HL Deb 15 March 1961 vol 229 cc887-947

4.15 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, perhaps I may recall to the House that some time ago we were talking about Defence. I feel that this debate has been a little confused, for two reasons. The first is that the Government are not clear in their own mind as to what they want from Defence. They are guilty, if not of double thought, at least of double talk; and they certainly need no lessons from Mr. Khrushchev in that particular respect. As far back as 1957, in the famous White Paper which has been quoted so often to-day and yesterday, the Government said this: The growth in the power of weapons of mass destruction has emphasised the fact that no country can any longer protect itself in isolation. The defence of Britain is possible only as part of a collective defence of the free world". Later on it says: Provided each member nation plays its fair part in the joint effort, it is not necessarily desirable that each should seek to contribute national forces which are themselves self-sufficient and balanced in all respects. I think that is an excellent statement of the case; and it is one with which I, and, so far as I know, all Members of the Liberal Party, would entirely agree. In the present Report on Defence, in paragraph 23, the Government re-emphasise this point of view and say: A narrow, nationalistic policy for the choice and production of arms makes no sense to-day. Again, we entirely agree; in fact, that point has been made by more than one speaker in this debate. But the Government do not carry out the policy which they advocate—and this is where the "double thought" and "double talk" come in. I believe that we really have the independent deterrent mainly to satisfy the gunboat mentality on their own Benches and not for any real defensive purpose whatever. I cannot believe that a Government who set out these admirable statements of policy can at the same time desire to go completely against them, as they do with regard to the independent deterrent.

Quite apart from the points I have been mentioning, and its failure to draw this clear distinction, the White Paper does not deal with any of the pressing points which ought to be dealt with in the world of Defence to-day—particularly our relationship with N.A.T.O. and the various problems which the N.A.T.O. Commander-in-Chief, General Norstad, has put to the Parliaments and Governments of the Atlantic Alliance. There is no need for me to go over these points again for they were clearly stated in the debate in your Lordships' House as recently as January 25. That is less than two months ago. On that occasion the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, took part. May I say that he knew all about General Norstad, because he and I were sitting next to each other when General Norstad made his famous speech. So he knows exactly the points I am referring to in that debate.

The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, speaking less than two months ago, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 227 (No. 29), col. 1266]: May I, in conclusion, say why I feel the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is so particularly timely? There are two reasons. The first is that the N.A.T.O. Powers are now confronted with a whole complex of unresolved and vastly important problems. There are the strategic and military problems to which much attention has been paid in this debate. A little later he said: To my mind, all these problems are important and all are pressing; and their resolution is overdue. My Lords, it was overdue on January 25 last. It is even more overdue to-day. Yet in his speech to-day the noble Earl gave no indication at all that anything was overdue: everything in the military garden, he said, was lovely.


My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord is being quite fair on this. I have no intention of eating any words I said in public, and I do not think I have any need to do so. Because what I said at this Box about an hour ago was that a whole segment of vital problems was at this very moment under review by N.A.T.O. in the N.A.T.O. Council.


What the noble Earl said on January 25 was that "their resolution is overdue." And it is bound to be more overdue to-day. Taking that speech as it was given, it must be a clear indication to all of us that the Government were guilty of considerable delay in coming to a conclusion on these various important points. On none of the points that were raised in General Norstad's speech have we had any indication from the First Lord, or from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe—and I venture the prophecy that we shall have none, either, from the Lord President—as to what is exactly the British point of view on these important points.


My Lords, I should like to know what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is trying to say. My noble friend has said that these things are being discussed in N.A.T.O. circles between Governments. Can the noble Lord really be asking us to declare in public a positive position, in advance of our Allies? Is that what he is asking us to do? I just want to know.


I will tell you what I am asking you to do; and that is to make up your minds on these points, and give a lead in Europe. Your own Back Benchers have said so. Just a moment; you can interrupt in a moment. Ask the Back Benchers who were at N.A.T.O. They will tell you how the other nations in N.A.T.O. consider that we have dragged our feet on military and other points for years past. When the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said that resolution of these problems was "overdue", he meant it; and he is quite right. I am just pointing out that even now we have not been given by the Government any decision on these important matters.


I think I am entitled to press the noble Lord on this point. I asked him about his main criticism of the Government, which seems to me to indicate that he thought some positive statement in answer to these questions should have been given in this debate or in the White Paper. Is it or is it not the view of the Liberal Party, for whom he speaks, that we ought to make statements of that kind in advance of discussion with our Allies?


I should like to know who are dragging their feet. It is all very well hiding behind the fact that no agreement has been arrived at with our Allies. But whose fault is that? For all we know, it may be the British Government who are holding up agreement, and this may be just a smokescreen behind which the Government can hide. So I am not at all impressed by that challenge of the Lord President. I am not at all satisfied that the Government are giving the lead in military matters in N.A.T.O. which they should have done. On certain of the matters raised by General Norstad there is no objection whatsoever to the Government making their decision quite clear to this House and to the country at large. It is the sort of thing which can greatly affect this country, because no other N.A.T.O. country except the United States has the independent deterrent.

The Labour Party—and this is the second reason why I think the debate has been rather confused—have put up seven policies on Defence, any of which you can choose. The Lord Chancellor will remember the famous Duck case, when the counsel put up seven defences and was asked by the judge which the jury was to choose. The counsel said: "You can take any one of them. I do not mind. Any one is as good as the other." That seems to me to be the attitude of the Labour Party: they have put up seven policies. But the official policy of the Labour Party is. of course, unilateralism. The noble Viscount the Lord President of the Council, whether he was speaking with his tongue in his cheek or asking for information, or whether he was simply trying to upset the equanimity of the Front Bench—and one can hardly accuse him of that—was quite right in putting that point to the noble Viscount Lord Alexander of Hillsborough yesterday. For we are entitled to know what is the policy of the Labour Party on this important issue.

As I understand the situation, the official Labour policy is unilateralism. The policy put forward by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, yesterday was, so far from unilateralism, that he wished to retain the independent nuclear deterrent; and he urged the Government to increase the conventional forces, particularly the Navy. The noble Viscount is quite logical in all this, because he has not changed. To be fair to him, he has always held those views, and he has quite conscientiously expressed them. But they are poles apart from the official policy of the Labour Party. One would have thought that the policies of the Labour Party would have been exhausted, but there was a new one from the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who said that it did not matter having nuclear weapons so long as they were obsolete. I will leave it at that.


My Lords, I am quite sure that the noble Lord, who, as I have said before, has left us for a less progressive position, has enjoyed himself very much on this point. But he had sufficient evidence of the Labour movement to know that it does not matter whether there is a division of opinion coming from the Left Wing or the Right Wing. We have a right to discuss it afterwards, whether it has been passed or not; and we go on discussing it. What counts is what the representatives of the people in Parliament decide shall be submitted to Parliament.


We will leave it at that.

So far as the Liberal Party are concerned, all I need say is that both the Parliamentary Party and the Assembly are agreed. We are agreed that we should not retain the independent deterrent, but should support the Western Alliance and N.A.T.O. to the full, and strive for a multilateral disarmament. That is quite a clear-cut policy. It was one supported not only by the Liberal Party, but by many other equally distinguished people, people of great experience in the Armed Forces and others.

I think, if I may say so, that the wind of change will before very long blow the Conservative Party along to that policy. They will not admit it, of course. We know how the Conservative Party changes. I am not sure whether it was the noble Lord, the present First Lord, or his predecessor (I think it may have been he himself) who two or three years ago, in one of these debates, answered a point I had made. I suggested that the Government should do what they are now going to do—that is, to fly troops abroad for exercises. We were told then that this could not possibly happen. It was inconceivable, that British troops could ever be flown out of this country abroad on exercises, because it would be so expensive and so administratively impossible that he wondered how anybody with the slightest idea of the Services, such as I assumed myself to have, could have possibly put up such an absurd suggestion. Now they are to do it. Not only that. They have made a training camp in Borneo, of all places, where they are now flying out troops for exercises—and I do not blame them; it is good idea. But they pour cold water on many suggestions made here, and afterwards quitely adopt them. I am quite sure your Lordships will see that in a year or two the Conservative Benches will adopt the Liberal policy on defence.

I should like to make one further point about conventional forces. This is the real crux of the question, as I see it. If we are spending such a vast amount of money on our deterrent, we are not able to afford the quality or the numbers of conventional forces. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, quite rightly said (he gave the figures and I will not repeat them) in Germany they are neither equipped nor in sufficient number to keep our promise to the N.A.T.O. Alliance and to be really efficient as part of the shield forces. I would re-emphasise that General Norstad has said that the first requirement is to have conventional forces with a substantial conventional capability and that those forces must be adequate in quantity, in weapons and in what he called "survival posture" (I am not quite sure what that means)—and this on an urgent basis. This is what he said last November. To-day, the conventional forces are not in that position so far as N.A.T.O. is concerned, and our forces, unfortunately, are not sufficient in quantity or equipped with adequate weapons or in other respects as the Commander-in-Chief would wish. How are we going to get them? When are we going to get them?

One point has not been mentioned at all in this debate and it is a very important point. You can get the horse to the water; you can start him drinking; but he does not seem to drink very long. So far as the infantry are concerned—I am not quite sure what the figure is in regard to the other arms; it may be the same or it may be less or more—one in five of all recruits into the Army leave within three months. That is a very serious figure. I do not think it has been mentioned though I may be wrong—I gather I am. However, it has not been developed. Yet that is a very serious figure, because a loss of one in five, 20 per cent., within three months is an enormous wastage. However attractive our recruiting posters, and however great our recruiting efforts may be, if 20 per cent. leave within the first three months there is something radically wrong. Quite a number of the recruits leave because they are medically unfit, but only yesterday the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty, told us that they were going to have another review of the medical requirements.


My Lords, what I said was that we should not know until the end of this year what the position would be about the 165,000, but that before we came to a decision on the question of reintroducing National Service or some form of selective service there were other ideas which we ought to examine, among which was that of reducing medical standards.


I have got the quotation. He says (col. 773): The shortages, we believe, will be only limited and temporary,"— Why that should be so I do not know. There are no grounds for thinking that. and there are ways other than the reintroduction of National Service for dealing with them—for example, by adjustment of medical and educational standards, and further civilianisation. All those methods would be examined. I am simply saying that as 20 per cent. now leave the Forces for one reason or another—quite a number of them on medical grounds; they are found to be unfit to serve—and as quite a number of them have to have three months' schooling as soon as they get in because their educational standards are so low, what hope has the noble Lord, by a reduction in the already low medical and educational standards, of increasing the number in the Forces? I should have thought that art attempt to reduce the standards either of physical capacity or of educational capacity, which are not high by any means, would be a retrograde step.

I mention this point because not only is it our great drawback so far as N.A.T.O. is concerned, but I do not agree with suggestions that have been made very largely in this country that we should cut down our overseas forces in areas other than N.A.T.O. I think it is most important in certain areas, most of which are mentioned in the White Paper, to retain troops on the ground. If we evacuate troops, as is suggested, from places like Gibraltar, Hong Kong and East Africa, I cannot see how the authorities in those places could be responsible for law and order. There are very few battalions scattered over the world, and to reduce the numbers any further would be disastrous. Another suggestion that has been made is that we should reduce the number of troops in the West Indies. So far as I know, there is only one battalion in the whole of the West Indies, that vast area. Really, if it has come to this, that in order to supply the conventional forces that we need we have to remove the only battalion in the West Indies, then I think the Government's policy must be very wrong.

My Lords, I believe that in all probability we shall have to spend even more on the forces than we do at present, on their amenities—perhaps even on their pay. The fact is that I think we should find certain men going into the Army, whatever the conditions were, even if the conditions were very poor indeed. They are the natural soldiers. It would not matter really what conditions were like; there would still be the basic element in the Army, because they love soldiering—within reason of course. But in a labour sellers' market, which we have to-day, it is quite impossible to suppose that we can get the balance of the Regular professional Army without inducements better than the inducements of civil life. After all, the soldier, sailor and airman have to put up with restrictions on their freedom, with being moved to various parts of the world at short notice, which the civilian has not.

For all these reasons, we have to do better than the civilian employer does. We have to increase the inducement to the soldier, sailor and airman. That means, my Lords, that we can no longer—and this is the point I am making—afford the independent deterrent, which is merely a vestige of the gunboat era; it is merely a sop to Conservative Back Benchers. We ought to spend all the money we can afford for the Armed Forces on the soldier, sailor and airmen, and on the conventional armaments, and forsake the other, relying for protection on our situation as part of the Western deterrent of N.A.T.O. and other organisations of that kind.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I would apologise for the fact that I was absent from the beginning of this debate. I would obviously not have been absent for any discourteous reason, but the date of the debate was advanced by a day and I had a longstanding engagement which it was impossible to forgo. I crave your Lordships' indulgence and I apologise, although I make no apology for turning from the Armed Services to the Fourth Service, the question of Civil Defence. For all those who have been concerned in any way whatsoever with Civil Defence the implications of the White Paper of a further spending is a very welcome sign, because the spending of the greater amount of money will make a great deal of difference to Civil Defence in the whole of the country.

At the start, I must declare that I have a very real interest in this regard, inasmuch as I am closely associated with two auxiliary Civil Defences—the W.V.S., which is the Women's Auxiliary to Civil Defence. Many things have been both written and said about Civil Defence but, taking the United Kingdom as a whole, few people—too few—have devoted more than a most perfunctory attention to the whole question of Civil Defence, what it means, what it deserves from them and what it deserves from the nation. Those men and women—they are less than one per cent. of the adult population of the country—have in proportion done all they can to inform themselves of the rudimentary methods which must govern their work if any attack be made on this country. They have learned what will be required of them if ever they are called upon to serve the community in the event of attack.

They know that Civil Defence is in itself a worth-while form of insurance, a way of defraying one's responsibility to the community; that it exists to safeguard as far as possible, and to restore, that which remains in the community after an attack should nuclear war occur. They have learned that although casualties would be very heavy, survivors would also be great in number. Not only would it be necessary to cope with the horror of fire, the aftermath of blast and the problems of fall-out, but the continuation of life itself. The strengthening of the morale of the survivors must depend on the readiness with which Civil Defence members can undertake their commitments and can help to start some sort of of day-to-day life within the community. Those people who have joined Civil Defence have learned something of what to expect. Their training aims to teach them not only how they can use themselves and the members of the Corps, but how they can use those who are available at the time in any way that is possible.

Of course, it is true to say that if you were within a certain distance of a hydrogen bomb you would be instantly destroyed; but it is also true to say that if you are outside a given radius, you can survive if you know how to take the simple precautions that help to preserve life, and how to appreciate instructions in regard to "staying put" for a definite time. This country has been bedevilled from time immemorial by its weather, but it might be that in this regard it could be our greatest standby.

When I was a girl, the catchword of the day was "muddle through". We learned in the bad years of the last war that it was no longer a way to protect others; that in an age of specialised knowledge it is necessary to follow the trend, not slavishly but with common sense, of training for the job; and that is why training is to-day so much a part of Civil Defence—training, not just how to command, or how to deploy, but how to do and how to be. These are things that need to be done within a network of the necessary services. The value of communications and the speed with which their interruption must be overcome, the appraisal of situations and their full evaluation in relation to radio activity and fall-out, as well as of the other dangers, must be understood and techniques mastered.

Speedy action in taking cover and the keeping of people where there is most protection, however difficult; the full value of instant action and reporting in regard to fires; the assessing of situations in regard to local conditions, be they survivors that must be cared for, radio-active conditions which must be guarded against, food problems which must be accurately judged and reported, immediate situations which must be handled if life is to be safeguarded—all these are but a few of the phases that those who are occupied with Civil Defence must understand and for which those who join Civil Defence must be trained: training how to be, so as to provide the courage necessary to face a sudden holocaust, which would have as its object as much to destroy a nation's morale as to eliminate its life.

Civil Defence has many facets, and while extra expenditure will help in many ways, the ultimate worth of Civil Defence as a national service, its real need and its real strength, must always lie in the numbers of reliable and trained volunteers it can count on; and this, in turn, must depend on the national interest and support shown by the leaders, not only of the community, but of the nation itself. People do not join Civil Defence because they like it. They join it—this is indicated by the figures as they are reported—because individually they have come to the conclusion that it is their duty to do so. This is a laudable and a right motive; but it has had the inevitable result that there are too many older people in Civil Defence, and this must be rectified if Civil Defence is to be what it should be.

The country is sadly short of wardens—the pivot post in Civil Defence. This type of responsibility has to be trained for, and should be assumed by those who are able to shoulder control and are of an age to face stress and strain. It is clear that the men and women who could do this work and do it well do not, as yet, recognise sufficiently its importance, because of the lack of support given to Civil Defence by those in high places. Industrial Civil Defence has made great strides, and excellent work has been done by those who have been organising it. But, just as there is a need for leadership from the centre for Civil Defence as a whole, so would industrial Civil Defence be benefited and greatly enriched if the captains of commerce, indeed the admirals of commerce, showed some sort of concern about it. Voices raised in the wilderness are apt to have only their own echo, and in this age of sound transmission the populace, if they are to play any sort of realistic part in this undertaking of Civil Defence, must have a louder clarion call than they are getting—a call to endeavour, a call to continuity of effort. That call must be made by the centre and not by their own well known protagonists.

The country as a whole is curiously unaware of what Civil Defence really means, and indeed of what it is trying to do. But it is even more unaware of what the potential threat is, and what conditions might have to be met. This nation may be slow—possibly it may be not only slow, but apathetic—but it is comprised of men and women who can never have their courage questioned; and if facts were faced, and if men and women realised, or perhaps I should say recognised, that even if there were millions of casualties there would still be millions of survivors, they would then also realise and recognise that these millions of survivors are the people who are the responsibility of us all; and the only machinery so far devised to care for them on a post-attack basis is Civil Defence.

There can be no question at all that much more leadership has been needed in this difficult period of time when Civil Defence, which is something that everyone should acclaim, has become a thing almost not to be mentioned in public. Men and women have given their time, their energy, their everything, in order to keep alive something they believe in. And I think a great meed of praise should go to the little man and the little woman at the local level who have given of themselves in order not only to fulfil their Civil Defence duties but to face the tedium of training so that they would be able to cope with the situation were it ever to occur. It is true that training at the start was of a monotonous type, but this is gradually being rectified, and to-day training is more realistic than ever it was before; and this is indeed a step in the right direction.

It seems to me that too many people in the world feel that having an idea and passing it on to somebody else to carry through is enough. I long to see a practical solution to the problem of Civil Defence, and I think it could be achieved if everyone who could think would take the trouble to think through and not just "fluff" the thought, and if, having done that, they could assume the responsibility that they decided was theirs. It is obvious that the measure of responsibility would be the greater for those who had a greater evaluation and understanding of their own place in relation to others within the life of the nation. But if people throughout Great Britain were to evaluate their own responsibility to the nation and would then give this in a definite contribution to Civil Defence, a great deal of work would result for Civil Defence. The country would thus have a great strength on which to rely, the nation would feel that its leadership was good, and eventually Civil Defence would be so strong that poten- tial enemies would hesitate to contemplate an attack. We have often been told that no nation ever attacks another if it is not sure of a certain percentage of success; and if, as a nation, we have a resistance strong enough to make it not worth while attacking us, surely we are paying a fair rent for our room on earth.

Responsibility for Civil Defence is delegated, as your Lordships know well, to local authorities. To my mind, this is right and proper, and I believe that many who have given a good deal of thought to the subject would agree that the responsibility for Civil Defence—which means responsibility not only for the service but for the training and keeping of the whole Corps up to date, should be delegated and decentralised. It is unthinkable that Civil Defence could be controlled from the centre. Delegation and decentralisation are the only hope for its proper working; and this delegation to regions, to counties and county boroughs, as corps authorities, is necessary because of the strength that could be invoked at the shortest possible notice. Local authority services, whether they be water, or sewage, housing or medical, welfare or other public services, are all closely concerned and need to be handled by those who have the value of experience as well as knowledge of the locality. But, even so, it is extremely difficult for local authorities to keep what is a national service at the level and standard of a national service without a great deal of central backing, central stimulus and central encouragement.

I understand well some of the many difficulties of any Government in this regard. I know from long experience that the timing of support from the centre is something which has to be jealously guarded. But I also know that the withholding of such stimulus can have an atrophying effect on local endeavour and can eventually stultify it to such an extent that the thing itself dies of inanition. Men and women, many of whom can ill afford it—and I do not mean in finance but in health, time and personal relationships—have been the backbone of Civil Defence in the lean years. They have kept the premiums of our national insurance paid in this respect, and I hope that if they can be strengthened in their resolve by a new stimulus, Civil Defence may look to a realisation by all the members of the community of their duty to play their part.

Most people join the Services because they have a feeling that they would like to be in the Navy, the Army or the Air Force. But men and women do not join Civil Defence because they like it as a Service; they join because they believe it to be their duty to do so; and in a way I cannot help feeling that that is a much better reason. But that particular reason will not have its full worth unless the leadership of Civil Defence is strengthened by men and women who, devoting their time and their understanding to the philosophy which must be behind the undertaking itself, can give a really thoughtful steering to the future of the Service, so that it can be a strength to the country and eventually, through that strength, help to bring peace to the world

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to speak to your Lordships on the subject of Civil Defence, but not, I need scarcely say, with either the knowledge or ability of the noble Lady who has spoken before me. I, too, declare an interest, but not for myself—rather for your Lordships, because if this business goes wrong, I can only say you are all "for it", including the Front Bench opposite. I heard a lot of oratory this afternoon on the golden statue of Defence, but the subject on which I am talking is feet of clay. Oddly enough, in this Defence White Paper the foot of clay has at last got into the door. It has got its earthy foot another inch further into the door than it had last year. Last year there were three inches of script in the White Paper. This year there are four inches; and that, I am sure, is something of which to be proud.

Civil Defence also got quite a bit in Annex III. To me that has always been a queer term. I thought it was a kind of ladies' annex round the corner. That is on page 15 of the White Paper. It will be seen that in 1960 the Post Office were included, while this year they are not included in those figures. I am afraid I wasted a considerable amount of time trying to work out how the extra £3 million was coming to Civil Defence this year, but I think in the end I was satisfied. Your Lordships will notice also, that Civil Defence has none of the pretty pictures, the cartoons which have been referred to this afternoon. Civil Defence has not even a place in what I would describe as the "phalanx" of the nation, on page 18, and that seems to me a very great omission.

Little things like these do not give one confidence in the co-operation between the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, or, indeed, in the wish of the Government to tell the country how they really stand. Cannot we hope to have some more figures?—because, after all, they are, or can be made, encouraging. What we want in this business of Civil Defence is encouragement. What are the war duty establishments throughout the country, both in ordinary Civil Defence and in industrial Civil Defence? I know there are war duty establishments, because we have them in our county organisation, but we are not told, in this White Paper, what they are, or what is the present strength. Nor are we told anything of the relative functions of industrial and ordinary Civil Defence. There, also, I would ask whether the Government are really satisfied. I think not.

In 1960, scientific officers were referred to and the position with regard to them was said to be especially encouraging. I went away from that debate particularly encouraged, except that I knew that out of the twelve scientific officers we had only two in my county. We still have only two. We have lost one and found another. I believe my county is second in strength in the southern region, and yet we have only one-eighth of the warden strength. When one looks at it, that proportion is very small. One might say, for example, that we on the Liberal Benches would be the wardens for the whole of the Conservative Benches opposite—and, indeed, perhaps we are. One must realise that trained personnel cannot be produced all of a sudden. It is not a bit of good coming at the last minute and saying, "Let us have Civil Defence", because that is not possible.

Education is the basis of Civil Defence, and among the daily Press the Daily Mail, early this month, began to tell the people that they need not necessarily die if they should come into contact with nuclear fall-out, if only they will learn what to do. The noble Lady who spoke before me referred to the educational efforts of the "one in five" scheme of the W.V.S., the Women's Voluntary Services. There is no doubt—I have seen them in action in my county—that the W.V.S. and their "one in five" scheme are doing a wonderful job of education, but only for women. Of course, the noble Lady knows perfectly well, as indeed your Lordships do, that the women have greater imagination than the men and so are very much more forthcoming. That is all there is to it.

The Minister of Education takes cover behind the idea that he must not interfere with what is taught in the schools. That is all very well, and, in theory, it is right. But he has Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, and they go round and have no hesitation whatever in giving their views about whether this or that is taught properly or taught in the right place. They are very firm about it. I suggest that, if it is really the Government's policy to get on with Civil Defence, the Minister of Education might add weight to his inspectors, who, at any rate, would be able to pass it on to the schools that they inspect. I do not know how many of these inspectors or, indeed, how many of the other members of the educational profession have attended a course at the Civil Defence Staff College. I expect it would be tactless to ask. But it would be a very good thing if they did attend. There was a nice course for your Lordships five or six months ago. It was most interesting.

I believe that the technical college is the right place—and the age of students there is right—at which to teach Civil Defence. I certainly believe that any student, man or woman, who accepts a grant to go to a university should be expected to give some personal service to the country in return. That seems to be a reasonable idea. Why should hundreds and thousands of students go and have a merry time and an admirable time at the universities, paid for by the country, or very largely paid for by the country, and in return give nothing, except, of course, their quality when they leave?

I am not altogether happy about the policy of paragraph 42 of this White Paper. It suggests that: available Service manpower could be effectively deployed to aid the civil power…". I think that "available" is probably the key word there. I feel that the Govern- ment's tongue is, so to speak, in its cheek in using that expression. I cannot imagine that any manpower, with our reduced numbers in the Services, could possibly be available to aid our civil power. We used to have mobile columns and National Servicemen. Now they have gone; the Services are reduced, and I believe they will be fully employed, if occasion comes, in minding the enemy. I would much rather read in this paragraph that Civil Defence will be available to help the Services with the enemy, for I think the Services will need their help to steer them through the columns of refugees and through the nuclear areas, the fall-out areas. Of course, they may have their schemes already; I do not know. Let Civil Defence realise, which they then would, that they are supporting the Services and the Civil Defence will itself become a more proud Service.

We read in paragraph 41 of the White Paper that this…programme will make possible improved progress". I hope sincerely that it may be so. But, have no doubt, these schemes are dry bones, and they are expensive bones, unless the Government can breathe more life into them. Do your Lordships envy the new Inspector General of Civil Defence his job of inspecting his dry bones? I do not think it will be a very pleasant one, or very encouraging, at present. I hope that under the urge of this House the Government will take seriously the duty of giving the bones life.

5.6 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, I must apologise to your Lordships for the fact that I was unable to be present at the first part of this debate yesterday afternoon and for the same reason: that the debate was put forward at rather short notice and I had an appointment which I was unable to alter. I will not follow the noble Lord, Lord Saye and Sele, nor, for that matter, the noble Baroness, on the path of civil defence; though I, like the noble Lord, welcome the fact that it has now four inches in the White Paper instead of three.

But, my Lords, I will come back, if I may, to the more military side of the White Paper. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, opposite will be disappointed to find that I am not, in fact, going to tear it to pieces as he expected ex-Members of the Front Bench perhaps to do. I find it a balanced document. We cannot have everything: we must cut our coat according to our cloth. I think that the wise advice which serving officers who form the advisory body which advises the Government have given on the matter has certainly on this occasion been good and as balanced as one can get. If I had any criticism, I might, perhaps, say that I wished there might be more spent on anti-submarine work, in view of the remarks in paragraph 3 of the White Paper that The Soviet fleet of submarines is of great size. But we are basing our defences wisely on N.A.T.O. Another point that I personally should like to see altered is this. N.A.T.O. itself should be extended on its flanks, particularly its Southern flank. We shall, one of these days, be outflanked if it ever comes to a shooting war. Also, while on the subject of N.A.T.O., I should like to say that I agree wholeheartedly with what my noble friend Lord Birdwood said yesterday in welcoming the fact that German troops might exercise in this country. If we are going to be a part of N.A.T.O. and knit the countries of N.A.T.O together, and knit the German forces into the N.A.T.O. forces, then we must welcome Germany as in fact France, who suffered so much under her heel, has done already.

Bomber Command, I am glad to hear from the noble Earl in front of me, is in good heart. I am one who fully subscribes to the fact that we ourselves should have our own deterrent. It costs only 10 per cent. of the bill—I say only 10 per cent., but it is a large sum of money—and I regard it as 10 per cent. spent very well. Incidentally, the noble Earl was talking about being an honorary corporal, or an acting-brigadier, in the French Army. I think he is lucky that he was not for a few short seconds a marshal, because a maréchal des logis in the French Army would certainly be looked upon with great scorn by a corporal when washing out the ablutions and doing the other horrible jobs that a maréchal des logis has to do.

My Lords, this has been a long debate, and I will not go into detailed criticisms, which I will reserve for the debates on the Estimates themselves, except to mention one point—that is conscription. In spite of the pessimism of noble Lords opposite, particularly on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, I understand that the Government's plans are not going so badly as it would seem. I think it would be a very backward step to revert to conscription. The units themselves, of all three Services, are much happier without having in their midst men who have had to he dragooned into them. One man in a unit, if he is disgruntled because he has to be there, can be a source of very sore thought and feeling, and very bad for morale. Incidentally, I did not quite understand what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was talking about when he spoke of establishment, and of being up to establishment. I cannot believe that he did not have the same experience as myself in the R.A.F.; for no unit that I was in was ever up to establishment. That is one of the crosses that C.O.'s always have had, and always will have, up to a point, to bear.

The main burden of what I should like to say is on the subject of disarmament, both full disarmament and unilateral disarmament. The White Paper opens with the remarks There is only one answer to the threat to mankind posed by armaments. This is to reach a satisfactory agreement on general disarmament under effective international control. With those words I, and I am sure all civilised people, heartily agree. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the attainment of this goal is not helped by propagandists of unilateral disarmament, whether they are merely people who walk down the street with banners or wherever they state their case, and in whatever form they do so. I do not say that they have no right to do so. 'This is a free country, and one has one's right to say what one feels and thinks. But it certainly seems a pity that they do not think for a bit before they propagand this form of activity, this proposition, which, in the eyes of the world—and, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel said, in the eyes of America—makes it appear that we are becoming a neutralist nation. That, I am sure we are all agreed, is one thing which we are not. These people must not forget the words in paragraph 2 of this White Paper that: the strength of the Soviet forces remains formidable". Formidable it does remain, my Lords. And one must remember that if it were not, first of all, for the deterrent, and now for N.A.T.O., those forces would be, and still could be, within a day's march of these very shores. Our strength against that is with N.A.T.O., and in combining with the Western and the Free World; and the last thing we must do is to give to the outer world this feeling that we are going, in however short a manner, towards neutralism.

On the subject of disarmament there is, however, one point on which I am rather pessimistic. We are hoping that one day, one day soon, we shall get agreement with the Russians (and the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, mentioned this) to have full disarmament—and, of course, we had that startling statement by Mr. Khrushchev some time ago in which he suggested complete and utter disarmament at once. But it occurs to me, my Lords, that we ought not to expect that disarmament will hasten fast. I think it will hasten slowly, and for the reason that I cannot see how Russia can agree to disarmament unless China does, too; and, although it would appear that Russia can dictate to China, I frankly do not quite see that that in fact is so.

So, my Lords, I think there is no doubt that we must work towards disarmament, but we must not try to hasten it by advice for unilateral disarmament ourselves, because we shall only end up with the miscalculation of the 'thirties, when Hitler thought that we were "yellow".

5.16 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin my remarks by assuring the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that I most heartily welcome the decision to convert another carrier into a commando carrier and to build an assault ship. I fully agree that two fish sharing one tail is far better than one fish without a tail. I should infinitely prefer two fish, each with its own tail.

There are two other announcements in the White Paper which I also most warmly welcome. I refer first to the statement in paragraph 15 in regard to the setting up of new Near and Middle East Commands on a unified basis, and I hope that the proposal to do the same in the Far East will not be long delayed. I am sure that that is a big step forward in developing our command structure overseas on modern and up-to-date lines. Secondly, I welcome very warmly the statement in paragraph 31 of the White Paper that we are to resort in future—and here I quote—to a system of preparing in the early summer of each year a full forward costing of the defence programme, covering the following five financial years". In my own experience, immense sums of money have been wasted or misapplied in defence expenditure over the years by rigid adherence to the system of annual budgeting, and if the Minister of Defence can make a reality of the intention which is implicit in the paragraph to which I have referred, and can institute a system of five-year budgeting for weapons, equipment and building for defence purposes, he will, I am sure, be rendering an outstanding service to the Armed Forces and to the country. I also congratulate the Government most heartily on, at long last, having authorised the award of a General Service Medal for operations in Southern Arabia, and in that respect I would say, "Better late than never; but better never late".

Now I should like to address myself as briefly as I can to the more controversial questions of manpower for the Armed Forces, the balance between our nuclear and so-called conventional forces, and the extent to which our forces in Europe should be dependent upon or independent of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. That latter question I find the most difficult problem of all, and as it directly affects the second problem I have mentioned and has some bearing on the first I propose to deal with it first.

It has been argued in this debate—and similar arguments were advanced the other day in another place—that, irrespective of the target or the type and size of projectile, the use of nuclear weapons in a local or limited conflict would lead directly and inevitably to all-out nuclear war. To put it another way, it is claimed, as I understand it, that the integration of nuclear weapons into the armoury of the land forces of N.A.T.O. has made it impossible for the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe to take any military action in Europe without precipitating global nuclear war. If that is so, it does, I fully agree, present us with a most serious situation. I know there are those—and I think there are many—who argue that if fighting breaks out between East and West in Europe the conflict cannot be limited in any case. I personally do not share that view. On the other hand, the cost of providing land and tactical air forces capable of operating effectively, without or with nuclear weapons, according to taste, seems to me to be prohibitive. What is more, and speaking professionally, I find it extremely difficult to envisage effective arrangements for turning what I would describe as a non-nuclear weapon force into a nuclear weapon force at very short notice if, unexpectedly, it is subjected to nuclear attack by the enemy. Then, again, how can any commander hope to maintain the morale and the offensive spirit of his forces if they are launched into battle without nuclear weapons against an enemy who may or may not be equipped with such weapons, and may or may not be intending to use them?

Those are some of the practical difficulties which seem to me to arise out of this question, and I wonder very much whether the use of nuclear weapons for tactical purposes in a local conflict would directly and inevitably lead to total war. Of course, there is always a risk that what starts as a local conflict may rapidly extend; but whether that happens or not will not, in my opinion, necessarily and always depend on whether or not nuclear weapons are used within the area of the conflict. It will depend, in my view, on whether or not the bone of contention is considered by the enemy to be worth the risk of suicide. In other words, it will depend more than anything else on the credibility or otherwise of our nuclear strategic striking force as an annihilating retaliatory instrument of war.

My Lords, throughout history war has been limited, sometimes by accident, sometimes by design. In this century there have been two examples of limited war—the Civil War in Spain, and the Korean War. Even the Second World War did not become total, in that poison gas was not used by either side—I admit for different reasons—and some regard was paid to the so-called rules of war. I can see no reason to suppose that when both sides decide that it is to their advantage to localise the conflict, wars will not be limited in the future as they have been in the past. In fact, it is my belief that the factor of fear of extermination if the conflict is allowed to spread, provides a stronger reason than ever before in favour of localisation by both sides. Consequently, the all-important consideration in localising a conflict is, I submit, not whether or not nuclear weapons are used, but what type of nuclear weapons are used, and what targets they are aimed at: and, perhaps even more important than that, whether the door is left open for a settlement of the conflict which can be accepted by both sides. If the enemy can be made to realise preferably before, and certainly very soon after, fighting breaks out that he cannot have it all his own way except by recourse to total war, he is likely to compromise.


My Lords, may I ask the noble and gallant Field Marshal a question? I am much obliged to him for the clear statement he has made, but is it not a question not merely of the size of the nuclear weapon in regard to a limited war, but also of what is your target? Is it merely an enemy target, or is it one involving a fall-out from a weapon which you fire at them and which involves the whole population? That is a very serious matter to consider, because once you have made an attack of that kind as the first structure, then we submit that you call forth back on you the heaviest kind of nuclear attack which you can expect.


My Lords, I find myself pretty well in complete agreement with what the noble Viscount has said. May I repeat what I said just now? I said that consequently the all-important consideration in localising a conflict is not whether or not nuclear weapons are used, but what type of nuclear weapons are used, and what targets they are aimed at. I would agree with the noble Viscount that if, for example, there was a local conflict in Europe between East and West, and in the course of that conflict the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe were to aim Polaris missiles at a target which was right outside the area of the conflict, even if it could be described as of an interdiction type, that would not be what I should consider to be the correct use of nuclear weapons in a local and limited conflict. The whole problem bristles with difficulties. Whatever weapon you use calls for great skill and discretion and, I would say, judgment and wisdom, on the part of the commander who is controlling the forces concerned, and perhaps even more important still, on the political aims of the Governments that support him, and on the directive which he is given by those Governments. But I cannot see any sound argument for saying that because a weapon used is in itself nuclear, it must necessarily lead inevitably and directly to total war.

That, my Lords, I submit, is the nub of the primary problem which faces N.A.T.O. to-day. In paragraph 21 of the Report under discussion, it is stated that a full study of N.A.T.O. nuclear strategy is being made. But from all I hear and know and have read of the higher direction of N.A.T.O., I, personally, am not very hopeful that the study now being made will provide satisfactory answers to this very difficult problem, having regard to the statements which already have been made and which I think have been referred to in your Lordships' House this afternoon, about the use, for example, of Polaris. I had the advantage of some recent discussion with the German General who is now to be the Chairman of the Military Committee of N.A.T.O. From that discussion and from what I know from past experience of the N.A.T.O. higher structure, both political direction and command, I would say that the whole of the N.A.T.O. organisation —the higher direction, the superstructure, both political and military—calls for reorganisation, and, indeed, revitalisation, to bring it into line with present-day needs.

However that may be, my Lords, I feel as certain as anyone outside the machine can be that to be an effective deterrent against military action on a local or limited basis, what I would call the shield forces of N.A.T.O. need to be equipped with the best available weapons, conventional and nuclear suited to their task (and I would em- phasise those words, "best available weapons, conventional and nuclear, suited to their task"), and be up to strength and highly mobile and flexible, which I am afraid is more than can he said for the British contribution to the shield forces of N.A.T.O. at the present day. The same applies, in my view, to the shield forces of C.E.N.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O.

That brings me to my next question, the balance between our own strategic striking force—namely, Bomber Command and its ancillaries—and our so-called conventional forces, from which we contribute to the collective shield forces of N.A.T.O., C.E.N.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O., and from which we also provide the garrisons and security forces required in territories for which we are individually responsible. Although the Minister of Defence may not be prepared to admit it, since he took office there has been, in my estimation, a change of emphasis in favour of our conventional forces and their ancillary and supporting organisations—for example, Transport Command; and it is a change that I, for one, warmly welcome as a step in the right direction. The Report now before your Lordships' House carries that change a step further, but I wonder whether it goes far enough.

Speaking the other day in another place, the Minister of Defence said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 635 (No. 62), col. 1198]: The White Paper is the first to be written against the background of the probability that both sides now have enough nuclear explosive to destroy one another. I would not challenge that statement. In fact, I should have thought that the Minister could have gone further and substituted the word "certainty" for "probability". However that may be, the deduction I would draw is that there is no longer any need to expend our resources on the production of nuclear explosives and we can now safely concentrate on the means of delivery and on keeping pace with future developments in science and engineering as affecting nuclear weapons, warning systems and the like. On the face of it, that should result in some reduction in the cost of our nuclear striking force. I accept that no one outside the highest official circles can find out, or be told, whether that is so or not.

I also agree that we should continue to maintain our own nuclear striking force—and I am deliberately refraining from the use of the vexatious adjective "independent" in this connection. I believe that we must maintain our own nuclear striking force, for the reasons set out in paragraph 10 of the Report, with which I find myself in general agreement. All the same, I cannot escape the impression that in these days of strategic nuclear sufficiency it should be possible to redress still further the balance between our nuclear and conventional forces in favour of the latter, and so provide the resources needed, for example, to accelerate the strengthening of Transport Command in the interests of mobility; to expand the housing programme even more than has been proposed; to subsidise adventure (which I believe will be of the greatest attraction to an all-Regular force); to provide for other measures calculated to stimulate recruiting, and last, but far from least, Ito provide both commando carriers with their necessary tail.

That leads me to my third question —manpower. Here I hope that I may be excused if, for obvious reasons, I refer primarily to the Army. In Table I of Annex I of the Report under discussion, the estimated total strength of the Army on April 1 next is shown as being 230,000. A year later, on April 1, 1962, it is estimated that it will have fallen to 198,000—a drop of over 30,000. During the following year there is likely to be a further drop of another 30,000, making a total drop of 60,000 in the course of the next two years. As the Army is already hard put to it to meet its current commitments, and a number of units in Rhine Army and Strategic Reserve are under-strength, and since there is apparently no intention of ducking our responsibilities in different parts of the world, I must say that I am puzzled by the equanimity with which the Ministers responsible appear to face the large reductions in strength which they estimate will occur during the next two years.

There will, of course, be a substantial saving of manpower in the training organisations when the change to an all-Regular Army has been completed, but that will not, in itself, be sufficient to compensate for a reduction of the order of 60,000. What is going to happen in the next two years that makes this reduction acceptable? That is the question that I submit must be answered, in order to restore confidence in the Government's policy in regard to manpower for the Army.

From a professional point of view I am strongly in favour of an all-Regular Army. But I am even more strongly in favour of an Army that is free from the evils and weaknesses that stem from overstrain through under-manning, and I am most strongly opposed to accepting men who are mentally or physically substandard in order to provide the numbers required. As in so many of these matters, no one outside official circles can determine with accuracy the precise strength required. But my estimate is still, as it was last year, that during the next few years, at any rate, the figure of the manpower required for the Army to enable it to carry out its commitments without overstrain—unless the Government have it in mind to make some drastic reductions in commitments which they have not yet disclosed—will be nearer 200,000 than 160,000. I realise that this is not the time to go into the details of this question, which would he more appropriate for discussion in the debate on the Army Estimates. All I would say, therefore, at this stage is that by some means or another the Army's manpower problem must be solved. If, once again, through inadequate manpower, the Army is allowed to drop back into the state in which it was between the two world wars, it will take a very long time to recover.

I have nearly done, my Lords, but before I sit down, there is one other and quite different point to which I should like to refer, in the hope that it is not out of order to raise it in this debate. During the past eight months I have been horrified to read of the intolerable position in which the troops of the various national contingents that comprise the United Nations Forces in the Congo have been placed. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is, or ever could be, a military solution, to the Congo problem. But I dread to think that British troops might find themselves at some future date in a position similar to that of some of the contingents in the Congo, with no clear political direction and with no proper command and staff organisation at their head.

I know that the whole question bristles with difficulties, but I would urge Her Majesty's Government to take the initiative in this matter, if they have not already done so, by pressing for a thorough and comprehensive study by the United Nations Organisation of the whole business of the employment of armed forces under the direction of the United Nations and of the command and staff organisation needed to enable them to operate effectively. The military setup in the Congo at present appears to be nothing less than a shambles.

In conclusion, may I repeat that warmly welcome the setting up of the new unified commands in the Middle East, the introduction of a five-year costing system and the plan to build an assault ship. I consider that the most urgent problems facing us in the field of defence to-day are, first, to play our part in improving the capability of N.A.T.O., C.E.N.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. generally—and particularly N.A.T.O.—to deal effectively with local incidents and limited aggressions; and to work thoroughly and hard and very deeply on this question of the use, or otherwise, of nuclear weapons in limited aggressions in Europe. Next (I do not mean in order of importance), I regard it as important to redress the imbalance that I believe still exists between our own nuclear striking force and our so-called conventional forces; and finally, we must solve the Army's manpower problem—and do it quickly.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, the speech which we have just heard from the noble and gallant Field Marshal will, I am sure we should all agree, be invaluable to the N.A.T.O. Governments who have to go into consultation on the matters which he raised at the outset of his speech. It was a speech characteristic of him and one which those of us who had the good fortune to serve with him and to know his wise and practical vision would expect. I think we have been wise to give two days to this Defence debate, because it is the only opportunity we have of considering as a whole the problems of the Minister of Defence and the three fighting Services and the problems of supply and all the inter-related topics. And what topics are not inter-related and inter-dependent? Certainly foreign affairs, Commonwealth affairs and economic affairs are all matters which are inter-related and, therefore, within the scope of this Bill. Your Lordships need not be alarmed, because I do not propose to cover the whole field. I shall never, I hope, forget some advice given to me by Mr. Balfour forty years ago on the Treasury Bench in another place when, I regret to say my Lord President, a Law Officer, was talking at quite interminable length. Mr. Balfour said to me: "My dear Philip, it is always desirable to tell the truth, but it is seldom, if ever, necessary to tell the whole of truth." I certainly have tried to follow that advice.

I support the Motion and the White Paper. I do not think I disagree with anything in the White Paper, except that I must admit that I share the anxiety of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, about manpower. If I have a criticism at all it would be this: that the White Paper should contain a little more. The Services are rightly anxious about security, but there is, at any rate, one place where inter-Service security is remarkably effective, and that is in the information which is given to Parliament. The White Paper is a Bowdlerised edition that I think would pass any censor. But I do not complain unduly about that. I have been a Service Minister, and I have also been in charge of security. Ministers must be careful. We, on the sidelines, while I hope we speak with a sense of responsibility, need not be quite so inhibited. I should like, first, to deal with a few specific matters, which though they relate to individual Services yet are of importance in the combined structure and plan. That will lead me back, I hope in not too disjointed a sequence, to the Motion itself and to the challenge in the two Amendments upon which we shall be invited to vote.

Let me take first the air. Some of us have been pressing for many years that throughout the present decade our deterrent would be largely dependent upon our long-range bombers. We were told that we were old-fashioned and unimaginative. Old, some of us certainly are; but some of us have had experience of developing and producing new weapons, though much simpler weapons than those which are developed to-day, and we know something of the delays and frustrations which are inevitable. I am sure the Government are right to pursue their bomber programme.

I will come to the value of the independent deterrent at the end, but for the moment let me assume that we should have a deterrent. If so, what should it be? I do not think I underestimate the dilemma of Service Ministers. As old Service Ministers on both sides of the House will agree, there is always the duty to be forward-looking and imaginative. I hope that when I was a Service Minister I did not wholly fail in that when we ordered the Spitfires off the drawing board and banked so tremendously, and happily successfully, on radar. You must be forward-looking and imaginative, but at the same time you have to be realistic in what can be done. The better is so often the enemy of the good.

I think that the Government, on the whole, if I may respectfully say so, have been just about right in this bomber programme in both respects. We know that we have the right bombers and the effective missiles (there is no doubt about this, I think) that they can carry; and we have our own developments in that respect. I should say myself—though nothing is certain—that we have the best bet on Skybolt, with our own warheads. I am sure, therefore, that the provision of bombers is the right policy for ten years. Like the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton (we have both always been great advocates of inter-Service co-operation), I welcome the evidence of this increased cooperation between the Services: the combined commands, the commando carriers and the landing-craft. That co-operative working and integration is at least as necessary in small outbreaks as in large. I welcome the development in Transport Command, and that it is increasingly able to meet the needs of the Army strategic reserve in mobility.

What we used to call the Britannics have now, by a process of baptismal regeneration, become Belfasts; nobody will begrudge Northern Ireland that change of name, particularly if they come forward up to date. I think I was right when I suggested to my noble friend that 1964 is given in one of these documents as the date for these, but we should like to be sure that that is a firm date. Then I would ask (although one does not always want to be asking for more) whether ten are enough. Certainly ten is a great improvement on what we had before; but I would not spoil a ship for a ha'p'orth or tar—though it is, I realise, a bit more than a ha'p'orth. After all—I think this is a glimpse of the obvious —the essence of a mobile reserve is that it should be mobile, and I hope that whatever is the necessary or right number of Belfasts will be provided. In passing, I should like to congratulate the Royal Air Force on the reduced accident rate. That, I think, is a tribute to efficient training and effective equipment.

Most of us heard—I had to read it, because I had to go—an extraordinarily interesting speech last night from my noble friend, Lord Caldecote. He speaks with great practical knowledge as a producer of some of the best aircraft which this country has ever seen, and as a great engineer. I thought many of his suggestions were very wise and well within what he was pleased to call the Constitution. I will give him a precedent which 1 hope may strengthen his hand in his approach. When I was at the Air Ministry I am afraid I did not always pay quite as much regard to the Treasury as I ought to have done. I accidentally doubled the size of the shadow factories in the teeth of a Cabinet decision to the contrary. It was a fortunate mistake on my part. In order that we should not be held up in matters of finance, my noble friend Lord Bridges, who was then a senior officer in the Treasury, came and was bedded out in the Air Ministry. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, will bear me out that this was very effective in getting things through quickly. I remember Lord Bridges—Sir Edward Bridges as he then was—passing £30 million in one morning, and I certainly think we got value for money.

What my noble friend Lord Caldecote said leads me to say a word or two about research. Research is all important. I think it is the most difficult of all the problems with which the Minister of Defence and his colleagues have to deal. It is very easy to criticise. There has been a great deal of criticism in both Houses about the amount of money which has been wasted on Blue Streak, and so on. Of course, it is the right and the duty of Parliament to criticise. But I think it is difficult, if not impossible, for Members of Parliament to criticise research projects with any accurate knowledge. Indeed, I am sometimes inclined to think that Ministers themselves are a little handicapped in the same way. But, after all, no one can tell with any certainty how a project will turn out, and one must take chances. All research is in the nature of a gamble.

I should like, if I may, to suggest certain lines on which I think Members in either House can usefully criticise the expenditure on research. Parliament can, and should, hold a Minister to account for how he places his research and development contracts. I would suggest, at any rate, three things which the Minister should do. First of all, he should insist on firms giving better estimates. I must say that looking at the escalator of expenditure from estimates which have started down at a few millions and suddenly risen up to £1,00 million, it seems to me there must have been a certain amount of rather loose estimating. The Minister should get the best estimates the firms can give. My second point is that he should have—and he should have it in the contract —the right to review when successive sums are reached. My third point is that he should avoid "time and line", the percentage on cost contract. That is a terrible incentive to extravagance.

I am preaching now what I practised myself in, I agree, what were easier contracts, but the whole time I was at the Air Ministry I never placed a single time and line cost-plus contract, whether it was for aeroplanes, air frames, shadow factories, aerodromes or anything. Of course, in ordering off the drawing board, you ordered machines without the faintest knowledge of what they were going to cost. You could make a guess. What we did was this—and here let me take a concrete example. Suppose we thought that a Spitfire would cost £10,000 —in the end we got the price down lower than that, but nobody knew what the first lot which were made were going to cost. What we said was this: "We shall have to pay you what it costs." We did that with all the things we ordered in that way. We said, "We will pay your actual cost, but we will not give you a percentage on your cost: we will give you a fee." Taking, as we did, 7½ per cent. as a reasonable fee, and estimating the cost of the article at £10,000, we paid the actual expenditure of the firm, whether it was £10,000 or £15,000, plus the agreed fixed fee. But the firm never got more than the fixed fee. I know it is more difficult now. Apparently you cannot tell within tens of millions of pounds what something is going to cost. But I still think the Government would be well advised to consider how far that principle could be adopted. My experience was that the better the firm, the more willing they were to play on those lines. I do not think any of us can reasonably complain if an experiment fails. "'Tis not in mortals to command success." But what you must do (and it is much the hardest thing of all) is make up your minds when to cut your losses.

However much we may differ on the details of defence, we shall all be agreed in this: defence, foreign policy and economic policy are inevitably, inescapably, linked and inter-dependent. In our debate last year on March 10 I said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 221, col. 997]: Foreign policy, economic policy and defence are all interdependent. We cannot isolate one from another; we cannot put any one of those elements into a watertight compartment. We cannot draw closer together in integrated defence, which is vitally important, in integrated defence in strategy and in integrated defence in the common use of weapons, which is hardly less important, if the N.A.T.O. countries are to drift apart in economic policy. I do not think it is too much to say that if the N.A.T.O. countries were to split into two conflicting economic camps the N.A.T.O. Alliance could not long survive as an effective defence organisation. When I said that, I do not think any noble Lord disagreed with it. It was perhaps about the only thing in my speech with which all noble Lords did agree. But it is certainly not less true to-day, and it does not become less true and less urgent with the passage of time. I sincerely trust that all our partners in N.A.T.O. will realise that fundamental truth, as I am sure our own Government do.

I come back to the Amendments and the issues on which we are to be asked to vote. The Liberal Amendment is more detailed. In substance, it invites us to abandon our own deterrent defence and to shelter behind others. We collect but we do not subscribe: rather a novel Liberal principle, I should have thought. The Labour Amendment is understandably less specific. I suppose, indeed, we cannot know until the autumn whether the Labour Party are going to come out in favour of unilateral abandonment of the defence of this country. The Leader of the Party and the Leader of the Opposition in this House wage a stout fight against that; and more power to them in that fight! Incidentally, I would say in passing that I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, ought to have a little private tuition from, say, Mr. Frank Cousins on the Constitution of the Labour Party before he attends the general meeting, or soviet, or whatever it is, in the autumn.

For my part I have no doubt that nationally and internationally it is essential that we should have our own nuclear deterrent. The position of this country as an independent nuclear Power gives her a strength and an influence in disarmament conferences, and particularly in seeking agreement on nuclear tests. Frankly, I could not at all follow the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that we had no moral right to ask other people to desist while we had the bomb. On the contrary, I should have thought we could make all the more convincing case when we came into disarmament discussions or discussions about stopping tests. I am sure the noble Lord, the First Lord of the Admiralty, was profoundly right when he said that it was quite ridiculous to suppose that if we gave up our independent, but interdependent, deterrent it would stop other countries, China for example, from proceeding with whatever she is doing. I should not confine that —nor, I am sure, would be—to a potential aggressor; I am sure it is equally true of our own Allies. Does anybody suppose that if we suddenly stopped unilaterally General de Gaulle would stop whatever experiments he thought it was right to conduct, and to conduct to a finish? Anybody who believes that really would believe anything.

Of course, collective security is essential, but we are also responsible for our own defence, and it is vital that we should have that defence and the means of delivering our countervailing weapon, a means swift, certain and devastating in its retaliation. That is our shield, but it is also, I think, our most effective contribution to collective defence. The main Opposition say it is not for them to tell us their programme. Indeed we appreciatc—and I say this honestly, with sympathy—that they cannot tell us what their programme is. But I must equally say that this country is not only entitled but will insist upon knowing, and knowing in good time, what that policy is and whether they are going, many of them much against their will, to abandon the essentials of our defence. I believe the Government are holding firmly to those essentials, and that, so far as I can understand them, both the Oppositions would shirk or abandon some or all of them. In those circumstances, I unhesitatingly support the Government.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in a Defence debate. I suppose there is no one alive who did more to prepare us for war than the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. I need hardly say he was treated disgracefully by the Conservative Party, following the rule: if you have got a good man, keep him out of office—as with the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, for so long—or get rid of him. It, of course, got rid of the noble Earl before the war, so that he was not able to complete the splendid work which undoubtedly he was doing. It is always a great pleasure to listen to him.

I think if I may say so—and he knows my respect for him—the noble Earl was making rather a tired joke when he referred to the Labour Party conference as some kind of soviet. I think perhaps he will take it from me that the relations between Labour leaders to-day—he mentioned the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and others—are probably a great deal better than the relations between the leaders of the Conservative Party. I do not know whether Lord Listowel and Mr. Cousins sit down to cards together—I have no reason to suppose they do not, or cannot, or are not keen. But we have the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, saying he would not sit down or stay down at cards with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. So if we are talking about dissensions I think we must point out that to-day, whatever the position might have been a fortnight ago, the Government are in a weaker position than noble Lords on this side have ever been. We are not bringing the sort of charge against the Government that was brought by the noble Marquess last week against the Minister for the Colonies. We are not saying that they have "outwitted" anybody: we say that they are incapable of outwitting anybody. We do not say they are "too clever by half"; we say that they are not half clever enough.

However, it falls to my lot, in this friendly atmosphere, to speak last on this side on behalf of the official Amendment. I have little doubt that our noble Leader will carry us into the Division Lobby, and we shall await his guidance as to our official attitude to the Liberal Amendment, which has many features that attract us. I cannot say that my old friend—and I hope he is still my old friend—Lord Ogmore, assisted us very much in supporting that Amendment by a series of rather derisory remarks about his old colleagues; but as one who is himself a political convert I can assure him that the first few years are the worst, both for oneself and for one's friends, old and new. I need not tell the noble Lord that, because he has, of course, out-smarted me, as he has done the job twice, so to speak, against my single contribution. I must say in fairness, as he twitted us a little dialectically, about our policy, that many of us are anxious to support him. But whether we shall be able to after his speech is something upon which we shall receive guidance before the close of the debate.

The technical case—if one can put it that way, but in fact there is a very profound question of principle behind it —has been powerfully stated by a number of speakers from this side of the House: by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in the first place; by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. I think I shall not be accused of rather tedious "flannel" if I say that Lord Shackleton, one of the younger Peers, has established himself in the last year or two as an outstanding speaker.


Hear, hear!


I am glad that the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, agrees.

I do not want to try to draw in the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, on any political side. I have no doubt that if I did so he would repudiate any political leanings whatever. But certainly many things he said, and indeed it seemed to me most of his arguments, were very closely in line with what was said by Lord Shackleton; and that, coming from a great authority like the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, certainly gave us extra strength. In particular the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, emphasised the point that the imbalance which exists between the nuclear and the conventional weapons should be redressed without delay in the conventional direction. While there were other points in Lord Shackleton's speech, I suppose that was perhaps the most outstanding of all his points, and it seemed to receive very strong support from the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton. I am sorry not to be able to draw into the argument the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, because if there is anybody, apart perhaps from the late Lord Baden-Powell, who has built up a voluntary movement in this country it is the noble Baroness; and we were all pleased to listen to her to-day.

As I say, the main arguments have been placed before the House, but in case there are those who have not heard them, I will quote one sentence only from Lord Shackleton. The same points were made in other ways by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, by Lord Listowel and by Lord Lucan, who of course all spoke most effectively. But Lord Shackleton emphasised the fact that while the whole framework of the situation had changed in recent years the Government's policy has not been adjusted to meet this change. They are carrying out a policy which in fact has already been established; and on the question of the future they have no plans at all. I am simply quoting the words used by the noble Lord, Lord Shackle-ton. But if one could put something in a nutshell and explain to the noble Earl why we are dividing against the Government, as I imagine we shall be doing, that sentence and what was said along with it, set it out as shortly as possible.

But I want in these few remarks of mine, to strike slightly new ground in this debate—though it has been often struck in earlier debates, and would be struck much better to-day by the noble Earl. Lord Attlee, who has just come come back from India, than by myself. With one sentence in the White Paper we can all agree. It has been referred to most favourably: There is only one answer to the threat to mankind by armaments. This is to reach a satisfactory agreement on general disarmament under effective international control. The Government intend to press for this by all means in their power". We all agree with that statement, and I think we all particularly applaud the decision to put it at the very beginning of the White Paper. I feel that that is in fact right. But what I do question is the energy, the enlightenment and the imagination of the Government in pursuing this aim.

After 30 years of argument about disarmament one thing surely is plain. No country will surrender its means of national defence, such as that may be, without accepting some alternative security. I have no doubt that 1 speak for many in this House when I say that the reduction of national armament will depend before all else on the pace at which an International Police Force is established. That is something that has been said for many years in the Labour Party, and I have no doubt by many others outside it. In the nuclear age there is an additional and overwhelming argument for an International Police Force. This is a point which can be made in a Defence debate where, as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has said, foreign policy, economics and defence are all intertwined. So I make no apology for dealing with it.

We have had references to the Nuclear Disarmament Movement. There was a critical reference. The noble Earl, Lord Gosford, did not, of course, dispute the right of that Movement to propound its ideas. He said that we are a free country. I myself regret that in this House there are not one or two champions of nuclear disarmament who are at least vocal in the cause. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, has spoken along these lines; but I think we have sometimes omitted this point of view—which is one that appeals to many people in this country—from our discus- sions just because it is not usually put forward in this debate. Be that as it may, it seems to me, and I have no doubt to many others, that there is a kind of moral dilemma if we simply carry on as we are and hope that the balance of terror will avert the coming of another war.

I suppose that almost all of us to-day —perhaps everyone in this House—and leaving aside a number of high-minded people outside this Assembly, would agree that the country must he adequately defended, so far as that is possible, by military means in the present age. But so long as nuclear weapons are possessed by our side (whether the nuclear weapons are possessed by us or by our Allies is, from the morale point of view, unimportant) we deem it impossible, in an age of national sovereignty, that our country should be defended without nuclear means so long as other people have nuclear weapons. Yet how can anybody as a Christian conceive himself actually pressing the button that would use this weapon? No doubt some people can and some people cannot. For me, it is a quite intolerable moral dilemma; and I believe that it cannot be solved so long as it is approached in purely national terms.

There is a bounden duty, it seems to me, on anybody who calls himself a Christian or a humanist, or who claims any ethical standards at all, to work unceasingly in this age for the transcending of national sovereignty by the institution of world government. Of course that is a far-reaching ideal but, in the concrete, from the point of view of defence, which we are discussing to-night, the vital step is the transfer of nuclear armaments, in the first place, and then of important national armaments, to an international body or authority which would use them, if at all, only through the agency of an International Police Force.

On that point I became particularly interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, was saying about the Congo and the need for organising, if I understood him aright, a force of that kind on a better footing, should the need arise in future. I hesitate to labour an egotistic recollection of which the noble Lord is perhaps unaware, but in 1957 I myself was chairman of an all-Party committee which drew up and published a detailed plan for a small international force. We had expert Service advice, and it was approved by certain Service leaders afterwards. In fact, that plan was welcomed as a valuable contribution—I am talking of 1957 —by the Foreign Secretary of the day, then Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. That particular plan, for which, remarkably, I, as chairman, was rather responsible, although I had guidance from elsewhere, was praised by a good number of noble Lords in this House in 1957. So that, if I may say so, I am supporting the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton.

A good many people, some of them Service chiefs, have been at work on this problem for a number of years. Under persistent pressure from all sides of politics the present Government have allowed themselves to reach a point where last Monday the Lord Privy Seal in another place said this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 636 (No. 72), col. 980]: Her Majesty's Government support the principle of a United Nations permanent force, while recognising the practical difficulties of administration and the financing that such a force would create. He went on to say, in answer to a supplementary question: We have pressed it, but we have not yet had full support for it. This is not a Party point. I do not think it would be difficult to find many people concerned with this problem in all directions. But most of us would say that this pressure for a permanent International Force was almost invisible. I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, had even heard of it: at all events, he did not reveal any sign that he knew that this was a national policy. Therefore, I do not think we can take it that we can expect the man in the street in this country, let alone anybody in any other country, to be aware that this has been a matter on which the Government have exerted pressure.

Last year the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who was then Deputy Leader of the House, aroused widespread public interest by declaring himself personally in favour of world government. At that time he said that he was outside the "inner defence circle". Perhaps tonight he can tell us whether he is inside the "inner defence circle", or whether his elevation has left him still in the cold. At any rate, he was, he said, in a relatively uninstructed state last year. Tonight he will speak probably with greater information. But the noble and learned Viscount said that last year, and thereby aroused a lot of interest. Therefore I wish to ask him (I have given him a little notice) what he will say about that same matter this year. Last year he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 221, col. 912]: As I contemplate the hideous weapons on both sides, which even in my partially informed state I know to have been invented—and here I speak only for myself"— he spoke personally last year— I regard either a world authority or total disarmament, in the long run, as the only rational objective"— In case anyone should wish to suggest (and I am sure the noble and learned Viscount would not wish to do so) that he was then talking of world authority and not world government, the noble and learned Viscount said later, in column 918: For me at least, as I have said, world government and total disarmament, remain the ultimate aims. I hope that as Leader of the House, inside the "defence circle", as I would imagine him to be, he will be able to speak for the Government and not just offer a personal view in endorsing that support for world government.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have not been idle, with my noble friend Lord Attlee giving us a very strong lead, speaking on this very subject of world government all over America, in Europe and recently in India. Last year, 168 Members of Parliament and Peers called on the Labour Party to take the action necessary to write world government, as a specific object of policy, into the Party constitution. Then, world government featured in a statement from the National Executive last year: and in the statement recently issued on behalf of the three organs of the Labour Movement, world government is referred to in Article 1, which I quote: The only final guarantee of lasting peace and freedom is to replace the anarchy of power politics by world government. That has now been stated in a most unequivocal way by the Labour Party. In case someone asks whether there is not another view in the Labour Party, I would say that to the best of my belief there is no other view on this paragraph of the document issued by the majority of twelve "wise men". There is another document subscribed to by a minority which accepted the first four paragraphs, and this paragraph, as one of its objectives. Here, I am referring to the Crossman document. So it is clear that in the Labour Party world government is now Target No. 1.

I am most anxious not to claim a monopoly of Socialist wisdom in this field, and it would be positively dishonest to do so. The chairman of an all-Party group for world government is a Conservative Member of Parliament, and as recently as March 3 last, in another place, a Conservative M.P. moved a Resolution, which was seconded by a Labour M.P., calling for the creation of an International Police Force of 20,000 men. Leading Liberals, from Mr. Clement Davies downwards, have been untiring on behalf of this cause. But if Her Majesty's Government wonder why we in the Labour Party at least take such an extraordinarily poor view of their efforts to protect us from annihilation, I would call attention to the remarks made by way of intervention by the honourable gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the same debate in another place on March 3.

After listening to eloquent pleas for a world authority and a World Police Force, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons Vol. 635 (No. 66) col. 2025]: This was part of the Western disarmament plan and was re-embodied in the proposals put forward at the 1960 Ten-Nations Disarmament Committee, which showed that the Government are fully behind these proposals. I regard that statement as misleading. No doubt the noble and learned Viscount is hoping and working for this, but to say that the Government are really pressing hard for an International Police Force at the present time is not consistent with anything known to the public. I myself would say that until they come out openly and press at the United Nations for the immediate establishment of an International Police Force and at the same time show themselves ready to offer a base to such a Force, they cannot be acquitted of the charge of flirting with this tremendous subject while we hover on the brink of annihilation.

In conclusion, whilst it is not surprising if some of us are twitted about public arguments which are taking place in the Labour Party, I thought the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who is usually so extremely fair, was unfair in one respect, in that he seemed to imply that we were not putting forward any policy at all. There is the statement to which I have referred which no doubt will go before the Labour Party Conference; but to say that we have nothing to offer would he misleading.


My Lords I appreciate that and all the documents which have apepared, that of the honour- able gentleman Mr. Crossman, and Mr. Cousins. What I intended to say—and I believe I am right in this—was that until the Conference (and I beg your Lordships' pardon for having called it "Soviet") takes place next year which, under the constitution of the Labour Party, settles the policy of the Party, it is impossible to say what is the policy of the Labour Party. I believe that it was fair to say that.


My Lords, I think it is impossible ever to say precisely what is the policy of the Opposition. When noble Lords opposite were in Opposition and we were in Government, they were much more "cagey" than we have been about statements of policy. I speak as one who served in two Ministries of Defence, and I never knew what the policy of the Opposition was; and in that sense I do not think it would be wise to come forward with a detailed plan. But here is a policy which has been set forth by a great majority, the leaders of three governing bodies of the Labour Party, in regard to world government, the particular topic with which I was trying to deal; and so far as I am aware there was absolute solidarity and unanimity on that.

The truth is that these problems are enormously difficult. It was said of the father of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe —and I was very pleased to hear the noble Earl speaking to-day—that he was the only man who could have lost the First World War in an afternoon. I suppose that could have been said of the noble Earl; he could have lost this debate in an afternoon. He certainly did not do so. I think he put up a very good show, although, in a sense, the debate was already lost. It is no good pretending that on technical aspects, which have been dealt with by other speakers, or on the aspect with which I have dealt, we have any confidence in the noble Lords opposite. We look upon them charitably but as, politically speaking, a delinquent team. Delinquents, as my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger and other experts will agree, can be divided into three main classes: the aggressives, the perverted and the inadequate. I am not accusing noble Lords opposite of any aggression, except towards one another; and that, of course, is their own affair. But I do not think they suffer from any other kind of aggression. Their only perversion is to suffer from a kind of delusion of popularity which I do not think will last much longer. But I am afraid that we, from this side, with all the sympathy in the world, must dismiss them as totally inadequate to perform the duties which, with all their patriotism, they are seeking to perform and therefore it will give me very great pleasure, as it will my colleagues, to go into the Lobby in support of this censure Motion.

6.29 p.m.


My Lords the remarkable speech to which we have just listened, if it illustrated nothing else illustrated the extraordinary unsuitability of a Motion of censure for a debate of this kind. If I may, I will revert to that topic, but I will say here that my own view is that in matters of defence it is far better that this House should regard itself, in a sense, as a Council of State, with each Member of it contributing, as very many Members of it have contributed in the last two days, to the better understanding of the subject, than to try to divide itself into two or three Parties who will vote "Content" or "Not-content" when the truth is—and everybody knows it—that differences of opinion on this subject are almost infinite, some of them amounting only to differences of degree, others to differences of kind.

The position of the member of the Government who has to answer the debate is, I think, a little spoilt by the fact that an unsuitable Motion of censure has been moved. Because I think one would want—I certainly should have liked—to deal in much greater detail than I am going to be able to with a number of the very constructive speeches to which we have listened from all sides of the House. But when the Leaders of the Opposition Parties, exercising their undoubted right, put down censure Motions, of course the Minister who has to reply for the Government has to concentrate on the censure and neglect to an almost, to me, intolerable degree the detailed suggestions and criticisms which have come forward from speakers whose main concern was with the nature of the problem and its solutions rather than crude Party differences.

But, my Lords, I think that, before I embark upon this stormy sea, the House will forgive me if I thank noble Lords from all sides of the House who have taken part in this debate. I may perhaps be forgiven on this occasion for offering a special word of thanks to noble Lords on my own side of the House, and particularly, perhaps, as his speech is still fresh in my mind, to my noble friend Lord Swinton. Once more he has given us of his best, partly in assisting me in replying to the censure much more shortly than I should otherwise have had to do, but, not least, in putting before the House the fruits of his experience, in regard to which, if I do not reply in detail, I will only say this: I will draw my right honourable friend's attention especially to what he has said, which seemed to me most valuable.

I should like also especially to mention the noble and gallant Field Marshal who spoke from the Cross Benches. I do not think that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was right in seeking to compromise him with the Opposition at all. I myself will not seek to embarrass him by praise from the Government. But I should like to say this: so far as his contribution was concerned, his firm support of the nuclear policy of the Government clearly makes nonsense of both the Amendments before the House. Although it would be almost impertinent to comment in detail upon his criticisms, I will, if I may, at the appropriate moment, say something as regards his criticism on manpower.

Then there were the two speeches we have listened to this afternoon from the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, and from the noble Lord, Lord Saye and Sele, about Civil Defence—most appropriate, if they will allow me to say so, and most welcome in reminding us of the essential nature of this Service. In particular, if I may say so, what the noble Baroness said deserves to have very wide publicity indeed, both as illustrating the need for Civil Defence and as illustrating the fact that it is both necessary and desirable as part of our total defence effort. It would perhaps be wrong of me to mention every speech that we have heard. I will refer later on to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and I shall, I hope, refer in the course of my remarks to those of my various noble friends who have so kindly given support to the Government in what they have said.

But, having said that, I should like to examine a little the main currents of argument with which noble Lords from the Liberal and Labour Benches have sought to support their several Amendments. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe has already pointed out that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, in support of the Liberal Amendment really proceeds from a false premise. His whole case was, I thought, a trifle ignobly based upon expense, and he was saying that the whole of this expense was growing to a stage at which our national economy could no longer bear it. The noble Lord is wrong in point of fact. Page 9 of the White Paper establishes quite clearly that the relative burden on our economy is, as my noble friend pointed out earlier this afternoon, growing a little less rather than a lot more. This, of course, is a complete answer to that part of the noble Lord's case. If I may be allowed I will revert to his case about the deterrent at a slightly later point in my speech.

From the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition we heard, as we often do, a splendid Right Wing Die-hard Conservative speech; and very splendid it was! It was not, I think, a pure coincidence that, despite the well-merited cheers with which it was greeted from his own side, the loudest cheers of all came from the 15-inch guns of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who happened to be sitting on the Cross Benches at that time. And they were, of course, well merited. The noble Viscount's case was quite different from that of the noble Lord, Lord Rea. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, was saying that we really cannot afford so much on defence, and let us cut out the nuclear deterrent because this is contrary to interdependence and we cannot afford it; let the Americans bear the burden. But the noble Viscount, in his splendidly Conservative speech, was saying that we have really let the Forces down too much. You were given, he said, magnificent Forces by us in 1951; they are now fewer in number, there are not so many ships—and perhaps we have not got the money either, if I may adapt the ancient song to modern conditions. He was advocating, by implication, an expenditure on our Armed Forces which would have been very much greater, certainly, and would have been more like that in the situation of 1951 immediately after the Korean war.

My Lords, in answer to the noble Viscount I would simply say this. What I now say is not intended as a criticism at all of the Labour Party policy when they were in office or of the policy of 1951, in 1951, to which he referred with, such pride. But I would tell him, plainly and bluntly, that if we were to attempt to defend this country with the large forces based on National Service, or the weapons ancillary to them, which we had in 1951, we should be doing only a little: better than if we sought to defend this country with the forces that went into the Crimean War. Because it is literally true that in these ten years the whole conception of military power and military action has been absolutely revolutionised. Rightly or wrongly, we have been given the military advice to do approximately as we are now doing. We have been told that, in the current military situation, it is better to have small, mobile, professional Forces such as we are trying to build up than to have the large forces which the noble Viscount is complaining that we have been running down. That advice may be wrong, but it is the best advice that we can get. The only complaint I have to make about the noble Viscount is that he seemed to fail to realise at all that it had come from professional military sources. He regarded it as a form of weakness on the part of the Conservative Party and not a form of weakness on the part of their military advisers. My Lords, that really disposes, I think, of the noble Viscount's approach to this matter.

It is, of course, true, as the noble and gallant Field Marshal and other speakers have said, that in getting our mobile professional Forces of a smaller character we are finding difficulty in recruiting. This has been made very clear in the White Paper, and my noble friend Lord Jellicoe made no attempt to conceal the fact: but that would never drive us back to the policy of 1951. What it must do is to lead us, at the end of the year, as my noble friend said, to review the situation then, and to get the small, mobile, professional Forces we want by some means appropriate to the getting of those Forces; and I am afraid that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, will be no nearer satisfaction—the satisfaction of a return to the policy of 1951—at the end of 1961 than he is in March, 1961.


My Lords, if I may say so, the policy in 1951 was not exclusive of the use of nuclear power, which was a part of the equipment of the two main partners in N.A.T.O., the United States of America and ourselves. But we also had the troops, and it is since 1951 that you have so let the economy run down that you can no longer afford that joint effort which we were then able to produce.


The picture of the economy of 1961 being so much below the economy of 1951 is an attractive one, but I will not pursue it this evening.

Before I come on to the question of the nuclear deterrent in the strategic role, to which the noble Viscount has quite properly referred—and I make no complaint about that—I should like to take him a little further into the question of the revolution in weapons, because a great deal of the discussion during the two days we have been talking about this vital subject has revolved around the question of the revolution in weapons which has taken place. I am going to talk about only one aspect of it, and to some extent I must even now frankly confess that I am expressing my own judgment of the matter, although I think it is worth while doing so, despite the fact that I could not claim to be doing much more than that. The aspect I want to refer to is the advent of the tactical nuclear weapon to the battlefield. This is what has really, in many ways, revolutionised the situation.

About that, broadly speaking, two different points of view have been put forward in your Lordships' House. One was that of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and other speakers, who said yesterday that it was certain that the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield would inevitably escalate to the extent of strategic nuclear weapons, with their devastating and world-destroying effect, and he said that everyone was agreed about that, As to that last statement, he happened to be inaccurate, because the noble and gallant Field Marshal—who, if he will allow me to say so, probably knows far more about this particular subject than anyone else in the House—happened to hold directly the opposite view and to expound it with very great force this afternoon.

Now, on that point, I will say only this for myself: I, to some extent, stand mid-way between those two positions. It has never been proved to my satisfaction as certain that these weapons would escalate. I have the doubts of the noble and gallant Field Marshal on that point. On the other hand, I would defy anyone to say that it was certain that they would not; and the practical deductions to be drawn from the latter proposition might, in practice, bring me a great deal closer to the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, although in theory I am much closer to the noble and gallant Field Marshal. This leads me to what, to my mind, is by far the most relevant point in considering the White Paper, which is the relationship between conventional and nuclear forces.

I agreed with my noble friend Lord Bridgeman when he said that this particular distinction is one which does not, in point of fact, any longer conduce to very clear thinking about the subject; and I noticed that when the noble and gallant Field Marshal referred to the two sides of our effort, the conventional and the nuclear, he was in fact using those words in a sense very different from that used by any other speaker. He made it absolutely clear that what he described as the conventional forces (on which he desired, with other speakers, to see a greater emphasis), included forces in the hands of which there would be nuclear tactical weapons. This illustrates the very point which I am trying to make; and it also, I think, constitutes an answer, both to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in what he said yesterday, and to some of my noble friends, who demanded an increase in the conventional forces, not in the sense used by the noble and gallant Field Marshal but in what I might call the older and even more conventional sense.

Here, again, I must say that I speak only for myself, but when I was First Lord, nearly five years ago, I had formed the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that within tin years of that date it would not be possible to consider the kind of event to which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, referred this afternoon in the course of his interesting and valuable speech. You could not, I believe, consider the possibility as indefinitely continuing that something like the Korean, encounter would take place on the Continent of Europe. I do not think it is valuable to state in any detail why I came to that conclusion then. I will give two reasons only for it, and will say that I still believe that I was right, and that if in any sense I was wrong I believe was wrong only in the sense that when I gave to myself a period of ten years it ought perhaps to have been written down a good deal less than that.

My Lords, I think that people tend to regard nuclear and conventional weapons rather as one might regard two alternative nibs to a fountain pen. If you want to screw in a nuclear nib, you can write a letter, and then, if it does not suit your handwriting, you can take it out and screw in a conventional nib. My Lords, it is not like that at all. The lines of communication, the deployment, the tactics and the composition of a force which has nuclear weapons of a tactical character are fundamentally different, I should have thought, from those of one which has only conventional weapons; and I would say that, whatever may be true about the possibility or danger of tactical nuclear weapons escalating to the strategic nuclear scale, the danger of a heavy conventional assault escalating at least to the tactical nuclear scale was infinitely the greater of the two.

At the risk of pursuing this personal view of mine—it is a little too long, but I still attach great importance to it, and I will therefore do so—I simply ask the House to consider this point. Suppose one was the commanding officer of a Communist force about to commit an aggression across the Continent of Europe. Both sides are in fact, as we know, equipped with tactical nuclear weapons, supported in the background with weapons in the megaton realm. How are you going to deploy your forces for the attack? How are you going to form them up in the forming-up places? How are you going to put your lines of communication? Surely, knowing that, on the other side, there are tactical nuclear weapons, you will have to adopt that degree of dispersion which is necessary to shield your force from an annihilating blow from one of those weapons. If you do that, where are you going to get your fire power to mount an attack unless you use your own tactical nuclear weapons in support of your attack? I would say, without doubt, that a great deal of thinking in this debate, demanding a reversion to conventional weapons, is as out of date as the demand that we should revert to the shape of the forces in 1951.

Now, the conclusion which I draw from this fact—a very serious conclusion; and again I speak personally—is this. I draw the conclusion that when I sought to speak last year, as I did, in opening this debate, in the sense to which, in part, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was referring, I was not, as some people thought, putting forward some rather starry-eyed moral view of my own. I was stating, in what I regarded as logical terms, the very view which has been reiterated by every responsible Government on both sides of the Iron Curtain, including the Russians, that we are faced with the necessity of preventing a war altogether., if by war you mean any thing on the Korean scale, and excluding only the type of encounter which was referred to by, I think, my noble friend Lord Bridgeman yesterday as "checking relatively small incidents", and which has been referred to during this debate, as "brush fire stopping", or "police action", or "bush fire stopping". I believe that to be the only logical conclusion of the revolution in weapons to which I have been referring.

The object of our defence policy is not to win a war; it is not to fight a war; it is to prevent a war, and that policy will have failed unless it succeeds in that object. It is necessary to point this out, my Lords, because the kind of armed force, the balance between the nuclear and the conventional and between the tactical and the strategic, which would be required for the purpose of preventing a war is not necessarily the same as that which you require for fighting it. The deterrent (as it is called) has succeeded so far. My right honourable friend the Minister of Defence was quite right in saying that in another place in the comparable debate. It has succeeded so far in preventing a war in circumstances in which, I would venture to say, but for the terrible nature of modern weapons, it is only too probable that war would have broken out in the last ten years. To that extent the policy is a success.

But what I said last year, and what I say this year, is that it is not infallible, and when I contemplate, as I contemplated last year, and as we now contemplate again this year, the kind of weapons, tactical and strategic, which are in existence, I cannot but think that unless a means is found of bringing armaments to an end within a measurable time, sooner or later the weapons will be used, and whatever degree of escalation there may now be feared will take place, whether the first weapons which are used are conventional, or tactical-nuclear. That only underlines what I said last year and what the White Paper says in paragraph 1, that our policy ultimately is based upon the need for disarmament.

When I said that, I was not seeking, as the noble Viscount said and as he reminded me yesterday, to avoid discussion on the White Paper. I was raising what, to my mind, is the most important item for discussion on the White Paper, and it is from there that we need to go. It was precisely because, if you are going in for general disarmament, you must have general disarmament with inspection and control, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said in the course of his speech in regard to the Sixth (I am afraid they are called "Pugwash") Conference. It is precisely because you have to go in for inspection and control at the same time that I referred in plain terms to a world authority, primarily to police the inspection and control of the disarmament which is necessary, if we are not to get into the situation which I have described. And I went further for this reason: because I think if you have disarmament without any form of international force, you will in fact have created a political vacuum like the Congo; and political vacuums like the Congo would inevitably lead to the danger of rearmament and war at the precise moment when confidence was returning. It was for that reason that I said last year that that is what I believed. My Lords, I still say so this year. I do not think it is suitable, even in a debate of this importance, that I should speak as a spokesman of the Government and use words in the foreign policy sphere which are better spoken by the responsible Foreign Office Minister. But, so far as I know, this is the kind of thought in which we believe, and it is the kind of view, I think, to which one is driven logically by a contemplation of the sense of the White Paper.

My Lords, it is in that context that I would ask your Lordships to consider the policy revealed by the White Paper. It does not, of course, offer absolute security to the people of this Island. I do not know of any policy that would offer absolute security to the people of this Island at the present time, and I should not, therefore, think that it was a criticism of our policy that it did not. On the contrary, I would say, with sadness but with complete conviction, that nobody could guarantee, even if we took the right decisions upon the material available, that the material has in every case been adequate; or, alternatively, that even if we took the right decisions upon adequate material, that it lay in the power of a single Government in this country to guarantee success. Despite taking the right decisions, we might easily be overwhelmed with disaster.

What does emerge from the policy is this. It must be seen in the context of our foreign policy, in the context of our economic policy, in the context of our aid to underdeveloped countries, and in the context of the determination and character of our own people. It is true, for the reasons given best. I thought, by the noble and gallant Field Marshal, that inside that policy, so far as weapons and arms are concerned, we think we should retain a nuclear component.

My Lords, I have not been able to follow the Liberal Party in their suggestion that that nuclear component is inconsistent with interdependence. On the contrary, it fits into the pattern of the alliances; and I may say we are a member of more than one alliance, the membership not identical in every case. It therefore behoves us to have forces which are available for all three. It tits into the pattern of defence, and it is, I should have thought, an important, perhaps even an indispensable, part of the effort of the total alliance. I cannot see why this is said to be inconsistent with interdependence. It is part of interdependence. The Americans have infantry, but we do not, for that reason, seek to abolish the Brigade of Guards. Because they have infantry, we do not say that we cannot afford infantry too. I cannot see that to our more advanced and sophisticated arms the same argument need not apply.

On the contrary, I should have said, quite frankly and bluntly to the noble Lords in the Liberal Party, that if we want our alliance with the Americans to be healthy—and nobody wants that more than I, being both by blood and extraction half American, although by loyalty wholly British—we must at all costs avoid the kind of picture of Britain which Americans are only too ready to paint: a tourist attraction, with conventional uniforms, techniques and skills, eking out what dollars we can earn by selling whisky and motor cars. If there are to be advanced technologies, in war or in peace, Britain and Europe must have their share of them. I should be the first to ask that these technologies should be abandoned altogether, if we could make a success of the nuclear tests conference; but so long as they exist, the idea that we should content ourselves with something obsolete, and shelter behind the advanced technologies of America, is not only ignoble but ultimately can undermine our friendly relations with our Allies.

I should like to deal with two other arguments put by noble Lords opposite. It is said that this attitude is inconsistent with what I might call our attitude on the fourth Power question. We are giving a bad example to Ecuador and the Argentine, to quote two countries referred to by the noble Lord opposite. I do not think that that is so; and even if I did, I do not think that it would be conclusive. The one sure goal to rid the world of the fear of the spread of nuclear arms is to secure success in the Test Ban Conference between the three great Powers. We cannot, with any degree of respectability, go to the smaller Powers and say that they cannot do this, so long as the great Powers already have the weapons and are quite unable to agree amongst themselves over their control.

If we are concerned with lessening the fourth Power problem, we must concentrate on succeeding in the big Power problem which revolves round the Test Ban Conference. If we are to influence our Allies and our potential antagonists, our place in that Conference, and our influence there, will depend on the maintenance and, if I may say so, the maintenance in efficient form, of that part of our Defence effort which consists of the nuclear deterrent. This is not, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, seems to think, an intolerable burden. The White Paper shows that it is not a very large proportion of our Defence effort and my own view, for what it is worth. is that if we out it off, we should have to substitute different forces with different weapons, but with something equivalent in the way of hitting power, which would cost us a great deal more—though I would not say that we must exclude what the noble and gallant Field Marshal put forward: that we should put more emphasis on one rather than the other. And I was very glad to hear him point out that, during the tenure of office of my right honourable friend, a change of emphasis was, at any rate to the experts, discernible.

There is only one other point on this that I would make to the Liberal Party. It would be vain to suppose that if we took their advice, we should save any money at all. As good Allies and loyal friends, we must devote at least as big a part of our gross national product to external policy—whether it be aid to under-developed countries, the stamping out of malaria, or support works—as to put us in proportion to our main Allies. Should we decide to abandon one part of our Defence effort, we should be in honour bound to spend the same amount of money and effort on some other aspect of our external policy. After all, America spends on external policy a higher proportion of her gross national product than we do. Let nobody ever say that they can afford what we cannot afford.

I would say that, adopting the policy of the White Paper, we must bend our efforts towards world peace—and this is what gives added force to what my noble friend Lord Kennet said yesterday. Last year, there was (and this is largely the explanation of my making the speech I did) a reasonable chance of those efforts bearing fruit. It is not for me now to recapitulate the circumstances which destroyed the hopes I then entertained, but, for some of the reasons that the noble Lord has given, I would say that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that those hopes might reasonably rise again this year. Therefore, let us not abandon them. If we do go on with them, and those wishes realise themselves, let us not delude ourselves that the future is going to be any easier—but at least it is going to be a future.

We shall have to face the challenge of the statement of the 81 Communist parties. That will involve, believe me, at least as much of our gross national product as our policy on arms does now. We are not going to get off a lot of money by saving on these weapons. But at least mankind will have an assured future and secure, sooner or later, a situation in which the value of our own

moral standards and our own way of life can be measured against Communism in objective terms instead of in terms of relative force and mutual terror.

7.10 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Amendment moved—

Leave out all the words after ("That") and insert:

("this House deplores the fact that, in spite of an increased defence budget in excess of £1,655,000,000, Her Majesty's Government have failed to provide a convincing explanation of the part to be played by Britain in a co-ordinated Western defence system and further, while approving the declaration contained in Command Paper 1288, that ' a narrow nationalist policy for the choice and production of arms makes no sense to-day,' regrets that Her Majesty's Government do not recognise that this declaration is inconsistent with their continued adherence to the concept that Britain can only maintain her position in the world by relying on independent nuclear projects.")—(Lord Rea.)

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 81.

Addison, V. Granville-West, L. Rea, L.
Airedale, L. [Teller.] Hughes, L. Samuel, V.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Latham, L. Shackleton, L.
Amwell, L. Lindgren, L. Shepherd, L.
Archibald, L. Listowel, E. Silkin, L.
Attlee, E. Longford, E. Summerskill, B.
Boyd-Orr, L. Lucan, E. Taylor, L.
Burden, L. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Terrington, L.
Carnock, L. Nathan, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Colwyn, L. Ogmore, L. Wise, L.
Crook, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Dalton, L.
Abinger, L. Bossom, L. Conesford, L.
Ailsa, M. Boston, L. Congleton, L.
Ailwyn, L. Bridgeman, V. Craigmyle, L.
Amory, V. Buckinghamshire, E. Crathorne, L.
Ampthill, L. Carew, L. Crookshank,V.
Atholl, D. Carrick, E. Digby, L.
Auckland, L. Carrington, L. Dundee, E.
Baden-Powell, L. Chesham, L. Dynevor, L.
Bathurst, E. Cholmondeley, M. Ellenborough, L.
Birdwood, L. Coleraine, L. Elliot of Harwood, B.
Blackford, L. Colville of Culross, V. Ferrier, L.
Foley, L. Jessel, L. Robins, L.
Fortescue, E. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) Russell of Liverpool, L.
Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Long, V. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Freyberg, L. Lyell, L. St. Oswald, L.
Furness, V. Margesson, V. Saltoun, L.
Gage, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Savile, L.
Goschen, V. Melchett, L. Sinclair, L.
Gosford, E. Merrivale, L. Strang, L.
Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Mersey, V. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Mills, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Hastings, L. Milverton, L. Swinton, B.
Hawke, L. Newall, L. Tedder, L.
Horsbrugh, B. Newton, L. [Teller.] Teviot, L.
Howard of Glossop, L. Ormonde, M. Teynham, L.
Ironside, L. Perth, E. Torrington, V.
Jellicoe, E. Radnor, E. Waldegrave, E.

Resolved in the negative, rent disagreed to accordingly.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Amendment moved—

Leave out all the ("That") and insert

("this House has no confidence that the policy set out in the Report on Defence (Cmnd. 1288) will provide effectively for the defence of Britain."), —(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38; Not-Contents, 80.

Addison, V. Granville-West, L. Rea, L.
Airedale, L. Hughes, L. Samuel, V.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Latham, L. Shackleton, L.
Amwell, L. Lindgren, L. Shepherd, L. [Teller.]
Archibald, L. Listowel, E. Silkin, L.
Attlee, E. Longford, E. Summerskill, B.
Boyd-Orr, L. Lucan, E. Taylor, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Terrington, L.
Carnock, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Williams, L.
Colwyn, L. Nathan, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Crook, L. Ogmore, L. Wise, L.
Dalton, L. Peddie, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Douglas of Kirtleside, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Abinger, L. Craigmyle, L. Ironside, L,
Ailsa, M. Crathorne, L. Jellicoe, E.
Ailwyn, L. Crookshank, V. Jessel, L.
Amory, V. Digby, L. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)
Ampthill, L. Dundee, E. Long, V.
Atholl, D. Dynevor, L. Lyell, L.
Auckland, L. Ellenborough, L. Margesson, V.
Baden-Powell, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Bathurst, E. Ferrier, L. Melchett, L.
Birdwood, L Foley, L. Merrivale, L.
Blackford, L. Fortescue, E. Mersey, V.
Bossom, L. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Mills, L.
Boston, L. Freyberg, L Milverton, L.
Bridgeman, V. Furness, V. Newall, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Gage, V. Newton, L. [Teller.]
Carew, L. Ormonde, M.
Carrick, E. Goschen, V. Perth, E.
Carrington, L. Gosford, E. Robins, L.
Chesham, L. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Russell of Liverpool, L.
Cholmondeley, M. Harding of Petherton, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Coleraine, L. Hastings, L. St. Oswald, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hawke, L. Saltoun, L.
Conesford, L. Horsbrugh, B. Savile, L.
Congleton, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Sinclair, L.
Strang, L. Swinton, E. Teynham, L.
Stratheden and Campbell, L. Tedder, L. Torrington, V.
Stuart of Findhorn, V. Teviot, L. Waldegrave, E.

On Question, Resolution agreed to.