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Vote a. Number for Air Force Service

Part of Orders of the Day — Air Estimates, 1962–63 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1962.

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Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North 12:00 am, 12th March 1962

I cannot accept that. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had criticised Bomber Command for moral or political reasons, I could understand. But they said that Bomber Command was ineffective. It was obsolescent—that was said by the right hon. Member for Smethwick. It would not get off in time, it would not get through to its target—that was said by the right hon. Member for Huyton. Its equipment would not arrive—that was said by the right hon. Member for Belper. These are criticisms of Bomber Command and the planning of Bomber Command.

I hope that I have said enough to show that Bomber Command does make a valid contribution to the Western Alliance, but that is not the only point. There is another question, which, I think, is just as important. Does it make a contribution to our national safety? We are approaching the period of what is called nuclear equipoise—'the period when the Russians can do the Americans as much harm as the Americans can do the Russians. We are not there yet, but we are very near to it. When this period is reached, the risk of deliberate aggression is very small, but there will be an increased risk of war by miscalculation.

Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who want to shelter behind the American deterrent without making a contribution ourselves must remember that they are asking much more of the United States than they have ever asked in the past. I myself have full confidence that the United States will stand by us in all eventualities, but, as the right hon. Member for Huyton said, we must look at this matter through Soviet eyes. Very well, let us try.

I do not think that it is very difficult to imagine circumstances in which the Russians might believe, in the period of nuclear equipoise, that the Americans would not come to our defence with all their deterrent power. The Leader of the Opposition forecast such circum stances two years ago. If this were so, if the Russians really thought that they could attack us without involving America, we should be, without nuclear power, in mortal danger—