asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the recent exercises by a United States Navy task force under United Nations Command in the strait between Formosa and the Chinese mainland; in view of the differing policies towards the Chinese Nationalist regime in Formosa pursued by the United States Government and by Her Majesty's Government, what consultations between the two Governments preceded this demonstration; and if he will give an assurance that no ships or men of the Royal Navy will b.; used in similar exercises in these waters.
The exercises to which the hon. Member refers were undertaken by units of the United States 7th Fleet and were not carried out under the authority of the United Nations. There is no reason why the United States Government should consult Her Majesty's Government. No exercises in the area by units of the Royal Navy are under consideration at the present time.
In view of the obvious political implications of this show of force off the mainland of China, would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that this is one of those matters on which there should have been consultation between the Governments—[Hors. MEMBERS: "No."]—particularly in view of the fact that last Monday, in another place, the Minister of Defence was, apparently, so shocked by the news of these exercises that he refused to believe that they had ever taken place, stating that he had been shown all the plans of the American Navy and that this was far outside what they had intended? There has, therefore, obviously been a change of policy.
I will try to do so. In another place on Monday, the Minister of Defence was questioned about these same exercises. He said that so far as he knew, they had never taken place at all, and he
found it difficult to believe that they had, because, as he said:
… when I was with the Royal Navy I was shown their plans"—
that is, the Americans'—
and orders, and they were very limited indeed in regard to where they could go in the direction of China."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 28th July, 1952; Vol. 178, c. 301]
Therefore, is it not the case that there has been consultation in the past between the Americans and the Minister of Defence; and when there was a change of policy, should there not have been further consultation?