HL Deb 01 March 1973 vol 339 cc758-857

3.22 p.m.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON) rose to move, That this House takes note of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1973. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move that this House takes note of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1973.

It is just four months since we last discussed Defence in your Lordships' House during the debate on the Address. Even in that short time important events have happened on the world scene: the end of the war in Vietnam; the beginning of preparatory talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions; our own entry into the E.E.C. and the electoral victories of Chancellor Brandt and President Nixon. Throughout 1972 and in the early months of 1973 events have moved at a remarkable pace. President Nixon's visits to Moscow and Peking, Chancellor Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik in Europe, the major reduction in the Russian military presence in Egypt, the decision of China and Japan to settle their differences—all these are developments of truly global significance. It may well be that in the 1970s we are witnessing the break up of the rigid bipolar relationship of the 1950s and 1960s and its replacement by a more flexible system in which concepts such as the balance of power will once again become important. I believe that, as the first chapter of the Defence White Paper suggests, 1973 will be a year of both challenge and opportunity.

Negotiations are currently in progress which touch on every aspect of Alliance security: on strategic issues in the bilateral negotiations on SALT; on European security and co-operation in the C.S.C.E.; on force levels in Central Europe in M.B.F.R.; and on chemical warfare at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. There may at last be a real prospect of achieving something like a civilised relationship between East and West here in Europe. No one in his right mind would want to reject that prospect. No Government want to spend over £3,000 million a year on defence if security can be assured at lower cost. We can all think of other more attractive—and electorally more popular—ways of spending money.

I am therefore all for détente, if by this we mean the establishment of a more relaxed relationship between the Communist bloc and the rest of us within which we would have enough mutual confidence to halt the competition in armaments and collaborate in solving the formidable problems—social, economic, environmental—which beset us all wherever we live. But let us be sure before we relax our own defence efforts that this really is what Mr. Brezhnev and the other Soviet leaders mean by détente. We must be satisfied that their objectives are not purely tactical, in the sense that they have concluded that instead of frightening NATO, as they have done for some time, it is better to lull us into a sense of false security. We cannot ignore the fact that, as we move into a period of negotiation in Europe, they continue to build up their military forces to a degree which seems to go beyond any reasonable requirements of self-defence. In these circumstances I believe that while we must certainly pursue a policy of détente we must do so with caution. Let me take M.B.F.R. as an example.

The preparations for talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Central Europe are central to all current East-West dialogue. The Soviet Union has at long last accepted NATO'S invitation, and exploratory talks are currently under way in Vienna. Their purpose is to prepare the way for serious negotiations on the reduction of force levels. They will therefore be concentrating on questions of procedure, organisation and, of course, the agenda for these negotiations which we hope will begin in the autumn. But at the same time there should be opportunities for each side to learn something of the other's thinking on the substantive issues, and so to establish that a sound basis for the negotiations exists. These talks, I think, may well prove to be of crucial importance to the Western Alliance. Certainly they will be difficult and prolonged, but there is the prospect of a very valuable prize at the end.

The difficulty, of course, with M.B.F.R. is that it will not be easy to negotiate an agreement that does not in practice work to the military disadvantage of NATO. The Warsaw Pact has an overwhelming superiority in conventional forces; NATO'S manpower is outnumbered by two to one in Central Europe; our tanks by four to one; our artillery by two and threequarters to one. Geography favours the Pact in terms of reinforcement capa- bility; no forces, for example, redeployed to the United States under a reduction agreement could be made available in a crisis as speedily as those Russian forces redeployed from the central front to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union could, moreover, mobilise with none of the inhibitions that constrain a Western democracy. Finally, we must not forget that NATO's strength is closely tailored to its defensive strategy. The suit is already an uncomfortably tight fit, and there are limits to the extent that we can cut away the cloth before it begins to split at the seams.

My Lords, there is another and more general reason why I believe that this question must be approached with caution; that is the danger that the prospect of potential troop reductions may encourage people to think that détente is just round the corner, and that at last it is safe to lower NATO's guard. The temptation to anticipate reductions might, as a result, be hard to resist. But to undermine NATO's negotiating position in this way, to trade reductions in one's forces for what may yet prove to be an illusory promise of détente, would I think be very foolish, and we cannot expect quick results from these talks. We have to go forward at each stage of the negotiations with a complete awareness of the issues and the implications for European security, and the NATO Powers must be united. We are playing for high stakes. Nevertheless, M.B.F.R. is a highly significant development in the East-West dialogue on the security of Europe. If we can get it right, we shall have taken a giant step in the cause of furthering peace, not only in Europe, but all over the world.

Let us be conscious of this responsibility and opportunity and not underestimate the difficulties before us. We need as a country and as an Alliance to recognise Defence and détente as twin objectives. It is axiomatic that if we want to negotiate successfully on force reductions—and I hope I have made it quite clear that for my part I certainly do—then NATO as a whole must at least preserve its present military capability until we have achieved agreement to make reductions on both sides which will maintain the present balance of security: and at the present time that balance is, in military terms, distinctly precarious.

I have been talking so far, my Lords, about the East-West relationship. I believe that we also stand at the threshold of a period during which we and our Allies are going to be engaged in intensive rethinking of the defence relations within the Atlantic Alliance itself. It is common knowledge that, with Vietnam no longer blocking the view, President Nixon proposes to concentrate on the complex of issues—trade, monetary and security—which are of common concern to the United States and to Western Europe. This is an opportunity to which we Europeans must respond. For the next four years we shall be dealing with an American Administration which has demonstrated that it places a high value on the Atlantic Alliance. It is also an Administration which has shown that it has the will, the ability and the imagination to negotiate with the Soviet Union realistically and profitably. It is up to us Europeans to exert ourselves while the going is good and drive forward during these next four years to the achievement of stability both in our defence relationship with our American Allies and in East-West relations here in Europe.

I think there must have been countless times during my time as Defence Secretary that I have emphasised that the Atlantic Alliance is vital and that in the long run there can be no healthy or enduring defence relationship between the United States and Europe except on the basis of fair and equal partnership. But this in turn implies a closer degree of co-operation and cohesion between European nations than anything that we have achieved so far. The Paris Summit, in charting the Community's development over this decade, laid down the aim of working for European union by 1980.

The habit of collaboration between the powers of Western Europe is already growing in all the main areas of governmental interest. There is a new spirit abroad in the Community; and the practice of regular and frequent consultation between Community Foreign Ministers and their officials is now well established and noticeably on the increase.

We also have consultations about C.S.E. and others; and we have the M.B.F.R. consultations in the NATO Council. In the specifically defence field the Eurogroup of Defence Ministers is also extending its activities and provides an excellent example of the practical approach to the task of developing European defence.

Through the Eurogroup we have already been able to respond successfully to President Nixon's challenge that America would improve its support to NATO if Europe did likewise. In 1972, the Eurogroup took a further step in the arrangements it made to improve the development and procurement of common defence equipments. I am quite sure that in 1973 under the Chairmanship of Signor Tanassi, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, we shall have another year when we shall go further forward. In short, I am sure that there already exists the will to establish common aims and formulate common policies in many of the areas that are going to come under scrutiny during the next few years. And to some extent the machinery to do this already exists. This fact demonstrates that European Governments see the need, and have the wish to act in concert when the occasion arises.

So far, my Lords, I have talked only about Europe; but of course, although this is our primary concern, our interests and responsibilities do not end there. As a middle-sized military Power, I believe that we have an important part to play not only in those wide-ranging politicomilitary developments in Europe that I have talked about, but also in other parts of the world. In addition to NATO we are members of CENTO and SEATO; and we also contribute to the Five Power defence arrangements in Malaysia and Singapore.

As I have just come back from a visit to the Far East, perhaps I should say a few words about that. I had the opportunity to discuss the situation in that part of the world with the new Labour Governments in Canberra and Wellington, and also with the Governments in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. As I think your Lordships know, all of them were agreed that in the present situation the defence arrangements which we agreed upon two years ago serve a useful purpose as an influence for stability in the area, and they should continue. The Australian Government have decided not to replace their infantry battalion and artillery battery in Singapore, but they will retain their naval and air contribution and logistic support elements for the ANZUK brigade. The New Zealanders will maintain their contribution. And while our partners do the same, we are determined to keep British forces in the area as long as they are wanted by the Malaysians and Singaporeans.

My Lords, in presenting the annual White Paper, I feel I should attempt to give some account of the way in which the Government's defence policy is working out against the background of world events which I have sketched. The first point I want to make is that the changes to which I have referred in no way invalidate the policy which we adopted in 1970, which was not tailored to a particular scenario, but which was designed to enable us to resume, within our resources, a proper share of responsibility for the preservation of peace and stability. To-day, I take credit for the fact that I have no dramatic announcement of new policies to make. If I had, I should regard it as a confession of failure. We had enough sudden changes of policy in the 1960s, which did considerable damage to the Services. What we want now, and what we are having, is a period of stability to carry out the policy which we have set for ourselves, and this it is my aim to secure.

My Lords, this policy entails attracting enough able men and women into the Services to undertake our defence commitments. Since my speech, if I went into every facet of defence policy, would be unpardonably long, I will, if I may, save up what I have to say about that until I, unfortunately, have to weary your Lordships again with your Lordships' permission, later this evening. We have to provide these men and women with the necessary high standard of weapons and equipment. Both these cost money, and the Defence Estimates for 1973–74 total £3,365 million. This means that after allowing for pay and price increases over the last 12 months, the Estimates are in real terms a little over 5½ per cent. up on the 1972–73 Estimates. The various elements of this increase are analysed on page 41 of the White Paper. They include a substantial amount—some £28 million—for the extra costs of Northern Ireland. Other items include measures in aid of industry and employment, and the effect of the new accounting arrangements introduced last year. Both of these things will have less impact in the period after 1973–74 covered by the 1972 Public Expenditure White Paper in which the trend of Defence Budget expenditure levels off by comparison with the growth between this year and last.

I should just like to say a word about comparisons of defence costs. It is as true now as it ever was that effective defence cannot be bought on the cheap. Since the middle 1960s the average salary of a private soldier has gone up 2½ times and that of a senior N.C.O. more than doubled. A Jaguar costs six times as much as a Hunter. The Army's Light Air Defence Regiments will, when they have Rapier, cost four times as much as they did when they had radar controlled guns, and the Navy's new frigates will cost about two and half times as much as the "Leander".


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord's very interesting remarks? Are these in money terms or real terms?


These are in money terms, my Lords. They of course are less startling if you translate them into real terms. These examples are some measure of what we have had to be prepared to pay, in the last Administration as well as this, to get the right men and to provide them with the right equipment. Future generations, both of Servicemen and of their equipment are going to cost more, in real terms, than they do now. These are, I fear, the facts to be faced if the Government are to continue to meet their objectives.

I should now like to say a few words about each of the Services. I have travelled extensively during the past year and have seen a good deal of all three of them. Whether in Europe or in Hong Kong and Singapore, I found them all in very good heart and was impressed, as anybody who has been round always is, by the evident efficiency and professionalism with which they were going about their varied tasks. In particular, I should like to pay tribute to the way in which the Commander of the ANZUK force in Singapore, Admiral Wells of the Royal Australian Navy, and his staff of three nations and three Services have created an efficient and happy organisation.

And now, my Lords, with regard to the Royal Navy. One sometimes hears it said that with the concentration of our defence effort in Europe we could in future manage with a Navy consisting of little more than submarines and antisubmarine vessels. I do not believe this to be the case. As the largest and the leading European Navy we have a variety of commitments and responsibilities in NATO and further afield, and we require a comprehensive range of ships to discharge them. At one end of the scale the Polaris force maintains a continuous and effective contribution to the Western strategic deterrent: at the other our frigates stand ready to protect our fishermen in the disputed waters off Iceland. We have in our amphibious force of commando carriers and assault and logistic ships a capability unique among European powers to reinforce the flanks of NATO. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch it last autumn off North Norway playing a leading part in Exercise Strong Express, the largest NATO maritime exercise ever held.

The "Ark Royal" and her Phantom aircraft will make a major contribution to NATO's naval strength for some years to come and a glance at Annex D of the White Paper will reveal an impressive range of ships from guided missile destroyers to coastal minesweepers, all committed to NATO. We are, my Lords, a trading nation with interests around the world and have a presence in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and across the world. I do not believe that we would have it otherwise.

For the future we are planning a number of major improvements in the fighting effectiveness of the Fleet. The range of new ships and weapons to be introduced into service during the present decade includes the new through-deck cruisers, with V/STOL, aircraft if the complex series of studies now nearing completion indicate that the Harrier can be satisfactorily adapted to a maritime role, growing numbers of nuclear fleet submarines, the anti-surface-ship missile Exocet, the surface-to-air guided weapons Sea Dart and Sea Wolf, new torpedoes, and the Lynx helicopter. These new equipments will dramatically improve the capability of the Fleet and fully maintain its position.

With regard to the Royal Air Force, I should like to highlight the efforts which that Service is making to obtain the best value in terms of fighting capability from the resources available to it. I believe this is one of the most significant developments reported in the White Paper. For some years the proportion of R.A.F. expenditure devoted to manpower has been steadily growing, while the burden of research, development and production of succeeding generations of equipment threatens to become increasingly and progressively heavier as more sophisticated aircraft, weapons and electronics are introduced to keep pace with the growing threat.

In order to help redress the balance and to make the maximum resources available for the front line, a major review of manpower and support costs in the R.A.F. has been under way for some time. Numerous economies have already been identified and the R.A.F expect to make a reduction of about 6,000 posts without detriment to the front line, despite the extra manpower needed —for example, for the additional Jaguars, Buccaneers and Nimrods which we have ordered—and to do so, I am glad to say, with the minimum of compulsory redundancy.

Manpower savings on this scale will make a substantial contribution to the financing of the major front line re-equipment programmes which we have in hand for the longer term. These include, for example, the M.R.C.A., the modernisation of the equipment of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, the development of a replacement for the Shackleton in the Airborne Early Warning role and the development of air-to-air missiles for air defence purposes. I am quite sure that judicious management of resources is essential to the achievement of an adequate and up-to-date defence capability, and the redeployment of resources in the Royal Air Force will undoubtedly pay handsome dividends in terms of air power in the years to come. In a somewhat shorter timescale, I am glad to be able to announce a new purchase of Harriers, sufficient for one extra squadron, which will enable us to maintain the front-line strength while aircraft already in service are withdrawn for improvements, thus prolonging the Harrier's effective life into the 1980s.

Finally, I turn to the Army, and I should like to say a word not about its equipment or organisation but about its task in Northern Ireland, which continues to be a major preoccupation. We shall have other opportunities to discuss the constitutional programme for Northern Ireland on which the Government are embarked and this is not the occasion for that.

My Lords, the past year has been a difficult time for the Army in Northern Ireland. It had to cope with variations in what was required of it which would have taxed a less professional force beyond patience and endurance. But it has come through them all, from the intensely emotional atmosphere which followed the tragic events of Bloody Sunday, through the decision to suspend Stormont and impose direct rule and the low profile period which followed, through the ceasefire declared by the Provisional I.R.A. and their quite cynical breaking of it, through Operation Motorman and the breaking down of the so-called "No-go" areas, to the much improved situation at the end of the year. It has come through all these changes with an impressive record of courage, efficiency and integrity of which we can all be very proud. And my Lords, not only that, but I believe it has achieved a very considerable success in its main aim of keeping the peace and in isolating the terrorists from the rest of the communities. And it has done all this despite the constant campaign of propaganda hurled at it, often by people who should have known better.

My Lords, we should be grateful to the Army for the way in which, supported by the other elements of the security forces, it has helped to generate a growing confidence in the Government's determination to afford all sections of the community in Northern Ireland a square deal. This has been amply demonstrated by some of the more recent events in Belfast, in Protestant and Catholic areas alike, which have made it as clear as anything can be that the security forces act with both determination and complete impartiality to curb violence from whatever quarter it comes. They will continue to do so.

My Lords, despite occasional setbacks, I am becoming a little more optimistic. There are hopeful signs that increasing numbers of ordinary people in Northern Ireland are utterly sick of violence and want to assert their wish to live in peace. I believe that we must be determined to make the most of these changes in attitude, and careful to do nothing which would reverse them. Considerable progress was made during 1972 in improving troops' accommodation and it is continuing. We have completed a new barracks in permanent construction for 700 men at Aldergrove, and seven camps in modern temporary construction for about 1,700 men. A further five temporary camps for 1,250 men are nearly ready. A third ship—the "Rame Head"—has been provided by the Royal Navy to accommodate about 500 men in Londonderry. Next year we shall be spending another £4 million on troops' accommodation in Northern Ireland.

A great deal has also been achieved in other directions to improve the welfare of the troops. Since last year's Defence debate we have introduced special leave flights from Northern Ireland to Germany by R.A.F. aircraft; we have provided more facilities for telephoning families. There are now nearly 250 television sets (over 100 of them colour sets, financed from the generous appeal set up by the Daily Telegraph), and we are providing a further 45 colour sets from the Services Kinema Corporation. Live entertainment has also been increased by frequent Combined Services Entertainment shows, and so on. That is not a bad record, all in all.

My Lords, I should like to end what I fear has been a long speech by reporting to you quite simply that I believe the Armed Forces of this country to be in good shape—well trained, well equipped, professionals, whose morale stands high. It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to maintain this state of affairs. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1973.—(Lord Carrington.)

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, I think I can speak on behalf of the whole House not only in expressing appreciation to the noble Lord for the speech that he has made, but also to say, "Welcome back". During the seven years of constructive Labour Government one noticed during the months of January and February your Lordships' House was always poorer because of the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Somehow or other he found—I think because of his chairmanship of a well-known bank—the necessity to go to the sunny climes of Australia and, I believe, New Zealand. I am quite certain that his recent visit in that part of the world was equally warranted. Those of us who followed his tour, and some of the comments he made, feel he has not only rendered this country great service but, in particular, also the forces for which he has direct responsibility.

I am not in any way being critical of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, or the noble Earl the Chief Whip, in what I am going to say, but I wish to make a plea for some reason. Your Lordships' House has always attached very great importance to a Defence White Paper, and to our debates on it. The degree of importance is very much greater now that we have a Secretary of State in your Lordships' House. We had the White Paper last Wednesday and we are now debating it, some eight days later. Some of us think we are full-time Members of your Lordships' House; but most of us have not only our duties here but also our occupations outside. Some of us feel that we need an opportunity to consult with those who may know better about the subject; but within that short time this has not been possible. I can well appreciate the reason why the debate is held so soon after the emergence of the White Paper. No doubt it is right that the noble Lord, as Secretary of State, should have the opportunity of making the first Parliamentary Statement on it, and there is always the risk that the other place might pre-empt him. We are now sufficiently adult that arrangements can be made between the two Houses so that there is a little longer between the emergence of an important document and this House being called upon to consider it. That is not criticism; it is a plea for a little more reason by both Houses next year.

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends I should like to endorse all that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said about our soldiers in Ulster. I agree with the noble Lord that not only are the people in Northern Ireland becoming sick and tired of the bloodshed, but that people throughout the United Kingdom are sick and tired, too. In Northern Ireland there is a growing realisation of what the Services have done for them. A week ago I was in Eire. One can never avoid discussing the problem of the Border with one's Irish friends. While there may be very severe—sometimes violent—criticism over the past political leadership and judgments of this country, on not one single occasion, right through the most heated discussions, did I hear one word of criticism from my friends in Eire regarding the behaviour of the British soldiers. The case for the Forces is now emerging.

Some us are concerned about the question of fatigue. Some of our troops there are now on their third tour; some may shortly be starting their fourth tour. These soldiers operate in most exposed conditions, and this must not only be a strain on their own nerves, but must also be a strain on their families. I doubt whether much can be done about that matter, but I hope the fact will be taken into account when I make my second point. I and a number of my friends have been concerned whether we pay sufficient compensation, through pensions or otherwise, to the widows of our young soldiers who lose their lives in Northern Ireland. We all know that soldiers marry much earlier than they used to, and certainly have families earlier. One cannot help feeling that the present rate of pension to a widow is hardly sufficient to give her a reasonable existence with the long years of widowhood in front of her. I know that my noble friend Lord Winterbottom will want to develop this case, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will bear the problem in mind.

So far as the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is concerned, to me, and to most of my noble friends, it was much more acceptable than the speeches he has made on three previous occasions. I thought to-day—and I recognise the changed circumstances that have occurred in Europe and South-East Asia since we had our last debate—the noble Lord had about the right balance in his speech. I agree that we must maintain not only our support to NATO, but also take full account of all the oppor- tunities that may arise through the three different sets of negotiations that are taking place in Europe to-day.

We accept that in protracted negotiations, particularly the more difficult ones for force reductions, there are risks. I share the view of the noble Lord that these risks are worth taking because so far we have been able to accept the heavy burdens of the defence expenditure. I have a question mark in my own mind as to how long these burdens can be successfully borne within a democratic society and with the new expectations of our people for a better standard of life. So, my Lords, we would press upon the Government to pursue these negotiations with the utmost vigour. We agree with them that in the meantime, certainly from a negotiating point of view, there can be no form of unilateral reductions.

With regard to costs, I think it must be a matter of concern that the cost burden has risen quite dramatically during the last year. The first question I would put to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is this: In December, 1972, we had the White Paper (Cmnd. 1578). Now we have the Defence White Paper in front of us, with an increase, it seems to me, of some £523 million. The White Paper issued in December was a Paper for Parliament to review public expenditure. To me it seems very strange indeed that in a matter of two months we should have such a startling difference in the figures. Perhaps when the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, replies, he could give us an explanation, because there does not seem to be much sense in having a very important White Paper such as the public expenditure White Paper is, and yet to be confronted with other figures so widely out of line.

My Lords, expenditure in the field of research and development again is something that must cause some concern, because there is quite a big increase. I recognise that there is a necessity to plan, design and do research and development, or important equipment will never come into being many years hence, but with these figures one wonders whether perhaps we are not undertaking research and development on too big a scale. Or is it a consequence of having joint European projects? Most of our experience shows that this is not one of the most economical methods of production, and I wonder whether the increase in research and development cost can be attributed to the fact that we are undertaking this work with our European allies. Here again I should like an explanation. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also spoke about carrying our fair share of the burden in terms of cost. My Lords, I wonder whether in fact we are not carrying too great a share of the burden. When one looks at what our European allies pay, if we make a comparison by gross national product, we are a good 1 per cent. or 2 per cent.—I think in some cases 3 per cent.—ahead of them, and one wonders whether this is right.

Secondly, one needs to take into account our own costs consequent upon entering into the E.E.C. One sees in Annex A, Table 4, that there has been an increase over last year of some £33 million across the exchanges. From this, it seems to me that we spent some £331 million across the exchanges for our defence effort in Europe. When alongside that, one takes the cost of our contribution to entering the E.E.C.—to a certain extent they are all part and parcel —and relates it to the burdens that other European countries bear, one finds that there would be real justification for the British people to say that defence is right for this country and for Europe, but should not the burden be borne more fairly, taking into account the strength of the economies of some of the countries in Europe?

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, spoke of the possible consequence where if one were to reduce the defence effort people might well say, "Why cannot we go one stage further?" My Lords, I am more concerned at the moment about how we continue to justify to our people the cost of defence. We all know there is great dissatisfaction throughout the country in terms of one's personal income and standard of living. It is always said that one cannot expect to see any rise in these until the country can raise it's general economic standards. It is hard to defend the position in this way when we are spending so much, not only in money but in material resources, on defence. The possibilities are being lost. So I think we should pursue the field of disarmament with considerable ruthlessness, because I do not believe that in the long term one can, in a democratic society, sustain these very high defence costs.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for giving way. If one takes 1972 prices, is it not a fact that in 1967–68 the Labour Government were spending £3,367 million —more than the Defence Budget we are discussing to-day? And in the interim, is it not true to say that Russian rearmament has gone ahead at enormous speed? So is not the danger more now even than when the noble Lord had responsibility?


The noble Lord will remember that the Labour Government was also under serious attack for its expenditure in the realm of defence. If I may develop this point, may I say that this is not a personal view but is what I believe could emerge. We are to-day moving around as tourists. We visit many countries, some of them behind the Iron Curtain, and many people from Iron Curtain countries come here. We have now a majority of our people who have never seen war, never seen occupation, and see only friends from behind the Iron Curtain as being no different from ourselves. What I am seeking to say is that in my view it is going to be hard to sustain burdens of the present sort. I think the United States Government recognises this.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, touched more briefly on the subject of recruitment. It has been disappointing that the figures have dropped, though not dramatically, but I agree with the noble Lord. I think he said last year that the problem of recruiting is bound to increase because the area from which one can draw soldiers is becoming a good deal smaller. So, my Lords, in general I myself would not criticise the White Paper as it has been presented to us. I have only the feeling that it does not entirely portray the general defence position of this country and of NATO in particular. I do not think there is any doubt that there are strains in Europe. The forces we have available are very strained, particularly on the perimeters of Europe, and equipment is still short. This is a subject which others of my noble friends might wish to develop.

I would only ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, whether he would be good enough to look into one aspect which is not strictly concerned with defence, though I should regard it as being very much part of it: that is, our information services. I am sure that the noble Lord, when in Singapore and Malaya, must have become aware of the problems of the B.B.C.'s Asian Service that was being broadcast from Tebrau. My understanding is that the B.B.C. have now been required to leave Tebrau and have found themselves another site in the area. I understand that the Treasury require the B.B.C. to provide the entire capital needed, not only for the move but for the new installation. That is clearly going to have a serious effect upon the resources of the B.B.C.'s Overseas Service, to which most of us, I am sure, would pay a great tribute. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will use his best offices to see that the new station is set up and that the B.B.C. is in no way penalised as a result of this move.

In view of the fact that there are many other noble Lords who wish to speak, I will leave my remarks there. As I say, I believe this to be more of a progress report, but I shall listen with interest to those who have perhaps greater everyday contact with the Services, to see what they make of the contents of the White Paper.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by saying how much I appreciated the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, at the beginning of his speech regarding the emergence of new forces in the world during the last year and new developments in foreign policy generally which, by themselves, may possibly be forcing us all in the direction of a detente. Nothing that I propose to say this afternoon should be taken as meaning that I am in any way opposed to a detente provided, as the noble Lord said, that we pursue it by means that will not result in our placing ourselves at an even greater disadvantage than at present in relation to the immense and ever-increasing power that faces us in the East.

I propose however, in the few minutes available, to discuss only one aspect of our Defence policy; that is, the defence of Western Europe: for I believe this to be an overriding issue that up to now has not been satisfactorily faced. At the moment the basic assumption, surely, is that the defence of the Western European democracies—and notably those forming the new and extended European Economic Community—is only conceivable if the Americans (in default of some still quite improbable agreement with the Russians on disarmament or M.B.F.R.) maintain considerable forces in Western Germany. An additional, if unexpressed, assumption undoubtedly is that, however outnumbered and out-gunned the Allied Forces in Germany may be, it will be possible for an indefinite period to deter any Soviet assault (however unlikely that may be) or even any Soviet threat to the West, by having recourse in the last resort to tactical nuclear weapons if only, to start off, on a very moderate scale.

Now, I do not want to get into an argument about flexible response to any Soviet agression or provocation, because I must say that I agree with it. The noble Lord once told me that I did not understand it: that may be so, but so far as I do understand it, I agree with the noble Lord. I am not against it. For such time, indeed, as the Americans do have very substantial forces in Europe and are firmly prepared, if need be, to loose off their tactical nuclear missiles and to authorise their use by various allies, it is the only sensible way of organising our defence. For otherwise the Russians would of course be able to attack and be on the Rhine within a few days. However, we should be rash to ignore the constant rumours reaching us from America—I do not say that they come from the Administration but certainly they come from influential sources in Congress and elsewhere—that the Americans may fairly soon' substantially reduce their forces in Germany, even if one day they do not withdraw them altogether, and that in any case their maintenance can only be guaranteed if the European Economic Community countries for their part agree to economic conditions which may be incompatible with the emergence, for instance, of any European monetary union or even with the effective continuance of the European Economic Community itself. It is also constantly suggested that the American military presence in Europe may be endangered if the European members of the North Atlantic Alliance, or at any rate those in NATO, do not contribute more in the way of men, money and material to the common defence than they now contribute.

I am sure that all such dire possibilities are exercising the minds of the Government, but at the moment it looks as if they do not think there is anything that we can do about them, beyond getting together with the 10 other European members of the Alliance (other, of course, than France) in the unofficial Eurogroup with a view to concerting additional contributions to the common defence and this is all to the good. The E.D.I.P. (the European Defence Improvements Programme) of 1,000 million dollars over five years has indeed resulted in much useful work being done on such things as aircraft shelters and other infra-structure operations. It has also, as the Defence White Paper points out, produced a small but welcome increase in the defence budgets of all the European members of NATO. Further, there is very useful agreement on procurement to which the noble Lord referred, and for which we are all very grateful. Generally speaking, all this is a sign that the Eurogroup countries are at least endeavouring to get a move on in the direction of common European defence. Nobody therefore, as I understand it, wants to interfere with or impede the activities of the Eurogroup.

But what we must surely contemplate now is something much more far-reaching; namely, the possibility of building up over the years—if humanly possible, of course, with the Americans, but if absolutely necessary then without them—some system of "conventional" defence of Western Europe which would be deemed sufficiently strong (it is only a question of "deeming") to hold any Soviet armoured thrust without resort to nuclear weapons. The short argument here is that, if a struggle ever occurs for any reason—and I believe it will be highly improbable if Western Europe really sets its house in order—the Soviet Union will not itself use nuclear weapons to attain its military ends, for the simple reason that to do so would invite a response which, however limited, would be quite unacceptable. But if the Russians did not use these weapons it would be quite inconceivable for the Europeans to do so, for the results of such action would be even more unacceptable for them. Indeed —and this is my central point—we are probably approaching the point at which no Power will be prepared to use nuclear weapons on a first strike—I repeat on a first strike—against another nuclear Power, or even against any Power at all. One has only to think of the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to use this weapon over the last few years, or to threaten its use against China, to say nothing of the obvious impossibility of American use of such weapons against that poor miserable little State called North Vietnam.

So it follows logically that no defence which relies, as ours does now, on the use, if necessary, of tactical nuclear weapons on a first strike is basically sound as a long term policy, even though at the moment it may be valid, and may even be valid for the next few years But if it is unsound in the long run, then, again logically, there is no real hope of defending Western Europe, or of avoiding political pressure which could reduce us to a state of vassallage —save by "conventional" means of some sort. I said this effectively in my last speech and I repeat it. From now on we must all concentrate on an entirely new conception of defence and, if we can, we must persuade our European allies to go along with it.

I also said last time—and the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, rather twitted me with this—that I should take this opportunity of describing more in detail the main outlines of such a scheme, and I shall now attempt to do so, although necessarily very briefly. The general idea would be to hold up any Soviet armoured thrust by a concentration in the neighbourhood of the border of a large number of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons of a new kind, deployed in concealed ground to ground missiles, in specially designed helicopter gun-ships, and in fighter bombers, coupled no doubt with minefields and other devices so as to form a great protective screen. But the main feature would be the creation of a large number of small units of not much more than a company or, at the most, battalion strength, consisting of tough professionals who would be partly stationed near the border but mostly brought up at an instant's notice, and chiefly by helicopter, from the rear. The main duty of these formations would be to concentrate, along with the Air Force, on the adversary's armour in accordance with the directions of an Area Commander reporting directly to SACEUR. Possibly three Area Commanders would suffice, though they might have to have some sub-Area Commanders under them. In other words, it would no longer be a question of opposing armour with armour—our own armour, short of immense extra expenditure, being numerically much inferior to the Soviet armour—but rather to break the initial armoured thrust by diversified and quite novel means.

It would follow that there would no longer be any need to maintain large armoured formations of a World War II pattern, with consequent very considerable saving of funds. Some detachments of the equivalent of the American "air cavalry" might be required for creating havoc among enemy armoured divisions which had been held up in front and were piling up behind. But that would be all. No formations which could be remotely described as offensive would be employed. What would in addition be necessary would be some kind of militia behind the lines which would cope with parachutists and protect strategic points. But that should not be a vastly expensive element. And, naturally, the tactical nuclear weapons—7,000 of which are said to be deployed at present—would, failing mutual and balanced force reduction or disarmament, still be there for use in the most unlikely event of the Soviet armies having recourse to them before we did.

As for the famous Anglo-French strategic nuclear "deterrent" about which so much ink has been spilt and which may or may not have been the subject of an interchange of views between Her Majesty's Government and the French Government, I suggest that that would no longer be the dominant factor, in the sense that it would no longer be immediately relevant at any rate in Western Europe (and I notice in any case that the White Paper does not say anything about the possibility of Polaris becoming obsolete before long and being replaced by Poseidon). For since, on my basic assumption, it would be out of the question for either the French or the British even to threaten the use in the present instance of our strategic forces on a first strike, it follows that in practice such forces can only have a second strike significance. In other words, they might "deter" any Soviet first strike nuclear assault (however unlikely) on French or British territory and to that extent would obviously be useful. And it is, of course, improbable that any French or British Government will actually abolish its own strategic nuclear force, though it is admittedly the declared intention of the united French Left to do so if by any chance they should come into power in the near future, as indeed they may.

This brings me to my final point, and I hope I have not detained your Lordships for too long. Should the French elections result in the formation of a Government depending for its existence on the Centre, which, as we all know, is very European and Atlantic Alliance-minded, and consequently in a lessening of the influence of the extreme Nationalists who, together with the Communists, favour no real co-operation of any kind on defence matters with their allies, it should surely be possible for us to get together with the new administration and to think out some quite new scheme of conventional defence in which France will not only be a willing partner but in which she might actually take the lead. I do not think myself that France, even in such circumstances, will return to NATO. I doubt if she will even be willing to institutionalise the "Eurogroup" (although I wish she would) which could, however, still continue. I repeat, nobody wants to interfere with the progress of the "Eurogroup" as regards infrastructure and so on. But what is essential is the formation of an integrated European defence element within the Alliance itself—that is to say, operating within the broad framework of the North Atlantic Council. Did I say essential? Perhaps I should say possible, and desirable too.

And indeed if, as all our Ministers say, we are about to make rapid progress towards a European monetary union, to say nothing of a political union in only eight years' time, how can we avoid constituting some machinery for co-ordinating specifically Western Union defence—Western European defence—perhaps as an extension of the "Davignon" procedure; perhaps in some close association with the Commission in Brussels; perhaps in liaison with the "Eurogroup"; perhaps, best of all, in some extension or adaptation of the existing machinery of Western European Union? Who knows? All I do know is that if anything of the kind is to be attempted it must be attempted soon, and in co-operation with the French, and based on entirely new thinking. Certainly, if we are going to get the French to go along with us it will have to be based on entirely new thinking.

As it seems to me, time presses. It is no good saying that if only we are reasonable and conciliatory in the coming conferences on European security and M.B.F.R. all will be well. Of course we should be reasonable and conciliatory, hut whether this posture will have the slightest effect on a Soviet Union which —as the White Paper shows—is armed to the teeth and is re-arming even further at the moment, remains to be seen. Our position therefore remains one of very considerable danger.

Of one thing I am quite sure. Since the use of nuclear energy for military purposes by any Power is becoming increasingly absurd and obviously counterproductive, there is a real chance for us here in this corner of Europe to provide for our own defence—that is to say to produce a "credible" defensive system—provided only we are united and make use of the great fund of intelligence and expertise at our disposal. The White Paper announces a 5.6 per cent. increase in our general defence expenditure. I do not object to that. I think the reason for it was well explained by the noble Lord. Lord Carrington. But I am not at all sure that all of this is absolutely productive. For instance, if we are to spend more money under the present system I suggest that more should be devoted to research into anti-tank weapons generally, including of course Swingfire, which is mentioned in the White Paper, and that such research should be co-ordinated, or even pooled, with that of our European allies. Why not?

In conclusion, it is not a question of heavily re-arming or imposing—and this I ask the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, to realise—any impossible burdens on our economies. It is very much the reverse. It is a question of demonstrating that we have both the will and the ability to hold any armoured thrust in the central German plain; the flanks being protected, as now, chiefly by the United States which is apparently reluctant to remain a great land power but is prepared to remain a great sea, air and nuclear power. After all, David was much less heavily armed than Goliath, and there is no inherent reason why we should be more afraid of the giant than he was. It is intelligence that is now required and if we have nothing else, we and the French have that quality to a marked degree. So we must hope, and even expect, that the moment will soon come for us to get together in earnest, and when that happens the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will at least hear one loud cheer from the wings!

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I must open with an apology. I heard only about a week ago that this debate was going to take place and I have an appointment this evening which I cannot avoid, and therefore I may have to leave before the end of the debate. Should I have to do so, I shall naturally read up the part that I miss with enormous interest. May I say how grateful I am to the usual channels for giving me such an unusually distinguished place in the batting order. It has been of enormous help to me, but, despite that, much of my speech has already been made by my noble friend Lord Carrington. I hope, however, that your Lordships will bear with me as I shall be very brief.

To-day I do not wish to comment on the White Paper except to say that it is very much what we all expected, and it is a logical continuation of the Government's policy which they announced soon after they took office in 1970. It is very satisfactory and I think that it is exactly what we want. I want to concentrate to-day on two aspects of Defence which I think are new since we held our debate last year. The first is that we now seem to have entered into an era of detente. Last year we had Chancellor Willy Brandt with his Ostpolitik; we had President Nixon visiting Peking and Moscow; the second phase of SALT which has begun in Geneva; a meeting of 34 nations has been convened in Helsinki to consider whether the time is ripe for a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe; and multilateral exploratory talks are starting in Vienna on mutual and balanced force reductions. All that is excellent, and the more talking we can do the better, but it would be very dangerous to expect quick results. We must not be lulled into a sense of false security on account of the talking. We must not for a moment drop our guard. When I say, "we" I mean NATO in general and ourselves in particular.

I myself spent a year of the last war in Russia and by a curious coincidence my father before me spent the last year of his naval career as Senior British Naval Officer, Vladivostok. So before he died he and I had a considerable number of occasions to discuss the Russians, about whom we were curiously enough in agreement. We both learnt a little Russian, most of which we forgot almost as quickly as we learnt it; we were both full of admiration and affection for the Russian people, but we were also equally agreed that the "push"—and by that I mean the Party, the Government, the Secret Police and much of the bureaucracy—was a very different kettle of fish. Perhaps the personal flag of Admiral Grechko, who is the Soviet Minister of Defence, illustrates the Soviet aims perfectly: the hammer and sickle across the world. Those aims have not changed. Russia has not ceased for a moment, despite all this talk of détente, to expand and modernise her armed forces.

With a détente in the West, ice to the North and China in the East, Russia can only expand southwards and out into the oceans. With a powerful and modern fleet Russia, for the first time in her history, is deploying a worldwide maritime strategy with great skill and subtlety. She is doing that in the Middle East, Africa, South-East Asia and in South America. Your Lordships, I know, are familiar with the pattern: a number of friendly visits to a foreign port by warships or fishing vessels; these become more numerous and more normal; then comes a little bit of economic pressure; and then last of all political infiltration. The Free World can only counter these manœuvres by itself adopting a maritime strategy and doing the job better. In 1962, the Russian naval Commander-in-Chief gave this directive to his Fleet: "Go to sea and stay there". Times have changed and my message is: By all means go on talking, but let not the talking obscure the facts or encourage us to relax.

Now that I have gone to sea again, may I bring up my second problem? For much of our lives the ocean has meant to most of us a means of communication and it is a force for unity in peace but its trade routes have to be defended in war. In the last year something has happened which is quite different; a large section of the ocean round our coasts has become an extremely expensive piece of real estate. Are we able at the moment to defend our gas rigs, our oil rigs and our pipe-lines? I do not know. If we are not, then presumably in the event of war we must have contingency plans to replace the gas and the oil upon which, by that time, we will have become so dependent. But perhaps it can be defended. Various possibilities spring to mind—minefields, static defences, patrols of surface ships and submarines, and, of course, air cover. I am sure that the Minister will have thought of that and I do not know how much he can tell us about it. I have no wish to press him, but if he can give us any line on Government thinking or on any action that it is proposed to take, I am sure that your Lordships will be very grateful.

Finally, and back to my earlier point, I should like to say this. Every time a plan is put forward to solve our social or economic problems, and particularly when it emanates from the Party represented by noble Lords opposite, it is always accompanied by a massive reduction in Defence spending. That must be wrong. To begin with, these reductions cause the most appalling administrative problems within the three Services and considerable hardship to sailors, soldiers and airmen. But more important still, the policy itself is wrong. The Navy is still too small and so is the Air Force. The Army is stretched to its limit trying to preserve law and order in one little corner of this Kingdom. Five and three-quarters per cent. of our gross national product is not much to spend on defence of an island nation. We must retain sufficient modern Armed Forces to be able to speak from strength in the councils of the world. Finally, the Armed Forces provide an insurance for our own security and the most hopeful instrument for peace in the world.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I understand the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, does two jobs: he is Minister of Defence and Chairman of the Conservative Party. I think he must have been spending more time on the second job than the first, judging by the White Paper and by his speech this afternoon. For the first half hour he read from a brief, which I assume had its origin in the Foreign Office, then he rose to really dizzy heights for he told us how many television sets there are in Northern Ireland. It shows what progress we have made, for a decade ago it would have been bedside lamps; so time marches on.

One would have thought that in a deliberative Chamber of this kind, faced with a bill for £3,300 million, at least we should have had restated the principles upon which Her Majesty's Government are organising the defence of this country. But nary a word! It is about the principles that I first want to speak. I do not share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that money spent on defence should be begrudged. If this country needs defence, it ought to have adequate defence which should be related to the needs of our time expressed as strategic long-term needs of Great Britain. The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, whom I knew in another place, characteristically tried to make a Party point by seeking to establish that the defence bills in the last years of the Labour Government were greater than now. He ought to know—but of course he does not know, and therefore, of course, one forgives him—that in defence expenditure, it takes at least a decade from the time the idea is conceived until it is put into practical effect. For my part, I certainly would not hurl a brick at the Minister of Defence about the size of the bill. We must accept the size of the bill, whether we like it or not, for it had its origin long before the present Administration came into power.

By the same token when the Labour Government came to power in 1964 it was faced with four Polaris submarines which were in course of building. I was a party to cancelling the fifth, and I would have cancelled the other four, but I will come to that point in a moment. I would ask Lord Shepherd to contemplate for a moment what the cost has been to this country of our weak, shilly-shallying policy in the Middle East, or, if noble Lords wish, our policy since Suez. In my view it goes back much further than that, but it is an indisputable fact that ever since the Israelis reached the banks of the Suez Canal it has been costing us, in the earlier years £25 million a month and now £30 million a month. So "No Defence" can be noble conception; but if you take the cost of Defence and give it away, by way of housing or whatever other advantages you wish to give, in the long run the bill you may have to pay may turn out to be much greater than the cost of the Defence bill.

Coming back to the points in the Defence White Paper, I think the policy on which the Government are working is perfectly clear. It was laid down by the Prime Minister in his Godkin lectures in 1967. He restated the principle when he republished the lectures in 1970. Let me read an extract: It is proposed that the British and French nuclear forces should be pooled to form a joint deterrent which would be held in trust for Europe. Recently the Prime Minister was in the United States, and some of his American questioners raised the point of the extent to which Britain had got the nuclear itch. Mr. Heath made it perfectly clear that the policy as far as the nuclear deterrent is concerned remains now what it always was: we are to have an independent nuclear deterrent. Of course, we have never had an independent nuclear deterrent. Blue Streak was not independent; it was Atlas without the central engine. When Blue Streak "went for a Burton" we fell back on Skybolt, and in its turn that went and then we had Polaris. Only a year before the Government anchored their hopes to Polaris the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Duncan Sandys, was saying that Polaris was not a runner.

Let us have a look at the Polaris conception, which is the core of our defence policy. We have four of them. They are armed with the A.3 which has a range of 2,500 nautical miles. The Americans have 41. They have converted the 31 they could convert, to Poseidon. Poseidon, which is an immeasurably more expensive but more powerful weapon than the A.3, is in its turn being superseded, first by U.M.L.S.1 and then by U.M.L.S.2. Polaris has a limited range. It has a warhead which can break up into three parts on a single target. Now let us have a look at the concept of our independent deterrent. On October 1, 1963, the then Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, announced to the House of Commons that our Polaris submarines would be targeted in accordance with the NATO target plan, but he made it clear that should the necessity ever arise when British interests were involved it could be retargeted in accordance with British interests.

This means to say in plain English that the time might come when there would be a difference between the Americans and ourselves, and that we would pull out of the NATO targeting and target it as we wished. At that moment the Russians would be given very valuable information, because they would be told that we had changed the targeting and from now on we were targeting in accordance with our interests; so they would know that there was a major political difference between the United States and ourselves. We should be opposing them with four submarines, with 16 tubes; that is 64 missiles, armed with a weapon which is now three generations out of date. What would the Russians do? They would say, or it is possible they would say: "Right; if within 24 hours you do not surface and declare your position we will take out Lincoln".

Is there any Member of your Lordships' House who would seriously suggest that, at a moment of such acute difference with the United States that we have altered our targeting plan, the President of the United States would put at risk New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles because the Russians were using the deterrent in a blackmailing form to take out a British city just to demonstrate that they mean what they say? I hold the view that a nuclear deterrent of that kind is not a source of strength, but indeed a source of weakness.

There is another reason for being cautious on this policy, and I am astonished that the Secretary of State for Defence, when he gave a catalogue of the changes which had taken place during the year, did not give an account of the dialogue which took place in the White House on June 16, 1972, when Mr. Kissinger was being interrogated on the question of the British and French deterrent. A Congressman put it to Mr. Kissinger that the United States had 41 nuclear submarines. He said to that must be added three Titans; the Russians insisted that the three Titans must be added in, making 44. Britain has four, which makes 48; France has one and will have three more, making 52. The Russians, he said, had declared that if that happens they will insist on Britain's and France's nuclear weapons being included in the figure that is agreed in the SALT Agreement. Mr. Kissinger in his reply said that he thought his questioner had gone a little far. He said that first of all the Soviet Union had not said that they would consider the agreement breached; the Soviet Union had said they would reserve the right to ask for additional compensation.

Yet the story is told by the Government and by countless Government spokesmen up and down the country, that we have a deterrent—which from a military point of view is worthless, and which is becoming increasingly worthless every day that passes as the Americans move from Polaris to A.3, to Poseidon, then to U.M.L.S.1. and 2—whereas the truth is the possession of our obsolescent weapons will count in diminution of the ultra-sophisticated American weapons. I will be charitable. I think that the Secretary of State for Defence did not tell the House because I do not think he knew. I do not think his Department has understood the significance of the Russian demand, because I cannot believe so honourable a man would have failed to inform the House about this very important limitation in the SALT Agreement: that the Soviet Union were insisting on parity of our obsolescent Polaris A3s in diminution of the sophisticated weapons which the Americans now possess and which will be increased in number in the near future.

So much for the deterrent. I do not think that it exists. It never did exist except for political reasons, and I think it is nearer and dearer to the heart of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, as Chairman of the Tory Party, than it is to him as Secretary of State for Defence. When I say that, I am paying him a compliment. I will now turn to the forces as a whole. I was astonished, but not surprised, at the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. His was a typical Liberal speech with high-sounding principles but without the guts to face up to the logic of his own policies. What does he propose? He put forward the concept of the Maginot Line.


My Lords, I did not quite hear the noble Lord.


My Lords, the idea that the noble Lord put forward, of having a central area in North Germany of tank traps and minefields to contain a Russian thrust while the flanks are unguarded, is exactly the same as the Maginot Line. There the flanks were not guarded.


My Lords, the Maginot Line would have been a perfectly good concept if only it had extended to the Dutch frontier. Unfortunately it did not, and therefore it was turned. The Maginot Line itself was practically impregnable.


My Lords, the Maginot Line was no more impregnable than the Siegfried Line, or any other fixed position. I am now going back to a very old subject. The Conservative Administration undertook to maintain four divisions on the European land mass to keep General de Gaulle quiet. The General who was a professional soldier, could do his sums and never fell for that one. We have never had four divisions; the best we have been able to accomplish is about 50,000 men. Our forward atomic tactical weapons are completely obsolescent—I refer to Honest John and the 8-inch howitzer. Some years ago, not a Labour Administration hut a Conservative Administration cancelled Blue Water, and by doing so they took the guts out of the Army. Of course the Americans went on with their version of Blue Water (which is their Lance). The range of the 8-inch howitzer and Honest John is 12 miles and of Lance something like 20 miles. May I ask the Secretary of State (because the information is not in the White Paper) whether the Government intend to buy Poseidon, the successor to the Polaris? Do they intend to buy Lance? If they do not intend to buy Lance then, as of now, the British Army on the Rhine is really a tethered goat, just waiting against the day (which, please God! never happens), when they can be swept up and put in a prison camp.

The B.A.O.R. is not a balanced fighting force. Only last week the late Army Commander of the British Army of the Rhine complained about the lack of equipment, and the lack of ability to fight, of the forces on the European land mass. He complained bitterly about having no heavy helicopters. Where are they? Do they exist? What steps are being taken to provide the Army with heavy helicopters?—because they exist. For example, there is the Sea King. That has a weight capacity of about 20,000 1b. Where have they gone? They have gone to the apple of Lord Carrington's eye, the Navy. The Navy has the Sea King, but the Army has not. So I assert that the Rhine Army at the present moment is without modern atomic tactical weapons, without an effective substitute, and deficient in equipment. The recent Commander-in-Chief has said they lack these things. I should like to know what is going to be done about that.

Now I come to the dreadful position in which I find myself. It is nearly thirty years since, in this House, then the House of Commons, I made my maiden speech on Defence. I have attended practically every Defence debate of any kind since that time, and I repeat that I have never seen a Defence White Paper quite like this one. If the late Mr. Emrys Hughes were still alive I am not at all sure that I would not go to him and say, "Emrys, I am a convert". If you are going to have defence, it must be effective when the chips are down. We must have the right amount of firepower at the right place at the right time. That is an old concept, but it is as true to-day as ever it was. If we have not got it, then the day will come —as happened with the Maginot Line—when our bluff will be called. War is a time of testing reality; all the high phrases, all the slogans, are all forgotten. I have never disguised the fact that the Labour Party in the 'thirties had something to explain away, because it was always passing resolutions telling somebody else to go somewhere and do something. I was not; I was still serving, so at least I can be exempted from blame for that.

I do not share the views expressed by the Secretary of State about the high state of morale of our troops in Ulster. Our troops there are pretty fed up. The word "morale" is not used in the British Army, but they are a bit "browned off" in the circumstances in which they live. They will not be very cheered to-night to learn that they have a hundred television sets. I am quite sure that some of them would tell the Secretary of State what he could do with the television sets. I want to read a letter I received from an old American friend, a very high-ranking general with whom I kept in touch since the time when he was serving. Let me say in advance that I do not suggest that what he says about America is necessarily applicable to Great Britain. However, I think that we have to look at American defence and see what is happening there, because sometimes it is looking into a mirror. He says: A complete re-examination of United States defence policy is absolutely essential, for suddenly we find ourselves with forces specifically trained and equiped basically to fight in Vietnam, with discipline, in the Army at least, gone to hell, with the personnel of all three Services now essentially mercenaries in viewpoint, and with pay and perquisites on a scale that prohibits the simultaneous procurement of the kinds of expensive weaponry required in this age. I do not say that that has any relationship to what has happened in the British Army, and that discipline has "gone to hell" or that morale in any of the three Services is at the level described by my American friend, but the point is that our Army at the present time, in its training and in its outlook, is conditioned by its continuous service in Northern Ireland. What happens when that liability is liquidated? What do we have an Army for? What is it supposed to do? Take away Northern Ireland and examine the position of the Rhine Army as it is and not according to the airy-fairy stories put out by the Ministry of Defence. We are spending £3,300 million a year for the Trooping the Colour. It is a wonderful display. I have not got the heart to go and look at it because it is a very large sum of money to pay for a morning out.

If we have reached the position where all we can afford is what the public are prepared to spend, taking into account what the Defence necessities of this country are, the Navy should follow H.M.S. "Belfast" and become a series of exhibits, because it has no role to play, except fishery protection and as a means of conveying and protecting the Army when the Army is called upon—if ever it is called upon—to fulfil an overseas role. What is the role of the Air Force? The role of the Air Force is again, to convey and protect the Army. For that purpose it will need large-scale transport, it will probably need the Harrier, and it will need a close support weapon. What it certainly will not need is this expensive M.R.C.A., which is costing a lot of money. I shall not weary your Lordships by going into the various roles and the purposes for which it is designed. But it is of no weight—only 20,000 lb.— and it is essentially a close support weapon. But it has a purpose, because it is teaching the lesson of liaison between ourselves and the Germans and, to a lesser extent, the Italians. But it is a very expensive lesson.

The role of the Army now really centres upon becoming a corps of military police. What it needs are forces to carry out the kind of role that the Army is carrying out in Northern Ireland—highly trained, well-disciplined forces, with a high degree of mobility and armed with effective weapons. Here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, because we may have reached a position in the world where the use of atomic weapons by anyone has become so utterly unthinkable that it is not really a starter, and if you try to spend money for the purpose of safeguarding against it you may bankrupt yourself trying to ward off a risk which does not exist. Whereas what does exist is an island of 50 million people, living by its trade in the imports of essential raw materials and the exports of finished products, which does not have the economic strength to provide a Navy to safeguard the sea routes. For example, a lot of nonsense is talked about Simonstown, but when I went down there a few months ago it was labelled Rhodesia-by-the-Sea and its military value is just about "nixes". What is wanted is a highly trained mobile force, that can carry out a gendarmerie role in support of its obligations under SEATO and CENTO, in association with our allies and our Commonwealth partners who see Defence problems in the realistic terms that we do, and for the very same reason that we have to—because they cannot afford any other policy. So far as I am concerned, the hunt was up when we gave up in 1956 any idea of conscription.

I had hoped that this afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—and I caught the tail end of his speech when he spoke the other night on European security—would talk about the expense of providing conventional forces. The White Paper gives away the fact that half of the budget goes in pay and allowances. But if you want a cheap Army, if you want cheap Defence forces, and if you want conventional forces on the ground armed with weapons they ought to have, you cannot do it if you have enormous rates of pay and the welfare policy which we have at the present time. This is not contained in the White Paper, but the total number of wives and children born on the strength of the three Services is 534,240. They do not all have to be paid for, because some of them are over the age of 18, but the vast majority of over half a million dependants have to be conveyed and educated, and their parents given financial allowances, all of which is borne by this Defence budget. So that practically 50 per cent. of the Defence budget goes on pay and allowances.

Then the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—this does not appear in any headlines—has to admit that recruiting is falling off, we are not getting the officers we want and we are short of a few categories. Probably, if you press him, you will be told that they are categories which we can do without; for example, ammunition examiners, pharmaceutists or cooks—the humble jobs. But noble Lords should know, when they drive their Rolls-Royces down the M.1 on a night when it is freezing and raining, that if the windscreen wiper does not work the car will not go. It is the same in the Army. An Army is a balanced force. The sparking plugs and the brakes are as important as the engine, and if you do not have a balanced force then an Army cannot fight when the chips are down. Therefore we have this country, of its own volition—this is perhaps part of the price of democracy—and through inflation, choosing to bribe, which is the right word, by increasing rates of pay and providing softer conditions, in order to try to build up the Armed Forces. But it cannot be done, and at the end of the day, when some future Gibbon writes the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, he might even start off with Correlli Barnett's Collapse of British Power, which was recently pub- lished. He might find the explanation of our fall in the following words: The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, may I begin by welcoming this Paper and, in particular, the policy of not running down our Forces merely in the hope of a successful détente. As the Minister himself said, and as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, emphasised, of course we should do everything in the various conferences taking place this year to achieve as wide an area of détente as may be possible. But to run down Forces merely in the hope of such success would be not only dangerous in itself, it would be a very bad basis for negotiation with anyone—most of all with the heirs of a materialist philosophy, where there is no sign of their forgetting Stalin's lapidary words, "The proper basis of international policy is the calculation of forces." The fact that, despite ever-increasing levels of Russian forces, the Russian Press and radio have had the gall to complain of the White Paper and of the Minister, is an indication that they have got the message that Her Majesty's Government, at least, are not going to be fooled.

My excuse for speaking in this debate is that I am an ex-Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Chiefs of Staff, dating back to the concluding period of the last war. So "ex" am I, that I belong to a period even before the time when the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, was a distinguished Secretary of State for War. But there are certain practices which time does not dim, and one of these is that "I" should come before "O"—or an Intelligent appreciation before an Operational plan. It is here that the limitations of an annual White Paper, even so cogent a one as this, becomes evident; for it inevitably concentrates—as this rightly does—on the "Challenge of 1973". All the same plans and weapons systems to go with them inescapably affect the rest of the decade. What then, we should ask, is already visible among the outstanding features of the remaining seven years of this decade on a world-wide basis? Here I would restrict myself to two dominant features for the rest of this decade: first, Russian naval strength and, secondly, the energy gap and oil.

On the first, the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, has already spoken, but perhaps I may remind the House of an article which appeared on January 17 in The Times entitled, "Russia takes her threat to sea". There, evidence was set out to show that Russia, not content with being one of the world's greatest military Powers, was rapidly becoming the world's greatest maritime Power. She already has, it was pointed out, a larger nuclear submarine force than the NATO Allies together; her surface navy is more modern and is equipped with surface-to-surface missiles which can outrange any NATO weapon other than aircraft. In the same vein, the American Chief of Naval Operations is on record as stating that, no matter who does the analysis, he would conclude that on present trends it is inevitable that the day will come when the result will go against the United States Navy. What, then, is this Russian build-up for? Not, we may be sure, for show only; nor to take over the role of the Royal Navy in earlier times of protecting the free flow of trade across the Atlantic and on the seven seas; nor to prevent such satellites as Czechoslovakia and Hungary from making any further attempt to achieve Socialism with a human face; nor for China alone. So why should not the simple explanation be the right one: that it is to complement what Stalin himself called, "The proper basis of international policy, the calculation of forces"?

How, exactly? I do not suppose that the Russians themselves have—and I certainly hope they do not have—a precise military plan of action such as Herr Hitler was good enough to provide in Mein Kampf. But, I repeat, this increased Russian naval capacity is not there for show business; and in winding-up the debate I should hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would be able to tell us that this threat is as clearly seen by our partners as by himself. On this, of course, I welcome the passage on European defence co-operation in the White Paper and, like the Minister, hope that this will at long last go from discussion to action in weapons procurement and otherwise. But this naval threat far outstrips European co-operation, and plans to meet it are almost meaningless without bringing in the United States; so when I say "our partners" in this context I mean co-operation on the widest basis with the United States.

This brings me to the second of the already clearly visible features of the decade—the energy gap and oil. Elements in this gap were debated yesterday; but I shall here concentrate on oil, for however flexible we should be in developing other sources of energy this will take time, and in 1973 what this means is a programme for the 1980s rather than for the 1970s. Hence the importance of oil in this decade. The outlook is ominous. In a seminar last summer by the Centre for Mediterranean Studies attended by various international experts, oil and other, the figure for actual oil consumption in 1970 outside the Soviet bloc was given as 40 million barrels a day, of which 15 million went to the United States and 12 million to Europe. The estimate for 1980 was between 80 and 100 million barrels a day, of which the need for the United States was put at between 24 and 26 million, and for Europe between 24 and 30 million barrels a day. Such statistics are of course notoriously open to error, but as often as not, in the past, this has been due to under rather than to over estimating. What is more, these statistics of between 80 and 100 million barrels a day already allow for a wide margin of error; but to take the lower estimate, the total for the non-Soviet bloc doubles from 40 to 80 million barrels a day from 1970 to 1980.

To turn to the sources of oil, of the actual amount produced of 40 million barrels a day in 1970 the United States produced 12 million and the Arab world 12 million, the balance coming from Iran and other non-Communist sources. Of the minimum 80 million barrels a day estimated for 1980, it is not calculated that the U.S. can produce more than the 12 million barrels a day they did in 1970; nor the remaining non-Arab States, including the North Sea, more than, at most, 33 million barrels between them. The shortfall on the minimum estimate of 80 million barrels a day required is thus 35 million barrels a day in this decade. This can come only from the Arab world, and it is about three times their 1970 production. Worse still, if the minimum figure turns out to be too low the Arab world remains the only residual supplier in this time-scale.

In effect, the industrial future of Europe and the United States (including, of course, ourselves) is to an uncomfortable degree in the hands of the Arab world. I have heard some noble Lords and others argue that "As they can't drink it, they must produce it and sell it". That argument was used in favour of the decision to withdraw from the Persian Gulf in 1968. That never struck me at the time as anything but risky, and the risks inherent in it are now becoming more glaringly obvious. Why should the Arab States agree to increase their production by at least three times during this decade? Apart from a size-able country like Iraq, with around 10 million inhabitants and a capacity for industrial and agricultural development, there is no "must" about it. The remaining Arab countries have just as strong reasons—and more—for conservation of resources as are put forward by some for the North Sea. They can indeed continue with the present level of production to get all the annual cash flow they need, and more when consideration is given to the strong position they are in to demand ever-increasing prices. Just in case anyone is still prepared to cap "They can't drink it" with the assertion that we would have had to get out by 1971 anyhow, let me seek to nail that one, too. We were actually asked to stay; and if money were the difficulty, certain rulers offered to pay. "No, we are not mercenaries", it was then argued—and even, I believe, by the then Secretary of State for Defence himself. Can this really be claimed when he and his predecessors had so rightly done their best to get the Germans to pay for British Forces in Germany? "Never mind", the argument went, "we should have had to get out in the long run".

Maybe, but we are not considering the long run; we should be considering the vital requirements for us, for Europe and for the United States in the 'seventies. With this now in view, the decision to announce in 1968 that we should be out by 1971 may turn out to be one of the most expensive ever taken by any British Government; and I can only hope not. What is more, it was taken without any apparent attempt, such as in the case of our withdrawal from Greece and Turkey in 1947, to ensure that some other arrangement was made with our European and American partners to protect our common future. Once a Government have made an announcement such as we did in 1968. I accept, as the Government have accepted, that there is no going back on it. I also recognise that the Government have done what they can on our own account to pick up the bits left by the 1968 announcement. But since the hazard to western oil requirements is of concern not only to this country but to Europe as a whole, and to the United States, may I ask whether in winding-up the Minister will be able to say if, over and above our single efforts, there is consultation between us and Europe and between Europe and the United States to see what, if anything, can still be done by concerting our policies to ensure supply and means of delivery from the Arab lands? In case either the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, or the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, should misunderstand me, this is not a proposal for sharing our North Sea oil resources; it is to obtain Middle East supplies which in the 1970s we shall need whatever happens in the North Sea. Seeing that Japan's industry has given even greater hostages to fortune in Arab oil, may I ask whether they too are being brought in?

For what is Defence about in this modern industrial age if it does not among its primary targets seek to provide some protection for essential energy requirements; and that not for the 1980s or 1990s or to whatever timescale Lord Rothschild and Mr. Herman Kahn are now properly applying their "think-tanks", but for the 1970s in which we are well embarked and in which elements are already visible and to hand. Therefore while I warmly welcome this Defence Paper, on the questions of the vast and continuing increase in Russian naval strength and the pressing urgency of our requirements for oil from Arab lands, I hope for some further enlightenment from the Minister. Like him, and others no doubt, I trust that as a result of the co-ordination of our policies, defence and others, on an Atlantic basis we may find our way through these visible threats to our way of life. For other threats that are less plainly observable, I hope that the right reverend Prelates who are not here at present will forgive my straying in their preserves and finding encouragement from the Collect for this week which is extraordinarily apposite and might have been specially chosen for any debate on Defence: O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by Thy power we may be defended against all adversity …".

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, I must start with an apology. The Cholmondeley Room is so popular a room in which to entertain people to dinner that when my constituency asked a year ago if I would be host for a dinner in the Cholmondelcy Room, the only date that I could get was March 1, 1973. I am sorry to say, therefore, that I may not be able to be here at the final stages of this debate. There is a horrible and, I think, slightly uncivilised rule that if the host does not arrive in time no one can get a drink. You can understand that in these circumstances I must be there punctually or 150 people will stand first on one leg and then on the other but with no glass in their hand for the first half-hour. I hope that your Lordships will excuse me on that score.

My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend on this While Paper. For the first time for many years we have had a turn up in real terms in the expenditure on Defence. I welcome this fact warmly, but I recognise that if you look in real terms at the Defence budgets of the last decade you see a steady but inexorable reduction at a time when the Warsaw Pact, and Russia who backs them, increases, in real terms again, their expenditure on arms by 5 per cent. every single year. I was listening carefully to the line taken from Labour's Front Bench. In this House, they speak with great responsibility. We may learn more when this same Defence debate occurs in another place. I know that the Left Wing are pressing very strongly for a reduction of £600 million on the present Defence budget. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, was much more careful. He said, "I wonder" if we ought not to reduce—"I wonder" whether we can afford to carry this responsibility. Always the argument from the Left Wing is that we are doing more than our share; ought we not to come down to the expenditure in percentage terms of the French and the Germans? I wish that they would concentrate their minds not on what our friends are doing but on what our potential opponents are doing.

Russia must also be under pressure to spend money on consumer goods. I realise that if you do not have a vote then you are not at risk as a Government, but they obviously wish to be popular in the Kremlin and they have denied consumer goods, motor cars and all the things that civilisation can give for so many years that they must wish to release some of this buying power to that area. But they do not! They are spending not the 5.6 per cent. of the gross national product that we are spending but 8 per cent. and it is going up steadily every year. I have been studying the Labour Programme for Britain as discussed at Blackpool in 1972, and it says: The key to progress on European security lies in the mutual and balanced reduction of our forces. It goes on: The objective must be substantial cuts in the Defence programme of both NATO and Warsaw Pacts. I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, say, "No unilateral reduction!" I am delighted to hear that and I hope that it will be reiterated from the Front Bench in another place. I have been looking up the speeches of Mr. Denis Healey. He is now the Shadow Foreign Secretary and was the Minister of Defence for six years. In a television programme, "Money at Work", in December, 1972, he took the same line. He felt that we ought to come down to the reduced percentage that some of our Allies were spending. When we look at that, we should remember that because of the growth in their wealth on the Continent, they are in money terms spending (in the case of Germany) substantially more than us every year, and in that of France the same as us. So, despite the smaller proportion—


My Lords, in the case of Germany it does not affect their balance of payments.


My Lords, that is true; but they have a very strong balance of payments as a result of their successful industrial policy and as a result of the successful organisation of their trade unions, a matter for which Mr. Ernest Bevin must accept some responsibility as he had a lot to do with it in the early years after the War.

My Lords, I turn now to the alarming thing which is emerging over successive years in Defence White Papers; namely, the percentage of our Defence expenditure which is going on men and on their support and the percentage which is going on hardware. I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, touched on this matter. It is a fact that in 1967–68, 31 per cent. of the Defence budget went on hardware. In the current Estimates the figure has fallen to 26.4 per cent.—nearly 5 per cent. down. The rest of this enormous budget is being spent broadly, if I leave R. and D. out of it, since that is mainly for equipment seven to 10 years ahead, on actual hardware for delivery to the Forces, £887 million. This is only 26 per cent. of the total budget.

This is a most alarming tendency and I will suggest to my noble friend what might be done. Of course in a short debate like this one cannot solve these problems. I know that my noble friend is anxious for any ideas. The U.S.A. is now going to switch, so we understand, from a conscript Army to a professional Army. It may be under the same pressures. Canada, which has a professional Army and not a conscript one, already spends 80 per cent. on manpower and only 20 per cent. on hardware. This seems to be a tendency which is going to spread throughout the democracies. What can we do about it? If we do not do anything about it, we shall finish with very well-trained, well-fed, well-housed, beautifully dressed soldiers, with lovely children, lovely hospitals, lovely schools and lovely wives, but they will be armed with pikes. We need to take action in order to avoid that ridiculous result. There is no easy solution. I would say to my noble friend that of course we need to find ways of economising in respect of this very expensive uniformed manpower. I was glad to learn from the White Paper and the speech that the R.A.F. are "combing their tail". I think it is high time, and if we look to see the number of men behind each aircraft it will be found to be greatly in excess of what is needed in Switzerland or Sweden. There they have almost the same size of frontline airforce but with a very small pro- portion of our manpower figure. The same thing must go on throughout all the Services; we have got to "comb the tail".

Secondly, I wonder whether we are spending too much on training. It is always popular. We are now spending something like 10 per cent. of our total Defence budget on training. Men arriving in the Services now are infinitely better equipped intellectually and better educated than ever before. I wonder whether we should not train them more to the job, and then if necessary retrain them, rather than give them the whole spectrum of training over all the likely jobs they may do during their Service career. I wonder, equally, whether we could not bring in industrial firms to carry out maintenance. It has been proved cheaper in respect of aircraft, and particularly now that we are mainly a home-based or Western European-based Force I suggest that at least half the third line maintenance could be done more economically by industrial firms, with the consequent use of less uniformed manpower. All these tasks may ameliorate the situation, but I hope that the Minister will explore every conceivable new and novel idea, and perhaps set up a committee of civilians to give him some ideas, about how this problem might be tackled. If it is not tackled we shall not get the essential equipment for the future.

Before I leave the personnel side and recruiting, which has been going well but is now declining a little, I wish to make one suggestion. In the debate last year many speakers asked whether, when one year of extra compulsory education is to be introduced, those people who wished to do so could take that extra year in Service schools rather than in the State system—provided of course that the parents agreed. Some 600,000 girls and boys come forward each year, and of those 200.000 stay on longer anyhow, so that the change will bring only another 400,000 forward each year. Half of them will be girls, so that leaves a pool of 200,000 extra young men. Suppose only two in 100 were allowed to opt for this solution, we should not destroy the system or breach the principle of the extra year, and it would still give us 4,000 young people. I suggest that they would be 4,000 maturer people who want the adventure of Service life. I should like my noble friend to consider whether after their year in our Service schools they might not undertake training in summer camps up to the age of 21. This is probably something which they would enjoy, and it would enable them to meet the challenge with understanding and success. Perhaps at the end they might be given a bonus or honorarium, if they honoured their training obligations. So my first idea is to economise in manpower.

Now I come to the much more difficult question, how are we to economise, and yet with the small section of the Defence budget left for hardware get better hardware more cheaply? I think that my noble friend is absolutely right to encourage international co-operation. I cannot see any other solution. I know that it takes longer when you are developing, say, the M.R.C.A. with two other countries. I know that it costs more, but if you do not get co-operation you will not get an aircraft developed at all, and you will not get the various countries to agree to take it. So one has, I think to work towards international co-operation. Something else to which I am always attracted is what I call "horse dealing"—saying to our allies in Europe, "We will buy your helicopters if you will buy our tanks." Unless we do this I cannot see how we are to get the new weapons, or see the research and development, in which we are investing a lot of money this year, producing the results we all desire.

My Lords, finally I turn to the theme which was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia; and what I am going to say is, I think, complementary to what he said in his admirable and well-informed speech. Everyone in this country should be worried at our tremendous dependence on overseas oil supplies. This dependence will continue throughout the 1970s—and that goes for Western Europe every bit as much as for the United Kingdom. My Lords, 57 per cent. of Western Europe's oil comes from the Middle East. In the early 1980s, ten years from now, 60 per cent. of all U.S.A. oil will be coming from the Middle East because their own resources are being worked out. What will happen? We therefore have 24,000 ships every year carrying oil, other raw materials, and food round the Cape. Of these 12,000 stop and revictual and refit and do maintenance in South African ports, but only a tiny percentage, about 1.2 per cent., are South African ships.

Other people have asked, "Why are the Russians expanding their nuclear submarine programme at its present rate?" There are 104 nuclear submarines in operation already in the Russian fleet, that is hunter-killer, and missile firing submarines. They are currently building at the rate of over twelve a year and launching a new nuclear submarine every month. It is all very well to come forward with the olive branch of peace, and to talk about détente, yet drive ahead with producting a weapon which cannot possibly be used or contemplated, with the numbers now being built, for their own defence purposes.

So I come to the question: Why cannot we, as members of NATO, play a bigger part in the defence of these vital shipping lanes? The North Atlantic Assembly has woken up to this fact, and the Military Committee has submitted a recommendation to the Council which says: The Assembly, considering in particular the naval threat to NATO'S vital sea lines of communication now come largely from outside the limit of the North Atlantic Treaty area, recommends … to give SACLANT authority to plan for the protection NATO—Europe's vital shipping lines in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic including surveillance and communications. In view of the threat to our "jugular vein" in that area which is so desperately exposed, that seems to me admirably sensible.

In South Africa we have the Simonstown Agreement. There they have expanded Simonstown and its capabilities. They have built an up-to-date maritime headquarters which, I am sorry to say, is largely equipped with Telefunken equipment and not British, although we are in the forefront in this respect. They are anxious to buy Nimrods. Not by any stretch of the imagination could this very sophisticated maritime aircraft with most sophisticated electronic equipment in it (I went on a Parliamentary visit with other noble Lords to look at the working of this admirable aircraft) be thought to be used against anti-guerilla forces in the north part of South Africa. So what is against our saying to the South Africans, "We can offer you some of these, or loan you some, provided you can undertake that it is not going to be used for internal security purposes." We could supply some Nimrods. If we do not do that, the French will. Already they have supplied vast numbers of Alouette and other helicopters. They have supplied armoured cars and all sorts of equipment. They have demonstrated there the Atlantique, a competitive aircraft not nearly so good or so sophisticated. I should like to ask my noble friend: could we not, in the interests of NATO and of our own security, give a demonstration of the Nimrod in South Africa, and consider ways, which should be acceptable to both sides of the House, in which this aircraft could be used to secure the safety of our vital oil supply lines? I should like to add one other thing about South Africa. Although maritime headquarters is there, equipped, to be shortly opened and made operational, there are not satisfactory communications between ship and shore. I would ask my noble friend, in the interests of our supply lines, that this deficiency should be cured.

My Lords, perhaps I may summarise what I have tried to say in, I think, the 23rd Defence debate in which I have spoken in 23 years. First, I congratulated my noble friend that he had for the first time secured the spending of more money. I would say, too, in this context that I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, when he says that it will be more and more difficult to persuade the up-and-coming generation, not just in the country, but in the House, and perhaps even in the Cabinet, that we have to spend an increasing sum on Defence. Therefore I congratulate my noble friend on having achieved this end. I hope, by the way, since we are agreed on this, that this is one area where we need not divide the House, but both sides can agree that we must have a reasonable proportion of our G.N.P. spent on Defence.

My second point was that I was alarmed at the rising cost of manpower and the falling money available for hardware. This is a most alarming tendency, and I hope that my noble friend will try to do something about it. Thirdly, I urged the exploration of novel methods to stop this tendency continuing as it has for the last ten years. Lastly, I urged the Government, in conformation with the NATO view, to do what they can to strengthen the defence of the supply lines so vital to this country and to the freedom of Western Europe, and particularly the supply lines round the Cape.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, if we believe that Defence is necessary in order to ensure our survival, then it should be adequate and efficient. If it is to be adequate and efficient, we have to find the money to pay for it. That is inescapable, whether we like it or not. The White Paper indicates that we are going to spend rather more than £3,000 million in the next twelve months. Of course we may not spend the whole of it; it often happens that some of the funds that have been allocated are unspent. But that is by the way. This is a substantial sum of money. What depresses me about this debate—I say this with respect to noble Lords—is that when we are about to spend a vast sum of money, which the nation in existing circumstances does not appear to be able to afford, I would expect much more interest to be exhibited by noble Lords. It may well be that noble Lords having heard the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, make his speech (and, by the way, if he will allow me to say so, it was an excellent speech, delivered with his usual lucidity) came to the conclusion that no other noble Lord mattered in the least I can understand that. After all, this is not a matter that concerns exclusively your Lordships' House; it is a matter for the whole nation. But Members of your Lordships' House should take advantage of a debate of this kind to indulge in penetration in order to ensure that, if a vast sum of money is to be spent, it is going to be spent with value to the nation, and to ensure, as I have said, that our Defence is adequate and efficient.

My Lords, this White Paper is by no means exceptional or original. It is similar to almost every White Paper in the last fifteen years, ever since Mr. Duncan Sandys decided on a reorientation of our Defence strategy by switching over from conventional forces to the nuclear strategy—and he made that clear in the Defence White Paper of about 1957. Ever since that happened, we have done two things—and this must have been noticed by noble Lords who have attended previous debates and perused the contents of previous White Papers. We start off by saying that we want peace; we want to be on good terms with our neighbours; we want a détente; we are ready to go on talking even if talks do not seem to be of value—and already two noble Lords who have spoken in the debate have pleaded that we should go on talking. Then we become realistic, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has done in this White Paper, because having pleaded for a continuation of talks in order to promote security (if that is possible in existing circumstances, or in the foreseeable future) he then makes it clear that we have to exercise the utmost caution. When the phrase "the utmost caution" is used, I would regard that, in the existing international situation, and with the vast range of manpower and equipment at the disposal of the Soviet Union, as perhaps the most remarkable understatement of the year.

What is the situation? In May of last year there was an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States of America on the strategic arms limitation. What did they decide? They came to what might be regarded as a gentleman's agreement: "We will not attack your capital with our missiles, and you on the other hand will agree—because we know how gentlemanly you are, and how conciliatory you want to be—that you will not attack our sites; and we also agree that we will run down some of our missiles". It ought to be noted that they forgot to mention the warheads. It is all very well talking about suspending the manufacture, or even the use, of missiles, but it is not the missiles that cause the danger; it is the warheads. There is no mention of warheads in the agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. The situation is not so bad as regards warheads, because the United States have far more warheads than the Soviet Union—I say that because I do not know how many the Soviet Union have. Incidentally, in this matter of the SALT Agreement, there is no question of verification, by which it might be assumed that the Soviet Union, in their customary fashion, will come to an agreement about the reduction of arms and then proceed to build them up to the highest peak in order to make them available in the event of an emergency. That is the situation. Now there is talk about the mutual balanced force reduction, which is going to promote security. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, believes a word of it; I do not believe anybody does.

In any event, let us assume that we meet the Soviet Union along with some of our allies in Europe and we begin to talk, and we talk, as the noble Lord has indicated in the White Paper, from strength. What nonsense! Talks from strength! How can we compare our strength with the strength at the disposal of the Soviet Union? The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, mentioned it in the course of his speech. He told us that the Warsaw Pact, which includes the Soviet Union, has twice the number of divisions that we have, and far more tanks and far more of everything in the way of equipment and hardware than we have got. What do we mean "from strength"? There is no question of strength. We have not got it and I deplore it.

Here I want to digress to say that there are many people on my side of the House, in the Party to which I belong, and many people outside, who are anxious to promote peace and who are not concerned about defence. Some are not concerned about it because they do not like to spend the money. Others would prefer to spend the money on something else. In the existing situation, I say to my friends who have pacifist views, who revolt at the idea of spending vast sums of money on defence, that if we do not spend what is necessary on defence, even if we are not up to strength but merely as a gesture to a potential enemy, in association with our allies, we are taking a risk that nobody in this country dare do. That is my opinion. We have to be realistic.

I should prefer, naturally, that the Soviet Union would display a more conciliatory attitude; I should prefer that it should be unnecessary to spend a penny on defence; I should prefer that the world at large came to the conclusion that war was a disaster, a calamity, a catastrophe that should be prevented—and what I am saying would, I believe, be accepted by every noble Lord in the House and everybody outside. But let us not indulge in self-deception in a matter of this sort. We did so before the last war. I remember well those debates in Parliament in which Winston Churchill, the honourable exception, took part and said the right things and issued the right warnings. But he gained little support even from his own side—in fact, less from his own side than from my side of the House. I can recall how Neville Chamberlain—and I say this with no disrespect to that gentleman who has passed away—when he thought it was possible to come to a conclusion over the Czechoslovakia affair, even went to the length of believing that Hitler was an honourable man. It is all on record. And as a result we failed to build up our defences. I say to noble Lords that whether it was in the course of two world wars or whether it be in a future war—though I hope that never happens—unless we have allies on our side, as we had in the last two wars, it is the end of us.

That brings me to what I think is the most fundamental point in this matter of defence. We can talk about hardware. I have heard the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, talk in this strain in the other place, and often to advantage. My noble friend Lord Wigg, whose speech appeared to be somewhat abrasive, was challenging, and rightly challenging. It is very important to challenge, not out of malice, or because one is ill favoured, or because one does not agree politically with the views of the other side, but in the interests of the nation. There ought to be challenging and more penetration in matters of this kind in order to get to the facts. These things, in my opinion, are not irrelevant—the matter of hardware or whether you have helicopters here or helicopters there, or the matter which one noble Lord, speaking from the Cross-Benches, brought forward of the need for protecting the oil rigs and ensuring that we get an adequate supply of oil in the future. These are all very important. But the fundamental issue is whether, in the event of emergency, we have an ally on our side.

Who is to be the ally? If we are to have allies we want allies who are strong. What are the possibilities? There is the European ally. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has indicated in the White Paper that as a result of submissions made by the United States of America, not for the first time, on the strengthening of defence in Europe and the West, or possibly on his own volition, Government decided to spend some £500 million as an increased contribution to defence. It sounds all right, but what is the total contribution which is being made by the rest of our allies in NATO? We are to spend over £500 million; all of them together are going to spend £625 million. I do not think it is good enough. I know that Belgium, perhaps, has not the financial capability and the Netherlands may be in a similar plight; and possibly West Germany feels now, because of Ostpolitik, and a manœuvre which may be valuable, though mere speculation, she is not prepared to weigh in as she ought to. As for France, she is out of NATO. We have to recognise the facts. Their total contribution—Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, is £625 million, and we are contributing £500 million. I know the argument against me. It has been used by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a previous debate. He would say in reply to me, "If our allies are unable to pay or are unwilling to pay there is no reason why we should not contribute something in our defence." I do not think it is a valid argument. They ought to make their contribution to a much greater extent than they have hitherto been disposed to do.

The question of manpower cannot be dismissed, and I will come to it in a moment. In this respect, Denmark decided to reduce the period of national service from 12 months to 9 months and there is a demand that it should be reduced to 6 months. The period of national service in those countries is very low indeed. Therefore, from the point of view of manpower they are not puling their weight. Manpower is a subject which was partly dealt with by my noble friend Lord Wigg. He has been an expert on this subject. He has advocated compulsory service in circumstances where it appeared to be essential. I do not suggest that we should introduce compulsory service; it would be anathema to many people in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, said that the United States is turning to a voluntary army and abandoning compulsory service. I would not be quite so sure I about that. It may be just a temporary decision arising out of what has happened in Vietnam. We shall see. So far as we are concerned there is a possible alternative to the present situation.

Now a word about recruitment, because it bears on this matter. I notice, by the way, that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in the course of his speech never said a word about recruitment for the Army. Why not? It is not an easy subject to deal with, and he has not a very good answer if he has to reply to the question: why is there a decline in recruitment in the Army? That fact is in the White Paper, but the noble Lord did not mention it in his speech.


My Lords, the noble Lord does me an injustice. I went out of my way to say that I would deal with that point in my winding-up speech.


I see. My Lords, there will be some other questions put to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, so he will be fully occupied when he comes to wind up. What ought to be done about this situation? I want to repeat what I have said in previous Defence debates that I have taken part in since I came to your Lordships' House. On every occasion I have pleaded for more reserve forces. What have we got? We have about 55,000 in the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve. In this Paper we do not distinguish between the Territorials and the A.V.R. Can we have some information about how many are associated with the Territorials, and how many are associated with the A.V.R.? I ask that question because I understand that the A.V.R. units can be sent overseas without proclamation. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will tell me whether I am correct. It is most important because in an emergency it is very desirable if we are short of regular manpower to be able to switch men who have been, not highly trained but partially trained, to supplement the manpower in the Regular Forces.

Regarding NATO, why not something in the White Paper about Nam? I remember putting down a Question to the noble Lord some time ago. I asked about NATO and I was told that it had nothing to do with us. We could ask questions about the British Army, the British Air Force, the British Navy or British De- fence in general, but one must not ask questions about NATO, because we have no control over NATO. But we are affiliated to NATO; we are closely associated with NATO, we are integrated with NATO. We should have more information about the strength of NATO. Could we have a little information in the winding-up speech about how many men are at the disposal of the Federal Government of West Germany? That would be very useful information in contrast to the knowledge that some of us have of the manpower at the disposal of East Germany. That is a very formidable number indeed. Could we have a little information about the manpower at the disposal of some of the other countries associated with NATO? Could we have more information about their equipment, and their training? Regarding headquarters staff, I noticed the other day that General Walker said that some headquarters were overstaffed—and in fact I am not quite sure whether he said understuffed or overstuffed—and in fact I am not quite age for a General to use. I do not go so far as that. He may be telling the truth, I do not know. I used to know something about it, but not now. We ought to get the information from the noble Lord. I put it to him: should we not have more information about NATO'S contribution in manpower, hardware, and all the rest, and what it is doing in the way of strategy in order to satisfy ourselves that our association with it is worth while? That is a fair question.

Having said that, I have a few more questions, and then I will sit down. For the purpose of accuracy I have written down the questions. I think this is the first time since I came into your Lordships' House that I have written anything down. I have done so because I want to save time. Some of the questions may overlap some other questions that have already been asked. What about research and development? In the White Paper there is an item of £485 million for research and development. May I ask the noble Lord whether that includes research and development on nuclear weapons and materials? My understanding is that from 1965 to 1971 we spent over £900 million on research and development in the nuclear field. I could give the noble Lord the figures: I have them somewhere. We spent about £160 million on fissionable material, and about £390 million on Polaris submarines, to which my noble friend, Lord Wigg, referred—


My Lords, I wonder whether I might save the noble Lord time and say, "Yes, it does".


The £485 million refers also to research and development associated with the nuclear field. I am satisfied about that. I wanted to make sure that we were spending the money at the right place and on the right things.

The next question is important in relation to manpower. Could we have some idea of the number of teeth as compared with tails in the Army? It is all very well to say that we have 150,000 Regular men in the Army, only to discover that probably about half of them are the tail. We want less tail and more teeth. Perhaps the noble Lord would furnish not only myself but other noble Lords with that very useful information.

I want to put this final question: what does the statement on page 2, at the end of paragraph 5 mean? I quote: Only negotiation from strength is likely to produce equitable agreements. There must, therefore, be no unilateral reduction in defence capabilities in the West. Does that mean that we are not going to yield? To that question I should like an answer that will satisfy me. The kind of answer that would satisfy me would be an assurance that we have no intention of yielding to Soviet blandishments. I hope that what I have said is not offensive to anybody, in particular to some of my noble friends who dislike the idea of defence or arms, or the use of anything of that sort. I want to be realistic in this matter. I should like to dispose of the whole thing, but it is impossible in existing circumstances, and it is impossible if we look ahead in the foreseeable and remote future. I want to ensure that we have the capabilities in our possession now and in the future, and with our allies—particularly the United States of America—in order to ensure our survival.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, the great thing about this White Paper is that it continues the policy under which the Services maintain their stability and their professionalism. I live near the big Army headquarters on Salisbury Plain and I have never heard of an officer, or a man, who is not really proud of his job and who is not entirely satisfied with his pay and conditions of service, and that is very good indeed. Finance has been mentioned by previous speakers. My only remark is this: if we could reduce the 5.5 per cent. or 5.6 per cent. of G.N.P. (or this awful figure of £3,300 million) to the average for NATO, it would save £600 million. But I fail to understand how you can produce a White Paper of this kind. I simply do not believe it is possible. I think exactly the opposite, that the NATO countries ought to average 5.5 per cent. of their G.N.P.

Having said that, the White Paper to my mind gives a lot of useful information and is very good. I should like to deal with two points of policy and make one mechanical suggestion. The first point is about the strategic deterrent mentioned by my noble friend Lord Wigg, and the second is about the difficulties in the Far East if conditions there should worsen. With regard to the strategic deterrent, we have heard a great deal in recent years of the theory that our policy is a flexible response, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and various others. We are inclined to forget that the foundation of this policy is in fact the deterrent nuclear strategy behind it, especially the strategic forces of the U.S.A. The British contribution is only four Polaris submarines and is very small indeed.

Referring back to the United States, what seems to have been forgotten is that they really have two strategic nuclear forces, one to deter nuclear attack on the United States itself, and the other to prevent the same sort of attack on Western Europe. These are the I.C.B.M.s and the old-fashioned long-range bombers—which fly continually, by the way, and if you had ever been to Nebraska you would find out about that—but the force which interests us chiefly in NATO is the very strong strategic nuclear forces in the U.S. Army, Europe, the U.S. Air Force, Europe, and the Sixth Fleet because they each have deterrent nuclear capabilities. So I read paragraph 4, about the non-slackening of the Soviets on this subject with some interest. They are building 90 new silos—it says here that they are under construction for their inter-continental ballistic missiles. This country, by the way, has been under the threat of 700 or 800 medium-range ballistic missiles for many years past, so I am entirely against the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. Come what may, we ought to have a strategic nuclear deterrent of our own, however small. It was once the Royal Air Force bombers, and now it is four Polaris submarines, and they are able to inflict unacceptable damage on the Soviet Union. It is a good thing we have that up our sleeve—and, incidentally, it costs only £39 million.

My Lords, to my mind, therefore, of the three conferences mentioned on page 1 of this White Paper, SALT, C.S.C.E. and M.B.F.R., all of which bristle with their own difficulties, the first is the fundamental and important one. That must go right or the others have not got a hope. Now that the Soviet Union and the United States realise they can destroy each other and therefore have a responsible attitude with that knowledge, I am very happy with the nuclear trigger at present being in the hands of the President of the United States. The French Minister of Defence, M. Debré, said in April, 1971, in the Foreign Affairs Magazine that the decision to employ nuclear weapons can only be made by a single nation. I think he was absolutely right and that therefore any move which puts the decision into the hands of two nations—for example, this suggested nuclear arrangement with France—would be fundamentally wrong from that point of view. I will not repeat what I said during the debate on European security because that would be rather tedious.

Although the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, mentioned the Gulf, and some feel strongly about that, the fact remains that the threat is, in my opinion. in Asia, and in this affair we ought to keep a sense of proportion and remember that the British Army is rather smaller than the United States Marine Corps. If we remembered that more often, it would be a help. I have said this before, but it bears repeating: that whereas in Europe not a shot has been fired for the past 28 years, in Asia we have had a series of wars for the past 28 years—the Malayan emergency, Korea, confrontation with Indonesia, invasion of East India by the Chinese, the two Indo-Pakistan wars, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, not to mention the shelling of Taiwan and the skirmishes between Russia and the Chinese on a river whose name I cannot find out. Thus, although peace has been signed in Indo-China, the outlook is one of more troubles and more wars ahead in that part of the world.

My Lords, although the leaders in Singapore will tell you—as they have no doubt told the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—that there is no outside threat at this moment, the outlook is not at all good. I fail to see why the Hanoi Communists should give up their original objective, which was to get a foot in the door of the Saigon Government, and although they will use political pressure to that end as soon as the Americans have evacuated—and they are allies, by the way—if necessary they will use the ten Northern Communist divisions which they have always pretended are not there. When I raised this subject in Bangkok two years ago and also a few months ago, the officials there always changed the subject when I said that the war in Indo-China could go wrong. Incidentally, my Lords, it is only 300 miles away, which is the distance from here to Edinburgh. But they always changed the subject; I got nothing out of them at all.

The situation is much better than it was because of the Five-Power defence arrangements which the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Defence had a lot to do with. I will not repeat what is in that force, but the fact remains that it is an agreement not to fight, but only to consult. Therefore, although we have very strong moral obligations to go to that part of the world if they are really in trouble, we obviously could not do so at this moment. To-day is not the occasion to discuss the dangers of the situation in Asia, but there it is.

That brings me back to Northern Ireland. This seems a sudden reversal, but it is basically because the British Army has not got enough battalions. I think it has only 48. Two years ago, in the Defence debate, I referred to the great difficulty in finding the 14,000 men in Northern Ireland; now it is 17,000. We have to use seven major units from B.A.O.R. of which five are infantry. Their time out of action, away from B.A.O.R., is six months by the time you have added time for leave and retraining. This situation means that one-third of our corps of infantry are occupied by Northern Ireland. This requirement colours every decision, however small. I am afraid I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg—I am sorry he is not here at the moment—about the morale of our troops. I have visited them twice in Northern Ireland in the last couple of years and their morale is extremely good and very professional. I could tell anecdote after anecdote to prove that, but I do not think it is necessary on an occasion such as this. The question is, to my mind (and it is an impossible one to answer): how can we reinforce the Far East troops to the strength of a brigade group? This is the least we could do, with this trouble in Northern Ireland going on—and, incidentally, we are extremely lucky not to have a confrontation with Indonesia, if the situation is as bad as I have heard portrayed.

That brings me to the final mechanical suggestion, which is connected to what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said about the teeth preferably being stronger than the tail. In B.A.O.R. the R.A.F. have given us a lesson on this, because they are manning three extra squadrons of Jaguars, two extra squadrons of Buccaneers and eight Nimrods, which is quite an appreciable force, by streamlining their personnel. I know it is more difficult in the Army; but the fact remains that it can be done. We have done it in England. We have knocked out Western Command, Northern Command and others, and we have got our headquarters in one place. So it can be done. B.A.O.R. is a force of something over 50,000. There are five armoured brigades and one mechanised brigade, so that means six unavoidable H.Q.s. But for this Force, which contains only thirteen infantry battalions, there are 11 H.Q.s. I think that is too many. Admittedly, it is very difficult, but I well remember commanding an H.Q. of a similar size and strongly recommending that it be reduced. I left before this occurred, but I cannot help feeling that in B.A.O.R. we ought to do the same as we have done in England, and that in spite of the great distances involved in West Germany, which is a very big country, they ought to be reduced. The prize is great. Supposing we saved 15,000 men, that would be equal to two infantry battalions. I know which I would rather have.

6.23 p.m.


My Lords, I am presuming to take part in this debate as one of the pacifists referred to by my noble friend Lord Shinwell, and I realise I am playing a fairly egregious role. I have no lively anticipation that I shall procure any large number of conversions; indeed, it would be a miracle if that happened. But who am I to complain about miracles? What I believe to be necessary is that the pacifist colour should be included in the spectrum of reaction to this particular set of proposals in the Defence Estimates. For that reason I am taking part in this debate, because I speak from the pacifist position, which is in brief that the whole arbitrament of violence is unjustifiable and immoral and therefore ultimately impracticable in fact. I was, naturally enough, alerted when the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, referred to the collect for the day. I must agree with him, of course, that this Chamber will not place any confidence in what it is doing to-day, for indeed the ultimate question that seems to arise is not so much whether certain proposals should be accepted or disregarded, but whether the basic principles upon which those propositions are raised are justifiable. I have to say out of an experience that I hope is sincere that certainly I would seek in some measure to argue that I do not believe that to be true.

I should like to begin on a rather emollient note and say that it is within the recollection, I am sure, of your Lordships how things have changed—and many of them to advantage. It is not so long ago that Clausewitz said that war was a continuation of policy. There will be very few of your Lordships who would believe that still to be so, though many of us, of course, would have to admit that war can often be a consequence of policy. To my comfort, there has to-day been an entire lack of anything that could possibly be called the glorification of war. For that I am profoundly thankful too. But I recall that on Monday we were invited during prayers to pay attention to a particular psalm which asked the rhetorical question: "Who is this King of glory?"—to which the psalm provided the answer— The Lord of hosts … That is of armies— … strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle … he is the King of glory. I do not know whether this was a Freudian slip or a Homeric nod on the part of the Bishop who selected this psalm, but certainly the noble Lord who introduced the debate was far more Christian in his outlook than was that particular psalmist.

There are other changes which are equally to be welcomed though they may not be so immediately recognised as the two to which I have just referred. I have the uncomfortable feeling as I listen to debates about Defence that we are moving in a Cloud Cuckoo-land and at the end of our coruscations and discussions are even more remote than we were at the beginning from any realistic appreciation of the life we are trying to live. For instance, I find it impossible to regard the superstructure of defence mechanisms as having any validity unless they are built upon a foundation which is itself sound. It is my conviction that the foundation is not sound, for a number of reasons which are becoming increasingly obvious to me. The first of them is that we now live in a situation where I believe almost every noble Lord who has taken part in this debate has referred to the imprecision, and the necessary imprecision, of our preparations for Defence in conditions where it is impossible for us to foresee a future or to view the situation very realistically—as my noble friend Lord Shinwell said, "When you cannot be as strong as the other man, make a gesture which will more or less compensate for your lack of strength." That does not seem to me very sensible.

I believe it was the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who referred to the disparity between David and Goliath. I take it he was on the side of David, but my sympathies were entirely with Goliath. There was a man, loaded down with about half a ton of armour and only able to move about three miles per hour; and a nasty little boy standing well out of range was throwing stones at him, and having knocked him unconscious, then proceeded to chop his head off. I do not find that an edifying story, but it is illustrative of the truth that we are talking in the dark about conditions which may change overnight. Many of the weapons to which we are addicted are obsolete, and many of the provisions we make for to-morrow may be completely hamstrung by events that we can neither foresee nor prevent. It is the increasing unpredictability of the whole apparatus of violence which is an increasing argument to take more seriously the pacifist case that violence in itself is no longer permissible and in fact does not produce results. That is the other side of the coin.

There is an inefficiency in this vast expenditure of money and risk of life which I do not believe to be permissible. I am bound to say that various arguments to which I have listened to-day do not persuade me that things are better in Ireland because troops are there. It is a very dangerous statement to add that I would prefer to see them withdrawn. It is, I should have thought, a very pugnacious and inaccurate thing to say that within the last 20 years the effectiveness of armed intervention has been proved. Nothing seems to me more obvious than the fact that the greatest, most sophisticated and powerful military machine the world has ever known has been bogged down in the morasses of South Vietnam and has had to crawl out defeated, or at least unvictorious. I believe these are evidences of a change of outlook to which people should give increased attention. Therefore, although before sitting down, I would make a final submission for total disarmament, I would recognise and respect the purpose and intention of the first pages of this particular document. I believe that a process of disarmament is in fact a more practical approach to the very problems which, quite honestly and sincerely, are being faced.

I cannot but believe that there is about as much violence in the world now as there was in the Dickensian era, but probably not much more. The difference is that to-day those who are violent can extend their violence beyond the end of their fist or the flight of an arrow, and by the pressing of a button the impact and influence of that violence can be lethal and widespread as never before. I should think that one of the most practical things that could be done in a society which is beset with the opportunites and incentives to violence would be to evolve a way in which we could reduce the power of the actual instruments and apparatus of that violence. That is one of the things which I would advocate as being the corollary of an understanding of the situation now in a world which is besotted with violence and in which 60 million people are wasting their time getting ready to kill one another or at least getting ready to use the weapons by which they could kill one another.

I believe that there is a greater threat to life and liberty in the shortage of housing in London than there is in the proximity of a general invasion under certain conditions on the part of, let us say, a Soviet Power. I believe there is a greater need for housing in London than there is at this precise moment for more sophisticated weapons in Bonn. If it is argued that this is the cloud cuckoo-land that I suggested the Opposition are living in, I would make two observations. One is this: a man who has a gun in his pocket is conditioned by the very possession of that gun and is not likely to seek other methods of defence. May I give an illustration of this? During the First World War I was a bayonet fighting instructor (I saw the light later on) and I was educated in that somewhat sordid exercise by a veteran from the trenches. One day when he was instructing us in unarmed attack I asked him how many people he had ever seen use unarmed defence. His answer was that no man who had a shot in his gun would think of any other method of defending himself than the exercise of that gun. I believe that is true, and I believe that to-day if we cannot—and it is my aspiration that we might make a stronger effort to do so—improve the morals of people, we can at least take out of their pockets the very instruments which, in their lack of moral fervour, are an incentive to violence; and in the international sphere I cannot but believe that this would be a salutary process.

I now wish to speak of the number of friends of mine who, in past days, supported the programme of unilateral disarmament. Perhaps they are somewhat thin on the ground to-day, but certainly I can count on the spiritual presence of some of the Bishops, who would support that proposition. I still hold to the belief that multilateralism is the fruit of disarmament and not its seed and that unilateralism is the seed of disarmament. Sooner or later the various projects and programmes and conventions and conferences in which I rejoice and which I hope to see fructify are energised only when somebody is prepared to take the initiative—to take the risks which belong to that initiative. I think it is high time for that to be done, particularly with the non-success of the anti-proliferation movement, with the proximity of the French nuclear tests and with what I firmly believe are strenuous efforts on the part of some countries, such as Israel, to provide their own nuclear weapons. I should think that to change the direction it is much more necessary for some country unilaterally to make an adventure in peace-making than for it to listen to the siren tones in which it is invited to become stronger, to find stronger allies, and, by that process, to produce the deterrence of fear.

I have made a plea for something which I cannot logically defend as I would logically defend a proposition in Euclid, if I could. I am making a plea for something which, for me, belongs to the faith I hold. Therefore I will presume to finish by saying this. We have, over the centuries, made tremendous, lethal, world-wide risks in the use of weapons and we are now on the threshold of a society which is in many respects more violent and in most respects more dangerous. To ask merely that we should make a like and comparable experiment and take a comparable risk in having no arms might appear to those who have been indoctrinated and conditioned by the exercise of violence to be a ridiculous, and in fact a dangerous and stupid suggestion. But suppose we were suddenly confronted with the conditions to which we have been acclimatised. Would it not appear as a reasonable redemptive process, particularly to those who believe that this is essentially a good world, that instead of embarking upon further programmes of insanity in which reason and common sense recede even more definitely into limbo, some country should, even at the height of its difficulty and in the presence of its dangers, make such an experiment? In this country we have made experiments of like risk with tremendous and beneficent consequences in the past. You will allow me, my Lords, to make a similar plea in the name of the faith I hold and in the interests of the country I love.

6.36. p.m.


My Lords, once before I had to speak immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and I was faced with the same difficulty as I am in to-night. I have been a soldier all my life but I am no less Christian (I hope) than the noble Lord, Lord Soper. Christ himself had a lot of time for soldiers—and particularly that centurion, the company commander. It has been said that we are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but we are living, and I would propose to your Lordships that we are living because of the protection of our Armed Forces. Mention has been made of those who are without discipline and using a knife; they ought to be in the Forces, where they could hold the knife with safety and with discipline. But to-night, my Lords, I speak with some sadness. This very morning I gave up the Colonelcy of my Regiment, the 9th/12th Lancers, after six years, but with some pleasure as I handed it over at the same time to my noble friend Lord Grimthorpe, so at least it is in the House. I have just come back after a week in Germany, partly with the British Forces and partly with the German forces, so I have seen at first hand what is happening there on the ground, and it is about the more practical problems on the ground that I wish to speak.

I missed the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, but I read with interest what he said about the power of the Russian forces, and I listened with interest to the end of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, for the same reason, because our safety depends on the credibility of the nuclear deterrent, which I believe is there, and that of the ordinary conventional deterrent, and of that I fear there is some doubt. The very fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, mentioned, of our Forces having to be deployed in Ireland means that, however hard the Forces in Germany work, they are not operating as efficiently as they were before the Irish problem came up. We would therefore have to rely more on that power which provides most of the land forces in Germany, that is the German Army, and unfortunately we cannot rely on their being entirely operationally efficient. I was horrified to meet some Germans who told me that in one regiment recently there was a 69 per cent. absentee rate on the morning of Monday, and it was never less than 50 per cent. on any Monday. There is almost—I will not say a total lack of discipline but a grave lack of discipline, because of the over-political control on the German Army. No one is asking to see a German Army such as there was in the last War but most soldiers are longing to see a return of a German Army with some form of territorial and regimental positions which would give them a chance to be efficient, which they long to be. They know what is wrong but they have not yet been able to put it right, and now I am free to speak, one speaks as an ally to a friend when one has to say this.

There is another problem in Germany which is also a practical one. The fact that so many soldiers are in Ireland, some going to Cyprus, some going to Canada, means that their wives are left behind in great numbers and with not many to look after them. They would have loved to see T.V. in Germany, for the British. This subject has been raised before. I asked a Question last year and I was told that it would be examined, but that there were difficulties. I accept that there are difficulties; those difficulties may have been great then, but they should be overcome now. It is a real problem for those enormous number of families where the wives are left, and happy to be left, by their husbands. They know it is the duty of the husbands; they marry soldiers and accept that they have to split from them. But how much easier it would be if a form of British television was available for them. Perhaps video-tape cassette would help. I know that the Royal Air Force have been looking into this in Germany and the Army perhaps has been rather slow trying to help on it. Some things could be given up by the Army in return for having television. I know that there are problems about wave lengths when using the national network. This is not necessary. It wants to be done on a garrison basis with a video tape. The "Colditz Story" could go to one garrison for eight weeks and then move out to another one. It cannot be beyond the bounds of possibility, and I do hope that we can get some help.

It was good to see that all parts of the Army there were training to fight, and that includes those troops who are on a perhaps unfair turn today, those headquarters troops. With a moving battle that might come in Germany a great many mobile headquarters are needed. They are all fighting headquarters for the most part. Some cavalry bands I saw training as stretcher bearers, and some I saw were training as rifle patrols and were very shortly going out in that capacity to Cyprus. They are ordinary bandsmen but are now training as soldiers and that must be to the good. So when you add that, a bit of that tail is coming on to the teeth, which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, mentioned. Some soldiers, and I among them, are worried about what has recently happened in Ireland. We thought that we were trying to restore peace in Ireland, and that being democrats the majority of people in Ulster wished to live allied to this country and to the Crown and to be part of Britain. People are wondering now whether there are more people in Ulster supporting Mr. Craig's view—loyalism which means anti-this country, anti-the British Army, and anti-the Queen—than there are who are going to support the others. If there is a silent majority which really wants to be loyal to this country, let them speak because there are doubts growing in a lot of people's minds. It is a pity that in those regiments (particularly cavalry regiments where squadrons go out at a time to Ireland) the Colonels are not allowed to visit, and in fact are apt to be discouraged from visiting. Again, it would have been helpful to be able to come back to talk to the wives of the members of that regiment and tell them What their husbands were doing, particularly as a civilian who can have more effect in talking to the wives of the regiment than can a serving officer. They feel that the serving officer is probably saying it to keep up the morale, whereas a retired officer going out could have done some good in that way, I believe.

As to the T.A. of this country, I agree so much with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, that the strength has been built up but for the most part they are all committed to roles, and I believe that we want a reserve force which is not committed to any specific role. It is always the unexpected that occurs and if one has a reserve, however small, it would be extremely useful for any circumstances that may arise. Another point in the T.A.&V.R. is that recently I chose a young officer who is at Cambridge University. He is already a lawyer and has just taken a degree in international law at Cambridge. He had been in an Armoured Squadron for the whole of his time at Cambridge. He had been attached to an infantry battalion and had got his territorial commission. He wanted to become a T.A. & V.R. officer in a Regular regiment. I arranged it. He went to my regiment for a two-weeks' detachment and liked it so much that he wanted to sign on as a Regular. I then wrote the necessary papers and asked the necessary questions, only to be told that it would be necessary for him to do an academic training course at Sandhurst. I can hardly believe that to be true. It may be that an academic course means a military course for academic officers, but it was not put to me like that. I do hope that this matter can be sorted out. But at the moment I have lost a very good Regular officer who could not be more academically trained.

Another point on the academic side of the Army is that the junior leaders' regiments in all the corps are doing a power of good. They are going to suffer when the change in the school-leaving age comes about. I believe there is more academic training done in the junior leaders' regiments than in many schools, and it is a matter for consideration whether a boy should not have the right to opt to go to a junior leaders' regiment instead of doing his last year at school—knowing that he will get almost the equivalent of academic training there. It will be good for the Services and good for the boy, and also good for the schools who would not have to keep a chap who does not want to be there. There is something else we are going to need in this country still, although it is unpopular at the moment. If we are going to do our duty and have the proper deterrent we must have training areas. There is a lot of attack going on on the training areas we have. The tanks particularly must have a training area of reasonable size. It may not always be possible to send everybody over to Canada to be trained in the wastes and vast spaces there. We must have some space to train all units regularly in this country. The pressure on the training areas in Germany is immense and it is like a queue going in and out. We must, I fear, have some there.

One last point—and this, I suppose, is slightly personal. Although I have been successful, there has been too much attack from politicians on all three sides (I have already lost favour with the other two Parties) on senior officers taking directorships and executive positions in industry. Heaven knows why! Who are the politicians to criticise senior officers going into executive positions in industry? Have we not had a fortune spent on our training—and not only military training but economic training at defence colleges, and that type of thing? Have we not had some experience in economy? We perhaps might be even more successful than some of the political Parties have been in the economy, and perhaps even more so in getting on with fellow human beings. I do hope that we can be allowed to prove that we can do our part for this country as well.

6.47 p.m.


My Lords, everyone must sympathise with those whose responsibility it is to organise the defence of our country. We can talk but it is their responsibility to act. Yet without relaxing in sympathy one cannot forbear uttering a restraining word. Because it is my sincere belief that their honest act may only further embroil the very problem that they seek to solve. The reason I am on my feet is on behalf of the youth of our country, and therefore on behalf of our future, because I foresee the gravest danger of a real generation gap. It is an age gap that, unless closed, will play havoc with the very purpose for which defence is designed. We of our generation think in terms of country, it is our lifeblood so to think. But more and more our youth think in terms of humanity, all humanity. We in our generation think in terms of Western alliances. It has been our habit through decades. But our youth strain forward to think in terms of world community. We think of politics—Party politics, international politics—but our youth spend much more time on pollution and population. They have a growing conviction that pollution and population must have precedence of decision if ever international politics are to have meaning two decades ahead from now. We want to be sure of friendship with our allies, but youth want much more to be friends of the earth.

Because such an analysis by me will have little effect on your Lordships, and rightly so, may I dare to give two short quotations? One is from the Prior of Taize, that modern monastic movement in the South of France that is a product of the Reformed Church. In the 'sixties it was a quiet, pioneering, churchy experiment, but last Easter weekend it was invaded by 16,000 young people to join its worship and to hear its word—not registered, not convened, but coming spontaneously together suddenly, in tents and bivouacs, living in holes in the ground. Here is its leader, Prior Roger Schultz. He wrote in Le Monde last year: The youth of the 'seventies are quite different from the youth of the 'sixties. They cannot be said to be hostile to the Church. Rather they refuse to take it into account. They are not interested in reforms. They are awaiting the birth of something new. They cannot stand diplomacy and cleverness. Aware of being intensely integrated into a human community on a planetary scale betrays in them a new awareness of the universal. They look for their fulfilment in terms of a political society socialised at a universal level. This has taken the place of the Church. This means political involvement and often a revoluntary option. That is the end of the quotation.

My other quotation is more strictly a "happening" to relate our country to that mood. The Student Christian Movement, known to all your Lordships, was hesitant of direction in the 1960s, but it came to vibrant life again a few weeks ago at Huddersfield: 350 young people clamoured to confer; 100 extra at least sought to join them but could not find room. The subject was "Seeds of liberation." The speakers were Bishop Winters, recently hurled out of South-West Africa, and Father Berrigan, the Jesuit, from the U.S.A., recently released after a long prison sentence for burning draft cards. There was the cream of our universities seeking the nature of non-violent revolution.

So far I have simply sought to glimpse the danger of the generation gap, a rapidly growing chasm which we will disregard at our peril, if we simply go on to arm, and arm, and arm, with whatever sincere intent. For instance, we are now in the Common Market. With the exception of Ireland, every other member of the Common Market has conscription. If we just go on to arm, and arm, and arm, shall we read in two years' time that conscription is on the way in the United Kingdom? If so, I dare prophesy that the troubles of this present time—I mean railway strikes and teachers' strikes and civil servants' strikes—are not worthy to be compared to the commotion that will be revealed in our streets led by some of the bravest of our students. Because we seek to shrug off now the ultimate issues we shall find ourselves, for all our vast expenditure and our sincerity, bereft not only of physical power but of spiritual power.

It happens, by the luck of the cards, that in the last eight days I have been speaking to students at Glasgow University and at Trinity College, Dublin and at Oxford. In no case was I speaking of armaments or indeed of pacifism, but in every case the issues before us today came up in their questions. It is only a few weeks since Father Berrigan was speaking to them in Dublin, and nowhere in the whole town could they get a hall large enough to accommodate all who wanted and thirsted to hear him.

What is it that bemuses them in such places as I have mentioned, Huddersfield and all? They are bemused by present vast expenditures. To talk in money terms of 1913 and of now is of course quite meaningless, but juxtapose the value of the pound now and the value of the pound in 1913. Students are bemused that to-day we are spending four times as much preparing for war as we were then in similar money terms. Students are bemused that across our potentially united earth no fewer than 40 million men are engaged in armies or arms making, though for the passing moment there is no war being waged. And they are bemused by our pompous talk of Security Councils with their strictures, when they know the reality of South Africa. Since Sharpeville, 12 years ago, South African military expenditure has gone up eight times. In 1963 the Security Council placed an embargo on military equipment going to South Africa. Yet the most sophisticated weapons continue to ooze into South Africa from Governments and companies who, when it comes to a matter of profit, do not care one dottle for the Security Council. This is what bemuses them.

True, there was elation, again, when Willy Brandt, despite a tiny majority, persisted in his détente with Russia, knowing full well that such would threaten his success in the coming election. They were elated when in fact he amazingly won and gave hope at last of alleviating the tension; only to be dashed down, as it seems to us, when on the very eve of new possibilities in Geneva, Vienna and Helsinki we seem, at any rate, to be almost intentionally throwing a spanner in the works by increasing our armaments lest by any means these conferences might succeed. That is what it seems like to youth, dashed down indeed. Yes, and further dashed down when every three weeks or every two months snippets appear in the all-too-obedient mass media, just a vague muttering about the coming of yet another nuclear force, inevitably shared with Germany, and it seems inspired by Britain, to set fire again, surely, to all Russia's suspicions. It is this, and this, and this, that bemuse our young people as to the ultimate integrity of politics.

Again it is hard for us old ones to see it as they see it. For us old ones there still lingers the possibility of the doctrine of a just war, in our being, if not still in our minds. We still think that the end justifies the means. There still lingers the conviction that the tiny pacifist witness through the centuries is always to be respected but is eccentric and always has been eccentric in the colloquial as in the strict meaning of the word, off centre. After all, with us older ones there still lingers the idea of chivalry as possible in war. Even I can just remember Mafeking when Baden Powell was surrounded. They did not fight on Sundays because that was hardly a nice thing to do, and so the beleaguered British officers played polo because they were so bored. Yes! —polo on a Sunday. You may remember that the Sabbatarian Boers, strictly Dutch Reformed, sent in a white flag to Baden Powell condemning this desecration of the sabbath. The letter is extant of Baden Powell's apology to the Boers and his promise that sabbath polo would cease. Can we say that that was the end of chivalry in our lifetime?

And oh! the rapidity of the declension. Came the bloodbath that was the 1914 war; came the madness that was Versailles. In the 1930s even the Church of Scotland set up a commission to see whether there still could be a just war. It reported that there could be, but said: If there was ever a deliberate attack on the civilian population, on men, women and children, then in effect the Church of Scotland must withdraw from the war even at the cost of defeat". That was 1938. Came Dresden, before the atomic bomb, when we obliterated 100,000 men, women and children in an undefended town—the only soldiers present were on leave—and this to demoralise the civilian population; and not a cheep from the Church of Scotland. Came Hiroshima when we took the ultimate of being, we took the atom, we took light energy—and Christ said that He in His body was the light and the life of the world—we took the body of Christ and used it for bloody Hell. I am trying to keep my language as accurate as possible. There is nadir. It was Pope John who said, "It is impossible to conceive of a just war in a nuclear age". We all know that he was right. It is the use of that violence that is now eccentric, off centre. What youth, therefore, are now striving for is the power of non-violence as the only centric way now and at our peril do we seek to write them off.

President Truman gave his reason for dropping the bomb, and I respect his sincerity absolutely. He said that he allowed it because it was bound to teach the nations of the earth other ways of settling international disputes. It has not happened that way, has it? The U.S.A. have now got locked up in cupboards nuclear power for warlike purposes equal to the Hiroshima bomb dropped every day for the next 600 years—and youth know it. Said Prior Roger Schultz in Taizé: They are not interested in reforms, they are waiting the birth of something new. They cannot stand diplomacy and cleverness. They look for their fulfilment in terms of a political society at a universal level. He added: This means political involvement and often revolutionary option. Are we just to write them off and build our navy up to what they said they would build theirs up to? Please do not dismiss it all as sentimental claptrap. At least listen to Sir Basil Liddell Hart, the greatest of war correspondents. Before he died he wrote an article in a book called Strategy for Political Defence, published by Faber, a book about non-violence. Liddell Hart says: Nuclear war is not war at all as it defeats its own disciplined object". I again quote him: To make non-violent resistance a national affair will be an extremely difficult task. Probably the most important thing is to educate people and convince them it is a workable policy. He went on: Of course there is a very long way to go before any Governments begin to see the relevance of the idea of civilian defence. The more Governments realise their incapacity for military defence the more they will begin to take non-violent civilian defence seriously. He ends: There is great value in making civilian defence a serious subject for study. This is the kind of book that these young people are reading. Dare we regret it in the light of the nuclear bankruptcy?

But there is another word that I must say, and it is my last and most important word. I am trying to close this generation gap, because it is the young people who will have to live with the decisions that "we old ones" make now. It must be said, because Britain cannot stand alone, and it is about the United States, the youth in the United States. Again by the luck of the cards I was lecturing in Princeton University less than a year ago, and by the luck of the cards I will be lecturing there again in the course of the next month. I was not talking pacifism or non-violence then, and I am not going to in a month's time; but I am saying all that because I am a little in touch with American youth, and they are further ahead than we are in all I have said—yes, even in prestigious Presbyterian Princeton. Less than a year ago I hit the campus at a certain point of the Vietnamese crisis. The very day I arrived 68 students had been arrested for a "sit-in" at the Pentagon "think tank" on the campus. This was not a riot, just a disciplined sit-in. Each student was had up in the court and put on bail for 100 dollars—£40—a high bail for just sitting down. But within 12 hours on Princeton campus alone they raised £3,000 (not 3,000 dollars), to pay the fines. Sixty-eight may be a minority, but they had the backing of the whole campus. They had the backing of the President of Princeton; and they had the backing of the Chaplain, who wrote the story of the River Kwai. He is a Scotsman who was in Malaya, a prisoner of the Japanese.

The point I am making is that it is an accumulating mass of youth that is thinking this way. It is partly because they doubt our credentials in being really honest about the opposition to Russia and China. I have an American paperback here costing a dollar. It came out in the U.S.A. three months before what I have just described. It has not been out yet a year. No doubt some of your Lordships may feel impatient that I advertise a paperback from America But wait a minute! It is about politics, and its circulation is 3¼ million copies I got that information yesterday from the printers. Therefore, may we assume that something like seven million young Americans have read it? It is by Garry Allen. It is called, None Dare Call It Conspiracy. It is obtainable here. I say this merely to get it into Hansard so you can look up the address to-morrow and conceivably one or two of you might get it from K.R.P. Publications, 245 Cann Hall Road, London, E.11. When I say "it is obtainable here," you may have to wait. Such copies as they get are snapped up in an hour.

Now that I have given the source there is no need for chapter and verse. There is no need for me to say "I quote" and "end of quotes", because you can get all the chapter and verse you want in the book. It is the most shocking book I have read in twenty years. What is its drift? Essentially that Russia and China are more and more financially indebted to a vast "world-wide network" of persons and companies of great wealth in the West. Not to get money, but to hold power. So that if ever communism should win they could tell the Com- munist leadership where to get off: and take control themselves. It starts long before Russia or China were the objectives. Coming into this century it refers to Cecil Rhodes, with his incredible dreams stemming from his earlier days in Africa, sufficiently summed up in a single sentence by his biographer, Sara Millin, "The government of the world was Rhodes' simple desire". It continues with the first foundations of the Round Table: the move of the Round Table to America: gradually the emergence of the "Institute of Pacific Relations" and "The Council of Foreign Relations", and the later emergence of the Bilderberg Conferences in Europe, and their increasing influence in the States. All as fronts (can we say) for this "network of international monopoly capitalism."

It goes back to the well-known story of the start of the Russian experiment; how international bankers first financed Lenin, and the vast sums he later paid back into a well-known American banking house (all names and details are in the book); of how Trotsky decided to join Lenin and go from America, but was promptly arrested when his ship called at Nova Scotia, the British Ambassador within days ordering his release that he might go to join Lenin, which Trotsky proceeded to do. As symbol of its stories (all documented) there is the brilliant young man who, in the 'sixties, was a top adviser to the President, and tried to turn the state of things in the Dominican Republic in favour of the Communists. This became so notorious that he was soon out of Government service, only to become (in no time) the new president of the Ford Foundation.

There is the unbelievable (but carefully documented) story of how the great foundations—the Ford, the Carnegie, the Rockefeller, the Pugwash and many others—set up tax free consortia to further good causes. There is chapter and verse of how another Foundation gave thousands to Black Power. Chapter and verse of how another Foundation gave large sums to finance student unrest. There is the terrifying story (all names supplied) on lend-lease to Russia, of the major who discovered his boss in 1943 had shipped to Russia the latest know-how on the atomic bomb. When the major flew to Washington to reveal all he was threatened with severe disciplinary action. He was later ordered to approve, as lend-lease, several shipments of refined uranium, more than sufficient to produce an atomic explosion, and not to put them down in his book.

Enough. It goes on and on, and when you finish the book—with the other seven million—you cannot believe it. You read it again to wonder why there has been no case of criminal libel from half a hundred names and firms and Trusts. You end by becoming aware that there is not really a Democratic Party and a Republican Party in the United States. But there is a "Property Party" with world-wide ramifications, of whom (in the States) the Democratic Party and the Republic Party are simply the Right Wing and the Left Wing. You realise then why nearly half the American electorate did not go to the polls to vote at all at the election of the President; only 56 per cent. voted at all. The young people stood back.

At last you begin to understand the extraordinary reply of the Secretary of the United States Treasury in an interview in May, 1969. He, the Secretary of the Treasury, was asked, "Do you approve of the latest credit tightening moves?" He replied, "It's not my job to approve or disapprove. It is the action of the Federal Reserve Bank". This is what the Secretary to the Treasury said about a bank whose accounts have never been made available to Congress.

At last one begins to understand the remark of Congressman Charles Lindberg, the father of the airman, when he said, "From now on, depressions will be scientifically created". At last one begins to understand the well-known words of Reginald McKenna (lest you imagine I simply speak of America) when President of the Midland Bank. He said: Those that create and issue the money and credit direct the policies and hold in their hands the destiny of the people. Of course I know what some of your Lordships are saying about the present speaker: you are saying, "What simpleton is this? Does he not know that all that he has been saying (and the like of it) has been the history of our perfidious world since the beginning of time?"

Does he not know how right was the chairman of Barclays Bank D.C.O. at their annual meeting in 1970, when some students protested at Barclays Bank put- ting up large sums of money for the Caborro Bassa Dam in Mozambique? The chairman said to the young people, You young men must understand that the trade of this world is so intertwined that if you bring principle into it there will be no international trade. In other words, he confirmed the whole burden of my song: "Where profit is concerned, to hell with principle!" Of course I am aware that it has been so since the beginning of time. But, with great respect, are these noble Lords who have been asking that question aware that, for the first time in history, the people are aware of it? The students are aware of the nature of our society and they are prepared to face it, but they are not going to die for it. Die for Queen and country when they did not know—O.K. But they are not going to die for I.C.I. and Royal Dutch Shell and Westinghouse Electric, whose G.N.P. next year will be greater than the G.N.P. of Belgium.

However many bands are playing, they are waiting for the birth of something new. They cannot stand diplomacy or cleverness. They look for their fulfilment in terms of a political society socialised at universal level. As a whole world seems like to die of fear and debt and doubt, would it not be wonderful if Britain gave the lead to the advanced nations, if Britain were the first of the nations to say, "All right we will take the risk. Right!, we trust you. We begin to disarm. Do what you like."? Might we not hear at last the gathering sigh of relief, if only gradually, from the Urals to the Himalayas, from the Rockies to Mount Etna? If not, Martin Luther King had the words: It is either non-violence or non-existence.

7.13 p.m.


My Lords, we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord MacLeod, of Fuinary, for a most interesting paper, very beautifully read. I think I detected, certainly at the very end and near the beginning, an echo of the message which we also received from the noble Lord, Lord Soper, which we have heard before and I venture to hope we may hear again, because it is salutary that we should hear it from time to time. It is a good message and a true one, also, alas! a very sad one, but I hope that the noble Lord, in particular, will not cease to deliver it.

The idea of unilateral disarmament cannot be any thing but a good one in theory. In practice, I doubt it and for two reasons. The first is that I do not think it works. It has worked once. The only case that I can think of is that of Tibet, which some centuries ago gave up its conquests in the North of India, renounced the use of force, beat its swords into ploughshares and sat down, dedicated to the way of peace. For several centuries nobody was interested in Tibet, until the Chinese decided to move in; so the end of the matter was not a very pretty one after all. Also, I do not think unilateral disarmament can work for this reason. A country may adopt a pacifist attitude, may decide, as the noble Lord, Lord MacLeod, hopes it will, that it will disarm and not fight. That depends on a total shift of public opinion, of public intelligence—public evolution, if you like. There are signs that that may come. Perhaps it will; but no Government, no Parliament, no Secretary of State for Defence can conceivably introduce a policy requiring any nation to do that, because we are here as representatives, and in another place they are there as elected representatives, of people who trust Government and Parliament to do what they can to keep them safe. So long as that is so, this argument for pacifism and unilateral disarmament is a non-starter. Nor, I am afraid, has it very much to do with the White Paper.

There is one thing only that I wish to put a finger on in the White Paper, and that is a little matter which I think carries with it the seeds of danger; that is, the possibility of complacency coming in, not in the Government and not in Parliament but possibly in the Opposition and certainly elsewhere. Paragraph 5 in Chapter I states: Her Majesty's Government continues to make a constructive contribution to current efforts to bring about a further relaxation of tension and a more lasting peace in Europe". I should be happier about that if the word "further" had been left out, so that the White Paper spoke of "current efforts to bring about a relaxation of tension", not suggesting, as it does, that tension is already relaxed and that efforts to ease it are not something new.

Here we have the first echo in the White Paper of the word "détente", which is a word which has probably been heard more in this debate than in any other. I have not counted, but I know that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, used it three or four times in a few sentences—and why not? But there is a danger in this word. It means, roughly, an easing of conditions of international relations. If it comes about, well and good. Then, by all means, tension is relaxed. But has it come about? Certainly there have been a great many changes and they were most ably set out in his speech by my noble friend Lord Carrington. But have the Russians changed in any way in their attitude to what they propose to do to the rest of the world? The position is spelled out in paragraph 4 on page 1, which states: There is no sign that the Soviet Union is anticipating the outcome of negotiations"— that is, on M.B.F.R.— by a slackening of its defence efforts. We have heard over and over again in this debate, and it is indicated in the White Paper, that their efforts military-wise, so far from relaxing, are increasing. Therefore I am rather sorry to hear mention of relaxation of tension as though it were something that was going on. I should like to know that the tension in the Ministry of Defence, of all places, is just as high as it was, and I suspect that it probably is, too.


My Lords, I may have used the word "détente" two or three times, but I fundamentally agree with what the noble Earl has said.


My Lords, there was no suggestion of criticism of the noble Lord in what I said. I merely meant it as a statistical fact that I happened to note at the time. I may be thought to be making a mountain out of a molehill, but the fact is that people do not make mountains out of molehills. That is the speciality of the mole, and it might be just as well to look at what kind of a mole it is that is likely to make a mountain out of the molehill to which I have referred.

I would draw attention to a document which has already been mentioned by my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing—Labour's Programme for Defence, published in 1972. In that, we read: The key to progress on European Security lies in the mutual and balanced reduction of forces for which the West called in 1968. I do not think that M.B.F.R. is the key to progress and security. I think it is the key to progress in economy; it is an economic matter. I believe my noble friend the Secretary of State himself said that in different words. The paper went on: If M.B.F.R. is achieved, we shall have the same balance of armaments as we have now Only the quantities will be reduced and consequently the cost. There is no increase in security and it is a mistake to think that there is.

I have here another quotation from the same paper. It reads: The objective must be substantial cuts in the defence programmes of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, so organised as to guarantee the people of Europe at least as much security as they have enjoyed until now. That is a rather more moderate and realistic approach—"at least as much". It is quite unrealistic to suppose that we shall get more. The future is full of dangerous possibilities for woolly-minded optimists, whom I think we hear.

My Lords, again I should like to refer to something on which my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing touched. Mr. Healey, speaking at a television interview, said: … at the moment we are spending about 5 per cent. of our gross national product (that is our national wealth) on defence. Germany is spending about 4 per cent.; France rather less. I think it is quite intolerable that we should join the Common Market carrying an additional handicap there when we are not the country most directly concerned". Where our own defence is concerned, and we have defence commitments and responsibilities outside NATO, we most certainly are the country most concerned, and the percentage of our gross national product which we choose to spend on defence has nothing whatever to do with Germany or with France, or even with the Common Market, which itself has nothing to do with defence. Mr. Healey went on to say: … if you ask me where we should make the cuts in order to get down to their level"— that is, to the level of the other NATO countries— I would say we should discuss this with our allies and work it out with them". I repeat, my Lords—" order to get down to their level". Was it through inadvertence, do your Lordships think, as I should like to believe, that the right honourable Gentleman said that? I think not, because in answer to another question he said: … I believe myself that we could get down to the level of our major partners in Europe without any jeopardy to the security of the Continent as a whole". Is it really possible to believe this? Is it possible for Mr. Healey himself to believe it? If it comes to that, does he really believe that the average defence expenditure of NATO countries represents a field in which we can talk simply of levelling down? Should it not, as various speakers have suggested, be more a question of levelling up to our standards, rather than down to those who are acknowledged to be paying too little?

All I can tell your Lordships, in answer to the question as to whether Mr. Healey himself can believe this, is what he himself said in 1969, when he was Minister of Defence. He was resisting an Amendment trying to cut defence expenditure by about £650 million, which I believe is about the amount that we would save if we cut down to the NATO average. This is what he said: … I warn my honourable Friends who agree with the Amendment … that once we cut defence expenditure to the extent where our security is imperilled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools. We have a heap of cinders. I believe that the contribution we are making to the defence of Western Europe through NATO is an indispensable condition for achieving all our social and economic aims".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons; 5/3/69, col. 551.] I think I have said enough—I am sure your Lordships will think so, too—to indicate a little why I believe that there are forces at work that will strengthen and fortify complacency. They are at work here. I have given one example of a man of great distinction in the Opposition, who was presumably talking like this within the Opposition, and he and others within the country. He was not merely indicating that everything is all right, or is more all right than it was and we can sit back and relax, but also that we ought to, for reasons that have nothing whatever to do with defence. This is the only point I wish to make. I think there is no détente. Déetente in any general sense is improbable; I think M.B.F.R. is almost totally unrealisable; and am inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, when he says he thinks that the Secretary of State does not believe it himself. That is my personal opinion, like his. I do not believe it. I think we ought to go on trying for it, but it would be quite wrong for the country, as a country, to withdraw. I admit there is a tiny possibility, but it is no more than that. I wish strength to the Secretary of State for Defence, and I congratulate him on what I believe to be an extremely satisfactory White Paper.

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, the Secretary of State and the White Paper have indicated that we are moving into a period of change, that negotiations are starting in a number of areas and that the opportunities of improving our safety in the world of defence are greater; and there is a vaguely optimistic tone in the White Paper that is before your Lordships' House. We are travelling hopefully. But I know your Lordships will not imagine that all change is beneficial. It may well be that the Russians are laying a trap for us. My noble friend Lord Shinwell seems to believe so. The Chinese certainly think so. Here, perhaps I may say that the White Paper issued by the Secretary of State has received an extremely good Press in China. There is one factor which nobody has touched on except en passant in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and that is the results of the French elections, which will be made clear on May 12, when the count has taken place. Quite frankly, I am worried by this situation because, although we have not discussed it, nevertheless the risk exists, first, that the union of the Left might win a substantial victory, which would not in itself be damaging, but that then the Communist Party within the union of the Left might take over that Party. There is already public disagreement between the Socialist and Communist wings of the union of the Left, and it is very well possible that France would not only as now, refuse to take her part within the defence structure of the West would but withdraw from it completely. This would be a situation which could be extremely damaging to us. We ourselves know from the situation in Northern Ireland that we can inflict very grievous wounds upon ourselves, and I shall be much happier when I see what happens after the French elections.

The White Paper notes the growth of Communist power. All your Lordships will remember its recent use in Czechoslovakia, but it needed the Czechoslovakian Government themselves to remind us of something which many of us have forgotten; namely, that in 1948 a democratic Government in Czechoslovakia was overthrown by a Communist Party which claimed only 38 per cent. of the votes of the electorate. That led to the death of President Masaryk through an unexplained fall from a window in Prague, in the Czech tradition. I believe that the situation in any country where Communists hold as much as 20 per cent. of the popular vote is one of inbuilt instability, and that is why I hope most profoundly that it will not be too long before Social Democrats in this country move into Europe and become involved with the politics of the Left in Europe. Indeed, this would be one of the cheapest ways of aiding the defence of Western Europe. My Lords, I do not trust the Russians. We all know their capacity to indulge in the crudest form of power politics. And may I say that I support fully the last two sentences of paragraph 5 of the White Paper, in which it is said that we must negotiate from strength and must not indulge in any unilateral reduction in the defence capabilities of the West.

The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, asked: "What strength?" One of the troubles when we debate a Defence White Paper is that we tend to think purely of the British components within NATO. In fact, we have the whole strength of the NATO Alliance behind us; and that is very great. It is not really a matter of pessimism, but there must be no unilateral reduction by any individual nation in NATO while the present negotiations are going on. This Russian threat, as any other threat, can be countered if we will pay the price. This is the fundamental problem that we and all our NATO allies have to face.

My noble friend Lord Shepherd, who opened from this side of the House, was misunderstood. He was not saying that we were spending too much on defence. What he said was that there was a new generation coming along who might believe that we were spending too much on defence, and that this was the real risk. It behoves us all to spend the resources available as effectively as we can. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to make one or two suggestions in this field, because while I believe that we are striking a fairly proper balance of forces and that we are getting reasonably good value for money, by improving the techniques and developing on lines which have already been started, we may get a larger return from our expenditure than at present. The case of the Royal Air Force has been mentioned and welcomed on all sides. I myself have welcomed the steps that were taken last year in creating the control ships, in moving responsibility for expenditure further down the ladder of the Ministry of Defence. After one year, I understand, this system is working as well as can be hoped and expected. But further steps can be taken.

I have always advocated decentralisation of responsibility over expenditure. In this connection I should like to ask the Secretary of State for Defence if my interpretation of Chapter 5, paragraphs 21 and 23, of the White Paper is correct. These paragraphs refer to the dockyards and to the Royal Ordnance Factories. The wording in both cases is the same. As regards the dockyards we read: Improvements to management systems in clude the extended application of operating accounts … with the objective of introducing a trading fund system in due course. As regards the Royal Ordnance factories, we read: A trading fund will be brought into operation on a notional basis from the beginning of 1973–74. Am I right in thinking that it is the intention of the Minister of Defence and the Government to run these great enterprises on business lines? In my understanding, a trading fund means an independent banking account. In a sense you can regard the efficiency of a dockyard or of a Royal Ordnance Factory as being judged by the return on capital invested in strictly commercial terms. There is no reason why this should not be so. We repair warships at private yards; we repair them in Royal dockyards. The guidelines of cost must be the same in each case. I would welcome this. It was an idea that came to me when I was an Under-Secretary at the Navy many years ago and responsible for dockyards. If what I believe is true of the policy, I welcome it.

My Lords, we then turn to collaborative projects with our allies. These are important and we all welcome the M.R.C.A. project. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that this is the cheapest way of building an aeroplane. It certainly covers research and development and spreads it over a wider field: but production costs of harmonising three conflicting needs tend to raise the cost of the aeroplane. However, the great benefit that we get from this operation is a common logistic basis. As we ail know, one of the strengths of the Warsaw Pact countries is that they have a common logistic basis; they have interchangeability of weapons their ammunition is interchangeable. We are only slowly moving towards a comparable interchangeability in our weapon systems.

Finally, I welcome strongly the fact that we are moving steadily towards a common tactical approach to our common defence problems. The fact that we have joined the organisation called FINABEL, and the fact that the Eurogroup is growing in strength, must in due course mean that we shall have a common defence policy and shall be able to harmonise our tactics and weapon systems with our allies. This is something which will increase the strength of the alliance disproportionately and at the same time reduce our total costs.

Having made that point, I should like to move on to a question which is related to it. I noticed that within the Euro-group, a sub-group on communications is put forward as an important element of the work within the Group. It is quite clear that nations can collaborate and operate together only if they can communicate. I believe that one of the problems faced by the fleets of European NATO members is that we have no common communication system. May I ask this question in relation to the through-deck cruiser which was first ordered this year and which has a command control function? What can this particular ship command and control? Would it be capable of controlling a European fleet? Could it bring under its general communications network the ships of Germany, Belgium, Holland, France (if she is willing to collaborate) and Italy? I believe that we shall not really achieve a genuine European defence entity until we have a completely common communications system throughout.

While we are talking about the financing of defence, may I make my contribution about the danger of talking about the proportion of the gross national product as applied to defence in a comparative sense between nations; for this is an argument that might turn very sour on us. Noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, have pointed out the problems that we are facing, in that as both the cost of equipment and manpower rises, more and more is spent on manpower and less on equipment. I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the Mawmer Report which was made to the Defence Minister of Germany. Herr Mawmer is a Social Democrat and headed a commission to study this problem. He came to the depressing conclusion that unless Germany spent more on defence, a larger proportion of its gross national product, by 1980 only 7 per cent. of the German defence budget would be available for weapons. I am reasonably certain that the Germans will not accept this situation and that they will raise their proportion of gross national product expended on defence.

If we try to tie ourselves to defence on a purely numerical figure of the proportion of our product that we spend on defence we may run into serious trouble.

Finally, my Lords, I have one point to make before commenting on one or two of the speeches made in the debate. Very rightly, the dilemma of our troops in Northern Ireland has been commented on and their conduct has been praised, but I believe there is one specific problem we ought to look at rather more carefully. My noble friend Lord Shepherd indicated that I proposed to raise this point. The individual who suffers most from the death of a young soldier in Northern Ireland is probably his wife, and there may be one or more young children. I understand that the position of these young widows is a very unhappy one. They are having to struggle very hard to retain a reasonable standard of living. I consider that we must treat the events in Northern Ireland as something different from a military operation. In fact, it is a police operation and the Army is there because the police forces that were there when the trouble broke out were unacceptable to one element of the population and the Army had to be interposed between two elements in Northern Ireland.

The point I wish to make to your Lordships is that since this is a police rather than a military operation, would not some system of insurance for young soldiers against being killed or wounded in Northern Ireland be possible? There is a group insurance policy run by the Police Federation which covers members of the Federation if they are killed or seriously injured while on duty. There are policies which enable young pilots to insure against being killed in the course of their duties. Would it not be possible to use existing machinery to cover the type of risk experienced in Northern Ireland, which is quite different from anything else that we are doing? We note that recruiting for the Army has slipped rather badly. Although I do not know the exact causes, I am fairly certain that the tensions created by continuing service in Northern Ireland must play a part in it.

My Lords, the evening is drawing on and I have made the various points that occurred to me as I read the White Paper. I thought that a number of excellent speeches were made during the debate and I was particularly sympathetic to the comments of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who made a point so obvious that we all overlooked it. He said that if we reduce our forces in a balanced way, so that after mutual reductions the same balance remains, we are in fact not very much safer as a result. The balance of terror is smaller but it remains. Nevertheless, progress is being made. A number of noble Lords pointed out that in the West we have lived in peace since 1945, and in my view this indicates that our policies in the West have been, on the whole, correct, and I believe that they should be continued. Next year's White Paper will appear when a number of factors at present unknown will have been clarified; and perhaps next year we may hear something new from the Secretary of State.

7.45 p.m.


My Lords, I do not think that I could possibly complain about the reception that this White Paper has had or about the speeches that have been made this afternoon, though not all of them, by any means, have been in agreement with what is proposed in the White Paper. But I think there were valuable contributions, and if I do not refer, for example, to the speeches of my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery or the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, or the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, it does not mean that I do not think they were excellent contributions. May I start by apologising to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, if there was any inconvenience in having the debate so soon after the publication of the White Paper. It is a question of the timetable of the House, and next year we will certainly look into it and meet the convenience of the House. I would only hazard the observation that some noble Lords do not seem to have been unduly put out by the shortness of time, judging by the length of some of the speeches I heard this afternoon. I will try to deal with some of the points made in the debate and not to make another speech; in other words, I will try to answer some of the questions which were put to me.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, raised a number of financial points. He did not think that on the whole the other NATO allies, other than the Americans, were bearing a fair share of the burden in Europe. As has been said by a number of speakers, we are spending something like 5.8 per cent. of our G.N.P. on defence, compared with the European average of about 4.2 per cent. on NATO definitions. But that is only one part of the index of the effort. For example, of our European partners, France has, in cash terms, been spending about as much as we have. For some time Germany has been spending rather more than we have, so I think that one has to look at this subject in the round.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, expressed concern about the adequacy of pensions paid in certain circumstances as a result of service in Northern Ireland. This is something I have been worried about and I have been looking into it. There are, of course, various types of benefits available to Servicemen who are injured, or the widows or dependants of those killed, as a result of terrorist violence in Ireland. There are "attributable" or war widows' pensions and allowances paid by the Department of Health and Social Security, regardless of the rank or length of service of the man. There are invalid and family pensions paid by my own Department for those who have completed certain periods of service, and there are awards by the courts of compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation (Northern Ireland) Act 1968, some of which have been pretty substantial. Nevertheless, I think that there are cases, especially of young men without much service, where injury or death can leave a man's family hard up. I am engaged, as perhaps noble Lords may know, in a review of our arrangements in this respect. Though I am not ready to make a statement this evening, I have very nearly reached finality and it will not be very long before I shall be able to make a statement.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, also asked about the £523 million variation between the Public Expenditure White Paper and the Defence White Paper. There is, of course, one year difference in the price base between the two documents, but in any case the figure quoted by the noble Lord is the difference between that in the Public Expenditure White Paper of 1972–73 and the published 1973–74 Defence Estimates. At 1972 prices the Defence Estimates would be £3,015 million compared with £3,009 million in the Public Expenditure White Paper. If the noble Lord wishes to know why there is that small variation, he will find it explained in Table 1 of Annex A of the White Paper.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, made what I thought was a very interesting speech, in which he analysed the problems we find facing us in the context of defence in Western Europe and the Western world generally. I agree with a great deal of his analysis but I am sceptical about his solution. It seems to me that by adopting a formula by which, in effect, you deprive yourself of your most effective weapons, including nuclear weapons and tanks, while at the same time you are facing exactly the same military capabilities in the Warsaw Pact, you are unlikely to achieve a satisfactory and credible deterrent to aggression from the East. Certainly I am as conscious of the difficulties about conventional armaments as he is, and my advisers and I have been looking at this matter for some considerable time. I must confess that I have not yet found a solution to the problem of increasing our conventional capability.


My Lords, I do not intend to pursue this, but I do not think the noble Lord is right in saying that my proposal would deprive us of these weapons. I am in favour of our retaining any of our tactical weapons and our deterrent, as such, but only on the assumption that we would not use them on first strike.


My Lords, if you retain everything, it means that everything else you do has to be additional, and that means more manpower and more money. This is the great difficulty of increasing one's conventional armaments. I will search, as no doubt will the noble Lord, for a solution to this problem and I hope that from time to time he and I will have many conversations about the subject.

Whatever your Lordships may have thought about Lord Wigg's speech—and I did not think much of it—he seems to be interested in Defence. At the end of his speech I was as confused as I was at the beginning about what he wanted. At one point—and I hope that I misunderstood him—he appeared to me to be asking for a British Army which consisted of young men who were badly paid, who were single, widowers or divorced, and who were equipped with armaments not on a greater scale than the police force use in Northern Ireland. But I may have completely misunderstood what he was saying, and I will look with great interest at his speech to-morrow and read it with great care. He took me to task for not having stated to-day the objectives of the Government in Defence. This Government do not change their objectives in Defence from year to year. If the noble Lord will look at the White Paper which the Government published just after we came into office in 1970, he will find the objectives of the Government's Defence policy set out very clearly: and they have not changed.

But the noble Lord asked me two questions which I want to answer. I am absolutely convinced that the Polaris force to-day is a deterrent which is effective and credible; and it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government that it should remain so. Obviously, we have to look ahead and consider possible developments in defensive systems which might make it necessary to improve our own weapons. That is something which we keep under careful review, having regard, among other things, to the progress of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. In that connection, I want to make one thing abundantly plain to the noble Lord, and it is this: that as Britain is not a party to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, we reject absolutely any suggestion that our nuclear deterrent force is in any way subject to the SALT Agreement. The Americans understand and agree with this point of view. We are of course always looking at possible options for the future—the House will understand clearly if I do not go into details. When we need to do so, we shall decide whether any improvements in the Polaris force should be made, and if so, what they shoud be.

The noble Lord also asked me, in the same context, about Honest John, and whether we were going to do anything about that. The position is that, with our European allies, we are carefully considering the purchase of Lance as a successor to Honest John; and I hope that I shall be able to make a Statement about that in the fairly near future.


My Lords, there is one thing about which the noble Lord and I agree: he does not think much of my speech, and I do not think much of his; that is common ground. But he might at least answer the question which I put to him, which was this: Do the Government intend to replace Polaris by Poseidon? Secondly, if the noble Lord intends to purchase Lance, why did he not say so in the White Paper?


My Lords, first of all, I did answer the first question by saying that when and if we need to improve the capability of the Polaris we will do so. But we have not made a decision. Secondly, I did not put in the White Paper that we are going to replace Honest John with Lance because we have not decided to do it. I have just told the noble Lord that.


My Lords, the answer in both cases is, No.


My Lords, no. The answer in both cases is that we have not made up our minds.


My Lords, it is the same thing.


My Lords, I thought I had now said that twice. Possibly if I say it three times, the noble Lord may understand.

My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing drew attention, as did the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, and a number of other noble Lords, to what I think is the most disturbing trend in Defence budgets, not only in this country, but everywhere; namely, the tendency for rising manpower costs to limit the proportion of the Defence budget which we are able to devote to equipment. There was undoubtedly a decline—I am not making a Party point about this—in the proportion of expenditure on equipment in the period 1967–68 to 1971–72. However, it can be seen from Table 3 of Annex A to the White Paper that the proportion has risen from 34 per cent. last year to 37 per cent. this year. I am very much aware of this trend, and if I were to be asked what was the trend that disturbed me most, I would say that it is this particular tendency for personnel costs to go up every year more and more and to take a bigger proportion of the Defence budget. I do not at the moment see any way in which I can reduce this. My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing suggested one or two ways in which it might be done, but I think that these are palliatives. I think we shall have to examine this matter with increasing energy as time goes on to see what we can do about this particular trend. Perhaps while I am talking about that I may tell the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton, that not only did I mislead him, but I misled myself: because the figures I mentioned in my opening speech were at constant prices and not at cash prices, and that makes the comparison even more striking. I apologise to the noble Lord.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, I thought, made two very good points in his speech. He first of all drew attention to the enormous growth—and the growth is still with us—of Soviet naval power, and reflected on its purposes. I can tell the noble Lord that he is not alone in reflecting on that. Our NATO allies are well aware of it. He made, perhaps even more cogently, the point about the energy problem which is going to face us all, and which has come very much to the fore in these last few months. He did not mention Japan, but Japan of course is even more reliant on Middle East oil than either Western Europe or the United States.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt. If he looks at my speech, he will see that I did raise the question of Japan, for the reason that he gave. That is why I asked in particular whether they had been brought in.


My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon. If I heard that, then I forgot it. This is of course a problem which we are discussing with our allies, and with our American friends as well. I think one of the encouraging factors is the paragraph which my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing read out about the NATO capability now of planning for something outside the NATO area in the areas of the Indian Ocean and round the South Atlantic. This of course is the reason why I would not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who appears to think that the Royal Navy only needs a few frigates to protect fishing vessels off Iceland. I think when one has all one's lifeline at risk around the world there is a need for navies to protect them, otherwise one will be in the position of being blackmailed, in exactly the same way that the noble Lord was talking about being blackmailed in the nuclear context.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing asked about Nimrod aircraft being available to South Africa, and also about a loan, which is an interesting suggestion. I think that perhaps I should repeat what has been said before. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has made the Government's position clear on several occasions in another place. We are prepared to consider, within the context of the defence of the sea routes, applications for the export of limited categories of arms for maritime defence only. The question of supplying Nimrod aircraft on sale or lease has not been raised with us by the South African Government; but we should carefully consider any such application within the context of that statement.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, asked me a number of questions. He also was interested in the "teeth and tail" problem. The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, reflected rather adversely on the Royal Air Force and said that, compared with the Swedish Air Force and the Swiss Air Force, the Royal Air Force was not doing so well. But these are not valid comparisons. Neither the Swedish Air Force nor the Swiss Air Force have a world-wide role and the Royal Air Force has a large air support element, now part of Strike Command, which supplies our troops in Hong Kong, Singapore, British Honduras, Cyprus, and other parts of the world. Having this air force and deploying it around the world means that there has to be much more back-up than there is in an air force such as Switzerland's or Sweden's.

The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, asked me whether I could give him some figures about what is available to the NATO Commanders in Europe and what sort of training these other countries do. All these statistics are published and they are freely available. If the noble Lord will tell me exactly what he wants to know I will arrange for the figures to be sent to him, because there is no difficulty about it and I would certainly like him to have them. If it would not embarrass him very much I should like to thank him for his speech. He speaks with such emphasis and makes a pretence some of the time of disagreeing with what the Government are doing. But when he sits down I always get the comfortable feeling that not only does he agree with what we are doing but that he would be rather happy if we did a little more, and that I find very agreeable.

The noble Lord, Lord Soper, made a speech which I think must have impressed any of your Lordships who listened to it, because the noble Lord always makes a speech which is so well constructed in the first place. Secondly, he is so reasonable; and, thirdly, he is so patently a sincere and good man and therefore one would very much like to agree with him, but alas! my Lords, on this particular subject, as he knows, I cannot agree with him, not because he hates violence more than I do, but because I believe that keeping up the sort of defence forces we have stops violence. If I thought for one moment that all the power at the disposal of the NATO alliance was going to be used, I would know that our defence policy had failed; and the purpose of this paraphernalia is precisely to deter what all of us seek to avoid. I believe that if unilaterally we disposed of our armaments and said, "None of this is of any more use" we should be more likely to find ourselves in a situation which the noble Lord as well as I would deplore rather than the reverse. This is a genuine difference of opinion, and I hope he thinks no worse of me for not being able to agree with him in the speech that he made this evening.

My Lords, my noble and gallant friend Lord Monckton talked about the effects of Northern Ireland on the force levels in Germany. We have two fewer units deployed from B.A.O.R. to Northern Ireland than we had in August, 1972, when force levels there reached a peak, and of course we tried to keep these temporary redeployments to a minimum. Although there are 5,200 men in Northern Ireland who should be in B.A.O.R., it should be borne in mind that there are in fact 4,500 more men in Germany today than there were two or three years ago. Consequently the total disruption is not as great as one might suppose.

The noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, asked two questions; first, about the dockyards and the Royal Ordnance Factories and trading funds. He is quite right in supposing that they should trade on a commercial basis. And on the question of communications for the through-deck cruiser, certainly I agree with what he said. I do not know the answer, but I will let him know whether or not it is possible for these through-deck cruisers to command other NATO navies.

I promised the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, that I would say something about manpower in my closing remarks. Your Lordships will recall that we had really bad difficulties in manpower in 1970 and it is true that overall recruiting has fallen from the record level of 46,500 servicemen in 1971–72 to an expected 39,000 in 1972–73. I do not think that this implies that the outlook is necessarily going gloomy again. For one thing, 39,000 recruits is not all that bad; in fact it is rather good. It is certainly as good as, or better than, four out of the last five years, and generally speaking we are meeting our needs, though I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, that if you are missing the really important man it is no good saying you are generally speaking meeting your needs. This is not the situation at the moment.


The noble Lord keeps turning to me, my Lords. This is an embarrassment because it leads the Government to think that on the rest of it we are agreed. He knows perfectly well that to make the kind of speech he is making about recruiting is completely disregarding the weight in terms of man years he is getting. It is a complete falsification of the problem.


My Lords, I shall endeavour never again to turn to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, if it embarrasses him, but of course I have not in any sense finished what I was going to say. But perhaps I may go on without turning to the noble Lord. It is also worth pointing out that there are differences between the Services. In the Royal Navy recruiting has gone up, not down. In the Army, recruitment of juniors has reached a record level and because of our past successes and continued improvement in re-engagement rate the strength of the Army has increased. The R.A.F. has no problem; in fact, rather the reverse because there is a restricted intake as a result of the economy measures.

I doubt whether there is much point, because I do not think anybody can ever know, in speculating about the reasons for changes up or down from year to year or about future prospects. In the latter respect we shall, of course, face some problems as a result of the raising of the school-leaving age, which will put 120,000 fewer boys into the recruiting pool compared with last year and we have to adjust to that change; but there is no reason to think that 16-year-old boys leaving school will be any less willing to join the forces than the 15-year-olds and a service career will continue to have the same attractions. However, in order to maintain these levels of recruitment we shall need to make a career in the Services attractive to intelligent, responsible young people and to do this I hark back to another theme of my 1970 policy Statement, enhancing the role of the Armed Services in the community. This means realistic pay and an acceptance of the uncomfortable truth that the proportion of the total manpower budget taken up by the personnel cost must be greater with a volunteer force than at the high point of conscription twenty years ago. Improvements in the Services' pay and conditions of service are of course subject to the second stage of the Government's incomes policy as with everyone else in the community, but improvements in pensions can be negotiated outside the pay limit and we are pressing on with the second stage of the review of Service pensions.

My Lords, I do not think I have answered all the questions I have been asked—


My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord about the decline in recruitment. Anything can happen and I would not make heavy weather of this point. I raised the matter because I am back to my hobbyhorse—the need for building up the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces. I do not think that 55,000 is enough. If we cannot indulge in compulsion—and I said during the course of my remarks that at the present time compulsion is anathema to the general public, and is probably not practicable—we have nevertheless to bring a large number of younger people into the Forces. The only way to do it is to build up the reserves.


My Lords, I know that that is the noble Lord's point of view. There are difficulties about it; in the first place the present T.A.V.R. is not up to strength and therefore we cannot at the moment increase it, even if there was the money to do it. This is a question of to which of the demands on your resources you give priority. At the moment, when the T.A.V.R. is not up to full strength, probably we are putting our resources in the right direction. At the moment I do not feel unduly unhappy about recruiting.

My Lords, if I have not answered any of your Lordships' questions, I will write to your Lordships and give you the information. May I, in conclusion, once again—


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord for his support on the case of the B.B.C.? I do not expect him to reply this evening, but if he uses his undoubted influence within the Government he will do a great deal of good for the B.B.C. and our overseas services.


I meant to refer to that. My Lords, I will not swear that I will support the noble Lord; but what I swear I will do is look into the position and see whether anything could or should be done. May I in conclusion thank your Lordships for the way in which you have received this White Paper.

On Question, Motion agreed to.