§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
May I immediately express to the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Secretary of State for Defence, the deep relief which the whole House will feel that they are safe after exposing themselves to the dangers involved in a weekend at Chequers? Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell me privately at some future time whether all the mounted police were there to keep the outsiders from getting in, or the insiders from getting out.
The purpose of this debate is to enable the Prime Minister to explain the Government's attitude to the British deterrent and the control of it, before he goes to Washington and meets the President of the United States. There have been many stories in the newspapers lately, and many rumours. We on this side of the House felt that it was time that Parliament knew what the Prime Minister means to say and means to do there. Secondly, the debate provides an opportunity for Her Majesty's Opposition to deploy the case for retaining the right to withdraw our nuclear arm from its commitment to N.A.T.O. in the situation—and only in 920 the situation—envisaged in Article 9 of the Nassau Agreement, which I read:The Prime Minister…That was Mr. Macmillan—made it clear that except where Her Majesty's Government may decide that supreme national issues are at stake,…Those are the words—these British forces will be used for the purposes of international defence of the Western Alliance in all circumstances.Those are the words which will govern the discussion which I hope we shall have today on the question of the deterrent and who in the ultimate state of affairs shall control its use. Therefore, in my approach, the approach of my party in this debate today, I want to make our position clear. The Prime Minister, in the past, has said many things relating to the nuclear force and the British control over it. I do not intend purposely to quote them today. He has now assumed the highest responsibilities in this matter, which deals with the security and life of Britain, and he must not be held by me to be bound by any past statements unless he himself wants to repeat them in the light of the facts and advice now before him. If he wants to modify his views I hope that he will do so, but at any rate I do not hold him to his statements of the past.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) is present. We look forward to hearing a contribution from the hon. Member.
Nor am I going to assume that the Prime Minister will necessarily wish to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement in the sense that he will agree to place British weapons outside British control—still less, as some rumours in the newspapers have suggested, that he might countenance the use of a technical device which, in a devious way, would put some mechanical control upon British weapons when they are allocated to N.A.T.O. so that they could never be resumed into British command. To sign away British rights in that backstairs way would be absolutely intolerable to the people of our country.
Therefore, I would describe the attitude of the Opposition in this way. We wish to see the maximum integration within the N.A.T.O. Alliance of the conventional forces and the nuclear weapon. The Prime Minister will remember than when we were the Government we ourselves allocated the bombers to N.A.T.O., the 921 bombers to be reinforced in due course by the TSR2 and again, when the Polaris submarines come along, by the submarines. We put all the time the greatest emphasis we could on improved integration within the N.A.T.O. machine. We therefore placed absolute importance upon the British Government using their power and influence to increase integration, but, nevertheless, at the same time, retaining the ultimate right to withdraw our weapons in the terms of Article 9 of the Nassau Agreement, which I have read to the House.
I shall deploy for some little time the detailed arguments to support our conclusion. Meanwhile I only say of the Nassau Agreement that it is a solemn treaty, a contract personally entered into and signed by President Kennedy and confirmed by his successor, and that this is an obligation which the United States Government would not in any circumstances break. If it is altered it would only be because the British Government wished to alter it. If it is ended it would be by British initiative and I want to deploy the case against any such move.
The first need is, I believe, to recognise the true nature and true facts about the British deterrent and the facts about its control as they exist today and as they will exist in the future. Britain has at the present time a nuclear strike which is strong enough to deter even the greatest of the nuclear Powers from blackmail or from aggression. It is now British and it is independent of control by any other nation and so it will remain when we take the Polaris submarines. To give proof, if proof is needed by hon. Members opposite, of what I say I shall say a little more about the force.
The force consists now of the V-bombers—they will be available in the early 1970s—and to them, about the middle of 1968, will be added the TSR2 with absolute control by the British Government of these aircraft both as to their missiles and their warheads. So this is a British force under the control of the British Government. As to the control of this force, these can be withdrawn, should the British Government so decide, for use either in their conventional capacity or in their nuclear rôle.
Neither of the reasons so often given by right hon. and hon. Members opposite for withdrawing the ultimate control over these weapons holds. The reasons 922 they give are either that they are not British—I think that I have proved beyond doubt that they are—or that they are not independent—and I hope that I have proved that they are completely independent in the sense that the British Government can use them whenever they like.
I turn from the present force of the bombers to the Polaris submarines. The British Government can use them whenever they decide that the national interest requires it. [Interruption.] If I am allowed to deploy my argument I shall give way to an interruption in a moment.
I turn now to the Polaris submarines, which will be independent of any control by the United States or any other Power and which will have their own communications system and will be absolutely free from interference by any other Power in any circumstances. It is true, of course, that the Polaris submarines are being built here with the delivery system which is of United States design. But right hon. and hon. Members opposite, at any rate, surely cannot argue that the United States is likely to default on this contract or default on the delivery, when it is willing to place the whole of the defence of the United Kingdom into the hands of the United States, and for all time.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
The right hon. Gentleman will not forget N.A.T.O.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I am coming to N.A.T.O., if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me. I want to deal with the whole of the argument from start to finish—what the deterrent is now, the control over it, and what alternative the right hon. Gentleman might conceivably be able to devise.
I turn now from ownership and control to the power of the nuclear strike as it is at present and as it will be with the Polaris submarines. It is necessary to do so, because in the past the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and other Ministers and hon. Members opposite have described the British deterrent either as negligible or irrelevant in terms of world power.
I do not feel at liberty to use the measurements of damage which we used in the previous Government and which, no doubt, are now used by the present 923 Government, but I can indicate that when we have the five Polaris submarines—let me say at once that no force less than five is viable—they will have a strike load of 2,500 or 3,000 Hiroshima bombs. That is a force that will deter, because one cannot imagine any military advisers of the Soviet Union or any other Communist Power recommending either that that Power should blackmail or seek to attack the United Kingdom so long as it has a force of that kind. They are defensive weapons. They are second-strike weapons which cannot be located and they are, therefore, a genuine defensive deterrent.
I should, therefore, like to sum up this section of what I have to say about the British deterrent in this way. The deterrent is an asset which exists. We have it. It is not as though we had to set out to create it. It is here and, once surrendered, it could not be regained. It is strong enough to deter. The Polaris submarine is the best second-strike weapon which there is and, so far as we can see ahead, it will be effective. The cost of the deterrent is now 8.4 per cent. of the total defence budget. When we have the Polaris submarines, the cost will fall to around 5 per cent. of the total defence budget.
We need conventional forces, and I shall say a word about their rôle in a minute. But there is no defence of this island except the nuclear deterrent, if we get involved in a dispute against our will with a nuclear Power. Lastly, it is clear that without the nuclear deterrent, if we shed it, we shall certainly lose a great deal of influence, authority and power in the international councils of the world. For all these reasons, I think that the case for retaining the ultimate right to control this weapon is made.
I turn now to the Prime Minister's contention, if I have understood it aright, that, if we discard our right to withdraw our nuclear force from N.A.T.O. in the circumstances envisaged in Article 9 of the Nassau Agreement, there is some compensating advantage that we could get through the creation of some new form of Atlantic nuclear force. Somehow, he says, we have to get back, as I understand it, to basic principles, by which I think he means a greater degree of interdependence.
924 So far, I would not quarrel with this part of the Prime Minister's argument, but it is necessary to make absolutely clear what is the position in N.A.T.O. today. The N.A.T.O. nuclear force today consists of forces and weapons which are assigned by Britain and the United States, and possibly, I hope, at a later date, the French. As the House will mark, there are two particular features connected with the present-day N.A.T.O. nuclear force: first, the right of either nuclear Power to veto collective action; and, secondly, the right to withdraw. That right America has and we have, and the French would insist upon it were they to contribute to a force.
I turn to the present state of affairs with regard to consultation and integration. I happen to know a good deal about this, because it was on my motion in Athens that we set up the N.A.T.O. Nuclear Committee which is available to all members of the N.A.T.O. Alliance for consultation upon the nuclear affairs of the alliance. Through the N.A.T.O. Nuclear Committee all members can get all the information they want about the targeting and deployment of nuclear weapons, and Western Germany is included in that Committee.
So there is now, as the Secretary of State for Defence will find, the fullest consultation in the N.A.T.O. Nuclear Committee about deployment and targeting, the things in which Western Germany, in particular, is interested. When is added to that the facilities of Omaha where the N.A.T.O. tactical plan is coordinated with the United States strategic strike, one gets for all members of the alliance, in the Committee and at Omaha, the very fullest facilities for knowing all about the plans which SACEUR has for for the employment of the N.A.T.O. force in the event of a challenge from another power. There is, too, a Belgian officer second-in-command to SACEUR who is responsible for the integration of N.A.T.O. matters within the N.A.T.O. nuclear force.
It may be possible—I think that the Prime Minister may be right—that improvements could be made in the integration of this force, but they would be marginal, in the sense that they would not affect either the veto or the right to withdraw. I want to deploy a little further the argument as to this, because it 925 is at the centre of the dispute between us. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is really saying that he wants to find a different force, a variant of the present one, in which Britain will have greater control, whether this is a variant of the present force or whether it is a multilateral or a mixed-manned force.
If I may, at the risk of interrupting my argument, I should like to interpolate a few words here about mixed manned. It has seemed to me that it is the sensible approach to a multilateral mixed-manned force first to ascertain the requirements of N.A.T.O. when the bombers, fall out of commission and there is a need for intermediate range missiles. That should be the first thing to be done. The second thing is the decision where best to place them, whether they should be placed in emplacements on land, in ships on sea, or on aircraft which would move about perhaps from one country to another. Then, and only thirdly, should it be decided which of these units may be mixed manned, if at all.
I think that this is the right way round, and I hope that perhaps some such suggestions will come out of Paris, because it was the solution we were looking for when we set up the Paris Committee to discuss any other alternative to the original proposals put forward by the Americans. I am sure that the essential thing, if we are to have a mixed-manned multilateral force, is that it must he of such a form that it does not split the alliance wide open, because I say to right hon. and hon. Members opposite that I cannot accept that the alliance, for instance, would ever be the same again if the French were to leave it on this issue. Therefore, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman himself, when he goes to N.A.T.O., will deal with the matter in the kind of way which I have described.
I turn to this, which is, I think, the kernel of the matter and of the argument. Whatever force there be, whether it remains the force as it is now or whether it is a variant, whether it is mixed manned or not, these two facts will remain. The United States will keep the veto, and the United States, apart altogether from what it allocates to N.A.T.O., will have its strategic strike and force completely independent of everybody else. If the French contribute anything to the N.A.T.O. force, they, too, will insist on the right 926 to withdraw. So, unless the Prime Minister deliberately signs it away, Britain will have the right to withdraw, too, and will also have the veto.
In his Mansion House speech, the Prime Minister said that no action will be taken which can in any way weaken the nation's real defence. That I take to be a public pledge. The only possibility, if I may say so, of fulfilling that pledge in the context of a N.A.T.O. nuclear force, if the Prime Minister insists on surrendering the right to withdraw, would be to secure for Britain some majority voting power within the N.A.T.O. nuclear force, without any other Power having a veto. But that is just what we could never concede to others, and they could never concede to us. If one washes out any question of juggling with the voting system so as to achieve a majority for one country or another, then one is left with a force in which the veto remains, and the right to withdraw will remain, unless it is deliberately bargained away.
I am all for trying to tie the United States into Europe—that is a most admirable ambition. But if one did it at the expense of the right of ultimate control, I hope that my analysis has shown that we in this country should be giving away everything for nothing, because the force that would be devised would be almost exactly the same as it was before. I trust, then, that we shall concentrate on improving the machinery of integration within N.A.T.O. and I do not think that this will be found to be at all inconsistent with the ultimate right to withdraw.
Finally, a nuclear arm cannot be dismissed as a matter of prestige. There is a need for conventional forces to preserve order and to contain local wars, so that they do not spread into the nuclear conflict. That is very important and we have a highly mobile conventional force for this purpose, but that could not deter another nuclear Power, if that nuclear Power should yield to the temptation to back its policies by force.
The balance of our military effort, in the whole of our military history, has been geared, of course, to national survival, on the one hand, and, on the other, to sustaining the peace of the world, through British intervention if necessary, 927 because that is the first of British interests. That is what we tried to achieve in the last few years and I do not think that we were unsuccessful.
There is, I believe, hope that the great nations will conclude, for the first time in their history, that nuclear power has taken all profit from war and that, therefore, nuclear weapons can no longer be used by the nuclear Powers to threaten or to fight against one another. But we cannot conduct British foreign policy and defence policy on a hunch and before we agree to, or think of, disarming Britain, we must make a far greater effort than has been possible so far towards general disarmament.
Nor can one forecast what is going to be the political alignment of nations, nor the pattern of armaments in the years ahead. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government is not here, so I will not quote him, but he made a speech in the election to the effect that if Mr. Goldwater had been elected the Atlantic Alliance would be at an end. I do not know whether that was a wise thing to say or not at the time. I am not judging. But it is a very wise reminder of the unpredictable actions of men which, in the past, have changed the whole history of the world, and very often at a moment's notice.
I am certain beyond any doubt that the removal of Mr. Khrushchev from the leading position in the Soviet Union was nothing to do with the public reasons that were given. It was against the background of discontent among the military leaders in Russia, because during the last years, under Mr. Khrushchev's rule, Russia had fallen so far behind the United States in nuclear weapons. Russia had also incurred the increasing hostility of China and now finds itself in the classic dilemma of many nations in Europe in the past—faced with the possibility of threats from both flanks.
It is much too early to say now what will be the result of the review of Russian military policy now being undertaken by the Russian leaders. They are reappreciating the factors in military power. It is also far too early to say whether Russia will find it necessary to realign itself with the Chinese, or 928 whether, as I hope, the logic of events will compel it to move further towards the West.
It is clear, too, that the balance of power is shifting. China, with its untold numbers increasing at an Asian birth rate while Russia is only increasing at a European, is tempted to take the road of expansion and its leaders are still proclaiming that force is justified against people who may stand in its way. I hope that the logic of nuclear power will compel China's leaders to conclude, as the Russians have previously done, that nuclear strength cannot be used for blackmail or aggression. I hope and I believe that China will be compelled to the same conclusion, but, again, one cannot conduct British foreign policy and defence policy on a hunch. We want more evidence.
New Zealand and Australia, Malaysia and the whole of the Indian sub-Continent are exposed in the path of Chinese expansion. I could not agree that in these circumstances we should tie up the whole of the British nuclear deterrent inside N.A.T.O. whereas in the most dangerous half of the world we should have no possibility of using British nuclear strength.
Then again, all the compulsions of modern life lead one to believe in, and ought to be driving men and nations towards, greater and greater interdependence, but the paradox of the situation is that nationalism and envy have never been more rife. Africa is in turmoil, the Middle East is still rent with feuds and we do not know what repercussions these basic movements may have. For instance, there is the movement of population, urging the Chinese, for example, to expand in the years ahead and what calls they may make upon Britain in international affairs and in keeping international peace.
I do not know whether it is possible, but I would think it very probable, that science will find a way to cheapen the processes of manufacture of nuclear warheads and delivery systems. If that is so, other countries will find that these weapons are brought within their reach, either to manufacture or to acquire. The Prime Minister rightly sets his sights on disarmament, but there are great imponderable questions. Can the Russians, 929 faced with the possibility of Chinese expansion, afford to disarm? There are all the signs that they cannot. If at some future time they were to throw in their lot with the West, then we might begin to talk in terms of a minimum deterrent. But that day is not yet, nor can the United Nations, as it reflects a dividing world at present, hold out any effective hope of collective security.
For all those reasons and the uncertainty which faces us all over the world for the years ahead, and the impossibility of foretelling the pattern of international politics or the pattern of arms, we should not take any irrevocable step to rid ourselves of control over our nuclear weapons.
§ Mr. Healey
I am grateful to the Prime Minister. [Laughter.] I am so familiar with the argument which he has been deploying from an earlier date that I was carried into the past. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition, with all the knowledge which he had as Prime Minister, can tell us, in the light of the argument which he has just been using, whether he considers that the five Polaris submarine force would be relevant in the case of trouble in China and the Far East.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
Yes, certainly I do. It is the kind of strike which I have described. It is movable. It cannot be detected. I think that it would certainly be a deterrent either to the Russians or to the Chinese. But I would not wish to tie it into the N.A.T.O. Alliance absolutely and irrevocably when we might want to use it in circumstances provoked by the Chinese.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
The hon. Member says "Never". No doubt it is impossible to say in what circumstances we could ever be blackmailed or attacked, but the future is absolutely uncertain. All I do know is that the lesson of history is that twice we have been left alone, and that it is impossible to say for certain—although we hope and pray that it will not be so—that that might not happen again in the future or that an enemy would not calculate that we should be left alone, which would come to the same thing.
930 With all those considerations before him, I hope that the Prime Minister will tell Parliament that he has taken no irrevocable decision to deprive Britain of the ultimate control over our nuclear arms. I believe that all these arguments which I have deployed, taken together, are overwhelming against him. I therefore ask the Prime Minister to take more time and to tell us today that he has decided to do so. But if he still insists that there is some alternative force which would justify him in discarding the right of the British Government ultimately to control their own deterrent, and if he continues his insistence of the past that we must get rid of it, I must say to him, with great reluctance, that we should have to go into the Lobby against his Government on this issue, because this is a matter which concerns the life of the nation.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, following the line which he intimated last week, devoted his speech to defence policy. He referred at one point in his speech, and I think that it was central to what he was arguing, to the need for this country to have the maximum influence, authority and power.
I think that those were his words, and no one will quarrel with them. Now that we are in a position to know more of the facts of what has been going on, I think that the mistake which his Government made was the thought that provided one follows whatever is the right line in weapons policy, no matter what one does about economic strength, a nation will have influence, authority and power.
Although the right hon. Gentleman did not deal with the economic situation at all, I believe, and I am sure that the whole House believes, that it is impossible to separate these issues. Since this is a free-ranging debate on the Adjournment, I believe that it will be considered for the convenience of the House if, first, I spend a little time on the economic Position before I come to defence, which I will do, and then deal with the points which the right hon. Gentleman made.
The House will be aware that before the Government's economic measures to 931 restrain imports and stimulate exports had time to operate, at any rate before they had time to be reflected in the monthly trade figures, a fairly formidable speculative attack was mounted on sterling in certain Continental centres. When this occurs—and we had one of similar virulence in 1961 and 1957, as the House recalls—little purpose is served by refuting the analysis, whatever it may be, of our basic trading position by those responsible.
We are dealing with a situation where what matters is not what our trade and payments position is, but what people overseas think it is. The House will agree that, speculative expectations apart, there is nothing in our current economic position which justifies these widespread desires to convert sterling into other currencies. I am sure that hon. Members will agree on the basis of the facts.
Of course, they must agree when the former Chancellor himself said that of the estimated payments deficit for 1964three-quarters of the year was over—threequarters of the year when this large deficit had been taken care of—by us.He omitted to mention that it had been taken care of by borrowing, including increasing sterling balances, to the tune of about £2 million a day, double the estimate which I was so passionately rebuked for stating during the election campaign. But there it was, and no one will cavil at what he said: it had been taken care of.
Equally, no one will deny that we had the resources to take care of the remainder of the estimated deficit for the rest of the year, for the two-and-a-half months from 16th October. The swap arrangements, the borrowing facilities negotiated with European central banks and with the United States, our reserves, and the 1,000 million dollars standby arrangement for which he asked from I.M.F., now in process of activation, were ample, several times over, to cover that remaining part of the estimated 1964 deficit which had been left still to be covered.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I apologise to the Prime Minister, but I do not know whether there is some misunderstanding here. I think that the right hon. Gentleman knows the Parliamentary conventions very well. The proposed subject for debate is the nuclear deterrent and the 932 discussion of the Nassau Agreement. That is on the Order Paper. We have the whole of tomorrow to discuss the economic situation. It is quite in order for the Prime Minister to draw attention to the economic reasons for what he is doing with the defence forces, but surely we ought to concentrate our debate on the subject on the Order Paper.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman must get out of the idea that he can dictate other people's speeches for them. I told the right hon. Gentleman that I intended to deal fully with the points which he made.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)
That would not take long.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
On a point of order. Is it not the case that the House is to discuss the Finance Bill tomorrow? Is not that the occasion on which the economic position of the country should be discussed rather than today, when we have the subject of nuclear defence on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
The Question before the House is, "That this House do now adjourn". It is in order for any hon. Member to discuss any subject, but I hope that hon. Members will concentrate on the subject which has been agreed for discussion.
§ The Prime Minister
Certainly. I have made it clear that I intend to begin with a short reference to this subject. Hon. Members opposite were only too ready to gibe a few minutes ago on this question. This is why they are most unwilling now to hear of the responsibilities with which they have left us. I will deal fully with the points made by the Leader of the Opposition, but I was saying—and I intend to finish this part of my speech—that the measures which we took a month ago were aimed to act directly on the problem of exports and imports.
The measures that we took this morning were designed to operate directly on that problem which has arisen in the course of the last few days, a purely speculative monetary phenomenon. The measures that we have taken at present are relevant to that, and we believe that they have shown the determination of the Government and, I hope, of the entire House, to deal with the problem of defending sterling.
§ The Prime Minister
I said "in the course of the last few days". As has been said, we are debating this matter tomorrow. [Interruption.] Of course, if hon. Members would like to have the whole story now, they can have it. They had better make up their minds what they want. The fact is, as the right hon. Gentleman recognises, that so far as the trade gap is concerned, whatever the trade gap or the payments gap—whatever has been estimated as having to be met—there were reserves and borrowings more than adequate to meet this, but in the course of the past week there has been this new development arising from confidence factors, and it was decided that we must take these measures decisively arid at the right possible moment.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
Does the right hon. Gentleman now acknowledge that the pressure upon sterling derives not from what he calls the economic inheritance, but from the total irrelevance of his right hon. Friend's Budget.
§ The Prime Minister
No, Sir, because, as I made absolutely plain, the measures that were introduced a month ago to operate on exports and imports, which were the inheritance of right hon. Members opposite, and which the then Prime Minister went on denying when he was pathetically proclaiming on the hustings—I know that he does not want to listen to this now, but he is going to get it—when he went round the country saying that the country had never been stronger—[Interruption.] This had already been dealt with. We are now dealing with a purely financial factor. I hope—and I am going to say this before I leave the subject—that we shall get from right hon. Members opposite today and tomorrow concern for and recognition of the fact that sterling is not a party asset of any party but an all-party and a national asset. [Interruption.] There are some hon. Members opposite who are not in a position to treat either the £ or defence as a serious matter.
I would remind right hon. Gentlemen opposite—I want to leave the subject on this point—that in 1956, when sterling was at its weakest because of the Suez operation, which we in our party had 934 opposed bitterly—it was the most controversial conflict of the post-war world in this House, I think—when, as a result of that operation; no one will deny these facts—sterling came under very heavy attack, even to the point where the operation had to be called off, and when the then Chancellor announced at the Dispatch Box the bitter measures that he was going to take to defend sterling, we in opposition said that, whatever our feelings about Suez, we would give him 100 per cent. backing of the measures that he took about sterling. I will not weary hon. Members with the actual quotation, but I can give them the date. It was 4th December, 1956, in column 1057 of HANSARD. Hon. Members can look it up for themselves. They will then see that we said that sterling was a national asset.
It is not for me to lecture the right hon. Gentleman, as he tries to advise me, on how he should comport himself in his new position. It is entirely a matter for him to decide what his attitude will be on this vital question of sterling. I take it, in any case, that right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not oppose the measures taken this morning, because we had the warm support of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) in the statement that he made on behalf of his party this morning. Of course, I would have preferred someone of a little more substance—
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
I said that I was speaking entirely for myself. But it is perfectly true, if the right hon. Gentleman challenges me, that I think his Government were failing in their duty in not having taken the step a month ago.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, I read that, and it made me wonder why, if it was right to take the step four weeks ago, it was not right to take it six weeks ago.
§ The Prime Minister
We can always rely upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman at all times. I would simply say this to him. There was nothing that happened in our trade or payments situation between now minus six weeks and now minus four weeks to justify any 935 suggestion that if it was right to take this step four weeks ago it was wrong to take it six weeks ago. The only reason that it was not taken six weeks ago was that it was before 15th October, and hon. Members opposite know this.
We intend to take the advice given to us by the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech, in the spirit in which it was offered. The House knows that within a fortnight we shall be engaged in important discussions with the President of the United States, and I should like to say a word or two about our objectives in those talks. First, we need urgently to strengthen the alliance and to make it more effective. I do not think that any words of mine are needed to emphasise the anxiety that we all feel about the stresses and strains, the divisive and centrifugal tendencies which have developed in the last few years. The fact that in some ways the world situation is more fluid and more unpredictable provides reason for hope, but it does not provide any reason for weakening the collective measures to which all parties in the House have made their contribution.
We may differ in our analysis of the cause of the present strains of the alliance. To a considerable extent, they date from Nassau. I will not repeat our criticisms of that agreement. They have been very fully deployed in this House before, notably in the two-day debate on Nassau on 30th and 31st January, 1963. Of course, on that occasion after the Nassau Agreement the then Government provided time for a full discussion on Nassau and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows—he has suggested this and we have agreed—there will be a full debate here after the Washington talks.
I do not recall that there was any debate in the House before the Nassau negotiations. Before that extremely fateful set of negotiations, there was no attempt on the part of the Opposition to debate the principle or to insist on certain assurances, and no attempt to divide the House on the eve of those negotiations. But we do not complain. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to use what is, in effect, a Supply Day for any purpose he wants. But he will understand that on the eve of those negotiations all that one could say is in the interest 936 of the nation extremely limited and I am sure that he and all hon. Members will understand that.
Partly for that reason I do not want to go back over all the arguments that we then used about Nassau, nor to exacerbate matters by repeating our analysis of some of the factors relating not to national defence or the strength of the alliance—some of the factors which motivated right hon. Gentlemen to salve what they could from the wreckage of the Skybolt project. Nassau was a salvage operation after the bitterly contested breakdown in the supply of Sky-bolt. But the effect of the Nassau Agreement in encouraging tendencies in French policy, both in defence and also in the wrecking of those policies of the then Government which had centred on their hopes of entering the Common Market—I do not think that the consequences of Nassau have been disputed.
Equally, it is our view that the action that followed from that agreement had two other grave consequences. First, it set back—we may not have wished it to set back and we may have deplored it—for two years the world's hope of an anti-dissemination agreement to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, the need for which the right hon. Gentleman has on so many occasions stressed. Secondly, it stimulated nuclear appetites in other members of the alliance, including—I am bound to say; we have been told this many times—Germany, and this, of course, then led to the costly proliferation of efforts and energies in proposals for the mixed-manned surface fleet.
The right hon. Gentleman quoted my words in Guildhall about going back to first principles, going right back to first base, looking again at Nassau. While not ignoring all that has happened since, all the momentum that some of the post-Nassau ideas have gained, we cannot ignore the fact that these proposals for the mixed-manned surface fleet have gained some momentum. There is good reason now for retracing our steps and getting back to first principles in all these questions affecting the unity and strength of the alliance, and affecting, equally, our hopes of stopping the spread of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.
First then, our objective—I am sure that the whole House would agree about this—is to do all that we can in these 937 talks to ensure that the alliance which is at present subject to very great strains and stresses should be strengthened in every manner possible. Our second objective is this. We want to play our part in turning the present negative posture of the alliance into something more positive and outward-looking. The purpose of collective strength in defence is to make fruitful negotiations possible for the easement of East-West tension.
Let me refer to something that was said in the House last July. The talks that the Foreign Secretary and I had in Moscow this year underlined the view that we expressed in Moscow, and which we brought back from there, quite apart from our hopes of further progress towards general and comprehensive multilateral disarmament, nuclear and conventional, that the most hopeful area for agreement lay, despite all its present difficulties, in an anti-dissemination pact to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and in certain measures, if the necessary confidence could be created, for arms control in Europe, and for the proposal of President Johnson for a standstill on the nuclear delivery systems.
Therefore, in all the measures that we shall be proposing in Washington for strengthening the effectiveness of our collective defences it is paramount that all we do shall not only not make disarmament measures more difficult, but we must so far as possible actively contribute in our defence proposals to making those measures easier to achieve. A defence policy which does not contain within itself the seeds of further progress towards disarmament is one which in the present state of the world we can no longer regard as appropriate. The House will know that today my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Disarmament has left for important discussions with the head of the United States Government's Disarmament Agency, and with others of our allies. That is the second of our objectives.
Thirdly, we hope to ensure that in Washington we can present our plans for increasing our effectiveness in areas other than Europe, including our ability to assist Malaysia in resisting infiltration and aggression. There is no difference between the two parties, I think, on this question. No one will underrate the importance of tightening the alliance in 938 Europe and discouraging diversionary tendencies. But in a world where the centre of gravity is shifting more and more to areas outside Europe, we need not only ourselves but with our allies, particularly the Commonwealth, to ensure that we have the strength and mobility to move quickly to stop small troubles from escalating into bigger ones, especially where the interests of our Commonwealth partners are involved.
Fourthly, we want to use these talks to concert those of our policies which aim—British and American and Canadian—at strengthening the effectiveness of the United Nations, of collective security, which as I said at Guildhall, represents the hope of mankind. There may have been a feeling abroad in the world that this country has not been so enthusiastic in its support of the United Nations as it might have been. I think that it is essential, particularly with an American Administration which is going a long way to strengthen the power, influence and authority of the United Nations, that we must do all in our power to ensure that our efforts are co-ordinated to strengthen the United Nations not only on the peacekeeping side, but on economic and development questions as well. We certainly want to make real progress towards strengthening the peace-keeping functions of the United Nations, and we are very ready, as a Government, not only to pledge our general support to this but to make an effective British contribution.
I know that this is very close to the heart of the former Foreign Secretary. We all remember the time when he had a speech ready to make and there was a very powerful paragraph on this which was, unfortunately, cut out at the last minute and never delivered. We were never told why or who cut it out, but we feel that it was a pity that what he intended to say on that occasion was not said. It will now be said.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I have made a similar statement at Geneva. The sole reason why that paragraph was cut out was in the cause of brevity.
§ The Prime Minister
We all have to do that some times. I think that there was a very great desire that while the right hon. Gentleman was in Washington and New York this statement should have 939 been made on behalf of the Government. It is a pity that the unfinished exchanges across the Floor of this House between the right hon. Gentleman and myself, when he was at this Box, about the ear-marking of British forces for possible United Nations peace-keeping action, were never concluded. Well, they are to be concluded now.
The fifth objective, to which I can refer only very briefly, is, of course, the urgency which has been underlined by the events of the past week for closer co-operation and for a more concerted approach on problems of world liquidity. Clearly, it will be understood that we shall be discussing in Washington the question of trade matters. While all of us would wish to see the maximum of speed and effectiveness through the Kennedy Round and other ways in freeing world trade, all of us would, I think, regard it as a tragedy if that greater volume of world trade that resulted then ground to a halt through lack of monetary lubrication. These are the five objectives that I wanted to mention before the Washington talks.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition knows that some of my right hon. Friends and I and our advisers have spent this past weekend in an exhaustive but extremely constructive look at the issues which we shall need to discuss in Washington and also at the realities of our defence situation as bequeathed to us by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The two obviously go very closely together. Everything that the right hon. Gentleman was saying earlier about the bombers and the power of Polaris, and so on, depends on the factual situation which we have inherited from right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The results of the weekend's examination will guide and inspire us in our talks in Washington. I shall come to that subject in a moment and, as I have said, we shall make a full report after the Washington talks. The other part of what we were doing, this weekend's examination of our own defence situation, will unfold progressively between now and the spring defence debates. I can certainly promise right hon. and hon. Members that between now and those defence debates a great deal more will be disclosed about the results of our examination of the defence situation. I shall 940 not today anticipate either those policies or those debates, but the House will understand this: we now have access to the books. We can read and we have been diligent in our reading.
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite can read. They have not only read those books, they wrote them. In view of their undoubted ability to read and write I am confused now by some of my recollections of some of the statements and denials made by some right hon. Gentlemen opposite as compared with the facts and figures now available to me. I have some difficulty in reconciling some of the statements and, above all, some of the figures then quoted. I am even compelled to speculate—and I am sure that the House and the country will be compelled to speculate when the facts are revealed—about the motives that led to some of these misleading statements.
I know that I need not tell the House about the relevance of the high costs of certain sections of the defence programme to our economic situation and the Chancellor's need and intention to enforce retrenchment. Not only were the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Secretary involved in these talks, but the entire talks were conducted by everybody present in a novel and refreshing spirit of cost effectiveness and value for money. It must have been about the first time ever and, speaking for myself, I had the advantage of having been Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for 3½ years.
Having said that, about which the House will hear a good deal more in the next few months, I will deal with certain points raised by the Leader of the Opposition about the conduct of negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman has sufficient experience in this field to know that the purpose of negotiations is not advanced by our tabling in advance every detailed proposal, every point on which we are prepared to make an offer if, and only if, we receive a commensurate return. Obviously, because these negotiations are about to take place, I cannot be as specific as I intend to be when we come back from Washington. We intend then to give the Leader of the Opposition and the House a pretty full statement, but I should like to repeat the principles.
First, on the question of our ability to prevent and deter a nuclear attack, I 941 cannot do better than repeat the wise words used by the Leader of the Opposition in May, 1963, when he said that thousands of Soviet nuclear missilesare trained on our islandand that this "colossal threat" could be deterred only by the combination of United States and British nuclear power. There was no suggestion then that a separate nuclear deterrent by Britain could deter those thousands of missiles trained upon our island. They were very wise words and we would do well to be guided by them, but they were, of course, uttered by the right hon. Gentleman before the purity of his apperception of these matters was clouded by his conversion to the view that these issues had other values.
The Leader of the Opposition has repeated today arguments which we have heard him repeat before with great consistency, and we all know his sincerity, in almost every speech before and during the election campaign. His failure to get a fuller response from the electorate on them certainly cannot be blamed on any lack of assiduity on his part. They have not in any way shifted my right hon. and hon. Friends from the views which we have expressed in debates in the House and in the country over the past two years, views—and I must repeat this—which have been the acknowledged policy of this party not for a few months or a year or two but since they were endorsed by a very large majority by the party conference at Blackpool in 1961. The policy then endorsed was the policy of this party in our remaining opposition years and it is equally now the policy of this Government.
In following that policy I stress the paramount need of this country to do everything in its power to promote measures to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and equally to strengthen the alliance in its nuclear as well as in its conventional power. Our approach to these problems is dominated by the need to ensure, that if we are to have effective defences—and I have quoted the right hon. Gentleman's figures—it is vital to strengthen the effectiveness of the deterrent power of the alliance, and then to contribute from a situation of unchallengeable strength and cohesion within the alliance, which we have not 942 got today, to urgent measures to reduce East-West tension.
In this context I must refer to the situation within N.A.T.O. to which Her Majesty's Government, like their predecessors, are unequivocally committed until a situation is created, as we all hope it will be some day, when effective world authority makes it possible for East and West alike to dispense with defensive alliances and groupings of this kind. It is our aim to move towards a system in these negotiations—because Washington is only a beginning—not of more fingers on N.A.T.O.'s nuclear trigger but of fuller sharing and consultation in the deployment of N.A.T.O.'s nuclear strength.
We on this side of the House are irrevocably committed against more fingers on the trigger. We have made it clear on the Opposition benches. We made it clear during the election, and, unfortunately, we have never succeeded in extracting a similar unambiguous statement from the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues. [HON. MEMBERS: "M.L.F."]. I shall come in a moment to the whole question of the mixed-manned fleet, on which we have never had a clear statement from the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants to mislead the House. We have always said that an essential part of any multilateral force was the retention of the veto by the United States and if we were a member we would, of course, insist upon the veto ourselves.
§ The Prime Minister
I will come to the question of the veto and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is important. I can remember very clearly, first in a debate on 30th and 31st January, 1963, when the right hon. Gentleman was not at that time with us, I made a specific challenge to his predecessor on this question and his refusal to answer that challenge. Several times at Question Time we have never had a specific statement by the right hon. Gentleman, particularly in relation to Germany, except to say that the Brussels Treaty did not provide for Germany to make her own nuclear weapons, which the right hon. Gentleman knows is not the issue at all.
943 We have throughout the discussions over the past two years expressed our full support of the clause in the Nassau Agreement which envisages the collective principle, and equally, we have expressed our opposition to the particular proposal put forward under that Article which envisaged a mixed-manned surface fleet. We believe that a mixed-manned surface fleet adds nothing to Western strength, is likely to cause a dissipation of effort within the alliance, and may add to the difficulties of East-West agreement.
There is the question whether the mixed-manned surface fleet—and this is the proposal which at the moment holds the field—involves a German finger on the trigger. In Moscow this year, as I told the House in July, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I sought to dispel the Soviet view that the proposal in its present form meant, as they put it, a German finger on the trigger. In its present form and as long as the American veto remains absolute, it does not mean, in our view, additional fingers on the trigger. I suspect and always have suspected that the Soviet fear relates not so much to the present proposal, but more to the possibility, sometimes canvassed, that the American veto might be replaced by a system of majority voting capable of overriding American opposition to the bomb being used. To such a development we are irrevocably opposed and such. I gather, is the view of the Leader of the Opposition.
Throughout all our discussions on the mixed-manned proposal there have been difficulties in finding out what was the view of the then Government, now the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman and the Foreign Office appeared to support the mixed-manned proposal. His right hon. Friend the former Minister of Defence—I think that he is very clear in his mind about this—opposed the mixed-manned proposal and their two Departments—when the right hon. Gentleman was Foreign Secretary and his right hon. Friend was at the Ministry of Defence—were at loggerheads, and unprecedently for this country—I do not think that it has ever happened before—allowed the battle to be carried through Press briefings into the newspapers, including the foreign Press.
944 We had a situation a year and more ago when the Foreign Press was being given totally different briefings by the Foreign Office from those which it was getting from the Ministry of Defence. I hope that their move to the Opposition benches will lead to a greater unity in this matter. I hope that the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) will win. As an encouragement to them and to him, let me say that there is no difference of view on this question in Her Majesty's Government, but just to remove uncertainty let me categorically deny a Sunday newspaper story that at Chequers or elsewhere we have decided to accept a given percentage participation in such a project. We have not.
But, as the House is aware, there is a wider willingness to await any proposals Her Majesty's Government may put forward. A British initiative is awaited, and we shall not fail them in this country. We are as anxious as any nation to move to a more collective system, and we are prepared to make our own contribution in the shape of V-bombers and whatever Polaris submarines right hon. Members opposite had, through postponing the election, taken past the point of no return. But we are prepared to do this only as part of a wider settlement which secures commensurate advantages for our own defences and in the wider setting that we shall be discussing.
I do not think that the House will expect me at this moment to go further, but I would say this. What we are debating today is the strength of Britain's defences—we are agreed on that—our collective ability to deter nuclear attack, and the wider question of Britain's influence in the world. We start from the position which we have inherited. We start, if one likes, from the weapons which we have inherited, including those which have gone past the point of no return.
§ The Prime Minister
Very helpful. The hon. Gentleman can be very perceptive about these matters.
I want to make this clear about these important negotiations. We shall be prepared to contribute these weapons to the system of collective security in N.A.T.O. if we receive advantages commensurate 945 in terms of our own and, indeed, the free world's defences. What we are debating is a wider question, and where I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite have gone wrong is to think that a policy based on the possession, or the alleged possession, of a partially independent, or allegedly partially independent, weapon confers influence and authority without the economic strength and the independence which goes with economic strength.
The Leader of the Opposition has talked incessantly of this conferring a ticket to the conference room. We heard that phrase very many times in his election broadcasts. We are in the conference room now, and I doubt whether ever since the war a British initiative has been so eagerly awaited—not because of what the right hon. Gentleman left us with, but mainly because I believe that there is a widespread realisation in the world teat we have a new Government with twentieth-century ideas.
I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon, although it had familiar rings of speeches we have heard before, was beginning already to sound a little dated. If one looks at all the discussion going on in the world's Press at present about the future of Western defence, it did not seem as though it belonged to the same age as that discussion—discussion not started by ourselves. I must say this to the right hon. Gentleman, because we have all been through it. I remember that on arriving on the Opposition benches one still goes on trying to make Ministerial speeches of six months ago. I made some very powerful ones on monopolies, but nobody wanted to listen because they were outdated. One felt that about the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon.
Since I have referred to the fact that we are in the conference room, I am sure that the House will understand my feelings about the position in which some of my right hon. Friends have been placed in certain recent international conferences—a position of great embarrassment, due not to our measures but to the measures which were forced on us. The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said that the tariff charges were, in fact, his diagnosis and his remedy. So there cannot be any complaint by right hon. Members opposite that we introduced that remedy.
946 The Leader of the Opposition, in a speech to the Cambridge University Conservative Undergraduate Society the other evening, said that all the trouble arose from the fact that we did not consult before we imposed those measures. That is a rather funny argument, is it not? What he says is that if we are to give somebody a black eye—and nobody denies that it hurts—if we tell them first that we are going to do it, it makes it more tolerable.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I honestly did not say that. I said that you made an infernal muck of it, and that is about right.
§ The Prime Minister
That was a little less constructive than we normally expect from the right hon. Gentleman. He did not criticise the measures themselves. He criticised the fact that we did not consult. Does he think that if we consulted, and then did it, it would have been any easier, or that we should not have had these conferences? By "consult", does he mean inform and then do it within 24 hours, or ask them whether they thought that we should do it?
This is an extraordinary argument. We have had a month of continuous negotiation. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that we should not have had it anyway if we had asked permission first? What does he think would have happened to sterling and our imports during that period? The right hon. Gentleman's approach on this is totally—[Interruption.] We shall not be faced with the situation which we inherited in October. That situation does not arise.
I hope that I may describe the position of my right hon. Friends in these conferences without a note of bitterness, although that would be understandable, because they were placed in an intolerable situation by the fact that these measures had to be taken because of a steadily worsening economic situation, because nothing was done about it, and because the election was postponed for entirely political purposes.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that his Minister of Aviation and himself might have had a much easier 947 passage with the French if the Government had handled the Concord affair rather more delicately?
§ The Prime Minister
The extraordinary thing there is that we said that we would consult them, and we have been doing it ever since. Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways.
The Leader of the Opposition complains that we took the tariff surcharge measures without having consultations over a long period, and the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) complains because we did have a long period of consultation. They had better sort themselves out. Of course, they are both right in saying that life would have been a great deal easier if we had not had to do either of these things. The fact that we did arose entirely from the irresponsibility of members of the Opposition Front Bench.
The Leader of the Opposition understands that, in advance of these negotiations in Washington, it is not possible to go into more detail on the points he raised. We shall be prepared to do so after the negotiations have begun, after we have returned from Washington, and before the further round which will be necessary in Europe and, indeed, again in Washington. The right hon. Gentleman understands why because he has had long experience of this type of negotiation.
I end, as I began, by reminding the right hon. Gentleman that the influence. authority and power, to use his words, which this country can command will not depend on clinging, or not clinging, to a particular weapon which we may, or may not have, or which it has been intended to produce. That is why, despite the challenging opportunity—we regard it as a challenging and exciting one—which faces us in the round of successive negotiations on which we are shortly embarking, we shall not exert our full influence until we are able to assert our great potential economic strength, which has been neglected.
I would say to right hon. Gentlemen opposite—some of them realise it—that defence policy, on which the right hon. Gentleman concentrated, foreign policy and economic policy are facets of a single unity. That is why a Britain which means to be great in its influence 948 for peace can do so only on the basis of unity and a sense of common purpose between its policies for defence, its policies for peace and its policies for economic strength; and that is what we intend to do.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
During the last Parliament I spent many hours in the small compartment behind your right shoulder, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, which is reserved for those who advise Her Majesty's Ministers. It was in many ways an enviable position, a position of power without responsibility. One gave one's advice, and if it was wrong it was the Minister who took the rap.
What I saw from that position of the vigour with which this House conducts its debates, and what I have seen of the vigour of its debates since I became a Member, makes me particularly grateful this afternoon for the tolerance with which the House traditionally treats a speaker who is making his maiden speech.
I am proud to have been elected by the voters of Blackpool, South to follow in this House as their representative Sir Roland Robinson, who served here for more than 30 years and was, I believe, warmly and highly regarded on both sides of the House.
Many hon. Members will know Blackpool, but most of them, I believe, will have seen it in holiday mood, or perhaps in party conference mood, which is not necessarily at all the same thing. But like every other town in Britain, Blackpool and its people know the meaning of war. In the Second World War a Blackpool regiment was captured in Singapore, many of its members were sent to work on the Siam Railway and very many did not return.
It may surprise hon. Members to know that during the Second World War 3,500 bomber aircraft were produced in the Blackpool constituency, and that 750,000 members of the R.A.F. in training passed through the town. Also, during the First World War Blackpool set a good example of Anglo-American co-operation by being the first town in this country to receive American troops.
What we are debating this afternoon is how Britain can best help to prevent 949 another war and enhance the prospects of peace. I believe that the existence of a British-controlled deterrent has helped in the past to enhance the prospects of peace and can still continue to do so. I will mention one way in which it has clearly done this already.
I do not want to be controversial. I know that some hon. Members opposite believe that the possession of a British-controlled deterrent does not give us a larger voice in the councils of the world, but I want to refer to a case where I believe it has done so. That is the case of the nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. I took part in a humble way in the negotiations for that treaty and in the disarmament negotiations as a whole, and I should like to say how I see this problem.
Britain took part in the nuclear test-ban negotiations for one reason, because she was a member of the Three-Power Sub-Committee which was set up by the Geneva Disarmament Conference to deal with those negotiations, and those Powers were all nuclear Powers. Therefore, had Britain not been one, she would not have been it on those negotiations, and I believe it is quite possible that if she had not been in on those negotiations we should not have had a nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1963.
In case any hon. Members opposite should regard me as being biased in this respect, I would recommend that if they have any doubts they should look at a book by Sir Michael Wright, who was for many years the chief British official dealing with the disarmament negotiations. Sir Michael goes so far as to say:Without Mr. Macmillan's sustained exertions and repeated initiatives, there would have been no partial test-ban treaty signed in 1963.If there had not been a partial Test-Ban Treaty signed in 1963, we cannot say when it might or might not have been signed in view of the developments in the world which have taken place since that time.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, the world at the end of 1964 is indeed in a state of change. My Khrushchev has gone, China has exploded an atomic bomb, President de Gaulle may be on the point of exploding the pattern of the Western Alliance, and the relations between Russia and China are in flux. I believe that in this situation when we are considering the 950 future policies of this country in relation to its nuclear forces, we should be wise to keep open a number of options and that the last thing that we should do would be to throw away the cards in our hands before the real negotiations have begun.
A few months ago most people in this country believed that if the Labour Party came to power it would cancel the contracts for British Polaris submarines. I welcome the indication which the Prime Minister has given us this afternoon that that will not be the case, at least so far as those which are already under construction are concerned. I welcome it because I believe that the Polaris submarine is the best form of deterrent that exists. It is the best because it is the most invulnerable and the least provocative, and it seems likely that it will also be a good deal cheaper than aircraft.
I hope that right hon. Gentlemen opposite will go further than this. I hope that when they go to Washington they will refuse to rush into any steps which would rule out British control of a substantial part of our nuclear deterrent forces in the future. There has been speculation recently that right hon. Gentlemen opposite might propose to the Americans that we should commit to a multilateral force or an Atlantic nuclear force, call it what you will, the whole of our nuclear deterrent forces, irrevocably, in return for a large share in the control of that force and in return for a British veto.
If that were the bargain which was struck, we should, I believe, have to accept that there would be an American veto on the use of the force and a German veto, also. In that case, the British contribution to the force would, I believe, be of little value militarily—indeed, politically, also—because its use could only be threatened in a situation in which the Americans themselves were prepared to threaten the use of the whole of their own nuclear forces.
Such a force would have a number of other disadvantages. It would not make it significantly easier to persuade the Russians to accept a multilateral force. What the Russians are objecting to is not the existence of an independent British nuclear deterrent; they are objecting to the possibility that German forces might be included in a multilateral 951 force, and whether or not Britain was a member of that force would not, I believe, make a very significant difference to the Russian attitude.
Unless accompanied by some very dramatic new arangements in other directions, such an arrangement would also prevent us from relying on the British nuclear deterrent in Asia and other parts of the world outside the N.A.T.O. area. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has said, it is at least as likely that a threat of conflict will arise in such areas, as it is inside the N.A.T.O. area. For example, it is quite possible that we might be faced in a few years' time with a threat from Indonesia directed against Malaysia and backed up by Chinese nuclear blackmail. That is the sort of situation in which it will be essential for us to have in that part of the world British controlled nuclear forces.
There is one possible advantage to be gained, from the international point of view, from the course to which I have been referring. The commitment of all Britain's nuclear forces to a multilateral force might make it easier for Germany to accept an arrangement by which it would never itself have the decisive voice in the question whether that force should be used. But I believe that it is very possible that Germany will be prepared to accept that situation in any case, even if Britain does not put herself in the same position, in the same way as Germany accepted in 1954 the arrangement under the Brussels Agreement by which it undertook not to manufacture nuclear weapons.
I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary, when they go to Washington, will not feel it necessary to make quick commitments. The problem we are debating is one of the most difficult Britain has faced for some time. It may require consultations with our allies and with the Russians, extending over months and years. It is emphatically not a problem for quick answers or for crash decisions in 100 days.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Trevor Park (Derbyshire, South-East)
It is both an honour and an ordeal to address the House for the first time. 952 The honour is mine and I trust that hon. Members in listening to me will not feel that they are being made to share the ordeal.
South-East Derbyshire, the constituency which I represent, was described during the recent election as a microcosm of the country. In my opinion, although I do not expect all hon. Members to agree, it is the best microcosm we have. It contains within its boundaries both the urban district of Long Eaton and the greater part of the South-East Derbyshire rural district. Some of its electors live in industrial areas, others on large residential estates and yet others in small villages.
They work in a wide variety of trades and occupations. At one extremity of the constituency, agriculture and horticulture are important sources of livelihood, while at the other extremity steel and coal mining provide the means of life. Some of my constituents earn their living in traditional crafts such as lacemaking or furniture manufacture while others are employed in new ones—for example, synthetic fibres. Large numbers of my constituents work on the railways or in the railway workshops.
Between 1959 and 1964, the constituency attracted some attention as the most marginal seat in the United Kingdom. The party opposite won it in 1959 by 12 votes. Its last but by no means least claim to be a Britain in miniature is that at the recent election it evicted the Conservatives and returned to its Labour allegiance. A majority of 873 is perhaps slender by comparison with those recorded in some other parts of the country but, compared with 12, it appears to be not only decisive but positively healthy.
For 14 years up to 1959 my constituency was represented in this House by Mr. A. J. Champion who, as Lord Champion, is now a distinguished member of Her Majesty's Government in another place. Since the opportunity was missed on the last occasion, I should like to pay tribute now to the dedicated and unstinting service which he provided for his constituents throughout those 14 years.
Joe Champion's name was, and is, known throughout South-East Derbyshire. To thousands of electors he was more than a Parliamentary representative; he was a personal friend. I saw for myself, when he did me the honour of assisting in my 953 election campaign, abundant proof of the very high regard and affection in which he continues to be held. He was what is known in this House as a good constituency member and I count myself fortunate that from such a man I can take the example which I intend to follow.
The subject of our debate is defence policy and the nuclear deterrent. I must at the outset make it clear that I do not believe that, in essence, this is either a military or an economic question, although I agree that it has aspects of both. Basically the question is political. I agree with the view my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence expressed in this House on 4th March, 1963. He said that the first principle of defence was that it should be the servant of foreign and colonial policy.
The time has come for us to recognise that the best defence that this or any nation has in a nuclear age lies in the eradication of war. The greatest contribution to security which any government or any alliance can provide lies not in the accumulation of the weapons of destruction, but in the deployment of initiatives for peace. We must ensure that in our defence proposals no action is advocated which may jeopardise the success of our diplomatic initiatives. Nuclear weapons and heavily armed alliances are at best confessions of failure, the failure of humanity to evolve a system of public and international conduct in keeping with the necessities of civilised life.
What are the problems which threaten our security today? One of the most urgent is the danger of the proliferation of either the ownership or the control of nuclear weapons. If this is not checked, we shall ultimately reach the stage when every minor border conflict, every local military incident in any part of the world, can contain within itself the seeds of a catastrophe which could destroy the whole of civilisation. I do not believe that the solution to this problem lies in the accumulation of yet more nuclear weapons in the hands of those who already possess them. Nor does it lie in the technical process of reorganisation of nuclear forces or control mechanisms within the alliances. Our only hope rests in determined and persistent diplomatic initiatives to secure political agreement among the nations to prevent the transfer 954 of either ownership or control of nuclear weapons to any nation which does not at present possess them. This country tinder the new Government is eminently suited to lead the world in the exercise of such an initiative.
The second and not least important danger to our security is to be found in the continued existence of areas of tension in parts of the world where nuclear Powers have important political or economic interests which appear to clash. Those tensions will not be eased, nor the rival interests resolved, by the establishment of new types of nuclear commands. Indeed, the danger is that such forces, whether multilateral or multi-national, may by their very existence intensify tensions which already exist and make more difficult the political settlements which are so urgently required. The only solution for areas such as Berlin and Germany, the Middle East and South-East Asia is to keep nuclear weapons out, to establish nuclear-free zones and areas of limitation of conventional forces until such time as permanent political settlements can be made.
Finally, we must recognise that the new problems and challenges which the world will have to face in the second half of the century are of a kind to which nuclear weapons are totally irrelevant. They are the problems posed by the existence of racial tension and the contrast between poverty and riches on a world scale and of the relationship between the more and less developed parts of the world. These challenges cannot be met by nuclear forces, whoever possesses them. They cannot be met by exclusive military alliances, whether Western or Soviet in orientation. They can be overcome only by strengthening and developing the United Nations, a United Nations which includes Communist China, as the foundation on which a system not of regional, but of world security can be based.
The division of the world into two mutually exclusive military alliances, if it ever was a reality, is certainly not a reality today. Both within and outside the blocs, new problems are emerging, new challenges demanding to be met. We are standing on the threshold of an era which can be as different from that now ending as the post-war from the prewar world. This is a situation which offers our country a unique opportunity 955 for leadership, but leadership of a diplomatic and not a military nature.
I profoundly hope that the review of defence policy on which the Government have embarked will take those factors into the closest consideration. We must not be stampeded into new kinds of defence arrangements before we have explored every avenue which can lead to the political settlements which would render such arrangements unnecessary. In particular, any proposal which might place Western Germany in a position to wield a major influence over the nuclear strategy of the Alliance ought at once to be rejected, for such action would make a political settlement in Central Europe almost impossible to attain.
I appeal to the Government to adopt in their defence and foreign policies the bold new approach which they are already exhibiting in their handling of affairs at home. This is what the British electors voted for, it is what countless millions of people all over the world are expecting, and it is what the needs not only of civilisation but of survival demand.
I am deeply grateful for the courtesy and tolerance which hon. Members have extended to me on the occasion of this my maiden speech. It is, perhaps, too much to hope that all I have said has been uncontroversial, but at least it has been no more controversial than the speech of the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). I plead in mitigation that at least it has been constructive and sincere.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)
I rise to make my maiden speech with a great sense of humility and very conscious of the honour it is to address this House. I represent the Basingstoke constituency, and my predecessor, Denzil Freeth, was well known annd well liked on both sides of the House. Indeed, there must be many hon. Members who remember his predecessor, Sir Patrick Donner, who still resides in the constituency.
Basingstoke is one of the most delightful constituencies one could represent in the House, with 113 of the prettiest villages of Hampshire and with Andover and Basingstoke as two major towns which, under the London County Council's overspill scheme, will become 956 expanded towns with considerably increased population. The area has several Service camps, and so delightful is it that many Service officers choose to retire within my constituency. Naturally, they have considerable interest in this debate today.
The constituency extends right to the gates of Aldermaston, and I can tell the House that the appointment of Mr. Frank Cousins as the Minister responsible for Aldermaston has aroused a certain amount of surprise. Mr. Cousins is not unknown at Aldermaston, although, I must add, he is better known outside the gates than inside.
I am not, on this occasion, pleading for the jobs of those who work at Aldermaston—I may have to do this on another occasion—because I do not believe that the many thousands who work there have their jobs in mind when they say that they support the British independent deterrent. There is not a man who works at Aldermaston who has not searched his conscience and decided that the way he is spending his life and the work he is doing there is in the national interest. It is from the standpoint of that interest that both they and I regard the present conduct of our affairs.
I am aware that I should not be controversial in a maiden speech, but I trust that it is unnecessary for me also to be impartial. We are having this debate on the eve of the Prime Minister's departure for Washington. I hope that he and hon. Members opposite will not be deceived by the suggestion contained in the phrase which both he and they will have heard, "the so-called British so-called independent so-called deterrent". Polaris would, in fact, give us a British independent deterrent.
First, would it be British? It would be put in British submarines, powered by British engines, built in British shipyards, with a British nuclear warhead. It is true that the rocket mechanism would come from America, but, surely, hon. Members opposite do not doubt that it would be delivered. It would be too fatuous to say, on the one hand, that we do not trust the Americans to deliver the mechanism while, on the other hand, we trust them so much that we shall hand over the total defence of these islands to the United States. It is abundantly clear that the contract will be 957 honoured. Therefore, it would be effectively British.
Would it be independent? What are the facts? Once Polaris goes to sea, it will have a British crew under the command of the British Admiralty, with ultimate political control under the British Prime Minister. What is important is that there would be no American scrambler devices, no buttons or switches not under our control, and no foreign troops on board. It would be absolutely under our control, British and independent.
Would it be a deterrent? Hon. Members will have heard the suggestion that it would be but a flea-bite. All I can say is that something which, on the five submarines, would be equal in explosive power to the power of all the bombs dropped by all the contestants throughout the whole of the last war would be so great a deterrent that no aggressor would fail to pause and decide that there was no prize he could seek to win which would make it worth while to indulge in a war against us.
On the eve of the Prime Minister's departure, I raise my voice, the small voice of a new Member, to plead that the right hon. Gentleman should not underrate or deceive himself about the deterrent power which we should have if we carried through the arrangements already proposed.
Events move rapidly. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition reminded us how unpredictable the future is. When we consider what has happened in the past six weeks—I am referring not so much to events in Russia as in China—we cannot overlook the explosion by China of an atom bomb unexpectedly early. But what is even more surprising is that this was the explosion not of an atom bomb based on plutonium but one based on uranium 235 extraction, a far more complicated process and one which it will take the French at least another five years to achieve. This fact is of considerable importance in our present discussions, and it should not be forgotten that China may well be five or six years technically in advance of France.
The other significant fact is that an atom bomb based on uranium 235 extraction 958 provides the basis for developing the manufacture of a hydrogen bomb, which does not come from the other plutonium-based production. Therefore, either the Chinese are technically far in advance of what we thought or the Russians have not proper and adequate control of their own production of this dangerous material.
In either case, I suggest, the House must consider these matters in relation to our commitments in the Far East. This is the crux of the debate today. The contest between Malaysia and Indonesia presents the classic example in history of the giant dictatorship and the small democracy. Here, we have the defence agreement of 1957 under which we are pledged to the aid of Malaysia. The Prime Minister said today that there was no disagreement between the parties on this issue. So be it. It remains one of our major commitments.
Next, there is the defence of India. If a major attack on India is mounted from China, are we to stand by and do nothing? Third, there is the forward defence of New Zealand and Australia, to which we are considerably committed. The 1962 defence White Paper refers specifically to our responsibilities in this direction.
All three of these major possibilities in the Far East present situations in which British forces, our ordinary traditional forces, might well be committed in action. If we surrender the deterrent and the power to withdraw it from N.A.T.O., what will happen if we need to reinforce our forces in the Far East and China or some other nuclear Power says, "If you move your land forces or your sea forces, we shall blast you out of the earth"? What would the Government then be able to do without nuclear weapons or with nuclear weapons totally committed to N.A.T.O., a force which does not cover the Far East? In such circumstances, we should either have to "rat" on our promises, obligations and pledges, or we should have to risk total annihilation.
When the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Park) speaks of the need to eradicate the causes of war and of the need for diplomatic initiative, I would only say that dictators do not usually answer to diplomatic initiative. I have not noticed that this is so in the case of Indonesia. If I may give a quotation, the 959 Sydney Morning Herald said that Australia,Exposed and ill-prepared,…cannot afford to repeat the Munich mistake of believing that a visionary dictator's ambitions have rational limits.Indeed, anybody who looks at the Far East today will recognise that there is nothing rational in the way that Indonesia is behaving.
The plain simple facts are that we would be paralysed if a nuclear Power threatened to blackmail us if we used our forces to reinforce those that were engaged in struggles in that area. All I ask is that the Government will make clear how they will cope with the problem of blackmail or that they renounce these commitments and make it clear that they would be unable to fulfil them. To do anything else would be blatantly dishonest to those who look to Britain and would rely upon her in their hour of need.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)
I rise with a three-fold sense of humiliation. In the first place, I am a new Member and I am conscious of the fact that the House in which I speak represents the end-product of 700 years of history. I understand, incidentally, that somebody in the Daily Telegraph has challenged the idea that we should celebrate the 700th anniversary of Parliament. Apparently we should have celebrated it in 1913. Presumably, we may be allowed time to debate this on a subsequent occasion.
The second reason for my humiliation is that I succeed an hon. Member who first came to this House in 1922 and was a Member of it for 38 years. He was beaten only once, and then by only two votes, and he was not beaten by a Conservative. He was beaten by that strange variety of political hybrid, which no longer exists, known as a "National Labour" man. When one speaks in the place occupied by someone as distinguished as George Oliver and someone who left this House with the admiration and respect of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides, one necessarily feels a certain restraint.
My third reason for humility—and in those circles where my name is known it is not normally associated with 960 humility—is that for many years in the columns of Tribune, under the guidance and tuition of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot)—I had some hesitancy in calling my managing director my hon. Friend—I have been giving a great deal of advice to hon. Members of this House, on both sides. Not all of that advice has been taken, which perhaps explains why internationally and financially we are in the mess that we are.
Nevertheless, when one is the recipient, as it were, of one's own advice, one necessarily feels a certain sense of humility. One has to live up to one's own previous writings. One is very conscious that it is almost impossible to do so in a maiden speech.
I have received the usual advice from the usual quarters, and the first part of that advice is to be brief. As to physical stature, I could be nothing else. But I am told that in this place one is measured from the neck upwards, not from tip to toe. I hope that I qualify by that standard. Secondly, I am told that a maiden speaker should not be controversial. For me to be non-controversial in a maiden speech is almost like asking a Beatle to sing in grand opera. Nevertheless, I will do my best to be non-controversial. I will restrain myself, frustrate my natural instincts and keep a lot of stuff which I have in note form on the bench beside me.
I represent the constituency of Ilkeston, which presents some diplomatic problems for its Member, because we have four towns each of which considers itself supreme, and sometimes a certain measure of diplomatic skill in the field of arbitration is called for. I have found a simple solution to this problem. Each of these towns makes the claim that it is the most important town in the constituency and I concede that every one of them is right.
In my constituency, we can make practically everything. Whatever any hon. Member cares to name, we virtually can make it. We have firms which are doing a remarkable job in the export trade, firms which my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State would be delighted to visit and, I hope, will visit, firms which set an example to industrial concerns all over the country.
It is a constituency full of potentialities but also full of problems, many of 961 them connected with the mining industry. In my constituency, when we talk of automation we are not talking about something abstract in textbooks or something that might happen in 1970 or 1974. We are talking about something that I have seen and something which is already creating social problems for my constituents.
I mentioned earlier that anything that hon. Members care to name can possibly be made in my constituency. There is one conspicuous exception to the vast list of products that I could draw up, and that is Polaris missiles, Polaris submarines and everything appertaining thereto.
Listening to the debate at this stage, I recall discussions in which I have taken part in other organisations and places at which I have been frankly appalled, because there have been far too many professors involved in those discussions, dealing with nuclear matters as though they were simply a branch of mathematics and far too few practical people who have dealt with nuclear weapons as the things they are, as weapons that might one day have to be used.
It is no use approaching this nuclear problem, as people tend to do in places like the Rand Corporation, as though it were an exercise in mathematics. It is no use approaching this nuclear problem in the rather eighteenth century terms which were used throughout the election by the right hon. Member who is now Leader of the Opposition and who, I hope, continues in that office for a long, long time. It is no use talking as though we live in a world of States, each ready at the drop of a hat or of a piece of protocol to fly at the throat of other States.
We live in a world overshadowed by the invention of the nuclear device, the thermonuclear bomb and everything that flowed out of the Hiroshima-type bomb. In one sense, whatever we do in disarmament we shall live under the shadow of that deterrent for ever and ever to the last syllable of recorded time, because so long as the brains that produce those weapons exist in a sense those weapons will themselves also exist. Therefore, we can have deterrence without the weapons of deterrence. We have the certain assurance that if any conflict breaks 962 out, within a very short period of its outbreak the nuclear weapons would make their re-appearances in the armouries of the contending Powers.
It is in this context that we have to talk about nuclear weapons. We are living in a world which is literally one gigantic nuclear bomb with thousands and thousands of detonators. I find it completely irrelevant to discuss whether we should have five of those detonators in our independent possession. As I pointed out, I have argued about this question with many hon. Members before coming to the House. Not one of them has given me a satisfactory answer, nor has one been given this afternoon, to this simple question: In what kind of military situation, West or East of Suez, can we envisage ourselves being engaged in action which would require the use, or the threat of the use, of the nuclear deterrent completely and totally alone? I have never had a satisfactory answer to that question in the thousands of different forms in which I have posed it.
I turn to another point, because we must discuss this question in its true context. The Leader of the Opposition, whom I am glad to see has returned to his place—and I previously expressed the hope that he will remain in that place for a long time to come—said that we could not really foresee the future pattern of arms. I ventured to suggest one in some of my writings, and I hope that the new Government are taking my opinions seriously in the discussions at Chequers. Perhaps in that sense I am participating vicariously in those discussions.
On the question of defence costs, one law of weapons development in the nuclear age was stated by a previous Minister of Defence, who said that if one can use a weapon it is bound to be obsolete. Hon. Members who have occupied the hot seats in the Defence Ministries will confirm that view. The second is the view which I ventured to suggest as being relevant; that if one can imagine it, then it can be made if one has the resources to make it. The Americans are finding that the arms race is becoming a self-defeating process. Research into anti-missile missiles, for example, is not producing effective antimissile missiles as such. It is producing new ways and devices to penetrate enemy or potential enemy defences.
963 It is because of these things that the arms race has become a totally irrational process, but I am overstaying my leave and am trespassing on the indulgence and patience of the House. If we are looking at our own Polaris programme—and I use the collective pronoun because it seems that we may be stuck with part of it, whether or not we want it—let us discuss it in the context of this totally irrational arms race, which has nothing whatever to do with defence in the traditional sense of the term.
Allow me to be slightly pedantic. War has usually been defined, or misdefined, as the continuation of policies by other means. This is a mistranslation of what Clausewitz actually said, which was that it was the continuation of political intercourse with the admixture of other means. In that sense the nuclear weapon has totally abolished war, except the kind of primitive warfare which could tilt the balance in Asia, where it is probably doing so now. It is capacity to deal with that kind of situation this country really need rather than a hypothetical capacity to deal with some unknown situation in the future which, I believe, will never occur—a situation in which we would have to confront China alone, without the assistance and support of the United States or our other allies.
It is much better to deal with the military situation as it is, and then we will get the right answers to the right questions. Unfortunately, at the moment, we are not asking the right questions, and by "we" I mean we as a nation rather than we as a House of Commons.
I have talked for far too long in a maiden speech and I sincerely hope that the House will forgive me for doing so. It is a great responsibility to be a Member and to take part in the activities of the House, and, by being a part of the House, at the same time to become a part of history, although I myself, I know, will probably figure as a very tiny footnote in the works of some future Sir Lewis Namier. However, I thank the House for its indulgence. If I have been controversial, if I have sunk a little into the quicksands of controversy, I plead forgiveness, but considering the training I received before coming here it would have been difficult for me to have been otherwise.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
It rarely befalls an hon. Member to have the opportunity to offer grateful thanks for four excellent maiden speeches. They have tended to be controversial and, with great respect to the hon. and learned Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher), what else could one expect from so distinguished a contributor to the Tribune newspaper trained in the school of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot)? I hope that I am not being controversial in saying that a little controversy in maiden speeches adds considerably to the excitement of the House.
A little controversy appeared in all four excellent maiden speeches. From my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) we heard a speech as excellent as he had previously advised. We had an equally excellent speech from the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Park), whom I am sure will follow in the footsteps of his noble predecessor, and another excellent speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell). If the hon. and learned Member for Ilkeston could translate some immortal words from Clausewitz, my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke certainly matched that with his knowledge of the distinction between the plutonium and uranium 235 processes. We may say, therefore, that we have had four speeches of admirable value, merit and future.
Not the same can be said of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. His contribution was, to say the least, slightly schizophrenic. He started with a long piece about the economic situation—that is, after 33 of the 100 days—of how Europe and the world had lost confidence in the £, and then he suddenly went on to tell us something about defence, after which he returned to the subject of the economic situation, all joined together with a number of studied insults at my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
It was suggested that my hon. Friends were somewhat old-fashioned in our point of view. What we may be experiencing now is rather a different situation in which hon. Members opposite will look even more old-fashioned; and the only question is whether we should think of 965 1949, 1951 or, as one journalist suggested to me today, 1930. I always have great pleasure in quoting from speeches of hon. Members opposite. Here is a phrase used by the present Minister of Defence in "New Fabian Essays" in 1952. After listening to some of the things the Prime Minister said, these words are highly utterable:When the Labour Government is in office Foreign Policy becomes the last refuge of Utopianism.That, after what we heard this afternoon from the Prime Minister, is not far from the truth.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, we on this side of the House are today being helpful to the Government because we know that they have their own slight internal problems. We know, as they sit perched in various groupings, where the full excitement lies. Therefore, what my right hon. Friend has been careful to do has been not in any way to weaken a hand which, in view of certain things said in the past by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, we know will be a difficult hand when the Prime Minister arrives in Washington.
That is why it was so interesting to hear that, as would appear from what the right hon. Gentleman said, there will be almost no discussion of the Nassau Agreement. Apparently, a great deal of the time is not to be occupied with these matters at all, but the question of disarmament, the question of getting the Alliance going better, questions of world liquidity, bush fire problems, and so on. As far as one could gather, this great boast and claim that Nassau would be renegotiated seemed to come low down on the agenda—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Would the right hon. Gentleman say how much discussion there was in this House before the previous Government put the American base in the Holy Loch?
§ Mr. Fraser
That was quite a different matter, and we were always prepared to listen to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but on this occasion we think it appropriate that we should have this debate when much wider issues are being discussed.
We believe that certain facts should be looked at more seriously than they have been hitherto. One question that has not 966 been sufficiently considered is the advantage to the Americans of Britain's possession of the independent deterrent. I do not think that that has been put as effectively as, I hope, I will be able to put it now. In this general argument about the independent deterrent there has been often put forward by the "theologians" of the subject—and we live in a world of "theology" on the deterrent—the idea that the possession of the deterrent by one independent Power is apt to be used as a catalyst by that Power for drawing to itself wider powers for its own defence. That argument has been used a good deal by some of the American "theologians" to oppose the idea of Britain maintaining her nuclear independence; that is to say that we would misuse—or France would misuse—this possession.
There is, however, another argument of even greater power that I hope the right hon. Gentleman will advance when he arrives in Washington, which is that only by the possession of an independent nuclear strength can one be absolutely certain that the Alliance itself will not be betrayed. Right hon. and hon. Members can cast their minds back to the time—the only time since Hiroshima—that we in this House have experienced something of the tensions and something of the horror of the possible use of nuclear weapons; at the time of the confrontation between Kennedy and Khrushschev over Cuba.
At that period we got some idea of what those tensions were, and we got some idea in the Press and in this House of what the reaction would be to those moments of difficulty and danger. We found that one of the fears would be that unless this country possessed a nuclear deterrent of its own, it could well be that a precise threat could, in certain circumstances, be made against our cities, and particularly and precisely not against the Alliance—that is to say, America herself. It is precisely at that point that one can imagine the cry that would go up from this country's undefended cities, and precisely what the reply would be from the United States.
On this point there should not be any error or misunderstanding, and there have been misunderstandings. Cuba itself was a supreme example of a misunderstanding and of a blunder, for which Khrushchev is paying today. If that sort 967 of blunder takes place, and if there is a threat, not against the Alliance as a whole but at a precise and specific point of the Alliance, this is the justification, in my view, for ourselves and the French maintaining a nuclear deterrent to protect just that sort of position—
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Would the right hon. Gentleman apply precisely the same argument to Germany? Supposing there were a threat by the Russians to Germany on the same basis, separately from the Alliance, and the people in Germany argued that they should have the right to give the same reply that the right hon. Gentleman is making on behalf of this country, how does he reply to the Germans who, on those grounds, demand nuclear weapons? In other words, is it not the fact that his argument and his right hon. Friend's argument is for the general proliferation of nuclear weapons all the world?
§ Mr. Fraser
I suspected that someone might make that point, and the obvious answer is that we must certainly see that nuclear weapons are not given to the Germans. We are held here by a series of treaty arrangements, and the Germans are held by the Brussels Agreement, by the W.E.U. and by the disarmament agreements made at Bonn. What is more, in return, we should make it absolutely clear to the Germans, as we have done in the past, that their defence, and that of West Berlin, will remain safe in our hands. That is the precise position we can take.
I believe that to be the first point that should be put more forcibly, perhaps, than it has been to the United States. I know that it is fashionable in this House, or has been, to talk about only one nuclear centre, but looking at the history of the last few years I believe that the British and the French independent deterrents are a positive and a major advantage to the Alliance as it now stands—and I mean "the Alliance" in the wider sense of the word; not just in the sense of N.A.T.O. but in the sense of an alliance of the Atlantic Powers.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to various agreements he believes could be made for the sharing of nuclear weapons. I know that many hon. 968 Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway share my fear about fingers on the trigger, but there is also a grave danger this if we go too far in the proliferation of safety catches on these nuclear devices, we get into the even worse situation where the deterrent simply cannot deter and is a complete and total waste of money. That is why I believe that if, when the right hon. Gentleman goes to Washington, there is this talk about pressing on with vast investment in a new so-called Atlantic nuclear deterrent when the total control, and the final control, as far as I can see, will be American, but on to that there will be built a series of other controls and safety catches, then, indeed, much of this money could be wasted. We have to see that the investment which is made is an investment which is effective. The Prime Minister talked—rather boastfully, I thought—about the great expertise in cost effectiveness now being used by the Minister of Defence. That type of cost effectiveness was brought in by some of my right hon. Friends and, in a humble way, by myself. Let the credit be given to the officials certainly, but not to right hon. Gentlemen.
The effect of too much proliferation of safety catches is as dangerous as the proliferation of too many fingers on the trigger. The great problem about the deterrent is that it should be known to, and seen to, deter. Once it ceases to be known to and seen to deter, it is not only a waste of money, but a danger to world peace. From the closely-guarded area of Chequers, as my right hon. Friend explained this afternoon, who escaped and who got in remains a mystery, but certainly there has been a flood of rumour, a flood of leaks, believe it is called, in the Press, of what the Prime Minister seriously proposes to do.
There is much talk about the Atlantic Nuclear Force. I hope that before the Prime Minister embarks on this he will give the matter really serious thought. So far as I can see, and so far as appears from what is published in the newspapers, this is merely a reshuffling of the old pack with all the aces remaining in American hands. It is a reshuffling of the old pack so that the M.L.F. becomes slightly down-graded and our own British independent deterrent becomes entirely lost. This is not good enough. It is 969 not good enough for hon. Members opposite to talk about a new initiative. It is not a new initiative at all. It is purely a political device to rid themselves of certain political embarrassments.
Looking at the wider aspect and what this is meant to do, the wider aspect which the right hon. Gentleman spoke about was the building up of the Western Alliance. Far from it doing that, it might easily drive a wedge between members of the Western Alliance. This idea of to some extent agreeing with the M.L.F. cannot do other than weaken relations among ourselves and worsen relations with the Soviet Union. This means not that the proposals made by my right hon. Friend at Athens and Ottawa should be extended, but that there will be a German finger on the trigger. To that I personally, and most of my hon. Friends, are opposed.
It means that if we are to go ahead with this new type of new-fangled arrangement, this reshuffling of the pack, apparently dreamed up by Lord Chalfont on a day off from The Times, France will rightly oppose the totally bogus and "phoney" conception which gets us over none of our difficulties, but merely creates a greater store of problems. Hon. Members should consider much more widely and deeply the question of our relations with France and the relation of France to the alliance as a whole.
When they came into office, instead of just reshuffling the pack and going to the United States to fix this up much the same as it was before, except the unpleasant part that our independence will perhaps disappear, they had a chance with the decks cleared, with a new Administration, to make an effort, where we had failed in the past, to have a reconciliation with de Gaulle. They had a chance of this and they have thrown it away. They have thrown it away on the Concord. They are throwing it away in this process and throwing it away in their attitude to Europe when they talk of an outward-looking alliance which is a new manœuvre?to rid themselves of some of their political embarrassments.
When the Prime Minister spoke this afternoon of what his ambitions and objectives were in setting out for Washington, he described five points. 970 One thing he did not mention was the defence of this country. I believe that is the key to all our defence policy, the defence of the homeland. As my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, there is no means of that being defended, no question of that defence. As I have tried to point out, that defence is to the advantage of the alliance and the advantage of America. If in the course of these negotiations we throw away our independence then, indeed, the Government will be desperately responsible.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover)
The early part of this debate provided a heyday for maidens. I am sorry to inflict on the House another maiden speech. The fact that there have been so many able maiden speeches since Her Majesty opened this Parliament has not in any way lessened my fear and trepidation in standing for the first time to address the House of Commons as the newly-elected Member for Dover.
Dover is as much concerned with peace and security as any other part of the country. In war time Dover has always stood firm in the defence of Britain and in peace time it has been the gateway to the Continent of Europe. I have no doubt, therefore, that my constituents will be happy that I should devote the main part of my maiden speech to the urgent problems with which we are concerned in this debate. We are discussing defence at a time when the Western Alliance is in greater disarray than at any time since N.A.T.O. came into existence.
In the West there is the present fear that France will decide to quit N.A.T.O., with all the effects which that would have on the unity of the Western Alliance. In the East there is a fear that Germany may gain control of nuclear weapons, with all the danger that that would have for the nations in West and East. What are the reasons for this confusion and disarray? There are too many to touch on in a maiden speech, but one of them is a hopeful reason. It is that the relations between East and West have improved and that the threat from the East is less than it was. Therefore, the sense of urgency is much less than in the days when N.A.T.O. was formed.
971 Secondly—here I think I cannot help but be controversial in a debate like this, although I would not want to be unduly controversial—I believe that part of the confusion comes from the fact that both the French and the British Government have failed to accept the challenge of interdependence. I believe the argument, which has been repeated ad nauseam during the General Election and by many hon. Members opposite in this debate, that it would be intolerable for us to place ourselves in a position of dependence upon other nations, is a theory which strikes at the very root of collective security and the very root of the Western Alliance.
As has been said already from this side of the House, if we ourselves say that our only means of defence are nuclear weapons which we must control ourselves, this is an argument which can be, and ultimately will be, used not only by every member of our Alliance but by nations in other parts of the world.
Naturally, the position of the British and French Governments—I refer to the British Government's position up to now—has created the growing demand from Germany for equality within the Alliance. Let me make my position clear. I was a prisoner of war and I suffered under the Germans, as many others in the House have done, but I believe that Germany has a right to claim equality in the Western Alliance. I find it difficult to understand how the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) could make a claim for British nuclear independence and then say, "But Germany is controlled. Germany can never be on an equal position with ourselves". We must resolve this dilemma. The proposal for the mixed-manned force was an attempt to resolve it. We would be foolish to ignore the reality of the problem, but we would be very unwise to accept the solution in the proposed mixed-manned force.
I believe that the case against the mixed-manned force is overwhelming. First, it provides unnecessary additions to the nuclear armoury of the West. Secondly, it would be, if it were to come into existence, a new force, new weapons, 972 and in that sense it would be proliferation, with all the dangers that that carries. Thirdly—this is very relevant to today's debate and to tomorrow's debate—it would be extremely costly for all those countries which participated, not only in terms of finance, but in terms of power and technical capabilities. Fourthly, I believe that it would be inefficient. Nobody would contend that it is easier to control a group of people from many countries than it is to control a group of people from one country. Fifthly, many of those who support it in Europe see it as the first step towards a European deterrent. I believe that this concept is extremely dangerous and has within it the possibility of the total division of our Alliance and the creation of new dangers in our relationship with the Soviet Union. It is true that there have been many people who have seen it in this light or have seen it as a possibility of the beginnings of a European deterrent. For instance, Mr. Robert Schaetzel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Atlantic Affairs, on 22nd September, 1963, said:The multilateral force would also inevitably make easier the eventual development of a European nuclear force…The M.L.F. as it has been so far proposed has not found many enthusiastic supporters in Europe. We know the position of the French Government. We know the position of the Scandinavian Governments. We know that Italy is uncertain, that the Netherlands are uncertain, and that Belgium is uncertain, waiting to see what lead Britain will give. I have no doubt in my own mind that, had there been a year or 18 months ago firm, clear British opposition to this concept, it could have been killed. It could almost hardly have been born. In fact, the British Government of that time could not make up their mind. They could not make up their mind concerning the M.L.F., nor could they submit any other proposal for nuclear reorganisation in Western Europe.
At last we have a Government who, first, believe in the interdependence of the Alliance and, secondly, who are prepared to take initiatives. In these initiatives what should we try to achieve? I do not believe that there is any point in thinking that one can go back to first base, that one can take a totally negative position and forget all that has happened in the last two years. The United States 973 and the German Government are too far committed to go back on all that has happened. Therefore, we have to find some proposal which will have a chance of acceptance. There is a danger that, if we simply took a totally negative position, the United States and Germany, with one or two other smaller European powers, would go along together without us. If this happened, it would gravely weaken our influence, not only on German foreign policy in regard to East-West relations, but our position in Europe, too. It would certainly create the danger of increased tension between East and West.
I believe that our aim should be two-fold—first, to try to bring about the pooling of Western nuclear power, with less emphasis on the play acting, the charade, the mixed manning, and more emphasis on real and effective control. I believe that it is the control of nuclear weapons within the Alliance that is the crux of our problem. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and those who have been taking part in the discussions so far are beginning to put forward constructive ideas in this field.
Secondly, I believe that we must stand resolutely against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As I have said already, the proposed mixed-manned force would be proliferation. I believe that, if this were to happen, it would create great difficulties for ourselves and the Soviet Union. It is not just the Soviet Union that has opposed the whole idea of proliferation. This has been shared, too, by the late President Kennedy, who in a speech made in 1962 said this:If the French decide they want to become a nuclear power themselves, that is their decision. The question is whether the United States should join in helping make France a nuclear power, then Italy, then West Germany, then Belgium. How does that produce security when you have 10, 20, 30 nuclear powers who may fire their weapons off under different conditions?I therefore believe that, if the initiatives which are to come from the talks which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will have with President Johnson are to achieve success, they must be linked with a non-proliferation agreement. I agree with my right hon. Friend that this must be the top priority in the East-West dialogue. It would, I believe, be tragic 974 if the newly-elected President, with all the strength of the support that he has had, and our newly-elected Prime Minister were to take as their initiative one which was concerned solely with Western defence. I am therefore glad that my right hon. Friend drew attention to the position of Lord Chalfont, the new Minister of Disarmament, and the new initiatives which are to be taken. In mentioning this, I pay my own personal tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), who I believe both in the House and outside it has played a great part in keeping alive the idea of disarmament and in creating opportunities for initiatives.
I come to my last point. I do not believe that we should ever under-estimate the fears of the Russians and the Poles if Germany were to become armed with nuclear weapons. I say this having had the opportunity to make several visits to the Soviet Union and Poland. I am convinced that they have exaggerated the position; but their own fears are there. They are deep. They are all-embracing. If any of us were to imagine that the world would be the same after Germany has control of nuclear weapons, we should be living in a fool's paradise. I believe that with all the will in the world we may not achieve either what we want in the West or a non-proliferation agreement, unless we can go further to set those fears of the Soviet Union at rest. I genuinely hope that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and those who will be involved in the discussions, not only at Washington but later at Bonn, will seek to persuade the West German Government to accept the basic principle of the Gomulka Plan.
This is a plan which draws much from ideas which were advanced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a speech that he made on 9th January of this year. The idea was that we should at least get a freeze on nuclear weapons in Central Europe, that we should see that no nuclear weapons are manufactured in the area to be defined and that no new nuclear weapons are to be brought in. This is to be done with an inspection system. I believe that we can go a long way to meet some of the fears that the West German Government have expressed about this.
975 If they feel that the area of East and West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia is too narrow and is too discriminating as far as West Germany is concerned, I believe that a wider area could be conceived, including Denmark, Norway, Rumania and Hungary. Some of us have had the opportunity of discussing some of these ideas in each of these countries. If we were to secure from Germany that declaration that she would not herself produce nuclear weapons, I believe that this would go a long way to creating an understanding within the Soviet Union and the Communist countries of the problems that we are trying to face.
I want to conclude by saying how much I agree with a recent statement by Alistair Buchan, the Director-General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, who said:There is a danger that the diplomatic initiative undertaken originally to reconcile Germany to the existence of the Soviet-American dialogue may either endanger the dialogue itself or the influence of the United States with its allies. The coming crisis on the multilateral force is likely to illustrate once again that the strengthening of allied cohesion and the pursuit of stable relationships with the adversary cannot he separated, since they are two facets of the same problem.I would say that any solution of our defence problems which improves relations in the West but worsens relations with the East is no solution at all.
I thank the House for the courtesy and kindness they have shown in listening so patiently to a maiden speech.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Before I call the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of the Liberal Party, will acquit the Chair of any apparent discourtesy in not calling him earlier in a debate where there is a proliferation of maiden speeches and in extending the traditional preference to the maiden speakers.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I most certainly do acquit you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, of any discourtesy, and I would never have suggested that any was intended from you or from the Chair. All I would like to say is that I hope that my own speech will come up to the standard of the maiden speakers and, as it is my privilege on behalf of 976 the House to congratulate the last maiden speaker, the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) on behalf of the whole House, I would like to say with what interest we have listened to him and with what anticipation we look forward to hearing him again. This House can seldom have heard a better informed maiden speech, nor one more confidently delivered. Far be it for me to stand in any way between the House and a succession of maiden speakers of that calibre. I also find myself in agreement with many things said by the hon. Gentleman, and indeed by preceding maiden speakers.
The Prime Minister, in opening the debate, made some remarks about the mixed-manned situation.
§ Mr. Grimond
I apologise to the Leader of the Opposition. However, I did mean the Prime Minister. I am sorry if I embarrassed the right Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home) by confusing him with the Prime Minister. I withdraw the phrase "opening the debate". I was referring to the speech of the veritable Prime Minister.
In his speech, the Prime Minister spoke of the economic background of this country today. I do not think this is irrelevant to a debate on defence, because this country has to make up its mind whether it can, in the world today, discharge all the jobs it is trying to do. Whether it can support a welfare state, a sterling area, its obligations to underdeveloped countries, and an all-round structure of defence right up from the smallest conventional arms to nuclear arms. I believe that, in the long run, the country has to make a much firmer choice of priorities than it has so far and that this is very relevant to today's debate. Given unlimited resources, there would be a much stronger case for the independent British deterrent. The fact is that, at least in the longer term, it is extremely difficult to see how this country is to maintain an independent deterrent which will have any validity in comparison with the nuclear power of Russia and America.
The Prime Minister also outlined the aims which he will take with him to Washington. I think it can be assumed, 977 in spite of what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), that he included among these aims the defence of this country. But the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford and Stone should point out that he did not explicitly include among his aims the defence of Britain shows the important difference between those who view the defence policy of this country as being primarily aimed against an attack on this country alone and those who see the defence of this country as being part of a general defence of the West. I find it extremely unlikely that we shall be engaged in a major war, involving the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, by ourselves. I believe this is a fundamental difference between the views which do not so much divide the two sides of the House as are to he found to some extent within each of the two largest parties in it.
I also noticed that there was nothing in the Prime Minister's speech about disengagement or the nuclear-free zones. The hon. Member for Dover raised this matter and considered that at this moment this is a possible object of Western policy. With all due respect—and those who congratulate maiden speakers are no more entitled to be controversial than maiden speakers are themselves—on this matter I find myself rather more on the side of the Prime Minister than that of the hon. Gentleman in doubting whether this would be a fruitful moment to raise this particular proposal. I also noticed that the Prime Minister accepts the Polaris submarines. He did this without any qualification. There was no talk of the possibility of reducing the numbers. I think that that is of interest to the House.
There is this question of fingers on the trigger. I find this a rather misleading simile, because the mixed-manned force can equally well be represented as having more fingers on the safety catch. In many of these matters the safety catch and the trigger are confused. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford and Stone that for ultimate credulity it is probably desirable that the decision to use nuclear weapons should be in the hands of one man. I would only say that I think this is the case today, that the main 978 deterrents of the West are in the hands of the Americans and the finger on the trigger is that of the President of the United States.
So far as the proposals for any N.A.T.O nuclear force or the mixed-manned force are concerned, it does not seem to me that this will put a German finger on the trigger. It may be a German finger on the safety catch, but the House should be fairly clear about the distinction between the two. No one suggests that the Germans should be allowed to fire nuclear weapons, either by themselves or through some system of majority voting. Therefore, I do not regard the M.L.F. as being a method of putting more fingers on the trigger. A valid objection may be that it puts too many fingers on the safety catch. To keep saying that at all costs we must keep German fingers off the trigger without thinking of what is at stake and what is the real danger is to throw the Germans against what I think the hon. Gentleman said is their main fear—that they are going to be left at the mercy of other people as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.
§ Mr. Ennals
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that many, particularly in the Monnet Committee, have supported the idea of the M.L.F. only because they see it as a step towards a European deterrent, in which almost inevitably, without France, and with the uncertainty of Britain, Germany would be a very powerful influence? Is not that the view also expressed in the quotation which I gave from Mr. Schaetzel?
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not think that this immediately affects the M.L.F. I still do not believe that it will primarily put a German finger on the trigger. It may give the Germans greater influence in targeting and general control, and possibly over the safety catch.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—and in case there is any doubt about this, I mean the Leader of the Opposition—said that we should be very cautious about divesting ourselves of the control of our nuclear weapons because this is a very uncertain world and the time may come when we are left by ourselves in a situation in which we might want to use them. I think that that is a fair paraphrase of what he said. I have always found such 979 a situation difficult to envisage. One suggestion seemed to be that it might arise in the Far East in a case in which Indonesia, backed by a nuclear China, was threatening Malaysia. If that situation ever arose, it would inevitably involve the Americans. It is exceptionally unlikely that we should be left to conduct a nuclear dialogue with China without our allies.
The Leader of the Opposition seemed to be saying that there was no need to make any change in the present arrangements. Surely there is a need. The arrangements are being changed. Discussions are going on in Europe about new ways of handling nuclear weapons. I do not see how we can get out of this. Nor was I clear about the right hon. Gentleman's attitude to the multilateral force. I always understood that the Conservative Party accepted the idea behind the multilateral force, with reservations about the particular proposals for this particular force. That never seemed to me an unreasonable attitude.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
It is quite true that we take the view that it will result in more fingers on the safety catch. Therefore, it will not be very different from what there is now. The Prime Minister seems to think that he can create the nuclear force in N.A.T.O. in a different form. The point which I made was that the finger on the veto will remain. There will also be the right to withdraw both for the Americans and for the French. We should be putting ourselves in a different position from that of both our nuclear allies.
§ Mr. Grimond
I follow that, but in so far as the Conservative Party welcomed the idea, surely they must have been prepared to entertain the idea of irrevocability. Certainly one could not withdraw from the multilateral force. I do not understand whether the Conservative Party visualised making a contribution to a multilateral force and at the same time maintaining our independent deterrent. This would be an expensive development in defence. I am not certain whether they intended to entertain the idea of both making a contribution to a multilateral force and maintaining the British independent deterrent.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of the Americans in the Far East, would he not agree that so far the only country rendering any help to Malaysia is Britain? America has shown no interest whatever in helping that desperate country in its affairs against Indonesia.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree, but the help which we have given is in conventional form and it would be no help to Malaysia to offer nuclear arms. This is a very strong argument for increasing our conventional capability.
It seems to me that there was an unresolved question about the multilateral force. I do not know whether the Conservative Party were prepared to go into the multilateral force on a basis, which seemed possible this summer, that we should make a very small contribution compared with that of America and Germany and therefore presumably would have a very small say in the development of the force.
Turning to the question of nuclear weapons, the aim of our nuclear policy should be to use the resources which we possess to stop the disintegration of N.A.T.O. This is why I think it important to make some move at present and to influence the nuclear policies of our allies in the direction of closer co-operation and against the proliferation of nuclear weapons into new hands. I do not believe that this aim will be served by announcing that in some unspecified way we shall get rid of the existing weapons. We cannot dump the V-bombers in the sea. Nor will it ease the problem if, by some unilateral burst of madness, we simply burn them. We cannot divest ourselves of these weapons in that sort of way.
At the same time, we must equally stop proclaiming that the possession of such weapons, depending more and more upon the grace of the Americans, gives us some special and privileged position in the world and, above all, establishes some special line between this country and America. I do not believe that the bombast of many of the Conservative speeches made in the days of the late Government did any service to better Western co-operation. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition today was couched in very different and, to me, much more acceptable tones.
981 As I say, there seems to be some obligation on this country to take some initiative to achieve better Western cooperation. Many British people have persuaded themselves, with their invincible complacency, that it is mainly due to General de Gaulle's malevolence that their generous offer to join the Common Market was turned down. They forget our long refusal to take the Common Market seriously. To me, one of the major objections to the Nassau Agreement was that its timing was such that it was all too likely to wreck what was at the time the major foreign affairs objective of the Government. The Conservative signatories of the Nassau Agreemeent appeared to expect President de Gaulle to welcome its rather patronising offer that he should possibly come in as a junior partner, following discussions which he was not invited to attend.
Equally, the Labour Party at the election made it only too clear that they will refuse to join the Common Market on any terms which will conceivably be acceptable to its members. They were particularly scornful of any political integration. This makes it remarkable to me that the Foreign Secretary should take his European colleagues to task for not inviting him to take part in conversations about the political future of the E.E.C. After all, the Europeans have waited for us long enough. Now they are prepared reluctantly to go forward on their own. If we say that we could not speak to the Europeans about the 15 per cent. surcharge because obviously they would disagree with us, surely the Europeans are entitled to say, "We shall not speak to you about political integration because you have made it only too clear that you will disagree with us".
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
Does the right hon. Gentleman include Germany in his comments on the description of the attitude of E.E.C.?
§ Mr. Grimond
I am not sure that I follow the hon. Gentleman. The Labour Party has never been enthusiastic about the political integration of Europe.
§ Mr. Grimond
I think that that is their attitude towards the Labour Party's view of the E.E.C. All Germans whom I have met have spoken with regret, to put it mildly, of the Labour Party's attitude towards the Common Market. On other matters they may take a more favourable view, and even a more favourable view of other parties in this country.
But it seems to me that if Britain wants to exercise any influence in Europe or the Western Alliance, the onus is on her to make her proposals, as she has opposed every course suggested by her neighbours. Having turned down most of the initiatives made by other people, we have to make initiatives ourselves if we are to have any influence in the general direction of Western policy.
The least bad course open to us, as far as nuclear weapons are concerned, is to try to see that those in Europe are brought under the same type of control and that that control is a N.A.T.O. control. I think most people would oppose, as I would oppose, a European deterrent. I would much rather see N.A.T.O. control. This control would be concerned with targetting and problems of finance and administration.
It may well be that the ultimate difficulty is over the finger on the trigger, but there is no doubt that the Americans and others feel that there should be a wider collaboration over the whole business of handling nuclear weapons. Even if that alone is achieved, it is a step in the right direction. It would involve more nations in nuclear planning and it would meet the objections of some of the people concerned to the present proposal for the multilateral force. I agree that any such control body would have to work under the veto. I do not believe that majority voting is possible. Further, if there ever came a time when these weapons were near to the point of use, the decision about using them must be handed over by general agreement to whoever may at that moment be the obvious authority—probably SACEUR.
Apart from difficulties of ultimate control, there are two other problems which remain with us. In addition to placing our V-bomber force, TSR2 and Polaris submarines at the disposal of 983 the N.A.T.O. force, should we play some part in the M.L.F.? If we did, I suppose that objections would be raised that we were playing a double part in nuclear matters, partly through the M.L.F. and partly through our other nuclear forces and therefore, we would be having more fingers on the safety catch, in addition to which it would be very expensive. If we do not make some gesture to the M.L.F., our allies may feel that we did not mean business and that we intend to stand aside from the main European nuclear advance.
The other difficulty is over the position of the battlefield weapons which have hardly been mentioned this afternoon. They always seem to be one of the most difficult subjects. This seems to me to be a subject in which the Germans may have more interest than in strategic weapons. They would seem to be much more important to Germany than the ultimate control of the intercontinental ballistic missiles. Speaking for myself, I would leave the control of tactical weapons where it is. I believe that the best we can hope for is to leave it with the double safety catch which now exists.
Finally, I come to the dispute as to whether the assignment of our weapons to N.A.T.O. should be revocable or irrevocable. I think this dispute is becoming much less acute than it was. The noble Lord, Lord Jellicoe, in another place last Session accepted the suggestion that a body should be set up and that these weapons could be handed over to it. What causes harm is for this country to keep on proclaiming that these weapons are revocable. I suspect that it is understood that in desperate circumstances any of the N.A.T.O. Powers could withdraw their weapons as they would have a perfect right to do. I do not take the view that we could have some device which would prevent the weapons from being withdrawn. It must be accepted that if a desperate situation arose, any country might be in a position in which it would wish to withdraw its weapons. But for ordinary purposes we should surely be working towards the position which the spokesman for the last Government in the House of Lords accepted, that we should work towards 984 a situation in which there would be sufficient confidence to make it unthinkable that any country would withdraw its weapons.
I should therefore like the Prime Minister, when he goes to Washington, to advance in this direction so far as nuclear weapons and strategic capacity in the defence of the N.A.T.O. area are concerned.
I do not believe that the old dispute between the independent deterrent or the total handing over of all control of it to other people is really the argument before us today. We would all like to move towards the greater joint control of nuclear weapons, and the question is how we are going to do it. I believe that it should be through N.A.T.O. In the early stages a control body would not have the ultimate say in how the weapons could be fired. What we have to do is to demonstrate that this country is serious about its international commitments. I should like to see it much more enthusiastic about the growth of unity in Europe. We cannot isolate defence either from foreign affairs or from economic affairs.
This country has not made its task any easier either by ignoring its obligations in the last fortnight, however excusable it may be, or by its constant reiteration in past years that it did not like E.E.C., that it regarded itself as in a special position vis-à-vis America, and that it must maintain control over its own weapons when other countries are trying to persuade each other to loosen control of the weapon and to bring it under joint control.
Although this debate is primarily concerned with nuclear defence, we must bear in mind that the major contribution that this country can make to the defence of the West is by conventional and not by nuclear means.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Rowland (Meriden)
I understand that in some quarters of this House it is regarded as a desirable convention that one should make one's maiden speech on matters of domestic policy, but I believe that my electors in the Meriden division of Warwickshire are no less interested in the defence of this country than they are in any other subject. I have, therefore, chosen today to make my maiden speech. The only alarming 985 thing is that so many other hon. Members have done so, and have made such excellent maiden speeches of a standard which I can probably not equal.
The Meriden constituency has the virtue of having an open-minded electorate. It has in the last three General Elections returned three different Members of Parliament. My two predecessors, one Labour and one Conservative, Mr. Reginald Moss and Mr. Gordon Matthews respectively, rendered notable service to their constituencies and I hope that I can do likewise. I think open-mindedness is a necessary ingredient in considering the defence policy of this country today. Meriden also lays claim, and correctly so, to being the centre of England, so I suppose we can say that we have a sentimental claim to discussing the future defences of this country.
I think also that a new Member speaks not only for his new constituents but for his generation as well. I believe that I represent a generation which is old enough to observe the consequences of military weakness before the war and yet mercifully is young enough to be aware of the changed status of Britain's strength in the 1960s. Because we feel both these emotions, I think my generation stresses the overruling importance of the Atlantic Alliance because this alliance fuses the desire for strength, and awareness of our weakness alone.
It is now fashionable to say that the cold war has ended, especially among those who never admitted that it existed. I have my doubts. I am a genuine "don't know". I do not know if the cold war has ended. What I do know is that the world remains a dangerous place in which there are many risks for a small nation like ourselves. I am sure that the American Alliance has assured the security of this country and of Europe in the post-war years. I believe that the fear that General de Gaulle expresses of a withdrawal of American forces is perverse recognition of this fact.
The Atlantic Alliance is also the only military framework into which Britain can usefully fit such military power as she possesses in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The Commonwealth in this respect is too divided to be a useful military mechanism, although we are united in so many other respects, particularly in the battle for raising standards in 986 under-developed countries. But as a military entity the Commonwealth is not a viable proposition. Europe alone is not credible without American assistance. Indeed, this is the de Gaulle illusion. Britain alone as a military Power is not credible without the American Alliance, and this is the mini-illusion of the Leader of the Opposition in this debate.
There may well he broad agreement by many people in this House and outside with what I have so far said. The objections would come from two main categories of people. There are those who would have nothing to do with an alliance based on nuclear power, but as this is not the recognised policy of any of the major parties in this country I do not propose to rebut such opinions. The second category is composed of those who refuse to face the realities of Britain's strength, particularly in respect of our inability to develop missile systems of our own. This particular line of policy is mainly the mentality of hon. Members opposite. They refuse to face this for a variety of reasons.
First, there is the natural difficulty of facing the need for total interdependence after a history of 200 or 300 years of virtually total independence—a history during which we have been ruled most of the time by hon. Gentleman of the party opposite. I do not blame them for not being able to face the new situation. It is inherent in their own past. Another reason they do not face it is because, I think, there is a residual basic British Gaullism on the benches opposite. Another is that they fear facing public opinion on this issue. It is not a popular cause to admit that one's country is not as strong as it was and that its basic defences depend on a great and friendly ally elsewhere. It is not a popular thing to admit, and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been in power for 13 years have been craven in the fear of admitting it. Indeed, they have gone one worse for, by refusing to admit it, they have also refused to come to the British people and demand of them the sacrifice that really would be necessary if we were to be a credible independent nuclear Power.
I have no doubt that this nation of 50 million people, which is comparatively rich and industrially sophisticated, could be a credible independent nuclear 987 Power if we so wished. I am not urging this. I do not believe that it is a necessary course of policy. Hon. Members opposite surely should have urged it if they were true to the beliefs that they profess, but of course they have not, and I believe that they profess them mainly for electoral reasons because it is unpopular to admit what I have suggested.
Thus, because of these two main ingredients—some people who do not like the idea of a nuclear alliance; others who do not like admitting that we are members of it and not independent of it—this country in its military and nuclear policy has drifted on for a decade, never putting off until tomorrow decisions which could be put off to the day after tomorrow. Hence decisions have to be made now, and in some hurry.
Successive British Governments have failed during this time to clinch an effective joint control system with the Americans when we were a credible and independent nuclear Power. Yet they have not admitted to our own people the growing disparity in our strength. We have now reached a point where we may be on the point of no return and we may have to clinch this with the United States because it was not done five or ten years ago. The situation now is that we lack great nuclear power and the only power that we have depends upon a delivery system increasingly supplied by permission of the United States, and at the same time our people are cocooned from reality by the politically expedient pretences of the last Government. But I do not worry too much, because so long as we have the commitment of American power this situation will not prove fatal.
The task of the Prime Minister when he goes to Washington is to maximise our security consistent with the resources that this nation is prepared to devote to that security. The problem, as I see it, is not only the immediate future of Britain's nuclear weapons or the right to withdraw them in some unforeseeable emergency that affects Britain alone. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was singularly incapable of citing any such credible emergency, except an unspecified encounter in the China Seas, 988 a situation which seems to me would in fact mean either acting with the United States or in defiance of the United States, but not alone. I thought that this instance was a very good example of chop suey logic.
The problem that we have is not the immediate future of our own nuclear weapons or the right to withdraw them in some particular emergency. The problem now is whether by offering to pool such resources as we have we ensure the continued presence and commitment of the United States in Western Europe, and whether by doing this we can gain some real influence in the strategic policy-making of the United States in the Far East and Africa.
I believe that not since Sir Winston Churchill wooed President Roosevelt from a position even then of military disparity has a British Prime Minister had such a delicate military and diplomatic task to perform. I hope that the House will give him the backing that is necessary for him. It is not, as the Leader of the Opposition said, a question of giving away everything in return for nothing. It is more a question of giving up something for something else more important, and that is the deployment and use of American and not only British nuclear weapons and our share in the deployment and control of them. That is the thing that is more important. That is the thing worth giving up something for, however little that something may be. I trust that the Prime Minister will be successful in this mission. It is vitally important that he should be. Unless he is, we shall be faced as a nation once again with an agonising reappraisal of what we do with such nuclear power as we happen to possess. I believe that what we should do is, as I have said, trade it in for a greater share of the decision-making of the American Alliance. But I do not think that we can cross the bridge of failure in Washington unless we actually come to it.
I should like to thank the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for the courtesy with which it has listened to my maiden speech; and on a personal note to express my pleasure at being able to make it in your presence and to your direction because you have, Sir, at other times and in other circumstances been extremely kind to me personally and I shall always be grateful for it. I do 989 not know if I have offended the canon of non-controversiality. Indeed, I think that the convention which has now been established in this Parliament seems to be that maiden speeches should be controversial. I believe that I have only been controversial to those who disagree with me, and indeed I would say there is a great swathe of public opinion on both sides of the House covering the great majority of people in this country now who believe that there is a primacy of American nuclear power, that this power has been used with moderation in the post-war world, as indeed has that of the Soviet Union, and also believe that we should make sure we continue to enjoy its protection.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Sir John Maitland (Horncastle)
The Government are very fortunate in their new blood, certainly in the last two maiden speakers. The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland), whom it is my great pleasure to compliment on his maiden speech, will not be long before he takes the two vital steps forward and finds himself on the Front Bench. His was an excellent speech. What he said about being controversial is perfectly right. One is not supposed to be controversial in one's maiden speech, but one often is. But, as he will find out in time, there are ways of being controversial and there are ways in which one should not be controversial. The hon. Member has the right way of being controversial, which is what the House likes and appreciates. I look forward, as we all shall, to hearing the hon. Member on many future occasions.
I have some interest in Meriden, because I once used to be a woodman of Arden, which the hon. Member will know all about; so we have some things in common. I am quite sure that he can now have the highest feeling of pleasure ever given in this House to an hon. Member, which is on the completion of a maiden speech. It is a wonderful feeling to have got it over, and the hon. Member can be quite sure that he got it over most successfully.
The speech of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was most interesting. He told the House something which interested me very much, and that was that the Liberal Party has now definitely come down on the side 990 that the control of the nuclear weapon when it is loaned either to N.A.T.O. or some other organisation should be revocable. When the right hon. Gentleman reads his speech in HANSARD he will see that he made it quite clear that that is now Liberal policy, but it is a little different from what it has been in the past. We thought, and I must admit that we may have been wrong, that the Liberal view was that the power should be given away irrevocably. Therefore, there is not quite so much between us as we have thought and perhaps Liberal Members as a result will come to the Lobby with us this evening.
It was also interesting to find that the Prime Minister in his speech, perhaps very rightly in his position in going to Washington, quite firmly remained on the fence of revocability or irrevocability. I should like to go back to the Prime Minister's Guildhall speech which I heard on the wireless. He said on that occasion:We must be prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of our collective strength; but the only sacrifices this Government will ask of our people in our international policy will he the sacrifice of illusions and doctrines.I suppose that the Prime Minister employs "illusions" in the same sense as the word is used in the Motion which the Labour Party put down in the debate on the Nassau Agreement when they spoke of…the illusion of an independent British nuclear deterrent.I suppose that that refers to the question whether the British deterrent is "credible" and whether it can be independently controlled by the United Kingdom. Incidentally, the question whether the deterrent is credible or not can be known only to a very few people. Many people pretend that they know about it, but perhaps only the present Cabinet and the outgoing Cabinet can really judge whether the nuclear deterrent is credible or not, because the information is so confidential that security prevents the giving of the full story. This does not prevent the Liberal Party or newspaper correspondents making the most authoritative statements. That sort of thing is always beloved of controversialists because, for reasons of security, one cannot deny or confirm it.
It seems to me that the Government are proceeding on the line that it is credible, 991 otherwise if it is not credible one should surely destroy it at once. What is the use of keeping it going if it is not credible? If it is credible it must be of special use to ourselves. I have heard creeping through the debate on several occasions the question of the measurement of credibility. It seems to me quite wrong to talk of this. If one is blindfolded against a wall facing one man with one bullet one is as certain to be dead as if there were a firing squad of 20 men with 20 bullets. One cannot measure credibility against the proliferation of nuclear weapons which Russia or America may possess.
There is another point, an old one, which one has to return to all the time and consider. If one assumes that our power of nuclear retaliation is not credible, surely it is less credible that the United States would make itself liable to the devastation of nuclear reprisal in order to retaliate especially on our behalf. This country is a very special nuclear target. If one had to design the perfect nuclear target which could be utterly physically destroyed in 20 minutes one would design something like these islands of ours. Then the world might be faced with the challenge, "We have destroyed the United Kingdom. Now, are you going to do anything about it?"
It seems to me, therefore, that it is not an insult to the United States to say this, because credibility is something which one tries to impose on the enemy. It seems to me that it would be very unlikely that any country wishing to attack us and burn us out would be halted by the fact that America might attack it and risk the terrible counter-retaliation which would follow.
The second part of the "illusion" is the question whether the British deterrent is and could be independently controlled by this country. There is no argument that it is independently controlled at present, and will be for some years. It will be independently controlled when we have the TSR2. Therefore the only real argument concerns the Polaris missile. I should like to quote again from the Prime Minister's speech at Guildhall. He said:In a nuclear world safety lies in collective security, in alliances based on interdependence.The agreement at Nassau seems to me to be the best and perhaps the only real 992 example of an alliance based on interdependence.
This view is backed by what President Kennedy told a newspaper conference shortly afterwards. He said that the right to use nuclear weapons in matters of supreme national importance wasthe necessary requirement of any sovereign nation.He said that this showed that the Agreement wasbased upon a fuller understanding of each other's views and is not a shallow formula devised to patch up and hide each other's differences.This shows that the Americans understand and approve basically our need to have an independently controlled deterrent of our own.
Obviously there are political reasons, and perhaps military reasons, why the Americans should want us to be out of the nuclear world, but that is no argument for saying that we should voluntarily opt out of it. I am sure that their own leaders fully appreciate the reasons why we should remain a nuclear power. We might well find if we were to make a gesture of giving up control irrevocably of our own nuclear weapons that, although for the moment we might reap some benefit, we should gain only the contempt of a great many people in the United States and throughout the world.
Two serious questions arise on any decision irrevocably to give up our bomb. One has been touched upon already. It is that many of the areas where it might be necessary to have a bomb are outside the geographical area of N.A.T.O. The hon. Member for Meriden did not agree that an occasion might arise in the Far East where the bomb might be needed, but in the case of Australia and India it is not only our right but some would say our duty to provide a nuclear umbrella for those people who are so near to us.
§ Mr. Rowland
What I said was that it seemed inconceivable that we could act in the Far East without the approval of the United States or against the wish of the United States. I never said that it would be impossible to act in the Far East in concert with the United States.
§ Sir J. Maitland
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that at the moment it is 993 inconceivable that such a thing could happen, but it he looks back into history he will find that many inconceivable things have happened, and the whole tragedy about this situation, which is very fluid, is that we do not know what will happen in the years ahead. Therefore, one must insure against the things which we perhaps fear, although at the moment they appear not to be a practical proposition.
The second aspect on which I wish to touch is more difficult. This is only my view, but this is something on which I feel very strongly. I believe that every country should have the right in the last resort—and I think that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland had the same sort of idea in his mind—to maintain its neutrality in a war which it considers unnecessary or unjust. No treaty should be drawn so tightly and no ally should be in such a dominant position that countries are forced into a war against their will. As I said just now, no one at this moment can see very far ahead, and although such a situation may seem inconceivable today we have had—I do not want to refer to it other than in passing, but we saw this in the last American election—an indication that the oddest views may be held in the oddest places. We are in an alliance which it appears to be the Government's intention, rightly, to draw even tighter, and we are, by the Government's action, possibly going to surrender what initiative remains to us to a dominant ally.
If we were to be led in the years to come into a dangerous adventure with which we had little sympathy, as a non-nuclear Power we should have little influence to wield, and if the adventure ended in the disaster of war we must inevitably be led into that war. But if, on the other hand, we remain a nuclear power, not only would our power of persuasion be much greater, but in the last resort, and only if we were a nuclear Power, we could remain neutral. That is a difficult argument, but it is one which in the interests of this country we should bear in mind and consider very carefully.
Finally, I should like to say a few words about the M.L.F. I have always been against this idea, and as far as I 994 know the Conservative Party has, too. I was rather surprised that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said that the Conservative Government were in favour of the M.L.F. I was a supporter of that Government and, to some extent, cognisant of these things, and I never realised that. I am sorry that the idea of an additional multilateral naval force was ever introduced. It has been a disaster in international politics that the idea was ever thought up. It is creating most appalling difficulties in N.A.T.O. for us, the Germans and the French, and eventually it will create difficulties for the United States. It has almost every disadvantage.
We in this country certainly cannot afford the naval strength required to man it. We cannot afford to see N.A.T.O. split by disagreement, and we do not want to add to the already too many nuclear weapons on each side of the Iron Curtain. The West already has quite enough nuclear weapons to deal with any conceivable emergency if they are properly handled. It seems ridiculous to produce 23 ships, each having eight Polaris weapons, and thus add to the enormous nuclear power which already exists. I cannot think of anything more infuriating, rightly, to Russia. Surely we are absolutely sincere in our desire to have better relations with Russia and eventually to work out arrangements for disarmament.
The Prime Minister, when he goes to Washington, must handle this matter with great care. After last weekend's talks—I know nothing about them, but I imagine that they must have been pretty deep—I hope that, in view of the fact that the world has changed so much even in the last six months by virtue of the new régimes in Russia, America, and in this country, the right hon. Gentleman will think very carefully before he hurries into making decisions. He must remember that his ultimate and absolute duty is to the British people first and to the world afterwards.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
May I first take the opportunity, Sir Harry, of congratulating you on occupying the Chair, as I have had the joy of being associated with you on Committees. I should also like to take this opportunity to join in the sentiments 995 which have been expressed about the lucidity and forensic eloquence with which the maiden speeches which we have heard today were delivered. I think that I am the first to be called from this side of the House since the spate of maiden speeches. We look forward to hearing the maiden speakers again in the future.
The subject matter which we are discussing was a major issue in my recent election campaign. The reason was that the firm of Vickers Armstrong Ltd. is building the Polaris submarine. If I may strike a personal note, I have been involved in seven General Elections, and I have never known such scare tactics as those which were indulged in during the recent election.
I could perhaps give a complete dossier of material which was issued during that election from the Conservative Party head office. I will just summarise: "The Labour Party do not know. Do you? No Polaris, no Barrow. Do not take a gamble. Polaris means peace for Britain, prosperity for Barrow. Hands off Polaris. Britain has 50 million lives in danger. Barrow has 4,000 jobs in danger. Wilson's anti-Polaris means a defenceless Britain and a destitute Barrow. Polaris is Britain's only shore defence in the 1970s. Barrow is building this defence. Do not let Wilson stop you. Peter Thorneycroft has announced the fifth Polaris." I should like the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), when he winds up this debate, either to verify or deny that statement, because no mention has been made about whether it is coming to Barrow, whether it is going to the Clyde or to Birkenhead, or whether a fifth Polaris has been ordered at all. I should like to have that statement confirmed by the hon. Gentleman. If not, I should like him to withdraw what he put out to my constituents. I thought that that part of the election in my constiuency had a tone of jingoism at its worst.
I now want to say a word about the ex-Prime Minister and the speeches that he made during the General Election. I submit that they were a direct incitement to every nation on the planet to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. In the interests of himself and his party, he rendered a wanton disservice to the cause of peace. We have spent £20,000 million in the last 13 years on defence. That is 996 £400 per head of every man woman and child in these islands. Of that, £300 million went down the drain on aircraft missiles before they were completed. I suggest that the then Government's record was one of total inefficiency and muddle.
Let us look at the Government's record prior to the Nassau Agreement. Before the Nassau Conference in December, 1962, the then Prime Minister and the Tory Government intimated to the House that they had carefully examined the Polaris subject and decisively rejected the Polaris missile as part of Britain's defence. In February, 1959, the then Minister of Defence held a Press conference and briefed the Press very fully on the fact that the Polaris would be entirely unsuited to Britain's defence policy. The Times reported the Press conference as follows:Too little attention has been paid to the limitations of missile firing submarines. Why, for instance, should it be assumed that they will remain undetectable and invulnerable? Their numbers will be comparatively few because of their great cost, and the movements of a very limited force could be closely watched by an enemy.That was the considered judgment of the Tory Government in 1959.
It was only after the United States Government had dropped Skybolt that the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Harold Macmillan), accepted Polaris as second-best. It was, indeed, the only nuclear delivery system which was then open to him. I recognise that he fought strenuously at Nassau for Skybolt, but, having been defeated, he swallowed all that the Government had previously said about the defects of Polaris and came home saying that Polaris was a weapon that would last us for a generation. He told the Tory Party that it would give Britain an independent nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Monslow
No. There are others who want to speak. It is my custom to give way, but I have been here some hours and others have been here longer. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate that I do not want to hold them up.
It is nonsense to pretend that with five nuclear-powered submarines with 997 Polaris missiles, our deterrent would be independent. With a total of five submarines, we could never be sure of having more than two at sea at any time, and with so small a force we could never threaten separate independent military action without our allies. We shall obtain the Polaris missiles from the United States Government, but the United State Government will remain as free to drop Polaris as they were to drop Skybolt. There is no British independence while we thus depend on United States for the supply of the weapon.
There are many defence experts who believe that the objections made by the Tory Government in February, 1962, to missile launching submarines still hold good. On 17th March, 1964, Mr. John Maddox, who is the scientific editor of The Guardian, wrote an article in his paper entitled "The obsolescent weapons", in which he explained the reasons for fearing that before our Polaris submarines become operational in some years' time the scientist will have discovered ways of detecting the submarines under sea and of destroying them at long range. Advances in armaments techniques are now made with such rapidity that the whole Polaris system may be as obsolete as the Thor missiles before our five submarines are even commissioned.
If the Tory Party tries to argue that Britain's national security depends on possessing five submarines, it might be asked to take a historical survey and reflect on the following. Submarines in enemy hands have nearly brought Britain to defeat in two world wars. Enemy submarines remain the greatest danger to Britain in any future war, unless the war ends in a nuclear holocaust in an hour, and if that should happen, there will then be no joy of victory but only the inconsolable weeping of mankind which will look on the desolation caused by its own folly.
If the war lasts any time, Britain must have food and raw materials, which can come only by merchant ships on the surface of the sea. Nuclear-powered submarines would be a mortal danger to our convoys, whether they used nuclear weapons or conventional torpedoes. For these masons, it has been British policy—I emphasise this—since 1918, and it has 998 been pursued by respective Governments whatever their political complexion, to try to secure the total abolition of submarines as part of a disarmament treaty. The Tory Party appears to be using our unbuilt submarines to obstruct disarmament and President Johnson's proposed "freeze" of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles. But the case for abolishing all submarines is much stronger than ever before from the British point of view. Hitler began the Second World War with less than 60 submarines. I understand that Russia now has 450 to 500 submarines.
If there is a disarmament treaty, what will happen if more naval ships are not required? I think there can he no doubt. A large part of the resources used for armaments could be used instead for the development of the backward countries of the Commonwealth, Asia, Africa and Latin America. That would mean a great expansion of international trade—an elementary truth, because we would have increased demand in the world which would lead to increased production and a rising standard of living. In turn, more merchant ships would be needed.
How much better to be employed on building merchant ships than to spend time and energy on non-productive and destructive services. The shipyard workers in my constituency would have more satisfactory employment, as would the workers on the Clyde and in Birkenhead. It would be far better than preparation for nuclear war.
It should be clearly understood that Polaris weapons, as distinct from the submarines, would bring no work to Barrow-in-Furness, the Clyde or to Birkenhead. The missiles themselves would be imported completely from the United States and the warheads would be made either at Aldermaston or elsewhere. We must get this into perspective. The cost of these submarines is estimated at about £300 million but the interesting feature is that under the terms of the agreement, the Americans claim that we must spend £150 million in the United States for launching pads and firing mechanisms.
The only job in our shipyards is on the submarines themselves. It may be represented that this labour could be used for non-nuclear naval tasks or surface naval ships or civil merchant ships. I say with a deep sense of feeling and 999 responsibility for the constituency I have represented since 1945, and where the shipyards are engaged on Polaris submarines, that I do not believe that shipyard workers of Barrow-in-Furness or of the Clyde or of Birkenhead want to be a stumbling-block on the road to a more peaceful or happy world.
I am amazed that right hon. Members opposite are basing their policy for full employment on the future of these submarines. I understand—and I have tried to ascertain this from those who should know—that the late Government was not planning an expansion of the programme. I should like the right hon. Member for Monmouth to tell us categorically whether or not this is so. It is an extraordinary admission of failure on their part if they felt they could only guarantee full employment on the basis of nuclear missile submarines, the plans of which have been supplied by the United States.
The late Government left a wasteful and heavy expenditure on the nuclear programme, particularly missiles. They have not had money or resources available for conventional naval shipbuilding, whether submarines or surface vessels. It is a truism that we are five years behind schedule in such building because of the Polaris and other nuclear programmes.
In the election, pledges were given which would mean continuity of employment in Barrow shipyards and elsewhere. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will at least expedite the conventional naval programme to make up the deficiencies in the Royal Navy. That would give full employment to all shipyards in Britain and would be far better than a temporary, American-based programme which stands in the way of normal shipbuilding.
I hope that the Government have decided to forgo the claim to independent nuclear action and that more effective machinery can be established in the share and control of the deterrent in any part of the world thus halting the proliferation of national nuclear forces.
I have never believed that this country has the economic resources to sustain the defence programme in which we are now involved. I have never believed that we could go on extending at the rate we have been undertaking non-productive 1000 and destructive services instead of our productive and social services. We cannot do both. We must make a choice.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Monmouth is not here. We are spending on defence at the rate of —2,000 million a year—£350 million overseas. I recall listening to him speaking after his resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1958. He said that for twelve years this nation had gone from crisis to crisis and was expending on armaments beyond its capacity. He said that we could not go on in this way and would have to do some fresh thinking if we were ever to defeat the menace of inflation. I wonder if he will stick to that view tonight. Or will he abrogate the principles he then adumbrated for a mess of potage and say that we should continue to spend at the present rate on non-productive and destructive services?
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. C. M. Woodhouse (Oxford)
The subject which we are debating tonight is usually debated in terms which virtually preclude any possibility of agreement between the two sides of the House, for instance, in terms of status and prestige, or of national and international strategy. There is no prospect that hon. Members opposite will ever be convinced that nuclear weapons do anything to increase our national prestige, or that it would matter if they did. I respect them for being perfectly frank and honest about that. We have heard it asserted several times in the course of today's debate very eloquently by several maiden speakers whom I take this opportunity to congratulate.
On the other side, there is equally no prospect that my hon. and right hon. Friends will be convinced that our national safety is just as much assured under the nuclear umbrella of a great ally as under our own independent nuclear protection. I do not want or intend to pursue these important but fruitless arguments, because I believe that there is another context in which the debate can be set, which is not much less important than that of national security and certainly much more important than any question of mere prestige and in which we ought to be able to find some common ground, or at any rate to appreciate the importance of finding common 1001 answers to certain questions. This is the context of Britain's future as an industrial and technological Power.
I must begin by making certain assumptions which I shall set out quite frankly, but which I shall not argue in detail, partly because that would take too long and partly because I believe that the Government as well as ourselves, although not all the Government's Parliamentary supporters, accept them.
My first assumption is that the fear of the proliferation of independent nuclear weapons is at least very greatly exaggerated, because to be a nuclear Power today does not mean simply to have the capacity to explode a nuclear warhead. That is within the reach of many countries today. It also means the capacity to deliver a weapon against a strongly defended and probably distant enemy. That involves a very highly developed industry and the massive application of very scarce and expensive resources and skills which are within the reach of only a very few, very advanced industrial Powers. Neither China nor even France is a nuclear Power in this full sense. Paradoxically, to say the least, it is so often the same people in this country who tell us contemptuously that we are not a nuclear Power who also argue that our policy encourages other countries to become nuclear Powers.
The second assumption which I intend to make and not argue is that the nuclear deterrent does work, and can be relied upon to continue to do so, in preventing war between major Powers, which, of course, includes nuclear Powers. I would add in parenthesis that to accept that as a general principle does not necessarily mean to take any particular position for or against Britain herself having nuclear weapons.
From that assumption, it follows that sooner or later and in the long run—it may be a very long run and there may be many full storms on the way and at any rate some terrifying crises of the same character as Cuba two years ago—the tension in the world will diminish. Further, it means that if we are right in believing in the efficacy of the deterrent—and if we are wrong, there is practically no foreign policy that we can evolve—the day will come, probably unheralded and perhaps only belatedly 1002 recognised after it has arrived, when multilateral nuclear disarmament will be a real and generally accepted possibility.
We shall then be in a position to do what we all want to do which is, if I may put it into metaphor, to beat the nuclear sword into the ploughshare, which, technically, will be as easy to do then as it was in the days of the Old Testament because, now, as then, swords and ploughshares come out of the same factories and workshops. In other words, many of the most advanced civil and defence products are products of the same advanced industries. If we put those industries out of business for one purpose, we cannot expect them to go on serving the other purpose, the civil purpose, just as effectively and economically as before.
In the world as it is today—and I regret that the world is as it is as much as anybody—it is a fact that defence provides a unique stimulus to some of our most advanced industries, including some which contribute substantially to the credit side of our balance of payments and others which in the long run we ought to be able to count on to do so.
I am not saying, and I hope that the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) will not misinterpret me as saying, that defence programmes have to be kept going simply for the sake of these industries; of course not. However, as economic arguments have been advanced in favour of cutting our defences, we must consider what might be the adverse long-term economic and industrial effect of cutting defence and especially of doing so with those advanced industries in which other industrial countries are not doing so.
The crucial fact is that in these industries it is almost impossible completely to separate the defence and the civil elements. In these industries the research and development costs are shared between defence and civil products, and new techniques and new materials are developed at the expense of the defence budget and then become indispensable in civil applications. I am perfectly certain that every hon. Member can think of examples and I will not weary the Hosue with a catalogue of, for instance, electronics, nuclear power, miniaturisation, jet propulsion and so on.
1003 However, these industries have other characteristics which we need to take into account besides that of being virtually indistinguishable in their civil and defence applications. One is that they are all very closely related, so that a big new project, whether defence or civil, a project like the Concord, stimulates not just one but half a dozen industries and, correspondingly, the cancellation of any big project injures just as many.
Another characteristic is that they need very large initial capital and a very large market if they are to pay their way. Certainly neither the United Kingdom alone nor, still less, the United Kingdom civil market alone, without the defence market, can sustain these industries in competition with the corresponding industries of the United States. We must recognise that although we and the Americans are the closest of allies in defence, at the same time we are rivals and competitors in industry and trade. We are greatly handicapped in this competition with the United States, with its aero-space and nuclear and related industries on the other side of the Atlantic, by the fact that we have not, as the American have, a vast internal market on which to build world-wide sales.
We can make up that handicap only by making the maximum use both of opportunities, through international partnership, to increase our capital resources and enlarge our market and of the possibilities of working defence and civil requirements together in mutual support. Otherwise, we shall, in the long run, price ourselves out of the international market, not for defence products—I am assuming that, in the long run, these will no longer matter—but for the civil products of these advanced industries to which we should be looking to earn our bread and butter in the long term, even after defence contracts have become a thing of the past.
If we alone in a world which is not following our example—this is the point—contract out of this field now, we shall never catch up in it again, because contracting out now means not simply cancelling a few contracts but permanently crippling whole industries. Defence today provides a stimulus for these industries which every major industrial Power at present finds irreplaceable. If the Government propose to remove that 1004 stimulus when others are not doing so, at least the onus will rest on them to show what kind of stimulus is to be available to take its place.
This is the question to which we need an answer. I hope that, if it is not given in this debate, the Prime Minister's visit to the United States will eventually supply the answer. What is at stake is not only security, although, of course, this is at stake, it is not only prestige, about which the two sides of the House will undoubtedly continue to disagree, but it is also Britain's future as a major industrial and technological Power.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The answer to the question posed by the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) is the one which has been given by the previous Government, his Government, by the French Government, by the American Government and by the Soviet Government, that the money saved on armaments should in part be used, through a central fund and through international machinery, to give technical and financial aid to under-developed countries, thereby increasing two-way trade with those countries.
I do not regard money spent on armaments as an economic advantage. It is economic waste. It is one of the main factors in the balance of payments crisis. The more we can plough back resources of money, manpower and scientific personnel into productive purposes, the better off we shall be economically. This is without touching the question of security; I am touching only the economic side of the question. Of course, it means organising the economy. It means the kind of plans which have been put forward from this side of the House for greatly developing trade with the underdeveloped countries, East-West trade on mutually planned lines, and so on. This, I believe, is the way to think of the future.
I regret that this debate was started at the initiative of the Opposition on the issue of defence. I should have much preferred the Government to put down a Motion on foreign policy or to have reserved two days for a broad debate on international affairs in every aspect so as to give the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence a send-off when they went to 1005 Washington and a mandate to go ahead with the Labour Party's policy for breaking out of the vicious circle of the cold war and the arms race and starting the business of making peace before it is too late.
I regard with gloom the prospect of the first international act of the Labour Government being to go off to Washington to sign on as "Tail-end Charlies" in an American nuclear bomber with a German co-pilot, whether one calls the contraption an Atlantic Nuclear Force or "Fred Karno's Nuclear Navy", which was James Cameron's name for it in the Sun the other day.
I do not see the necessity for strengthening N.A.T.O. at present. What we should do in the present situation—this has been advocated in the United States by people like Walter Lippmann, who is a very responsible middle-of-the-road man—is to say that the present situation does not call for any immediate measures to strengthen N.A.T.O. but, rather, it calls for sitting down and reviewing the whole field of international affairs. This review should take place not from the point of view of how to step up war preparations but from the point of view of how to get on with disarmament and negotiations for a peaceful settlement, doing nothing in the meantime which would make this primary task more difficult. We have got our priorities wrong in this business. We are putting the cart before the horse. I only hope that my right hon. Friends do not come back with schemes which will prove to be a serious obstacle in the way of carrying out the policies for making peace to which this Government are committed and which will start a further round in the cold war, stepping up the already colossal defence budget until it breaks clown our attempts to do what we have promised to do at home. I say all this bluntly because I believe that someone ought to say it from this side of the House and because I know that a great many people feel it.
I turn, briefly, to the so-called British independent deterrent delusion which confuses hon. and right hon. Members opposite. In the first place, it is not British because it is made in the United States. In the second place, it will not be independent. It never was and it is not likely to be. The V-bombers are independent, but they are obsolescent, 1006 too small to matter. The question is whether the Polaris submarine missiles provided by the United States will be under our sole control. During the election, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) put it picturesquely by saying, "If I buy a hat or a pipe, it becomes my property and I can do what I like with it." There is a slight difference between nuclear weapons and a hat or a pipe. I am supposing for the sake of argument that the right hon. and learned Gentleman might go stark staring "bonkers" and jump on his hat or smash his pipe. The man who sold him these articles might not mind. He would probably think that it was good for trade. But if the automatic result of such an impetuous act were that the man's shop would be burned to the ground and that he and his family would be reduced to atomic dust, he would think twice about letting other people possess such things.
This is the position of the United States, which has no idea of letting any of her allies dispose of nuclear weapons provided by the United States. Until now, such weapons have always been under dual control. Part of the President's case against Senator Goldwater lay in his insistence that the President alone should take the decision. So long as the Polaris missiles, which are being sold only on the condition that Polaris submarines are integrated in a N.A.T.O. fleet under United States command—except for the reservation under Article 9—remain in a N.A.T.O. fleet under United States command, the electronic locks will still be on and can be released only by coded signal from Washington under the orders of the President. Ex hypothesi, if we had a Government who wished to use them independently, they would have to argue the toss with the United States as to whether those electronic locks would be released in order to start a nuclear war against the wish of the United States, which inevitably would be involved. I do not believe that it would ever happen. Anyway, that position is past.
We hear talk about possession of the nuclear deterrent giving us independence and authority in the councils of the nations. I remember what happened over Cuba. The United States brought this country to the verge of a nuclear war without even consulting us. We were 1007 not at the conference table because of our 2 per cent., by grace and favour of the United States, nuclear force. We were at the possible receiving end of annihilation without representation. The former Government took that lying down. They were perfectly happy about it.
So much for the side issues. Let us get down to the real issue—the crisis in N.A.T.O. The crisis is being brought about by the fact that the United States wishes to appease the West German desire for nuclear weapons by admitting Germany to participation in a multilateral nuclear fleet. The reason why Germany has got to the point where she is pressing her demand for nuclear weapons is that by degrees she has become the strongest Power in N.A.T.O., in terms of conventional forces, next to the United States.
How far this process has gone was set forth clearly and in rather alarming terms in the January number of the Foreign Affairs Quarterly by Mr. George F. Kennan, former United States ambassador in Yugoslavia and the U.S.S.R. and former Chief of the policy planning staff of the State Department and one of the founders of N.A.T.O. This is what he writes:When it comes to the military factor…the Western Powers, over a period that now runs back for several years, have committed themselves more and more deeply against anything in the nature of a military disengagement in Europe. Not only do they reject the possibility of any extensive withdrawal of foreign troops from the western part of the Continent, even if this were to be by way of reciprocation for a similar withdrawal of Soviet forces, but they appear to have set their face, in present circumstances, against anything in the nature of a European pact or a nonaggression pact between the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Pact members.They are also adverse to any sort of arrangement for the de-nuclearisation of the European area, even, again if this were to be on a reciprocal basis.Finally, they give no very convincing evidence of any disposition to place effective limits on the rearmament of Western Germany, where one restriction after the other, established in earlier years, has quietly gone by the board, and where the Germans are now, in the view of everybody in Eastern Europe, well on the way to becoming in all respects a full-fledged nuclear power. Yet at the same time the Western powers, with the exception of the French have been unwilling to recognise the finality of Germany's eastern frontiers; and the West German Government, with the blessing of the others, still persist in a policy of total irreconcilability towards the East German State.1008Behind all this and connected with all of it is the heavy extent of the Western Commitment, and particularly the American and German commitment, to the eventual destruction of Communism generally.Mr. Kennan draws attention to the folly and danger of this policy of arming Germany while leaving her free to cherish her nuclear ambitions and her territorial claims, with the impact that all of this must have on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
The fact is that the price being paid for the preservation of N.A.T.O. is the rejection of peaceful coexistence in any reasonable sense of that term, and a repudiation of every one of the major items of policy to which the Government of this country are committed—Labour's policies for disengagement, disarmament, a non-aggression pact between the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Alliance Powers, the unification of Germany by stages within this kind of framework and a provisional Berlin settlement. That is the price that we are asked to pay for keeping N.A.T.O. going. And in spite of all this N.A.T.O. is now faced by a crisis which may well prove its finish.
President de Gaulle is not accepting what he regards as an American take-over bid for Western Europe through the multilateral fleet and through German inclusion in it. Whatever else one may think of President de Gaulle, he is not a man to be bullied and by-passed with impunity. France is the key country in Western Europe. We cannot go on with any successful European policy, certainly not with any West European policy, in defiance of the will of the French, who are a proud and courageous people and who will not be overridden or set aside by the United States. It is not our job to join in any attempt to do anything of the kind.
We should take our stand on the United Nations Charter, not on the military alliances, and we should show at least as much consideration for French views in these matters as we do for American and German views. In some respects French views are closer to the policy of our Government than are either the American or German views.
The French have said all along that Germany should recognise her present frontiers. So do we. The French are for recognising and bringing China into the United Nations. So are we. The French 1009 say that South-East Asia should be neutralised, and for a long time that was our policy. I hope that it is still our policy, because I do not see us trailing behind the Americans in their war of intervention in Southern Vietnam, which, apart from being a violation of the Charter and half-a-dozen other treaties, is a losing affair. Some hon. Members may remember the remark by Colonel Lawrence of Arabia that fighting revolutions is a slow and messy business, like eating soup with a knife. That is more or less what the Americans are doing, only they are shedding a lot of blood in the process. We should not be mixed up with that or countenance it in any way.
In all this, I have no hope whatever from right hon. and hon. Members opposite, because, with a few honourable exceptions, they are prepared to take anything whatever in the cause of strengthening the military alliance. We on this side have a different approach to this matter.
On the specific issue of the inclusion of Germany in any kind of international nuclear force, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has twice told the House, on 31st January, 1963, and on 3rd July that same year, when he repeated it:We have a right to ask where the Government stand on these proposals for a European deterrent, including the nuclear rearmament of Germany. I make perfectly clear now where we stand. We are completely, utterly and unequivocally opposed, now and in all circumstances, to any suggestion that Germany, West Germany or East Germany, directly or indirectly, should have a finger on the nuclear trigger or any responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1963; Vol. 670, c. 1246.]The first time the Prime Minister said that, he described it as a "categorical statement". The next time, he said he had used exactly the same words in Washington and Moscow, and that was the policy of the Labour Party. It is still, I hope, the policy of the Government, because in this statement there is no fine distinction between a German finger on a nuclear trigger or a German finger on the safety catch. What is condemned with equal force is, on the one hand, a finger on the nuclear trigger, either directly or indirectly, and, on the other hand, any part of Germany havingany responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used.1010 That was not said just for fun. The Prime Minister explained in the House on 3rd July, 1963, in some detail that to admit Germany to any form of participation in any kind of international nuclear force would be regarded by the present leaders of Germany—and he quoted their Defence Minister, Kai-Uwe von Hassel in confirmation—as a halfway house to Germany acquiring nuclear weapons of her own. The Germans believe, he pointed out, that the present American veto in the M.L.F. cannot last, and they also believe that membership would strengthen their demand for medium range nuclear weapons on German soil. Indeed, I understand that the Americans are starting to promise the latter.
My right hon. Friend then explained that, strong as our objections were to this, they paled into insignificance compared with the vigour of Soviet objections. He said that his talks in Moscow had convinced him that the Russians equated German participation in a multilateral nuclear force with Germany acquiring nuclear weapons of her own. That step, he said, would mean the end of any chance of relaxing tension in Europe and could prove the point of no return on the road to the next world war.
He used the strongest possible language and gave the direst warnings. He was perfectly right. He was certainly right that this is the feeling of the Soviet Union. This is not a question of whether or not this is a European deterrent. The Russians would not care a bit if de Gaulle's nuclear force, which is independent but does not exist, and ours, which, although it exists, is very small and is not independent—not if we were to get Polaris missiles—were combined. They are worried about Germany joining an international nuclear force—a European organisation, an Atlantic organisation, whatever it might be called and whatever its shape might be. If anybody doubts if that really is their position I urge them to look at the recent Tass communiqué which was scrappily reported in our Press. I have translated the relevant parts from the Pravda report of 15 November. This is what the Tass agency said:The plans for constituting a multilateral nuclear force in any form whatsoever are a matter which concerns not only the members of the North Atlantic group. The carrying 1011 out of plans of this nature would affect the security of the whole of Europe, of all European states, and of other states. The result would be the aggravation of the nuclear weapons race and a further dissemination of nuclear weapons, allowing access to them of those whose whole policy depends on keeping up international tension and using force to change the existing world situation. One would have to be blind not to see that the result would be fresh and almost insurmountable obstacles on the approaches to disarmament, and the wrecking of the patient work of many countries and governments, to improve East-West relations and consolidate peace.It went on:The Soviet Government has frequently warned against the danger resulting from the plans to set up a multi-lateral or a multinational nuclear N.A.T.O. force. These plans jeopardise the security of all countries and peoples.Naturally the Soviet Government and her allies would take counter measures to strengthen their defences, concluded Tass. In other words, we should be in for a fresh round of the arms race.
All this illustrates the truth of what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the House on 31st January last year:When defence becomes the master of foreign policy, as it sometimes has in recent years, vision and realism alike are banished from our counsels."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 31st January, 1963; Vol. 670, c. 1246.]My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said on 4th March last year:The first principle of defence is that defence should be the servant of foreign and colonial policy.Finally, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in his first speech as Shadow Foreign-Secretary, said in Birkenhead on 31st December, 1961:From now on instead of putting defence first in our minds, weapons and means of destruction, I think the important thing is to put foreign policy, particularly a Socialist foreign policy, first.He went on:Then all other things will fall into place.I hope that the Government will keep to that principle and have the courage to apply it in the present situation. Because today we have an enormously strong bargaining position. That was pointed out by a very good Tory indeed, a well-informed and intelligent Tory, although that is not to say that the majority of Tories are not informed and intelligent. In the Sunday Telegraph of 1012 8th November an article written by Peregrine Worsthorne, who was recently in Washington, stated that the Americans were concerned over the post-Khrushchev possibilities of Russia and China re-forming a united Communist front.
I understand that one of the reasons why Mr. Khrushchev lost his job—by methods that we all deplore—was that he was thought to be too soft towards the West and too tough towards China. The Russians thought that they had better mend their fences in regard to China in order to improve their bargaining position vis-á-vis the West. Mr. Worsthorne goes on:It is vitally important, therefore, for the United States to avoid doing anything which would strengthen those forces in the Kremlin who oppose a Russo-American détente.This means, in effect, that Mr. Johnson dare not press ahead with his cherished plan for bringing Western Germany into the nuclear club, unless it is done in such a way as to minimise Russian fears. So long as Khrushchev was in power the Americans discounted Soviet opposition to the M.L.F., since it was assumed that his quarrel with China was so irreconcilable that the Russians had no alternative but to maintain good relations with the West.Now that this assumption can no longer be made the Americans have been forced to reconsider their whole policy towards Western Germany's nuclear participation…This is where the British rôle becomes crucial. It is now accepted in Washington that there can no longer be any question of pressing ahead with a bilateral German-American nuclear force. Such a development, with its dramatic upgrading of the German role in Western defence, would have a disastrous impact in Moscow. The Americans now recognise that British participation has become much more than merely desirable. It has become absolutely essential.If our participation is essential, we are in a strong enough position to put forward what we want and what we think should be done, including our ideas of priorities in this business—particularly as we shall have a good deal of support in the United States. The multilateral fleet, and pushing ahead with it at the risk of cracking up N.A.T.O., disregarding France and boosting German militarism, is by no means popular in the United States. It has been described very sarcastically by Walter Lippmann, amongst others, as the work of professors disguised as strategists. The whole thing is not a scheme to which the United States is 100 per cent. committed.
1013 What we ought to do is to apply our own principle, and say to our Allies, "The first thing to do now is to sit down with the Russians at the conference table and find out on what terms we can negotiate an agreement with them on the political settlement of Europe and on disarmament. Only after that, and in the light of the results of such a conference, can we look at N.A.T.O. and see whether it needs strengthening or winding up." We ought to go further, and say, "Since N.A.T.O. comes into operation only in the case of unprovoked aggression, so long as our Allies pursue policies that we regard as provocative they do not have the right to expect us to come to their assistance if they get into trouble, and they will not get it."
And unless and until Germany agrees to accept her frontiers, and abandons her policies of total intransigence, we should he totally opposed to any more armaments for Germany, and to putting any more good money into keeping our troops there. We should give notice, that failing agreement with our allies within a reasonable time on how to make peace, and so long as they go on with policies that we consider provocative, such as the M.L.F., we will start pulling our troops back from N.A.T.O., pushing out United States bases here, and using the money we save for our economic and social programme at home. If we took that line, we should have plenty of bargaining power and plenty of prestige. We would fulfil the hopes of those who elected Labour to power to save the peace, and get such support from the people of the Western Powers and the United States that we would carry the day.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)
I always find it a little difficult to follow the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus)—HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because he covers such an immense amount of ground and so many different points. Perhaps it will surprise some hon. Members opposite that I have a fellow feeling for the hon. Member because he and I have both sat at conference tables where discussions have brought out the almost pathological dread of the Russians that the Germans 1014 should be given nuclear weapons either on a multilateral or a unilateral basis.
This evening we are debating the view of the House regarding the conversations which the Prime Minister is about to hold in Washington. I think I can speak for every hon. Member on this side, and I know I can for every hon. Member opposite, in wishing him well in his tremendous responsibility. He will discuss issues which might be of vital importance to the future security of this country. In the few minutes remaining to me I wish to make three points on the question of nuclear weapons to be discussed in Washington. The first bears on the point tellingly made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the impossibility of guaranteeing the security of this country by conventional weapons alone that was brought out well by several of my hon. and right hon. Friends.
I think we all agree that the day is past when fleets and air forces could preserve this country from occupation, invasion or the annihilation which could come with modern nuclear weapons. To those I should add a fourth possibility, which has been so much neglected. I was very pleased that the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow), who said much with which I disagreed, brought out this point. It is the continuing vital importance to this island of shipping to bring in 90 per cent. of its imports and half its food. Alone among the great Powers we could be strangled in a short time, as we have nearly been in two world wars, by attacks on shipping by U-boats and under-water weapons.
Starvation through blockade must be added to those measures for which security for the United Kingdom must be provided and which can no longer be defended against by conventional weapons alone. That makes it all the more essential that a deterrent which acts effectively in the case of the other threats to our security should also be available in case of blockade being set at the throat of this country.
My second point was also touched on by my right hon. Friend. It concerns the simple fact that about a third of our forces are now operating east of Suez and the effect which that must have on our reconsideration of deterrent policy. I must draw attention to what I believe to be a blind spot in the thinking of hon. 1015 Members opposite in so many cases in the history of the last years, considerably before I arrived in this House. They seem to have put strategic considerations last whenever it was a question of conflict with their pre-concept of moral international issues.
Hon. Members opposite must bear a great load of responsibility for the fact that the Suez Canal is no longer an international waterway—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I say that with full consideration and deliberation—and for the strategic concerns which have sprung from the fact that the canal, formerly international, is now under the control of Colonel Nasser. I think that the Prime Minister will in future carry a smiliar load of responsibility for the further weakening of our strategic lines of communication through recent events and declarations of policy in respect of South Africa.
All this affects the fate of one-third of our Armed Forces—ships, aircraft and men—now east of Suez. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has drawn attention to the absolute necessity for expanding our deterrent capability beyond the area covered by N.A.T.O. to the Far East, where at any time our conventional activities, any conventional actions in which we may be engaged, may be threatened by nuclear blackmail from either of the two nuclear Powers in the Far East—Soviet Russia and China. The Prime Minister, from his experience of economic warfare, must remember those days during the war when the terrible drain of shipping being attacked on its way round the Cape of Good Hope very nearly faced us with disaster from that means alone.
May I make one point about tactical nuclear weapons, because I believe that the Prime Minister will be well advised to take particular care to do and say nothing in Washington which will deprive this country of the ability to use certain tactical nuclear weapons at sea during the course of any limited maritime war in which we may be engaged. In military circles it is generally agreed that the tactical use of nuclear weapons on land or from the air over land will almost inevitably escalate into an all-out nuclear war, and for that reason the use of such weapons is increasingly unlikely among those nations which are armed with them.
1016 I submit that that factor does not apply to the sea. Here we have an example from the early days of the Second World War, when on 3rd September unrestricted submarine warfare started against our shipping while at the same time aircraft were specifically debarred on both sides from approaching any land so that bombs might arrive on civilian populations, thus provoking mass retaliation by bombing. I am confident that that situation could arise again, the tacit understanding not to use tactical nuclear weapons on land being balanced by the use of the same weapons in sea engagements. Perhaps I should draw attention to the fact that, as I see it, the defence of British shipping in or out of convoy against Soviet nuclear submarines can be guaranteed only by the use of certain numbers of ships, aircraft and fast hunter-killer nuclear submarines of our own, provided that those are supported by certain tactical nuclear weapons.
I do not believe that the people of this country would ever forgive a Prime Minister or an Administration who sold the nuclear weapons of this country in any agreement with allies or any other nation which prejudiced the safety of our ships and our men at sea in any war in which we may in future be engaged.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
We have reached the concluding stages of this debate, to which I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Defence will reply. If I may be allowed to say so to my successor, I think I have left him an instrument for the formation and execution of policy stronger than anything in the defence field than has previously been seen in this country. Perhaps I may also be allowed to say this, which I think is in order—I was served brilliantly. The men who served me necessarily remain anonymous, but in Lord Mountbatten and Sir Solly Zuckerman and Sir Henry Hardman I think that the right hon. Gentleman could scarcely be better served in the incredibly difficult task which lies ahead of him.
The first task of anyone speaking in a debate such as this is to refer to the maiden speeches. May I say to the six maiden speakers that they all distinguished themselves well. My hon. Friend 1017 the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) paid a moving tribute to the part played by his constituents in two world wars; the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Park) made some pertinent comments upon this theme; my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) said some things about Aldermaston which I think could well be read by the Minister of Technology; the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) was, among his other callings, the military adviser for "Oh What a Lovely War"; the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) struck the right note in saying that maiden speeches should be controversial; and the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) made one of the best maiden speeches heard in this House for quite a long time.
I turn to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Defence. I cannot be quite so flattering about him. I join with the others who have referred to his successful defence of Chequers. True, substantial reinforcements had to be called up for the purpose. Now having got his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the House of Commons with one flank on the river, I think he will hold it against the assault of the infuriated populace for a few days anyway.
The nature of this debate is couched in the least provocative form for a controversial subject. That is to say, we are debating it upon the Adjournment. We shall have an opportunity of discussing some wider issues of defence, I think, before Christmas, but I believe it was right that we should choose to give this priority to the nuclear decisions which may fall to be taken at Washington, for these decisions could be irrevocable. They could mar or defeat or baulk opportunities for N.A.T.O., for East-West relations, for a long time, if they were taken in the wrong way or if they were taken prematurely.
The Prime Minister is not here, so may I put to the Secretary of State for Defence the simple point to which we wish an answer. We do not wish the Prime Minister to proceed to Washington to give away, without far deeper thought than he has given yet to the subject, the nuclear weapons which we possess or the power or control over them which we at present hold. That is the simple straightforward purpose of this debate.
1018 I am bound to say that in my view the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister gave the most unsatisfactory answers, so unsatisfactory that I think there is no other course than to register our dissatisfaction in the lobbies tonight. He started off by saying that what one could say was very limited; yet there was practically no limits to what he said. I have already referred to him as an artist in sludge. There was hardly a limit to the sludge he was prepared to spread over this field. The impression we received here was that he was not departing in anything like the right state of mind for some really critical discussions in Washington on issues crucial to the future of this country. It was very difficult to discern what his purpose was. At one moment in his speech I thought that he was thinking of giving away something which was very precious in return for something else which was absolutely vital to the future of mankind. What it was he intended to give away or what it was he would get back, he never disclosed to the House.
In a concluding passage, however, he referred—and I am surprised that he had the audacity to do so—to the discussions of the Labour Party Conference at Black-pool in 1961. He referred to a resolution as, so to speak, the bible on this matter. I must say that it was a resolution which he had fought tooth and nail the year before. But that is a little adjustment, and as we may want him to change again we must not be too harsh. He referred to the bible:Britain, however, should cease the attempt to remain an independent nuclear powerIs that his purpose in going to Washington? If that is his purpose, what a way to start the negotiations! Fancy arriving there, announcing that it was one's purpose to give away the one thing which, I understood from another part of his speech, one has to offer. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it has to be remembered that at the same conference another resolution was passed:That this conference condemns the establishment of Polaris bases in Great Britain".If he goes with that, of course, he may come back much more quickly than he expects. We may see him back here before the prescribed date.
I say, in all seriousness to the right hon. Gentleman, would it not be better 1019 if he forgot both those resolutions at the Labour Party conference? Would it not be better if he concentrated his mind on the real issues involved and the vital needs of this great country over which he presides? We have been rather scrupulous on this side of the House not to quote all the things which the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I hope that he will go there absolutely with an open mind and not bound by decisions of that character.
I was not clear from the speech of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) whether the Liberal Party were for or against the deterrent. I rather gathered that he was for it but against the arguments for it—a very liberal position. May I say this to both right hon. Gentlemen. I have heard no argument which appeals to me as being directed to a quick decision of this matter. It is not the sort of decision which ought to be taken within a few months of an election. It is not the kind of final decision on the future of the deterrent which ought to be attempted in the first 100 days of any Parliament.
We are three years from the review of N.A.T.O. We should be taking it in advance—and the right hon. Gentleman knows this—of studies which are still uncompleted on N.A.T.O. strategy and on forces and resources. We should be taking it within a few weeks of China exploding a nuclear device. We should be taking it at a time when France is proceeding with the creation of her own deterrent and is deeply disturbed at what is being pressed upon her. We should be taking it at a time when a new regime has only just been set up in Russia, the nature of which is as yet largely unrevealed.
Against that background, I want to say a few things about Nassau, the M.L.F. and the British deterrent which seem to be the centre of this argument. First, Nassau was planned as a Western summit. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right that the cancellation of a weapon under development, Skybolt, turned it into a nuclear discussion which overshadowed the other matters which were discussed. There were two questions at Nassau. The first was whether America would offer us, and we would buy, Polaris missiles; if so, on what terms; and 1020 whether we should have, as in Skybolt, power to use this weapon in our own defence. That was the first issue. The second was the question of organisation and nuclear strategy within the Alliance. The decisions taken are part of history. The United States did offer and we are under contract to buy Polaris missiles. The offer was made on terms under which Britain's right was reserved to use this in the supreme national interest. Any enemy knows this. Any enemy knows that we have the right under that agreement to use this weapon in the last resort in our own defence. That was the bargain struck, and the record of it was issued under the hand of the former Prime Minister of this country and the late President of the United States, the anniversary of whose death we all mourned only the other day. It is a bargain which no American ever could or would dishonour, for the honour of their whole nation is involved in that agreement.
The Prime Minister made some vague complaints about proliferation. Never have I heard the existence of a British controlled deterrent argued, even by the Russians, as a cause for proliferation, any more than a Russian or an American one. Never have I heard it suggested that the possession of a British deterrent was something which stimulated German appetites, and, in fact, the German attitude on the M.L.F. was not a proposal which came from Germany in the first instance. It came from the other side of the Atlantic. That was the position about the missile.
Now I come to the organisation. The main proposal on the organisation came from the British side and it is contained in clause 4. [Laughter.] That is a fair point. It was that we should assign national forces to N.A.T.O. and it was honoured to the full, for we assigned not only part of our forces but the whole of our V-bomber force. At Ottawa this organisation, which indeed had been started by my right hon. Friend at Athens, was carried forward and a nuclear organisation was approved by N.A.T.O.—and I emphasise this—with France assenting to it. It was a N.A.T.O. decision at Ottawa. A deputy SACEUR for nuclear affairs, a Belgian, was appointed, and officers from European countries are present at 1021 Omaha. They are concerned with the targeting, the planning and the guiding of it but they cannot fire, nor can they stop the firing of the deterrent. What else could have been done? This question is really critical.
I have heard and read a great deal about new forms of nuclear force, new organisations that might be set up, new pooling of arrangements and the rest. What prize is it that the right hon. Gentleman is seeking, what addition in power—power on the trigger or power over the safety catch? What in addition to the nuclear set-up that is organised at the moment, approved by the whole of N.A.T.O., including France, does the right hon. Gentleman require? What change in it is proposed? I think that is a fair question.
When the Prime Minister is leaving this country with even the possibility of giving away British weapons or abandoning control of them, we are entitled to ask what is the nature of the agreement which is sought? What is the prize which is held out before us? As I say, to my mind it would be very difficult to define it or, indeed, to alter it substantially from that which exists already. In any event, Nassau provided a weapon commercially very advantageous to the United Kingdom. We have got the research and development worth between £1,000 million and £2,000 million for free. We have launched a N.A.T.O. nuclear organisation which now exists and which has not proved divisive of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. The possibility of mixed manning is not referred to in terms in the agreement, but it was referred to in the discussion, and it is comprised in clause 7.
At no time was the United Kingdom committed to subscribe a single cent or a single man to any mixed-manned force, and at no time was any proposal considered for an M.L.F. outside N.A.T.O. That is the background against which any question of renegotiation must take place. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, against that background and before he starts even to say that he is going to put a re-negotiation of Nassau on the Agenda, to think very carefully what it is he could conceivably offer and what it is he could conceivably get.
1022 Everybody has said that it is a good thing—and indeed it is; I have shown that much was done in this direction—to have integrated forces. This is an argument which is sometimes used for the M.L.F. and is much used for this new A.N.F., Atlantic Nuclear Force, which is being scouted and a kite which is being flown as a possibility.
May I tell the right hon. Gentleman—I know him well enough to put this bluntly—what my suspicions are about this. We think that it is possible that he is anxious to get rid of the British deterrent, or as much of it as possible, but he cannot think where to put it. What he is looking for is a depository for the thing. He wants to find some sort of organisation, whether it is an M.L.F. or an A.N.F., or some other n.f., and put it into that one. He starts from the position that he has firm contractual rights and obligations for Polaris irrevocably secured to the United Kingdom. That is his starting position in the negotiations. He starts on the M.L.F. from the point that he is wholly uncommitted to subscribe a cent of money or a single man to any such force. That is his start in any such negotiation, but, despite that starting position, should he devise something like the M.L.F. or the A.N.F.? It is very difficult to distinguish between these various forms, but let me say that there are substantial arguments for cooperation in this field. Those who originally urged this included many men who sincerely believed that this was a method of keeping the German finger off the trigger. This is sincerely believed by many. A U.S.-German bilateral would be very divisive of N.A.T.O. The Americans want it. These are not arguments to be dismissed—the wishes of a great ally—by any Government and the Germans—this was not at their suggestion—under immense American pressure have become to some extent committed to it. This proposal has created some of the problems which it was designed to solve, but the arguments for it must also he matched by some arguments against it. May I put two problems.
The first is the military dilemma, and this applies as much to any organisation which the right hon. Gentleman is contemplating as to the M.L.F. The military dilemma has not yet been resolved. If the United States intend to keep the veto, then any organisation which the right hon. 1023 Gentleman sets up will in fact be militarily worthless, because the idea that the Americans will somehow permit any of these forces to lob a few Polaris missiles into Russia is an illusion. Of course they will not do so unless they are prepared to launch the whole of their strategic air command behind them. If it were intended to give up the veto now or later it would leave a European force, excluding France and, on the present proposals 90 per cent. controlled by Germany. I do not believe that such a proposal would be acceptable to any side of the House at present. That is the military dilemma.
As for the political dilemma, it would be difficult to find a proposal which at the same time would do damage to East-West relations and run the risk of splitting the N.A.T.O. Alliance from top to bottom? It would be a difficult thing to do, yet to pursue some of the theories hinted at by the right hon. Gentleman today would be almost the only way of achieving it. It would certainly gravely embarrass the Foreign Secretary in his negotiations on proliferation. This is where the argument on proliferation comes in. It has nothing to do with the British deterrent. It is on whether the Prime Minister sets up some force as this. It would be bitterly resented by the Russians. Equally and at the same time it would be resented by France.
I want to say something about the French position. It is a common fate of almost anyone who supports the position of France in any respect at this moment to be called an English Gaullist, which is said to be a term of abuse. But in all sincerity I say that the defence of Europe without the defence of France is a military nonsense. When the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for the defence of this country to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet is participating in these matters, I hope that he will bring this point home. To talk about being able to put forces in through German or Dutch ports or something of that kind is not a meaningful arrangement in a military sense. It might be said that falling back on some massive retaliation is the only answer, but the truth is that if we are to have satisfactory arrangements with Europe in any field, but particularly 1024 in defence, the sooner some right hon. Gentlemen opposite speak openly and frankly with the French and try to come to some accommodation with them on these matters the better.
The problem of this Atlantic force has never been feasibility. Anybody can float missiles about in the Eastern Atlantic on mixed-manned ships. The problem is whether any organisation or weapons system of this kind makes sense when one has regard to the necessity of uniting N.A.T.O. and proceeding forward with East-West relations. It is possible to think of schemes—and we have suggested some ourselves—whereby instead of spending vast sums we spend lesser sums on weapons already in existence, but even these, though better than the arrangement discussed by the right hon. Gentleman today, are likely to be costly. Indeed the cost of the American proposal would run to a figure of £1,500 million over the next five or six years, committing this country to an expenditure on a weapon or weapons system, which would never be used, for the price of the Concord.
It is against this background that the right hon. Gentleman goes to Washington. Before he goes, it is necessary that he should decide just what it is that he hopes to get and what arrangements he seeks. It is suggested widely that we should subscribe our forces to N.A.T.O. I see that advertised everywhere, but they are subscribed to N.A.T.O. today. The only addition is that we should never use them in our own defence, but what an astonishing suggestion if it came from an English Prime Minister. Suppose that we sent an army to France with the condition that it was never to be withdrawn via Dunkirk? What a proposal to come from a Secretary of State for Defence—not to be used for Britain, not even if we were threatened on our own, not even if we found ourselves without an ally, not even if we were subjected to a nuclear strike: never retaliate without the permission of someone else. That would be a magnificent addition to the Nassau Agreement if it were written in.
But there are rumours that this would not be enough, because I have read suggestions from the Washington correspondents—these followed on the visit of the Foreign Secretary there—that they would not trust us just by having British submarines in N.A.T.O. The British 1025 sailors must be dressed in N.A.T.O. uniforms. Locks must be put on the warheads so that they could not conceivably be used. I agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that that is an astonshing thing. It is said that the Germans and Americans should be put on board our submarines to see that in no circumstances would they be used in the rôle of which they did not approve. I hope that the Secretary of State will give an assurance, which the Prime Minister certainly did not give, that these proposals are absolutely out of court. It would be much better if he were to say that frankly and fully to the House of Commons before he goes to America.
America certainly cannot put these proposals forward. She is committed root and branch to the Nassau Agreement. She is committed absolutely on the signature of her President to provide us with the Polaris missile on a continuing basis and with power to use it in our own defence. Therefore, these proposals could come only from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and I am bound to say that he has not given us any very firm assurance yet as to what he intends to do.
I am sure that we should pause at this stage before abandoning the deterrent. As many of my hon. and right hon. Friends have said, there is no conventional substitute, no method of defending this country by the Royal Navy or Royal Air Force against nuclear attack. The only defence is the certain knowledge in the mind of any enemy that no prize he could ever win would compensate him for the destruction which he would suffer in the process.
The right hon. Gentleman says that we will always have an ally at our side. I hope that we always will. But I think that it was one of the Ministers in the present Government who was saying only the other day that if one particular candidate won the Presidential election the Atlantic Alliance would be at an end. We do not choose American Presidents. We do not determine how long or how permanent their office is. It would be an enormous gamble with the future of the British people, and no single country would follow our example—not France, not China. We should have given away a priceless weapon for a return which is wholly undisclosed at present but 1026 which seems, on any account, to be practically valueless.
I would say this to the Secretary of State. We live in an uncertain, dangerous and changing world. We should be cautious in our actions. We should be jealous of our power and slow to lay down our weapons. The sacrifice, if this sacrifice were made, would serve no conceivable end of British defence or foreign policy. If ever there was a moment when the right hon. Gentleman should put his party above himself and his country before both, this is it.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
It may serve to lower the temperature a little if, first, I follow the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) in congratulating the six Members on both sides of the House who have made such excellent maiden speeches—the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Park), the hon. and learned Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) and the hon. Members for Dover (Mr. Ennals) and Meriden (Mr. Rowland) on this side, and the Conservative Members for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) and Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell). We look forward very much to hearing them again. For my own part, I think that the balance between the parties which they represented was an example which the rest of the House might well follow.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Monmouth that he has handed over to me the best weapon that any defence Minister in this country has yet had, although I think he may agree with me when I say that the blade needs sharpening a little more and the handle could well be a little lighter. But, frankly, from that point on I must disagree with him. He made one of those rumbustious, knockabout speeches by which he has endeared himself so much to his own party. He finds no difficulty in raising cheers from the jingo which lurks so close beneath the skin of so many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, though not all of them.
The right hon. Gentleman put a really excellent case against the current proposals for a mixed-manned surface fleet. Indeed, he aroused his own back benchers to a frenzy of Gaullism as he deployed it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] 1027 Yes, he did. However, I should like to know whether the Leader of the Opposition agrees with what he said. I should also like to know whether the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), the late Foreign Secretary, agrees with what he said. If they do agree, when were they converted? We have never heard any speeches like that from the right hon. Gentleman or any of his right hon. Friends during the two years when this has been the major issue facing the Alliance and the country.
The plain fact is that the right hon. Gentlemen have allowed the loss of the election to destroy every sense of responsibility which they sporadically displayed when they were carrying real responsibility for the defence and foreign policies of this country. I was interested to note that when the serried ranks of back benchers opposite were cheering the right hon. Member for Monmouth to the echo, there were some pretty sour and glum faces beside him on his own Front Bench.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)
The right hon Gentleman should look around him.
§ Mr. Healey
Of course, it is inevitable when this issue has played so large a rôle in one of the longest election campaigns in our history that much of what is being said about it today is being influenced by party considerations. I believe that the nation's security is too serious a matter to become the shuttlecock in a game between the parties. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] But it would be equally mistaken to ignore the fact that there are deep and serious differences of opinion on the issues that we have been discussing today, and it would be equally mistaken to pretend that those divisions correspond in every respect to the battle lines which divide the parties. In what I have to say I shall try to present the Government's position as objectively as I can before turning to some of the arguments against it which we have heard today from the right hon. Member for Monmouth and the Leader of the Opposition.
No one can seriously dispute the contention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that Britain's power and influence in the world depend in the last 1028 resort on her economic strength. If our defence spending imposes unacceptable strains on our economy, then it will weaken and not reinforce our influence in the world. When we decide the size and pattern of our defences, we must watch with extreme vigilance their impact both on our balance of payments and, even more important, on our productive resources, particularly in scientists and skilled manpower. We must make sure that we get value for money—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and that we reduce to the minimum the sort of waste that has characterised so much of our defence expenditure in the last 13 years. As my right hon. Friend said in opening the debate, we have now had a chance to look at the books. On other occasions we shall be discussing some of the skeletons that we have found in the cupboard. But tonight I want to share with the House and the country some of the basic facts which must govern our defence policy in the next 10 years and of which I know that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are as deeply conscious as we are ourselves.
The first basic fact is that, unless we are to allow our defence expenditure to rise continually not only in absolute terms but also as a percentage of our rising national wealth, we must be prepared to reduce the calls on our military resources. There may be cases—I believe there are—where we find ourselves inheriting commitments from an imperial past which have lost their relevance in the modern world. There may be others where our commitments are based on the false belief that it is still possible, or worthwhile, to use military force against foreign countries purely to protect our national economic interests. If anyone in this House still holds that belief after the experiences of 1956, I would be disappointed and surprised.
But even if we succeed in eliminating commitments which have no justification in modern terms, we are likely to find that, in many cases, the presence of our forces is now making an indispensable contribution to our national security or to the peace and stability of the world as a whole and that the rising cost of these commitments is still too great for us to bear alone.
How then can we hope to reduce the military burden resting on us, a burden 1029 which grows heavier every year, without grave carnage to our security and to our influence in the world? This is a problem any Government will face who find themselves in the position we are in today. It is a problem directly connected with the issue in this debate, as I shall show.
By far the best way of reducing the commitments would be to reach agreement with our political opponents abroad on measures of disarmament and arms control. I believe that they, like us, are increasingly conscious of the burden of modern armaments. This must be our first priority. But it would be quite irresponsible to assume, even where common interests are beginning to be recognised, that they will often be realised in firm agreements on disarmament without long and painful negotiation.
Until we make some progress towards disarmament we must, therefore, see whether we can share the defence burden more effectively with our friends and allies and also with the United Nations. Otherwise, we shall find ourselves compelled by facts to an involuntary and unplanned abdication of responsibilities, perhaps in a moment of crisis, an abdication which could be disastrous not only for our influence in the world but indeed, perhaps for peace itself.
One thing I have already learned from my first five weeks in office—and I am sure again that right hon. Members opposite feel it as deeply as I do. It is that Britain is spending more on her defence forces than any other country of her size and wealth. We are still trying to sustain three major military rôles—to maintain an independent strategic nuclear striking power, to make a major contribution towards the allied defence of Western Europe and to deploy a significant military capacity overseas, from British Guiana through the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East to Hong Kong.
France and Western Germany are now spending only a little less than Britain, but neither is attempting to fulfil all these three rôles at once. France has well-nigh opted out of all but the strategic nuclear deterrent. Western Germany has confined herself exclusively to defending her own territory in N.A.T.O.
I put it seriously to the House—and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members 1030 will listen seriously, because I do not think that there is disagreement between those of us who know the facts—that, unless we are to impose unacceptable strains on our own economy and to carry a handicap which none of our main competitors in world trade has to bear, Britain too must decide which of these three rôles should have priority. We shall not be able to make decisions rightly unless we are clear in our own minds what sort of world we want and what sort of military forces will help us to get it. It is here that I found the speech of the Leader of the Opposition so disappointing. He did not seem fully conscious either of the economic limitations within which we must plan and programme our defences, or of the relationship between our defence policy and our broader goals in world affairs.
His right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth is almost the opposite in this respect. He was not always so insensitive to these factors. We all recall with affection his speech in which he justified inflicting a little local difficulty on his own Prime Minister in 1958. I dare say that he has changed his mind since then. He has changed it quite often. He has changed it enormously and surprisingly since the General Election of 15th October, as I pointed out earlier.
But I noticed that he still winced a little when his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition talked of having a Polaris submarine force which could be deployed not only against Russia, but against the Middle East and against China. The right hon. Member for Monmouth knows, if his right hon. Friend does not, that such a force would need far more than the five submarines to which the previous Government committed us and would need base and communication facilities which would impose a colossal cost on top of the commitment.
§ Mr. Healey
I know that the hon. Gentleman does not like listening to these facts, but if he is concerned about the defence of the country, he might try to understand some of the hard economic facts which must determine our defences.
The trouble with the Leader of the Opposition in this respect is that he does not do his homework. We remember him 1031 telling us when he was Prime Minister, when he had the facts at his beck and call, that our Valiant bombers were carrying British atomic bombs. His right hon. Friend had to tell him that in fact they were American atomic bombs. It was obvious today that he did not know the colossal cost which this country would have to undertake if it were determined to sustain an independent strategic nuclear role into the late 1970s and 1980s. It would mean beginning to spend now thousands and millions of £s on completely unexplored regions of research and development. There is no possibility that the country could carry a burden of that extent without wrecking the whole of the rest of our defences, and perhaps the economy as well.
If we are to decide which rôle we should undertake, we have to decide in advance what sort of world we want. In this respect, the speech of the right hon. Member for Monmouth appalled me. He looks forward to a world, in fact he insists on a world, in which any country which is capable of sustaining an atomic weapons programme should do so as its first priority. He looks forward to a world in which no country can depend on an alliance with any other country in the last resort. The speech he made revealed an attitude towards the problems of the future which was a prospectus for race suicide and nothing else.
I would have thought that even if the right hon. Member for Monmouth did not think so, many of his hon. and right hon. Friends would still believe what they told us they believed when they were in Government—that what we must work towards is a world in which military force is under some sort of international control. I believe that some hon. Members opposite want to stop the arms race and, above all, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. There were real prospects of making progress in this direction when Mr. Khrushchev was in power in Russia.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman made much of the fact that Mr. Khrushchev has disappeared from power in Moscow, but if there is any uncertainty 1032 among the new leaders of the Soviet Union about the direction in which their international policies should move, it is more essential than ever that our actions in defence and foreign policy should encourage them to choose the path of conciliation and disarmament. Everything the right hon. Gentleman said this evening must, if he had been speaking with responsibility in office, have been calculated to force them in the opposite direction.
When he summed up for the Opposition this evening, the right hon. Gentleman spoke as though the Alliance today was facing no problems whatever, as though N.A.T.O. was not under serious strain. In fact, the Alliance today seems to be on a collision course, with America, Germany and France all moving in opposite directions—[Laughter.]—and with the certainty of catastrophe for the Alliance unless something can be done about it.
I agree with a great deal that the right hon. Gentleman said about the current proposals for a mixed-manned nuclear force, and I believe that the time has come, as the Prime Minister said, when we must take a fresh look at the real purposes of the Alliance and not allow ourselves to be paralysed by a theological obsession with one particular proposal for a mixed-manned nuclear surface fleet.
What do we as a Government have in mind? [Laughter.] If hon. Members opposite want answers to the questions which they have been asking in the debate, they should listen. We recognise the need to work out a new arrangement for giving the Alliance a greater measure of control over the nuclear forces assigned to it which will not involve the type of discrimination against certain members which they find increasingly intolerable. This was a need which the right hon. Gentleman did not recognise at all in his speech but which no one who is conscious of the strains under which the Alliance is now suffering could conscientiously ignore.
If such an arrangement is not to involve the spread of nuclear weapons then, as I said, we in Britain, like the other nuclear participants, must maintain a veto on the implementation of any new arrangements which emerge. At the same time, we cannot expect to keep a veto 1033 indefinitely unless we make a really significant contribution. Yet we cannot afford to be involved in massive new expenditure on weapons of which the Alliance, as the right hon. Gentleman said, already has enough, particularly when such new expenditure must give a fresh impetus to the arms race.
All this leads irresistibly to one conclusion. We must be prepared to consider including our existing and planned strategic nuclear forces in such an arrangement so long as the Alliance lasts. [Interruption.] If right hon. Gentlemen will take the trouble to listen, and if their hon. Friends will allow them to hear, I shall come to that. Beyond these general principles—[Interruption.]—no one who knows anything about negotiations, and the right hon. Gentleman affected to know a great deal—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman who wound up for the Opposition was heard in comparative silence. I hope that the same courtesy will be accorded to the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Healey
No one would expect us to go further than that at a moment when we are about to undertake a complicated series of negotiations, which may well range beyond the immediate problem of nuclear control in N.A.T.O. and which might, if successfully handled, lead to a sharing of military responsibilities in Europe, and perhaps outside, which would make our common defence effort far more effective.
I must say a few words about the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen's attempt today to tie the Government down in these negotiations in a way which, if we accepted their view, would make serious negotiation impossible. The central question which they raised is whether the Government are prepared to renounce the right of ultimate withdrawal from such arrangements when our supreme national interests are at stake, the right which is inherent in paragraph 9 of the Nassau Agreement. I must confess that I have always found this clause a little puzzling. It speaks about when our "supreme national interests" are at stake. Incidentally, the word is "interests" and not "issues" as the right hon. Gentleman said. That must mean, and can only mean, the one 1034 moment when the Alliance is likely to want to use the forces which we have assigned to it, the final crunch of decision by which, if handled wrongly, we could be plunged into general nuclear war.
The Leader of the Opposition, this afternoon and earlier, and his right hon. Friend have tried to justify this right of withdrawal on the grounds that even though we did not think that the Americans would fail us in such a case, the Russians might. I ask them seriously, what is the value of N.A.T.O. to its members if we say, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been saying for the last year in public, that the Americans might pull out, and, secondly, we claim the right to pull out ourselves in any event? What is the purpose of all this consultation about deployment and targeting of the nuclear forces of the Alliance if that is what the right hon. Gentleman really has in mind.
It is no good talking, as did the right hon. Gentleman today, about the need for maximum integration of forces and weapons in the Alliance if he has so little confidence in this integration that he gives the right to pull out in a crisis absolute priority over all other questions. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's argument this afternoon was a complete justification of General de Gaulle's position and, worse still, it could only strengthen those forces in Western Germany which want to create a separate deterrent, which neither Britain nor the United States would be able to control.
I respect the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition in posing those important questions, but I ask him to consider whether the way in which he did so and the arguments with which he justified his views are really compatible with the other views which, I know, he holds with equal sincerity. Even in his speech this afternoon, he suggested that the way in which we might get out of the present tangle over the multilateral force was to suggest to the Americans, without offering anything new ourselves, more consultation over the use of N.A.T.O.'s nuclear forces, and yet, a few minutes earlier in the same speech, he had said that the Government were crazy to expect that even if they made a major sacrifice it could significantly improve the present methods of consultation.
1035 Does the Leader of the Opposition still believe, as he said last year, that a Russian missile threat against Britain would be so colossal that it could be deterred only by the combination of the United States and British nuclear power? Does he believe it?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
Clearly, we work in the N.A.T.O. Alliance to integrate our nuclear forces and to present any aggressor with the total forces of N.A.T.O. That is perfectly clear. But I cannot say, and neither can the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else, what may happen in the next 20 or 25 years. We have to think right forward to the possibility then.
§ Mr. Healey
All I say on that to the right hon. Gentleman, apart from the fact that he did not answer the question, is that if he really thinks that any of the existing or planned nuclear forces that Britain is hoping to possess could carry on for 25 years, he needs even more instruction from his right hon. Friend than I imagined. If the right hon. Gentleman still holds the view which he expressed at Ottawa, surely he cannot object to the present Government if it attempts to make that fearful combination of American and British nuclear power more certain and more effective.
I put another question to the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give the answers."] Does he believe that the time may come when the organic structure of the Western Alliance is sufficiently strong for us to be able to place our nuclear armoury irrevocably in a common pool? Those were the actual words used by the Minister for the Navy in the right hon. Gentleman's Administration speaking in another place on 17th March this year. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that that time may come, surely he must want it to come as soon as possible and he will support the Government's efforts to bring that time nearer.
I will ask the right hon. Gentleman another question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not give some answers?"]
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I asked the right hon. Gentleman a lot of questions and perhaps he might answer a few of ours. Is it his view still that Britain should cease the attempt to remain an independent nuclear Power? Yes or no?
§ Mr. Healey
We have argued on many occasions—[interruption.]—if the right hon. Gentleman wants to hear my answer perhaps his hon. Friends will allow me to give it to him. My answer is that I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition that we could not meet a Soviet missile threat independently—
§ Mr. Healey
I am answering. This is what the right hon. Gentleman chose to ignore a few moments ago.
The last question I want to ask the Leader of the Opposition—
§ Mr. Healey
If hon. Members opposite will give me a chance I will answer, but meanwhile I propose to make my own speech in my own way. This is the key question behind the whole debate. Do hon. Members opposite—[Interruption.]—believe that the proposal for a multilateral force should be used to prevent the spread of national nuclear forces by producing something which makes national nuclear forces unwanted and unnecessary? The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Secretary of State for Defence appears to be puzzled by the question, yet I was simply quoting the words of his colleague, the deputy to the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, speaking in another place as late as 22nd July of this year.
It really is time that hon. Members opposite made up their minds whether they are going to deal with these matters as seriously as the Ministers in their own Administration dealt with them, when they made the sort of statements to which I have just referred, or whether they are prepared to sacrifice the nation's security and their party's reputation for the sake of an emotional spasm in the House of Commons.
My hon. Friends and I believe that Lord Carrington—who, I think, is still a shadow spokesman in the shadow Government—was right and that this should be our aim in the complex and portentous series of negotiations on which we are now embarked. We must use the opportunity presented to us in the Alliance by the crisis over the multilateral force to produce, as Lord Carrington suggested, an arrangement which will make national nuclear forces 1037 unwanted and unnecessary. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues will reflect on the consequences before they decide to refuse us their support in this effort.
§ Question put, That this House do now adjourn.
§ The House divided: Ayes 289, Noes 314.1039
|Division No.7.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Doughty, Charles||Jopling, Michael|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Drayson, G. B.||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||du Cann, Edward||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eden, Sir John||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Astor, John||Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Emery, Peter||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Emmet, Hn. Mrs. Evelyn||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Errington, Sir Eric||Lambton, Viscount|
|Balniel, Lord||Erroll, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fell, Anthony||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fisher, Nigel||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Bell, Ronald||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Forrest, George||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Foster, Sir John||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Longbottom, Charles|
|Biffen, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Gammans, Lady||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Gardner, Edward||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh (Hendon, S.)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gibson-Watt, David||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Blaker, Peter||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||MacArthur, Ian|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Box, Donald||Glover, Sir Douglas||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Glyn, Sir Richard||McMaster, Stanley|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Braine, Bernard||Goodhart, Philip||Maginnis, John E.|
|Brewis, John||Goodhew, Victor||Maitland, Sir John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Gower, Raymond||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter||Grant, Anthony||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Grant-Ferris, R.(Nantwich)||Marten, Neil|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gresham-Cooke, R.||Mathew, Robert|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Grieve, Percy||Maude, Angus E. U.|
|Bryan, Paul||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mawby, Ray|
|Buck, Antony||Gurden, Harold||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. (Tiverton)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hall, John (wycombe)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F. (Morecambe)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Butler, Rt Hn. R. A.(SaffronWalden)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Campbell, Gordon||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Carlisle, Mark||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mitchell, David|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Monro, Hector|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)||More, Jasper|
|Channon, H.P.G.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Morgan, W. G.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Harvie, Anderson, Miss||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hastings, Stephen||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hawkins, Paul||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hay. John||Murton, Oscar|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Neave, Airey|
|Cole, Norman||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Cooke, Robert||Hendry, Forbes||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Cooper, A. E.||Higgins, Terence L.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Corfield, F.V.||Hiley, Joseph||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Costain, A. P.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hirst, Geoffrey||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Crawley, Aidan||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hopkins, Alan||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hordern, Peter||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hornby, Richard||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Curran, Charles||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Peel, John|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Percival, Ian|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Peyton, John|
|Dance, James||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Iremonger, T. L.||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Dean, Paul||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jennings, J. C.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Pym, Francis|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Speir, Rupert||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Stainton, Keith||Wall, Patrick|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stanley, Hn, Richard||Walters, Denis|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Martin||Stodart, J. A. (Edinburgh, W.)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Rees-Davies, W. R. (Isle of Thanet)||stoddart-Scott, Sir Malcolm||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. David||Studholme, Sir Henry||Webster, David|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Summers, Sir Spencer||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Risdale, Julian||Talbot, John E.||Whitelaw, William|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Temple, John M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Roots, William||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wise, A. R.|
|Royle, Anthony||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Sharples, Richard||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Shepherd, William||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Younger, Hn. George|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||van straubenzee, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Mr. Batsford and Mr. McLaren.|
|Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Abse, Leo||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Albu, Austen||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Hazell, Bert|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Delargy, Hugh||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Dell, Edmund||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dempsey, James||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Diamond, John||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Atkinson, Norman||Dodds, Norman||Hubden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Doig, Peter||Holman, Percy|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Donnelly, Desmond||Hooson, H. E.|
|Barnett, Joel||Driberg, Tom||Horner, John|
|Baxter, William||Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Beaney, Alan||Dunn, James A. (L'pool, Kirkdale)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Dunnett, Jack (Nottingh'm, Central)||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)|
|Bence Cyril||Edelman, Maurice||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Benn Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Howie, W.|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hoy, James|
|Bessell, Peter||English, Michael||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Binns, John||Ennals, David||Hughes, Emrys, (S. Ayrshire)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Ensor, David||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Hynd John (Attercliffe)|
|Boardman, H.||Finch Harold||Irvine A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Boston, T. G.||Fitch Alan||Jackson, Colin|
|Bottomley, Rt Hn. Arthur||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bowles, Frank||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Boyden, James||Floud, Bernard||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n & St.P'cras, S.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Foley, Maurice||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bradley, Tom||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ford, Ben||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Brown, Rt Hn. George (Belper)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Freeson Reginald||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham. S.)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Garrett, W. E.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Buchanan, Richard (Gl'sg'w, Spr'burn)||Garrow, A.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Kelley, Richard|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Ginsburg, David||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Gourlay, Harry||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Gregory, Arnold||Lawson, George|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Grey Charles||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Coleman, Donald||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Ledger, Ron|
|Conlan, Bernard||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Griffiths, Will (Manchester Exchange)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Cronin, John||Hale, Leslie||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hannan, William||Loughlin, Charles|
|Darling, George||Harper, Joseph||Lubbock, Eric|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||McBride, Neil|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hattersley, Ray||McCann, J.|
|MacColl, James||Palmer, Arthur||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|MacDermot, Niall||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Stonehouse, John|
|McGuire, Michael||Pargiter, G. A.||Stones, William|
|McInnes, James||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Parkin, B. T.||Stross, SirBarnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Pavitt, Laurence||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Swain, Thomas|
|Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Swingler, Stephen|
|Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Pentland, Norman||Symonds, J. B.|
|MacMillan, Malcolm||Perry, E. G.||Taverne, Dick|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Popplewell, Ernest||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Prentice, R. E.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Probert, Arthur||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Thornton, Ernest|
|Manuel, Archie||Randall, Harry||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Marsh, Richard||Rankin, John||Tinn, James|
|Mason, Roy||Redhead, Edward||Tomney, Frank|
|Maxwell, Robert||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Reynolds, Gerald||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mellish, Robert||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Varley, Eric G.|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Richard, Ivor||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mikardo, Ian||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Millan, Bruce||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Robertson, John (Paisley||Wallace, George|
|Milne, Edward (Blythe)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Warbey, William|
|Molloy, William||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Monslow, Walter||Rose, Paul B.||Weitzman, David|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Rowland, Christopher||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Sheldon, Robert||Whitlock, William|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Murray, Albert||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Neal, Harold||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Newens, Stan||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Noel-Baker Francis (Swindon)||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Williams, Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Norwood, Christopher||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Oakes, Gordon||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Ogden, Eric||Skeffington, Arthur||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Orbach, Maurice||Small, William||Woof, Robert|
|Orme, Stanley||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Oswald, Thomas||Snow, Julian||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Owen, Will||Solomons, Henry||Zilliacus, K.|
|Padley, Walter||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paget, R. T.||Steele, Thomas||Mr. Irving and Mr. Rogers.|