HL Deb 23 April 1980 vol 408 cc818-64

5.25 p.m.

Lord NOEL-BAKER rose to call attention to the speech made in Strasbourg in May 1979 by the late Lord Mountbatten of Burma on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use in which he said of nuclear weapons that "Their existence only adds to our perils"; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to draw attention to a speech in Strasbourg in May 1979 by the late Lord Mountbatten of Burma. The speech was made to the Scientific Council of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, widely known as SIPRI. It was about the danger of a nuclear war. Some noble Lords knew the late Lord Mountbatten in greater intimacy than I, but I worked with him when he was the last Viceroy and Governor of the Indian Empire and I was almost the last Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Together we prepared the Bill for Indian independence which I passed through the other place. So I had an opportunity given to very few to understand the historic value of his work as Viceroy and the genius and statesmanship which he displayed. I could spend an hour describing the magnificent achievements of his magnificent career. But your Lordships know it all.

I want only to stress this afternoon that by any test he was the greatest authority in the world on every aspect of armaments and war. His speech was a passionate protest against the present preparations to use nuclear arms in war. But it was not only a warning that we could not fight our wars with nuclear weapons; it was a warning that we must not fight our wars at all. His speech was a passionate plea that the arms race must be arrested and reversed and that the world must speedily and drastically disarm. He judged—rightly, as I think—that the present arms race has reached a point of frenzy, with some new and terrible device appearing almost every month: last year, it was the MX, the US mobile missile, and the Soviet SS20; in December, it was NATO's Cruise and Pershing missiles; three weeks ago in our Defence White Paper, it was our return to poison gas and germs and our giving guns to women a long step downwards to the pit.

Seventy years ago I lived through the arms race before the First World War. A great Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Earl Grey of Falloden, made desperate efforts to avert the outbreak of war. When it was over, he wrote his long-considered verdict on its cause: the arms race. The moral is obvious",

he said, great armaments lead inevitably to war. The nations must disarm or perish".

Today the Governments of the world have seven men under arms for every one that they had in 1913. They are spending 10 times the real resources on armaments that they were spending then. Their weapons are a thousand times as powerful and destructive. Like Earl Grey, Lord Mountbatten judged that the arms race is not a policy that makes sense, increasing military expenditure every year, planning new weapons for the 1990s. It is not a policy, it is a drift to what he called the precipice. Seeking security by expanding arms, with each side saying that it can only negotiate from strength, is to chase a mirage in the desert sand. The arms race is not a policy; it is a drift. It is the paralysis of thought and reason, an acceptance of the unacceptable.

Lord Mountbatten began his speech with the sentence which was the key to everything that he said: Do the frightening facts of the arms race show that we are rushing headlong to the precipice, which make any of those responsible for this disastrous course pull themselves together and reach for the brakes?

He argued in his speech that he had made his views quite plain when he was chairman of the British Chiefs of Staff. And so he had! In March 1961 the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth met in London. There were 13 of them. For three full days and some hours more they discussed disarmament. At the end they unanimously adopted a declaration of which I quote the first two paragraphs: (1) The aim must be to achieve total world disarmament subject to effective inspection and control. (2) In view of the slaughter and destruction experienced in conventional wars and of the difficulty of preventing a conventional war once started from developing into a nuclear war, our aim must be nothing less than the complete abolition of all the means of making war of every kind". The author of that declaration was Lord Mountbatten and so persuasive was he that it was adopted by the five Prime Ministers from the old Commonwealth—all Conservatives—and by eight Prime Ministers of the new Commonwealth, including Pandit Nehru and also Field Marshal Ayub Khan of Pakistan. Mountbatten held that view on armament.

But some noble Lords may ask: "Was it really Mountbatten's view? After all, he was a military man". Yes, my Lords, it was his view. Some years ago, in an earlier meeting of the Scientific Council of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute I took part with him in a disarmament debate. I made a speech in support of what Lord Selwyn-Lloyd proposed to the United Nations General Assembly in 1959: the reduction of armament to the level at which no Government retained more forces and equipment than it needed to keep internal order, and to make a contribution of manpower to a United Nations peace force. Lord Selwyn-Lloyd defined his purpose in alternative words. Using the language used by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, he said: Reduction to the level at which aggressive war becomes impossible because no Government has the armaments to start it". As we rose from the table at the end of the debate, I said to Lord Mountbatten, who had been sitting next to me, "Dickie, did I say anything you could not take"? He replied with warmth: "My dear boy, I agreed with every word".

Lord Mountbatten began his speech, as I have recounted, by his all-out condemnation of the disastrous course of the arms race which is rushing us headlong to the precipice. He ended it by reflecting on the great advances which science rightly used, could give to all mankind. He said that it is up to the people to make a moral and philosophic choice. It is up to mail to save himself from himself.

I conclude with two reflections on the present arms race. I have a young and lovely friend who has worked in recent times as a district nurse in Fulham. She has found things that have deeply shocked her: a family of six living in a single room; children so hungry that when they go to school they cannot learn their letters and they cannot do their sums; adults so permanently underfed that they are always ill. In the last great war the British people were united and I joined Sir Winston Churchill's coalition on the principle of fair shares for all. But no fair shares in our Welfare State in 1980. There are 800 million people in other countries who now starve. Millions and millions are spent on improving tanks and adding frigates to our fleet—perhaps irrelevant to the nuclear attack which the Government say that they think we must expect.

Secondly, I recall a paradoxical result of the Vietnam war. In that war the lovely forests of Vietnam were destroyed by poison gas and most forest people suffered with the trees. But the tigers flourished. They grew in numbers; they became more daring and aggressive, readier to invade a village and steal a baby from its mother's door. They had learned the lesson of gunfire. When the firing ceased they hurried to the scene of battle and found fresh human corpses and helpless wounded men whom they could eat. There are others beside the tigers who batten on the arms race. They have become more numerous and more powerful, and they are attacking the basic right on which our democracy is built: the right of the citizen to know.

Twelve years ago the BBC made a film called "The War Game", which featured what would happen if an H-bomb fell in Kent. The film was never shown on the television screens by the BBC. Under some kind of pressure, sinister but unexplained, "The War Game" was suppressed. In 1978 a Special Session of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament was held. It was the greatest international conference that ever met. I was there. It had sensational front-page news for every paper in the world, but it went unreported. Under some kind of pressure, unexplained, there was a conspiracy of silence—so much so that most people in this country and in North America do not know today that the Special Session ever met.

In 1979 Lord Mountbatten's speech was by far the most dramatic and the most sensational utterance that was made; but not a single organ of the media reproduced a line, and they have not used it yet. The conspirators, the tigers, thought they had buried it for good and all. But Lord Mountbatten told his friends that he hoped to be remembered by this speech. It was his last gift, his last service to his nation and to the nations of mankind. The speech has been rescued from oblivion: It is becoming known to the nations of the world. In it he said that the peoples must make a moral and a philosophic choice: They must decide what they will do.

The speech is known today in every country. Thanks to Mountbatten, the peoples have begun to learn the frightening facts of the arms race. Thanks to him, they will make the moral choice of which he spoke. Thanks to him, they will decide that science will be used for human welfare and not for war. Thanks to him, we may yet see the magic transformation of our world society of which, for long ages, seers and philosophers have always dreamed. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, we must all thank the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, for giving us this opportunity of debating the great speech which the late Lord Mountbatten made in May of last year. I feel sure that most of your Lordships, like myself, will undoubtedly agree in principle with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, has said. Unfortunately, the possibility of world disarmament, controlled and monitored, is still far away. The limitation of armaments is nearer and in both directions but particularly in the latter, we should make every effort to make progress, even if we do not think it is likely to come about fairly soon.

In this short intervention, I should like to dwell on one inference only which may be drawn from Lord Mountbatten's speech. Your Lordships may perhaps recall that for at least 10 years I have held and expressed in this House, the view that, whatever the importance of nuclear power may be as a deterrent against the exercise by others of such power, the nuclear weapon itself is not one that could possibly be used with profit by the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance in a first strike in any circumstances whatever. I may be contradicted, but I believe that is the essential message which was conveyed by the late Lord Mountbatten and, if I interpret his words correctly, by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, in his excellent piece in The Times last January.

I would go further and say that no such action could be authorised by any Head of Government who was not either crazy or the potential victim of a group of crazy supporters. It follows that the present NATO strategy of "flexible response", which involves the possible employment in Europe by the President of the United States of so-called "tactical" nuclear weapons on a first strike is no longer tenable, in the sense that only if the Soviet Government believe that the President of the United States may go off his head can it be regarded as in any way "credible". Perhaps they will not discount this possibility, but it still strikes me as a rather shaky basis for a long-term policy.

For it must be obvious, now that the Soviet Union has achieved nuclear parity, and in all probability nuclear superiority, that the come-back to such an action would be immediate and devastating and that the resulting nuclear exchange would almost inevitably escalate. Conceivably, such escalation could, owing to the existence of the British and French strategic nuclear forces, be confined to central Europe but it would be rash to depend on this. What would be almost certain is that the two super-powers would see no advantage in bombing each other. Even the theoretical possibility that the Soviet Union could, on a first strike, eliminate all the American land-based ICBMs can probably be dismissed as much too risky. So, though a Soviet offensive might or might not be halted as a result of a nuclear exchange in Europe, the continent would undoubtedly he devastated on both sides of the dividing line, but chiefly on our side, owing to the greater density of population.

When I say "devastated" I mean largely destroyed, for even if the exchange—a neutral word beloved by nuclear strategists—were limited to military objectives, such as ports, airfields, ammunition dumps (and what would happen if they were exploded, more especially if they were nuclear dumps?) marshalling yards, command posts, barracks or communication centres or whatever, the damage done and the number of people killed or injured, however accurate the weapons might be, would be vast on both sides, so much so that it would be difficult in practice to distinguish between limited and all-out nuclear war, which would of course be so horrifying as to beggar all description.

It follows that civil defence against possible nuclear attack is a dangerous delusion: a delusion because even the expenditure, in peacetime, by a Government possessing what would have to be wartime powers for spending many billions of pounds could only notionally save the lives of a few million people, who would nevertheless find life intolerable after the holocaust; dangerous because it would create the impression that our Government could, with advantage to the nation, give the signal or acquiesce in the giving of the signal for a "first strike" of nuclear weapons in the event of general hostilities.

Now, happily, all this does not mean that nuclear war, or even a so-called conventional war, is inevitable. There is no reason to suppose that—Afghanistan or no Afghanistan—the Soviet Government has taken leave of its senses. Nor does it mean that we should go in for unilateral disarmament, which, as I understand it, was rightly condemned both by Lord Mountbatten and by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. What it does mean is, first, that if for any reason there should be an unresolved clash between the super-powers anywhere in the world it could hardly be localised; and, secondly, that the West would perforce have to rely primarily for its defence on conventional weapons. If reason is any guide, first use by the Soviet Union of nuclear weapons should be discarded for pretty obvious reasons on which I need not elaborate. When you come to think of it, even a physical take-over of Western Europe by the Soviet Union in the event of success in a conventional war might present considerable disadvantages. I need not elaborate either on what those might be. They might involve the fall of the Soviet empire.

So, my Lords, within my allotted 10 minutes I approach a conclusion. It is possible, even if unlikely, that the Soviet Union may soon push things to a point at which some confrontation is inevitable. It is even possible that, out of fear or wounded pride, the United States might do the same. In either event, it seems probable that the Russians would embark on an offensive in Europe, relying on the likelihood of the West's not deciding to use nuclear weapons in its own defence. To guard against this possibility, the West must obviously now decide greatly to strengthen its conventional defences, which, if it set its mind to it, it could undoubtedly do over the next few years.

It is consequently on this, always assuming that no real progress is possible in negotiations for the limitation of both nuclear and conventional armaments, that we should now be spending money, rather than on the replacement of our own so-called independent strategic nuclear force which, though it may for the time being have a very limited deterrent effect, can, in practice, never be used independently unless we are prepared to wipe ourselves off the map, or unless we have been wiped off the map already.

Besides, if we really are considering spending half a billion a year for 10 years, and probably much more, on this useless project, we must presumably, in our present financial state, substantially cut either the BAOR and the Air Force in Germany, or the Navy, or both—something which would be in the nature of a national disaster. I need hardly add that, when and if it becomes clear that the Russians have little chance of winning a conventional war, the prospects of agreement on arms limitation of all kinds, for which we must all work, would be far better than they are at present.

Unfortunately, we cannot exclude the possibility that the Soviet Union may eventually gain virtual control of the entire world without firing a shot. For unless the West can somehow come to terms with the undeveloped and underdeveloped world—and Iran is very much a case in point—it is more than likely that these countries will turn in desperation to the Soviet Union. If this happens, then the West will experience great difficulties in obtaining the necessary raw materials and a persistence of the slump may well result in the emergence, even in the industrialised West—even here—of Governments only too willing to make some deal with Moscow.

I therefore end by quoting the wise words of Harold Brown, the former United States Secretary of the Air Force, repeated, very rightly, with approval by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, in his powerful article, We must seek national security through other than strictly military means". and, indeed, by repeating the noble Lord's own final words; namely, defeat is indivisible in a world of nuclear weapons".

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, I do not need to remind you that rising to one's feet for the first time in this august Chamber is a daunting experience. I was present one afternoon when the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, made reference to his experience when making his maiden speech here, and he spoke of the nervous anguish which he experienced at that time. I, for my part, could never hope to approach the splendour of his oratory, when that afternoon he made us relive that terrible day in Hiroshima in August 1945, but I can hope to approach the nervous anguish of which he spoke. I must ask your Lordships' indulgence if, like the loyal subjects of Duke Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I shiver and look pale, make periods in the midst of sentences, throttle my practis'd accent and even dumbly break off". I am no expert in this awesome subject, and my temerity in rising to speak is by virtue of the strength of my feelings, not by virtue of my authority. I think it is true to say that there are two subjects which most of us dare not allow ourselves to dwell on. One is the prospect of nuclear war; the other is the plight of the suffering millions in the Third World. I wonder how often we consider the close connection between these two phenomena of our time. May I quote a few figures to your Lordships to illustrate my point, and may I ask the indulgence of those of you who, by your special interests, know them only too well already. I draw my information from a United Nations report which was published in 1978. I am afraid I have little reason to suppose that the situation will have changed greatly since then.

Half a billion human beings throughout the world are living at starvation level. Millions more are undernourished. Millions of children suffer from diet deficiencies, impeding physical and mental development which is likely to threaten the health of the next generation. Meanwhile, 350 billion dollars a year are diverted to military purposes throughout the world. The World Health Organisation spent 83 million dollars in eradicating smallpox from the world. That amount of money would not be enough to buy a single modern strategic bomber. The world spends daily about 9 million dollars for military purposes, twice the cost of eradicating malaria from the world. I understand that the replacement of Polaris with Trident would cost £5 billion.

The first wave of victims of the nuclear weapons was at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I suggest that the second wave are the hungry millions in the Third World now. If Voltaire had written a satire, in which he described how the resources of the world were being diverted from the mouths of the hungry in order that the well-fed might exterminate themselves, we might think he was over-reaching himself, but I do not believe it is very far from the truth.

May I speak briefly about Lord Mount-batten's statement that the existence of nuclear weapons only adds to our perils. Few people would deny the need for a nation to maintain conventional armed forces adequate for its defence against a potential aggressor. In 1945, this traditional idea of minimum military necessity was convulsed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Quite simply, except on one notorious occasion, they were felt to be too devastating in their effects to be used. Yet powerful nations felt they must be in possession of them in order to threaten each other.

The new situation which grew out of this made some sort of sense until, I think, about the mid-1960s when an approximate nuclear equivalence was achieved between East and West. Then would have been the time to stop. Certain top experts in America then expressed the view that further testing and elaboration of nuclear weapons would produce the paradox of a decline and not an increase in national security. Mr. Robert McNamara was then Secretary for Defence. I should like to quote a few words spoken by him at the University of Chicago last May: The concept of security encompasses far more than merely military force, and a society can reach a point at which additional military expenditure no longer provides additional security". In thinking about what followed, my mind constantly reverts to a picture once drawn by a pupil of mine. It was a large pencil drawing and it depicted a fort or gun emplacement in the middle of a desert. From every aperture of this structure there protruded the barrels of guns—of every size and shape, pointing in every direction—North, East, South, West, and heavenwards. The place was literally bristling with violent weapons, and all around was nothingness, emptiness, reaching to the horizon. I said to the boy, "Where is the enemy? Who is all this directed against?" and his answer was unhesitating: "Oh, there is no enemy; there is nothing. It is entirely imaginary".

I am not suggesting that there is no potential enemy for the West, or the East, alas! What I am suggesting is that the arms race has been fuelled largely by fear, mistrust—almost paranoia, and that exaggerated reports of the strength of the other side have played an insidious part in it. I believe there was an example of this very recently in connection with the protests in East Anglia.

Since the 1960s, the world has gone mad. An arms race has developed to the point at which the powers are in a position to annihilate each other and the whole world many times over. What is the sense of this? How, indeed, can it do anything but add to our perils? Have we ever felt less secure? My own son has said to me, "Me and my pals must do our own thing because we expect to be blown up soon". There is a widespread sense of fatalism in the country—a most disquieting sign. What can we do? I am convinced that the remedy for these ills—the distrust and suspicion and alarmism and fatalism and sense of doom that hangs like an evil cloud over the world—is to work actively for peace in every way in which we, even as individuals, can. One thing—obvious enough—strikes my simple mind quite forcefully. It is this. In the whole of this formidable arms build-up since the last war, all the decisions affecting the lives of millions have necessarily had to be taken by very small numbers of men. This has always been so, of course; but never before, surely, has the fate of so many been vitally affected by so few. Government defence policies have to be shaped by the advice of military strategists, who in turn must listen to the scientists. So the sort of war we might have to face would be one involving the use of weapons, against which we know of no protection, which we do not begin to understand, which have effects we cannot conceive of, causing diseases of which we hardly know the symptoms.

How can we reverse this apparently irreversible process? Let me take a simple, if rather abstracted and generalised view of it. Let us say that we have reached our present plight for two reasons: because we have come to worship science and technology, and because we have relinquished our individual human responsibility to the gods of this new religion. If these propositions were true, what nemesis could one expect but precisely the one that threatens us?

Can we not, and must we not, then, reverse the process by reasserting our human responsibility and by demanding that these weapons be destroyed for ever? We are not, God be thanked, living in a State where individual human opinion is gagged and silenced. If enough human beings in the Free World demand strongly enough that there should be a change, surely we can bring about a change throughout the whole world. How else have the great changes of history taken place but ultimately by the will of the great mass of humanity?

I humbly suggest that this can best be done through the World Disarmament Campaign, already under way. The campaigners aim to place a mighty petition before the United Nations Special Session on Disarmanent in 1982, signed by millions. Perhaps then, if not before, each of the nuclear powers would agree to dismantle one weapon in the name of humanity. And perhaps this might begin a reverse process whereby funds will gradually be released to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, house the homeless. And perhaps we of the northern hemisphere will at last be able to enjoy true peace and security.

6.7 p.m.


My Lords, I think we are all immensely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, for having initiated this debate and for having done so in so eloquent and moving a way. The matters to which he has directed our attention grow more and more critical as every month passes—perhaps, in the light of current events, as every week passes. Of one thing I am certain: Lord Mountbatten himself would have been very pleased had he lived to see his Strasbourg speech sparking off this debate.

Here may I turn to the brilliant and moving maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee. He has left us with some very big questions. Whether or not—as I have been following both armament and disarmament for very many years—it is going to be possible to dismantle armouries in the way suggested is, I fear, debatable.

Lord Mountbatten wrote to me immediately after he delivered his Strasbourg speech—I have his letter here—to say that he was greatly upset by the fact that no interest had been shown at the time. And by "at the time" he meant at the meeting—and not only at the meeting but at the Press conference which he held afterwards. He described the Press conference. It was pathetic. Yet look at the interest which has now been manifested in the matters which he raised.

Lord Mountbatten wanted to send his speech to the newspapers. It was on my advice that he refrained from doing so. In the letter in which he expressed his regret about the immediate response to his speech he said that I had been wise to prevent him from what he called "stirring up trouble personally"; it was the responsibility of SIPRI, a governmental body with an international advisory board, to go on publicising an issue whose immediate significance to the whole future of humanity transcends almost all others. I, certainly—and he, too—had clearly overestimated the impact which SIPRI would have on the world Press. In this letter he said: It simply was a damp squib and doesn't appear to have been referred to anywhere". Well, as this debate shows and as matters have turned out, his speech has proved anything but a damp squib.

Lest it be supposed that this was the first time Lord Mountbatten had spoken out in the terms of his Strasbourg speech, may I remind your Lordships that in 1970, the noble Lord, Lord Wigg (who was in your Lordships' Chamber until recently) published an article in The Times of London criticising the then apparently new policy of NATO of so-called flexible response. Lord Mountbatten happened to be in Paris at the time, but he immediately arranged by telephone to have published a short letter in The Times, and with your Lordships' permission I should like to read it now: Lord Wigg's article in The Times on February 19, The Perils of Defence on the Cheap, exposes the fallacy of relying on tactical nuclear weapons. During my six years on the NATO Military Committee I never missed an opportunity of saying loud and clear that the actual use of tactical nuclear weapons could only end in escalation to total global nuclear destruction and for that reason no one in their senses would contemplate their use". That is roughly what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has said in the course of his speech today. I am referring to this letter because one or two letters which have appeared in the Press have rather implied that Lord Mountbatten's Strasbourg address was an aberration, the meandering of a man in his 80th year. I worked with him closely over many years and I can assure your Lordships that these were views which he not only expressed loudly in military circles but which he encouraged.

I certainly shared the views which he expressed at Strasbourg. It was in February 1962 that Foreign Affairs carried an article of mine called Judgment and Control in Modern Warfare. It was based on a speech which I delivered at the annual meeting of the NATO commanders in the summer of the preceding year and, encouraged by Lord Mountbatten, it was published by permission of my friend, the noble Viscount, Lord Watkinson, (who was then the Minister for whom I was working), and General Norstadt, then the Allied Supreme Commander. In it I expressed grave doubts about the place of so-called tactical nuclear weapons in any armoury if they were to be considered as real weapons which could be used in field warfare.

I have elaborated this issue in many places since, and I am referring to the matter now because the then Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Macmillan was questioned in another place as to the relationship of the views which I was expressing (being an official) to Government policy. Among others, he was pressed by Mr. Hugh Gaitskell and by the then Mr. George Brown, now in your Lordships' House; he was pressed as to whether the Government of the day had approved or disapproved of the conclusions in my article. Mr. Macmillan's answer was that my article was a contribution to the consideration of a very difficult subject and he thought it was of value that it had appeared. I looked up the exchanges the other day and was much amused to see that it was a contribution to a discussion such as we are having today.

Recently I had a letter, after the appearance of the article of mine in The Times, to which reference has been made, from a friend who was General Montgomery's G3. When he left the Army I think he was still the youngest major general, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Carver, knows whom I am talking about. He played out one of the NATO war games in which I partici- pated, in which the Russians had intruded into NATO territory. When the Russians play war games we intrude into their territory. In this particular instance he assumed that the Russians had come in and had made some considerable advance without the use of any nuclear weapons. They then dropped an armoured brigade into East Anglia. He chose East Anglia because it happens to be where I live, and he ended his letter: "How do we get them out?". I myself do not know, but I am sure that we shall not get them out with nuclear weapons.

It is absolutely important that this whole subject should be discussed properly. There cannot be a sensible discussion on these nuclear matters without more facts being more widely available than they are now. I have looked at this excellent production the Government's White Paper on Defence. Let me assure your Lordships that it is better than any of those in the production of which I played a part. It is much more colourful, and so on, but it provides very little information. I have looked through the section on theatre nuclear forces, and almost any American magazine carries better information on this subject than this document does. I cannot imagine there could be a useful discussion unless we have some better information available to us than it contains.

I think it was in 1968 that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, then U-Thant, convened a working party of which I was the United Kingdom member, to write a book for the United Nations on the effects of the possible use of nuclear weapons. There is no policy statement in this document; it is merely a statement of fact as seen by people who knew the facts. This report is now being updated by a different group which the present Secretary-General has convened. I have been fortunate enough to be shown some chapters in draft. It goes into much more detail than the earlier book to which I contributed, but it contains any amount of information which we treat as being top secret here. I do not know how this can be altered because when one wants to bring some fresh air into the discussion the only way one can do it without in any way contravening the Official Secrets Act is by talking to one's friends in the United States. I also have in my hand the December issue of Harpers magazine. If anybody wishes to see exactly where the strategic arms race has got to they should read it. The facts in it are reliable.

What I should now make absolutely plain, because there has been some misunderstanding about this, is what Lord Mountbatten did not say. Lord Mountbatten was not pleading for unilateral disarmament. He was no more a starry-eyed unilateral disarmer than I am. I have never heard the proposition of unilateral disarmament coming from any quarter of the Soviet bloc. In his letter to me, Lord Mountbatten told how he had to reply to one of the questions put to him on this subject. It was not the reply of a unilateral disarmer and I want that to be absolutely plain. What we want is mutual disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, but we want it on a planned basis.

The tripwires of war are being spread everywhere at the moment. However much we seem to be able to tolerate the non-nuclear conflicts now taking place, the survivors of a nuclear war would never be able to comprehend the full horror or the reality of what had happened. Yet we cannot push the nuclear genie back into the bottle. What we must do is learn, and learn quickly, that the only value of nuclear weaponry is that of deterrence. We should continually remind ourselves that there are no political prizes, no benefits to be gained in the name of freedom, no enhancement of national dignity, no national face-saving that would be worth the price of the actual use of nuclear weapons. We all realise that nuclear proliferation is dangerous; we are party to the non-proliferation treaty. The nuclear arms race which now goes on between the two super powers is no less so. My Lords, once the threshold of mutual nuclear deterrence has been crossed there is absolutely no point in the continuation of a nuclear arms race.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, the House is extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker for this opportunity of debating this extremely important question. Before I make a number of remarks about his speech, may I pay my respects, with the rest of the House, to the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, for a most impressive maiden speech, and following, as I do, my noble friend Lord Zuckerman, say once more how moved and impressed I always am to hear him speak on these immense matters with such authority and clarity.

My noble friend Lord Noel-Baker, with his accustomed eloquence and sincerity, once more voiced the mounting horror and alarm which all rational people feel when they observe the acceleration of the arms race, especially in nuclear weapons. This is a feeling that cuts across all parties and I believe national boundaries. He quoted a remarkable speech by the late Lord Mountbatten, remarkable for its content and also for its origin. Here was a former Commander-in-Chief of our Forces on land and at sea speaking about the dangers of nuclear weapons, and denouncing in the strongest terms the catastrophic folly of depending on the increasing arms race in nuclear arms for peace and security. He did not, as the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, reminded us, go on to a plea for unilateral disarmament in this department or any other department. What he said was that clearly we must come to an agreement to arrest the nuclear arms race and progessively to lower the level of armaments on a consistent basis of mutual equivalence. Indeed, there can hardly be any alternative to this policy if the world is to avoid the ultimate catastrophe.

The search for peace and security by the competitive escalation of arms, especially nuclear arms, must end in disaster. As more and more resources in manpower, money and machines are devoted to an upward spiralling of the arms race, there must come a point when one side or the other finds it impossible to continue without destroying its own economy and its own society. At that point there will be a temptation to supplement the arms race which they are losing by recourse to other, perhaps even more dreadful weapons.

The ban on biological weapons achieved since 1972, the partial ban on environmental warfare will go for naught, and the draft proposals for a ban on chemical warfare, which owe so much to the British initiative, will be aborted. As one side or the other finds that it cannot keep up with, let alone overtake, its rivals, it may well look around for other additional means of competing. But even before that point is reached, the very escalation and proliferation in the nuclear arms race will in themselves multiply the possibility of accident. The next, the third and final world war, may well arise not from Sarajevo or Danzig but from something like Harrisburg. In a world heaving and seething with thermo-nuclear devices and material, human fallibility may let loose catastrophe which human purpose never intended. It may not be necessary to have a war to destroy the world; it may destroy itself through the actuarial incidence of human accident in handling these things.

The world is already spending the staggering sum of £200,000 million a year on arms, the greater part of it on nuclear arms, because they are more expensive, with all that means: the temptation to use, at the point when the choice is either pre-emptive strike or surrender, the possibility of accident, and the reduction of resources for social progress, especially in the underdeveloped world. But not only there. At hazard from the increasing diversion of resources to the nuclear arms race is not only the improvement of the conditions of the people in the underdeveloped world, but the survival, let alone the standards, of the populations of the developed world. This is something which is eating up the essence of production, and increasingly so, and threatening our survival in every part of the world, not only through the classic possibility of war as we have always defined it, but in itself because of its nature; because of the demands it makes on human effort and human wealth and the possibility that human skill may not always be able to control it.

So the alternative is not achieving a balance of power, a deterrence based on a balance of power, on an escalation—that way sooner rather than later disaster lies—but, as Lord Mountbatten explained, through a descending process of expenditure on arms, especially nuclear arms, so that we achieve an equivalence of power and therefore a deterrence, on a progressively lower expenditure of money and other resources on nuclear arms.

The speech that we are discussing and to which our attention has been especially drawn by my noble friend, puts this very clearly indeed. As my noble friend Lord Zuckerman reminded us, the solution is not unilateralism, but multilateral progressive disarmament, at each stage being verified, and achieving at each stage a clear equivalence of power thus fortifying the feeling of security and confidence on both sides. That was put forward by my right honourable friend Mr. Peter Shore in another place when he spoke last January, I believe, of the process of not achieving equivalence upwards, but of achieving it downwards. I think that the Opposition has thoroughly grasped the point. I wonder whether the Government are as sensitive to the truth of this as one would wish them to be?

It does not lie in the mouth of anybody speaking in a debate of this type to accuse anyone of being inadequately sensitive to the threats that surround us in this department. One understands the sincerity of those who regard deterrence as being a kind of auction whereby you match the other fellow on an upward basis—an open-ended kind of Dutch auction. There is no future in that. Sooner or later one side or the other will not be able to keep up and will have recourse to action of the kind that I have tried to describe. One would like to have an assurance from the Government that they really do take this view and that they will apply themselves with vigour to the policy of seeking broad equivalence of power at decreasing levels between East and West. That—if there is a recipe for deterrence followed by disarmament—is the only recipe. The other, the spiralling theory of equivalence, may succeed for a time and it may have succeeded for the past 20 or perhaps 35 years. But, as we were reminded, with every week and month producing new horrors and new possibilities of horrific destruction, the time that we have ahead of us is very short indeed.

I would also welcome an assurance from the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government, despite the negative attitude so far of the Soviet Government to the December 1979 proposals of the North Atlantic Council, despite the Russian coolness on this matter, will persevere with our friends and allies in NATO with those proposals. Not every one of the proposals is above criticism, but the package contains some very useful, very hopeful and very constructive suggestions. For example, there is the offer to negotiate substantial reductions in the level of long-range theatre nuclear forces and that is all the more necessary, I suggest, in view of the decision taken at the same meeting to modernise NATO's long-range TNFs by the deployment in Europe of United States' ground-launched systems. The "intention to modernise", as it is called, must be "counterparted" by the strong reinforcement of the proposal to reduce, otherwise our own posture will prove to be, and will be regarded as being, as negative as that of the Soviet Union has been so far. The other proposal was for an interim Phase 1 agreement in the MBFR negotiations with the aim of establishing a common ceiling in land force manpower for both sides of about 700,000 in Europe, or a combined air and ground force ceiling of about 900,000.

These measures, like those applied to the tactical nuclear weapons, would of course include effective monitoring provisions. The Vienna proposals, as I call them, the more conventional proposals, do have a relevance to our debate this afternoon because the present Soviet and Eastern European advantage of some 150,000 ground, conventional personnel in Europe, has obliged the West necessarily to fill the gap with a strategy of flexible nuclear response. The attainment of a common ceiling might remove the need for the West to insist upon a flexible nuclear response which in any case, as we have heard this afternoon, comes occasionally under very heavy criticism.

The third point that I should like to put to the Minister is that we welcome the Government's support for President Carter's clear statement that he looks to trying to get the ratification of SALT II as soon as possible despite the difficulties which recent events in Afghanistan have placed in his way. This is essential, because if we get SALT II ratified, then SALT III—which is even more important—lies ahead of us and can only be achieved if, in fact, SALT II has been ratified. Nevertheless, the negotiations about SALT III, can proceed now.

I should also like to ask what progress is being made on a comprehensive test ban and on the air control in space negotiations. Both of those show signs of being negotiable and of becoming facts of international acceptance. It is the possibility of agreement on extremely important matters like this which encourages noble Lords and others who work in the disarmament field to press for the kind of policy that we have heard described this afternoon.

It is not impossible to get both sides to see the point of deterrence through equivalence by stages, because in a number of areas this has been done already. I refer to the biological warfare ban—that has been a fact for some years. It may be in peril now, but it was achieved. The chemical warfare ban, largely a British initiative, may well be achieved because the Russians and the Americans have taken the draft with them so that the "supers" can agree and then hand it back to the Geneva Disarmament Committee. The kind of apprehension that was voiced this afternoon about the possibility of Russian use of chemical weapons might thereby be allayed. There are other fields in which disarmament has proved to be at least partially possible. So there is no need to throw up our hands in horror and say, "It can never be done; all we can do is arm to the teeth until the time when even that is no good and catastrophe takes over". There is every reason to be hopeful and every necessity to be active, with all the skill and will that we can command, in negotiating with other countries deterrence on a basis of equivalence, proceeding downward instead of upward.

Once the momentum is achieved—however slow—and all the parties feel that the momentum is proceeding on a basis of assurance and there is a feeling of security, backed by proper verification, then the full objective will be in sight. The other kind of momentum is with us now. We are all hurtling together in competitive madness, trying to deter by mounting horror, and insufficiently aware that that cannot go on for ever, and that its only end will be mutual extinction.

6.41 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of TRURO

My Lords, I must confess that it was with some trepidation that I put my name down to speak today in this debate. I am not an expert in the technicalities of nuclear weapons, and over the years the more I have sought to inform myself, the more complex I have found them to be. But I believe that I should not have had such trepidations because the issues before your Lordships are not simply those of tech- nology, military strategy or the relative merits of nuclear weapons. I believe that we must resist the temptation to be paralysed by suggestions that they are, and by other attempts which are made—I do not say consciously—to lull us by using neutral words to describe the horrors of nuclear warfare.

The issues are fundamentally ethical, and it is for that reason that I believe that a voice should be heard from these Benches today. It is about the significance of nuclear weapons for the ethics of defence that I wish to speak. I use that phrase deliberately, for although I believe that it is possible to speak in ethical terms about the existence of nuclear weapons for deterrence and what it is right for us to do in the situation in which we find ourselves, it is impossible to give any ethical justification whatever for their first use. I, too, welcome the opportunity given to the House by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, for this debate and for enabling your Lordships to draw attention to the speech of the late Lord Mountbatten; not least because, particularly in his concluding sentences, he referred to the moral choice in which we are all involved.

It is not merely a question of abstract moral reasoning. As President Sadat has reminded us in the context of the Middle East, it is the will of the people for peace which matters; and it is to the desperately urgent need for us to encourage a responsible determination that a way should be found to achieve disarmament and peace that I wish to draw your Lordships' attention.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, to whose speech I should also wish to pay tribute, as I talk to ordinary people I detect on the one hand the growth of a disturbing apathy with a fatalistic acceptance of the inevitability of nuclear war—an apathy which can only serve to increase the likelihood of it occurring—and, on the other hand, a blindly optimistic hope that somehow, perhaps with the aid of technology, such a disaster will be averted in spite of the attitudes of men and women.

I believe that all who have the welfare of mankind at heart must strain every nerve to alert people to the appalling horrors of nuclear war, but do so in such a way as to evoke a sense of responsibility, a will for the solutions of conflict by peaceful means, and a determination that a nuclear holocaust should not occur. As has already been mentioned in this debate, this will involve—particularly in this country—breaking the conspiracy of silence about the nature of such a war and its effects.

But how is this to be achieved? Here I must confess that Christians and others who believe that a new ethical dimension has been introduced because of the nature of nuclear weapons, are not altogether of one mind. Some are pacifist in the strict sense and in principle. Others maintain that nuclear war is so evil that it must be avoided at any cost, even to the extent of acquiescing in action which may well result in a situation in which freedom as we know it is not to be found and in which rights essential to human worth and dignity are denied. Others, accepting that nuclear weapons exist and while recognising the horrors of nuclear war, believe that the right course is, in the words of the late Lord Mountbatten: … to press for both sides to replace the attempts to maintain a balance through ever-increasing and evermore costly nuclear armaments by a balance based on mutual restraint". This will not happen unless there is a will and a determination that it shall happen.

The position of those who are pacifist in principle is one that I respect. Its single-mindedness and its insistence on one absolute principle has its appeal. But while some are called to adopt that position—to witness to us all, by their total commitment to non-violence, to the fact that we are all called to be makers of peace—it is the way of redemption by suffering, and I do not believe that morally a Government can call upon all to share that way. With regard to the second position I mentioned, I have two difficulties—one of principle and one pragmatic. I believe that a concern for quality of life—not just life—requires us to look for a middle ground between the gospel of non-violence and mutually assured destruction. Secondly, the adoption of the second view, with its minimising of the claims of truth and freedom, can have a very enervating effect upon our desire to achieve peace. A mere concern for survival without a concern for quality of life can, in fact, undermine our concern to preserve peace. After all, peace is not an end in itself; it is to enable men and women to live fully.

I have sufficient faith in human beings—even though, as noble Lords will realise, I believe that we all need redemption—to believe that there is a middle ground in the choice before us, and that what matters is our will to achieve it. We must begin—and I apologise if at this point I appear to preach to your Lordships—by recognising the evil of aggression and the evil of the fear which springs from the threat of aggression at any level in human life. We must begin by a determination to resolve any disputes by fearless negotiation as rational beings, and neither by appeasement nor by confrontation. We cannot expect to have peace at the international level if we are not working for it at the national and local level, and at the personal level.

Secondly, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, has destroyed any argument, if ever there were any, to prevent us from supporting all efforts which are made for progressive multilateral disarmament, and I believe it is our duty to support them in every way we possibly can. Thirdly, I would wish to support what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said, that we must maintain an adequate level of conventional weapons; ideally, of course, under international control. I say maintain that level somewhat reluctantly, but we must be realistic. There probably will be disputes which negotiations fail to solve, and there must not be a vacuum which will then be filled by nuclear weapons. However, the most important point, yet the least spectacular, must be the constant encouragement of people in the world to take heed of Lord Mountbatten's words, to make the moral and philosophical choice for peace, not war.

6.51 p.m.


My Lords, like other noble Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, for initiating this debate on what we must all realise is an extremely important subject. I should also like to join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, on an extremely eloquent and moving maiden speech. I find myself in agreement with a great deal of what Lord Mountbatten said in his speech, and I should like to draw attention to some parts of it.

First, he said: To begin with"— that is, to begin with in achieving practical measures of nuclear arms control and disarmament— we are most likely to preserve the peace if there is a military balance of strength between East and West". I would note that he did not say "a military balance of weakness", but "a military balance of strength". I would also agree with him that any nuclear war, whatever you call the weapons used, leads to almost total devastation. Although it is a slight exaggeration to have said, In the event of a nuclear war there will he no survivors. All will be obliterated", I think that is not much of an exaggeration. There will be some survivors, not everything will be obliterated, but it might be more humane if there were none.

Finally, I agree with him in his comment: I cannot imagine a situation in which nuclear weapons would be used as battlefield weapons without the conflagration spreading". Where I find myself in disagreement with him is in his condemnation that it is in the existence of tactical nuclear weapons—or, as they are sometimes called these days, theatre nuclear weapons—that the main danger lies, and therefore the inference that if they were done away with we should be a great deal safer. Indeed, I feel exactly the opposite. It is not a concept which any sensible, responsible, military person now holds that you would fight a war in Europe with tactical or theatre nuclear weapons and thus avoid a strategic nuclear exchange.

That is one of the dangers in the concept which appears to be arising that there must be some sort of balance in theatre nuclear weapons. It was Helmut Schmidt's reaction to the results of a theoretical exercise of this nature when he was German Minister of Defence which led to a great deal of discussion in the nuclear planning group, and indeed to the initiation of the neutron bomb, the idea being that it would kill the enemy tank crews but not make so much damage to the countryside. Of course, the fallacy there is that you have to be certain that the other side will use it too. No, the aim of the tactical nuclear weapon is to make the nuclear deterrence to war more credible. It had ceased to be credible in many ways because nobody could believe that if purely conventional forces invaded Western Europe there would be an automatic, immediate recourse to an intercontinental strategic exchange between America and Russia. What there would in fact have been is what the Germans fear most—what is called in NATO circles, a "decoupling" of the nuclear deterrent to war from that of a Russian invasion of Western Europe.

What the existence of the tactical nuclear weapon which is designed fundamentally to attack the enemy's military forces does is to maintain the nuclear deterrent to war of any kind in Europe. It makes it almost incredible that any sensible nation would indulge in it. It maintains the risk of any war in Europe turning into the holocaust and so it keeps high the risk of going to war at all. Therefore, it contributes powerfully to preventing the war taking place at all. It ensures that there is no doubt that the risks of war would be unacceptable to those who engaged in it.

If you abolish the tactical nuclear weapon, you return, as I see it, to a position in which the nuclear deterrent to war is not credible. If you abolish nuclear weapons altogether, you abolish a nuclear deterrent to war, and you have no other deterrent to war other than the sort of deterrent to war that has not worked previously, of the damage, the horrors of a conventional war. I certainly do not doubt—would your Lordships doubt?—that if there were not nuclear weapons in the possession of the United States and Russia today we should in fact be facing a war situation as a result of events in the Middle East, which at the moment, although it may yet be so, we are not.

Having said that, I strongly agree with Lord Mountbatten and with what my noble friend Lord Zuckerman, and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said about the need. I quote Lord Mountbatten again: The real need is for both sides to replace the attempts to maintain a balance through ever-increasing and ever more costly nuclear armaments by a balance based on mutual restraint. Better still, by a reduction of nuclear armaments I believe it should be possible to achieve greater security at a lower level of military confrontation". I support most wholeheartedly every word of that. But if you were to abolish nuclear weapons I believe that you would have brought back a situation from which we certainly suffered in my youth, in which the risks of going to war appeared acceptable to statesmen and leaders of nations. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, said, you cannot put the ink back into the bottle. The knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons, the basic physics of it, is now known to every schoolboy. Therefore, if you open up again the risks of going to war you will open up a serious situation in which sooner or later, even if you have theoretically abolished nuclear weapons, they will reappear. I can imagine no international situation more dangerous than one in which you have a large number of nations with a small number of weapons. That would be instability and danger indeed.

The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, in his maiden speech, asked, have we ever felt less secure? I believe that yes, indeed, we have. I certainly have. I felt less secure in 1939, and on a number of occasions between 1939 and 1945. I believe that at the moment a great many people have confidence that because the risks of war among the major nations are so high, they would step back from the brink, if they ever considered going to war.

So I believe that peace depends on our being prepared to face the possibility of war, but with the knowledge that if it does occur, it must be limited in aim and limited in the methods by which it is conducted, and I am absolutely certain that peace will not come about by unilateral disarmament.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a question? Am I to understand from his speech that what he is saying is that so long as somebody else has the bomb, we have to have some kind of equivalent deterrent? Is that what the noble Lord has been saying to us this evening?


My Lords, the noble Baroness has not got it quite right. I believe it is a good thing that both sides should have it.

7.1 p.m.


My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow those noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, for which we are very grateful, and may I say to my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker how much this has contributed to what is the aim and object, certainly, of those of us who are with him in the campaign for world disarmament. I am also very grateful for, and acknowledge my admiration of, the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee. At least I have a half namesake. I am very grateful not only for his speech, but for the fact that, in case there should be any confusion, he and I are, I believe, practically speaking the same language. So if he gets my cuttings, he will not have to take libel action.

I believe that this is a great occasion because in a very real sense it provides a landmark by bringing on to the record and into debate in your Lordships' House the quite remarkable speech of Lord Mountbatten. It is also some consolation for those of us who were in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament all those years ago to find that the manifest truths that we were declaring over 20 years ago have now become conventional wisdom, which can be rationally—seriously—debated in your Lordships' House. Lord Mountbatten's speech at Strasbourg was in fact the justification of the main contentions that we were making all those years ago. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, strongly disagrees, as does the noble Lord, Lord Carver, with unilateral disarmament.

I would remind your Lordships that 25 years ago unilateral disarmament in the British sense was a real option; that is, that at that moment if we in Britain had decided not to pursue, or persist with, the nuclear bomb, recognising manifestly what has proved to be true—that we could not afford it, and would in fact become only a surrogate nuclear power—we would, by that demonstration, have profoundly influenced the course of world events. We would then have been in the position of renouncing something. Now it does not matter. If we renounce the nuclear bomb, or even the British component of the NATO forces, all that would happen is that we would be instantly replaced by the Germans, who would be co-opted to fill the vacuum with their nuclear contribution. I am speaking now about the opportunities that were lost. I am not saying that we in CND were wrong, but that the opportunity was lost. We opposed, and we still do—all of us who are involved in these matters; certainly from my point of view—the fallacies of the deterrent. Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Carver, has said, with great authority and with effective argument, there is something which is the deterrent. Anyway, we can say we have not had a nuclear war. But all that can be said is that the deterrent has deterred the deterrent. That is all. It has not prevented the wars over the last 30 years in which over 10 million people have died, since the end of World War II.

The deterrent, which means the threat to use nuclear weapons, has proved of no avail in Indo-China. It has proved of no avail in rescuing the 50 hostages in Iran, nor in preventing a potential confrontation, the invasion of Afghanistan. It will not rescue the Soviet Union from its Vietnam—because it is going to have a Vietnam in Afghanistan. It will not relieve us from the situations which are generating our misery today. It is the elephant and the mouse, and the eagle and the flea, or the dinosaur too massive to manoeuvre, and sinking under the weight of its own armour into the bog of helpless uncertainty.

Conventional power politics, the ploys of diplomacy, have been paralysed by nuclear psychoses, by the apocalyptic absurdity of overkill, by the mad maunderings of first strike, counterstrike, this, that, the next thing, and all the wrap-up words about which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro was properly complaining. We have masked the real meaning behind these phrases.

Today one cannot see a better demonstration of the failure of the nuclear deterrent, with all deference to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, than is contained in the situations around us. Short of just deciding to obliterate mankind, there is no way in which there can be a nuclear take-out of any situation. You cannot deliver the hostages—we have failed even by implicit threatening to rescue the hostages—as you will not stop the kind of crisis situations which, as in the case of Saudi Arabia today, can be provoked by a television programme.

There is a reduction of the human capacity to manage a situation. It is a reduction to absurdity. Diplomacy has gone. Politics have gone. We are in a mad world in which we are relying upon things which are not even available for us to handle, except at the moment of complete and utter madness when we decide that we have had enough of it and we are committing suicide. Where is the human capacity to control? Judging from the way we are going, it is certainly not in the people who have been mismanaging, or even, if I may say so, in the military staff or their political masters. It may be—and with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro and the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, I hope it is—that the capacity is still with the people. I think that we can still mobilise the capacity to prevent this craziness. We can get back to Salt III. We can get back to an area of complete disarmament in which we can really conduct ourselves rationally.

It is an appalling thought at this moment that, having gained possession of the secrets of nature and of nuclear energy, having exploded an apocalyptic bomb, having now even got to the stage where we can manipulate the secret of life (through DNA and so on) we are fumbling like dotards. Think of all the wonders and marvels, such as the micro-chip and everything else that we have at our disposal. Yet we have not the ability to run our own affairs. The inventive ingenuity of Man the Maker, Homo faber, has outstripped Thinking Man, Homo sapiens, the moral and political being. Thinking Man has lost the capacity to behave like a thoughtful person. Now we have to come back to the truth that we are living in a nuclear nightmare which is of our own creation.

There is nothing to fear, as Roosevelt said, except fear itself, and it is a fear that we ourselves have deliberately created and from which, at this moment, we cannot see a way to escape. This was the most powerful argument in Lord Mount-batten's speech; and, with all deference to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro, there is the new thinking and the new awareness on the part of the younger generation, who are experiencing something of the dilemma of the 1950s. All right—at that time it was not apathy, it was fatalism. There was no future; they had no future. All the meaningfulness had gone from their lives, and that is when they marched. Now we have got to get them, all over the world, to march again.

7.11 p.m.

The Earl of CORK and ORRERY

My Lords, it is St. George's Day. We have neglected our patron saint to such an extent that I hardly think he will respond to a call this evening, as he might have done, conceivably, in other circumstances. According to Byzantine iconography, his destruction of the dragon was a posthumous miracle carried out on behalf of a persecuted village. If he were to come back this afternoon in response to our prayers, I am inclined to think that the dragon to which I would invite him to pay his attention, or one of the dragons, would be the dragon which I would describe very nearly, but not quite, as defeatism. Defeatism is not part of our make-up, and it has certainly played no part in this afternoon's debate; but something not unlike it has, I believe. One might describe it, as did the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, as a sense of doom which hangs like a cloud over the world. I think I have his words right from that memorable and moving maiden speech which we were privileged to hear him make earlier in this debate.

My Lords, I do not know how it has come about but for the last few months only, I believe, there has been a strange pessimism evinced in printed articles and in speeches in high places, in Parliament and elsewhere, indicating the inevitability of war. We hear references, not to "a" Third World War as a possibility, but to "the" Third World War, as though it were a kind of pseudo-certainty; and with that go references to the nuclear Third World War, or at any rate an implication that this war, when it comes—and it is more or less certain to come—will be a nuclear war.

I do not know what the justification is for either of those points of view, which I do not hold or agree with in any way myself. Of course I know the dangers.

Nobody could possibly fail to be aware of the horrors and the perils which have been spelled out this afternoon by one and all, practically, from the noble Lord who initiated this debate onwards. We know these things, but they have not suddenly become more perilous—unless, that is, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, is right, as indeed lie may be, in supposing that the sheer numbers of weapons have given rise to the actuarily far greater possibility of accidents. This may or may not be so; I do not know, and, with respect, I am not quite sure that he knows, either, though it seems a reasonable argument, I agree.

But, my Lords, we have not had a war. Certainly, 10 million people have been killed in wars, as the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, has pointed out; but I believe that without nuclear weapons, without nuclear fission, the Third World War (if I can refer to it with the definite article) would have started in 1946. Certainly there have been several other occasions since then, in various parts of the world, when a world war could have been started and when, without the nuclear bomb, I believe, would have been started. But if we did not have it at all we should, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, has said, have been at war by this time, and we should have been defeated, if not destroyed, because we cannot fight a successful defensive war on what I prefer not to call conventional grounds.

This is not an argument in favour of nuclear weapons, by any means. This is a horror and a nightmare with which we have to live. Nor is there anything to be said in favour of what is referred to as the nuclear arms race. There is no point whatever in continuing to make more and more bombs, or almost no point, once you have enough to frighten the other side, which is what it is all about—both sides being mutually deterred by fear of what the other side might do. Once you have got to that point, the continued proliferation becomes not only pointless but lunatic, except in one conceivable respect, and that is that the more you have the less likely it is that what you have will be put out of action by one shot from the other side before you are ready.

That is certainly a strategical consideration, but that is not the one on which this so-called race is based. I think it must be conceded and agreed that this is altogether a lunatic situation, and by all means that we can consider should be brought to an end. But it should be brought to an end as part of a general reduction in armaments, and I was particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, mentioned that earlier speech made by Lord Mountbatten in which he referred to this—a speech to, I think (I am not quite sure; he will correct me if I am wrong), the Commonwealth Prime Ministers—because in the speech which forms the subject of this debate (unless I read him wrongly, though I do not think I do) he refers only to nuclear disarmament. This, I believe, was not his point of view; and, indeed, if he had said it I should have risked the displeasure of Lord Noel-Baker by saying that he was mistaken. But I do not think he said that. One thing he did say, though, which I am emboldened to disagree with slightly, is that the existence of nuclear weapons "only adds to our perils." I do not think it "only adds to our perils." I have probably indicated already that I think they have in fact kept us safe for 30 years, and that their reduction would have greatly increased the dangers to which we were exposed.

Nonetheless, let them be done away with, together with all armaments. But, in the meantime, we have to live with what we have got, to use the phrase, in a slightly different context, of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, I think. We must try to live without fear. This is the evil that is placed upon us. Fear itself is an evil, and it is no good for the leaders of the country. The generality of the public may be exposed to fear and cannot escape it, but fear must not be a guide for anybody who has charge of the conduct of affairs. In the words of Emerson, I think: Never strike sail to a fear. Come into port greatly, or with God sail the seas". The point of view which is probably the only constructive one (in the sense of anything likely to hold out a real hope of producing a positive result) that I have heard lately, and that includes this afternoon, comes from an historian. We have heard very little history in the course of this debate, and I cannot imagine any subject which would he more vital for its prosecution. I refer to an article by Professor A. L. Rowse, printed a week ago and published, I think, in the Daily Express, on Wednesday, 16th April. He was speaking about Soviet Russia, and mentioning the majority of peoples in the Soviet Union who are, as he put it, held down, including—and I am now quoting him— some 40 million Ukrainians; Kirghese, Kazaks, Turcomans—all those Moslem peoples of their southern borderlands; not to mention Georgians in the South, Finns in the north by the White Sea; and the Baltic peoples of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, who had their national freedom between the two German wars. The historian can see a fundamental trend in history which offers the Americans, and the West as a whole, hope. It is this: when peoples arrive at a certain degree of maturity"— and this is in italics— they demand to govern themselves". Here, I think, my Lords, lies a hope on which we must pin some of our faith. It requires patience, it requires endurance. We have got to live with this, and to a certain extent sweat it out while doing what we can to bring about mutual agreement on the reduction of arms. In the meantime, if we withdraw from this position in any way, I hope that we shall not do so from fear itself, because, of all the weaknesses that flesh is heir to, fear is the most dangerous because it is the one, the only one, which neither gods nor men forgive.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, may I first congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, on what was one of the best maiden speeches that I have ever heard. We shall all want to hear him again, soon and often. May I first say on the debate something which has been said before and apparently there is still doubt about it. It is that the Campaign for World Disarmament is not for unilateral disarmament. It is squarely based on the decision of the General Assembly. It is for agreed and verifiable disarmament; in other words, it is for détente, SALT II and SALT III, and so forth. No doubt it will be supported by unilateralists (as they are entitled to do) but it is not for unilateral disarmament.

I was somewhat shocked by the fact that the late Lord Mountbatten's speech was, in effect, refused entry to the British Press—in effect, suppressed. I must own to a bias here, for all my life I have been pretty violently in favour of freedom of speech. I was the first chairman for some five years of the organisation which publishes an index on censorship, a record of every country's state of affairs in relation to religious and political opinion and a subscribing member of CAPA, the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse, on which I have written to Mr. Brezhnev on this habit of the Soviet Union of thinking that anybody who does not agree with the party must be mental, taken to a psychiatric hospital and forcibly given drugs treatment.

Here, having had the pleasure of knowing Lord Mountbatten, it seemed to me extraordinary that, with one exception, his speech was never reported or referred to in any national newspaper. Does anyone doubt for a moment that if Lord Mountbatten had made a speech saying that we were getting behindhand in relation to the Russians and that we must have more and more nuclear arms, that would not have been published? I said, "with one exception". The Times is the exception because The Times was not being published at the time the speech was made. Therefore, I wrote to Mr. Rees-Mogg and suggested The Times might like to publish the speech. He said it would want some special occasion; and he said he could not. Ultimately, it was published in The Times, but only as a paid advertisement. It seems extra-ordinary that people must pay The Times to put in the speech of a man of this character. I gladly agreed to the campaign to send a copy of his speech to all Members of Parliament with a brief note from me. I have had a good many replies, some rather odd. One was from a noble Duke writing from his ducal castle who said that as soon as he saw the speech, lie thought it a clear sign of senile dementia.

What has disturbed me is the number of letters suggesting that the whole case against nuclear war was very much exaggerated and that only if we had enough civil defence, if only we had enough fallout shelters, we should get through it all right. I think that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, would agree that the whole concept of deterrence from nuclear weapons would itself be reduced if people began to think they could get through a nuclear war all right.

I have taken a little trouble to obtain for this debate the latest thinking in the United States upon this point. It is a report which was made at the request of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, and produced by the Office of Technology Assessment. It has been available to Members of Congress only since May and to anyone else only since August. It answers a series of questions of "What would happen if …". What would happen if one large bomb was dropped on Philadelphia; or one large bomb was dropped on Leningrad? What would happen if the Soviet Union attacked all the silos of the United States; or vice versa? What would happen if there was an attack by the Soviet Union on all the oil refineries in the United States; or by the United States on all the oil refineries of the Soviet Union?

The results, of course, are very much the same. They take into account the state of civil defence in both countries and every known factor. In the case of the oil refineries, they found that some 64 per cent. of all the oil refineries of the United States would be destroyed and some 77 per cent. of those of the Soviet Union. Then they take the case of an all-out nuclear attack by one against the other. In dealing with the supposed attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, they first point out that it would be mainly on towns; and they say: The majority of urban deaths will be blast induced, e.g., victims of collapsing buildings, flying debris". I stress that sentence because fall-out shelters are useless if the main damage is to be by blast. Then, under the heading, "The First Few Hours", they say: Rescuing and treating the injured will have to be done against near unsurmountable odds. Fire and rescue vehicles and equipment not destroyed will find it impossible to move about in any direction. Fires will be raging, water mains will be flooded, powerlines will be down, bridges will be gone, freeway overpasses will be collapsed, and debris will be everywhere. People will be buried under heavy debris and structures, and without proper equipment for lifting such loads, the injured cannot be reached and will not survive. The fortunate ones that rescuers can reach will then be faced with the unavailability of treatment facilities. Hospitals and clinics in downtown areas would likely have been destroyed along with most of their stocks of medical supplies. Doctors, nurses and technicians needed to man makeshift treatment centres are likely to have been among the casualties". They sum up the general effect in this one sentence: The number of deaths and the damage and destruction inflicted on the US society and economy by the sheer magnitude of such an attack would place in question whether the United States would ever recover its position as an organised industrial and powerful country". This is the danger we face. It does no service to anyone to pretend that there is any defence against a nuclear attack. Unlike the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, I am persuaded that if we go on with nuclear armament, it is only a question of time, and probably only a very few years, before there is a nuclear war whether by design or by accident. I think it not at all unlikely that it will start by accident. It was President Eisen-hower who made it plain that we are not going to get the Governments of the world to agree lightly unless the people of the world insist on it. That is the object of the campaign.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, I want first to pay tribute to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, which, as other noble Lords have said, was a remarkable one. I too hope that the noble Lord will intervene again soon in the debates of your Lordships' House, and do so regularly thereafter.

I welcome this opportunity to participate in this debate. The threat of nuclear war and the terrible results which would follow the use of nuclear weapons are the subject of great public concern just now. It is entirely appropriate that the basis of our discussion should be the late Lord Mountbatten's remarkable speech made in Strasbourg less than a year ago. That speech deserves to be read widely and carefully. It is also appropriate that this debate should be introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker. His efforts in the cause of disarmament have been widely recognised over very many years.

Lord Mountbatten's speech ranged widely over nuclear security issues. In commenting on his thoughts and on the points which noble Lords have raised, I should like to base my remarks on the twin principles of our nuclear security policy: namely, maintaining effective deterrence on the one hand, and pursuing balanced and verifiable measures of arms control and disarmament on the other.

Our starting point must be the recognition that nuclear weapons today form a vital part of the fabric of European security. We have to take account of the fact that the Soviet Union is continuing to devote massive resources to its military forces, including its nuclear forces, far in excess of what is required for any legitimate defensive needs. Moreover, the Soviet Union is a closed society. We cannot judge with any certainty what Soviet intentions may be. We and our allies are therefore obliged to base our defence policy on what we know of their military capability and the use they make of it, rather than on what they say. In recent years Soviet nuclear weapons programmes have been especially fast growing. In the strategic nuclear field they have achieved parity with the United States. In the theatre nuclear field they have recently introduced new and highly sophisticated missiles and nuclear capable aircraft of particular concern.


My Lords, when the noble Lord refers to equality, will he make it plain what he is talking about? Is he talking about warheads, or what? Is there not a large United States' superiority in the number of warheads—about 50 per cent. more?


My Lords, if the noble and learned Lord will allow me, I will come to that in more detail later. In the theatre nuclear field they have recently introduced new and highly sophisticated missiles and, as I said, nuclear capable aircraft of particular concern. They are also continuing to modernise their shorter range nuclear weapons.

We are thus faced with an unrelenting nuclear build-up. In these circumstances we believe the best—indeed the only—strategy to preserve peace in Europe is one based on deterrence. We must impress on any adversary that the potential gains of aggression are far outweighed by the potential losses. To do so we must maintain the full range of military forces which will enable us and our allies to meet any aggression at any level with an appropriate response. A potential aggressor must not be allowed any illusions about the nature of the response an attack might provoke or how the conflict might develop thereafter.

To this end, for the reasons which were explained in another place on 24th January, the Government have stressed that they intend to maintain the effectiveness of our strategic deterrent. On the same occasion, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced a major improvement programme to the present Polaris force that will ensure that it remains effective into the 1990s. We intend to make certain that our strategic deterrent remains effective for as long as required thereafter. This is not the occasion to go into the options that are being considered. As has been made clear, decisions are likely in the fairly near future.


My Lords, may I briefly intervene? The noble Lord has made a statement of very considerable importance. He will recall that in the debate in another place on 24th January the Government were specifically pressed to make sure that there was full investigation and full debate in the House and in the country on the question of a possible post-Polaris programme before a decision was announced. The noble Lord has just said that a decision is imminent. We would take very grave exception indeed—very serious exception—to a decision which was announced to the country as the decision of the British Government to proceed with a post-Polaris programme without first ensuring what I have described as a full investigation of the need and of the options, and a full debate based on the kind of full information that we heard the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, and others, refer to.


My Lords, I can certainly assure the noble Lord that the Government's consideration of this matter will be carried out with the utmost care and depth. I will also undertake that whatever undertakings were given in the other place—and I do not have them in front of me—will of course be honoured and respected. However, I do not think that the noble Lord wants me to go into those details now.


My Lords, I hope that I have made the point. It is not that I expect the Government to give adequate consideration to this matter. What I am pressing for—as my right honourable friend did in another place— and what we shall go on pressing for, is full consideration and debate by the people of this country, armed with the necessary information before the Government come forward with a decision.


My Lords, I am not going to be pressed to give any more undertakings than were given in the other place on this matter. In the last resort, these decisions must be taken by the Government, and they will be.

Lord Mountbatten commented on tactical or theatre nuclear weapons. He rightly drew attention to the likelihood that the use of these smaller nuclear weapons would lead to nuclear escalation. Many noble Lords have repeated that this evening. Of course any use of nuclear weapons would be horrifying, and could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange. For that reason, it has long been recognised that the use by the Russians of their medium-range missiles could unleash a strategic nuclear war. It is precisely this fear of escalation which Lord Mountbatten identified. It is the prospect of response in kind and of escalation which in our view serves to deter any potential adversary from resorting to aggression in the first place. This is the essence of deterrence and, if it is to be effective, it depends on NATO maintaining its ability to respond at every level.

Lord Mountbatten also recognised the importance of maintaining a military balance between East and West. The alarming increase in Soviet theatre weapon systems has put the previously existing balance seriously at risk. In these circumstances, we have played a full part in the recent Alliance decision on the modernisation of NATO's long range theatre nuclear forces. As part of this decision we have agreed—as has already been announced—to the basing of 160 American ground launched cruise missiles in the United Kingdom, starting in about 1983. We regard this recent NATO decision as a vital step in preserving the full range of deterrent forces at the disposal of the Alliance.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred to the possibility of NATO's first use of nuclear weapons. We are fully aware of the supreme importance of ensuring that nuclear weapons never need to be used. But a ban on use is not a practical measure for Western countries in Europe where nuclear weapons form an essential element of security and stability. NATO's strategy of flexible response envisages that NATO would respond to an act of aggression at the most appropriate level. Any undermining of the credibility of this policy by pledges of non-use or no first use would, we think, increase the chances of miscalculation and instability.

This requirement to maintain adequate deterrent forces is only one part of our nuclear security policy. The Government are also committed to pursuing measures of arms control and disarmament. We share Lord Mountbatten's view that it should be possible to achieve greater security at a lower level of military confrontation. The Government have confirmed their commitment to achieve greater stability through arms control, despite the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In the nuclear field, the Government have supported the SALT process. This represents a major attempt to control the nuclear arms competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. We understand the reasons which have led President Carter to defer the SALT ratification process. But we hope that the SALT II Treaty will be ratified in due course and that in the meantime both sides will continue to abide by its provisions. A world without SALT would not, in our view, be a better place. It would, on the contrary, be more unpredictable and more dangerous.

We have also supported the American offer to negotiate with the Soviet Union on threatre nuclear forces in SALT III. This represents a further serious attempt to expand the scope of SALT to limit medium range systems of both sides. We and our allies have made it clear that we are prepared to modify the Alliance programme to modernise its theatre nuclear forces in the light of results of such negotiations. There are still about three years to run before the first deployments of the American systems in Europe. With political will, this allows time for negotiations. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union has so far rejected the American offer, but it remains open. We hope that in due course the Russians will be prepared to discuss these issues without the unacceptable preconditions which they have so far attached, namely that the Alliance's modernisation programme should be halted while Soviet deployments of new systems would effectively continue in the meantime. I hope that meets one of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts.


Yes, my Lords. I do not want to detain the House but, having been "non-detentive" on the Polaris issue just now, perhaps I might be allowed to express my pleasure at hearing these assurances from the noble Lord. They are of immense importance that, despite Soviet negativity, the motives for which may he various, nevertheless this offer, this package, remains on the table; that NATO, and we with NATO, are determined to press forward with these very constructive proposals.


My Lords, I am obliged. We are also continuing negotiations in Geneva for a comprehensive test ban. We want to secure a treaty that will help curb the development of new types of nuclear weapons without adversely affecting security, and assist in strengthening generally the non-proliferation regime. I am sorry to have to say that progress, particularly on verification, has been regrettably slow.

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries is a basic objective of British nuclear arms control policy. There is no technical solution to proliferation; we must continue to tackle it through political action. The non-proliferation treaty lies at the heart of our efforts to allow peaceful nuclear technology to flourish while preventing nuclear weapons following in its wake. The treaty now has 115 parties and we, as a depositary power, are actively seeking more. We are also deeply involved in preparations for the important Treaty Review Conference in August.

Like Lord Mountbatten, we cannot but be disillusioned by the lack of progress in nuclear arms control and disarmament so far. The horrors of nuclear war are self-evident, and have been described by several noble Lords today. The urgency is daily more apparent. I would only make two comments: one by way of caution and the other of ex- planation. First, in our desire for progress I think we must all try to avoid unrealistic expectations. Nuclear arms control is a matter vital to national security. It is unrealistic, however desirable, to think in terms of quick and sweeping results.

Secondly, we have to consider the realities of the Soviet attitude to which I have already referred. The Russians, as we are today only too well aware, continue to attach the highest importance to their military effort, which permeates every sphere of their activities, whether in terms of their economic priorities, their relationship with the United States or in their influence with the Third World. Hardly surprisingly, in arms control and disarmament matters they frequently appear more interested in rhetoric than in substance, in gestures rather than in real negotiations. This is true whether we look at the nuclear or the conventional field. This latter, although not the subject of this debate, is of particular importance in Europe. Moreover, as I have mentioned, Russia is a closed society. The Soviet Union's refusal to contemplate adequate measures of verification, which must accompany any serious measure of arms control, is all too often the greatest single technical barrier to real progress.

I should now like to deal with one or two of the points which have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, asked me about the mutual and balanced force reduction talks which are going on in Vienna. These continue despite Afghanistan, and the Western goal remains the agreement of verified common ceilings on both NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. Such an agreement would do much to lessen the risks of nuclear war by removing the important military balance between East and West. However, as in the talks at Geneva, progress is not very fast, I am afraid.

The noble Lord also asked me about the chemical warfare treaty. The United Kingdom, as he knows, is committed to seeking a verifiable ban on the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. We believe all Governments should support efforts to this end; but the Russians are unwilling to accept the essential measures of verification, and thus I fear we cannot hope for early progress. In the meantime, the Soviet possession of a very substantial chemical capability poses a serious threat to the United Kingdom which we cannot ignore, and it is in this context that the whole subject of chemical warfare is being kept under review. I do not have available the information about the latest developments on that particular front, but perhaps I can look into it further and let the noble Lord know.

The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, in his admirable opening speech, rightly stressed the need for disarmament under effective inspection and control, which has been mentioned several times. He also emphasised the need for complete disarmament. The Government share the view of all other members of the United Nations that general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective control, is the ultimate goal of arms control efforts. But that ultimate aim cannot be achieved quickly, and we think it is more realistic to take a step-by-step approach through specific and verifiable measures of arms control which maintain the balance of security at progressively lower levels of military capability.

The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, to whose excellent maiden speech I have already referred, and also the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, referred to the World Disarmament Campaign. The Government welcome proposals for arousing public interest in arms control and disarmament, and will continue to play their part in spreading information on this work, for example, through the Arms Control and Disarmament Newsletter. We shall study with great care any proposals put forward by members of the World Disarmament Campaign.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and also the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, referred to the fact that unilateral disarmament cannot be contemplated, and I think I have now said enough to make it clear that I endorse that sentiment.

In conclusion, I think it would be appropriate for me to return to the words of Lord Mountbatten, in answer to the question which he posed himself: how should we set about achieving the practical measures of nuclear arms control and disarmament? He said: To begin with, we are most likely to preserve peace if there is a military balance of strength between East and West". Those words were quoted, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Carver. Lord Mountbatten went on to say: The real need is for both sides to replace the attempts to maintain a balance through ever increasing and ever more costly nuclear armaments by a balance based on mutual restraint. Better still, by reduction of nuclear armaments, I believe it should be possible to achieve greater security at a lower level of military confrontation". This is a view which lies at the heart of the Government's two principles which I have described and which we fully share.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him one question which arises out of a point that I made—


My Lords, I think that this debate is due to end at five minutes to eight and there is a facility offered in the programme for the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, to withdraw his Motion. Therefore, I do not think it would be for the convenience of the House to have further questions.

7.51 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in what has been a very valuable debate. In particular, I thank my noble friend Lord Ritchie for his remarkable and brilliant maiden speech and my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner who, with his great authority, has added much, as has my noble friend Lord Ritchie, to the value of tomorrow's Hansard. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, who has answered for the Government, for what he has said about the Government's acceptance of general and complete disarmament as the ultimate objective, and for what he said about the World Disarmament Campaign.

I reiterate my profound belief that only the general and complete disarmament of the world to the Selwyn-Lloyd level, and the reallocation of resources to welfare, constitutes a realistic system of national defence. I add that the very purpose of Lord Mountbatten's speech, as of the article in The Times by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, was to show that nuclear weapons are not a real deterrent.

In withdrawing my request for Papers, may I express a desire? Lord Mount- batten's services to the nation were fabulous in every regard. The key lay in his command of his flagship, the destroyer "Kelly", which was sunk off Crete. The noble Lord who will next address your Lordships, the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, was sunk with Lord Mountbatten. They swam together for hours in the oil-covered sea before they were picked up. In view of all the services which Lord Mountbatten rendered to Britain, to NATO, to India and to the world, I wish that the Government could agree to print his speech at Strasbourg as a Government paper, and to give it the widest possible circulation by official means. Subject to that desire, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.