HL Deb 27 April 1967 vol 282 cc674-92

6.14 p.m.

EARL JELLICOE rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will reconsider their decision to establish the new Royal Defence College at Shriven-ham rather than at Greenwich. The noble Earl said: My Lords, as I came into the House this afternoon, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, happened to be coming in at the same time. He said, "This is going to be a pretty dull day". I make no apology—


But do.


—for making it duller, for raising this issue and for detaining your Lordships for a little time on it. And may I say how glad I am to notice that my noble friend Lord Mottistone has chosen to "break his duck" on this particular wicket?

First, a quick look at the background. At present most embryo officers do their initial training at single Service establishments at Cranwell, Sandhurst and Dartmouth. Those who are specialising in technology also go to single Service colleges—to Cranwell and Greenwich, to the Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon and to the Royal Imperial College of Science at Shrivenham. Apart from this, Greenwich houses a wide variety—it would be more apt to call it a hotch-potch—of naval technical courses, the Naval Staff Course and the Royal Naval War College.

In their recent White Paper the Government announced far-reaching changes in the present system. In future cadet-entered officers will spend only a short initial period, a year or so, at Dartmouth, Cranwell and Sandhurst. Thereafter, following a short period with their own Service, they will go to the proposed new tri-Service Royal Defence College. There some—the estimate is rather over 50 per cent.—will do a one-year course; the remainder will stay, as undergraduates as it were, working on a three-year course for a degree. Shrivenham has been chosen by the Government in preference to Greenwich as the home both of the new Royal Defence College and of the Royal Defence Academy which will control the Defence College and also the three technological colleges at Shrivenham, Cranwell and Manadon. The future of Greenwich remains obscure. We have been told, rather enigmatically, by Mr. Reynolds, the Minister of Defence (Administration) that he and his colleagues are looking at the future use of the actual building at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. In my view, there is a lot to be said for much of what the Government propose. I am not opposed in principle to the idea of a tri-Service Defence College as such. I have no intention of beating a single Service naval drum here this evening. Nor am I opposed to the emphasis being laid on the obtaining of a degree within the Services. Far from it. The Services, in these technological and complicated days, really need bright young men as never before. Those who wish to "go places" in a post-Robbins society need degrees in their knapsacks—and this applies to Service officers as much as to anybody else—as never before. It is right that the Services should do everything possible to attract young men and women with degree ability and, having attracted them, to make it possible for them to realise their full potential.

Nevertheless, I am deeply concerned about the Government's specific decision to opt for Shrivenham rather than Greenwich as the home of the new Defence College. I am concerned on the merits of the case itself and also because I believe this could mean a break in the long links which have bound Greenwich to the Armed Forces. I also deplore the hugger-mugger way in which Mr. Healey and his Ministers are going about this matter.

I would recall to your Lordships that the Government asked two distinguished men, Mr. Cyril English and Professor Michael Howard, to advise them on these matters some time ago. Mr. Cyril English is a senior Inspector of Education, and Mr. Michael Howard is the Professor of War Studies at King's College. I do not question the Government's seeking advice from these two people; they could not possibly have chosen better people from whom to get it. We have been told that Mr. English and Professor Howard reported some months ago and recommended not only the establishment of this new Defence College but also that it should be sited at Greenwich rather than at Shrivenham, and it has been rumoured that this proposal was backed by the Chiefs of Staff. Both these matters are rumours. The Government have deliberately drawn a cloak of silence round their decision. They have failed, hitherto at least, to respond to questions on this matter put to them in another place from both sides of the House.

Mr. Healey, in answer to a request for the publication of the Howard-English Report, returned a remarkably uninformative "No". And the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, last week tried to fob me off, if I may say so, with the feeble excuse that this was a personal report to the Secretary of State—some sort of personal billet doux—and that it would be quite contrary to normal practice to publish it. It was really asking a lot of our credulity to state that it would be contrary to normal practice to publish this Report. Certainly, at least one of the authors of the Report wrote it in the belief that it was going to be published. I think I am right in saying that many of the people who gave evidence to the two distinguished authors of the Report, gave evidence in the belief that the Report was going to be published.

Of course, if the Secretary of State so chose, it would be perfectly easy for him to "come clean" with this Report. I cannot, for the life of me, see why, when we are made privy to all the proceedings of private meetings of the Party opposite, we cannot be made privy to Howard and English. We have had Newsom, we have had Robbins, we have had Plowden, and I again ask that we should have Howard and English.

After all, it is this Government which has said time and time again that they want to tell Parliament and the public more of the facts on which to base judgment on Defence matters. It has always been the proud boast of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—and I am very glad to see that he is safely back from Aden—that they are doing so. And yet they deny us access to this perfectly harmless Report on a subject of great general interest. I ask the noble Lords opposite to take their courage in both hands and to publish and—I hope—be damned. They would dispel a great deal of suspicion if they were to do so. But if they will not, I should like to ask the noble Lord who will be replying two questions. Can he confirm that the Howard—English Report came down in favour of Greenwich as the home for the new Defence College; and was this judgment backed by that of the Chiefs of Staff? In default of this information—the information contained in the Report—it is, of course, not easy for the outsider, and I would not pretend that it was easy, to judge the relative merits of the Government's decision to opt for Shrivenham rather than for Greenwich. On the face of it the decision strikes me as rather a rum one.

Essentially what will be created here in the new Royal Defence College is a new university—albeit a small one. I should have thought that Greenwich would he an ideal setting for such a university, given its long associations and its marvellous associations with the Armed Forces, given its splendid setting and given its close access to London. There is a serious point here. An institution like this needs to recruit the best resident staff it possibly can. It has to be able to attract also the best outside lecturers it can. I should have thought that the London area would be much more attractive to staff. I should also have thought that it was much easier for lecturers to get down to somewhere like Greenwich than to go off into the country, into the middle of Wiltshire. Again, if the present policy is to be pursued, the idea that the Defence College should be closely associated with a centre for higher strategic studies—and I think this is a very good idea—I should reckon this idea to be a non-starter.

I am not running down Shrivenham. Far be it from me to run down my favourite county, my home county, Wiltshire. But it seems rather odd to plunk down a new university right in the middle of the Vale of the White Horse. At Greenwich all that Greater London has to offer is easily accessible to both staff and students, but at Shrivenham what do you have? You have Swindon. If this decision is pursued, the casualty rate on the Oxford and London roads among the young men at Shrivenham may be rather high.

Apart from this there are the facts—unless the noble Lord can deny them—not only that the Government's own com mittee of inquiry recommended in favour of Greenwich, but that the Borough Council of Greenwich themselves are deeply disappointed at the decision to opt for Shrivenham, and deeply anxious that it should be changed. When they are strong these local feelings and associations count for a very great deal.

The Government have advanced two reasons for their preference for Shrivenham. In the first place, Mr. Reynolds has told us that there will be a slight advantage—note, my Lords, the adjective "slight"—in terms of cost in locating the Defence College along with the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. If this cost advantage is indeed slight, then I would claim that it does not begin to counterbalance the disadvantages. But is this advantage, in fact, a genuine one? Can the noble Lord confirm that it is based on careful costings? What is his answer to the claim of his former colleague in another place, Mr. Mayhew, who knows a great deal about the Navy and a good deal about Greenwich, that there will be a very serious waste of public funds if this decision is adhered to? Can he deny specifically that £1 million or so of additional expenditure is likely to be incurred by the need to build from scratch the extra accommodation required at Shrivenham?

The noble Lord may prefer to stand on the second leg of the Government's argument, that accommodation and facilities at Shrivenham can be expanded but that expansion cannot take place at Greenwich. Is this argument really justified? The Government apparently anticipate that there will in due course be some 700 students at Shrivenham. Was this estimate made before or after the last swing of Mr. Healey's economy axe? By how much will the next swing cut it down?

I suggest that these accommodation arguments need close examination. It is, of course, a matter into which the Minister whom I would judge from his position in the Ministry to be chiefly responsible, Mr. Reynolds, has gone closely in the past. It is true that Greenwich at present houses only something like 350 students of one sort or another, But in the memorandum which Mr. Reynolds submitted to the Estimates Committee on Services Colleges three years ago, to support his contention that Greenwich should become a new civilian university, Mr. Reynolds, who now says that Greenwich cannot hold 700 students, used the following words. I quote from his memorandum: … such a university"— that is to say Greenwich— could expand to absorb a student population of about 1,000 (500 residential) within three years in the existing buildings and eventually to 5,000 with the erection of additional buildings on Crown and other land within two miles of the College". That is the same man who now claims that Greenwich could not hold 700 students.

I am not only relying on the Minister himself to support my contention here; I am also relying on the people who know Greenwich as well, perhaps, as anyone does. They are the members of the General Purposes Committee of the Borough Council. As I have said, the Borough Council are deeply disappointed at the Government's decision. They have pointed out that their plans for the redevelopment of Greenwich and for a new by-pass road round it could open tip interesting possibilities for the development of land which could perhaps be considered for a Service precinct' as part of the local development plan". They have gone on to say that, despite the sale of War Office land in the Greenwich-Woolwich area—and I quote their words— there remain immense possibilities for the further and more intensive development and use of the former Royal Military Academy, the Royal Herbert Hospital and other adjacent areas of military land where, if it be felt desirable, opportunities exist to establish both the new Royal Defence College and the proposed Royal Defence Academy in close proximity". So you see, my Lords, that both the present Minister, when he was not a Minister, and the Borough Council feel the Minister's accommodation argument, now that he is a Minister, to be nonsense. I shall be glad to hear the noble Lord develop this accommodation point further. I hope the Government will think again about this decision, as I believe they are passing over a marvellous opportunity of establishing this new Defence College, the idea of which I support, and possibly the Academy as well in the best possible site, and that they are choosing instead the second best.

But if the noble Lord cannot convince me that the arguments for Shrivenham are sound, and if he cannot tell us that he is prepared to reconsider this decision, I hope he can at least assure us that the Government have no intention—no intention whatsoever—of severing the cord which has bound Greenwich to the Armed Forces for so long. Because, my Lords, we are dealing here with a very special place. There is the whole long history of Greenwich. It impregnates our national history, from the time when Humphry, Duke of Gloucester, built Bella Court there in the 15th Century. Henry VIII was born there, and so on. The Service link, of course, goes back three centuries, to 1694, when Greenwich was converted into a naval hospital on the analogy of the Invalides and Chelsea, as a thanksgiving for the victory at La Hogue.

But it is not only the history of the buildings, it is the buildings themselves which concern us. The group, including the Queen's House, is the work of many of our greatest architects—Inigo Jones, Wren, Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Campbell, Ripley—it is a very long list. We also read in Pevsner's Guide to London that the whole group of hospital buildings has rightly been called the most precious of buildings we possess. There he is quoting Sir Charles Reilly. I think that most of us who know these buildings well will not dissent from Pevsner's expert judgment on that matter.

My Lords, there seem to me, speaking as a layman in these matters, to be two possibilities, if the Government stubbornly adhere to their decision to opt for Shrivenham, by which Greenwich could be found a good and useful function without severing the Service link. One possibility, of course, would be to base there a Staff College for all three Services. I should have found that very attractive, but I suspect that that, as it were, is water over the dam at a result of the Government's decision to locate all the three Service Colleges in the Camberley area.

Another possibility would be to use Greenwich as a centre for post-graduate studies for all three Services. I am inclined to think that such a centre may well be needed in the future. I am also inclined to think that the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, to whom the Navy owes so much in matters of higher education, not only knows a great deal more about that aspect of the matter than I do but also may be saying something to your Lordships which bears on it in a moment.

However, be that as it may, if the Government have decided to adhere to their decision about the Defence College—and I hope they have not—I trust they may he at least able to reassure us that the links which have bound the Services for three centuries to this historic town and to this great range of buildings will not be broken. I hope that on that, at least, the noble Lord, when he replies, can give us an unequivocal assurance.

6.34 p.m.


My Lords, it is indeed a great privilege for me to address your Lordships' House, though sad, perhaps, that the opportunity has come to me somewhat earlier than I would have hoped. I have, of course, listened to your Lordships' debates over many years, and perhaps it would not be inappropriate to repeat now what my own noble father said to me some many years ago. He told me: "When you have the occasion to address the House of Lords, you will find a group of wise, benevolent and, of course, noble gentlemen." I should add that this was in the days before ladies were happily admitted to your Lordships' Chamber. He went on to say: "As debates progress, you will of course realise that their Lordships are still benevolent and noble, but you may start to have doubts about their wisdom. It is at that stage that you want to be careful, because you may find that they are wiser than you are".

That, my Lords, was a slight digression. I must now return to our subject, Greenwich. And I must start by declaring an interest, because I have received some of the best and most valuable education, in a long list of places at which I have received such education in the Naval Service, at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. The education at Greenwich is most easily summed up (and these remarks, I think, supplement what my noble friend Lord Jellicoe has just said) by the inspiration which that place gives you. It is the most remarkable group of buildings in which to contemplate your future and the work that you have to do, whatever it may be.

It may be said that this could apply to any group of people, not just Service officers—and I hasten to say at this point that, like my noble friend, I hold no particular brief, in the long-term, for Greenwich to be retained by the Navy; what I have to say applies equally to the officers of any of the three Services—but it would not, I hope, be impertinent to remind your Lordships that the great difference between a group of people who are in the Fighting Services and any other group of people who are educated is that they have to be prepared to risk their lives. It is because of this that such people require inspiration, and they require inspiration in just the sense that Greenwich gives it to them. They require, of course, a great deal of other inspiration; and the background that one gets from Greenwich is itself not only not enough but is probably a long time removed from the time when this extra strengthening is required, as one commits onself or one's forces to action.

These things, perhaps, are not said these days, but I think this is something which needs saying. There is a great tendency nowadays to say that everything must be cost-effective: "The material aspect of everything must be got dead right, let us forget about the sentiment". In some respects, this is a good thing. There is a lot that is flabby in our country, and there are some things, but not many, which are flabby in the Services. But we must get this in balance, and the practical points which need to be considered must be balanced against what one might call the spiritual points.

It is also a fact that we live in a very material world. With that, I am sure none of your Lordships would disagree. In everyday life, as one is battered by the material temptations—one might even say the material inconveniences of travelling in Tube trains and the like—it is important to have somewhere to which to retreat, as it were, to re-charge one's spiritual batteries. It is this sort of thing that Greenwich provides; and it is perhaps more important for the Services, which require this spiritual background so greatly, to have this facility given them. Indeed, it is what happens in the case of most Naval officers now. I would say also that it happens to most Army officers. I have not had the privilege of visiting equivalent R.A.F. establishments, but I would doubt it for them because they have the great misfortune of having had their buildings built too late.

Here I come to a difficult point, because I understand that the Rules are that I must not be controversial; so I shall have to accept the fact that if the Government say they are going to Shrivenham, then they are. But I would suggest to your Lordships that in this rather nasty, material age of ours we shall get a rather nasty, material building built at Shrivenham for our purposes—conglomeration of concrete, steel and glass, arrayed in some practical fashion which appeals to some people, I suppose, but which is certainly not what one might call inspirational. The sort of building I have in mind—although perhaps this is slightly unfair—is the new town hall in Toronto, which is, I suppose, the ugliest building it has ever been my misfortune to see. There will be, I am sure your Lordships will agree, this material aspect of the new buildings at Shrivenham.

Therefore, if we must go there, I would humbly suggest that it is even more important that Greenwich should be used for further education of the Fighting Services. Because not only will Greenwich be needed to counter the ordinary nastiness of everyday life, and to provide this background in which people can study their profession, think out where they are going and from which they can go out to fight their enemy with the feeling that they are defending something worthwhile—not only will Greenwich be needed for that, it will be needed also to counteract the effects of the nasty buildings at Shrivenham.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, it is my great pleasure to have the privilege of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, on his beautifully-presented and very moving maiden speech. I had my eyes on the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, before he spoke and, if I may say so, he looked a great deal more composed than I myself felt in like circumstances a fortnight ago. May I hope that we shall hear much from the noble Lord in future debates.

I should like to make two points which do not bear, initially, on the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. They really amount to questions of which I have given prior notice. But before doing so I wish to express my personal satisfaction with the decision of Her Majesty's Government to establish the Royal Defence Academy as a federation of the Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon, the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, and the Engineering Department of the Royal Air Force Establishment at Cranwell, together with the Royal Defence College to which the noble Earl has referred. I have been privileged on several occasions during recent years to be associated with the educational work and problems of the Navy and Army colleges, and I should like to say immediately how much I have appreciated and enjoyed these opportunities. I should also like to pay tribute to the excellent facilities which have been provided in these colleges, and particularly to the loyalty, enthusiasm and devotion of the teaching staffs in circumstances in which the future development of their colleges was a matter of uncertainty, and where recruitment of good, promising student officers was very difficult.

But I must now say that I have not been altogether happy about the separation of the Service colleges one from another and about the differences between their organisational and educational arrangements. This separation and the educational differences presumably have their origins in the historical development and traditions, and in the distinctive features and functions of the three Services. But in my opinion it becomes increasingly difficult to justify this separation and these differences on either educational or financial grounds. I therefore welcome the important step that has now been taken towards closer co-operation and co-ordination provided for under the concept of the Royal Defence Academy and the Royal Defence College.

I hope, however, that the arrangements that have been decided upon are not to be regarded as more than the first step towards the longer-term objective of creating an aggregation of the facilities at Manadon, Shrivenham and Cranwell on a single site or campus. I should like to look forward to the creation of a composite inter-Service environment of sufficient physical size, student population and diversity of courses to justify the concept of an inter-Service university. It is for this reason, I may say to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that I could not come down in favour of Greenwich as the most desirable centre for the new Royal Defence College, because I cannot believe that the Greenwich environment could prove adequate in the longer-term to provide the necessary facilities of an inter-Service university. I shall have some words to say about Greenwich a little later.

May I ask Her Majesty's Government, when considering any further development of the facilities of the constituent colleges, to have in mind the desirability of this long-term objective? I do not by any means under-estimate the difficulties; but I am convinced that there will be considerable educational and economic benefits, and that to bring the students of the three Services together on a single campus to continue their undergraduate education together would contribute greatly to later inter-Service collaboration, and would produce in the officers concerned a greater measure of adaptability to the changes within the defence organisation which I think will be an inevitable consequence of further technological developments.

My Lords, this brings me to the second question. It is now widely recognised—in principle, if not in practice—that the completion of an undergraduate course and the attainment of a first degree in engineering and technology by no means represents the end of the educational process in these subjects. What is needed at present—and will, I believe, be needed increasingly—is a continuation of this educational process deeply into the career. This will involve participation, at appropriate stages, in post-graduate courses (of short or long duration) in specialist fields, and particularly in the newly-developing ones. I see no reason to doubt that these needs—which are becoming increasingly complex in respect of industry—will not apply equally to the Services. The growth of post-graduate courses has been a prominent feature of university and college of technology development in this country in recent years. I feel sure that this will also become a feature of the future development of the Service colleges, both individually and collectively.

There was recently published the Report of a Committee of the Council for Scientific Policy, under the chairmanship of Sir Gordon Sutherland, which dealt with the liaison at post-graduate stage between the universities and the research and development establishments of Government. I understand from the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, that this Report is to be brought within the scope of the debate he will be initiating in the near future on the administrative arrangements between the Department of Education and Science and the Ministry of Technology on a national science and technology policy. If I may anticipate that debate, I should like to say that the Report is concerned with several aspects of university development, but particularly with the degree to which members of the research and development establishments of Government can participate in university activities, in two respects particularly: first, participation as teachers in appropriate post-graduate courses and, secondly, as joint participants with university staff members and students in the conduct of joint research and development projects.

My contacts with both the Navy and the Army suggest to me that there is great scope for similar development within the Services. I have found it disappointing that there is not, or appears not to be, very close collaboration between Service colleges and the research and development establishments of their respective Services. Again based on my university experience, I have no difficulty in appreciating the problems involved in this kind of collaboration, but I should have thought that the Services were in a particularly good position to develop this aspect of collaboration since the staff and students are, as it were, all within the control of Government, and therefore the problems which are raised as between the universities and Government establishments would be relaxed considerably in this respect.

I think that the development of this kind of collaboration in respect of postgraduate teaching and joint research projects would benefit the staff members of the establishments, in that I have always found teaching activities to be a valuable supplement to the carrying out of research, and I think it would be for the good of some of the staff members of establishments to he required to give courses of lectures to advanced students within their special fields. I think it would benefit also the staff members of the teaching colleges if they could become involved in appropriate problems being undertaken by the research and development establishments. I should therefore like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will do everything possible to stimulate the development of a closer partnership between the Service colleges and the research and development establishments in these two respects.

If I may, my Lords, I will comment briefly on what the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said about Greenwich. I was privileged to be Chairman of the Education Advisory Committee for Greenwich over a number of years, terminating, I think, about two years ago, and I should therefore like to express my deep affection and regard for the College, my sense of privilege in having been associated with it, and my wish that there should be no doubt as to the aim to create a significant educational purpose for Greenwich.

This does not mean that I go with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in the concept of what this educational purpose should be. I should like to see Greenwich developed as a post-graduate inter-Service institution; in precisely what respects would need a good deal of thought, because of course the other colleges will also need to participate in post-graduate activities in due course. Nevertheless, I have little doubt that there is a special function which Greenwich could perform in this respect, and I think it is particularly fortunately placed being in close proximity to London University which would permit the development of a partnership with the appropriate postgraduate schools of London University in this particular development. It is contrary to my wish to differ from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in this respect, but at least we are of the same mind in wishing that the future of Greenwich shall be assured.


My Lords, may I correct what is perhaps a misapprehension? I may have been misunderstood. I was asking the Government to reconsider the decision which has been taken on the location of the Defence College at Shrivenham, but I thought I had made it clear that, if the Government are unable to reconsider that decision, I for one would strongly support the idea, as a second best, of Greenwich becoming a post-graduate centre for the three Services. I should certainly support that idea very strongly.

6.55 p.m.


My Lords, with your permission I should like to support my noble friend Lord Jellicoe in his request to the Government that they should reconsider this decision. Before I go on to make my very brief remarks on that, I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Mottistone on his maiden speech. I thought it excellent, and I hope that we may hear from him often again. I have the sort of feelings about Greenwich which he described so vividly; though I must admit that, due to my age and the fact that I was at sea during World War I, when I should normally have gone to Greenwich, I never did the sub-lieutenant course there which was, of course, the highlight of any Naval career—one of the reasons being that it was very convenient to the bright lights of London which I think were probably even brighter in those days than they are now.

I am also venturing to intervene in this debate because several years ago, when speaking in a defence debate, I urged the then Government, which was composed of my noble friends, to take steps to bring the officers of the three Services together at as early a stage as possible in their careers. Therefore I am strongly in favour of this Royal Defence College which, as I understand it, will take the officers from the three Services at a very early age.

The other reason why I venture to intervene in this debate is that a noble relative of mine, whop achieved the great position of First Lord of the Admiralty, took a great interest in Greenwich College. It was due to his work and interest that many of the now famous features at Greenwich, in particular the Painted Hall, are with us as we know them to-day. Although I could not take my sub-lieutenant course in 1915 because I was elsewhere, your Lordships will be amused to hear that I had my first education at Greenwich in 1939 when I took a retired officers' course. Finally, my Lords, I had one more contact with Greenwich during the war—though of course I have been there often since—when I had the honour to be invited as a guest to the passing-out dinner by one of the first W.R.N. officers to pass through the abbreviated Staff course.

For these and for other obvious reasons—I am a Naval man—Greenwich has a great appeal to me, and I think that it would be nothing short of a tragedy if it were allowed to pass out of use by the Services. I hope that, preferably, it will be used on a tri-Service basis. If the Government advance reasons why the Royal Defence College should not go there, I urge them to use it for postgraduate courses for serving officers.

6.58 p.m.


My Lords, before replying to this evening's debate, which I have found extremely interesting, may I take the opportunity to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, on his maiden speech? I thought it a model of clarity and composure, and although the noble Lord reined himself in towards the end of what he had to say, I am certain that, now that he has broken the ice, we can look forward to some hard-hitting contributions from him, particularly on the subject on which he is so uniquely qualified to speak. I believe that the defence debate is next Tuesday.

My Lords, having had the pleasure of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, I must now, I am afraid, give a somewhat unsatisfactory Answer to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who is pressing for a reconsideration of Her Majesty's Government's decision to move the confederation of Defence Colleges to Shrivenham. Part of the difficulty of my duty is taken away by the fact that every noble Lord who has spoken supports the policy of joint education on a tri-Service basis. Though I should like to answer the noble Earl, who asked me two straight questions, in specific terms, I think that with his experience he must realise that all the reasons for the decisions of a Department such as the Ministry of Defence cannot be made public. It is true that my noble friends want to give the House as much information as they can. They want to give more of the facts; but all of the facts—no. I say with regret that I cannot confirm precisely what led up to the Government's decision on the location of the combined Colleges, or what Professor Howard and Mr. English actually said; but I do know that at the end of the day both agreed to the decision that was reached.

That decision was taken only after a most careful study of all the factors involved, both in the short term and looking further ahead into the future. While it was felt that Greenwich would provide an adequate home for the Royal Defence College of to-day, it would be quite inadequate as the long-term location if our ultimate aims are to be achieved.

Here I am fortified by the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley. The noble Earl asked me whether accurate costings were made, and whether they were the main factor influencing the Government in their decision. Cost was only one of the factors, probably the secondary factor, in this decision. The main factor was the possibility of bringing together on one site a large number of the existing organisations and, at the end of the day, creating the equivalent of a Defence University. The point that the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, made is entirely valid. We want to see at Shrivenham something which is a genuine university, where not only instruction but also research and development go on. The point which the noble Lord made, that the Ministry of Defence should link teaching establishments with the many and varied research establishments, is one which I am certain will be studied with sympathy by those responsible. And I hope that they will study this debate to-day.

I share with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, one concern and here perhaps he is speaking to the man who is to a certain degree responsible. Buildings will have to be erected which are suitable for the purposes for which they are intended. These could be cheap and nasty, or they could have something of the inspirational value which exists at Greenwich. It would be my Ministry that would have to deal with this aspect. I shall bear carefully in mind what the noble Lord has said and bring it to the notice of my colleagues. It is important to my Ministry that the work we do is publicly recognised as being of high quality. Otherwise we cannot attract the good young professional men at the beginning of their careers to do this type of work. For the reason of prestige alone, Shrivenham is a great opportunity which should be seized.

I should like to join with all noble Lords in saying how much I hope that the link between Greenwich and the Armed Services is not severed. I noticed that noble Lords did not speak specifically of the Royal Navy but of all the Services. I have had quite a long experience of the work of the great institution at Greenwich. When I was in another place I had the good fortune to be asked to lecture regularly at Staff courses at Greenwich, and I saw something of the institution from inside. It was a stimulating and valuable experience. To think of this building as being the headquarters of the South-Eastern Gas Board is something that many of us feel would be intolerable.

Proposals have been made for using it as a post-graduate centre for the Armed Services, for post-graduate courses similar to those undertaken by professional men in all the erudite professions. I think that this is certainly one service which they could provide for the community. Again, I hope that the views of noble Lords will be studied by the Department concerned. It is true that to recruit visiting lecturers is easier at Greenwich than at Shrivenham, but it should not be forgotten that there is a University at Oxford, which is not far away, and others at Bristol and Southampton which are also within striking distance, particularly as communications between London and the West get better. Provided that the quality of the facilities to be created at Shrivenham, the quality of the buildings and—should I say?—the standard of remuneration are right, I do not see why this tri-Service university should not be able to attract men of the highest calibre, particularly if part-time professors could be recruited from the research establishments.

I regret that I cannot give the noble Earl a more satisfactory answer, because personally I am in sympathy with much that he has said. But the decisions which Her Majesty's Government have reached on this subject were not reached lightly, and I feel that at this stage we cannot possibly consider reversing them.

House adjourned at eight minutes past seven o'clock.