HL Deb 27 February 1963 vol 247 cc77-8

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that collaboration between the NATO nations is effective in securing for the NATO forces the best equipment available without regard to the country of manufacture.]


My Lords, the responsibility for equipping the NATO forces rests with the NATO nations concerned. Her Majesty's Government fully support efforts made internationally between the NATO nations to ensure that NATO forces are equipped with the best equipment available, from whatever source. There is, naturally, a tendency for nations to support their own national projects. Nevertheless, progress is being made in the field of interdependence.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his Answer, but may I ask him whether he is aware that for some years past there have been people who have thought that certain British military equipment has been rejected in favour of inferior American equipment? I will not go into instances, but there has been rather that impression throughout the country.


My Lords, the Americans have a very large armaments industry, and I suppose that no Government is ever content that enough of its equipment is being bought by its Allies. But having regard to the difficulties in this particular sphere, I think that Her Majesty's Government can be satisfied.


My Lords, may I ask the First Lord whether his attention was drawn some time ago to the speech of General Gruenther, who said that the only equipment in NATO which was standardised was the air in the tyres of the jeeps? Is he also aware that General Norstad was most dissatisfied with the rate of progress of standardisation; and is it not time that Her Majesty's Government and the other fourteen nations really took this problem seriously?


My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord should underestimate the difficulties, and I think that he is underestimating the difficulties a little. I think that we are getting on. For example, the Germans have bought a British gun; we have the recent agreement over the P.1127, and we also buy guns from some of the other NATO countries. I think that this must be allowed to develop slowly and that progress at the moment is not entirely unsatisfactory.


My Lords, would the First Lord bear in mind the failure of the Government in the past to equip our Forces properly? We should be delighted for them to have modern equipment, coming from anywhere. Would he bear in mind, now that the Government's policy of recruiting appears to be successful, that he will have to make bigger efforts to get the Army of the Rhine and other NATO forces properly equipped.


My Lords, I am interested to have had a preview of the noble Lord's speech for the Defence debate.

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