Troops, Europe (Command)

Oral Answers to Questions — Armed Forces – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1951.

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Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East 12:00 am, 24th January 1951

asked the Minister of Defence if he will publish the text of the letter in which he has placed the British troops in Europe under the command of an American general.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

The text of my right hon. Friend's letter to the Chairman of the North Atlantic Council has already been released for publication and I am circulating a copy in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

May we take it that that does not diminish in any way the responsibility of Ministers to this House?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

Not the legal constitutional responsibility, but it is an arrangement whereby certain British Forces are under the command of General Eisenhower.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the same arrangements are being made as were made during the last war for courts martial, discipline and other matters of that nature, having regard to the fact that British soldiers will be placed under American command?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

Our Forces will retain their code of discipline, their commanders will have courts-martial warrants and confirming powers, and the normal processes laid down in the Army Act will operate.

Following is a copy of the letter:

1st January, 1951.

"DEAR MR. MINISTER,

Following the approval by the North Atlantic Council, which met under your Excellency's Chairmanship in Brussels on 18th and 19th December, 1950, of the Report on the Creation of an Integrated Force for the Defence of Western Europe, including the appointment of a Supreme Commander, Europe, I am authorised by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to confirm that they welcome wholeheartedly the appointment of General of the Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander, Europe, and will take immediate steps, in accordance with the arrangements set out in the Report, to bring under his command those Forces which they propose to allocate to the Integrated Forces.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) E. SHINWELL.

His Excellency Monsieur PAUL VAN ZEELAND."