§ 12. Mr. Grimond
asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.
§ Mr. Grimond
While realising that the Minister is new to his office, may I ask him whether he will bear in mind, when he does make up his mind about this, that there is a growing opinion in this House, among Service chiefs and experts that the dependence of the Government on an independent British nuclear deterrent is now neither increasing the safety of the West nor, in fact, is it effective?
§ Mr. Watkinson
That is the hon. Gentleman's view. It is not the view of the Government, as set out in successive White Papers. I am certainly not going—nor would this House expect me to go—into these vast and complicated matters after having sat in my seat for only four weeks. I must carefully examine these things, and that I promise to do. When we have our normal defence debates, I shall be perfectly ready to answer all these sorts of Questions in the House.
§ Mr. Mellish
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that many of us would regard him as a first-class humbug if he were to say that we shall not have our own deterrent but shall rely upon the Americans and, thereby, somehow be morally better and decent?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I will go with the hon. Gentleman in this matter to the extent of saying that I would be a first-class humbug if I were to stand at this Box and pronounce on all the issues of war and peace and defence at this stage until I have had a proper chance of examining them myself. When I have done that, I will try to take the House into my confidence as much as I possibly can.