Tanks

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons on 25th April 1944.

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Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

asked the Secretary of State for War, why he has refused the honourable Member for East Willesden permission to see the captured German Tiger tank.

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

As I have explained to the hon. Member, my decision in this case followed the reply given by the Prime Minister on Tuesday last to a similar, but more general, request from the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes).

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that this request is a very simple one, for information which ought to be made available, if required, to every Member of this House?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

The request was that facilities should be furnished to the hon. Member specially. The Prime Minister's reply amounted to a postponement of meeting that request for Members generally, and it seems to me to follow that what the Prime Minister has declined to grant, at any rate for the time being, to Members generally, cannot be admitted to one particular Member.

Mr. Graham White:

Are there not very strong reasons, on practical grounds, for permitting any Member who may have technical knowledge of problems pertaining to tanks, an opportunity of seeing this vehicle?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

That point seems to be covered by the Prime Minister's answer.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Why not have this tank brought into New Palace Yard, so that we can all see it?

Photo of Sir Edward Keeling Sir Edward Keeling , Twickenham

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that hon. Members of this House have had several opportunities, both before and during the war, of inspecting British tanks, even those on the secret list, and does he not think that the refusal of this request is a little petty?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

I am simply following the course laid down on Tuesday last by the Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

Is it not a fact that there is no request of any character for any special facilities, and that the request which I made was put in a long time before the Prime Minister's answer? Is this not, in fact, a case of the Secretary of State for War shielding himself behind the Prime Minister?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

It is not that I am shielding myself behind the Prime Minister, but that the Prime Minister's decisions are binding upon me.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I propose to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether it is intended to use the Cavalier tank for fighting against the enemy;

(2) whether it is intended to use the Centaur tank for fighting against the enemy in the role for which it was designed.

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

It is undesirable, particularly at this time, to give the enemy any information about the weapons which may be used in action against him.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Has not the Minister already declared that the Centaur is out of production and out of date?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

Only in a secret Debate.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

Is it not a fact that it has already been publicly stated that both the Cavalier and the Centaur are not to be used in their original roles to fight against the enemy?

Photo of Mr Robert Tasker Mr Robert Tasker , Holborn

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for any hon. Member to make reference to statements made in a Secret Session?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Is it not a fact that the House has been misled for years about the situation concerning these tanks, and that the right hon. Gentleman is using this formula about not giving information to the enemy to conceal his own misdeeds?

Photo of Mr Samuel Adams Mr Samuel Adams , Leeds West

How could it be wise, on security grounds, to give a denial or confirmation of the allegations underlying these Questions?

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

asked the Secretary of State for War whether production of the Covenanter tank has been discontinued; whether this tank is still intended to be used in action against the enemy, or for what purpose will these tanks be used.

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." As to the second part it is undesirable to disclose to the enemy any information about the types of weapons to be used in action against him.