Oral Answers to Questions — Polaris Submarine Base

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking 12:00 am, 29th November 1960

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had with the heads of other Governments belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and with those of Commonwealth Governments before the Polaris agreement was made; and, in view of the wide range of destructive power of modern nuclear weapons, whether he consulted the Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Commonwealth Governments and all the permanent representatives of the North Atlantic Council were informed shortly before my statement in this House of our intention to allow these facilities to be established in the Holy Loch.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Did the Prime Minister say only that they were informed? Were there any discussions? Did all these other Governments agree? Will he answer, in particular, the last pant of the Question on the Paper?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

They were informed and the decision taken was well in accordance with the spirit of Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which provides that its members by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. This arrangement seems to be well in the spirit of the Treaty itself. On the last part of the Question, the Government of the United Kingdom are responsible for the defence of all parts of it and retain that responsibility.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Is the Prime Minister aware that an American admiral has described Polaris as a "city killer" and has said that it is aimed to destroy a very large section of the civil population if it is used? How does he reconcile that with his recent statement in Italy, that we are all God's creatures?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is against this weapon in any form. I quite understand that and many of us recognise his perfect sincerity. On the other hand, this is a question of the opinion of the great mass of the House and, I understand, of the country who believe that this weapon must be used—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—available, but in order not to be used, in order to prevent war. Holding that view, I think that we are entitled to make use of every method in our power to make the deterrent credible, to make it so powerful and so terrifying that these things will not in fact happen. That is its purpose.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

On a point of order. I think that the Prime Minister accidentally gave a factually misleading impression in one of his supplementary replies.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

That may be, but it would not be a point of order for me if it was so, about which I say nothing.