheme. But if such a scheme is to come into existence and be accepted by the free world, it would need to provide, first of all, a system of control and inspection which could not be 619 evaded, and, secondly, an agreed limit on conventional weapons. It is impossible to separate nuclear disarmament from disarmament in conventional weapons—or, rather, it is not impossible, but it would be folly.
If all nuclear weapons were to be abolished to-morrow, I need give only two illustrations of what would happen—one was given by Lord Tedder, and one, I think, by Lord St. Oswald yesterday, in that remarkable maiden speech. I hope he will come here often and speak to us again on subjects of which he has such knowledge and experience. The two illustrations are these: the enormous hordes of manpower which Russia and China possess, and the fact that even if all nuclear weapons were abolished Russia would have 500 submarines at her disposal to-day, and probably 700 in the year 1960. So any scheme of disarmament must be comprehensive and must include conventional weapons. Anything less than that would be a trap for the free world.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but I should like to be sure I understand the noble Earl. When he speaks of "conventional weapons," is he dealing with the point that was raised by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, yesterday: that conventional weapons had to a large extent become atomic weapons?
THE EARL OF HOME
No; I am saying that Russia has at the present time a great preponderance of conventional weapons, in the old sense of the word, and could threaten us with conventional weapons which are not atomic weapons. So any scheme of disarmament must be comprehensive.
I should like to assure the House that the United Kingdom Government will do everything they can to be constructive in this field of disarmament. In fact, only in the last few days we have put forward a scheme which involves the registration of tests for nuclear weapons and makes proposals for practical limitation. The Russian response has not been encouraging, as noble Lords will have seen to-day. They do not even contemplate registration, and their attitude to this latest proposal reveals the utter hyprocrisy of the Russian outlook on the one test which is proposed by Her Majesty's 620 Government this year, compared to the great number of tests they have already carried out, and their obvious intention to proceed with another series of them.
Therefore, with all the risks—and it is no good shirking the fact that there are immense risks in this policy of the nuclear deterrent—the White Paper means that the United Kingdom will have the nuclear bombs; that we shall have such guided weapons as we choose to manufacture; that the Air Force will be equipped to deliver the weapons on the target; that the Navy will be reorganised so that it, too, is capable of launching the deterrent; and our supplies of atomic weapons will be supplemented by the United States of America.
My Lords, one or two noble Lords who have spoken have drawn attention to the threat of the Russian submarines and the way in which we might deal with it My noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty dealt with some of the points that were raised, and will do so again, no doubt, when the Navy comes to be debated in more detail. But I got the impression, as we were debating this particular subject, that noble Lords might not have taken enough account of the fact that if the United Kingdom is involved in a war with the Soviet Union, of course it brings in all our partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. So the American Navy and Air Force will be with us in dealing with any Russian submarine menace that may threaten us.
While the Soviet Union is in a position to launch a total war, it is also in a position to promote limited wars, if it so wishes. Over the last few years, the cold war has been intensified and that might, either by design or by miscalculation, lead to limited war in different parts of the world. The lesson of the last ten years since the war has been unmistakable—that if we are to fulfil our obligations under the Regional Pacts and to the Commonwealth, our forces must be reorganised so that they have the maximum mobility and the highest possible striking power. All the illustrations which my noble friends have given to the House in this debate have been designed to show that the objective of the White Paper is to have forces which have the highest degree of mobility and to increase fire power and speed. It has never been more necessary than now to produce your 621 forces in the right place and at the right time, and the country which does that will have a great advantage should war come again.
We in the United Kingdom have great advantages in the Commonwealth and in our Regional Pacts with other countries of the free world. We, together with the Americans, have the command of the seas. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, whom I am sorry not to see in his place after the speech he made yesterday, said that the only reference to Commonwealth defence was in ten lines of the Defence Paper. Of course, that is a complete misreading of the whole Paper and the whole plan, because the co-operation of the Commonwealth runs all the way through the paper. For instance, Canada plans on the most intimate basis with us in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Australia and New Zealand are partners with us in the A.N.Z.A.M. Organisation and are represented on the ground in Malaya. Pakistan is a member both of the S.E.A.T.O. Organisation and the Baghdad Pact Organisation, and we have lately made en agreement with South Africa about the sea routes round the Cape. The significance of these routes has been underlined by the recent events in Suez.
All these Regional Organisations have their military planning committees. It so happens that I was in Australia only a month ago at the S.E.A.T.O. meeting, and there I saw how far military planning had been carried within this Regional Pact, of which three of the members of the Commonwealth are members. The Commonwealth must be defended regionally and on a regional base to-day. In these Regional Organisations plans are made and are being kept up to date for both global and limited wars.
Do not let it be thought that, though India and Ceylon do not accept regional military commitments, they have not a very close liaison with our Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. On the contrary, we help them with training and equipment; there is a secondment of officers, and, as many noble Lords have said, they were all represented at that remarkable Conference of Naval Staffs held at Greenwich last week. So that co-operation between the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries is an absolute part of our defence plans; and evidence of that runs the whole way 622 through this White Paper which is being presented to Parliament.
Perhaps the most anxious question which has been raised in this debate was that raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, yesterday: the tactical use of atomic weapons. The noble Viscount said—and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Tedder was inclined to agree with him—that if such weapons were used they might, in fact they almost certainly would, invite full-scale nuclear war. If I remember the noble Viscount's words aright, they were that in considering the use of atomic weapons by ourselves in a tactical situation in a limited war we might have reached a point of no return. It would be extremely foolish of us to underestimate these dangers, and as the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, has said, it would be well for the world to ponder the implications of this. But we have to face the fact that the potential enemy has these weapons, is developing them and may easily use them in limited war. If he does, we must be prepared to meet that challenge.
The enemy might promote a war on such a scale that that enemy could not be held away from a base or an area vital to the United Kingdom except by the use of tactical atomic weapons. I do not think it is possible to be dogmatic on these matters at this stage in the development of nuclear and atomic warfare, and I am not convinced that full-scale nuclear war need follow the use of atomic weapons in a more limited war. I should have thought that the decision would turn on whether the area or territory in dispute was one which was vital to one of the participants and whether the cause which started the war was a matter of life or death; and indeed what was the intention of the Power starting the war. If Russia should start a small war with the intention of making it a larger one, then inevitably it would become a nuclear war; but I can think of circumstances in which a more limited war might take place in which tactical atomic weapons might be used but in which the great Powers did not think it of such a vital nature as to necessitate resorting to the dropping of the nuclear bomb.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, we have got to the position reached during the cross-examination of the Minister himself in 623 another place. So far as the noble Earl has gone, I can find no satisfactory answer yet. May I remind him of what I said—that the Minister said in another place On February 13 [OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons) Vol. 564 (No. 51), col. 1311):Atomic weapons of the power of the Hiroshima bomb are now regarded as primarily suitable for tactical use by troops in the field.These bombs are capable of doing at one discharge the enormous damage inflicted at Hiroshima. The fact that that is so has been announced by Her Majesty's Government. Do you expect to undertake any kind of frontier defence, as it is said in the White Paper must be done, without an opposing Power having taken note of what has been said by the Minister, about using weapons up to the strength of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima? The policy adopted seems to me extraordinary. I do not know what is the answer.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I do not think it is possible to prophesy and to look so far forward. No doubt there will be atomic weapons of various sizes and scales. But the Minister was right. They could be used in the tactical field, and for that reason we must have them and must be prepared to use them. I want to correct an impression which I believe the noble Viscount gave, and which others may have received in the course of this debate—that the new policy will be to deprive our Forces of the ability to conduct any type of operation except with nuclear weapons. That is not so. The White Paper refers to tasks for which nuclear weapons would clearly not be needed; for example, defending British Colonies and Protected Territories against a local attack. The hitting power of the Forces with high-explosive weapons will still be very formidable. Conventional weapons will account for the great bulk of the cost of the Forces, and the Forces will be fully trained in their use.
We should not fall into the error of defining in advance precisely what types of aggression we should meet with conventional weapons and what type with nuclear weapons. If we did so, we should leave a potential aggressor with the initiative and with the ability not merely to conduct his aggression in the way best 624 calculated to succeed but also to determine our defence policy and, if he chose, to force us to cripple ourselves economically.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, might I explain what it was in the White Paper which made me take the line I took yesterday. In the section "Europe and Atlantic", on page 4, it is said, quite rightly:The frontiers of the free world, particularly in Europe, must be firmly defended on the ground.So if we have to defend Western Germany, we have to defend it on the ground. But is it not quite clear from Paragraph 22 that Her Majesty's Government contemplate that, although they are reducing the number of our holding troops in Germany, they will increase their power to carry out the function mentioned in Paragraph 20 by having for their support atomic rocket artillery and other atomic weapons? Are we not just asking for trouble? What answer can Her Majesty's Government give to Russia, if she makes the first démarche?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, all I am saying, and all that the White Paper says, is that various types of war are possible and that we must equip ourselves as best we may to meet those types of war. One type is the full-scale war, and for that we must have the nuclear bomb. Another is the more limited war, in which tactical atomic weapons may be used; and therefore we must have such weapons. But the White Paper says that we must also have formidable conventional forces which we can use as circumstances justify. Beyond that, I do not really think it is profitable or possible to speculate.
I am glad that the debate has concentrated, and that a good many noble Lords have spoken, on the question of morale, because the whole success of this plan in the White Paper depends upon voluntary recruitment. There are two aspects of this matter about which I should like to say a few words. The first is redundancy—it is inevitable that substantial numbers will have to be displaced. The other is recruiting. The fact of redundancy has been accepted, and, of course, it is inevitable. But there is an obligation on the Government, who are responsible for this policy, so to handle the process of reduction that the ill-effects are reduced to 625 a minimum. As I listened to the debate, it seemed to me that there were three main aspects of this question upon which your Lordships rightly concentrated: the need to avoid any long suspense, or any unnecessarily long suspense, about the fate of officers and N.C.Os.; the need for a scheme of compensation which is both fair and seen to be fair by the country, by the men and by Parliament; and the need to see that the whole machinery for re-employment is used to assist these people to find places in civil life. I can give assurances under all these headings. The Government perfectly understand and will do their best to prepare under all of them.
So far as the recruit is concerned, the young man joining the Forces to-day must be assured that the country is worth defending and can be defended. About the country's being worth defending, I hope there can be no doubt. But during the debate the question was raised—I think the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, was the first to speak of it—whether it was possible in this country to do anything effective in the way of Civil Defence. The noble Viscount suggested that there was not only a contrast but a contradiction between what is said in the White Paper on the subject and what has been said by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. That is not so. As the White Paper says, we cannot guarantee that the bombers carrying nuclear bombs will not get through To that extent there cannot be a complete defence. But there will be areas of the country which will not suffer attack and in which people will survive. And the Government say, absolutely categorically, that a Civil Defence organisation can save lives and that it can help to reorganise the life of the community. And the country which saves most lives in these circumstances and which reorganises its life most quickly and most successfully is the country which is going to win the conflict. So we say, without any doubt, that a Civil Defence organisation is necessary and that there is work for Civil Defence organisers to do.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl to ask him whether it has not been common ground that if half a dozen hydrogen bombs penetrated our defences the devastation done would go a long way towards 626 destroying the means of government, and the material destruction would be enormous? Communications would be broken. If double that number—that is only a dozen bombs—got through, England would be no longer viable. Have not the Government already accepted that view? In the light of those circumstances, how do the Government propose that Civil Defence may be made in any way effective?
THE EARL OF HOME
We cannot forecast what will happen in the event of a full-scale attack on this country. But it is certain that some people in some areas would survive. What the noble Lord is in effect doing is throwing up the sponge. We are not prepared to do that. What he is really saying is that we are not justified in having any organisation to deal with an attack. If he is not saying that—and I hope he is not—
§ LORD NATHAN
May I say that on other occasions when I have actually opened a debate in your Lordships' House on this subject I have made it clear that I thought the Government were at that time blameworthy for not taking steps with regard to Civil Defence. What I complain about to-day is not that the Government are blameworthy for the steps they are proposing to take but that they exaggerate the results of those steps, and, therefore, to that extent they are misleading the people of this country as to the consequences that may flow from an effective enemy attack with hydrogen bombs. They should not exaggerate, because the difficulties will be very great. There will be some people left in some places, but the country will indeed be in a sad situation.
THE EARL OF HOME
We all agree that the country would be in a sad situation if subjected to a nuclear attack. I hope that we all agree—I think we do—that something must be done to prepare for that situation. If you are prepared, then at least you will mitigate the situation; at least you will help to reorganise the life of the country. I hope that that is common ground between the Government and the Opposition.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: It is.
THE EARL OF HOME
And I hope that noble Lords will say so in the country, because various local authorities 627 are beginning to wonder whether it is worth their while to take steps to organise Civil Defence. The Government have no doubt that Civil Defence can make a really effective contribution in the unhappy event of a nuclear war.
If the young man is to join the new Forces, he must be satisfied not only that his country is worth defending and that it can be defended, but also that there is a career which will fully employ his talents. As has already been said in the debate, these new Forces which demand such high scientific and mechanical knowledge should attract the young man of to-day. Lord Tedder has asked me if I could make any statement about the future reorganisation of the Services. I am not going to make one to-day. When that is made it must be made by the Minister of Defence himself. But I would say to the noble Lord that it is fully recognised that loyalty to Service, to regiment and to the unit is essential if the morale of the Services is to be maintained. And it is fully understood that on this maintenance of morale the fighting quality of the man himself depends.
There has been in this House, I think, complete unanimity as to the absolute 628 importance to the country of the national Forces and as to the absolute importance, also, of attracting young men in great numbers so that our Forces may be based on voluntary recruitment. These Forces, then, when the White Paper plan is completed, will enable us to take a full and fair share in the defence of the free world. They will enable us to sustain the strength of N.A.T.O., which is, and will remain, the main bulwark against Communist attack, and to play our part in the regional pacts with our Commonwealth friends and with our Allies. No one can deny that in this nuclear age we face dangers greater in degree than ever before. But, equally, we have often in our history faced dangerous situations and survived, and we shall meet this one with calm and calculation. The Government are grateful for the reception which has been given to the White Paper. M before, the rôle of our Armed Forces in the future will be twofold: to sustain the peace, but, as it takes two to make peace, if war should come, to be in a position to destroy the enemy and secure the survival of our own country and of our friends.
§ On Question, Resolution agreed to.
§ House adjourned at seven o'clock.