Oral Answers to Questions — United States Aircraft (Consultation)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 1957.

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Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn 12:00 am, 12th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister whether he will extend the agreement he has reached with the United States Government for Her Majesty's Government to be consulted before United States bombers go into action from British bases to cover also action by United States bombers from bases in the United States of America.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

No, Sir. This is a degree of infringement of sovereignty which I should hardly venture to suggest, on a purely unilateral basis, to the President of the United States. Nevertheless, I feel sure that by the closest collaboration and consultation between the Governments something of the hon. Lady's purpose can be secured.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Is it not a fact that when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was Prime Minister, he had an agreement with the late President Roosevelt covering the launching of atom bombs, not only from American bombers based here, but from American bombers based anywhere; because clearly, if atom bombs, or H-bombs, are launched from America, this country is involved as immediately and closely as if they had been launched from bases here? In view of the fact that the H-bomb is an even more deadly and final weapon than the atom bomb, is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to show as much interest in the affairs of this country, and the interests of this country, as the right hon. Member for Woodford?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The hon. Lady is misinformed. What is called the arrangement my right hon. Friend made with President Truman was confirming and in pursuance of an arrangement made by Earl Attlee when he was Prime Minister regarding the American bombers based in this country. This is a suggestion that we should ask for an assurance that American arms not based in this country should be subject to the veto, I suppose, of the British Government, or even of the House of Commons. After yesterday's interchanges I am a little surprised that I should be asked to make that degree of interference with the sovereignty of another country; but I can say that so long as we have the close collaboration which we now have with the Administration in the United States the real purpose of the hon. Lady can, and will, be secured.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Prime Minister to what extent the Anglo-American agreement on the joint control of United States Air Forces stationed in this country applies to units of the 7th Air Division, which is part of the United States Strategic Air Arm and used for long-distance retaliation operations, refuelling in, but not based on, this country.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The understanding reached by Mr. Attlee's Government and confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) deals with the use in emergency of bases in the United Kingdom. As such, it covers the use of the bases by aircraft of all types, including aircraft not permanently stationed in this country which may call at the bases for refuelling or other purposes, and also tanker aircraft stationed in this country that may be employed for refuelling other aircraft in the air.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Is not it the function of the Strategic Air Force to operate at very long range under the exclusive command of Strategic Air Force Headquarters in the United States? Does not that mean that if the United States becomes embroiled with China and subsequently the Soviet Union in the Far East, over Chiang-Kai-shek, Quemoy, or Matsui, or what have you, orders would then be given in accordance with Mr. Dulles's statement of 19th December that there would be no veto on American defence operations? Should not we be plunged into war without having any say whatever?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

That is not the question which the hon. Gentleman asked. I should not think, if there were a war between the United States and China, that the Americans would find it very convenient to have their aircraft refuelled in Great Britain.