Defence

Part of LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL (GENERAL POWERS) BILL [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

I can assure the hon. Gentleman we could have done the whole operation with our own aircraft, and we could do a greater operation than that with our own aircraft.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington complained that he was not being given sufficient information on defence, though my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) reminded him of the atom bomb which his party made when in power and did not disclose to the House. As far as I understand it, his attitude was, "Well, bombs do not count. What matters is aircraft and guns and that sort of thing." He then said he had not been told enough about whether there were any H-bombs, thermonuclear bombs, in the possession of this country at present. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I would suggest that he does not do enough homework. His hon. Friend the Member for Dudley does the homework, but then he makes the speeches. I would ask him merely to read the White Papers, that is all, not make any great detailed research into these things.

The Defence White Paper for 1958 says: Following upon the successful thermonuclear tests at Christmas Island, British megaton bombs are now in production and deliveries to the Royal Air Force have begun. The 1959 White Paper, "Progress of the Five-Year Defence Plan", states: The last series of British tests and the valuable exchange of information with the United States have enabled important technical advances to be made in the design of nuclear warheads. This will permit a significant increase in the rate of production. I would agree with the right hon. Gentleman that my right hon Friend the Minister of Defence did not put in his Defence White Paper, "We own X numbers of bombs," but I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would have expected him to do that. I say only that if he had merely read the White Papers he would have achieved that amount of information about that particular weapon which is quite important, about the equivalent of which his party when in power did not tell us anything at all.