HL Deb 10 February 1972 vol 327 cc1262-4

3.9 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the defence facilities arranged between the French Government and NATO in the event of an act of agression against any country associated with NATO.]


My Lords, the French have withdrawn from the integrated military structure of NATO and they commit no forces to the Alliance. But they do maintain substantial forces in Germany; they are still members of the North Atlantic Alliance; and like all signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty they are committed to regard an armed attack on one or more members in Europe or North America as an attack on all.


My Lords, I am grateful for the Answer, but is it not rather anomalous that, while the French remain a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, they have contracted out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation? Has any attempt been made to persuade them to return to NATO, and would it be desirable that they should, rather than have this anomalous and unsatisfactory arrangement?


My Lords, as I made plain, they have withdrawn from the integrated military structure, but not of course from the Alliance. Her Majesty's Government—both this Government and the previous Government—have on a number of occasions made it plain that they would very much like to see the French back in the integrated military structure. But, of course, this is a matter for the French Government.


My Lords, would it not appear from some part of the noble Lord's answer regarding infrastructure that if the French maintain some kind of connection, however remote, it is because they received vast sums of money in the past, way back from 1945, for purposes of infrastructure, including telecommunications, air fields and a variety of other devices, which had an economic advantage as well as a military advantage; so the connection is, although remote, based on what they received largely from the United Kingdom as well as from other countries?


My Lords, of course when the French were members of the integrated military structure they received from the infrastructure what was necessary and paid their share of it. Since they have left the integrated military structure they do not take part in it except when they wish to do so and pay their share.


My Lords, might it not be an advantage, as a step towards general disarmament, if Her Majesty's Government followed the example of the French? Would not the Government consider taking this step?


My Lords, that is a revolutionary view which I think would not be acceptable in any quarter of the House.