Oral Answers to Questions — N.a.T.O. (Political Pronouncements)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1952.

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Mr. Donelly:

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct that representations shall be made to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to the effect that Her Majesty's Government is opposed to any political pronouncements being made on behalf of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by military commanders rather than by civil representatives of Governments.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I see no need to make representations of the kind suggested.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

Is the Prime Minister aware of the Press reports of a statement by General Ridgway on the anniversary of D day? Does he not think, in view of the criticism made about Field Marshal Montgomery, that it would be a good thing to see that the same limitation should be applied wherever Great Britain has collective responsibility regarding military commanders?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I was not aware of any criticism that was made about Field Marshal Montgomery, and I certainly have not been informed of any remarks by General Ridgway which it would be suitable or proper for us to take up in this House.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is it not becoming very difficult to draw a distinction between political and military pronouncements— for example, in connection with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

The right hon. Gentleman, in his tenure of office, found himself thoroughly able to keep a most active political life going in combination with his duties as Defence Minister.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

If a general has some difficulty in distinguishing between a statement which is military in its bearing, or political, could he not avoid any embarrassment to himself and anybody else by refraining from making the statement?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I really think it would be rather difficult to arrange that all the military officers serving in N.A.T.O. and other organisations should submit their statements beforehand to the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

To avoid any erroneous impression, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that, so far as is known, the military commanders associated with N.A.T.O. have worked, and appear now to be working, in the utmost harmony?