HL Deb 10 March 1959 vol 214 cc852-964

2.47 p.m.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME) rose to move to resolve, That this House approves the report on the Progress of the Five-Year Defence Plan contained in Command Paper No. 662. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I often think that it would be well if, before the annual assessment of progress in defence, we had in Parliament a comprehensive review of foreign policy, because the shape and the evolution of our military planning must stem directly from the state of our international relations and from the aims of our policy in the field of foreign affairs. The scale of our defence expenditure, and the effort of it, will be conditioned not only by the security of the base in this Island but also by the range of our responsibilities for the overseas territories in our Colonial Empire, by the obligations which we have accepted under the Alliances of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Baghdad Pact and South East Asia Treaty Organisation, and by the general contribution which we make to collective security. And your Lordships will realise that, so long as Britain is a world Power in her own right, and has this wide scope of duties in the international field, defence cannot be had "on the cheap".

The bill for 1959–60, which totals, as your Lordships will have seen, some £1,514 million, is a formidable one; but I would call your Lordships' attention to the fact that, thanks to our stronger economic position, it is within our means. I do not know whether the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH, or any other of your Lordships will suggest (luring the course of our debate that we should add to this global sum which we are spending on defence. If so, I think it well, perhaps, to issue a warning in advance that we could very soon put a strain on our economy which would bring back the recurring financial crises of the post-war years. It has been my lot in recent years to travel a good deal overseas, and to look back at this country from Commonwealth countries and other countries, and I am certain of this: that nothing did more to weaken our authority and influence on the world stage than the fact that Britain was on the edge of inflation and was threatened with bankruptcy. No nation can be physically strong if it is on the edge of bankruptcy. In other words, my Lords, a strong pound if the first line of Britain's defence.

Secondly, so long as there is no change in human nature, and until all combine within the United Nations in collective defence—until the 99 combine against the one who is tempted to aggression; and twat system would suit the United Kingdom hotter than any other system of security: that is, indeed, why we were pioneers in the League of Nations, and why our support for the United Nations has been consistent and strong—the historic conception of the balance of power remains.

My Lords, judging the matter by results, some may argue that that is an imperfect instrument for keeping the peace—and that case can be made. I will not inflict it on your Lordships to-day, but I could advance a very convincing thesis that peace has been threatened, not by the balance of power, but by the unbalance of power, and that it has been the soft spot, the weak spot, which has invited wars and which has been irresistible to the aggressor. At any rate, the balance of power holds the field, and, in its modern structure, the balance of power demands two military elements from those who contribute: first of all, atomic and nuclear weapons so devastating in their punishment that they will in fact deter the aggressor; and, secondly, forces and tactical weapons which are necessary to contain local penetrations and situations in which police action in time will stop the spread of the conflict over a wider field.

I am not going to argue to your Lordships to-day the morality of the nuclear bomb: whether we ourselves should manufacture the nuclear bomb, or whether we should buy nuclear weapons from the United States. I think that, largely, there is agreement between the Government and the Opposition that we should include in our defence a nuclear element of our own possession, and I believe (although there will be exceptions to this) that the country has largely accepted that we must make and own our own nuclear elements for defence. There is, however, a legitimate field for discussion, in which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH, has shown interest before; and that is whether, within the total defence effort, we have got the correct balance between nuclear deterrent and the conventional fighting forces for use in what are known as "limited emergencies" overseas.

My Lords, I think it would be very unwise to be dogmatic, but one test is the test of expenditure. Your Lordships may be interested to know that the proportion of the total defence budget absorbed by the V-bomber force and its nuclear weapons, and ballistic rockets, including the element of research and development, amounts to less than one-tenth of the whole. Even if we add the cost of the protection of the nuclear bases, which means another one-tenth, we arrive at only about one-fifth of the total. It is then necessary to make two adjustments, because two-thirds of the expenditure on bases would be necessary whether we had a nuclear deterrent or not; and, of course, the V-bomber has other military uses apart from the delivery of the deterrent. Thus, the proportion of expenditure on the nuclear deterrent would be somewhere nearer one-sixth, I would suggest, than one-fifth.

If we are to have the nuclear bomb, then we must have the most accurate and efficient means of delivery. Your Lordships will see that the Mark II of the Vulcan and the Victor, which will be coming into service, are aeroplanes as good as any of their kind; and when they come into service they will hold their own with the best. But as, in this business of air warfare, plans have to be made many years ahead, and as the experts are certain that the missile will succeed the bomb, so it is forecast in this White Paper that the Blue Streak will eventually replace the strategic bomber, and that the Bloodhound will be adopted as a ground-to-air defence weapon. So, my Lords, in this particular field of strategic air warfare and the nuclear element, while we must certainly remain flexible in our plans, I would suggest that, if we are to have the nuclear deterrent, then one-sixth of the total expenditure is not an unreasonable proportion to devote to it, and is hardly excessive.

My Lords, I now turn to the second aspect of our task. For convenience, I must mention each of the Services separately, but I should not like to stress that aspect, because in the type of overseas operation with which we are familiar in these unstable years almost every operation demands the complete cooperation of the three Services—the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. They are co-ordinated under the new defence organisation, and that co-ordination does and must flow from the point of operational planning, at the top, to execution and action at all subsequent levels. Over the years we have had many arguments in Parliament, in another place and in this House, about the best machinery for the organisation of our defence system, but I believe I can say that, the working of the system established by my right honourable friend is now smooth and efficient—and long may it remain so!

The White Paper sets out certain developments which give added significance and greater efficiency to our conventional forces, and the first that I must mention is the success of the voluntary recruiting campaign, which will enable us to achieve full-time Regular forces—and, in particular, a Regular Army. I remember the almost monthly partings which the noble Viscount used to give to my noble friend Lord Mancroft for over-optimism in this field, and I am sure the noble Viscount will be the first to, rejoice that his forecasts were too glum. We have, in fact, done what we thought was possible—that is, to raise the recruiting level so that, within the foreseeable future, we shall be able to have all-Regular forces.

There are other features in the White Paper on which I think we may feel a legitimate satisfaction. First in this field, perhaps, is that so many routine, nonmilitary jobs can now be done by civilians; that the present rate of recruiting exceeds our hopes of a year ago; and that we are able—as was said in another place in respect of the Navy, and as is said in this White Paper in respect of the Army—to launch certain plans for ensuring that we get the highest quality of officers in the Service. Then I believe that, as the modern types of equipment and weapons are joined on to the new professional Army and professional forces, we shall have what this House has looked for for so long—effective and efficient arms of the Forces.

I would stress again that the improved conditions of service which have enabled us to increase recruiting to these satisfactory levels would not have been possible if the national finances had not been able to bear the burden. To the gains I think I would also add the fact that the Cyprus settlement will pay us a considerable dividend, because we shall be able to build up the strategic reserve so that it may be available for use in the right place, at the right time. In this field of recruiting and the establishment of full-time Forces I think we can record progress which, even if we are not completely satisfied by it, is certainly encouraging and along the right lines.

Your Lordships will have realised, and previous White Papers have emphasised, that the two decisive elements in modern war are mobility and striking power. And there have been legitimate anxieties and fears expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH, in my hearing in previous debates about transport aircraft. It is clear that if a bottleneck were to develop at this point it might seriously limit the impact and conduct of any military campaign. I have no doubt that much will be said in the course of the debate about this matter, but I am glad to say some progress is being made. Hastings aircraft are to be replaced by Britannias; and Comets are doing good work. But an air transport force is not an end in itself. It must move in step with the Army's changing needs; and in the coming year the Comets, Hastings and Beverleys will be joined by the Britannias. By 1960, capacity will have been increased by 50 per cent. But as that will not meet the long-term need, noble Lords will notice that orders have been placed for the military version of the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy and Britannia long-range strategic freighter.


May we know what this 50 per cent. is based upon? Fifty per cent. of what?


I meant to say a 50 per cent. increase on the present levels this year. I will get my noble friend to elaborate that, if the noble Viscount so wishes.

If we are looking at the impact of striking forces, noble Lords will see that the general purpose aircraft mentioned in paragraph 10 of the White Paper, the T.S.R.2, is being developed for support of the Army and tactical operations; while the improved Lightning, which in a year or two will take the place of the Hunter, will add to our air strike power.

Now, although the First Lord of the Admiraity is sitting beside me, I am going to allow myself one or two reflections on the rôle of the Navy in the context of our defence preparations. Like any other military arm, the Navy will evolve and adapt itself to the new pattern of global strategy and defence. But it will continue to perform two tasks which are traditional and, I suggest, of absolute value. The first is that of showing the Flag in peace time. The demonstration of our wide interests in the world and our influence as a leading partner in the Commonwealth cannot, in my opinion, be more effectively illustrated by anything than by a ship of Her Majesty's Navy visiting the different countries in the world.


Hear, hear!


Whenever one of Her Majesty's ships is seen it is recog- nised as an influence for stability and neighbourliness in international relations.

In 1958 alone the Royal Navy paid 400 visits to posts overseas. There were the joint exercises with the Commonwealth Navies, to which I know the Commonwealth Navies look forward as a regular feature in training each year. And the importance which is attached to the rôle, of the Navy, particularly in the Indian and Far East waters—East of Suez—is illustrated by the fact that our Fleet is being strengthened in that area. As long as they are able to appear and be seen in these Far Eastern and Indian waters—and I am glad to see the addition of frigates which is going to be made next year—and so long as these activities in peace-time continue, the Pax Britannica, although we may not use the term in its 19th century context, still has a meaning on the high seas.

The second traditional rôle of the Navy is defence of our life lines—our existence as an island and our standard of living. In the modern Navy, with its high degree of mobility, with its air strike and cover, I believe we shall find that we have a convincing instrument of power, and we may easily find that the Navy, in the years ahead, has a strategic rôle of even greater significance than in the past. No doubt my noble friend Lord Selkirk will be saying more about this aspect. The most important problem before the Navy to-day, looking ahead to a world war or even to a limited war, is dealing with the fast and silent submarine, even a small number of which could cause serious damage and put this island's life in jeopardy. In another place yesterday a good deal of information was given on that aspect of our defence preparations. And so, whether we take the new Regular Army or the improved striking force and the new methods of defence in the air, or whether we take the modernised Navy, I think we can truly say that in this Paper progress is recorded on the lines which we all wish to see.

Like many of your Lordships, I have reflected in the last few weeks on the challenging debate which we had on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, on the question of nuclear weapons, and on the particular proposal that we might surrender that particular section of our defence to the United States. I have been able to ponder all this, and I am bound to say that my second thoughts confirm my original conclusion which I gave to this House: that we cannot, indeed that no Government can, transfer any important section of our defence to another country. Whether it is the Navy looking after our life-lines or the Army or the Air Force, each must be equipped with weapons adequate to meet anything which the enemy may bring against them; the second best just will not do.

So, my Lords, I hope that, as Parliament and as a country, we shall agree that, having taken the decision to include the nuclear element, then we must go ahead and arm our Forces with the best weapons. Although no one can be completely satisfied—and, indeed, no one ought to be satisfied, because there is yet much to be done—and although there may be criticisms about the pace of re-equipment or some particular aspect of progress in this White Paper, I believe I can claim on behalf of my right honourable friend that the policy is well founded in its essentials and that within the money available it is being executed with drive.

I notice that in the debate in another place a warning was given against resting so far on the nuclear element in our defence that we may fall into the pitfall of what one honourable Member called "the mentality of the Maginot Line". That would be wrong for ourselves and our Allies, and I trust I have shown in the few remarks I have made that we have tried to preserve a sense of proportion and flexibility between the amount of effort put into the nuclear deterrent and that put into conventional forces for limited operations and more limited dangers.

There are so many speakers on the list to-day that I have not spoken about the United Nations and the ultimate aim of collective security enforced by truly international opinion, although we must never lose sight of that goal, and it may be that in the last few years and months we have seen the modest beginnings of an increase of authority in the United Nations. I have not talked about controlled disarmament, though we must pursue that with an infinite patience, as the Prime Minister has done lately in Moscow, and as we shall continue to do at Geneva and whenever opportunity offers, because part of our policy to lessen tension and increase security must be to seek disarmament over the whole field of weapons.

Nor have I talked about publicity and propaganda, which must be part of our defence effort in the cold war. We can debate these things in their turn. But I hope I have faced, in the short time available to me, the challenges that are posed to this country, in particular, as an island gateway to Europe, as the leading partner in the Commonwealth and as a Power whose interests and authority runs wide in the world. I trust that this report, Progress of the Five Year Defence Plan will give confidence to the House that we can do three things: that we can shoulder our share in preventing a world war; that we can assume an active rôle in containing local conflict and in promoting law and order; and that, leading from strength, and, in particular, economic strength, we can exercise influence in the world for stability and peace.

Moved to resolve, That this House approves the report on the Progress of the Five-Year Defence Plan contained in Command Paper No. 662.—(The Earl of Home.)

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure the House is grateful to the noble Earl the Leader of the House for the manner in which he has introduced the Government's Motion for the approval of the White Paper on Defence. I would say that on a number of the points he has made there does not seem to be much doubt that we shall be, if not completely in agreement, at least near agreement. While I should like to be 100 per cent. in agreement upon all the proposals made in the national interest for defence, I am bound to say that it would be improper, in the light of our experience between, for example, 1935 and 1939, not to make some criticism and to draw attention to particular points. However, while I have been sitting here I have been resolving to turn the whole of my speech round. The more I listened to the noble Earl, the more I felt that, instead of going through some of the paragraphs item by item, I ought, in the interests of pure debate, to take up some of the particular points he has made. When, towards the opening of his speech he referred to the cost of defence, I was immediately very interested; and as he wound up, almost in the last sentence in his speech, with a reference to the place of our economy in our defence, perhaps I may be permitted to say first a word or two about that aspect.

In the year 1950 we decided to accept the suggestions of the North Atlantic Organisation, largely imposed upon us by the United States, greatly to increase our Defence budget at that time; and, as we have so often reiterated, it cost £4,700 million on the Estimate for three years. It is now nearly nine years since the final conferences which came to that decision took place. That programme was to have been completed, at least at that rate of expenditure, in three years; but, in fact, on the average we have never spent in any one of the three years a normal one-year part of the three-year programme. When we look at that programme and think of what we have available to us to-day by way of defensive equipment and personnel it makes us wonder exactly what has happened. No one is going to deny that a stable method of exchange is essential to our prosperity, and that of almost every other country in the world. But our economy is very much subject to how we pay attention in our own country to our production, its expansion, and its actual costs in relation to our power to export and import.

Our defence programme has been vastly affected by the policy of Her Majesty's Government now in office and their predecessors since 1951; and the consequence is, as I have had to point out in the last two debates to which I have contributed, that in 1958 and 1957, for the amount of money in the Budget estimated for and spent in the last few years we have been getting nothing like the provision of personnel and equipment that was planned for in the three years which were laid down in that big joint scheme of N.A.T.O. Whose fault is that? I am bound to say that I think a large part of it is due to the economic policy followed by the Government. If the present Government are called upon, as we were, to make a vast contribution to the defence of our country and the defence (we hope) of peace, then it is essential to organise in such a way, even to the point of austerity for the people of the country, and to control the way production is expanded. That is the only way to be successful in achieving both a standard of living and also adequate provision on defence.

Prior to 1951, we were urged on the wireless, in the Press, and all the way round, that what was wanted at once was a policy of free-for-all—"Set the people free!"; "take off the controls!"; "let the people have what they like, and do what they like!" In consequence, that has had a vast effect upon rising costs and, therefore, upon the lack of available provision each year to the Government to maintain the kind of progress that was required, especially in research, development and new equipment, as well as improving the status and accommodation for the troops in the three Services. I hope the noble Earl the Leader of the House will not mind my drawing his attention to that point.

It is important that the noble Earl should have raised this subject, because one recognises completely that the change in policy which brought about the appointment of the sixth Minister of Defence of the Conservative Government, who came into office late in 1956, and which is set out in the White Paper for 1957, placed the country in the position, if Parliament approved it—and Parliament did approve it, whatever we said against it—of making the nuclear weapon the ultimate deterrent. I agree with the noble Earl that such a decision must always be a particular difficulty at any time for any Government, and I have sympathy with them on this point. I have sympathy with the Minister of Defence also on having to distinguish how much, from the sum available to him, had to be spent on the ultimate deterrent in relation to the other tasks of the Forces, which the noble Lord so clearly outlined, so as to keep sufficient conventional forces in order to do their general jobs in peace-time and to be effective if any local wars break out which may blow up into something far worse if we have not sufficient conventional forces to keep them in check.

We have been studying the figures in the White Paper, and I must say that I am greatly indebted to the noble Earl the Leader of the House because he has given us for the first time something like an estimate—although I had formed a rough estimate in my own mind—of the expenditure upon the actual production of nuclear material and equipment and the things that go with it, special bases and the like. I should estimate from what he has said that the combination of the two main items he mentioned must mean an expenditure of round about £300 million a year. It might be a little less, and it might be a little more. That is less than the cost of the whole of one of the Services. The figure for the Navy is more than £300 million this year; for the Army it is, I think, £450 or £460 million, and for the Air Force an even larger sum still. Looked at upon that basis, if the nuclear weapon is essential in the view of Parliament—and Parliament has decided it is—then one cannot altogether grumble at the part of the general overall defence budget which has been sat aside for that purpose, if it is to be effective.

That brings me to the next point I would make: is it effective as an alternative deterrent? Do we not find it said by nearly all the expert commentators in the Press—some of them in Parliament; professional men, more professional than I am, and some outside—that the change which has taken place in thinking since the end of 1956, when the main discussions of the Government were being held before agreeing to the policy of the 1957 White Paper, is obvious? Some of us were looked at askance when we said that the policy of the ultimate deterrent was ultimately a policy of suicide or a threat to suicide. But that is common language in The Times to-day. Who could read the leader in The Times last Wednesday, I think it was, without seeing how they are reflecting the change of opinion about the actual wisdom of this policy and the power of the ultimate deterrent? If you take the utterance by the noble and gallant Viscount, Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein, which was quoted in another place last week, and which was made on October 24, you will find that he imagines that nobody is going to let off this threat to suicide. He certainly thinks it quite impossible to believe that a British Government, or any similar Government, would use the main and nuclear attack upon the cities of Russia in the case of their making an attack against us. In fact be uses those words and says that that would be suicide, because it would mean the inevitable destruction of our own country. It is only a few months since the noble and gallant Viscount left his High Command in N.A.T.O. Do we take note of his words?

Of course, when we look at the speech of the Minister of Defence last week and see what his answers were on questions of this sort, we might try to make ourselves believe that it does not depend on the exact weapon we have, or the weight of the kiloton bomb, or how far it may remain tactical or how far it becomes strategic; it depends upon our target. That is an extraordinary thing. I suppose it might be argued from the statement of the noble and gallant Viscount that because he referred to an attack upon the cities of Russia he was thinking of special targets. But is it not perfectly plain that directly there is an attack of that kind, especially if it is first engineered by ourselves or our allies, against an attack by Russia or her satellites with conventional arms, then the very first attack made brings back a holocaust on ourselves straight away? What we said two years ago is in fact true: it is a policy of suicide.

The whole point is whether, so long as it remains only a threat of suicide, it is going to be effective. On that, I am bound to say that I agree with the noble Earl that there are little signs here and there in the international conversations which would give us a little more hope of getting closer to some form of agreement which might lead on, stage by stage, to a wider agreement for collective security and a permanent peace. That would be a great thing, and it is one which we all greatly desire. Believe me, the Government have not all the wisdom upon what is necessary in our economy in order to secure an adequate defence, and it is not all to be found in the minds of the financiers in the City of London who have been advised by Mr. Thorneycroft and others in the past. You must have not only a wide view on what your production ought to be during the period of rearmament, and also during the period of disarmament, but also one which is based upon the solidity of the population as a whole and their belief in what you are doing in maintaining their standard and in obtaining for them an adequate collective defence.

I turn for a moment or two to the White Paper itself. I was glad to hear the sympathetic reference made by the noble Earl to the work of the Royal Navy. We know that, while in the view of many of us the most important rôle of the Royal Navy will prove to be in the combating of the enormous submarine threat, nevertheless, if it is properly backed, supported and cooperated with, it will always have a vital part to play in any minor or major war in which we may be engaged. In all my long years of experience of the Royal Navy I have never known it fall down on a job—jobs of all kinds, sorts and sizes and at all places. I therefore valued very much the sympathetic reference which the noble Earl made to the work of the Royal Navy. But when we are dealing with the Commonwealth at large, and other world commitments as well, and we look at the number of units we have on duty at the present time, it makes one pause to think. It was good news to know that there had been 400 visits made by ships of the Royal Navy and that they had same influence; I am sure they had influence, as they always have. But I just marvel how they managed to make 400 visits with the numbers in commission at the present time, especially if the visits are made by vessels with sufficient personnel on board to be given shore leave and to make the proper contacts and interchange of civilities—a very useful factor in the life of the Royal Navy.

I am bound to say that in regard to the Royal Navy I find in this report of progress much that is tentative all the time; something is always coming but hardly ever arriving. That is the great difficulty. We on this side of the House have not the detailed management of the actual defence budget at the present time; but hope deferred always makes the heart of those responsible for the Services pretty sick, and hope deferred is illustrated in paragraph after paragraph of this White Paper. Take, for example, paragraph 2: Preliminary work has begun on four guided missile ships of the County class. I suppose, in a way, that is news, but it does not add much to the strength of the Royal Navy at the moment. I hope those ships will not be required before they are complete and that they are not the last of that class of ship that are to be provided. At the bottom of the page, paragraph 4 says: It has also been decided to proceed with the production of the N.A.39, a strike-reconnaissance aircraft with high speed performance … and so on. "It has been decided to proceed …"; when will it arrive? We have been talking about the N.A.39 in this House for nearly three years. Again it is a matter of deferment and delay.

Incidentally, I may be quite wrong technically on this, but I am wondering how far the delay is because the Royal Air Force would not accept the N.A.39 as being an aircraft which could serve both the Navy and the Air Force. We now have the T.S.R.2, which, except for its latest characteristics, would do a job which could well have been done by the N.A.39 for both Services. What economies that would have secured, and how much we need those economies to-day! Perhaps later the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, will let us know when the N.A.39 will arrive.

There is the same thing with regard to the nuclear-propelled submarine "Dreadnought": Preparations for the construction of the nuclear submarine 'Dreadnought' are proceeding. How long have they been proceeding—five years, seven years? A very conservative progress! I was glad to get the news that there was to be some further progress, because of the agreement arrived at with the United States as to the provision of the propulsive apparatus engines and so on, in the "Dreadnought", but I think we ought to have had it long before now. This is interesting: The first of the three 'Tiger' class cruisers will be commissioned next month. The first of those "Tigers" was in my original programme; that must be ten years ago, just after the war; and the first is just being produced. Again it seems a little conservative in progress.

The same thing goes on with regard to the Army. In paragraph 7, "Re-equipment of Army", it says, "… present plans provide …"—of course that might be changed. It continues: … present plans provide for the extensive re-equipment of the Army. …. Work has for some time been proceeding on the development of a new family of weapons, vehicles and other equipment. These are now coming into service. Have they arrived? It would be interesting to know and to have a few more details. I know the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, will have a lot of ground to cover. Perhaps we will have to return on the Service Estimates to some of these points. The White Paper says: Within the next twelve months, half the Army will have been re-equipped with F.N. rifles and deliveries of Sterling sub-machine guns will be nearly completed. Fancy! in the next twelve months half the Army will have the F.N. rifle, on which we were committed at least four or five years ago. I am not at all sure that on examination the experts would not tell us it was a longer period than that. I understand you have hardly started to supply the F.N. rifles to our Army in Germany.

Then, when we look at the reference to the Thunderbird in paragraph 9, I should like to know whether the development mentioned in that paragraph means we are still in the research stage or actually going into line production. Is it merely developmental experiment or in production? You must cheer us up with something when we get this long list of conservative delays. I have referred to the T.S.R.2 and I do not want to do so again. I go on to paragraph 12, which reads: In addition, it is proposed to order a small number of long-distance air freighters, capable of carrying bulky equipment … The noble Earl, the Leader of the House, said to-day that he would estimate that there would be about a 50 per cent. increase in terms of Air Force transport aircraft. I should like to know whether that is based upon the number of personnel they can carry or what, because it varies a great deal upon whether you are counting aircraft or personnel or the payload the aircraft are capable of carrying.

Then you talk about the strategic bombers, and say: In addition to the growing stock of kiloton bombs, the production of British megaton weapons is proceeding steadily. How many have you got? Do you mind telling us? Is it a secret, or can you say that you have now an adequate stock for any emergency? If you are tied to the policy you have adopted yourself, have you got the goods? This report of progress is so hazy as to leave us in con- siderable dubiety. It is the same with regard to the propelled stand-off bombs. I think it would be a pity to spend as much time in our House as they spent downstairs upon the details of the Blue Streak; but what stands out a mile is that it is nowhere near being ready to use. I do not suppose you have even finalised its actual detailed construction. When are you going to get it? If, as we are told, the missile is going to take the place of the bomber—although there seems to be a little departure from that, in the spirit of this White Paper compared to the White Paper in 1957—when will the Blue Streak arrive?

I am looking at the clock, and I ought not to speak longer. I have a whole number of other things of the same sort to refer to—these hazy references to, "it is proceeding"; "it is developing", or "they will be ordered", appear all the way through the White Paper. I suppose that, when a Minister, I may have been guilty at some time of using Civil Service language of that kind, -but I hope that the Ministers will also feel, when they are questioned upon it, that as near as they can they should give real information. Finally, there is one important point in which I am vastly interested—namely, what exactly is meant by the references to the strategic reserve? One has to take a large microscope to find those references.

It is most pleasant to have little exchanges between the noble Earl the Leader of the House and myself upon estimates as to recruiting and the like. I am as delighted as anybody that at the moment recruits are coming in at a much better rate than I thought would be possible. I had hoped that we should get them, but I did not think that my hopes would be fulfilled. At the present time, however, it must be remembered (this is borne out by an Answer given a couple of days ago in another place) that recruitment has been largely aided—it has been a fortuitous help to the programme—by the growth of unemployment. A considerable percentage, at any rate, of the new recruits have come along from some of the heaviest centres of unemployment in the country. The figures can be looked up; noble Lords can look them up in the Answers given in another place a day or two ago. Nevertheless, I greatly hope that with the new conditions, expensive as they are, the rate of progress will be maintained sufficiently.

It is regarded as a great feat for the Army to increase the total number from 165,000 to 180,000. The White Paper says that this force is to be divided between two tasks—first, to the making up of the strength of battalions and regiments overseas, and secondly, to increasing the strategic reserve. I do not think flat that is, very much. I said in this House two years ago—and I still stick to my opinion, although I do not make myself awkward about it—that I am not one of those who believe that you can do everything with all the enormous commitments of this country in the present state of world affairs based entirely on the voluntary services. I do not think we could ever have got through our task from 1945 to 1951 without the men who were made available by National Service. And I still hold that view.

When I look at the tasks that are to be left to a standing Army of no more, in all, than 180,000, and at a target that can always be hurled back at the War Office, of 165,000, I cannot see that they will be able to handle all the modern equipment, or the changes in armament, when everything is different and almost every article of equipment requires a larger amount of technical attention than its predecessor. I have never found that modern armament saves labour; it always increases it. When you say you are doing something wonderful in adding 9 per cent. to the target previously recorded, and then you divide the 9 per cent. of the increase between those two great tasks, comprising the strategic reserve and the making up of what is already known to be a shortage of strength in battalions and regiments overseas, I do not think the achievement is quite so praiseworthy as would be made out.

Now I come to my last appeal to this House. I have never given way to those who feel that we should not possess for ourselves any weapon which is available and valuable to us in the general trend of things. That is why I made the speech that I did on February 11, on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. I have never agreed with his Motion. But I am bound to say that unless we are marching on into an age in which destruction is bound to come upon us, then noble Lords had better read the speech in another place of the former Minister of Defence and Secretary of State for War, Mr. Antony Head, upon the need to capture men's minds. The only criticism that I would make of the right honourable gentleman who made that speech is that the Government seem to have no other idea for the capture of men's minds but that of military and political propaganda.

I am convinced that the greatness of this country has been based upon her following the path of liberty and freedom, from the period of the Renaissance and the uprise of the Protestant Reformation. I am convinced, too, that in facing the situation in regard to peace in the world to-day there is no effective method of changing men's minds unless you can convince them of what is said in Zechariah, in the sixth verse of the fourth chapter: Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, saith The Lord of hosts ". If you want to get the state of men's minds changed in the right direction upon whether it is right or wrong to murder or to savagely injure each other, you will have to come back to studying both the prophecies of the Old Testament and the fulfilments in the New Testament.

3.48 p.m.


My Lords, the Leader of the House has commended the White Paper to us to-day in a clear, straightforward and objective speech. I think it is a clear and objective, if modest, White Paper, giving a plain report upon defence policy and development. If it is modest, I still do not think it merits the strictures which were cast upon it more vigorously, or at any rate, more verbosely in another place, by Motion and by vote, and less vigorously, I think, to-day by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, traditionally it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose. I cannot help feeling that the noble Viscount, skilled and fluent debater as he is, had a good deal of difficulty in hunting up material for his attack. So far as I could follow him—the task was made simpler by the Motion put down in another place—the criticisms of this White Paper are really twofold: first of all, that the Government to-day have no coherent policy of defence; secondly, that the equipment of the forces is inadequate. I venture to say that neither of those charges is justified.

Let me for a moment deal with policy—I am going to be brief. Surely, whatever else can be said about our defence policy, it is certainly coherent; it is consistent, and it is continuous. The policy which is reported upon in this White Paper is, after all, the policy which was agreed by the whole of the Commonwealth at our Conference at the end of 1954. It was also set out quite plainly in the White Paper of the Spring of 1955 which was accepted and approved by both Houses of Parliament. That was the defence policy based on the deterrent, buttressed by the Grand Alliance of N.A.T.O., now celebrating its tenth anniversary; and buttressed, too, by the co-operation of the Commonwealth, the United States and Western Europe. As the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said to-day, that policy is, in fact, the balance of power, which, after all, in its older form, preserved the peace of the world longer than for any period since the Augustan Age; and it is the balance of power in practice to-day. I found some difficulty in following the noble Viscount because he seemed—and I am not saying this offensively—rather to box the compass. I thought he came round again, at the end of his speech, to complete support for this policy. I certainly understood from his speech, with which I found myself entirely in agreement, on the Motion in the nuclear debate the other day that the two major Parties were agreed upon this policy.

The noble Viscount was critical to-day about the deterrent, although apparently he still accepts it. He said that the deterrent is really a bad policy if we come to think of it, because if it were ever put into force and came into operation it would be suicidal. Of course it would. But surely that is the whole force of the deterrent. One recalls the famous words of Sir Winston Churchill, to which perhaps someone may refer later in this debate, about safety being the child of terror. This horror, if ever used, would certainly destroy us all. It would be suicide—not co-existence but coextermination. Surely the very fact that that is the effect of the deterrent makes the deterrent effective, and I am sure the noble Viscount, on reflection, would agree that if we had not got that deterrent and had the great forces of Communism deployed against us, that certainly would be suicidal for us and we should not last very long.


My Lords, I should like to make my position quite clear. I have agreed all the way through that if we are going to have an alliance with countries which are manufacturing for themselves nuclear weapons which are to be held in reserve in case any of our enemies use nuclear weapons, then we, as a country, ought not to be without that type of weapon. That has always been my position; but I have never ceased to campaign for the banning and abolition of this weapon altogether, if all nations will agree. But they must all agree; and must agree, at the same time, to enter into a general discussion on a more general disarmament.


My Lords, I do not for one moment dissent from that. It shows how close together we are on these great defence questions, and it is supremely important that the country should be together on a consistent policy, I agree, of course, and I believe every Government, irrespective of Party, who have been in office have done their best to bring about effective disarmament. The noble Viscount, however, will agree—for he stated it in the nuclear debate—that effective disarmament does not mean that we, or all countries, should abandon nuclear weapons while still leaving what are called conventional forces at exactly the same size as they are to-day; for that, again, would be inviting suicide. I believe, however, that we are completely agreed that, side by side with holding this deterrent, we must never relax our efforts to bring about complete and effectively controlled and co-ordinated disarmament.

I believe that we are very close together, and that if we are close together on what the policies should be, while we have the right to assume that in any major war we shall be acting with our Allies we must ourselves play our full part in the Alliance. We have also the right and duty to exert our influence on Allied policy, and we shall be able tee exercise that right of exerting our influence only if we pull our weight in the Alliance. That means, surely, that, just as it was right in the Labour Government's day to manufacture the atomic bomb, it is right for us to manufacture and to have the hydrogen bomb to-day I am sure that to shelter wholly behind the United States—although they will always be the major partner—would be neither dignified nor wise. If we did that we could not carry the same weight in council. We could not expect to share information—which I am glad to see we are increasingly doing. We can be very valuable partners in scientific knowledge as well as in our experience of world affairs.

There is one other aspect which I should like to put to Her Majesty's Government, and I would ask whether they can confirm it. It occurs to me that it shows how important it is that we ourselves should be manufacturers of this bomb. In our development and production it is axiomatic that the development and production of military aircraft is of enormous importance to the development and production of civilian aircraft; indeed, the two are so interlinked that one cannot really separate them. I should be greatly surprised if the same were not true, at any rate to a considerable extent, of nuclear weapons and nuclear production for peace.

I propose to spend hardly any time on the other branch of criticism, which is that the Forces—particularly the Army—are inadequate and that the Army has been "starved" and ill-equipped. I am very glad to see that the strength of the Army is being increased now by 17,000, for I consider that a very wise move. I am also glad that recruiting is going as well as it is. Although the equipment is not yet all there, all of us who have ever been in this business know that production is apt to be slow, but I should have thought that, with the rifle, the machine-gun, the tank, anti-tank weapons and, perhaps above all, with the increasing mobility in the air, making our strategic reserve mobile, a very considerable advance has been made.

On a more general theme, I welcome most heartily the setting up of the Inter-Services Commands, which are referred to in paragraphs 23 and 24 of the White Paper. I am sure that that is the right trend of co-operation between the Services. The closer the co-operation and integration, the better. That kind of thing is much better than the old agitation, which I hope is now dead, about whether or not we ought to transfer Coastal Command. After all, when we have thirty, forty or fifty Atlantic crossings every day, summer and winter, I suppose that nobody would to-day suggest that one has to be a sailor to fly across the sea. That sort of thing only makes for friction and not for cooperation. I may put it colloquially by saying that "Beggar my neighbour" is never a good game for partners to play. I think it may be that some day we may see complete integration of two or more of the Services. But that cannot be rushed. It can come only as a natural growth, out of close and trusting cooperation and successful experiments—ad hoc experiments, if you will—in integration between equal partners. On those lines the closer together we come, the better shall I be pleased.

One thought, in conclusion—and I think that here I echo something which the noble Earl the Leader of the House said: it is impossible to consider defence, whether our own or Allied defence, in isolation. However good, technically or strategically, that defence may be, and however close the inter-allied co-operation over the whole field of defence, all those defence problems are inseparably linked with foreign policy and with economics. Indeed, the more effective the armed deterrent is, the truer that is. I think that the deterrent may well prevent a hot war, but it certainly cannot win the cold war. I am not going to develop that theme to-day, in view of the great number of speakers, but I am sure it must be in all our minds, and I think we shall all be agreed upon it. I would only say, in a sentence, that it is just as important that we and our Allies should be agreed on a common approach and a common policy in foreign affairs, in economic co-operation and aid, and in propaganda—which I would rather call the spreading of truth and our way of life—as in those other aspects of defence which figure in the White Paper. And I am sure that I shall carry the House with me in saying—and I make no Party point—that no one appreciates that more, or has done more to try to bring it about, than the Prime Minister. I am sure that the whole House and the whole country wishes him Godspeed on his journeys.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, whatever differences there may be between us (and perhaps they are not on this subject as great as upon others), we shall all unite in the sentiment last expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, of good wishes to the Prime Minister in his efforts. My Lords, I noticed that the noble Earl who has last spoken, like the noble Earl the Leader of the House, referred to the intersection of foreign policy with armaments. I seem during these past years to have noticed something of a change in the general approach. In the old days it used to be said that foreign policy depended upon armaments; to-day I believe it is increasingly clear that armaments depend upon foreign policy, and indeed that foreign policy is our main defence, and skilled and adroit and sincere diplomacy should help us where perhaps armaments cannot. I wish good fortune to all, from wherever they may be drawn in politics, who are engaged upon the task of pursuing a policy by which we may live, rather than one of increasing armaments which destroy so many achievements.

There is no one, I think, on this side of your Lordships' House who would not agree that in the world in which we live the "great deterrent", subject to the objective of banning it—that is the common hope of us all—is indispensable and that we should be possessed of it. Whether the "great deterrent" will have all the effect which some claim for it is a matter which may well be open to debate. But if we are to have it, then I would urge upon those upon whom responsibility rests that we should ensure that we have it in a form and under conditions in which, however it has to be used, it can be used to the best effect. I would also urge that we should not take on commitments as to either using it or not using it. The phrases, "We shall not use it unless …" or, "We shall use it if …" are words not of expansion but of limitation. I would urge Her Majesty's Government to keep in all this a free hand, waiting upon circumstances as they may arise. I hope and pray that the situation may never arise in which it is to be used; and I believe that the conscience of the British people will be such that it will be only under the influence of the most extreme urgency and necessity that any Government would have the support of the people in using it. But it might be necessary, and I should not myself, nor would my friends, shrink from it if occasion should arise.

The position with regard to these weapons and with regard to missiles is somewhat changing. I noticed in the White Paper, although it is stated to be a progress statement based upon the Paper of 1957, that whereas in that earlier Paper the Minister of Defence referred to the "great deterrent" in explicit words, one might almost say in explosive words, he now slants somewhat from it, and his main emphasis, instead of being on the deterrent, is rather towards more conventional weapons. Indeed, in another place the Minister of Defence, and here to-day the noble Earl the Leader of the House, were insistent upon pointing out the relatively small proportion of our expenditure upon defence that is devoted to that particular end.

I want to say a word about ballistic missiles—and I should say to your Lordships that I speak not as some expert but as an interested layman. I think the position there is changing. Russia announced in 1957 the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The United States fired Atlas, their inter-continental ballistic missile, for the first time successfully in 1958; and Russia is a little ahead. Until Atlas can be got into operational use the United States are, temporarily at all events, more dependent than ever before on intermediate-range bases in this country, in Spain, in Morocco, in Japan and in Arabia. From the United States' point of view, these bases are for the intermediate-range missiles, and they would seem to serve only an interim purpose pending the successful development of Atlas. When Atlas does come into operational use, the importance of these bases for the United States will greatly diminish, and, politically, America's hands will be greatly strengthened.

My Lords, the United Kingdom must then he prepared to be independent of the United States for intermediate-range ballistic capacity, and we must look to ourselves. That is really the basis upon which we work in connection with Blue Streak. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government how matters stand as regards Blue Streak. I should also like to know what is the position as regards anti-missile missiles. I saw in the Press the other day that we had abandoned the production of anti-missile missiles. It will be interesting to know from Her Majesty's Government what the position is in that respect, for be it noted that, when once a man-manned aircraft leaves these shores, it will be too late to call it back in the event of an attack upon us, and as regards missiles that have once been despatched, they of course cannot be called back at all. It is therefore important to know how we stand as regards the anti-missile missiles.

If it is right—and I believe it to be—that we should attach more importance to a substantial contribution to the N.A.T.O. force in Western Europe than we have been inclined to do hitherto, it is essential that we should be satisfied that that is going to be effective for its purpose. I should like to know—indeed, my noble friend Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH hinted at this question—how far the Army on the Rhine is equipped with the modern rifle. I should like to know what its position is with regard to tanks, and, in particular, with regard to antitank weapons. I am also interested in the area of operation of the Second Tactical Air Force. It is now half the size that it was. Is it sufficient for its purpose? Is it designed to work in close co-operation with the Army, or is it to operate with a degree of independence, as an Air Force on its own? That we shall certainly wish to know from the Government.

I suppose that, of the 250 divisions said to be available to be brought into use against Western Europe, 100 might be deployed to the areas which we have to defend. Opposed to them, as matters stand now, we should have not more than 28½ divisions. Are we satisfied that those divisions are not only fully equipped so far as our contribution is concerned, but that the 28½ of them—contributed to by other nations, also—are all competently equipped and ready to take the field? Is the Force self-supporting? Can it conduct its operations without re-equipment, without reinforcement, and without being resupplied? All those are essential questions in the circumstances we have to envisage. The likelihood of our being able to reinforce them in supplies or equipment or men is not very great, judging from the situation disclosed by the White Paper and by many discussions in your Lordships' House.

Perhaps I should pause there for a moment to say that, when the noble Earl the Leader of the House spoke just now he used a phrase with regard to the forces not comprised in the Army on the Rhine, and he referred to their purposes in terms of "limited emergencies overseas". But, my Lords, our obligations overseas may be far more than limited emergencies. They include the Bagdad Pact, and they include S.E.A.T.O., in aid of which we can in no wise call upon our forces engaged in Western Europe. Limited emergencies are in addition to those obligations: they do not themselves define those obligations. We might be involved in warfare in the Far East, or in the not-so-far East, in conditions which would be far more than "limited emergencies overseas". I should like to know how we stand with regard to that. Are our forces swiftly-moving, self-sufficient and organised as battle groups? Can they get there in time, and will they be fully equipped and self-sufficient when they do get there? That applies whether they are in fulfilment of our obligations under, let us say, S.E.A.T.O. or the Bagdad Pact, or whether they are for the purpose of "limited emergencies overseas". I am not so certain that our experiences in transporting troops to Cyprus show that we are able to do so with that speed which circumstances might very easily require of us.

In that connection, perhaps the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he replies, will say whether he considers that the 125,000 men out of the 185.000 will suffice for our commitments outside Western Europe—which, merely for the purposes of this argument, I assume to be stabilised at 55,000. Will they he sufficient: and is the force so constituted and provided that it should be able to carry out its task (in the opening phase, at all events) with little or no reinforcement? Could we feel confidence that the strategic reserve is so based as between this country and overseas that it can swiftly be moved to any likely point of interest and importance and trouble? Have stockpiles of heavy equipment been made overseas, to reduce to a minimum the air transport load, to which my noble friend Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH referred? We are told that Britannias, Britannics arid Argosies are coming in, and that there are to be some heavy freighters; but it is of little use taking one's forces to some airfield unless there They will be able to find further transport to take them to the point of action and unless they will be able to find there heavy equipment for their use when they get to that point. I should like to know something about the stockpiles, and I should also like to know something about the bases. There are different points of view, but I should like to see the stockpiles increased. I should like to see the bases in Europe dispersed. On an earlier occasion I raised in your Lordships' House the position of the great base that had been established at Antwerp. I give that by way of example, and not by way of precise question. Have bases of that kind been suitably dispersed in order to meet the situation which may arise?

Now, my Lords, as I look at the White Paper I observe that it is called a "Progress Report." Some have called it an "Accountant's Report." Certainly, on the asset side there is little to put in save for development. There is little in the way of substantial assets that you can see and touch and use. It is largely, as my noble friend pointed out, in the realm of development. I am not inclined to complain about that. These things take a long time. What is important is to have assurances that these objects are being pursued with energy and clearmindedness, with a clear idea of what we are aiming at in each particular. I ask because I have made a study of the various projects on foot for the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force: between two dozen and two-and-a-half dozen of them. I ask the Government: are our finances sufficient; are our engineering and manufacturing resources sufficient to enable us to pursue these many projects at one and the same time with a view to completing them within any reasonable time?

I hope the answer may be in the affirmative. I fear it may not be. And if I am correct in that, will the noble Earl, the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he replies, pray be good enough to tell us what are the priorities? The leading article in The Times said words to the effect that without knowing these priorities the policy set out in the White Paper has little relevance to the situation which we have to meet.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, as there are many noble Lords who want to speak, I shall not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. This White Paper is, as noble Lords have said, a progress report, and I think that it demands some commendation for the Government. I think it demands some further information on matters on which we are not informed, and it needs also, I think, some further clarification on one or two matters on which we are informed.

First, as regards commendation, I should like to join with other noble Lords in rejoicing that the gloomy prophecies made by various noble Lords, including myself, have proved entirely wrong as regards the recruiting for the Forces.


I hope the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, but is it not a fact that some of the remarks he and others made have resulted in better recruiting, as better conditions resulted from the criticisms made?


Far be it from me to claim any credit for anything arising from any speech that I made. But if, collectively, noble Lords have urged the Executive to take suitable action before, they can derive some satisfaction from the results to-day.

The other commendation I should like to make, if I am allowed to, is on the degree of flexibility that is shown in this progress report. There was a charge, in another place, that the Government were inconsistent. I think it is easy to confuse inconsistency with flexibility, and the complexity and scale of development makes changes all the time necessary. But there is one statement made by the Leader of the House on which I would throw some doubt. He gave an unqualified declaration that in due course the strategic bomber will be succeeded by nuclear weapons. My Lords, that, with respect, is a very definite statement to make.


Ballistic missiles.


Ballistic missiles. It may be that a few years will show that the development of defence against fixed-based missiles and fixed-trajectory missiles is such that we may have to consider reverting to reliance upon mobile air delivery bases with weapons despatched with controlled trajectory; and if that came about it would mean the continuance of the manned aircraft for delivery of these missiles.


I meant to say that the expert advice at present is that missiles will succeed bombers. No doubt this will be argued by the noble Lord and others for some years.


I think the Leader of the House made an admission when he said experts "at present." It gives that degree of flexibility which I was hoping would be contained in this majority policy, in the same way as we have seen flexibility maintained in other directions.

On the second point of more information I begin to doubt. This is a bold statement to make, perhaps, and one which may not find agreement in many quarters of the House. But I am beginning to doubt the value of annual debates ranging over the whole of our defences unless there is some new change in policy, or unless Parliament can be given—and I do not know whether this is possible—more information than it is given at the present time. I feel that Members who take part in wide debates on defence matters should be well-informed; they should not have to rely on newspaper experts and statements of those who have served recently in the Services. I know that we cannot ask for top secret or secret information; but when, as recently, someone asked about iron bedsteads for the Services and that was classified as being a security matter, I think that is going a little far in restricting information to both Houses of Parliament. We debate matters upon which most of us could not pass an examination. Take nuclear weapons of various sorts. We have Thor, we are told, training, but may be operational; the Blue Streak, Fire Streak, Bloodhound (which your Lordships will be glad to hear has an air-breather engine), Thunderbird, Sea-slug, Seacat and Polaris, which is not to be fitted to the "Dreadnought" submarine. And we must not forget the Little Corporal—everyman's nuclear weapon: it has been given to two regiments and it is, I gather, quite a small job, about half the power of one Hiroshima bomb.

I have some sympathy for the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH, when he brings forward various instances of the expressions of order: "Expected soon"; "Delivery started"; "Percentage increases"—without the basis upon which the percentage is founded; the F.N. rifle, which half of our Forces in Germany have already, though we are not told when the other half will have it. I submit that we ought to have more information. But if it is not available, then let us review the question of annual debates unless there has been during the previous year a major change of Government policy.

My third point is a plea for some clarification on matters upon which we are to some extent informed. Perhaps I can best deal with that by saying that there are a few puzzles upon which I should like to be put right, and perhaps the First Lord of the Admiralty would be so good as to put me right when he comes to reply. My first puzzle is: When does a tactical nuclear weapon, which is, I gather, an acceptable thing, and not uncivilised, become a deterrent which is abhorrent to a large section of the populace? Why is a tactical nuclear weapon used with conventional forces acceptable, yet the same weapon—say the Corporal; half a Hiroshima—if used upon a civil target at once becomes the deterrent? Now we have the T.S.R.2 Army support aircraft.


We are going to have.


We are going to have; I have not got information on that. That will carry a tactical nuclear weapon. But supposing the captain of the aircraft turns 90 degrees on his compass and goes forward and drops this tactical nuclear weapon upon some civilian target, is he immediately using the great deterrent? Perhaps the First Lord may be able to elucidate that.

Then we have the V-bomber force, which carries the great deterrent. If the V-bomber force was used in a tactical rôle, should we be considered as using the great deterrent or not? In the last war, as many noble Lords will remember, our strategic bomber force was used in a tactical rôle on many occasions. To give only two examples it was used in the Ardennes and in North Africa in support of Field Marshal Montgomery's campaign, As I say, if we used our V-bomber force for tactical support, would that be within or outside the rules of the use or otherwise of the great deterrent?

I think this question of what is or is not the deterrent depends not on the type of weapon but on the usage of the weapon. If that be so, I am led to the conclusion, first, that there is no line except usage which determines what is or is not the deterrent, and that that line is now to be bridged at all times, even in a limited war. Secondly, I do not think any nation will accept total defeat in a European conflict, if it be a limited war, without resort, in the final event, to the use of the deterrent in any way that they think fit in order to save themselves from defeat. Thirdly, if that is accepted, we cannot visualise a limited liability war in Europe, and I am driven to the conclusion that we need the strategic deterrent and it is impossible to rest on possession only of the tactical weapon.

Finally, my Lords, I should like some clarification and classification of different lines of political thought on the issue of Britain's manufacture, testing and possession of the nuclear weapon. As I understand it, the first school of thought is that which says: total repudiation of nuclear weapons. I do not agree with that; it is a logical school of thought, but it is a fatal one. It is the school, I believe, of one-way suicide. Then we have the second school, which to me is quite unintelligible, as expressed by the Leader of the Liberal Party in another place, Mr. Grimond. He is for the cessation of manufacture and test and the surrender of possession, but in favour of some contribution, in terms of brains and money, towards research. It seems to me that that policy leads us to shelter behind the United States' bombs; and, just as important, it abrogates this country's ability to fulfil the foreign policy which the Government of the day may consider wisest and best for this country. Then we have a third school which advocates no great deterrent but allows a nuclear tactical weapon as being acceptable. I hope that I have shown that that is quite an illogical school of thought.

Then there is the school of thought to which some of the Labour Party belong, which says: have the bomb but do not test it. I come supported by what Mr. Bevan said at Scarborough, not by what the Leader of the Opposition here has said to-day, with which I think we are all in agreement—except that, having said that he supported the possession by this country, he did not say whether he supported the manufacture and test.


If the noble Lord is going to say what the view of the Labour Party is, I think he had better get it right. They wished more than a year ago to suspend the testing for a temporary period in order to get negotiations going. Otherwise, it is exactly as I said this afternoon.


That is an interesting definition. because I have something here a little different: it is what Mr. Bevan—and he is one of the leaders of the Labour Party—said at Scarborough: On moral grounds alone they believed the tests should stop. They had pledged themselves in unequivocal language that, whatever the consequences might be, if Labour were returned to power the tests would stop. That is not conditional, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, has said. My quotation goes on: They would not wait for any other nation to agree to stop, but would stop themselves and hope others would follow their example.


My sister went to a great meeting at Bristol a week ago—I do not know whether this will interest the noble Lord—and she read carefully the local newspaper afterwards and said how disastrously different it was from the speech actually made.


I can only take the quotation which I have here of Mr. Bevan's speech. I must say that I do think there is a great division in the Party opposite. I believe it can be said that on nuclear weapons the Labour Party have gone into orbit in the vacuum of their own confusion because none of us really knows where they stand.


Perhaps the noble Lord would allow me, in the temporary absence of my noble Leader, to comment on what he said about Mr. Grimond's remarks in another place a few days ago. Would the noble Lord agree that there may be some difference between sheltering behind an Ally, as he put it, and co-operating with an Ally for the mutual benefit of both?


No, I would not. I think there is little difference between Mr. Grimond, who wishes to make a contribution, in terms of money and research, but does not wish us to possess, manufacture or test, and the school of total abolition, except that one has the honesty to say something logical and the other has the foolishness to say something that does not make sense.


Would the noble Lord agree that he may not have heard the expression about "cutting your coat according to the cloth"?


What I do not want to do is to appear naked without a coat at all. Then there is the final school which says: make the tests; make the bomb; test the bomb; possess the bomb, so far as our resources in this country allow, and in partnership with the United States. But (says this school) realise that this is a thing to be done with regret and sadness, in the hope that, by peaceful counsel, we may achieve world disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons, though until that time we must defend ourselves. That seems to me the school of Her Majesty's Government, and it is one which I support and which I believe the majority of your Lordships in this House will support.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I have to confess that on entering the House I had the intention of trying to say everything unpleasant I could about this particular Motion, but I have been largely converted by the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, and I am prepared to bless certain subjects which before I wished to damn. His explanation was so agreeable that perhaps I rather lost my sense of proportion. I was brought back to it by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opositioin, who voiced much better than I could many of the criticisms which I wished to make. I should like to thank both the noble Earl the Leader of the House arid the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition for the pleasant remarks they made about the Royal Navy, and I am sure the other naval members of this House appreciate it, too.

In this House a few days ago I was hauled over the coals or, perhaps I should say keel-hauled, by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He hinted that I was obsolete and had not adopted the policy of interdependence. I had not. I think it is a horrible policy, and the noble Earl to-day blew it into shreds when he said, justly and rightly, that we must be prepared to fulfil our own obligations and not to depend upon any other country. I think it would be quite awful if we depended upon the United States in naval matters that were entirely our concern. We should be reduced to the position of a poor relation and have to suffer all the humiliations and limitations which is common to those who occupy that state.

I do not wish to cast any slur upon any of our allies, the U.S.A. or any other, but we have certain responsibilities. All of us have our own responsibilities and our own aims, and each nation naturally considers its need to be paramount. The history of war provides countless examples of allies falling out. That has happened quite recently, and many of OUT Lordships have been connected with questions which led to great discord. They will go on, and they appear to be going on in the manufacturing world, one of the first systems of interdependence. We, as the centre of the Commonwealth, have wide interests overseas. Our Colonies look to us for protection. Where are the vessels? I make no bones about it. If we were to go to war next week the Navy would be absolutely unable to fulfil its responsibilities. Picture what would happen at sea. Our ships would be coming in from various ports all over the world, with submarines all over the ocean. There are plenty of Russian submarines to fill the Atlantic. We should have to form convoys, but we have not enough ships to convoy them. If your Lordships wish to know whether that is a fact, you have only to compare the convoys at sea and the escorts required in the last war as compared with what we should need to-day. You have that in the Naval History of the War.

The noble Earl who leads the House made the remark that our forces must always have the best of everything. But we have never yet entered a war with everybody having the best of everything. Ships are now being scrapped and sold because, I suppose, theoretically the Navy must have the best of everything. But nobody would be more surprised than the Navy if you told them they must have the best of everything. They are proud of making do with what they have, and improvising if necessary. We are told that it is not economical to modernise certain ships. Well, do not modernise them. If a ship is efficient with everything working in her, why not keep her until you can replace her with something better? A ship arrived home the other day, and we were told that it was not economic to modernise her. She came in in a state of efficiency; Her Majesty's ships always are kept to a state of efficiency. Do you suppose that those ships would be quite useless in a war? All these modern ships which are going to be blown out of the water in years to come do not exist to-day, and a great many of the vessels they will have to fight will be conventional vessels. Might not some be taken on by our conventional vessels?

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, made a remark which I thought was worthy of attention, which was to the effect that our Navy, though we cannot hope to be the first or second in the world, can well be the make-weight between the first two, and should be kept at that level. That is what we should aim at—to have a Navy which is able to tip the balance one way or the other, which would probably be the greatest factor in the preservation of peace you can imagine. Two days ago, in spite of his great and magnificent efforts, the Prime Minister warned the country that the position was grave between the East and the West, and nobody who studies events can doubt that for a moment. Are we really prepared at the present moment for a sudden outbreak of war? Here is the Navy spending a lot of money getting bunks instead of hammocks for ordinary seamen. I think economies can be made in that respect. I do not believe a boy of the right spirit cares whether he has a hammock or a bed when he wants to coil up and go to sleep. My own recollection is that a hammock is a very pleasant place to do it

The Motion we are asked to support does not show any sign of urgency at all It is not as if we might not be at war within forty-eight hours. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLSBOROUGH, made criticisms upon that line so potently that I will not embark upon it. The Army got the increase in their numbers of men because they said they must be increased and it could not be argued against on the ground of economy. Under Government pressure, the Admiralty has been busy preparing for the vessels we shall require for a war in ten years' time. At the same time they have been very busy scrapping all the old vessels that we have. I suggest that they have been doing too little, too slowly, and have been moving a great deal too fast in the scrapping of our Navy as it was.

My Lords, I will draw my remarks to a close. I urge, in conclusion, that we should keep what we have got until we can replace it by something better, and if nothing better comes along we must make the best of what we have got. As for saying that it is uneconomical to modernise certain vessels, I would reply that they will pay dividends a thousand times in preventing some foreign ship from getting among our convoys and sinking half a dozen ships because there is nothing there to repel her.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, in the first place I would respectfully say that the need, and the principal need, in the Army is for infantry, for men on their feet, men who can occupy and men who can garrison, and men who can do police duty. And yet infantry, which I think many people will agree is the arm most needed, is being abolished on all sides. There is a need for the regiments of Guards—I would say the finest infantry in the world—and yet that Brigade is being reduced. There are three battalions—sometimes there are only two—finding the duties in London which used to be found by five battalions. Consequently, the men are constantly on guard and get little time for the training which they ought to have. Recruiting for the Brigade is being discouraged; I say discouraged because barracks are lacking and barracks are bad. Wellington Barracks are very old; they were built in the reign of King William IV. Chelsea Barracks are early Victorian and bad. Both have been condemned for years, to my knowledge; and, to my knowledge, too, there were estimates a good many years ago—more than twenty years ago—for rebuilding, and those estimates were turned down because it was thought that the cost of rebuilding would lessen.

The Government have selected for reduction one very old battalion, the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadiers, and one very new one, the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream; presumably, because both are third battalions. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers is the oldest battalion of the Crown—meaning the oldest in the service of the Crown with continuous service, and excluding battalions raised under revolutionary Governments and under foreign sovereigns. The 3rd Battalion Coldstream was raised in my service, and that is not so very long ago. I would emphasise that the country could do with both of them and that both ought to continue; they are both good battalions and they ought to be continued.

Then, my Lords, there is a shortage of officers, which is emphasised by the offer of scholarships at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. It ought not to be necessary to offer scholarships in order to induce the right type of young man to come in as a commissioned officer. It is not surprising when the conditions regarding officers' pensions and officers' widows' pensions are taken into consideration.

The Minister of Defence talks about introducing new weapons. Like the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, I wonder whether these new weapons are ready and whether they are able to be brought into action at short notice, or whether they are in the experimental stage only. When all is said and done, in spite of nuclear weapons, conventional armaments are necessary, if only for minor operations or for policing work. Take, for instance, Cyprus or Nyasaland. We do not want to annihilate the inhabitants but we do want to teach them a good lesson which will not be forgotten. So it is with conventional weapons that we must take them on. It is only with conventional weapons that we can take them on. It may be possible that, having regard to the terrible effects of nuclear weapons, they may not be used; I think it is a very poor chance that they will not be used, but they may not be used, like gas in the last war.

Then there is the Navy. I speak with bated breath before the noble and gallant Earl who preceded me, but I think it is not too much to say that even in these modern times the people of this country feel complete confidence in the Navy and regard it as their first line of defence. I confess that I am moved by what the noble and gallant Earl said about the strength of the Navy and about the policy of scrapping ships which are perfectly sound to take to sea. I do not profess to know, but I have the dreadful feeling that we always start a war unprepared; we always have done in recent years and I am horribly afraid that we may go on doing so. I pray that the next war may not find us unprepared, especially at sea. We hear of the laying down of new ships. How soon will those ships. he ready for sea, I wonder. We hear of the expense of being prepared; but unpreparedness is terribly expensive—terribly expensive in life, which perhaps is the most important thing, terribly expensive in money and terribly expensive in material. I only hope that we shall not start the next war unprepared, as we have so frequently done in the past.

Lastly, there is the air. I have little or no knowledge of aircraft—I do not pretend to have—but I can only pray that in the most modern of our arms we may not be found unprepared, and whether it is on land or whether it is at sea, or whether it is in the air, our preparedness may be equal to the spirit of our people.

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, the opening remarks of my noble friend Lord Jeffreys certainly find a ready response in my heart, because I have the honour to be a member of his Regiment. When he spoke in this House on a former occasion on the subject of the abolition of the two 3rd Battalions in the Brigade of Guards, I had the honour to follow him, and I said I hoped that an improvement in recruiting might mean that this step would prove to be unnecessary in the event. We all welcome, on both sides of the House, the improved figures of Regular recruiting, and I should like now to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they would not reconsider their decision to do away with these two extremely fine battalions, the usefulness of which, in peace and war, has already been proved.

My Lords, there is a long list of speakers and, short of taking my name off the list altogether, I am sure it would be most convenient to the House if I did not detain your Lordships very long. I have referred to recruiting and, like my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I am quite willing to tell your Lordships that I was a doubter and that I am exceedingly glad to have been found wrong; and I offer my respectful congratulations to Her Majesty's Government and to the Minister of Defence. I think we ought also to congratulate the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no doubt that an easing of the conditions of service, made possible by further financial provisions, has enabled a great number of young men, officers and other ranks, to pursue the vocation which they wish to pursue; because to serve in Her Majesty's Forces is a vocation—there is no doubt about it. You cannot bribe people to come in, but you can deter them from coming in by adverse conditions, and particularly by uncomfortable family conditions. It is my hope that the anti-cyclone which is now over the Service ministries, as marked on the Treasury's weather map, will persist for many years to come. I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that the interventions from both sides of the House on this matter have been most useful.

At the other end of the scale, on the obverse side of the coin, is resettlement. I have something to do with the Resettlement Service. While I think there is no room for complacency, there is ground for a moderate degree of satisfaction with the progress so far made. One has to be most careful what one says about it, Every officer and other rank whose career is terminated, whether prematurely or not, faces the future necessarily with some perturbation. It is a new world into which he goes, and to pretend that it is easy to find a job would be the greatest deception. But I believe that the setting up of the Resettlement Service, which was done little more than a year ago by the Minister of Labour was a right step. Speaking as the Chairman of the London and South East Regional Resettlement Committee, I should like to say two things: first, that businesses, large and small, have shown a most co-operative attitude; and secondly, that I have not found the kind of prejudice against Servicemen that I expected in business circles. I think that that is possibly due to the fact that a great many business executives were themselves in the Services in the war and worked side by side in regiments and battalions or on the staffs with Regular soldiers, for whom they rightly conceived a high opinion.

Although it is not easy, it is not now a very difficult task for a young, or even a middle-aged man, coming out of the Services to find a job. The climate of opinion is better. But, of course, each man who comes out is a separate problem. I should like to say how much I commend all the officers and men who have come out for their persistence and courage in seeking jobs, because the first job-finder is the individual himself. Though the climate of opinion may be better for him, it is upon his personality and pertinacity and real desire to find employment that the ultimate success depends.

I can give only one set of figures which I think must encourage your Lordships. In the London and South East Region we have something like 40 per cent. of the officers, and very nearly the same figure of other ranks, who come out of the three Services, registered with the Ministry. Recently I went through the list of those who have been in search of employment for more than six months. There were no more than 70-odd names on that list. When we had been through the list with care, and had taken out those who, for some reason, were not fully available for employment or had some difficulty which prevented them from becoming fully employable, the list was brought down to six; and we actually interviewed only four, because two of the six had already received employment. So although it is not a matter for complacency, it is at least some ground for encouragement.

My Lords, we have discussed, as we are always discussing in these debates, such great matters as the nuclear deterrent. I do not wish to trench on the ground which has already been covered by my noble friends Lord Swinton and Lord Balfour of Inchrye, but I should like to make two observations. The first is that I believe it is quite arbitrary, and false to fact, to think that we can divide the peaceful uses of nuclear energy from the war-like uses of that energy. We should not have achieved our leading place in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy unless we had put great resources. both human and material, into research in this field. And this applies equally to other fields of advanced research, particularly the field of manned and unmanned flight. Unless we, as a nation, are prepared to put great resources into these fields we shall fall behind both in the peaceful and in the war-like uses of flight; and, what is more, a great many other aspects of industry which depend upon advanced research, especially in metallurgy and electronics and kindred services, will quickly suffer. Whether we like it or not—and I am speaking quite unpolitically—owing to the pace of international competition in this field, all the great nations have in fact socialised basic research. We should certainly fall far behind in a rich range of technology if we tried to cut down on either the peaceful or the war-like use of nuclear energy or the advanced research into flight.

Speaking of flight, I should like to support what my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye said about manned aircraft. The noble Earl the Leader of the House said that expert opinion had advised Her Majesty's Government that missiles would replace the manned bomber. One must remember, however, that in general Her Majesty's Government, arid the Minister of Defence in particular, choose the experts who advise. You can always find the advice you wish to get. If you choose another set of advisers they would tell you something quite different. Of course, the missile cannot replace the aircraft. We have to have advanced research and manufacture of missiles, and we have certainly to go on in the field of manned aircraft. I regard it as a small act of grace that since last year we have been promised a new aircraft for the Royal Air Force—it is carefully called a tactical weapon so that consistency may be preserved. I should not be at all surprised if we see, coming over the horizon, another aircraft, even more advanced, which can be used both strategically and tactically.

My Lords, it is because we have men of such great ability in this scientific field that, with far narrower resources than either the United States or Russia, we have been able to make immense strides forward. Although we cannot cover the same wide fields as they do, and have to advance on a narrower front, we have advanced in step. I believe that our economic as well as our political future depends on our continuing to give the resources and encouragement to our highly qualified scientists and engineers; and I believe that the future balance of our economy and of our foreign trade depends upon this. If I might make an aphorism: "Take care of the Penneys and the pound will take care of itself".

Finally—I promised to speak shortly—I hope that Her Majesty's Government will pursue with consistency the policy which they have already laid down for defence. It certainly must go hand in hand with a wise foreign policy. We must always be ready to negotiate, and certainly ready to listen to any proposals for getieral disarmament; but no partial disarmament, no limitation applied only to nuclear armaments, will bring peace to the world. In fact, that will encourage aggression on the part of nations who have a far more plentiful supply of manpower. There is no safety in trying to build up in Western Europe purely conventional forces. That is neither economically possible nor militarily viable, and therefore I ask Her Majesty's Government to maintain the policy which they have foreshadowed.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, a White Paper issued by the present Minister of Defence always excites considerable anticipation. When I read his White Papers I often feel that we could do with a Sandys in each of the Service Departments. The White Paper of 1957 showed, I thought, great courage: it was precise, uncompromising and, consequently, extremely uncomfortable. But from 1957 the Minister began to get order out of chaos, and I have not yet noticed that anything in that 1957 White Paper has been proved wrong. But from this current White Paper that we are discussing to-day I get the impression that the Minister has to some extent given way on 1957. He is charged with over-emphasis on the deterrent and under-emphasis on conventional weapons. For what my opinion is worth, I feel sure that he was right in the views he put forward in 1957; and I was not at all encouraged by what the noble Earl the Leader of the House told us to-day about expenditure on nuclear armaments being only some 10 per cent, of our total expenditure on defence. I wish that the amount were not so small.

I should like to see it considerably more, especially as we know that our scientists and engineers are quite ready to do remarkable things if only they are encouraged—and have the funds—to do them.

I noted one other remark in the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. It is true, of course, that the Minister of Defence has not succeeded in reducing expenditure, but if I heard the noble Earl aright he told us that our expenditure on defence has reached a point where it cannot be increased. As there are those who feel that our present expenditure on defence has certainly failed to leave this country quite secure, it seemed to me very disturbing that the expenditure which has not rendered us secure is an expenditure which cannot possibly be increased.

I believe that the real purpose of a White Paper should be to give the public, who do the paying, an annual opportunity to look at the defence policy. This White Paper does nothing of the kind: it is really a shopping-list of things which, with a little bit of luck, we may have some day, though no dates are given as to when that may be; and it is also remarkable for its omissions. It says nothing of standardisation—a matter of the utmost importance, since we are relying upon a collective defence policy. It tells us nothing from the Minister of Defence of the Minister of Supply about the agreement we now have with the United States of America to exchange information on defence matters. N.A.T.O. is the basis of our defence policy, but the White Paper dismisses N.A.T.O. in three or four really anodyne lines; and there is no review of our global defence policy.

I feel that the main defect of the White Paper is that it deals far too much with matters which really fall within the province of the Estimates of the three Service Ministers. This had its effect in the debate which has recently taken place in another place. Practically every speaker there was dealing with matters which really fall within the province of the Service Estimates. The result was that the debate ended in what the Daily Express described as "desultory conversation" after discussion of matters quite irrelevant to a defence debate. The word which runs through the White Paper from beginning to end is "when"—when we have this; when we have that. But no light is thrown upon when is "when". No date is given for this "when". What does emerge from the White Paper, without any ambiguity whatever, is that our forces are to-day not equipped in a manner that would enable them to fight either a conventional or a nuclear war. They are neither organised nor armed in a manner enabling them to do so; and I doubt whether they can be so organised and armed before the middle 1960s. In that respect the White Paper is, to my mind, profoundly disappointing.

I want to say a word, too, about a matter that is becoming of very great and serious importance in all defence and Service debates, that is the overstressing of secrecy. Secrecy has to be divided into two kinds. No man in his senses wants to have really secret information given in these debates, but the word "secrecy" is being increasingly extended to cover "information". Since the public pay for all our defence they are entitled to have some information about it. That information should be obtained for the public through Parliament, yet in these days so much information is denied on the grounds of secrecy. There is a phrase which crops up in every one of these debates: that "It would not be in the public interest to give the information requested" What that phrase really means, of course, is that it would not be in the interest of the Minister or of his Ministry to give the information, because so often it would make them appear in a very poor light. I believe that this question of legitimate information is of very much more importance than is usually recognised, because I believe that one of our most potent weapons of defence is our Parliamentary institutions. I have always thought that it was the country with the best Parliamentary institutions which has won two wars. That view is borne out by a book which a German historian wrote after World War I, when he said: "The German General Staff fought the English Parliament." That, I thought, was a most significant admission.

There are complaints that the public have lost a considerable amount of interest in the Services, particularly perhaps in the Navy, though I believe that what has been said about the Navy by previous speakers may have a very heartening effect. But the same thing seems to me to be happening in Parliament. There are complaints about apathy in Parliament, about poor attendance in debates, and so on. I believe that, certainly so far as Service debates are concerned, that is largely due to the fact of this denial of information, which Parliament is quite legitimately entitled to have so that it may be passed on to the public.

I hope very much that the noble Earl the Leader of the House may perhaps hear of these views I am expressing and think about them, because I am firmly of the opinion that this mania about information is doing a great deal of harm to the Services and to Parliament. The present desire of the Service Minister seems to be to prevent any information whatever from coming out of his Department. He wants it kept in the archives of that Department where, if it does not do any good, at least it cannot do him any harm. The views I am expressing were given voice in the debate in another place. V ice-Admiral Hughes-Hallett made a very striking speech on the subject, and Mr. Shinwell, a former Minister of Defence and Secretary of State for War, and Sir Peter Macdonald both spoke on the same line. I think that speakers who ask for information should be treated as asking for what they are legitimately entitled to ask, and not treated, as they too often are, as if they were agents of a foreign Power.

There are so many things in the White Paper about which one would like to speak, but I realise how many speakers there are on the list and the only other matter about which I want to say a word or two is the Navy. The Minister of Defence has certainly not been discursive in the White Paper on the subject of the Navy. He said: We have given especial weight to its tasks in peace and in limited war. East of Suez, where the naval forces can play a very important part, we are planning to maintain a somewhat larger Fleet than at present. I understand that that "somewhat larger Fleet" is going to be based upon one carrier and one cruiser, without any operational reserve, and I think that those are rather small forces with which to play "a very important part." I noticed what the noble Earl the Leader of the House said about the important role of the Navy in showing the Flag. There are two sides to that. It certainly is very important and a very great thing to show the Flag—provided that we have something worth showing. I am afraid that what we show the Flag with so often to-day is something which will make the spectator say, "How are the mighty fallen! What has happened when that is all that that great maritime country can scrape up to show the Flag with?"

Again, Mr. Sandys said: The number of ships in the operational Fleet will not be greatly reduced and aircraft carriers and escort vessels will remain virtually unchanged. I found those words rather alarming because, quite clearly, the Fleet is to be reduced, although we are supposed to take comfort from the fact that it is not to be greatly reduced.

It has been emphasised again to-day that the Navy's prime responsibility is anti-submarine operations. We know that our anti-submarine forces are seriously inadequate. Mr. Sandys said that we must, of course, provide our fair share of the naval forces required by N.A.T.O. But we are not doing so. We know that from our own Admiral, Admiral Eccles, and from the American Admiral, Admiral Wright, because both of them went on record after the last exercises as saying that we were not contributing our necessary share. I see that Admiral Wright recently addressed the Navy League in Washington, and he was asked whether he was satisfied with the British contribution to the anti-submarine forces. Admiral Wright is a very courteous man who does not want to hurt the feelings of his Ally, but I admired the adroitness of his reply, because he said that: The British have suffered a lapse in their economy which has led to a cut in their antisubmarine forces. There we had it perfectly clearly that we are not able to make our proper contribution to N.A.T.O. in the anti-submarine forces. The White Paper promises no increases in those forces, only that the insufficient numbers will be virtually unchanged. There is to be virtually no change in what is admittedly insufficient. Whatever the reason may be—and I wish we could be told the reason—the fact is incontrovertible that the First Lord, the First Sea Lord and the Minister of Defence have, between them, pretty well paid off the Navy. I wonder whether one of these days we shall not find that the Admiralty Standard over the Admiralty has been hauled down and replaced by a paying-off pennant.

My wife told me a few days ago that when she was a child her father took her out in his yacht to see the Fleet in Torbay—and I can tell your Lordships that it was some Fleet! One could not see the sea for ships. She said to her father, "Do all these ships belong to us?" In like circumstances to-day, I think she would have said, "Is this all we have got?" I have no doubt about it, we are cut very low indeed; and I am particularly interested in this matter as regards our policy in relation to the protection of the merchant fleet. I understand that the protection of our merchant ships now depends upon interdependence—that blessed word, which is like "Mesopotamia": whenever you are cornered you say, "Interdependence" This, of course, will be a matter for full debate when we debate the Navy Estimates. I can only say that "interdependence" as an answer on policy is meaningless, unless we are told whether it has been decided how many escorts the defence of our merchant fleet would involve.

In the debate on the last Motion brought forward by the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, I believe that the figure of 800 was quoted as what was found to be necessary towards the end of the last war. Have we firm promises from our Allies that something like that number will be available when required? Have we a promise from each country which helps to make up this interdependence? Have we told them what quota we should require from them to make up the full total, and have we a firm promise from them that that quota will be forthcoming? Because unless we have figures and undertakings of that nature, this word "interdependence" is worse than meaningless. I say that with greater strength because we already know that the representatives of the two countries upon whom the main burden of this interdependence must fall—Great Britain and the United States of America—have said that at the present moment we are not able to make our proper contribution to the defence of the merchant fleet.

My Lords, I will leave it at that, because there are many other speakers on the list. I must say that I feel that the White Paper leaves unanswered a great many questions which it might well have been expected to answer; that it reveals a very serious position in regard to the lack of the necessary weapons and of the necessary equipment; and that in regard to the Navy it reveals a profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to enter into the argument about the extent to which we as a nation should contribute to the Western nuclear deterrent; or into the more difficult question of the precise form which our contribution should take. I myself find it difficult—almost impossible—to conceive of a nuclear war in which our interests were not identical with those of our American allies, and I therefore would most strongly oppose the diversion of our limited resources to duplicating weapons which are already sufficiently provided for in the American programme. I believe that we must look upon this nuclear deterrent as a Western effort, and as an Anglo-American effort. There cannot be two deterrents, one British and one American: there must be a joint deterrent, and we must adjust our contribution accordingly.

Equally, I feel certain that the nuclear deterrent is something about which sufficient is enough: and for that reason I find myself very much in agreement with the argument, developed in another place quite recently, which led to a statement on the comparative merit of, say, a £5 million education scheme in Kenya and a couple of Blue Streaks, more or less, in our own armoury. Having seen for myself, and having had direct personal experience of the way in which the cold war is being conducted by our enemies in many parts of the world, I am certain that we have got to address ourselves more and more to the problems of the cold war—what has been referred to as the winning of the minds and the hearts of men to our own ideals and principles, and the putting over of our own way of life. I do not believe that we should ever allow over-sufficiency of the nuclear deterrent, or over-insurance in defence, to handicap us in our efforts in the cold war.

However, it is to some other matters connected with defence that I should like to address myself briefly this afternoon. I think your Lordships will agree that, no matter how good are the equipment and armaments that are provided, no matter how perfect our defence organisation may be, and no matter how highly trained the men in the ranks are, all this will be of no avail unless the supply of officers of the right type for all three of the Armed Forces of the Crown is fully maintained in the future. At present, I doubt very much if that is the case: certainly it is not the case in the Army. There is a major deficiency of officers in the Army to-day, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst is not being filled. I doubt myself—and I say this with respect—whether the intake into the other two Services is, in all respects, as good in quality as it should be.

These matters as to the shortage of officers have been very fully gone into and discussed in the Report of the Grigg Committee, which was laid before Parliament last Autumn with the comments of Her Majesty's Government. and I will not take up your Lordships' time in discussing the subject in detail now; but I would express the hope very strongly indeed that the full study of the problem of short careers for officers, which was promised by Her Majesty's Government at the time that these papers were laid before Parliament, will be pressed on with, and that soon, very soon, it will result in action, for it seems to me, at any rate so far as the Army is concerned, that the situation will get worse before it can be put right, because of the shortage in the intake over the past years.

In that connection, I would refer to the unhappy situation of a large number of officers in the Army, in particular, who are in what is known as Category C. Officers in that category do not yet know what their future is: whether, as the Forces run down and move on to an all-Regular basis, they will become redundant, or whether they will be required or allowed to serve on. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able before very long to give these officers—and there are many of them—some definite information about their future. At present, the uncertainty in which they are placed is about the worst possible advertisement to a young, potential officer intending to make the Armed Forces his career.

My Lords, the transition, the changeover, of the Armed Forces (and particularly, again, the Army) from a National Service basis to an all-Regular basis is a very big change—a very big change indeed. I am not opposed to the change: far from it. I look forward very much to the day when the Armed Forces of this country will be once again on an all-Regular basis. But I have pretty vivid recollections of the days before the war when the Armed Forces were starved, and when their requirements were disregarded in many respects. They laboured on and they struggled on. I believe that, to a very great extent, the country traded on the loyalty of the officers and men of the three Services in those hard and difficult days. In those days, too, the Armed Forces were in many respects a thing apart from the nation. Fortunately, the introduction of National Service, combined with other events—and particularly, of course, the service of practically the whole of our manhood in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force during the war—in my opinion and in my experience brought about a complete change in the attitude of mind of the general public to the Armed Forces, perhaps not so much in the case of the Royal Navy, which is always looked upon as part and parcel of this nation's being, but certainly the Army and, I believe to some extent, the Royal Air Force.

I should be very sorry indeed to see the Armed Forces stripped back into the position of separation, as it were, from the rest of the nation, and I feel very strongly that if that is to be avoided, if, in fact, we are to have, as stated in the preamble to the White Paper, compact all-Regular forces of the highest quality equipped with the best arms on up-to-date lines, then there are certain things that must be done. In the first place, on the question of accommodation and equipment—I would put it equipment and accommodation, as there is no comparison between the importance of the two; equipment is most important—what I believe must happen, if the Armed Forces are to be of the kind the White Paper sets out to build up, is a streamlining of the system of supply, provision of armaments and construction and improvement of accommodation and living conditions.

I could give your Lordships a number of examples from very recent experience of the delays and frustrations which take place, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, pointed out, these matters are better reserved for when the Service Estimates come up for debate. But, in principle, it is results that count. It is what the soldier and sailor and airman see happening around them—equipment arriving, new buildings being put up, improvements being made in living conditions all round. To-day, in spite of great efforts that I know have been made over the past years, there is still far too great a gap, a time lag between what is claimed and said here in Westminster and Whitehall and what happens on the ground in the eyes of the men in the Armed Forces.

That is one point: another is this. If we are to have the forces that we need, of the quality that we need, then the status of all Regular forces must be greatly enhanced from what it was before the war, especially so far as the Army is concerned. I think the general public must be convinced that good service in the Armed Forces is as big a contribution to the wellbeing of our nation as a whole as is good service in the factory or in commerce or in the social services. Unless that is done, I do not think we shall get the men and officers of the quality we need in all the three Services. But if that is to be done, then I think, and I submit to your Lordships, that the people who lead and influence public opinion must know more about the problems of defence, the intricate problems and the effect, for example, of modern scientific and engineering development on strategy and tactics.

I am well aware of the security risks involved. This subject has already been touched on by one of your Lordships in a previous speech, but I should like to emphasise it. I do not believe that the Armed Forces will get the support and interest of the general public, nor will the nation accept the immense cost of equipment and resources of all kinds, unless the people are generally satisfied that the pattern of the Forces is the best that can be provided and that it is really well-suited to our national needs.

Finally, if this objective is to be achieved I most firmly believe that continuity of policy within the framework of a long-term plan—and a good deal longer than the five years in this defence plan—is absolutely necessary. And that leads me on to make a plea, a very earnest plea, that further efforts should be made to put consideration of our problems of national defence on to a wider and particularly on to a non-Party basis. These are the considerations which I believe must be given urgent and very careful and thorough attention if the great aim of the five-year defence plan of providing this country with a compact, Regular force of the highest quality is to be achieved.

5.46 p.m.


My Lords, with all respect, may I suggest that the most outstanding fact of this White Paper is not what is contained in it but what is left out? I feel it is absolutely essential that Her Majesty's Government should take Parliament and the country more into their confidence and give much more information about their plan for atomic warfare and the results that may be expected from it. Do we know what is the distinction and balance between tactical atomic and conventional war? No doubt this matter has been very thoroughly studied by the Government, but we in this House, through lack of information, are quite unable to assess it. I presume that the policy would be that limited aggression and limited conflict would be dealt with by conventional forces only. And therefore, of course, we should stretch ourselves to the utmost in providing resources for conventional war.

If we do that we have to threaten or use tactical atomic war only for more serious issues. But what are we to do about global war? And, what is of very great importance, what priority of Western resources should be directed towards this global war preparation? I think it is clear that Russia and the West now accept the stalemate of overall total war, and I suggest that we should now make it clear that we are no longer interested in the use of total war weapons but that we intend maintaining sufficient total war weapons so that the East will do their utmost to avoid war. The point I wish to make is that if this were our policy, the West would be able to transfer more resources from total war preparation to building up and strengthening our conventional forces, which are thought, in many parts of the House, to be very weak indeed.

May I now refer again to the problem of establishing a distinction between tactical atomic and total war? The solution of this problem is of the utmost importance, not only for the hot war but also for the cold war, which is now always with us. Without a distinction between tactical atomic and total war, we are liable to be faced with the situation of either the defeat of our conventional forces or the suicide of total global war. I hope we may be told that this distinction is receiving very careful planning indeed. What about the cold war and this so-called distinction? I would go so far as to say that, without this distinction, we are unlikely to obtain a satisfactory settlement over the German question or the future of mankind. We are unlikely to gain the support of the uncommitted countries because at the moment they are really doubtful of our ability to defend them without incurring total war.

I have endeavoured shortly to indicate the results and gains of a policy of distinction between tactical atomic and total war, but perhaps for a few minutes we might look at the question of the practicability of this distinction. Let us suppose, for instance, that aggression has taken place against a small country outside the central or German front of Europe. The country attacked would no doubt do its best to resist the aggression, provided, of course, that the situation did not look like developing into total war in their particular territory. The West, in going to the assistance of the little country threatened, would be most insistent that the conflict should not spread to total war. I think it is clear that our military effort would have to strike a nice balance between severity and restraint. How is this going to be accomplished?

In the first place, I have little doubt that, owing to the potency of even the smaller tactical atomic weapons, it would be difficult with their use to prevent the spread of total war, unless perhaps we had a plan. If this reasoning is correct, then I suggest that what we must do in those circumstances is to limit our war aims, the targets we attack, the fall-out of the weapons used, and, what is particularly important, the geographical area in which we use them; and, of course, we must let the enemy know. In choosing the targets to be attacked we should have to eschew centres of population, otherwise the little country might well prefer Communist penetration and occupation. As to the tactical atomic weapon used, we in this House are largely in the dark for lack of information, but I think I should be right in saying that it would have to be limited to those in the lower reaches of the kiloton range, the fall-out effected from the air blast being limited to a few miles down-wind.

I have painted the picture of limited aggression to remind your Lordships of the complexity and alternatives of tactical atomic warfare, but I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether detailed study and preparation, by both military and political staffs concerned, has been carried out on the aspect of the use of tactical atomic weapons in limited aggression. I am probably quite wrong, but some of us have the impression that neither N.A.T.O. nor British staffs have done much about this grave and pressing problem. I think it is a fact that in some quarters we have been at pains to indicate that any tactical atomic war would spread to global war, perhaps in the mistaken idea that such an attitude would virtually abolish all wars. I do not believe this view to be a correct one, or one that we should take. I am not suggesting that it is necessary for us to make public beforehand the details of the limitations and distinctions in the event of the use of a tactical atomic weapon; nor do I suggest that we should indicate the circumstances in which we might initiate a tactical atomic war. It should be left vague until the crisis actually arises.

I suggest that we should either make these studies, and decide to make these declarations about tactical atomic warfare, or give up such preparations and spend our money on stronger conventional forces. We cannot have it both ways. There is no doubt that we are becoming increasingly committed to tactical atomic warfare, and that far too little is said or clone about what would make it work. We must look to the use of tactical atomic weapons, because almost certain defeat would come upon us if we relied entirely on conventional weapons. But I suggest that it is of the utmost importance that we work out secretly the detailed limitation involved in tactical atomic war and also ventilate publicly the general philosophy involved in it. We must, at the same time, improve and strengthen all our conventional forces so that we have only to threaten the tactical atomic deterrent in the more serious cases of limited aggression. I cannot help feeling that secrecy about tactical atomic weapons and their development is being overdone, and that It is essential that sufficient information should be given to Parliament and the people to enable them to assess the facts properly.

5.56 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that my noble friend Lord Teynham will forgive me for not following him into this question of differentiation between strategic and tactical warfare, even though it fascinates me as much as it does him, and I sincerely hope that some sort of clarification will be possible when we come to the speech of my noble friend who is to reply. Few of your Lordships, I think, can have been more encouraged than I by the visit to Moscow of the Prime Minister, or more hopeful that it may have yielded some precious seeds of eventual understanding between ourselves and the Communist world. But no-one can say, I suggest, that Mr. Khrushchev in his subsequent speeches has gone out of his way to encourage or to confirm those tender hopes. The face of Communism is a little less enigmatic than it was a month ago, but only a little. The menacing enmity and suspicion are still apparent, and any slight softening of the features is not so much pregnant as experimental.

The cold war continues, and I see no purpose at this stage in pretending that we no longer have an enemy and a threat to our whole existence, lying to the East. Nor can I believe that Soviet skins are so thin that future negotiations will be imperilled by this reminder that we still see ourselves as needing powerful defence and defence debates. Let us look forward, by all means, to the day when defence debates, at least on this scale, are a thing of the past, because the scale today is terrifying indeed from all points of view, and not least through the tacit recognition that there is no such thing as defence. Prevention is the single hope of mankind, and prevention based on the most terrible weapons ever dreamed up. However ironic the proposition may be, it is only the existence and the possession of this terrible thing, and a resolute policy based on its possession, which may bring the world to ultimate sanity in the form of full-scale disarma- meat. In saying this, I do not wish to conflict in any way with my noble friend Lord Harding of Petherton, who has mentioned propaganda weapons; I mention the bomb only as an essential weapon in the great and important armoury of propaganda. But I do believe it is utterly essential. do believe that we cannot discard this weapon; and that we do so at our peril.

I believe that to close with the present problem we have to reverse the maxim of Voltaire that "the best is the enemy of the good". I believe that unilateral or partial disarmament is the enemy of full-scale disarmament. There is tough bargaining ahead, if there is to be any bargaining at all. To persuade the Soviet Government to reduce substantially its military power some substantial reduction must be offered in return. To do that, there must be something to reduce, and the more there is the more persuasion we can bring to bear. There is nothing to gain by throwing away our collateral before we start bargaining, and I believe there may be everything to lose. This may sound like rocket-rattling, but it is rocket-rattling to ease the last warhead out of the last lethal rocket and out of the last bomb bay constructed by man. That is the object, I take it, of everyone here. It is certainly my ultimate object, so long as—and this, to my mind, is the important proviso—these lethal rockets and bombs are banned in the company of all other weapons of mass destruction, including conventional blockbusters, massed armoured divisions and the vast legions of primitive, terrorised infantry, which came so close to overwhelming us in Korea. It is as a comprehensive disarmer, a wholesale disarmer, that I speak to-day, and with no apology for my approach.

I can hardly hope that I shall carry all noble Lords with me all the way in this, but there is a majority agreement, I think, on the power of prevention, based on the bomb. There was a debate a month ago in your Lordships' House, in which this was denied by certain noble Lords, but to-day I am thankful that this nuclear mysophobia has been less in evidence. Noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite have implied that, if called upon to govern, they would not discard the bomb or substantially weaken the master plan set out in recent White Papers. They would restrict themselves to hampering its effect and efficacy. From this reservation, I must exclude the noble Lord, Lord Nathan—who, I am bound to say, made one of the most splendid Tory speeches it has been my pleasure to hear in this House—and also the noble Lord, Lord Winster, whose passages of jingoism went much further than anyone on this side of the House would dare to approach. I felt on the whole, as I sometimes do when listening to members of the Party opposite, that it might have been much worse.

I am not going to be so temerarious or so misguided as to question the sincerity of the undertaking that noble Lords opposite have given, so far as it goes, but I think one is bound to question, very suspiciously, their ability to carry it out, whatever their willingness, because the political spectacle provided for us today in this country is that of two Socialist: Parties, constantly jockeying and manœuvring for advantage against each other. In no instance is this more evidenced than in their policies on defence. There is the Labour Party and the "Victory for Socialism" Party. That watchful and intensely patriotic old warhorse, Mr. Emanuel Shinwell, has said that the difference between the official Labour Party policy on defence and that of the Government is less acute than the differences inside the Labour Party itself.

To one of those who was trained and exercised in what became known as "subversive warfare" in Europe and Asia, it has been of some interest to watch, at an academic distance now, the operations of this local Maquis inside the Socialist movement. It appears that about forty members of the Labour Party in another place have joined the underground—that is to say, between one-fifth and one-sixth of the whole voting strength of the Opposition in the last defence debate in another place. That is the situation in the present Parliament. But who can be sure that the. proportions will remain the same in another Parliament, which has to come soon? Who can feel confident—and I mean who among noble Lords opposite can be confident—that the Maquis recruiting figures will not be increased, as their organisers prophesy with great confidence? What would their powers be in this event? Because nobody, even to-day, would regard them as a quixotic band defending their banner with simple out-of-date weapons. They have been hacked by the Daily Herald, the only significant national daily organ which the Labour movement possesses. They are backed by Tribune, quite the most spiteful, but also one of the most professional periodicals in this country. They may be, and indeed they are, as unrealistic as poor Don Quixote himself, but they are better mounted and far better armed.

With your Lordships' permission I will quote a passage from the Daily Herald and see how it compares with the policy put forward from the Front Bench opposite this afternoon. It says: We should begin with the H-bomb and we should reject half measures. We should refuse not only to test any more, we should announce to the world that we will cease to manufacture them. We should end at once the flights of loaded H-bombers over Britain. We should refuse to allow Britain to become an American rocket base. We alone can give a decisive lead, even if it means that the British Foreign Minister is, as the phrase goes, naked in the council chambers of the world. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and his colleagues, may say with a stubbornness and even a self-assurance which we can only admire that this does not matter; that a Labour Foreign Secretary would not go naked into the council chamber. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps their right honourable friend, in those circumstances, would appear as appropriately clothed as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in Moscow. But something most unsettling would have happened to his braces! And however debonair his attitude might be, the world would be watching and waiting to witness that always popular and undignified spectacle, the collapse of stout panty.

The Party opposite believe officially in the deterrent, but I have always had the impression that they would rather not say so above a whisper, unless obliged to. In a previous debate I argued that it had to be more than merely symbolic; that we had to answer the question: when is a deterrent not a deterrent? I will excuse myself to your Lordships for saying again that a deterrent is not a deterrent if you make it quite clear that you will not use it, or will use it only when it is too late. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, in winding up on that occasion, gave a different answer. He said it was not a deterrent if the other fellow had it as well. It says much, I think, for the firmness and depth of my regard for the noble Lord that this regard remained virtually unaffected by that reply. If I were to do anything so entirely unnatural as to threaten the noble Lord with a razor, I can promise him that I would be immediately and effectively deterred if he produced another razor himself; and this despite the self-evident fact that my poor battered features, by their very nature, could suffer far less comparative harm than his.

I do not know how much damage we could do to Soviet Russia now or next year or in five, eight or ten years' time, in the event of a nuclear contest between our two countries—with America disengaged. That in itself is a horrid and at present chimerical prospect. But I do not think it can be wise to dismiss this chimera from all our thinking, because certain writers such as Mr. Henry Kissinger have described or predicted a possible future condition, called "nuclear sufficiency", a stalemate between the big two nuclear powers, in which they could both destroy each other, and might therefore be powerfully disinclined to exchange the annihilation of Moscow for the annihilation of New York in order to avenge or even protect London or Paris. I think it is a mistake to say that we shall never be on our own in any conceivable circumstances: that "inconceivable" is a synonym for "impossible" which it never has been.

Looking the inconceivable but not Impossible in the face, it seems fair and prudent to assume that whatever damage we could do to the Soviet Union, a much greater damage could be done to us. That is a sober fact. But it does not mean by itself that our threat would be negligible or held in contempt. It might be decisive. I think it is fair to pose the question: if, in the Autumn of 1957, Hungary had possessed the bomb and the means of delivery with the courage to deliver it, or the desperation to deliver it, and if in those circumstances the new Government had declared its readiness to destroy Moscow, Rostov, Kharkov, Khiev and Smolensk, would the Russian tanks have moved into Hungary? Would it have been, on balance, at that price, an economic proposition? That sort of question could concern us directly one day in the future.

A great deal of guesswork goes into these debates, at least from the Back Benches, because we can only guess what is happening within the magic circle described by security regulations and the mystique of the scientists. But I should have thought that certain deductions could be lined up in a logical sequence, even by a Back-Bencher who never quite overcame his mistrust of the bunsen burner. May we suppose that in a sort of remorseless bartering in devastation, every industrial region of this country was destroyed in the course of ten minutes, and that in return one-third of Soviet Russia's industrial area within our reach was also destroyed, together with Moscow and Leningrad? As a piece of nuclear bookkeeping, we would appear to be the loser out of that fearful exchange. But in point of fact Russia would have suffered a greater loss than she could possibly afford, because she would have been crippled in comparison with her other great nuclear rival or rivals—I am not forgetting China. And the rulers of Russia are perfectly capable of making that calculation before the event; they are certainly clear-headed enough to refrain from the act if they are certain of the outcome.

My Lords, I hope I give no impression whatever of looking forward to this new Thermopylae with any gusto or any expectancy whatever. I have noticed that when this topic is introduced, certain noble Lords from East Anglia tend to remind us of the particular danger in which they stand by reason of their proximity to rocket sites. My time is spent almost entirely in London or the West Riding of Yorkshire, and believing, as I do, that the main target would be the industrial areas, I would not fancy my own chance unless I happened to be, at that moment, in the Yorkshire Pullman passing through a tunnel.

My Lords, I believe in nuclear deterrence and I will not concede for a moment that it spells nuclear suicide, as has been suggested. But I can place my trust only in a deterrent that will deter, and I believe it will only deter if we satisfy any possible enemy that we can and would deliver it rather than submit to conquest. "Cet animal est dangereux: quand on l'attaque, il se defend." Let us be recognised as such an animal. It will secure our survival, it will secure the survival of peace, while faintheartedness would only ensure that we join others in bondage. This is a grim creed and it looks just as grim to me as it does to noble Lords who may disagree, but the only way to self-preservation in this century is to declare our preparedness for self-immolation if need be. That sort of recognition requires strong nerves and a strong stomach. As a nation we are possessed of those two biological assets.

I believe it was in Southampton, after one of the great air raids, that an American correspondent interviewed survivor in the ruins of his home and asked, "How much longer can you stand it?" He replied, "About ten minutes longer than they can." That was the undramatic and unwavering spirit which brought us through the hot war. It is the only spirit which can bring us, untouched, through the cold war. It must characterise not only the people, but their leaders, and it must be seen to do so. I have listened to-day to the speeches of noble Lords opposite, as I have read the speeches and pronouncements of their colleagues, official and unofficial. In all sincerity, I cannot detect that spirit inhabiting them or their Party to-day. I shall await the speech of my noble friend Lord Selkirk with the greatest interest and considerable optimism.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to follow my noble arid robust friend Lord St. Oswald. In so doing I should like first of all to congratulate the Government on the White Paper. It is a sketch, albeit a loose and rather impressionistic one, recording a very great deal of real progress over the last year. I do not myself feel that the portrait is as distorted as the Opposition have sought to make out. To my mind it is reasonably realistic. One could call it an early, rather than a later, Picasso.

I also wish to congratulate the Government on something which, though it is true it does not appear directly in the White Paper, as has been pointed out, in fact underlies a great many of its paragraphs. That is, the increasingly wide and intimate military co-operation which we have achieved with the Americans. Above all, I was glad to note in the White Paper the decision to raise the recruiting figure for the Army to 180,000 and to go in for another manned bomber. I would concede that these changes may well indicate some shift in emphasis within the defence programme towards conventional weapons, or more conventional weapons, and away from the full doctrine of 1957. If so, they are none the less welcome.

Perhaps, too, the decisions were a little bit late in the day. Possibly the delay in at least one case may have been rather wasteful. But the problems facing the Minister of Defence to-day, in 1959, are infinitely more complex than those facing his quasi-predecessor in 1939. Some shifts, some hesitations, indeed even some mistakes, are quite inevitable. And we are indeed in very good company if occasional mistakes are made: others do so on a far grander scale than we do. Did not the Americans sink 700 million dollars into the Navajo missile before scrapping it. And do we suppose that Marshal Malinovsky never occasionally makes a boob? Of course he does.

My Lords, I am glad—or I think am; and, after all, none of us really knows much about these things—that the Government have decided to "put their money" on Blue Streak. I am glad, since I believe, with I think the majority of noble Lords, that if we can afford it, we should continue to make an effective contribution to the Western deterrent. I am glad, too, since I understand that Blue Streak, as a liquid-propelled missile, may have a possible space potential. I do not believe that it was ordained that outer space should become either a Russian or an American colony. Space research—and I make no apology for this digression—has vital and purely scientific possibilities, as well as a possible crucial military potential. I personally should like to see the time when British, or indeed, Western European (and I shall revert to this), satellites were in orbit and when Britain was playing a full part in research and exploration in space. I hope, therefore, that the Government are giving very serious consideration to the possibility of according high priority to research, and perhaps later to development, in this field—higher priority than at present, to judge by the statement by the Minister of Supply in another place on November 3.

I have been impressed also by the words used by the American General Gavin in his recent book. I quote from them: Of one thing we can be sure. The nation that first achieves the control of outer space will control the destiny of the human race. I myself do not think that this would be a particularly good thing, either for the human race or even for the controlling "top dog". I therefore trust that the Government will take an active and positive interest in the United Nations ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and will not reject, without very good reason, General Gavin's proposal that a space programme be developed under United Nations control, or, indeed, the Soviet proposal for developing a United Nations space agency. My Lords, all this may sound "Jules Verne-ish", but so would our debate to-day have sounded to someone attending a similar occasion twenty years ago.

This said, I am sure that the Government are right in directing the main weight of our defence programme towards limited warfare. In the past, of the three Services, the Army seems to have come off worst in this respect. Last year, for example, only about £50 million was provided by the War Office for production, compared with nearly three times as much for the Admiralty and nearly four times as much for the Air Force. But the Army will bear the main heat and burden of limited war, should it come, and its appetite for equipment is bound to increase since it now has a dual rôle. It has to be equipped to fight a tactical nuclear war in Europe and a more or less conventional war on the periphery. I am glad, therefore, that real progress is now being made with the Army's re-equipment.

I should like to say a few words and ask a few questions now about the mobility of our Armed Forces. I am delighted to note that by 1960 the airlift capacity of Transport Command will be thrice that of 1951. But the statistics which we have about these matters, my Lords, are very confusing to the layman. What he would like to know is, broadly speaking, how large a tactical and how large a strategic airlift the Government are aiming at. What size of force do we hope to be able to airlift within a given theatre of war? What size of force do we aim to transport over long strategic distances?

As for marine mobility, I am glad that the conversion of "Bulwark" to a commando carrier, with its own self-contained helicopter force, will be finished by the end of the year. "Bulwark "seems to me to be precisely the type of ship we need in the sort of local situation in the Persian Gulf, perhaps, which, unless lanced very rapidly, can putrefy very quickly. My only doubt is whether the Government are going far enough here. If there is a case for one "Bulwark", there seems to be a case for two.

Finally, there is battlefield mobility. All recent experience, I think—in Korea, Indo-China, Suez, Cyprus, and, above all, Algeria—has demonstrated the unique capabilities of the troop-carrying helicopter. The wording of the White Paper seems intentionally, at least to me, a little colourless and discouraging here. We read in paragraph 13 about a limited number of Bristol 192 Helicopters. We find no mention in the Air Estimates of helicopters. Can we be assured that the Army's requirements for vertical lift aircraft are being examined with real vigour and will be met?

My Lords, I am quite sure that the health of our Alliances. N.A.T.O. in particular, was never more essential to our survival than to-day. N.A.T.O. will not be healthy unless interdependence is practised as well as preached. This poor word has come in for some keel-hauling this evening, but, to me, the concept is perfectly simple. It can be explained, at least to my mind, by the old adage, "If we do not hang together, we shall hang separately". To me, N.A.T.O. interdependence means, above all, the interdependence of North America and Western Europe, including the United Kingdom. To an almost equal degree, it means the interdependence of the N.A.T.O. countries of Western Europe, one with another, and all with the United Kingdom.

Here the signs are admittedly disquieting. It looks as if the Six could become progressively more inward-looking. Militarily, too, the concept of interdependence seems to be rather shaky. The Minister of Defence was very frank about one aspect of this in another place the other day. He stated categorically that the results of our co-operation in joint arms production with Europe have been exceedingly disappointing. Fragmentation of effort is wasteful economically and very inefficient militarily. In the long run, it can undermine the cohesion of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. And this tendency towards disintegration may well be accentuated as France and the other Western European countries develop their own nuclear deterrents. It is one thing to attempt a diagnosis. It is another to prescribe. My prescription, my Lords, is limited and tentative, and I advise the House to shake the bottle well.

There seem to me to be four ways, among many others, in which we can arrest this possible fragmentation of the Alliance. First, we can take, and announce, a firm decision that there will be no further reduction in our Armed Forces in Germany; rather, that their effectiveness will be progressively built up through re-equipment and by raising, where necessary, the strength of individual units. The reduction of the Cyprus garrison and the raising of the Army recruiting target should make this attainable. Secondly, despite the setbacks we have suffered hitherto, we should persevere with our attempts to secure more rational and co-operative arms production with the Western European countries.

Thirdly—and this will be very difficult—we should, over the coming years, in my view, work towards the concept, within and under N.A.T.O., of a controlled European nuclear deterrent. At the least, we should try to ensure that, as the Western European countries develop (if they insist upon so doing) their own nuclear arms systems, these will come under agreed N.A.T.O. controls. But this concept will not hold water unless we ourselves are prepared to place our own deterrent, or at least that part of it which is designed to deter aggression against Western Europe or these islands, under such controls. Fourthly, we should, in my view, seek to achieve a joint research and production programme for ballistic missiles with our Western European N.A.T.O. Allies. I know that we invited their co-operation over Blue Streak, but I do not know what that invitation implied. I hope that it was full-blooded and extended to the Commonwealth, or at least to Woomera. I hope also that this invitation might include a proposal for joint research and development in outer space.

My Lords, N.A.T.O., to my mind, is the sheet anchor of our whole defence system—indeed, of the defence system of the: whole West. I am not entirely confident that, in the storms ahead, that anchor may not drag as the result of disintegration within the Alliance, and, more specifically, of a growing lack of cohesion among its European members, including ourselves. But the Alliance must not only not disintegrate: if it stagnates, it will eventually decay. In many ways, this country is in a unique position to help stop this incipient rot. I trust that the present Government will play their full part in discharging this very special responsibility.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to follow my noble friend Lord Jellicoe into the realms of outer space, but I would start by echoing his first words, that it is very easy to be critical of the Government's defence policy. In fact, I believe it would be easy to be critical of any defence policy of any British Government at this particular time in our history, because our political position at the moment presents us with defence problems of the utmost complexity. Were we merely a small island in the Atlantic we could no doubt adopt a policy of neutrality such as that of Switzerland or Austria. Were our overseas responsibilities restricted to our colonial interests we could no doubt put our faith in conventional forces alone, such as would be required for police action. But the fact is that we are more than an Atlantic island and we have overseas interests far beyond our Colonies. We have strong links with our friends in Europe; we have close ties with our English-speaking friends over the other side of the Atlantic, and we have indissoluble ties with a world-wide Commonwealth. We are, in fact, a world power, and our defence policy must be commensurate with our world-wide responsibilities. But our resources are insufficient to meet all the demands of those responsibilities as we should ideally wish to, and it becomes a question of allocating them in the most effective way.

I believe that Her Majesty's Government in their Defence White Paper of two years ago, by and large achieved a sensible allocation of our resources for defence, and think that the present White Paper shows that good progress has beet made towards implementing that policy. In view of our limited resources and our diminished strength, the first principle of our defence policy must be the maintenance of our alliances. I fully agree with what my noble friend Lord Jellicoe has just said, that N.A.T.O. must be the sheet anchor; I would only add our other alliances, such as S.E.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact. This is clearly confirmed in the second paragraph of the introduction to the White Paper. But I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Winster, in regretting that there is no further mention in the White Paper of how we are working in those alliances to strengthen our defence in co-operation with our allies. I should have thought that in any review of the defence policy there should be some statement of progress made in developing our alliances and in strengthening them against any potential aggressor.

So far as N.A.T.O. is concerned, it is most disappointing to learn from the Minister of Defence in another place that no progress has been made in cooperation with our European friends in joint arms development, but I hope that we shall continue to strive to achieve some progress in this field. It is clearly one which contributes greatly to our joint defensive strength as well as to efficiency and economy. On the other hand, it is encouraging, when reading the various memoranda attached to the Services Estimates, to note that progress is being made in practical co-operation between our forces and the forces of our Commonwealth friends. The Army is arranging the training and is seconding officers to them, and the Navy and the Air Force are holding annual joint exercises with various Commonwealth countries. I think this is a very healthy development. But, encouraging as it is, it would be nice to know that similar progress is being made with our other allies in N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact.

When we come to consider our own forces, I think it is universally agreed that the Government policy to provide compact all-Regular forces of the highest quality armed and organised on the most up-to-date lines is the correct one. The only dispute arises on the extent to which this is being achieved in the various Services. With limited resources available, any Minister of Defence is certain to encounter criticism from protagonists of the various Services, as he alone has to bear the responsibility for the allocation of resources between them. On the whole, from the White Paper it seems that all-round progress is being made, and it is particularly encouraging that in the Army, at any rate, the re-equipment programme seems to have got going. It reads as if the equipment is actually arriving in the hands of the troops rather than being merely mentioned on paper.

Finally, to complete the balance of our defensive forces we have a nuclear weapon capacity. I join with other noble Lords in welcoming the decision to develop the Blue Streak ballistic rocket. It seems to me that it is essential for us to play our part in the nuclear deterrent, and it would not be in keeping with the spirit of our alliance with our American friends, nor would it be an honourable policy on our part, not to do so. We have to face the fact that our present freedom and the present peace of the world depends on the possession of the deterrent, and that Europe owes its independence from Communist influence and infiltration, if not actual invasion. to the presence of our American ally on the Continent. Our engineers and scientists have given us the capability of manufacturing nuclear weapons and we have co-operated with the Americans in this sphere to our mutual benefit. There can be no doubt that the Americans value our contribution in this field, and the Minister of Defence in another place quoted the Commander of the United States Strategic Air Command, General Power, in evidence of this fact. Equally, we too have received great benefits from the American know-how, and have been able to develop our own nuclear programme much more economically than would otherwise have been the case. In my opinion, to cease production of nuclear weapons would not only be to shelter under the American umbrella, but would also be to bury our head in the sand—a most undignified posture.

There is one particular aspect of the deterrent to which I hope particular attention is being paid—namely, to ensure that it is in fact a deterrent. It is not a question of matching Russian ability to strike the first blow; it is a question of our ability to strike second. I think it most unlikely in present circumstances that the Russians would consider launching a nuclear war, but should a situation arise in which there appeared the possibility 10 them of obliterating our nuclear retaliatory power in a sudden surprise attack, the situation might alter. We rely at present for our deterrent mainly on our strategic air forces, but bombers have certain disadvantages as against rockets when it comes to retaliation. In the first place, their bases have to be protected against rocket attack. In the Air Estimates we read that six minutes is now the standard time for these bombers to be airborne. But in the event of an all-out surprise attack by rocket, would we in fact have six minutes warning? Secondly, the bomber must penetrate enemy defences in the face of greatly improved ground-to-air and air-to-air anti-aircraft missiles. Rockets, if launched from underground, are free from these disadvantages, and I very much hope that when developing our own Blue Streak rocket great attention will be paid to its protection from a surprise enemy attack.

Most important of all, not mentioned in the White Paper but mentioned earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, is the development of anti-missile missiles. Obviously this is a problem of the future and one of the greatest complexity, but should we one day be able to solve it, then once again defence would have the upper hand over attack. But for the present we must continue to rely for our defence on our power of retaliation, and I fully support the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the White Paper.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself very much in agreement with both noble Lords who have just spoken, and I am particularly glad that the noble Lord who has just sat down has supported so strongly the case for interdependence, to which I shall hope to refer a little later. But first of all I feel that I ought to say something with regard to the extent of any difference of opinion that may be thought to exist between the Parties. I say this with the full knowledge that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, made an appeal that defence should not be a matter for Part politics. I hope that if there is disagreement between the Parties—and undoubtedly there are points of disagreement—it does not mean that that disagree- ment is not based on a full sense of responsibility on either side.

In our present situation, although it is not possible to avoid criticising Her Majesty's Government in a number of respects, there is, I believe, a very large measure of general agreement between us; and because there is that measure of general agreement it makes it all the more desirable and necessary that we should underline those points over which collectively some noble Lords on these Benches and some on the other side may feel that they are in disagreement with Her Majesty's Government. It is not only a question of Government policy but a question of Government execution, of the successful carrying out of their declared policy, of which we have some criticisms.

I was a little bothered, as was another noble Lord, by the extent to which Her Majesty's Government seemed to be backing down—perhaps a little too far—on what they had declared to be their policy. I was rather startled that they should be so pleased that such a small proportion of the defence effort at the moment was going into the nuclear effort. The proportion mentioned was one-tenth. Is that because Her Majesty's Government now feel that the nuclear deterrent is such an unpleasant thing that they must apologise for it, or is it to conciliate those critics who wish to pursue a purely Service vested interest? This is a matter in which we cannot play at argument. It must be a matter of sticking firmly to whatever Her Majesty's Government believe to be the right policy.

Since there has been criticism of the policy of the Labour Party in the matter of the nuclear deterrent and the use of nuclear weapons, I should like to say what I believe it to be—at the same time fully acknowledging that this is a field in which such strong anxieties are felt that there is bound to be a continuous movement of thought and ideas, which is even to be found, surprisingly, in Her Majesty's Government. We have only to look at the opening words of last year's White Paper and compare them with those of this year's White Paper. Last year Her Majesty's Government started by saying: The world today is poised between the hope of total peace and the fear of total war. This year they start by saying: Substantial headway has been made with modernising existing ships. It seems to me that there is at least a slight change in emphasis there, and that this type of change is rather inclined to go on among all of us. But, as I understand it, we on this side accept that in the last resort the nuclear deterrent may have to be used, and used as a deterrent, if war is likely to break out and to take a form in which our defeat appears to be probable or likely.

It is very difficult to get the exact sense on this, but the best analogy seems to me to be the position of a man trying to defend a bridge. Having put mines under the bridge he says to the other man: "I shall have to stand on the bridge and even though it blows up both myself and you, I am prepared to blow it up". But there is no reason why he should not try, in the first instance, to knock the other man off the bridge, or to stop him getting on to it; and this seems to be wholly consistent with Government action, whatever declared Government policy may be, otherwise why do we have N.A.T.O.? Why do we have, in Europe, the shield which, in the first instance, is to prevent the overrunning of Europe by a Russian advance from the East?

An important part of this policy seems to me to be that we should be prepared to use atomic weapons tactically, in the first resort, without going, in the first stage, to the final and utter destruction of a thermo-nuclear war. This is an important refinement, and I should like to emphasise this point to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, who knows so much more than I do about this whole question of strategy. But it is a position on which the Labour Party have made their views clear, and it is right that the House should be aware that there are these quite reasonable and proper refinements in the administration or the nature of a policy of deterrence. I fully accept what was said by those noble Lords and particularly the spokesman for Her Majesty's Government, in reference to the balance of power. There is no doubt that this is a very important element in the situation. I do not want to go further than this. Quite clearly we can examine our fundamental attitudes indefinitely, but I should like to proceed now to another criticism of certain of the executive actions of Her Majesty's Government.

The noble Earl the Leader of the House made some reference to the fact that so much of what the House has looked forward to for so long is contained in the White Paper—I think I am interpreting him correctly. The trouble is that the House is going to have to go on looking forward to it quite a bit longer, for a number of matters referred to in the White Paper are not to come into effect before, perhaps, 1962; and if Government policy in the defence field is carried out a little more successfully than it has been over the last two or three years, undoubtedly we shall have a very well-equipped Regular Army. But it is really appalling that we are still in a position in which the F.N. rifle has not been generally introduced. It may well be that the Labour Party have some blame for that in the past, but certainly I remember discussion on the F.N. rifle in another place back in 1950–51. Surely nine years later we could have got it. The Government have had quite a good run in which to do so.

Then we know that today our airborne forces are not properly equipped for their rôle, as Her Majesty's Government have been quite frank in admitting. It is, of course, an easy way of saying we have not got what we ought to have, by using the phrase, "This is what we are going to have." In effect, the White Paper frankly admits a number of grievous deficiencies in our equipment. I only hope that there will be a speed-up in the introduction of an airborne tank, so that we do not find the kind of situation that existed in the Jordan operation, when, so far as I know, British troops were sent to Jordan equipped virtually with last-war rifles and without any real artillery or armoured vehicles, and having to rely on tents and water brought in by air. I admit that there is perhaps no way of completely improving on that, but it was not a very satisfactory state of affairs, and it was just as well that the British Army were not called upon to fight in those circumstances. Incidentally, while I am on the subject of the Middle East, may I ask one direct question: could we know what is going on in Oman at the moment and what is happening in the matter of military operations there? There seems to be a most extraordinary security cover on these operations.

I should like next to turn to another aspect of the consequences of the Minister of Defence's conduct of his own Ministry. I have the greatest admiration for the determination with which he has set out to face the vested interests which naturally exist within the Services, but it has had some rather unfortunate consequences. It has, in fact, in some ways intensified, so I understand, the sort of bargaining that goes on between the different Services. One of the consequences has been a quite ridiculous proposal (which I was very glad to note the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, dismissed as a proposal which really was unworthy)—the proposal, on which I challenged the First Sea Lord on another occasion, that Coastal Command should be handed back to the Navy as a sort of consolation prize for them, because the Government and the Government spokesmen have not spoken as highly as they might have done about their rôle in the world war. I noticed that the noble Earl the Leader of the House tried to put that right to-day by saying kindly things—and he did have some success as a result of those remarks—about what is now proposed.

We know perfectly well that discussions are going on. When the Under-Secretary of State for Air was challenged in another place on this matter he made a most remarkable statement, which I hope I can find. He said, in fact, when challenged on it [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 601 (No. 71), col. 737]: … we wish it well in all the tasks it does. This is no reply to an inquiry about Coastal Command. It is rather like going to a man who is going to be hanged to-morrow and saying, "We wish you good luck in all your future tasks." Perhaps we could get from the First Lord, who must be very intimately concerned in this matter, and who knows exactly what is going on, a statement as to what is really happening in regard to Coastal Command.

This is not the way to deal with the sort of situation which we are now in with regard to the organisation and integration of the Services. I greatly prefer the solution which the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, mentioned: that we should strengthen the co-ordinating Commands. There is no better co-ordinating Command at the moment than Coastal Command, where there is the closest integration with the Navy and the Air Force. If Coastal Command were handed over to the Navy the cost (the First Sea Lord will be aware of this) would be very considerable, and might put £20 million to £40 million on the national defence bill. I suppose that it would be a mistake to carry the attack into the enemy's camp and suggest that Naval aviation ought to be handed over to the Royal Air Force, because that is an ancient controversy and it may well be that some people would be disposed to raise it. I certainly should not like to do something so disturbing to good inter-Service relationship, but I should like to say something about the rôle of the Navy against the Government's own Defence White Paper.

I greatly hope that soft words of the kind used by the noble Earl the Leader of the House will not obscure the realities of our defence situation to-day. If bombers are out, because there is a more efficient way of defending this country, no amount of sentiment about the Royal Air Force and the crews who man those bombers should be sufficient reason to retain them—I repeat, if there is a more efficient way of providing for the defence of this country. The same thing must apply to the rôle of the Royal Navy in an atomic war.

There have been suggestions that we need a large Navy to defend our trade routes against a possible mass submarine attack from the Soviet Union. It is acknowledged on all sides that our trade routes and the protection of them have in the past been quite fundamental to the survival of this country. But I do not believe that a major submarine threat against our trade routes is one that can in the long run be met by conventional weapons; and this ties in with the remarks I made with regard to the use of tactical atomic weapons and, ultimately, the use of the deterrent.

In the last war the bombing of submarine ports was ineffective. In a future war bombing of submarine bases with even the smaller atomic, fission bomb would be totally effective. Therefore it would be as much a mistake for us to build up the type of anti-submarine force that operated in those circumstances throughout the war as it would be to attempt to reconstruct the type of Air Force that we had during the last war. I hope that the Government will realise that the country is looking for firmness and leadership in this matter; and even if the Minister of Defence does greatly irritate his colleagues on occasion, and it leads to all sorts of unpleasant rows and a delay of new weapons, I hope that he will have the support of his colleagues in facing up to these particular realities.


My Lords, is it not likely that at the outbreak of war the 400 atomic submarines would not be at their bases but would be dispersed all over the world? Therefore, bombing their bases would not have much effect, because they could stay at sea for a matter of months.


My Lords, there are not 400 atomic submarines and are not likely to be. Whether the Russians can do better than the British and get a single atomic submarine before 1965 I do not know. But certainly there is the danger of an immediate submarine threat. But I am visualising a situation in which we are either going to hold the war up and prevent it quickly or we shall find ourselves in an atomic war, and the rôle of the Navy in those circumstances is going to be much more of a rescue operation. Certainly they will need resources for that, but it will not be the main rôle which the Government foresee in such a war.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he would repeat those remarks if he were before the crew of a merchant ship?


My Lords, I. hope that the noble Earl, however strongly he may feel, will not question that what I am saying is said with absolute sincerity and in the best interests of this country. I detected a certain intensity of feeling, which is understandable, but it will not help us in facing an issue like this which we should face and which it is our job to face here. On a previous occasion I thought I detected some resentment to my remarks, and I hope that he will not carry that resentment further. It is an issue which I be- lieve it is our duty to face fairly and squarely, and that is not done by our refusing to face the fact that we should do our best for our country. I can only state what I sincerely believe to be the right sort of considerations in such a matter.

I believe that the most important approach to this problem of inter-Service rivalry must be to concentrate on a further approach towards integration. I realise that "integration" is one of those magic words which, by itself, does not solve any problems. But it would be, I think, easier if we could gradually get to a stage—and I do not see why we should not get to a stage—not where we unify the different Services and destroy their traditions and callings, but where there is a much greater interchangeability and where officers, and it may be other ranks as well, are entitled to wear the uniform of another Service with which they are serving. This is the sort of development which will gradually break down these inter-Service rivalries and will stop the occasional proposals for a surgical amputation, as a result of which some missile unit or something of that sort is taken bodily out of one Service and put into another, possibly leaving essential officers and other ranks behind because they refuse to change their uniform. I hope, therefore, that the Government will press on with integration so far as they can.

I should like now to refer very briefly to N.A.T.O. and interdependence. I share the views of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that N.A.T.O. is of very great importance, and I am sorry that the noble Earl the Leader of the House did not say more about it in his opening speech, though I realise that he was trying to save the time of the House. The British part in N.A.T.O. is of extreme importance, and it ties in with this question of interdependence. I should like to conclude my speech by putting again the arguments for interdependence. I think that probably the most immediate argument has been the very great gain in our own defence efficiency which has come from the sharing of knowledge because we ourselves have got into a state of interdependence with the Americans. We are in a very privileged position as compared with the other countries; and so are the Americans, I might say, with regard to us. The result is that there has been an advance in technical matters which is of the greatest importance to this country.

The second argument—and this moves more into the field of foreign affairs—is that if the Prime Minister is to exercise successfully the initiative which he is trying to exercise at the moment, he can do it only if the Americans recognise that, interdependently with them, we are playing our part in the policies of the West. I believe that interdependence is absolutely essential for the successful conduct of a British foreign policy; and, indeed, for a degree of independence in our foreign policy which does, curiously enough, spring from this interdependence. The final argument is that interdependence does strengthen our own independent effort. I hope we shall never see a situation in which the Americans will withdraw (at least while the threat exists) from the Western Alliance or, indeed, will withdraw troops from Western Europe: but if ever they should, and if ever we should find ourselves in the position of having to "go it alone", we can at least in the meanwhile strengthen our defences from the advantages which can be obtained to-day from the interdependent relationship which we have created.

7.3 p.m.


My Lords, when I came into your Lordships' House this afternoon I was under the clear impression that the object of this debate was to discuss the progress of the Government's five-year defence plan as set out in this White Paper. I have read the Paper most carefully, and I have made a number of notes on it which I hope to put forward for the Government's consideration and, possibly, answer later. I did not think that the object of this debate was necessarily to discuss the advisability of some of the methods of defence which are envisaged or mentioned in this Paper. Out of forty-seven paragraphs in the Paper, the speeches on paragraphs 14 and 15 have outweighed the remainder to the point at which the debate has really become so top-heavy or lopsided,(whichever way you like to put it) that it seems to have become, to my mind at any rate, a discussion all over again on the rightness or wrongness of nuclear weapons or nuclear warfare.

Therefore, before I go on to raise my few rather pedestrian points, I should like to say once again that, broadly, the view of those who sit on these Benches has already been expounded. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, mentioned earlier in the debate that he was quite unable to understand Mr. Grimond's view, expounded in another place the other day; but it really is not as difficult as all that, and I think the noble Lord really knows that that view, though he may not agree with it, has a certain amount of common sense to recommend it. That view was also reiterated by my noble Leader in your Lordships' House recently in the debate on the Motion of Lord Simon of Wythenshawe: and although at the time he said that they were his own personal views, there was little in what he said with which the great majority of Liberals would not agree. However, we did not this afternoon expect such valuable support as we received from the distinguished Field-Marshal, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, who held the view, as your Lordships heard, that to test and to stockpile atomic weapons is merely to duplicate the effort of the United States. He said that, and I agree with it.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, may I say that although it is not my place to interpret my noble and gallant friend's remarks, I do not think he said that. He said, as I understand it, that we must avoid duplicating them, but he did not say that we would inevitably duplicate them by carrying forward a nuclear programme.


My Lords, it is a little unfortunate that the noble and gallant Field-Marshal has only just returned to his seat, and I am afraid, therefore, that the matter must be left there until we read Hansard to-morrow. If I am wrong I shall, of course, apologise and withdraw my remarks, but I do not think I am.

We have also heard that to follow the line that we can afford research and that we can afford bases for this form of warfare, and then to confine ourselves to conventional weapons, is to lose our standing and our prestige as well. That has been said again and again. My Lords, the things that are done nowadays in the name of prestige cart turn out to be quite catastrophic. Apart from anything else—


My Lords, I regret that I was not here when reference was made to my speech, but I should like to make it quite clear that I am not opposed to our contributing to the nuclear deterrent, to our making our own nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons. What I am opposed to is our duplicating the production of weapons in regard to which the American programme is already sufficient for our common need.


I thank the noble and gallant Lord, and I think the difference between us is negligible. My Lords, to continue my remarks, if I may, I want to leave this matter which has taken up all the afternoon. Important though it is, it has distracted us, I think, from the points in the White Paper which I imagine it was the intention of the Government should be discussed—otherwise, the Motion would not have been put down. In paragraph 7 of the White Paper we find the words: … the smaller, but more highly trained, all-Regular force. … The question of training is one with which I was very much involved at one time in my life. Are the Government happy with the number and extent of the training areas which they have? In that connection, I mention most especially such matters as field firing ranges—more and more important as the type of weapons which are being issued develop.

In paragraph 9 of the White Paper, there is mention of other new weapons. Obviously, the Paper cannot list all these weapons, but I wonder whether the noble Earl will be so kind as to ask the War Office whether, among these new weapons, they have considered experimenting with remote-controlled flame-throwers for purposes of defence. Your Lordships will remember the introduction in 1940 of the flame thrower, a new weapon of strong and terrifying propensities. Later, in the Pacific, against the Japanese the Americans used it extensively in attack. But it is in defence, in one particular part of the world, that that springs to my mind, and no doubt to the minds of other noble Lords as well. I imagine that as a means of defence it is extremely valuable. As things stand at the moment infantry, which by themselves can hardly defend themselves for any length of time, have to depend on artillery and minefields. Air support is often hampered by weather at the crucial moment. Artillery support is subject to counter battery firing, varying in intensity and effect. Minefields are all very well, but with an enemy disposing almost unlimited manpower—which is the case of two potential opponents—they can always sacrifice the first wave to touch off the mines and there is nothing left to stop the second wave. But remote-controlled flame-throwers can be kept in action almost indefinitely and at very little cost. Those manning them can be dug in, miles away if necessary. I do not expect the noble Earl to mention the point in his reply, but perhaps this matter can be included in some later reply from the War Office.

I have one other point, which I have raised before in your Lordships' House. It is not a dramatic one at all but it is important because everything else hinges on it. In paragraphs 23 and 24 of the White Paper there is mention of unified inter-Service command having been tried out with success recently in Aden. This I have difficulty in understanding, because surely the Governors respectively of Malta and Gibraltar are Governors and Commanders-in-Chief. Unified command already exists, therefore, and I do not quite understand the reference to Aden unless it means that there will be an inter-Service staff under the Commander-in-Chief. Perhaps it means that. If it does, then I am very much in agreement with the last speaker who hoped that one day the Services would integrate to a greater extent than now and avoid the throat-cutting and jealousies which inevitably exist.

Arising out of that, I may say that during the late war I was in Malta for quite a long time. Eventually the Army, Navy and Air Force Staffs found themselves in a hole in the ground, just as people did in London. We found ourselves together and the thing worked very well. We walked into each other's offices, shared communications and worked well together. One saw at once the enormous economy in men, clerks, telephones—anything you like. Even then I, as senior member of the Army Staff, had anxious moments trying to keep peace between Army and Navy. It was sometimes difficult to concentrate on the Germans because there were points on which the two Services did not see eye to eye.

Now, with the Joint Services Staff College in existence, it seems that we are moving towards the Staff course—a thing I advocated twenty years ago in a paper. I doubt whether that paper still exists: if it does it must be a long way down the file. Cannot the Staff College at Camberley be enlarged to include the Naval Staff College and the two R.A.F. Colleges? At the moment it is not big enough for that, but it is putting out more Staff officers than the Army needs—140 a year. It put out only 200 in war time when the Army was bigger. The Navy have a comparatively small output from their Staff College; the R.A.F. is bigger but not as big as the Army. I believe it would be possible, on a long term, to put all three under one roof and, by doing so, the process of integration between Staffs, and their training, would start sooner than now. The earliest time it can start now is at the Joint Services Staff College. And only the cream go there. A system in which they all went to one Staff college to start with I believe would produce an integrated view sooner; and that not only would be advantageous from the efficiency point of view but would also be a considerable saving in money. I am quite aware that this view would not initially meet with favour anywhere, but it might be worth keeping in mind.

I believe, as I have said before in your Lordships' House, that Staffs generally—and I can speak only for the Army—are too big. There are too many Staff officers now. I could mention one Staff which is four or five times bigger than before the war. It is close to here, but I have friends involved, so it would perhaps be injudicious to do so. In my view, if Staff officers are to be efficient they must take responsibility at every level. If a young officer on a Staff signs for the commander he should take the responsibility of signing for his commander, whatever rank he is. But Staffs are so big generally that a junior rank can always find somebody a little more senior; and so he passes it on and produces not a very good type of Staff officer. Fewer, with more responsibility, will produce economy and a better officer.

If reductions are to be made, as I hope they will, they must be made sensibly and not arbitrarily, as at the end of the war. I remember a senior officer coming out from the War Office to the Middle East with instructions to cut Staffs arbitrarily by 10 per cent. Can you imagine a more stupid instruction? Some branches could take a 50 per cent. cut at that time. Operations Air Staff and General Staff could have taken 50 per cent., whereas the Adjutant-General's branch, dealing with such matters as prisoners of war—of which we had nearly 2 million in the Middle East—could have done with an increase, leave alone a cut. But it had to take the cut like everybody else. The Quartermaster's branch had the same cut, though it was responsible for feeding, clothing and moving them around. In fact, they were busier than at any stage of the war. That was a stupid way of setting about it.

I hope the noble Earl will not feel that I have wasted the time of the House. Staff work in all three Services is vital. The best commander in the world cannot work without an efficient Staff. I know the noble and gallant Field Marshal—and not long ago we had the honour of having two Field-Marshals on the Cross Bench—would agree. A Staff will not be efficient if it is too big and clogged up; it must be small and it must be efficient. I hope the noble Earl will be able to spare some thought on this subject.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. I hope that the noble Lord who has just sat down will not expect me to follow him in the arguments he has produced, but he made one remark, if I understood him correctly, on which I must take him up. He said that he hoped there would be a Staff Corps. I dislike immensely the idea of a Staff Corps. I feel that that is going back to what happened in the First World War when there were a great many Staff officers who had no idea of what regimental duty meant. I am certain that no one cart make a really good Staff officer unless he has served for a comparatively long time as a regimental soldier.


May I interrupt the noble Viscount? I did not suggest that anybody in any of the three Services should go on the Staff until he had had adequate service with his unit. I am absolutely opposed to the idea of a professional Staff officer.


I must have misunderstood the noble Lord, and I apologise. I was glad that my noble friends sitting behind me, Lord Jellicoe and Lord Aberdare, said that they wished to congratulate the Government, because I feel that the Government have had rather a thin time this afternoon, and they do not deserve it. This is called a Progress Report, and it is in fact a report of progress of what is going on. In this Report we see that the equipment for all the Services is coming along; but—and it is a big but; and this is a point where I think one could criticise slightly—it is taking too long to materialise. I would ask the Government to put down the accelerator on the supply of what they intend to give the troops.

The noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Harding of Petherton, mentioned this point, as did several other noble Lords. I know only too well, as do other noble Lords who were in the Services before the war, that nothing is more soul-destroying than to have the wrong equipment, or, possibly, no equipment at all, or mock-up equipment. How well we remember before the war, when card-board tanks were being pushed rather slowly around Salisbury Plain for the infantry to co-operate with, and what a soul-destroying thing that was! It is bad for the morale of troops if, after they have been told that they are going to get various pieces of equipment, it takes a long time to come. I hope that these new weapons and the new equipment will come along quickly.

I was pleased to note in paragraph 43 (I do not think this point has yet been mentioned) an improvement in the Service allowances in relation to the question of moving, which, as everyone who has been in the Forces knows, involves great expense. The other thing that has been done is to give free passage to children at home when visiting their parents once a year. I am sure that will do a lot of good for the morale of those who are serving abroad.

There is one question I want to ask of the noble Earl who is to reply. I should like to know what extra powers the Chief of the Defence Staff has apropos the powers which the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee had when Marshal of the Air Force Sir William Dickson held that post. I have read the White Paper on this matter, but I am not absolutely certain what exactly are the new powers that the Chief of the Defence Staff has at the moment.

Several noble Lords have mentioned the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. I believe, as many other noble Lords do, in the great importance of N.A.T.O. I have been fortunate enough to go to Parliamentary Conferences at N.A.T.O. for several years, and I have never failed to be impressed by what goes on there. It is one of the most important things to this nation, and we must keep it so. But I believe there are few people in this country to-day who realise that at this very minute there are Englishmen, and men from all other N.A.T.O. countries, sitting and watching carefully as they are doing all the time. They are doing a good job of work, and I think that here we should always give the leaders, the commanders and all the forces in N.A.T.O. our support.

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, apart from a tendency to stray into the rather detailed field, which would be more proper in a debate on the individual Service Estimates, I think it will be agreed that a number of matters of first importance have been brought up and dealt with this afternoon. One, in particular, that I should like to mention is the question of inter-Service relations. I think it is encouraging that at least four or five noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon have welcomed the suggestion in the White Paper that some progress is being made towards Service integration.

The statement in paragraphs 23 and 24 of the White Paper is, however, rather thin. After all, it is common knowledge that in war-time, or when operations are going on, members of the different Services always co-operate; and when they have a job to do, as the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said, the junior officers always co-operate. However, when we get to the highest ranks, then individual members of the Service feel that they bear responsibility for seeing that their Service does not suffer in the competition among the three Services for resources, money, prestige or anything else. So long as the position of the three Services is co-equal, as it is now, with a rather sketchy control from above by the Minister of Defence, we shall have competition more or less unrestrained between the Services. It is under those conditions that we find the acute cases of competition and, as one noble Lord said, the rather undesirable forms of bargaining and negotiating.

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said that one day there would be complete integration of the Services into one big Service. But before any approach can be made to that it seems to me that two things are necessary. One is that a much more positive control over the Services must be vested in the Minister of Defence, so that he can, if necessary, knock people's heads together if they refuse to co-operate with each other. The other step that must be taken is at the other end of the scale, when young men go into the Services. At the moment, the whole attitude of a young man who enters a Service is one of intense pride of his Service, but that pride is acquired at the expense of the other Services or, very often, of other arms or corps of the same Service. Unless a young man is taught actively and positively by his senior officers that they all form part of one Service, and that all three Services have equal responsibility in the service of the country, that young man will grow up believing that he must stick up for his own Service at all costs. In the Army, the situation is worse, because of the regimental system which is responsible for a good deal of narrow parochialism and the intense competition for reserves, stores and the rest.

The trouble with a system like this is that it is self-perpetuating, because the officers who are recommended for promotion are probably those who are most keen on upholding their own regiment or Service and, therefore, automatically are least disposed to co-operate and to show good will towards the other Services and the other branches of the same Service. It seems to me that a drastic change in the atmosphere in the Services is the first thing that must come before there can be any serious advance in the close co-operation of the Services.

One other matter mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, and by the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Harding of Petherton, was the question of secrecy or security. Both noble Lords thought that a good deal of harm is being done by excessive secrecy or, as we should probably call it in modern jargon, "security consciousness." Any Staff officer in a Service will tell you that a given subject must be classified secret because it might come to the ears of a foreign Power and damage our war effort. Many noble Lords will remember that mobilisation schemes, or any document connected with mobilisation, was secret because it was said, and to a certain extent truly, that a foreign agent, if he knew the number of boots in the store of a unit or district, would then have the number of men who could be mobilised in case of war, and that that was military information which must be kept from the enemy or from foreign Powers. Numerous cases of equally ridiculous prohibitions will come to anybody's mind, even on much more important matters.

During the war, there were frequently cases where it was said that information could not be given about some action because the enemy must not know how much we knew about him. I remember that this mania for secrecy on the part of the Service authorities was written about during the war from time to time. It seems to me that it should be the function of a Minister, or some Department of Government, to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the disclosure of certain information. It may be that public morale would be so much improved by knowing a little more about some of the actions which took place during the war that it would be well worth giving some small piece of information to the enemy. It is on matters of this sort on which the Service Departments themselves cannot be trusted to keep a sense of proportion, and it is for the political heads of the Services, and for the Government, to have machinery to keep matters like that constantly under review. In peace time certainly the same considerations apply, and the individual members of the Services will be far more encouraged, and their enthusiasm for their Service will be helped, if they know a little more about the equipment and so on that they are given to use.

One question I should like to underline, at the risk of repetition, was that put by my noble friend Lord Nathan. He expressed a doubt whether we had the resources to carry out the enormous programme of research and development which, according to the White Paper, is in hand. I hope that we shall keep a sense of proportion and realise that we have not the resources that our fathers bad before the 1914 war. Our resources have dwindled, and we must resist the temptation, for prestige purposes, to try to equip ourselves on the same lavish scale as the Americans or the Russians. We must exercise some discrimination. That, of course, brings one to the question of interdependence. If there is any advantage to be obtained from an Alliance such as N.A.T.O., surely it is that the countries composing it do not each try to make everything in the whale armoury, but agree among themselves that each country concentrates on the manufacture, research or development of those articles in which it is best placed to make progress.

That naturally brings us to the biggest question of all, the nuclear weapons. I will wait until Hansard appears tomorrow before I commit myself as to what I believe the noble and gallant Field Marshal said about it. But whatever he did say, I think there has been material published recently which has a bearing on the question of the continuance by this country of maintaining the nuclear deterrent. The argument put not long ago in articles in The Times was that a new situation has arisen since it became apparent that the Russians had the power to deal a crippling blow at America with nuclear weapons; that since the Russians now have the weapon and the means of delivery, America can no longer count on immunity from complete devastation if a nuclear war breaks out; and therefore, that it is open to doubt whether the American nation would use nuclear weapons in defence of Europe or of other countries in Western Europe. It seems to be now no longer true that we cannot conceive any circumstances in which we should think it worth fighting and the Americans would not. I do not know whether the Government are prepared to say anything on that subject, but that argument has not, so far as I know, been demolished.

The other question which the noble and gallant Field Marshal mentioned was the question of what is enough in the nuclear weapon field. He hoped, I think—and there we shall all agree with him—that this country would not go on making nuclear weapons unnecessarily. I believe that there is a controversy going on in the United States now as to what should be considered enough of the nuclear weapons for national defence. One school says that it is sufficient if you have enough bombs to devastate the enemy's cities and destroy their populations. The other, which I gather is supported by the American Services, is the view that that is not enough; that it is necessary to have enough weapons to neutralise or destroy every means in the enemy's hands of delivering the weapons at the United States—in other words, enormously greater quantities of weapons are required for the second case if you intend to prevent your enemy hitting back at you.

My Lords, those are matters in the realm of very high policy which have not been touched on in this debate, but I suggest that they are relevant, and I should like to come back once again to the point that we in this country have limited resources of scientists, engineers, capacity and material of every sort, and it is the Government's duty to shape their policy in accordance with that limited supply of material.

7.43 p.m.


My Lords, I should not like to follow the noble Earl who has just spoken on this question of higher policy, but I would make a few points on this question that has been raised to-day. The noble Earl the Leader of the House stressed the part played by our foreign policy in the promotion of our defence policy. Our obligations have been made adundantly clear. Much has been said on the basis of our policy: collective defence, integrated forces, contribution to the deterrent; and the need for flexibility has also been stressed with regard to the pursuance of this policy.

Before commenting on ways and means outlined in the Progress Report as to the implementation of the policy laid out in the Defence White Paper of 1957, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to a recently published book, entitled Soviet Strategy in the Nuclear Age, written by Raymond L. Garthoff, member of the United States Department of Defence and recognised in the United States as an authority on Soviet military doctrine—in fact in 1954 he published a book entitled Soviet Military Doctrine. In a Press review in the United States it was stated that every officer from a second lieutenant to a five-star General and every member of Congress should read Soviet Strategy in the Nuclear Age. In it the author stresses that Soviet policy is mainly based on a calculation of power tinged with a strong offensive aim; that is, the weakening, annihilation and replacement of the enemy—and by "enemy" I mean anyone who is not under Soviet control.

No doubt that is part of the Communist ideology, but, my Lords, in the era of thermo-nuclear missiles and deliverability by aircraft it may well be that we have reached a state of parity whereby it would be no longer necessary for the Soviet to employ such a capability to achieve that end. But then forceful political measures might be employed, and that would bring to the fore, I think, the question of limited warfare. What does stand out in my mind, in a study of this previously mentioned publication, is that the main objective of Soviet strategy appears to be the creation of favourable conditions for their land forces with the concept that nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons need not necessarily be used.

To come now to our concept of deterring and resisting aggression, I welcome the decision of the Minister of Defence, stated in another place last month, to the effect that a decision has been reached that Her Majesty's Government propose to proceed with the development of our own ballistic missile—in other words, Blue Streak. And I am particularly glad that we should be doing so in view of the statement which he made with regard to the payload of equipment of this missile with a view to evading or confusing anti-missile missiles. Assuming the validity of the Russian trend of thought, that intermediate-range ballistic missiles and inter-continental ballistic missiles are invulnerable to interception, and assuming also that it is right that their trend of thought follows the line that the ballistic missile is the logical and best weapon for the purpose of deterrence, should we not assume that possibly they are ahead of us in ballistic missiles?

With regard to our second form of deterrent, the manned bomber with its stand-off bomb, I should like to ask the noble Earl, the First Lord, whether he will give the House, when he comes to reply, any further information and particulars about the stand-off bomb. Certain American-powered bombs have varying ranges. The Rascal GAM 63 has a range of 100 miles. The GAM 77 has a range of 500 miles. A slightly different and larger type of weapon system, the SM 62, has a range of 5,000 miles. Exactly where does our powered bomb fit in? Is it between the 100-mile and 500-mile mark, or between the 500-mile and 5,000-mile mark? Very little information is available to the public in general about what this type of powered bomb can do.

Before leaving the question of our manned bomber force, I should like to say that I particularly welcome the statement that this force will continue to be increased by the introduction of Vulcans and Victors. I have particularly in mind the B.2 Victor, fitted with the Conway engines, which have a much higher thrust than the engines of the Mark I. I believe (this point was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye) that the manned bomber has many years in front of it as a deterrent that is, when it is loaded with a nuclear weapon—on account of its flexibility, the inter-changeability of bases, the possible rotation of aircraft, and on account also of the constant progress which is being achieved by the crews in reducing take-off time. Lastly, to touch on another form of nuclear deterrent, I wish to refer to our prototype nuclear submarine "Dreadnought". In this respect, I particularly welcome the statement made by the Government spokesman in another place, to the effect that the keel will be laid this summer.

I want now to say a word about our contribution to the N.A.T.O. shield. On February 26 last, in another place, the Minister of Defence quoted a recent N.A.T.O. Council resolution about the manifest will to use nuclear retaliatory forces to repeal aggression". I must say that the Minister did add [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 600 (No. 66), col. 1416]: in the event of a large-scale major attack". In view of this statement, may I take the opportunity of asking the noble Earl, the First Lord, whether any joint political directives have been issued which cover all contingencies in respect of the utilisation of nuclear weapons? That these directives should not be made public may well be, but do they exist?

As I see it, the principles, doctrines, concepts—call it what one may—underlying the possible use of nuclear weapons, as well as the extent to which tactical and strategical weapons will be brought into use, must be made very clear. In the winter issue of the European-Atlantic Review, General Norstad states—I quote his exact words: If the shield is both strong enough and flexible enough to cope with a limited penetration, the dilemma of whether or not to invoke general war passes to the aggressor. He must then weigh the power not only of the forces directly in front of him but also the supporting actions of the elements of the deterrent". I hope that very serious consideration is being given by Her Majesty's Government to this question of "coping with a limited penetration", for we cannot afford the possibility of such a conflict developing, by accident or by an error of judgment, into a major conflict.

7.58 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships' House for my absence during much of the debate because of my duties in the City. I shall make my remarks as brief as possible. I want to say a few words about Christmas Island, which, to my knowledge, has not been touched on to any degree in the debate. In the current number of that excellent magazine Soldier, there is an elaborately-written article about this vitally important strategic post where most of the experiments in nuclear testing are, I believe, being carried on. According to this article, there are about 4,000 troops of the Navy, Army and Air Force, in addition to the "boffins" themselves, on the island. I should like the noble Earl, when he comes to reply, to say a few words, if he will, about the future of this base, so far as he can give the information. How many troops are we likely to maintain there during the course of, let us say, the next five years, and what is the cost of maintaining them?

The Government are to be congratulated on the tremendous strides they have made in this vital base. Bearing in mind that the base was started only in 1956, one of the paragraphs of the article in Soldier states: Most of us sleep in tents, although 800 are now accommodated in hutted barrack rooms … These were built by a troop of Fijian sappers who volunteered to serve on Christmas Island. By the middle of 1959 everyone should be sleeping in huts connected to a permanent sewerage system and equipped with wash basins, showers, toilets and hot and cold baths. Of course, accommodation is a vital aspect of this subject. The recruiting figures for the Services have been excellent, and, hand in hand with recruiting, goes accommodation; and certainly in Christmas Island a very good example has been set. But elsewhere the picture is not so rosy. In one Sunday paper which is a Government supporter a very different picture was painted by a unit returning from Cyprus which went to Albany barracks in Newport, Isle of Wight. I quote from what a drum-major reports on these particular barracks: We have been given three quarters, one on top of the other. There are three kitchens, three stoves, three water boilers, on which the taps don't work, three baths, none of which I can get into, and there's no hot water. This state of affairs is disturbing. There are some examples of accommodation which by no means come up to standard. It is important to remember that the Regular soldier, or a soldier on a long-term engagement, regards his accommodation as his home. I feel that Her Majesty's Government must pay more attention to this subject of accommodation, and particularly for married families. I believe that barracks for a single man are being improved very greatly, but much remains to be done for married family accommodation; and although in another place the Secretary of State for War said, I think, that barrack accommodation at home and abroad for 5,000 soldiers and 1,100 married quarters were already under construction, I am not at all satisfied that that is enough.

Finally, I have here a report of the position of some of the senior officers. Officers of G.O.C. status often have to entertain equivalent ranks from other countries—the N.A.T.O. countries and others. It should be remembered that comparable people in civilian life have an expense account which in many cases is justifiable. I am not by any means advocating that the expense account should be "the sky's the limit," but I do not think that adequate facilities, either for accommodation or improved allowances, are given to this personnel of high rank to discharge their duty as it should be discharged, when civilian counterparts in the capacity of directors and managers frequently receive, sometimes at the taxpayer's expense, high out-of-pocket grants. I feel that Her Majesty's Government should give some thought to that matter.

The White Paper itself, bearing in mind that it is on a five-year scale, is, I think, a commendable document. A good deal of progress has been made in accommodation and in weapons and equipment. I can remember just ten years ago how my own Territorial unit was shamefully starved of equipment. Well, the position now has improved considerably, and I can only hope that by the time the next White Paper comes round more improvements will have been made.

8.7 p.m.


My Lords, I must say that I find it difficult to wind up for this side in this debate for one reason: namely, that there has not been any broad clash of opinion, or even any one line of thought running through it. I am glad to say that the speeches have been refreshingly short, and the stay of most of the speakers after they have spoken has also been short. They have fired off a number of questions to the Government and suggestions to the Minister who is to reply, but they have neither waited for those who are to speak after them nor have they in some cases waited for the reply of the Minister to the various points that they have made. I am glad to see that we are getting a few noble Lords back; perhaps I have spoken a little too early with regard to some of the speakers.

The difficulty that I find, and which I have no doubt the Minister will find when winding up, is, as I have said, that there is no broad theme on which there has been a clash of opinion. As the noble Lord, Lord Winster, said, largely it arose from the nature of the White Paper itself, which is concerned with matters of detail. The White Paper is not a document which discusses the wider problems of defence; it is really a progress report, and it deals with the supply of important conventional weapons to the Armed Forces. I regret that even in this sphere it does not give the necessary information as to the actual extent to which interdependence is achieving uniformity of weapons and equipment and a saving in costs, as there must be. In my view, reinforced by what we were told at the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference in November last in Paris, this question of uniformity of weapons and equipment leaves much to be desired. The importance of N.A.T.O. was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and by my noble friend Lord Shackleton.

I must say that I found much of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Home, rather puzzling. He referred but slightly to the White Paper. His speech, as always, was full of charm and he had the ease of manner which we generally associate with him. But it seemed to me that his speech could have been made equally well in 1929 or, indeed, in 1899—it seemed to bear little relation to the policy of the Government, or to the details, such as they are, in the White Paper. He referred, for instance, to the balance of power. He referred to the fact that we must. if necessary, stand alone; we must not transfer a section of our defence to another country, and we must be able to meet any threat from any enemy of this country.


My Lords, I suppose the noble Lord heard my speech. When he says that I spoke of the balance of power I would remind him that I did go on to a discussion of the two elements in the modern balance of power—nuclear and conventional. That could not have been so in 1899. On the second example, if the noble Lord reads my speech to-morrow he will find it more up to date than perhaps he is willing to give me credit for.


My Lords, the noble Earl can talk of the deterrent and the conventional weapons, but that has nothing to do with the balance of power. As I understand it, the balance of power, in the old days, was a case of switching over to a former enemy from a present friend when the present friend became too powerful. This practice, which has always been defended, no doubt on moral and practical grounds, by British Governments, naturally has not always commended itself to our present friends when they find we have switched over from them; no doubt it has resulted in the expression "perfidious Albion" being applied to us.

The noble Earl did mention the balance of power, however, and if that is the classic exposition of the balance of power it is a little difficult to relate it to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, which, as I understand it, is set out at the top of the White Paper—interdependence and collective security. I shall naturally look at the speech of the noble Earl with great interest; but, after all, one has not the text; one has to listen to the oration, as and when the orator is speaking, and I find it rather difficult to relate that oracular pronouncement to the policy as indicated in the White Paper.

The noble Earl made no mention at all of the two recent and most significant developments—namely, first, the historic cruise of the nuclear-powered submarine "Nautilus" under the North Pole, and secondly, the successful launching of the satellite by the Soviet Union. But it is within that concept of those two extraordinary developments that our defence policy must take its place, and I would suggest that, in spite of what the noble Earl has said, there are two essential factors which were brought out in the speech of the noble and gallant Field Marshal Lord Harding of Petherton. The first is that we must at all costs hold fast to our alliances and to collective security and must play our part within that sphere. The second is that we must help in every way we can to develop under-developed countries, especially those in the Commonwealth. We certainly should not quarrel with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, on that point.

I must say that I too was rather confused, and I do not wonder that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, was confused; because I understood the noble and gallant Lord to say that in cases where the United States was making materials of war there was no need for us to duplicate them. The hydrogen bomb and the atomic bomb might well fall within those categories. The noble and gallant Lord later explained that he did not intend to include, at all events, the hydrogen bomb within that category which he had indicated as being one in which we should not duplicate the efforts of the United States. We were grateful for that correction but in logic I do not myself see any difference between a warhead which is to be used in a rocket and a hydrogen bomb which is to be dropped from an aircraft. Surely in principle and logic they are exactly the same.

The policy of Her Majesty's Government which I have indicated, and which was set out again by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, assumes that we never again embark on, or sustain, a major war on our own, outside our Allied and collective security engagements; secondly—and I take it that this was agreed by Her Majesty's Government—that we can never engage in a minor war outside our collective security engagements. The danger of engaging in a minor war outside our collective security engagements was illustrated by the Suez adventure where, for the first time in history, a force proceeded to attack an enemy down its own and allied lines of communication with most devastating results, so far as those communications were concerned. If Her Majesty's Government adopt a policy such as is indicated in the White Paper I assume that they also accept the two corollaries that I have mentioned—


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell me, from which paragraphs of the White Paper does he draw that conclusion, because it is not a conclusion which I myself have drawn?


My Lords, the White Paper says on page 1: The aim of British policy is to promote peace and security through the settlement of international differences and comprehensive disarmament. At the same time, Britain, in co-operation with other members of the Commonwealth and with her allies in N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact, must continue to play her part in the collective defence of the free world. She must also continue to provide protection for her colonies and other overseas territories, towards which she has special obligations. I say that once it is postulated as a policy that we must act in co-operation with our Allies and the other members of these various Pacts, that prevents us from acting on our own: and one of the disastrous consequences of acting on our own, in opposition to what our Allies wanted, came out in the Suez operation which, as we know, had to be stopped pretty quickly. I do not propose to detain your Lordships at any length at this late hour, but there are just two questions that I should like to ask.

In the first place, I should like to ask a question on training. Training is now organised in this country, broadly, in "penny packets". Each of the Services trains pretty well on its own; and, in this country, at all events, the training grounds, which even before the war were far too small for any realistic training, are now so hampered by new towns, national parks and the rest that training has become quite unrealistic. The suggestion has been made that it might be possible to take, in Canada or Australia, a really large-scale training area where our forces from all parts of the Commonwealth could go for training purposes. They could be taken by Commonwealth Navies and Commonwealth aircraft who would co-operate with them in the exercises, the whole undertaking being under an Inter-Service Command. The training grounds would be available to the Territorial Forces and the cadets as well as to Regular forces. By this means we should have, for the first time in British and Commonwealth history, an opportunity of training our Regular forces on a large scale in peace time in conjunction with Commonwealth Forces and the Territorial Army. It would also give our commanders an opportunity they rarely have in peace time of exercising themselves and their staffs in large-scale command.

The second question I wish to ask is about intelligence. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, and my noble friend Lord Lucan spoke on the secrecy which, as we know, is so often exercised to prevent the public or Parliament from obtaining any information whatsoever about various aspects of the Services in which they are interested. As they said, we do not insist on, or expect, the divulgence of any important secrets, but very often these matters are not of any great importance; and too often, as we know, it is not so much a case of hiding information from the foreigners as of hiding it from our own side, which is a sort of "gamesmanship" that the Service Departments have always indulged in, both in war and in peace.

There is another aspect which I should like to take up, and that concerns military intelligence about other people. Are the Government satisfied that their military intelligence system is adequate for its purpose? We have seen that political intelligence is most inadequate. In Iraq, in Cuba, in France, to give only a few examples, it was quite obvious that we knew little of what was going on, and that, when information did come through, quite often it was incorrectly analysed both overseas and at home. If it is possible to have this lack of political intelligence and incorrect analysis of the intelligence that we have got, I would ask: what is the position with military intelligence, which is of course much more difficult to obtain in the first place and also possibly much more difficult to analyse?

Just lately the Soviet appointed General Serov as, it is believed, head of the Soviet Military Intelligence, the reason being, we are told, that the Russians accept the necessity of having specialised military intelligence in these days without leaving it to other people to provide it for them. The Services need this specialised military intelligence. If it is true that General Serov has been, appointed to this post it means that the Soviet recognise the great importance of military intelligence; and although I hardly think we are likely to get much of an answer on this matter, because no intelligence organisation would ever admit that it is less than perfect, I would ask the Government to look at that question in the light of the very distinct failures of political intelligence that the Government have had to suffer in the last few months.

At this late hour I do not intend to detain your Lordships any further. The whole question of defence, so far as the White Paper is concerned, will come up on the debates on the Memoranda accompanying the Estimates. Some of the speeches made to-day would, I think, have been more conveniently made on the Memoranda on the Estimates than in a defence debate. But that is incidental because, as I have said, the Defence White Paper, except for the introductory piece which, at the instance of the noble Lord. Lord St. Oswald. I read out, really contains no broad statement of principle on defence. That is, in the White Paper itself. So, with those few words, and reserving much of our ammunition for the later debates on the Memoranda on the Estimates, I think I can quite safely conclude the debate on behalf of the Opposition this evening.

8.24 p.m.


My Lords, after twenty-five speakers it is not easy to promise the House to be brief, but I will do what I can in that respect. This has been really a very satisfactory debate on defence, because we have expressed from the first a broad measure of agreement on the broad principles on which our defence policy is proceeding. I think I could say to my noble friend Lord De L'Isle that it is proceeding with strength, and to the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, that it is proceeding with continuity. I think that that is the more important because, as my noble friend Lord St. Oswald said in the quotations he made, there are many who are primed to foster entirely different views; and at this present time I doubt very much whether there is any sphere—or certainly there are few—in which change is taking place more rapidly than it is in the Service Departments. That is not only because of the changing strategic position in the world, but also because of the constant developments in technology which are taking place, certainly year by year and even month by month.

I think we can with very real truth say, in the time-honoured words of the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, that "It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place"; or, if I may translate that into a rather blunter Americanism, I would say, "If it works, it is obsolete." That is very much the world in which we are working, and to produce a continuous, consistent progress report speaks well for the farsightedness with which the Government policy has been conceived.

There is one general complaint that has been made and that is that we do not give enough information. Frankly, anyone who reads carefully through the documents produced will find a good deal of information there. But I must make it clear that I think that in some ways we give too much information. I should like to explain what I mean by that. I have been asked, for instance, by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, and others, about anti-missile missiles. I think it is really absurd for me to talk on that subject—on a matter which is in such an embryonic stage at the present time. The noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, asked for details of the stand-off bomb. Surely he does not seriously expect me to give this information in public. I think we give quite enough information; and that we indulge too much in crystal gazing.

The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, was complaining that he had heard of the N.A.39 some years ago. Of course he had; and his particular example is of an aeroplane which over three years has developed absolutely up to schedule and flew the month in which it was forecast it would fly three years earlier. Of course we told the House. If the House does not want to be given early information, it will not be able to talk about developments long before they take place.


My Lords, I am much more concerned to know whether it is actually delivered and working after that period.


My Lords, it is certainly working, but it has not been delivered. But if we are to talk about something in the defence field, it is better to do that when it is produced than when it is in a working condition.

I should like to re-state the position which we have been developing since 1957. At that time, in the nature of things, a big change was taking place in our strategy. The development of nuclear weapons and the pace of weapons had fundamentally altered military planning. A major war appeared to involve almost irreparable damage, and we have therefore sought to concentrate our efforts within the framework of our alliances, and with our many friends, on deterring and preventing a major war—that, to my mind, is the essence of our task—and also at the same time on fulfilling our special responsibilities to areas overseas where we have a relationship of a particular character.

There is one thing that flows from that. If we are going to do that, to prevent war, we must be able to keep it up. We must, therefore, be able to do it within our economy. When now techniques are developing very rapidly, and almost every one is more complex and expensive than the one before, it is not an easy task. It flows, I think, quite naturally from that that we must have all-Regular forces of the highest quality, trained and equipped and organised on the most up-to-date lines. And it follows quite naturally from that that we shall be able, as we have now said we will, to get rid of conscription. I believe that everyone has agreed that that is desirable.

Another question that has been posed is whether we are producing all-Regular Forces equipped on up-to-date lines. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, said there were very few assets, and that most items carne under the heading of development. If I take a minute or two to speak of some of the things that exist, or are about to come along, I do not apologise to the House, because I think the position is showing quite a material change. In the first place, to deal shortly with the Royal Navy, a great number of new ships are coming into service; and a large proportion of the ships at sea at the present time are of new construction, or are completely modernised or converted. Our new air defence radar is, indeed, the finest in service at sea.

One noble Lord spoke about "Dreadnought," the conclusion of the contract for which was announced only yesterday. This is for propulsion plant similar to that of the latest American nuclear submarine, the "Skipjack." It will be purchased with the rights to use all the details of its manufacture for, in particular, the prototype machinery which we are building at Dounreay. I know that there are some people who think that we should not here buy American. If I may remind the House, our first submarine, in the year 1901, was what was called the "Holland No. 1" submarine, and that was built by Vickers and Maxim to United States design. This is not uninteresting—and that was at a time when Britannia really did rule the waves. I do not think we were wrong then to buy in the best market, and I certainly do not think we are wrong to do it today. I personally am grateful for the assistance which we have had from the United States Government and the United States Navy in bringing this contract to a conclusion. If I may say so, this is an example of what has flawed from the meeting of the Prime Minister and the President some eighteen months ago, and is a form of interdependence about which we can be extremely happy.

I should like to turn for a moment to the Army, and to remind the House that the re-equipment of the Army, by its nature, runs in phases. If you re-equip an army, it is a very big thing. A large number of units of a similar type want to be similarly equipped. You cannot do this steadily: you necessarily do it all at one time, or you tend to do so. Now when the Army is re-equipped, as it was at the end of the last war, it probably had too much equipment—and that again happened to some extent, of course, at the end of the Korean war. It would be absurd to scrap all these stocks straight away. It is much better to wait until new developments have taken their shape in the proper way, and have proved themselves, and then to re-equip properly. That, indeed, is what we are doing now: we are just going through one of those phases of requipment.

With regard to equipment, may I remind the House of one or two matters? The Grigg Report reported adversely on lorries. By the end of the year, all units in B.A.O.R. will have new, modern lorries. In regard to wireless sets, on which comments have also been made, we are now in the process of re-equipment. It is substantially a movement from H.F. to V.H.F.; and that will be completed within three years. There has been a lot of talk about the F.N. rifle. By the end of the year, all "teeth-arm" units of the Regular Army will have this rifle: and the Sterling sub-machine gun is already in very wide use. The Ferret Scout car and the Salad in armoured car are already in service with some units, and all Armoured Corps armoured units will have them in the next twelve months.


Do I understand that in Germany, for example, where some of the Allied regiments have already been equipped with these things, all the British forces will be equipped with them this year?


They will all be equipped this year, I am given to understand. So far as the Armoured Corps units are concerned, they will be equipped with Ferret Scout cars and Saladin armoured cars within twelve months.


And F.N. rifles?


Yes. All "teeth-arm" units of the Regular Army (the noble Viscount will be more familiar with this than I am) will, in fact, be equipped with the F.N. rifle by the end of the year. The Thunderbird is coming into service this year; a new air-portable field gun is now being tried out; and there are two regiments equipped with Corporal.

My Lords, that struck me as a fairly formidable list of new equipment which is actually here. I do not feel inclined to apologise at all on that account. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, asked about tanks. The Centurion is with B.A.O.R., and the Conqueror. The Centurion is an exceptionally successful tank which has been sold all over the world, and I think it is something of which the country can be justly and properly very proud.


If the noble Earl will forgive me for interrupting, may I say that a number of the things which he has very kindly given us in his speech might have been in the Paper, and then we need not have asked the questions?


The Paper was modest, perhaps: perhaps we do not try to push our Papers unduly. But, as I say, this information is available to those who care to ask for it. I would only add this: that B.A.O.R. will be completely equipped with the Mobat anti-tank gun by the middle of this year.

I do not think I need say much about the equipment of the R.A.F., because it is generally regarded as being of a high order. There is the question of Bloodhound. More Bloodhound squadrons are now becoming operational, and developments will take place in due course. What I should like to emphasise is the expansion of Transport Command which is taking place. I said last year that the position was, very roughly, that since 1951 the capacity had doubled, and with the introduction of the Britannias, which are coming in now, it will be trebled since 1951, which is really a different way of saying the same as my noble friend the Earl of Home said. The Shackleton Mark III, with which Coastal Command is now equipped, is as good as any maritime aircraft now in service, as well as being invaluable as a supplement to the transport force if required. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, asked whether I had any proposal to make about Coastal Command. We have just published our White Paper, and I have no further proposal to make. Of course, there are consultations going on, and there always will be, because it is most essential that there should be a most intimate connection between the two Services. I do not think that, in this matter, officers and men of either Service are particularly keen to be involved in controversy.


May I interrupt the noble Earl? Would he himself pay a visit to Coastal Command and get the opinions of the officers there as to what is going on at the moment?


I was up at Londonderry, which is half coastal and half naval, about a fortnight ago, and I talked to the officers there. I am only too glad to go and visit any of the officers, but I see no reason for developing this point.

My Lords, the T.S.R. 2 has, of course, been ordered. This is going to be a very remarkable aeroplane, from all we have heard about it; but I am quite certain that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, will ask us in two years' time why it is not flying. The answer is that we should not have told him about it in the first place. These things inevitably take time to develop.

I should now like to move to the V-bomber force. I may be wrong, but here there seems to be one question of emphasis which is wrong. To-day our V-bombers, the Vulcan and the Victor, stand in comparison with any bombers in service anywhere in the world. One should remember that those bombers will be supplemented by the Mark II, a new version which has not yet come into service. I want to say, further, that these will be equipped in due course with the powered bomb, which takes them on yet another stage. So I think it is fair to say that these aircraft will have a good life ahead as our main deterrent weapon. Quite frankly, I could not follow the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, in his point about mobile air delivering bases—I do not follow the noble Lord in what he had in mind there. We are concerned, of course, with what will be their eventual replacement—and in the present state of our knowledge Blue Streak, on which a considerable amount of work has been done, appears to be best suited to our needs. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, has gone, so I will not deal with the next point he made.

May I now turn for one moment to recruiting? We all know that we have had a good recruiting year in the last twelve months and have now been able to announce that young men born in the fourth quarter of 1939 will not be called up. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said that improved recruiting was due to unemployment. It is very curious that there is no evidence to show that there is any connection at all. The Grigg Report went into this matter and came to the conclusion that there could be no direct connection.


I direct the noble Earl's attention to the Hansard Report of another place where an Answer was given showing centres from which recruits were coming; and many are in particularly had pockets of unemployment.


I thought, from what I saw, that it was a picture painted with a very broad brush, from which no accurate statistician such as the noble Viscount would draw any very precise conclusions. It may be I am wrong, but that was the general impression left with me.

I have felt in my mind that less than normal attention has been given to the positive action the Government has taken to encourage recruiting. Above all, we have certainly sought to raise the status of the serving man, and to make recognised the real importance of this service to the country. Nothing is more important than that. Not only is there a bulge in the number of young men coming of age, but we also believe, as the Grigg Committee believed, that the abolition of conscription itself will help the volunteer movement.

So we look forward to recruiting prospects with considerable confidence. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Jeffreys, referred to the question of officer recruitment—and I agree that this is one of the most important subjects. Officers who will have to deal with complex modern weapons, with the modern type of other rank or rating, will require to be of the highest calibre. It is of great importance to get people of capacity, ability and leadership. All Services are looking for those qualities. I should like here to read one passage from the Grigg Report, where the Committee stated: We suggest that the Services should take as their objective, to be attained at the earliest practicable date, the adoption as the minimum academic standard for entry to the cadet colleges the possession of two passes at the advanced level in the General Certificate of Education, together with the appropriate pattern of passes at the ordinary level. It is important that the Grigg Report emphasises that we should seek to get a higher category of academic training. We in the Navy have had a look at that, and came to the same conclusion. We are going to adopt substantially the same recommendations that the Grigg Report made.

It was announced yesterday that, after giving the young men an intensive course, they would all be sent to sea as midshipmen in the second year after going to Dartmouth. I know that this is a move that will be widely welcomed among people in the Navy. I have constantly brought to my attention the advantage of personal experience gained as midshipmen—something which is more difficult to get once a man is commissioned. The electrical and engineering branches will do a two-years' course, after leaving Dartmouth, leading to a university degree. Seamen and Supply and Secretariat specialists will do a year's academic and a year's professional training. I am confident that this will produce officers of ability, able to undertake earlier the full responsibility of their rank.

The Army is to improve the standard of entry by introducing a scheme of forty scholarships a year for boys aged sixteen. In the Air Force, there is the problem of air crew. This problem arises, at least in part, from dubiety about the future of manned aircraft and the need for pilots. I make only two points. The aeroplanes we are ordering to-day will be delivered only four to five years hence. This is a fact to be borne in mind. Secondly, the Secretary of State himself has said that for so far ahead as he can see pilots will be required for flying duties in the R.A.F. I hope that those with the rather specialised qualifications, both physical and mental, for a pilot, will not hesitate to offer themselves for this supremely rewarding and magnificent service.

I will not deal with points in the Grigg Report about improved rates of pay. I merely remind your Lordships that other ranks' pensions rise on April 1 next. A question was asked by Lord Auckland on married quarters and other accommodation. I think that the question of accommodation had better be dealt with on the individual Service Estimates. We should like to have improved conditions, and we are taking certain steps. I say only that I know my right honourable friend would like to take them more quickly.

The noble Viscount, Lord De L'Isle, raised the question of resettlement. I should like to pay my tribute to the work of Sir Frederic Hooper. During 1958 there were 7,200 Regular officers who left the three Services. Of these, about 6,000 had already found jobs by the end of last year. Of the remainder, some are not seeking work and others are at present engaged in finding work. I do not think that that is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. I admit that some, less gifted, may find it more difficult. Lord Windlesham raised the question of Aden and Malta. I must emphasise that he should look at it as a theatre matter. It does not affect the Governors of Aden and Malta at all. These are theatre commands, which are separate. He emphasised Staff work and I assure him that in none of the Services is the importance of this work underestimated.

The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen raised the question of the Chief of the Defence Staff. This has all been dealt with in a special White Paper, and I have nothing to add to that. The present position is that held by Sir William Dickson, and it is not proposed to make any alteration in that. The only thing I can say is that the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff has now become Chief of Defence Staff and military adviser to the Minister. I cannot add anything to what is said in the Paper, which I thought put the position fairly clearly.

We have sought to create a balanced Force—and, I may say, a balanced Force not only between our contribution to N.A.T.O. and our other Alliances (and it is worth remembering that we alone are a member of N.A.T.O., the Bagdad Pact and S.E.A.T.O.) but also between our ability to discharge our own special responsibility in certain territories as against our contribution to our Allies.

As to the balance between conventional forces and strategic forces, a certain amount of advice has been given to-night. The noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery wanted more ships; Lord Jeffreys wanted more infantry; Lord Winster wanted to spend less money, more on the nuclear deterrent and to have a good many more ships—


I did not ask for more ships; I asked that the ships we had should be made use of until we had something better to replace them.


The effect of that would mean spending more money on ships. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, produced a curious view. He seemed to think that anyone who advocated conventional forces had a Service vested interest. As I say, I think that that is a most peculiar view to take, and I can see no reason to suppose that that is the case. There are many people who realise the importance of conventional forces who have not a Service vested interest. The fact is that over 80 per cent. of our effort is outside the deterrent. If we cut the deterrent by very much, our contribution to this aspect of Western defence would be greatly reduced.

With regard to our territories and other national interests, we have a special responsibility for maintaining peace and stability. This is one of the most important roles of our conventional forces, and our task is to be able to act quickly to prevent the possibility of any serious situation developing into a major emergency. It is this high degree of mobility, and our continuing ability to deal promptly with matters threatening our interests, which is of the greatest importance. While I know that noble Lords have different views, I think we have a general balance of our forces which is pretty soundly conceived, and we should be able to meet, either by ourselves or along with our allies, such force as is employed anywhere by an aggressor.

I will not go over all the points which I have here, but there was one matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, on tactical and strategic weapons. I agree with his definition that a weapon is defined substantially according to its use. But I think the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, is correct in saying that we should keep an absolutely free hand in saying how we should use the weapons. I think it is the greatest mistake—though I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, said—to define areas where we use one weapon or another. Our objective is not to have a nice little tactical nuclear war; our objective is to stop war. We must keep our minds absolutely clear on that. To start dividing things up into small sections and saying that we would do this and that is, I am sure, quite wrong.


My Lords, what does the Minister of Defence mean, then, by his definition in the other place between tactical and strategic bombing; that it depends on what is the target and not the size of the weapon you use?


That is what I have said.


Have you?


It is precisely what I have said. Whether it is tactical or strategic depends on how it is used. I will quote what the Minister said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 600 (No. 66), col. 1421]: … our aim would be to use as much force as was necessary to repel aggression, no more and no less. I do not think anyone would disagree with that. That, to my mind, is the correct way in which this difficult problem should be approached.


My Lords, is it not a question of saying that it is the difference between attacking, say, cities and attacking some military position of the enemy, not taking any account of the fact that the tactical weapon will go up to at least half a kiloton or a kiloton, and therefore kill thousands, and immediately invite a major attack by nuclear weapons?


I can see that the noble Viscount is terribly anxious to involve me in this controversy, about which one could go on talking until the cows come home. It is a difficult matter, but I think it is clearly laid out. I do not want to read large passages at this time of night, but in paragraphs 14 and 21—


You cannot ride off in that way.


It is all laid down; there is no doubt about this.

Perhaps I might make this point, because I think it is worth making. It is suggested that there is something immoral in using nuclear weapons at all. We dislike the thought of using them—everybody dislikes the thought of using them—but to my mind any instrument which in fact continues the peace of the world, if it is successful in doing that, under no definition can be regarded as immoral. That is one case, I suggest, where it might be said that the end may justify the means.

There is a further point in regard to our own independent contribution to the Western nuclear deterrent. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, that it is in effect one deterrent, though we make an independent contribution. I think it is important to remember our geographical position, the quality of our weapons, and that we are quite satisfied with the categorical assurance given by the United States that any attack on any N.A.T.O. country will be regarded by the United States as an attack upon herself. That is the answer to my noble friend Lord St. Oswald who raised this matter. But there is this further point. It is not only a question of what we think, but we have to bring conviction to Russia so that in fact the Soviet Union will not be tempted to invade Western Europe at some future time in the misguided belief that the United States will not take part. I wholly disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Winster, in saying that interdependence is worse than useless. I think those are dangerous and quite wrong words to use. It is of the utmost importance to our whole position that in our alliances and in our Commonwealth association we should be strong.

I will sum up quite shortly what I have tried to say to your Lordships. I do not pretend to have answered all the questions that have been asked, but perhaps noble Lords may like to ask them specially on another occasion. The criticism of the plan of two years ago has very much died down. We are now reasonably assured that compulsory service can go. The re-equipment of all Services is gathering momentum. We have major developments on a long-term basis under way. Defence expenditure has been held at a fairly steady level; if that had not been the case, it seems virtually certain that our defence budget would have been higher by at least 50 per cent. to-day. We have concentrated on the essential tasks, including that of bringing our forces to a higher degree of mobility. Through the increased mobility of our Army we are able to switch our forces readily from one task to another. Finally, we have, I believe, struck, a satisfactory balance between the conventional and the nuclear forces. So long as the West retains confidence in itself and we work closely together there is, I believe, every reason to hope that we shall continue both to maintain the peace of the world and to protect the interests of this country.

On Question, Resolution agreed to.

House adjourned at two minutes before nine o'clock.