Foreign Affairs

Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1964.

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Question again proposed, That this House do now adjourn.

6.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I should have thought that in five years' time the present policy of the Government will look fairly sensible if it is ever acceptable to our allies. It seems to me at least to make proposals for meeting the legitimate demands of the Europeans. It seems to allow for more countries to be interested in nuclear planning without setting up a new centre of nuclear power, because the whole of the Atlantic nuclear force will be under the American veto. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that there will be essentially a prolongation of the American defence system. But I do not cavil at that.

The Government's policy will, however, give some assurance that should the Americans, which I do not think is likely, suddenly pull out of Europe altogether, a vacuum will not be left. In addition, it attempts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, although I am extremely doubtful whether this is now possible. I do not, however, intend to go into that. My own doubt is whether it will be acceptable to the Europeans. I somehow think that it will not be, but I wish the Government well in their effort.

I should have thought that the Government's policy should be extremely acceptable to the Conservative Party. I do not think that the Conservative Party ever totally rejected the idea of a contribution to the multilateral force and, therefore, they cannot object to a British contribution to the Atlantic nuclear force, which will contain the M.L.F. and will be essentially designed to meet the same sort of problems.

The Conservative Party has stressed the danger of our being left without nuclear cover in the Far East, but the Government have now told us that some of the aeroplanes which as essential in the Far East will remain there under our control. I do not think that in five years' time it will be any more possible for this country to set out to replace its existing nuclear capacity with a new generation of nuclear weapons. I should like to ask the Government what views they have on developing new nuclear weapons. Whether the Leader of the Opposition is right or wrong in saying that the country's prestige depends upon nuclear weapons, this is a state of affairs which, granting that contention to be right, will inevitably change. Therefore, I am somewhat astonished that the Conservative Party should be dividing the House tonight. I could understand somewhat the nuclear disarmers being disturbed about this policy, but I am surprised that the Conservative Party is disturbed by it.

While I am not one of those who thinks that the whole world waits in anxiety to know the results of votes in this House, and I have always laughed a good deal at the idea that this House cannot divide in case we upset the nations of the world, I believe that the time is coming when there is a real chance that there will be sufficient basis for agreement about the general lines of defence policy to make it possible to go back to what I would take the liberty of calling a tripartisan policy. If that is so, I would welcome it and I believe that people outside the House of Commons would welcome it.

I do not believe that the public at large will thank the House of Commons for maximising the differences of defence policy. I do not believe that people outside will thank us for getting ourselves irrevocably bogged down in what appeared to me to the equivalent of medieval theological controversy about how many angels can stand on the point of a needle.

I see on the benches opposite a distinguished former Minister of Defence, the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). He has for many years appealed for means by which the Government should share their knowledge with the rest of the House. The Government now offer to do that and I hope that their offer will be seriously examined. There may be practical difficulties which make it impossible, but now we have at last the chance of being able to have serious and informed discussion of the realities of defence and to get a little away from the semantic disputations which have been the common form of defence debates for the last five years.

6.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I do not intend to follow the detailed arguments we have heard this afternoon but rather to use my maiden speech, during which I would hope to receive the customary courtesies of the House, to address my-self to the main theme of this two-day debate. The main theme, as I see it, is the new course which my right hon. Friends are about to set in foreign policy.

To me, the most striking sentence in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday, and, indeed, the starting point for many of us, was that …we need to…question the basic assumptions on which we have been operating for so long…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 418] That, I think, if the full logic of it is developed, is one of the most revolutionary sentences pronounced in this House for a very long time.

The basic assumption which has informed policy for the last 15 or so years has been that the greatest danger facing this nation arose from an antagonistic Communist system lying on the other side of Europe. That has been the basic assumption on which we have operated in these post-war years, and following from it there arose the system of collective defence in N.A.T.O., there arose the opposing Warsaw Pact, there arose competitive rearmament, and there arose, too. many instances of maximum danger and tension when the two sides came into conflict. That was the basic assumption, but now we have put forward to us an entirely different assumption, that the greatest danger we in Britain and the world face today is no longer the threat from the other side.

I think most hon. Members will agree that that is so. I am not going to say there is no menace of any kind, or that it has entirely passed away, for that would be to exaggerate the position; there is still a problem.

However, what my right hon. Friend seemed to be saying was that the major threat to world peace now and in the future arises not from a threat of Soviet attack but from the spread of nuclear weapons and their dissemination through out the world. This seems to me, as a starting point, to give an entirely new direction and emphasis to the whole foreign policy of this country and it seems to me that it is the master thought which gives shape to the whole of the very far-reaching proposals which the Prime Minister revealed yesterday.

Let me just briefly remind the House what these major proposals are. The major proposal, as it affects N.A.T.O., is, of course, to put the various groups of weapons which he mentioned under a new form of command. If this scheme is accomplished I think we shall make a change in the very nature of N.A.T.O. itself. The major purpose of the new scheme which was put forward is not to build up any further nuclear arms—indeed, that point is specifically made by the Minister of Defence as well as the Prime Minister—not to increase nuclear strength: the only purpose is to try to find a way of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons so that N.A.T.O. itself becomes decreasingly a collective security system and increasingly an international arms control system, at least so far as it affects a large part of the Western world. This is a very important development.

The second consequence of the Prime Minister's new approach—inevitably, since he tells us that proliferation of nuclear weapons is the greatest danger—is that a way must be found of putting the British deterrent under lock and key. I shall not go into the arguments for this, nor the detailed arrangements which remain to be made—we shall hear more of them—but the attempt to do this seems essential, if we are to encourage other nations, which might otherwise be tempted to pursue the elusive objective of independent nuclear power, to follow suit.

Third, and what I thought very important, was this proposal, once again with the predominant objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, since a new situation has arisen since China exploded her bomb, to make it unnecessary for certain countries in Asia to follow China along the path of nuclear independence and, instead, to find a different way through the development of collective security arrangements. Admittedly, this is still a very vague proposal, and we shall need to hear very much more about it before we are satisfied with it, but above all it is an arrangement which could relieve countries like India, and, perhaps, Israel as well, of both the fear of nuclear blackmail and the necessity of manufacturing their own weapons.

Quite frankly, if this is the new basic purpose of British foreign policy, if we accept that this is the great danger which threatens the world today, I must say that this is a policy which, my right hon. Friends need have no fear, commands enormous support, certainly from this side of the House, and, I would have thought, from the other side as well.

I want now to make just one or two points about some anxieties I have. One, which has been mentioned already, is whether or not France and General de Gaulle will be or can be persuaded to come in on this. Obviously it is going to be extremely difficult. All I ask my right hon. Friends to do at this stage is, as it were, not to give up hope, to take plenty of time with the French. Let us have a lot of discussion with General de Gaulle to see whether we can persuade him to follow us, perhaps in both purposes for which, we have announced, our nuclear force in the future may be used. Let it be discussed. Let my right hon. Friends take their time and discuss it with him to see whether we can reach agreement whereby France is not excluded.

The second thing, a much more serious problem, which worries me is the reaction of the Soviet Union to these proposals. Here I see a basic conflict of objectives. On the one hand, my right hon. Friends have put forward almost at the forefront of their policies this desire to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. But I think that they have equally in mind further relaxation of the cold war. They want to see the tension which has obviously diminished in recent years diminish further. Their basic dilemma is that it may be that these two policies are incompatible. I very much hope that they are not incompatible—I very much hope so—and I am very glad to hear that the Soviet leaders are coming to London, and there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss it with them.

I hope this plan prospers. We wish it well. However, I say this to my right hon. Friends. Please do not get discouraged if you run into serious difficulty; the world will not come to an end if at the end of the day we cannot persuade the whole of Europe and other countries to accept this particular set of proposals; do not feel that the only alternative is the old M.L.F., which is as dead as a duck—for I cannot conceive any serious American pressure to get a M.L.F. in Europe which would exclude both France and Britain. I think there are other possible alternatives, which they know better than I do. If they cannot make progress towards this particular form of nuclear arms control let them look at some other proposals in the field of disengagement, in the field of the Geneva talks, and, above all, in the field of multilateral disarmament.

I conclude by saying to my right hon. Friends, look to the future rather than to the past. I am not at all sure we have many lessons to learn from history in this nuclear age, and certainly there are many lessons in the past which will not stand up to the tests and the needs of today. Look to the future. Look well into the late 'sixties and 'seventies, because the whole nexus of problems with which we are confronted today has changed so much in the last few years and they can be guaranteed to change almost beyond recognition in the years ahead.

6.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

Like the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), I ask for the forbearance of the House for a few minutes as a maiden speaker.

I should like to take as my theme an idea which has had a good deal of currency in recent weeks and months, particularly before the General Election, and indeed in speeches that we have heard more recently, namely, that the crucial factor in Britain's position in the world in the 'sixties is the question of our economic, industrial, and technological strength. This is set over against the erstwhile military stature which we were alleged to have enjoyed in the past and which was the measure of our past greatness. The Prime Minister made this point with some force in his recent speech at Brighton, when he said that Britain's authority depended far more on her economic strength and independence than on what he called nostalgia and nuclear pretence.

I should have thought that the assertion about the priority and the overriding importance of our economic and technological strength was one which was generally acceptable on both sides of the House. Our fundamental economic strength is of crucial importance, but where we have to be rather careful is in imagining that there is anything fundamentally new in this assertion about the priority of Britain's economic and technological strength, as if this has somehow superseded a situation which existed in the past but no longer exists.

If we take our minds back to the feats of arms accomplished by Britain in her days of former imperial power and authority, the sort of feats of arms by which we always think our past greatness as opposed to our present stature, was measured, we find that although these feats of arms, such as the sinking of the Kaiser's fleet in the First World War, and the defeat of the Luftwaffe in the last war, are expressions of courage and human skill, they are also expressions of an underlying and undeniable economic, technological, and industrial strength.

What I want to stress is that this logical connection between our erstwhile authority and influence in the world and the underlying economic industrial and technological strength which it really represented in days gone by is just as indivisible today, and yet there is a tendency—and this was noticeable in the speeches during this debate, particularly from the other side—to ignore this logical connection which has always existed between our past military stature and our economic and industrial strength.

The typical proposition at the moment seems to be that in days gone by we were a great Power because we had a potent Army, Navy, and Air Force, and even a potent nuclear deterrent, but today things are different and we can make our way in the world only if we substitute for these childish baubles of the past the hard modern currency of something different, namely, economic strength, industrial strength, and technological expertise, as if these had not been present at a former period of our history.

One has only to study the proposition to see how fallacious is the implication that there is a change, that we have to move into a period of economic strength out of an epoch of military greatness in the past, as if the two were divisible, and not interdependent. This comes home when one considers the great nuclear debate at the moment. Whatever else may be true about Britain's independent or nuclear deterrent at the present time, one thing is supremely self-evident, and that is that our nuclear deterrent is evidence of absolutely top-notch technology in this country, an absolutely immense industrial base, and a tremendous economic framework. This is fundamental to the possession of the deterrent.

It serves only to underline the reality of that when one considers the sweat and toil by which two great Powers at the present time, namely, France and China, are struggling to reach the pinnacle of nuclear status which we in this country have long possessed, and when one compares it also with the scale and size both of manpower and natural resources of the other two great nuclear Powers in the world, namely, the Soviet Union and the United States, who are on a par with us in terms of nuclear technology and expertise.

I feel that in no sense should we have a sense of inferiority about Britain as a potent and present industrial and technological Power. When the Prime Minister travels to Washington, the whole world is agog at the proposals that he is to make there, and the discussions that he is to have. When he announces visits to half the capitals of Europe, when he announces that the Leader of the Soviet Union is to come here for consultation, surely this bears out the point that this is no requiem of formalities for an erstwhile military Power which is about to expire. On the contrary, it is the proper activity of a formidable economic, technological, and industrial Power which has every expectation of further expansion.

In other words, we are in a real sense a Samson among the tribes. Samson may have had his weaknesses, but give him the proper anchorage and a measure of steady growth in a certain direction, and see what happens when he flexes his muscles. Britain is a Samson among the tribes at the present time, and possession of the nuclear deterrent is simply a reflection of this underlying economic power which I believe my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was right to refer to as Britain's economic strength, an assertion which has been much maligned, but its evidence is to be seen in the status that we enjoy as a nuclear Power.

There is a new situation at the present time, but I think that it is slightly different from the ones that we heard the Prime Minister describing today. We may have been a great economic Power in the past, but what is needed at the present time is not any change in our economic power, as if we were having to recoup something, or gather something which we did not have before, but the redeployment of these resources in new directions. This is the new demand of the age, and we all felt that the Prime Minister was right when he said that nuclear technology and nuclear science which are features of the world today, and in which Britain was a pioneer, have done the generals out of a job.

In listening to the right hon. Gentleman, I felt that in many ways he betrayed the logic of his own position in the proposition that he went on to make. He was right in suggesting that we were moving out of an area of increasing military tension into an area of economic competitiveness. But if this is the case, should not Britain be looking increasingly for her anchorage amongst, and in those directions, economically speaking, where our future prospects lie? In an environment in which warlike threats and tensions are beginning to increase, Britain should be turning to the United States, one of our staunchest and most powerful friends.

If it is true that the coming environment in which Britain has to make her way in the world is one of economic competitiveness, as everybody tells us, there is a certain lack of logic in the passionate zeal with which the Government are trying to develop our links with the United States, of all Powers. The Americans, who are our best friends in defence, are our most ruthless economic adversaries and competitors in the markets of the world. If we are to move out of the warlike era into the era of economic competition, why is it towards the United States that our whole policy is now being directed? The logic of the situation seems to indicate that we should be leaning in the direction of closer links with those countries and those parts of the world where our real economic interest lies, and those are partly in the direction of Europe and partly in the less developed countries, for whom we represent the largest single market.

I would be much more anxious to find in the broad defence policy which the Government are putting forward something which sought a solution to the problem of German security not so much in closer links with the United States—an Atlantic solution, in which Britain and America formed the buttress of Europe under which the Germans could shelter and find their security, leaving in the cold the French, who are the logical and strategic kernel of the Continent of Europe—but under a system in which, perhaps, the French and the English were the cornerstones of the nuclear arrangement in Europe and the Americans the buttress outside it.

That is as it may be. Certainly the tendency of the Government to formulate and develop strong links with the United States in an era in which we are admittedly moving out of the operations of war into the environment of peaceful commercial competition will mean that we shall be assuming the rôle and the position simply of the pilot fish swimming along in front of a great commercial and industrial shark. It is the wrong tie-up. Our tie-up should be with the Europeans, not only in defence but in economic development.

I naturally stress the economic and commercial aspects of the future situation because they will be the decisive ones in the future, and this fact is enormously important for all our constituencies. Although Barkston Ash, as its name implies, is only a very small village, it nevertheless lends its name to a large constituency representing an enormous diversity of technological, industrial and social interests. My constituency is a microcosm of the country as a whole. We have shipbuilding, coal mining, brewing, farming, paper manufacturing, food manufacturing, light industry in its many forms, the National Science Lending Library, a famous racecourse, and a notorious toll bridge. These are all features of this complex, varied and distinguished constituency, and it is natural that I should stress its social and economic aspects in talking about the right anchorage for Britain in the future.

No Barkston Ash Member now or in the future should make a speech without trying to introduce the regular refrain which I must take it upon myself always to introduce, rather after the pattern of the classical Roman Senator, the Elder Cato, who used to conclude all the speeches he ever made in the Roman Senate with the inevitable and relentless refrain, Delenda est Carthago, which, being translated into our local patois of today, is equivalent to, "Selby toll bridge must be freed".

6.44 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frank Tomney Mr Frank Tomney , Hammersmith North

It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) upon what was in many ways a remarkable maiden speech. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), who is not new to my hon. Friends. He also made a thoughtful and well-informed speech. I congratulate both hon. Gentlemen, who are new to the House, on their temerity and courage in making their maiden speeches in a debate on foreign affairs. I hope that we will hear both of them on many occasions in the future.

They are both of an age group which foretells well for the future of British politics. They both arrive at the House of Commons with the right amount of political maturity behind them, and they are in that group which has a modern outlook and is able quickly to appreciate developments of worldwide political importance.

The House of Commons will surely acquit me of any inconsistencies in the speeches that I have made on foreign affairs. We have now arrived at the situation when my party forms the Government, and where the position of some of my hon. Friends gives me great satisfaction. In opposition I was never able completely to divorce my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament from my responsibilities on the two questions which confront the nation—foreign affairs and defence. I have always considered that, in a sense, a perpetual responsibility in action and thought has been required. That is why the offer held out yesterday by the Government to have consultations with the Opposition on defence matters—which was first made by the former right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, Mr. Dalton, some years ago—ought to be taken up.

We are living at a time in which decisions taken now, for good or evil, may decide what type of world will develop or what type of society we shall become. It is becoming more apparent every day that national frustration in the non-possession of nuclear weapons or nuclear capacity can find satisfaction only through the medium of multilateral agencies and in association and integration with other States. This is the only sure way of building up good will on an international basis and of alleviating the fears of other nations which have found themselves at a grave disadvantage over the last 30 years, during which time the solemn words of Governments have been broken from time to time, with disastrous results.

That is why I find the complexities of General de Gaulle's situation so tantalising and infuriating. Throughout his career this man has never ceased to amaze me. From the war onwards, possessing only a cap badge to begin with, he has been able to achieve remarkable things for France. Until two days ago he was holding up the Common Market negotiations with an eleventh-hour threat of withdrawal. There was a threatened collapse of negotiations on the vital issue of grain prices. General de Gaulle was prepared to go as far as that despite the fact that the economic value of the Common Market as a whole, apart from its value to France, must have been immense.

He is a man who, coming to power at the time he did, realised more clearly than anyone else that the Soviet Union was a Western-orientated nation which would, in time, find its true position in the West. He acted quickly on this realisation in respect of his own French empire. It took some considerable time and not a little bloodshed to get rid of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, but this he did, because he saw the enormous advantages in the other position. This has resulted in France, along with Germany, becoming one of the strongest economic nations of the world. One could ponder the fact that Germany lost the war and now has resources of no less than £50,000 million, while Great Britain is staggering from crisis to crisis—not of our own making but brought about by the pressure of world trade and events which have operated against us because our responsibilities have been so widespread and because of the position which we have taken upon ourselves in defence of our former positions in the Empire.

Be that as it may, France, in pursuit of her nuclear deterrent, will be in a position to inflict the gravest damage on the N.A.T.O. Alliance if she decides to withdraw. This is why I most strongly support the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney to take as much time as we can to arrive at some conclusions with de Gaulle before this position is reached. No matter how it drags on, even if it takes unlimited time, we should make as many concessions as possible to the French position so long as this alliance is not broken up. We have seen the recognition of Germany's strength and her great industrial power, which has grown up from a number of factors, including allied control and the granting of allied loans, the small diversity of trade unions in Germany, fewer disputes, end heavy concentration of capital in German industries. All this has led to Germany asking for a position of equality in the Western Alliance which can no longer he refused.

That is why the proposition put forward by the Prime Minister is so right in its timing. It is absolutely right. World military power has reached the stage at which it can threaten international extinction. There has grown up, through the nuclear weapon, a balance of mutual power between Russia and the United States. Both of them possess it and neither of them is able to use it. Great Britain developed an independent deterrent, but with the rapid advance of nuclear science and rocketry and the ability to pinpoint a target miles away, our position as an independent nuclear nation became impossible.

We had to move from this position, and when one moves away from such a position one has to move into another position of integration with the people with whom one associates. If we do otherwise we shall deny our responsibilities. We have had responsibility for a great Commonwealth and its development; we have had to give, in the context of democratic demands, freedom for the peoples of Africa; we have much responsibility for the progress of these former colonies; and we have to compete with an ever-rising standard among nations on the same industrial basis throughout the world. It is obvious that the British people would not, and could not afford to, lag behind.

This has meant a great strain upon our resources. I have always contended that these responsibilities throughout the world should have been more fairly shared among the Western Alliance, through the United Nations agency or otherwise. Certainly there have been United Nations aid programmes, but never a concerted plan based on the gross national product of each nation, in order to place at the disposal of the nations on a proper co-operative basis the benefit of that product where it would be most needed.

We are approaching a situation in which the Soviet Union may find itself in greater integration with the West. In the last 18 months, a threat has arisen in the Far East from the Chinese, which may once again place us in the position of having to make decisions of such a character in the alliance which will be a heavy drain on resources.

In this context these countries which are locked in close alliance should say, "All right, what do we do in this context? If we wish to further the interests of the alliance throughout the world, it is surely our object to place a proportionate part of our gross national product where it will show most reward in terms of the alliance." In this respect I intend to take a long look at Africa, a veritable Eldorado of a continent with a small population, at present an area of great rivalry among the world Powers for influence and progress.

What can we do in a situation like this? Do we decide, as a matter of policy, to let things drift, or do we invest our resources in such a way that the fate or the freedom of these countries in the future rests with the older of the Western democracies? Are we prepared to accept the position which has existed over the last few years of wholesale interference by people whose only objective has been international mischief? This kind of thing has to be faced by the West before very long. I do not think that we can very much longer evade the question of the proper place for China in the world. After all, the Chinese are an old people. They were making silks and ceramics and glass when the early Britons were living in caves. There must be some accommodation. Just as the nuclear shield has been the protective strength of Europe since Berlin, of necessity we may have the responsibility of shifting that shield to the Far East.

Let us face the reality of Korea. What happened in Korea is a salutary lesson for us. The Russian intervention in Korea, followed by the Chinese intervention, could mean only one thing, that the Chinese were determined to lock that back door against the Soviets, and lock it they did. Their foray into India five years later was for the same purpose. The United States have been pouring aid and money into India, some of it in supplies which were misused, some of it foolishly, and they have had a return of probably less than 8 per cent. This is not a tenable situation for a capitalist country like America.

Obviously, the United States is fully aware of what might happen if India were to go Communist, and she has taken such measures as she thinks necessary to resolve that position. She has done this in the context of her wider responsibilities, and of her wider responsibilities to Europe, which, although still great, are not so necessary or so stringent as they were. There is in the world, we know, an over-kill nuclear capacity far in excess of anything which is sensible or just, and the United States veto operating within the alliance on nuclear weapons must, in my opinion—and on this I agree with the Prime Minister—remain an absolute veto.

Whether the new N.A.T.O. Council as set up or the extra body in N.A.T.O. should be responsible for future strategic planning, which could involve long-term planning from bases in the United States, is another matter. What matters, too, is that the United States must retain the veto over both positions—both in the N.A.T.O. Alliance and in the Atlantic nuclear force, and in any other area where there are agreements of this character. This nuclear umbrella, beneath which we have been sheltering for so long, must be spread to protect other nations until the world reaches final sanity in dealing with the two problems of nuclear independence and the threat of force.

This leads me to another point which has not been resolved. I see the necessity, despite all the difficulties, for the retention of the Simonstown base in South Africa. I also see the necessity of the Suez Canal being opened to all types of shipping of all nations at all times—and it is not so at the moment. Nasser exercises the right to keep out of the Suez Canal the ships of Israel on their legitimate trade. This is an international highway, an international waterway, vital to us and vital for communications. How much longer can an alliance, the United Nations or other Western alliance, tolerate this situation? Surely it is only a matter of time.

Unfortunately, on occasions we have been in conflict on these issues throughout the world with the United States. On many issues they have not adopted the same view as we have adopted. Consider the situation in Saudi Arabia. The United States' view has always been dominated by her oil interests there and the royalties from them, to the exclusion of almost everything else—and that includes the progress of the people and the use to which the oil revenues are put, as well as Britain's worldwide responsibilities and her need to operate from bases such as Aden, which are vital to defence communications.

We have reached a situation in the world in which a review must take place. It should take place with France in it rather than without France. These bases place a heavy drain on British resources, and they must become an international cost-sharing operation. They are vital to us all. We know their purpose. It is wrong for any one nation to have to take more than its fair share of the burden. We have found in the N.A.T.O. Alliance that the United States constantly reserves to itself a position of dominance in the supply of materials to the exclusion almost of everyone else. With the strength which the United States has, it is able to do this, but the position is not satisfactory for this country or for France, and it is certainly not satisfactory for West Germany.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Member in his most interesting speech, but I wonder whether he shares my regret that his remarks are being listened to on the Government Front Bench only by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health? In a Government which possesses an enormous range of Ministers dealing with defence and foreign policy, I feel that perhaps the full import of his remarks is not receiving the attention which it deserves.

Photo of Mr Frank Tomney Mr Frank Tomney , Hammersmith North

I am not responsible for who is present in the House or for who attends on behalf of the Government. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have taken an independent position on foreign affairs for years. As I said earlier, I am concerned, whether in opposition or in Government with the real issues facing the country.

It at this time we have to move from the former position of independence towards integration, then that move is conditioned by changes in world events. In these moves we should take with us as many allies as possible. We have arrived at a position at which world strength must be tempered by the will of the politicians. The will of the politicians must remain paramount over the military aspect if we are to succeed in evolving the type of world we want.

Whether Mr. Kosygin or Brezhnev come to Great Britain in a few weeks' time, or whether the Prime Minister goes to Bonn or Paris, the arguments applicable will be the same in all the capitals of the world, because there is a growing together of nations. We are all becoming full-consumer societies. The quicker this broadens and there is an interlocking of interests, the better. I remind hon. Members that when Mr. Khrushchev returned from America he said that he had seen the capitalist world and he liked what he had seen. This is not insignificant. The Russians are always taking notice of themselves as they become a full-consumer society. They recognise that they can never hold down the hopes which are rising among their people.

But in contemplating the Soviet mind nobody seems to know what is their real purpose. They have made many mistakes. The Brussels Treaty was one and the opposition throughout the world to E.D.C. was another, for it resulted in the creation of the German Army. One does not know what is in the Soviet mind at present. It may well be that the Soviet Union believes that her opposition to an Atlantic nuclear force will bring Czechoslovakia and Rumania more closely to her—countries which have felt in recent times a loosening of the Soviet bond. No one can say exactly what thinking will emanate from the Soviet Foreign Office and the Kremlin.

With the position as fluid as it is today, we should take unlimited pains. We should explore and re-explore every avenue of agreement. If possible we should hold the alliance together in its entity. From this we should move on to a position of world responsibility, if necessary in consultation with the Opposition—an offer on defence made by the Prime Minister—but ever realising that the ultimate goal is the abolition of all arms and disarmament by some means within the capacity of Western culture and civilisation.

7.8 p.m.

Photo of Mr Percy Grieve Mr Percy Grieve , Solihull

It is with great diffidence and a spirit of humility that I rise to make my maiden speech in the House and to intervene in this important debate. May I express my gratitude to you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity of so doing, and may I crave the indulgence which the House ever gives to a speaker addressing it for the first time.

I have the honour to represent the constituency of Solihull, which has been an independent constituency since 1945. In the 19 years of its life, until the last election, it was represented in the House by one Member of Parliament, Sir Martin Lindsay. In those 19 years he rendered very considerable services to the House, to his constituency and to his country, and I am sure that I echo the sentiments of all here who knew him and who know him when I say that his retirement from politics will be regretted as much in the House as it is by his constituents in Solihull. I am happy to have had the honour of being elected by the electors of Solihull to succeed him, and I hope that I may follow him in the service which he was able to render to his constituency and to his country.

It is a great honour to represent Solihull. Remarkably enough, in 30 years its population has increased fourfold from 25,000 to 100,000. It is the seat of a great industry and of the Rover car works. It has beautiful agricultural areas and it has a splendid residential area.

If I may be forgiven for a breach of what I think is one of the traditions of a maiden speech, I do not intend to take hon. and right hon. Members on a conducted tour of my constituency. I hope that many of them will visit it in due course. But I should be failing in my duty if I did not say that Solihull is inhabited by large numbers of technical and executive leaders of the great Midlands industries. They export on a large scale to Europe. They take great interest in European affairs. Many believe, as I do, that with all our worldwide interests we are nevertheless an essential part of Europe and that our destinies are indissolubly linked with those of our European allies.

I hope that this may be a sufficient excuse for the intervention in a debate on foreign affairs of one who for many years has been the diligent servitor of that jealous mistress, the law. If that were not sufficient, I should add that I have close personal ties with France and am honoured by the friendship of many French and Western European people, both on the Continent and in London.

Our friendship with France is an indispensable part of our foreign policy. It is something which is very close to my heart. It is for this reason that I am speaking on this subject today. Whatever the difficulties which governments, rightly or wrongly, may sometimes create in relations between our two countries, there can be no doubt that there is a great fund of good will, not only throughout France but throughout the Benelux countries and Western Europe towards this country. Should it not be the bounden duty of any government, whatever their political complexion, to foster and cultivate that friendship at all levels and in every way?

When we were excluded from the Common Market there was, throughout Western Europe, a huge body of opinion which wanted us to join. It may be that one of the principal things which kept us out was the belief in France—an erroneous one, but a belief which had some basis in recent history—that we regarded ourselves as part of an Anglo-Saxon group and that our European allies and friends were second-class allies and friends.

I say that it had some foundation history. One has only to go back to the end of the war, to the attempted creation of the General Giraud régime in Algeria, or to the apparent intention of the allies to inflict military Government on France, to see how such an error could subsist and last to this very day. Nevertheless, I believe—and I hope that many hon. Members believe with me—that there are enormous political advantages in our active participation and support of the cause of European union; not only political advantages but economic ones as well.

One need only look at the trade figures of the last few years to see how our trade with Europe—E.F.T.A., E.E.C. and France—has increased. I do not want to weary the House with a large number of figures, but to give a few; in the last five years not only have our exports to E.F.T.A. and E.E.C. greatly increased, they have increased as a percentage of our world trade. In 1959 we exported to E.E.C. £465·8 million worth of goods. In 1963 that had gone up to more than £826 million worth of goods. To E.F.T.A. we exported £383·7 million worth of goods in 1959 and in 1963 they had risen to more than £554 million worth.

Taking these figures as percentages of our world trade, in 1959 our exports to E.E.C. were 14 per cent. of the total and by 1963 they were over 20 per cent. To E.F.T.A. in 1959 our exports were 11·5 per cent. of the total and in 1963 they were 13·6 per cent. It is interesting to note that our exports to France in this period more than doubled and that in 1962–63 we had a favourable trade balance with France, as we had with both the E.E.C. and E.F.T.A. Can there be any doubt that our relationships, for economic and political reasons and for the future of world peace, with Western Europe in both its manifestations, in E.F.T.A. and E.E.C., should be cultivated with honour, goodwill and mutual trust?

I hope that I will not be thought to be trespassing beyond that domain of the non-controversial, which is the traditional sphere of the maiden speaker, if, in this connection, I say a word about the recent imposition of the import surcharge. However necessary the Government may have considered its imposition, the manner of its imposition, hon. Members may think, tended very greatly to damage our European relations. It contravened nine international agreements, including our agreement with E.F.T.A., G.A.T.T. and our commercial agreement with the European Coal and Steel Community.

Surely it should have been possible for us to do our allies the courtesy of giving them at least advance notice, without seeking to debate the point, of what we were going to do and our grounds for doing it? What may well have made matters worse from the point of view of our European friends and allies is that if we gave anybody advance notice it was apparently not them but the United States, who were far less directly concerned. What more could we have done to foster the belief, which I believe to be erroneous, that somehow we put our European allies and friends into the second class category?

We are told that the surcharge will be temporary. I hope it will, but one cannot help, when reflecting on it, venturing a quotation, the French expression, "Iln'y a rien de plus permanent que le provsoire''. I hope that the Government will see that the surcharge really will be provisional, and certainly no more permanent than the life of the Government.

I listened with interest and great sympathy last night to the assurances given by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs when replying to the debate, for he said: The Government will work for European co-operation on the widest basis…We attach great importance to E.F.T.A. and will work to strengthen it. We desire increasingly close political and economic co-operation with the Six."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1964; vol. 704, c. 520.] He went on to stress the importance in our foreign and European relations of our information services. They are indeed important, but much more important than making our policies known is that they should be founded on a basis of goodwill, a spirit of co-operation and on trust.

That brings me to the last matter I wish to raise, the Concord project. Here, if anywhere, was something which epitomised the spirit of Anglo-French co-operation, which put it on a practical basis and which was going to put us in the forefront of one technical sphere compared with any one in the world. It is an outstanding example of Anglo-French co-operation in the technical sphere, and I would like to say how much I admired and found myself at one with the courageous and cogent observations of the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) when he dealt with this matter in the debate on the Gracious Speech. I am happy to find that the hon. Member for Coventry, North represents a constituency so near to my own. I hope that by continuing this project and not abandoning it, not whittling it down, the Government will increase the extent of Anglo-French co-operation and will go on to seek such co-operation in other fields. If we are to succeed in building up a new Europe, as I believe that we ought, then our aims and our policy should be founded on ideals of trust and co-operation, and our friendship with Europe should be an integral part of our scheme of things.

7.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

; This is the third time that I have had the privilege of addressing this House. On the first occasion I had to ask for the indulgence of the House for my maiden speech. On the second, and on this occasion, I have had to assure a maiden speaker that he did not need that indulgence. That certainly applies to the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) who has just made his maiden speech. I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to express their congratulations to the hon. and learned Member for the confident way in which he made his case.

I am certain that his knowledge of France, and the French language—as he proved by his excellent accent—will be of great advantage to the House. The hon. and learned Member will appreciate that during this debate hon. Members on both sides of the House have put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of improving our relationship with France in respect of the nuclear problem which we face within the alliance, and on doing everything we can to ensure that France plays her part. While the hon. and learned Gentleman will not expect me to endorse some of the other remarks he made, I agree with him that that is the case.

I wish to refer to the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister during what I believe was an historic speech that he made yesterday. I think it one of the most remarkable speeches given in this House, not only in this Parliament but for a number of years. As an hon. Member said earlier, my right hon. Friend was tackling some of the most fundamental problems facing our alliance and the world. I wish to welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend has taken what I believe to be a bold initiative. Even though the plans put forward may not come out at the end of the day identically as they were put into the machine, at least he has broken the log-jam within the alliance and created a situation of fluidity. Many of the preconceived decisions are now open to be changed. He has bought time in that we are not now being pushed into an inevitable decision about a multilateral force which has been criticised from both sides of the House.

My right hon. Friend has put forward constructive proposals which involve all the members of the alliance playing their part on a basis of co-operation. He has established a sound and close personal relationship with the President of the United States which I believe will stand him in good stead in the negotiations which are to come. To me this was not surprising, for I had the privilege of being with the Prime Minister on his last visit to President Johnson. I recognised at that stage also that my right hon. Friend had established a close personal bond which I believe will be very important in these negotiations.

I wish to say to the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up the debate that, like the Leader of the Liberal Party, it is my hope that it will be decided not to divide the House on this occasion. At a time when an historic proposal, emanating from the Government of this country, offers hope of bringing together the alliance and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; at this early moment in the negotiations I believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if there should be a negative vote in this House which, however erroneously, might send a message to countries now considering negotiation that there was a division in Britain. To me the tragedy is that this sort of bold initiative was not taken months, in fact years, ago. I believe that we can put the blame for this only on the party opposite for their delay in bringing about a General Election and for creating a situation in which they had tied themselves to what were almost slogans, from which they were unable to move into the present position of fluidity.

I believe that the absolute refusal of the former Prime Minister to consider sharing the ultimate control of nuclear weapons with our European allies had condemned Britain to a negative rôle, which fortunately has now been broken. Judging by the statements and speeches made after the Nassau Agreement, it seemed that for many of the right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite the main aspect of the Nassau Agreement was not the opportunity that it gave for creating interdependence within the alliance, to use President Kennedy's phrase, but the opportunity for emphasising the one small phrase in the controversial Clause 9 concerning the independence of the deterrent. In the times that followed the Nassau conference Mr. Harold Macmillan indicated that we needed to have independent nuclear weapons in part to show that we were not a satellite of the United States. The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) used the rather more homely phrase "camp followers" in a speech which he made to the Conservative Party conference.

I should like to quote Mr. Alistair Buchan, a director of the Institute for Strategic Studies, who, only six weeks ago, wrote As the British election began to loom over the horizon, and as they sensed that the future of the British deterrent might become an election issue, they began to lay increasing stress on the theoretic independence of British nuclear weapons rather than on the assignment of those weapons to the planning control of N.A.T.O. Even in Ottawa, where lay the best hope of convincing the non-nuclear Powers of the significance of Britain's change of policy towards N.A.T.O., the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, found it necessary to make a speech stressing the national aspects of Britain's nuclear force. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—I can say what I was proposing to say because he has now returned to the Chamber—came to my constituency during the election campaign. Happily for me, his mission was not a successful one, but he was very welcome and he will always be welcomed in Dover. During questions put to him at his meeting the right hon. Gentleman said, "Is there anyone here who is prepared to leave the defence of this country to the Americans? If so, let him stand up and say so." I do not believe that this sort of attitude—a recurring theme during the General Election—that we could not trust our principal ally made any contribution whatsoever to the unity of the alliance. This attitude was repeated time after time by hon. Members opposite who came almost to believe it. They were, therefore, in no position to take the sort of initiative which, happily, has now been taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

As I said, I hope that these views which were held before the election, and which seem to have come into some parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, will not guide hon. Members opposite to divide the House tonight. What do we want to get out of the negotiations that lie ahead? I agree with all that has been said, that we must not rush decisions, and this is the great thing that the Prime Minister has done. He has bought time in order that the negotiations—

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

That is the second time that the hon. Member has said that the Prime Minister has bought time. Will he please say what the price has been.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

That is a very clever intervention. He has gained time. I do not think that the hon. Member, or anyone on the other side of the House, would agree that the Prime Minister has not gained time. At the time of the General Election it looked to us as if the Americans and the Germans were pushing us into a decision on M.L.F., it looked as though we were to be required to decide before Christmas on indications from the State Department.

This pressure has been broken. The pressure is not upon us from the Americans or from the Germans, because the Prime Minister has gained time. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman, who I do not suppose is the most enthusiastic supporter of the M.L.F., will welcome this time which has been gained for us on the initiative of the Prime Minister.

The thing which we want to get out of the negotiations is firstly, as has been said on many occasions in this debate, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. It has always seemed to me that the top-table argument, repeated ad nauseam by the present Leader of the Opposition, was only an incitement to other countries to get to the top table. If we had to have the nuclear bomb in order to be there, why should not Germany be involved in consultations as much as any other country? Why should not Italy be involved in consultations? Why not India? This was an argument conducive to the spread of nuclear weapons.

Admittedly the multilateral force was an attempt—

Photo of Mr William Yates Mr William Yates , The Wrekin

For what purpose did Mr. Attlee give permission to make the first atomic bomb?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

That does not seem a relevant question. Once I have thought out the true significance which lies behind that intervention I might give the hon. Gentleman an answer.

The M.L.F. was an attempt to solve the problem of countries like Germany feeling that they should come into a position of equality within the alliance. In fact, as has been said, it was an attempt to solve the problem, but it was the wrong solution. We must admit that there are not very many supporters of the M.L.F. on either side of the Atlantic.

The United States Government had been moving towards a position of greater commitment until the moment when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues went there. Germany was in a position of commitment, although even Herr Strauss has now said, "Do not rush". France has always been opposed to it; Norway has made her position quite clear in opposing it; in Italy there is some uncertainty and they will probably follow the British lead. In Belgium and Holland there are also grave doubts and no great enthusiasm. If months and months ago the party opposite had been able to make up their minds on the question of M.L.F. and had come out clearly against it and had put some other constructive proposal before our allies within the alliance, then I believe that the idea of a mixed-manned surface fleet would have been killed a long time ago. But the party opposite were unable to make up their minds.

The second aim is, I believe, to create greater unity within the alliance. I do do not think that there will be much disagreement on either side of the House on this. Some people may argue whether we need alliances, but quite apart from the importance of alliances for our security—in fact, security in isolation is far more expensive than Collective security through alliances—they have an important contribution to make to the progress of the negotiations.

I believe that it is far easier to come to reasonable terms with the Soviet Union and the other Communist countries if within our Western Alliance there is at least a consensus of opinion. We are not arguing that everyone should say exactly the same thing or agree—of course they will not. If in fact we were able on a number of issues to present a common front, it would be much easier to come to terms with them in discussions at Geneva and elsewhere. I believe that it is no help to us to see a deepening rift between the Soviet Union and China, because there can be no consensus of opinion from the other side. In this sense, because we want to see a greater degree of unity within both alliances, we have a good deal of common ground with the Soviet leaders.

The third aim, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his speech, and as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence emphasised, is to move towards disarmament. Nothing can be achieved unless we are able to move towards real disarmament. The only real security for any country lies in international disarmament.

I am very glad that so much stress has been laid not only in the talks in Washington but in this debate and in the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday on the importance of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. It is not just the question of Germany. Unless some world agreement can be reached, more and more countries may feel compelled to join in the vicious spiral of the arms race.

India is one country that has been referred to. I am sure that all Members of this House will admire the courage of the Prime Minister, Mr. Shastri, in saying that his country does not want to have nuclear weapons. Of course, a country like India, with desperate poverty, does not want to spend its resources on nuclear weapons—a country which has played so noble a part in trying to bring agreement to the world and to promote disarmament. But there is no doubt that behind Mr. Shastri are many voices saying, "Can you feel that your country is secure with China, with nuclear weapons, already having made an attack upon India?"

One of the new aspects of this debate thrown open by the Prime Minister is this challenge to those who have nuclear power to see whether it cannot be collectively used in some form of collective guarantee, not national guarantees but a collective guarantee for the safety of the non-nuclear Powers. I believe that this will have to be part of a non-proliferation agreement. If India has it, if Pakistan has it, it may be that Israel will have it and Egypt, and so on down the line. Of course, it gets cheaper to produce rough-and-ready nuclear devices, which cannot compete with the nuclear devices of the great Powers, but which would be just as much a threat to their nearest neighbour.

I want, in conclusion, to say a word about Central Europe and the problems there of arms control, and in particular about the proposals made by Mr. Gomulka for a freeze on nuclear weapons in Central Europe. Mr. Rapacki, the Foreign Minister of Poland, is visiting this country this weekend and on Monday will be having talks with the Prime Minister. I believe that the proposals put forward by the Polish Government for beginning a freeze of nuclear weapons and moving then towards a nuclear-free zone are very positive and realistic proposals. I know, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said in answer to a Question that I put to him on Monday, that many of our allies have disagreements and some worries about it. I hope, therefore, that the British Government will help to resolve some of these difficulties.

One difficulty is the area. The West German Government say that they do not want to be isolated in being the only country in the West being brought into such an area. Let us extend it, maybe to Norway and Denmark. Some ask why should it be only the warheads that are controlled. Let us suggest that it should be the delivery systems, too, if people are worried about whether there is an effective inspection system.

I believe that the prizes to be won are very great. One is that we may be able to improve the relationship between Poland and Germany, an historic conflict, as acute today as it has ever been, by some such settlement. Even more important, if we were able to have a trial run for an inspection system in a limited part of the world, we should gain experience which might enable us, in the years to come, to expand it into a worldwide inspection system.

I hope that, in his discussions with Mr. Rapacki, my right hon. Friend will give him some encouragement to go ahead with his ideas, which are relevant to all the subject matter of this debate, and that he will do nothing to discourage the idea that, at some suitable stage, there should be a European conference. As I said in my maiden speech, any solution we may try to devise for the problems of the Western Alliance which worsens our relationship with the Soviet Union and the other parts of the world will be no solution at all.

I am delighted, therefore, that the Prime Minister has invited Mr. Kosygin to come here in the near future for discussions and that the Prime Minister will himself go to the Soviet Union, maintaining a dialogue. It is vital that, while we are looking at the problems of our alliance, we should at the same time have the closest possible contact with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe. If the British Government can not only break the log-jam in our Western nuclear problems but can, at the same time, tackle the blockage in East-West relations, they will earn and deserve the thanks not only of the British people but of people throughout the world.

I wish my right hon. Friends every possible success in the long and difficult course of negotiations on which they have embarked. It is a tremendous relief that we now have a British proposal which has taken the stage and which gives an opportunity to get away from the confusion and uncertainty which have typified the last few years.

7.42 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) kept harping on the idea that the Prime Minister had gained time. When pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) to explain what had been gained and what had been the price, the hon. Gentleman said that the Prime Minister had gained time against the inexorable pressure to join the M.L.F. I remind the hon. Gentleman that pressure is always resistible, and resistible especially by a Government who know their own mind. This pressure, in any case, will not be resisted if the proposals now before us are accepted. We shall have the multilateral force as part of the new organisation to which Britain will be joined.

What is so terrible about a M.L.F. anyway? I should not myself favour such an organisation because I consider that it would add no further safeguard to peace which we do not have already, but I willingly give way to the hon. Gentleman in order to learn why he thinks that it is so terrible.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

I take it that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not want me to make another speech about why I think the proposal for a mixed-manned surface fleet is a bad one. I wanted to ask him, as he said that, if there had been a Government who could make up their mind, it would be resistible, why his Government did not make up their mind and resist it?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

The previous Government made up their mind. We said that we would like to see how the thing worked out in practice, but we were not prepared to join it at present. That was made plain to all concerned. We were very swift in making up our minds.

Constantly, during this two-day debate, I have detected in the speeches opposite the old Labour Party hobby horse: if we abandon or surrender to some other body our share in nuclear arms, somehow, as though by magic, this will prevent the spread of nuclear weapons among other nations. The Prime Minister spoke yesterday about "copper-bottomed guarantees" against proliferation. We all agree that this would be most desirable if we could get it. But what sort of guarantees would have prevented China exploding her nuclear device last October? I fear that the copper bottom is so riddled with holes that the right hon. Gentleman could drive a team of Peking horses right through it, possibly with his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) acting as coachman.

We welcome the desire to make N.A.T.O. more effective—more "purposive", as, no doubt, the Labour Party manifesto draftsmen would have it—but we must look very closely at the proposals which were put before us yesterday. They are only proposals. They have not yet been agreed by anyone. They were not agreed by the United States. Very rightly, President Johnson said, "Go away and discuss them with the allies in Europe. We give no commitment".

The Prime Minister has fought very hard to get the best of both worlds. Most of his speech was directed, I thought, to his own party's Left wing. He has sought to appear to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement without actually going so far. He has sought to appear to abandon Britain's nuclear deterrent, which he now finds does deter, is independent and is British, while at the same time making complicated provisos and exceptions.

The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he wished to commit irrevocably to a five-part Atlantic nuclear force, for as long as the alliance lasts—I take it that this is the N.A.T.O. Alliance, which is due for renewal or renegotiation, whatever be the proper word, in 1968—our Polaris-carrying submarines. Today, the Secretary of State for Defence said that it will be possible, juridically and physically, to recover the irrevocable if N.A.T.O. dissolves. This is just one sign of trying to get the best of both worlds.

In contrast, there is something quite sensible. The Prime Minister has reserved to our own initiative and use a section of our V-bomber force for use outside the N.A.T.O. area. I should like to know precisely what is meant by the very loose term, "our V-bomber force". Provided that he does not permit Britain's V-bomber force to be phased out quickly, that is to say, provided that he allows further developments of existing marks, the full development of the revolutionary TSR 2 and the continuing use of existing and future naval aircraft in their nuclear rôle, it seems a sensible plan if these categories of nuclear aircraft are included in the so-called V-bomber force. Provided also that he allows a sufficient section of all these aircraft to be reserved to Britain's independent use, it will be well and good.

I say that because I regard the rôle of the Polaris-carrying submarine as somewhat narrower. At present, and in the future when the British "Resolution" class vessels are in service, these submarines will be deployed in defence of the Western world. Their battle station will be the Atlantic and certain maritime appendices of the Atlantic. That will be sufficient for our purpose, particularly so when the longer range Polaris missile comes into service. To deploy these vessels and to be able to make full use of their capabilities further afield would be exceedingly expensive in support, in direction, in communications, in targeting arrangements, and that would not be a rôle for these craft that Britain could contemplate on her own. I am sure that even the United States would be very hard pressed to do so.

The Prime Minister almost admitted this yesterday when, speaking of weapons generally, he said that there are … areas where the weapons appropriate to Europe may not be the most effective; may indeed be far too sophisticated for effective use. I seem to detect there that he has taken some sound advice from the service chiefs in modifying the ideas that he was blazoning abroad in the country at election time.

What now is to be gained by the Government's new proposal? Will it bind N.A.T.O. more firmly? That is one of the things we seem to be seeking to do. The Prime Minister said yesterday that actual control would be something different from the N A.T.O. Council. This was fairly fully debated today across the Dispatch Boxes. It became evident then that we are to have yet another organisation, or council, or body, or authority—call it what one likes—linked somehow to if not within N.A.T.O.

This is purely complicating the mechanics of control and decision. When we are faced with issues which may have to be decided in a very few minutes, this further complication seems to me to be not only unnecessary but thoroughly dangerous.

The other thing we are seeking to do is to make our defence arrangements cheaper for this country. If we do what is proposed, we shall have the same V-bombers, partly committed to the new authority and partly not, and the same Polaris carrying submarines, all of them committed irrevocably to the new authority. Where does the saving of money come in with such a new organisation?

Then, what of our friends in Europe—if we can still call them friends? I hope that we can still do so after what has happened in the last few weeks, but I would not blame them for turning their backs on us. What of France? Will she be more sympathetic to this new idea than she is to the old N.A.T.O. concept? She would have a veto, but so would all the others.

Would it placate the German aspirations? The Prime Minister said yesterday: There would certainly be no German national nuclear contribution. It would merely be in the question of the mixed-manned element, which I want to come to in a moment.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1964 Vol. 704, c. 423 and 437.] That has already been offered to Germany in the present proposal for a mixed-manned force. I do not see that this new organisation provides anything that we have not had already. The Defence Secretary today, when questioned about the German part, said that there would be German ownership, German management and German control. That is not entirely true. It is in contradiction to what the Prime Minister said yesterday of the part that Germany would play in the new authority and organisation.

Thermonuclear weapons have one particularly solid asset, if one can call it that. Enough is enough. There is no arms race in the terms of the 1920s or 1930s. There is no striving for parity or preponderance as with numbers of warships and aircraft, as used to be the case in the past. if a country has enough of these weapons and effective means of delivery to deter potential enemies, that is enough and it needs no more. There is no question of building a few more because one knows that somebody else has an extra thousand under construction. Enough is enough. With that basis in mind, how do we come to reorganising N.A.T.O.?

I have felt very firmly for many years since these matters came to be discussed in public that one wanted the fewest number of fingers on the trigger and not too many fingers on the safety catch. Proliferation of fingers leads to confusion. I have felt that it could be possible to have an organisation in which nuclear weapons, which are all part of the spectrum of the deterrent, whether strategic, tactical or the smaller, almost man-to-man type—for such weapons are being thought about now—even down to the humble firearm we have known in previous wars, were under the control of a council such as the existing N.A.T.O. Council, with a supreme commander as military controller.

Every member nation would be capable of making a veto and the veto would be binding on the other nations except in so far as the nuclear nations themselves would have the right of opting out when a veto was brought into force. One can imagine a situation where, for instance, there was severe threat of military operations in the far north of Europe and the majority of N.A.T.O. members considered that the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a limited way, or even strategic nuclear weapons in a limited way, might make our defence more secure.

I can well understand one of the Scandinavian members wishing to veto such use of weapons. I think it perfectly right and proper that any member of the organisation and the alliance should have the right so to do. But, to balance this, the two existing nuclear Powers, with, of course, France when she too becomes a full nuclear member, should have the right of independent action and undoubtedly these nuclear Powers would together consult and decide whether they should override the veto of the single country. That would be an organisation which would be simple, fairly quick to operate and thoroughly decisive.

I put it to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that what they are now proposing is not likely to be acceptable to our friends in Europe. There are already indications that the Americans are a bit sceptical about it, too, so why not go for something less complicated, something simple which everybody can understand, something along the lines I have described? Some of these difficulties would then be overcome and every member country of N.A.T.O. would feel that it had a full share, although not a nuclear member and therefore not able to make an ultimate decision contrary to individual vetoes.

I am sure that the Government have striven hard to get, or appear to get, what they promised at the election. I also recognise that they have striven very honestly to preserve the safety of the country. I ask them most seriously to think again about this unwieldy impracticable proposal which they put to us last night. it will not work and every country in Europe will say the same.

8.1 p.m.

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

I assure the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) that if the policy declaration of the Prime Minister yesterday had been directed to the Left in this party it would have been rather different in substance. In fact, at one moment I was worried lest our policy should prove so bad as even to be acceptable to the Opposition. Fortunately, I underestimated the capacity of the Opposition to be persistently and flagrantly wrong. They seem stuck with their fictitious independent deterrent, and that is as far as their thinking goes.

The Leader of the Opposition even asked whether we had a guarantee from the Americans that Polaris missiles would be supplied without electronic locks. I would like to turn that question round. During the days when the fiction of the Polaris independent deterrent under the Nassau Agreement was vigorously sustained by hon. Members opposite, did not the Americans insist that the principle of dual control for all nuclear weapons delivered to their allies should be applied to the Polaris missiles as well, so long as those missiles were in submarines which were integrated with N.A.T.O. forces under N.A.T.O.—which means U.S.—command? If and when—an improbable hypothesis—some Government in this country were smitten with suicidal madness and wished to engage in a nuclear war single-handed against the will of the United States, would it not have had to go to the United States and say, "Please, we want to commit suicide and involve you in a nuclear war against your will, so will you kindly release the electronic locks?"? It is not worth wasting powder and shot on that kind of nonsense, but that is the substance of the whole issue, of the Tory case.

I was relieved to find that the Opposition were even several degrees worse than the policy put forward by the Government and therefore I shall vote for that policy in the spirit of the old Swedish saying that there are variations of temperature, even in Hell. Seriously, my right hon. Friends need never fear being in a minority in the House, however much any of us on what is known as the Left are opposed to this or that policy of the Labour Government. Because the more Left we are, the more passionately convinced we are that it would be the worst conceivable disaster if the party opposite were to be returned to power.

What I fear and what the Government need to fear is the progressive loss of support in the country as the economic and social consequences of their defence policy come home to the people and as the hopes of those are blighted who look to the Labour Government for the proliferation of peace and not the proliferation of N.A.T.O., in the paradoxical belief that this is the way to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I should like to consider that doctrine for a few moments.

To put it in homely terms; it is as though a little group of serious drinkers had formed a club and issued a heart felt appeal to the rest of the world to take the pledge, but on the understanding that if anybody had uncontrollable alcoholic cravings or persisted in hitting the bottle he would be admitted to the club; or, in grander terms, rather like the practice of the ancient Chinese Empire when, if the Emperor found that a bandit was too powerful to be subdued he made him a provincial governor. In this case, President de Gaulle refuses the status of provincial governor or satrap in this Atlantic nuclear force while the West German Government has accepted it with alarming alacrity and for purposes and with consequences which I only hope will be different from what I fear they will be.

The only way to limit the spread of nuclear weapons is to get on with the job of peace-making, of political settlements, agreements on disarmament. Incidentally, that is the only way in which this country can be made secure. All Defence White Papers, since 1957 at least, have repeated that we cannot be defended against a nuclear attack and that the only way to defend this country is to prevent a war from breaking out. That, of course, is a political job, the job of making peace.

The one thing I missed in the Prime Minister's speech was any exposition of Labour's Foreign Policy. I was rather disappointed at this and slightly surprised because he himself in his first speech as Shadow Foreign-Secretary on 31st December, 1961, said: From now on, instead of putting defence first in our minds, weapons and means of destruction, we should put foreign policy, particularly a Socialist foreign policy, first. Then all other things will fall into place". He also said on 31st January, 1963: When defence becomes the master of foreign policy, as it sometimes has in recent years, vision and realism alike are banished from our counsels."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st January, 1963; Vol. 670, c. 1246.] This has been a myopic and unrealistic debate precisely for that reason and I regret it all the more because Labour has policies on which we could reach agreement with the other side—for instance, the policy of disengagement in Europe, which was agreed on first at the Scarborough Conference in 1958 as part of what would be a comprehensive and very sensible and feasible policy still today, and which was reiterated by the Prime Minister at the Scarborough conference in September, 1963, when he said: As a result of our talks in Moscow, I am convinced there is a chance of a breakthrough on two points, first, an agreement to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, second, agreement on areas of complete nuclear disarmament and progressive conventional disarmament…above all in the high tension area of Central Europe, we press again the urgent relevance of what has always been our policy, the creation of a nuclear-free zone, with effective inspection, a zone of controlled conventional disarmament. I believe that this proposal, providing no change in the balance of forces between East and West, could greatly lower tension in this area, could begin the process of détente between East and West and could begin to create the conditions leading to a unified democratic Germany. I believe that every word of that is true and that it is still the only way in which to reach a settlement in Europe permitting the unification of Germany, because such a settlement can be reached only by agreement with the Soviet Union, and that is the only basis on which the Soviet Union would agree to such unification.

How high do the Government rate their chances of a break-through as a result of this Atlantic nuclear force project, after allowing West Germany to share in—and I quote what the Prime Minister said—

'manning and managing nuclear weapons systems within a mixed-manned component' without however, 'acquiring control over them', although 'sharing in nuclear planning policy and strategy' ". I think that that is a somewhat complicated concept. But the long and short of it is that Germany has taken a long step toward realising her ambition to become a nuclear power.

I am not interested so much in the paper arrangements or pledges as in the record and in the facts; Western Germany was admitted to N.A.T.O. on the strict understanding that she observed certain far-reaching restrictions about her armaments. Those restrictions have been progressively removed, and this is a further step towards removing the last barrier to her becoming a nuclear power and to enabling her people to be trained in the handling of nuclear weapons, so that she has the physical possibility of becoming a nuclear power at any moment.

What did we get in return for this concession? Did we secure an assurance from the United States that she would insist on the recognition of Germany's frontiers, which is something that the Labour Party has said for a long time should be done? Did we get the agreement of the Americans to make our policies for disengagement, German unification by degrees and a provisional Berlin settlement a basis of negotiation? Were they proposing to support us in that, or have we given away Labour's policy for peace with a pound of Polarises and abandoned the principle that defence should be the servant of foreign policy? Just what is our power now to put forward and press our proposals for settlement, whether our allies agree with them or not?

I am very apprehensive about that, because last Monday, when my right hon. Friend the Minister of State was asked by an hon. Member opposite what proposals the Government had for disengagement, the reply was: Her Majesty's Government will at all times act in close consultation and unity with her allies and that our N.A.T.O. Allies see a number of objections to these proposals on political, milirtary and technical grounds.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 13.] We all knew that. We have know it for years.

In the speech which I made on 23rd November, I quoted at length from George F. Kennan, who, after all, is a pretty big American authority in this field and who cannot by any means be regarded as a man of the Left. He stressed the fact, and gave chapter and verse to prove it, that N.A.T.O. is held together and unity is maintained between the allies only by rejecting every one of the policies for a settlement in Europe put forward by the Labour Party. The N.A.T.O. Powers reject disengagement even on the basis of reciprocity, the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone or a non-aggression pact between the Warsaw and N.A.T.O. Powers. They even reject the principle of peaceful co-existence, and, as Mr. Kennan pointed out, are heavily committed, particularly the Germans and the Americans, to the general proposition of the destruction of Communism—a hangover of the Dulles policy.

We must face the fact that we cannot try to bolster up and remain 100 per cent. loyal to N.A.T.O., and at the same time pursue our policies for making peace, because the success of those policies—disengagement, disarmament, and so on—would entail the winding up of both the N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Alliance and their replacement by all-European arrangements based on the Charter. We cannot even start that process unless we are able to disagree with our allies.

What impression do the Government think this Atlantic nuclear force will make on the Soviet Union and the East European powers? The Government are desperately anxious—I could not agree more with them—to get some agreement with these Powers on the lines which we propose, both as regards limiting the spread of nuclear weapons and all the other issues. The trouble is that the Soviet Government and the other Governments regard this Atlantic nuclear force, just as they regard the multilateral nuclear force, as a means of spreading and proliferating nuclear weapons. They say that it is a further step to Germany becoming a nuclear power, which, incidentally, was what the Prime Minister said in the House early last year when he argued that the Labour Party was completely, utterly and unequivocally opposed now and in all circumstances to any suggestion that Germany, West Germany or East Germany, directly or indirectly, should have a finger on the nuclear trigger or any responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st Jan., 1963; Vol. 670. c. 1246.] There is no distinction there between a nuclear trigger and a nuclear safety catch. The position now is that Germany is to be admitted to sharing in controlling the policies of N.A.T.O., particularly on decisions as to when, in what circumstances and for what purpose nuclear weapons should be used, and she will get something approaching a veto on any policies for reaching agreement with the Soviet Union. That is the dangerous part of all this.

I still think that the argument which the Prime Minister used in his speech on 3rd July last year was valid and cogent. He said that he believed that the Americans were wrong to think that this proposal would stop Germany becoming a nuclear power. He stated: On the contrary, we have feared all along that it would whet the German nuclear appetites, and, in fact, it is doing so, even before we have it. The very mention of it is whetting German appetites. He then quoted the German Defence Minister and General Lemnitzer to prove his contention that …there is a very serious development of a desire…for a spread of nuclear weapons.…We have been warned and the House must be very clear about its answer to this warning."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 392.] I want to know why that warning has been disregarded by the man who gave it. This really worries me.

The Prime Minister then gave a dire warning that the Soviet Government would regard any such advance towards Germany getting nuclear weapons by participating in a multilateral fleet as tantamount, or a halfway house, at any rate, to Germany getting nuclear weapons of her own, which could easily result in making it impossible to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on any major issue. That warning has since been amply confirmed, first, by the Tass statement which I quoted on 23rd November in the House, then by the subsequent. speeches of the Soviet Prime Minister, Soviet Foreign Minister and Soviet party secretary.

Lastly, since the Polish Foreign Minister, Mr. Rapacki, is coming here this weekend to meet the Prime Minister to discuss these matters, it is relevant to quote what he said to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 14th December: The multilateral force"— and in the eyes of those countries that means any international nuclear force in which Germany takes part in any capacity whatsoever; they are not interested in semantics, or details, or fine distinctions between the trigger and the safety catch, but are very concerned about Germany taking a further step to becoming a fully-fledged nuclear Power— would open a new period of tension and a new phase of the arms race in Europe. It would make the discussion of a non-aggression treaty a futile exercise. …One cannot expect that the Socialist countries could then refrain from taking appropriate counter-measures. The existing division of the world into two opposing military blocs would become ever wider and more acute. …It would to say the least make any agreement between East and West more difficult. The question might also arise as to the value of the long-drawn disarmament negotiations, should they become no more than a comforting accompaniment to unilateral military moves and to an accelerated arms race. Why have we done all this? Why have we gone against our own principle that we would put peace-making first and war commitments second? Why did we start off by tying ourselves hand and foot in a rather Heath Robinson attempt to patch up N.A.T.O.? We should have taken advantage of the tottery state of N.A.T.O. to say, "If you people want us to play any longer, you had better consider our policies for making peace, because the time has now come to wind up all this nonsense". We did not do it.

We started at the wrong end and deprived ourselves of any effective bargaining power by our pathetic addiction to staying in N.A.T.O. at any cost and on any terms. Hence we were pushed around by the United States of America and blackmailed by the Germans. Or rather, to put it another way, the West German Government blackmailed both the United States of America and our Government by its threat that if it did not get what it wanted, it would join France in a Franco-German nuclear force.

That bluff should have been called. To start with, the French nuclear force is derisory and will remain so for a long time. Secondly, General de Gaulle would never permit Germany to become stronger than France in that alliance. In the third place, the opposition in France to any idea of Germany getting ahead in a nuclear alliance is extremely powerful. Finally, if necessary, we could threaten West Germany with counter- measures if she broke her treaty obligation not to have nuclear weapons. We could say, "Very well. We will take our forces out of the Rhineland. We recognise Eastern Germany. We recognise your existing frontiers. If that is not enough, we will consider what further measures to take if you become a danger to peace". A little toughness in the cause of peace would work wonders instead of always giving way.

My one crumb of comfort in all this business is that nothing has been settled yet. The situation is still fluid. There is still a breathing space. I wish that the situation had been even more fluid and that we could go into the coming talks with the Polish Foreign Minister and with the Soviet Prime Minister entirely uncommitted by all this Atlantic nuclear force nonsense. As, however, things are still in the air, all I can hope is that we will not tie ourselves down to anything vis-à-vis our allies until we have measured the reactions on the other side and until we have tested the possibilities of reaching agreement on the basis of the policies that our Government and most people in this country consider reasonable.

We should take a fresh look at the whole situation and do it from the viewpoint of taking our stand, not on the military alliances, but on the Charter of the United Nations. It is an odd fact that throughout this debate I cannot remember anybody referring directly to the United Nations. I believe that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs made a passing reference to it in his speech last night, but there was nothing in the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister or of my right hon. Friend the Defence Minister. And yet this is supposed to be a foreign affairs debate.

We have said again and again—it was said in the Gracious Speech—that our foreign policy is based on the United Nations and is aimed at strengthening it. In fact, it is the Charter, and not the alliances, which is the sheet anchor of our policy. Even legally, by Article 103 of the Charter, its obligations take precedence over all other treaty obligations, and any treaty obligation which conflicts with those of the Charter becomes null and void as between members of the United Nations. That is a juridical fact. But the political fact is much more important—that we should be prepared to deal with other countries on the basis of our obligations in the Charter and in accordance with the principles of the Charter. Incidentally, that is the only basis on which we can found a policy for reconciliation between East and West and on which we can build up arrangements and agreements to ratify our own policies for disengagement, disarmament and similar policies in the Middle East and in the Far East.

I have always held the view, and I said so in this House on 12th May, 1949, when N.A.T.O. was first introduced, when I both spoke and voted against it, that N.A.T.O. is not compatible with the Charter. It is tantamount to tearing up the Charter. It goes back to the balance of power. It substitutes brute force for the rule of law. I will not argue that now. But I stress that we should insist that we interpret our other treaty obligations on lines consistent with the Charter.

The Charter, for instance, prohibits resort to force for any purpose except defence against an armed attack. This definition has been stretched in N.A.T.O., C.E.N.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. to justify policies of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries to put down movements or régimes that we do not like. That is known, I believe, as defence against Communist subversion. That is entirely contrary to the Charter, which prohibits interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

If there are borderline cases where an internal upheaval is being supported from outside or there are allegations that it is being so supported, that is precisely the kind of matter that should be brought to the Security Council and dealt with by the methods prescribed in the Charter, which means that we have to co-operate with the Soviet Union to deal with such incidents. That is what we ought to do.

There have twice been references, once by the Minister of Defence and once by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), to situations in which there were local incidents or upheavals and some kind of complication or local conflict in international relations. The idea apparently is that the armed alliances should at once jump in. Of course, they should not. This sort of thing should be referred to the Security Council. Our policy should be one of backing the procedures laid down by the Charter and not of trying to sidetrack the United Nations and dealing with all this by the methods of nuclear power politics, which could be guaranteed to escalate any local conflict into a nuclear war.

Starting with that, the first thing that we should do in the Far East should be to make it clear to the Americans that we regard their policy in Southern Vietnam as constituting a threat to international peace under the Charter, and that if they do not get out of that country and wind the thing up, we will bring the matter before the United Nations Security Council. I repeat what the Prime Minister said on 30th June, when he asked the then Prime Minister, who is now Leader of the Opposition, to make it clear that we would oppose any extension of the war in Southern Vietnam to Northern Vietnam.

Unfortunately, in his speech yesterday the Prime Minister merely said that we were not committed on this subject. I had a slight shiver of apprehension. I wondered whether he had totally reserved his position again. I want him to be committed against any extension of the war in Southern Vietnam, and I consider his remarks of 30th June did commit him against an extension. I should like the Government to make it quite clear that they are committed against it and that they have warned the Americans accordingly. I will say why. Because today in America there is a big conflict about South Viet-Nam policy. There are plenty of Americans, including senators, Senators Wayne Morse, Mansfield and Gruening, among others, who have come out openly and demanded the winding up of this adventure, which has led to a division between the so-called Hawks and the Doves. We ought to be cooing with the Doves in this case, not squawking in the wake of the Hawks. We ought to take a strong line of our own in this situation, and taking it in accordance with our obligations as a member of the United Nations and our views as a Labour Government.

Of course, as far as Malaysia is concerned, although obviously she has got to be helped to defend herself as long as Soekarno goes on attacking her—or so long as whatever Government there is in Indonesia goes on attacking her—I think we ought to make a very energetic attempt to get a settlement—if you like, through the United Nations or through an international conference—in the Far East, on the basis of the neutralisation of Malaysia, as part of the neutralisation of South-East Asia, and a conference in which the Chinese and Russians would take part, because then the Chinese and Russians could put all the pressure necessary on Indonesia to get her to fall in with this. We ought not to rely only on military methods. We ought also to pay a great deal of attention to policies for winding up this conflict.

This applies also to China. The Chinese Government have said again and again that they will stop their attempt to become a nuclear Power if the rest of us get rid of nuclear weapons. That is, of course, a bit of a tall order. But we should certainly try to get the Chinese into the United Nations, and into the Disarmament Commission at Geneva, and into a settlement in the Far East. On all these issues of Viet-Nam and Malaysia and the rest we should feel our way. We should go on pressing to bring the Chinese into the international circle, so to speak, because this is the only means by which we shall get any kind of relaxation of tension. It is quite hopeless to go on just piling up arms and hoping for the best.

Of course I know that these are pretty tough suggestions. But what I want to say is that unless we do make radical changes in our international policies, which means foreign policy first and defence policy as a consequence of that, we are going to be on the rocks financially and economically, because this country cannot support anything like the present defence budget and at the same time supply the resources, not only in money but in technicians and in manpower and machinery and the rest, which are needed to modernise our economy, to increase our productivity, to expand our exports, and to fulfil the noble and ambitious social programme to which the Labour Party has set its hand. We cannot build up a Welfare State and our economic strength and at the same time go on with the kind of policy which was outlined yesterday, which puts war preparations against the Soviet Union first and making peace with the Soviet Union and China so far behind that it is almost out of sight.

8.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

I should like to add my voice to the protest which has already been made from this side of the House at what I think is the quite extraordinary discourtesy with which both sides of the House have been treated by the Government in the course of this debate.

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

I will explain how. If the hon. Gentleman listens he will learn.

It does seem to me quite astonishing that the speech of the Prime Minister, which has been described by his hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) as being a most historical and remarkable statement, should have been made to this House without this House having any kind of prior information whatsoever as to what might have been agreed in Washington between the Prime Minister and the President. When my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition remonstrated with the Prime Minister about this a few days ago the Prime Minister said that he was operating the same precedent as was set at the time of the Nassau Agreement. As we all know perfectly well, this is far from being the case, because although there was no Government statement in advance of the debate on the Nassau Agreement the Government had already issued a White Paper which in fact gave full details of the Agreement. Therefore, a Government statement was totally unnecessary.

I cannot help wondering whether the Prime Minister was frightened of telling his allies what he had done, or whether he was frightened of telling this House in advance what he had done so that we could prepare ourselves for the debate, or whether he wanted the Labour Party conference to go off quietly before any indication of what agreement he had reached was published. It is interesting that the American Press of the weekend, and in advance of the Prime Minister's speech at the Labour Party conference, had full details of what the Prime Minister's proposals were going to be when he made them yesterday afternoon.

Those who have watched the Prime Minister in action in this House over the last few years would not perhaps place the quality of candour as the foremost of the many qualities which he has displayed here. During the course of his observations yesterday I could not help feeling that there was at least the suspicion of a desire to confuse. I think that the Prime Minister hoped that he might delude hon. Members on this side of the House into thinking that he had fulfilled to the full his election pledge of doing away unconditionally with our deterrent. I think he also hoped that he might delude hon. Members on the extreme Left wing of his party that he had conducted a similar surrender. What he no doubt hoped for was a demonstration of anger on this side of the House, followed by expressions of delight on the faces of hon. Members below the Gangway on the benches opposite, followed in return by dismay on this side of the House.

But something went slightly wrong, because never in my five years in this House have I seen a sadder set of faces than I saw among the Left-wing Members of the party opposite during the Prime Minister's speech yesterday afternoon, because what he had to do—and this may account for some of the secrecy which surrounds his actions—was simultaneously satisfy America, satisfy Germany, and satisfy his own Left wing.

We all remember the statement of Mrs. Gibbs, the Chairman of the C.N.D., at one of the charming gatherings which take place outside the conference hall at the Labour Party conference when she said: We reaffirm that the campaign's policy is to renounce nuclear weapons and all alliances based on the threat to use the bomb. Mrs. Gibbs is not an isolated eccentric. On the contrary, she is typical of a large number of Members on the opposite side of the House who share her views. One can therefore well understand the feeling of dismay which many of them may have felt.

As I heard the Prime Minister speaking, I began to ask myself, was his journey to Washington really necessary?

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

Well, let us see what he has done. He has, so he told us, irrevocably committed the British nuclear deterrent to N.A.T.O. As we all know, in fact the British nuclear deterrent was already committed to N.A.T.O. Under the terms of the Nassau Agreement our V-bomber force was assigned to N.A.T.O. and so, indeed, was the Polaris missile project to be.

What has happened now? Our V-bomber force is still committed to N.A.T.O., apparently now irrevocably, but the fact is that we have the bombers. They are in this country. They are manned by British personnel. I am told that there is a stockpile of about 1,500 bombs. It is, I believe, wholly impossible to inject locks on those bombs which already exist. Therefore, they are physically in this country and still physically under our control. On top of that, we are told that an element of our V-bomber force is still not to be committed to N.A.T.O. but is to be used—quite properly—for our purposes east of Suez.

I cannot believe that the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), who has just given us so much pleasure by addressing us, could bring himself to vote in favour of a policy which keeps the bomb in Britain, in British aircraft, under the control of British personnel and, on the sheer practicality of the situation, in physical terms, when our commitment to N.A.T.O. could be withdrawn at any time.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

The hon. Member is saying that we are continuing the situation in which our V-bomber fleet and many of our naval squadrons are seconded to N.A.T.O. In that case, will he support us in the Lobby tonight, on the basis that we are continuing his Government's policy?

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

If the right hon. Member will wait for me to answer I am sure that he will be satisfied with my reply. I believe that it is foolish to make statements that have no meaning. If the commitment is irrevocable, which in the case of the V-bombers it is said to be, it means, if it means anything, a commitment to an authority the nature of which we are still wholly in ignorance. It seems to me that we have heard a lot of double-talk from the Government Front Bench today and yesterday. I could not lend myself to that sort of thing.

In the light of the situation over the V-bombers, the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Anne Kerr), of whose travels we have read about with so much interest recently, might have saved herself the journey. She might have stayed at home, or gone to Downing Street and demonstrated there, perhaps hand-in-hand with the hon. Member for Gorton. I cannot believe that he or she, or many other hon. Members opposite, genuinely approve of what has been arrived at.

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

Perhaps I can allay the hon. Member's anxieties and apprehensions. We think that there is a lot of bad in what has been done—at least, I do. But I also have hopes that the Labour Government will learn by experience, whereas the party opposite has proved that it is incapable of learning.

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

The only experience that the hon. Member for Gorton would like the Labour Party to undergo, vis-à-vis the V-bomber force, is to get rid of the bombs—to destroy them. That will not be done. The deterrent power remains and the hon. Member knows it, and he and many of his hon. Friends are deeply and bitterly opposed to a policy of that kind. They would be more candid if they came out in their true colours and said so.

As far as we know, the Polaris programme is to go ahead. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Gorton told his electors that this would happen during the election, or whether many of his hon. Friends did likewise. I suspect not. As far as we can see, however, that programme is to go ahead. So far as we can see, the vessels are not going to be mixed-manned. The Secretary of State for Defence has still not come entirely clean with us and told us whether or not electronic locks will be fitted.

In the physical sense, therefore, I suspect that the repossession of Polaris would not be much more difficult than the repossession of the V-bombers. I believe that it is time we stopped hearing the double-talk that we have heard in the last few days. I venture to suggest that the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues have been less than candid with the House in this debate. We understand the reason. We know that they cannot be comfortable in the same party as the hon. Member for Gorton. We understand also that it would not be very comfortable being in the same party as the hon. Lady the Member for Rochester and Chatham. We understand this, but, nevertheless, we are talking about serious matters now and we think that a little less double talk and a little less disguise is desirable.

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

Since the hon. Member keeps referring to me, may I say quite frankly that I believe that our Government have a policy for making peace which would work. I believe that as time goes on they will take the steps necessary to get the bargaining power for putting over that policy. The hon. Member wants to know what I said during the election. I told everybody that if, contrary to expectations, it was impossible to fulfil our social promises without cutting defence expenditure, then "I ask you to realise that when you vote for me you give me a mandate to press for cutting defence expenditure by as much as is needed to keep our promises to the people." My majority went up from 857 to 4,430.

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

I am sure that we are all deeply moved and touched by that tale, both at the way in which the hon. Member for Gorton raised his majority and the obvious pain with which he had to inform the House that he proposed to vote in a way which did not conform with his conscience or with his beliefs. I propose to vote as I think right, and I shall be supporting the Opposition tonight.

I should like to say a few words about the Government's attitude towards the M.L.F., because I find it in some respects rather puzzling. Until their views matured somewhat after the election, the Government have basically led us to believe that they were both against the deterrent and its proliferation and also that they wanted us to give it up, and that our giving it up was as much a moral as a material gesture. It seemed to me that, whatever other merits or demerits the M.L.F. may have, it has at least this—first of all, it would prevent rather than encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Secondly, it would link Germany with America, and of course with America and Britain, if both were to be in. Thirdly, and this is where I would have thought it may have appealed most strongly to the Prime Minister and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, it would enable us to abandon gracefully our independent nuclear deterrent. For some reason, none of these arguments has appealed to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

We must ask ourselves why. I think that there are basically two reasons. There is a very large element in the Government party which is anti the possession of nuclear weapons, which supports the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. There is an even larger element in the Government party which is and always has been fundamentally and profoundly anti-German. This, I believe, has to a large extent determined their attitude. The Secretary of State for Defence, in the course of his speech today, said that Germany was to have, under the Prime Minister's proposals, ownership, participation and control. This is what he said. He said it in a rather patronising way, almost as though he thought that there were Members on this side who wanted to deny this to Germany. Yet the present Prime Minister made this statement at their party conference in 1963: Any measure of German control of nuclear weapons would be as much a turning point of history, as much a fateful milestone on the road to a third world war, as Hitler's march into the Rhineland was towards the last war. I do not know whether the Foreign Secretary will be conveying these sentiments to Herr Schroeder in the next few days.

What we have to accept—this is where I believe the Government are entirely blinkered—is that Germany is determined to be in the nuclear business anyway. If we, through our policies, deny Germany her aspirations to join, as I believe is the best thing for her to do, in partnership with ourselves and the Americans—and the right hon. Gentleman knows that it is the mixed-manned surface fleet that is most attractive for the Germans—the result is bound to be a German-American deterrent or a Franco-German deterrent. The Prime Minister has already made it clear in his speech and elsewhere—I am glad that he did—that he would not support a Franco-German deterrent.

I referred earlier to the double-talk which we have had to endure in the last few days from Government spokesmen, who one naturally understands have been very apprehensive as to how their proposals would be received by their supporters. I should very much have liked to be present at the private meeting of the Labour Party when these matters were discussed. Perhaps it will turn out ultimately that that meeting was not quite as private as it was thought to be. We shall see.

The fact is that the Labour Left wing in my view has been hoodwinked in the debate. I believe that we have not yet had anything in the nature of a clear statement from the Government as to what their policy is. It is my personal hope that they will not despise the thought of Britain making a contribution towards a mixed-manned force because I believe this to be desirable in both political and military terms.

Finally, I echo the sentiments expressed last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) that if the present Government wish to achieve a solution to their problems and to make themselves more acceptable in Europe, they must show that they take Europe seriously and they must drop this legacy of anti-German feeling which they display so frequently. They must—

Photo of Mr Humphrey Berkeley Mr Humphrey Berkeley , Lancaster

I will not give way. I have exactly two minutes in which to complete my speech because I have undertaken to sit down by a certain time. I am afraid that my peroration has been destroyed, and I must try to recover as best I can.

I ask the Government to show in practical terms to Europe that they care about Europe. For the last year I have been both on the Council of Europe and on the Western European Union delegation, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that they have a long way to make up. They are not regarded as pro-European by any European Power in Western Europe. What they have to do is to take some action based on some of the sentiments which we have heard them express from time to time and so see that Britain can be politically, and as far as possible militarily, integrated both into Europe and in the Western Alliance as a whole.

8.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

We approach the conclusion of this debate to which, I understand, the Prime Minister will do us the courtesy of replying. The House should be grateful to him for that, for the debate has raised matters of great concern to hon. Members on both sides of the House. It touches on matters of sovereignty over Britain's defences which, whatever view one takes, is an important matter. It touches on matters of foreign policy, which is of interest to all of us.

The debate has been graced by a number of maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) spoke of the importance of non-proliferation. He said that the world would not come to an end if the present plans failed. I thoroughly agree with that sentiment. My hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) quite rightly said that military strength and economic strength are not contradictions but are complementary to one another. This is a lesson that the Secretary of State might bear in mind. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) emphasised the vital nature of our relations with Europe, which will be the theme of much of what I have to say in connection with these discussions.

Having commended these maiden speeches, I am afraid that I cannot commend the Prime Minister's speech or that of the Secretary of State in quite such glowing terms. Yet I am, if I may say so, not simply going to attack them. May I start, however embarrassing it may be, with a few words of praise for the Prime Minister?

After all, the work on the Polaris submarines goes on. These weapons which are going to be provided with Polaris missiles on a continuing basis are going to be available—the most powerful deterrent that modern science can provide—and the V-bombers are to continue. They are not, if I may say so to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), going to be run down, as at one time was advocated. They are to proceed in this country and be available in the Far East, equipped with all the modern methods of delivery, both conventional and nuclear weapons. I am bound to say that when going through the Lobby the other night I heard "Bomber Wilson" being applied to the Prime Minister, I thought that that was a little exaggerated.

Then we listened to the Prime Minister, in a moving passage of his speech, describing the virtues of nuclear power and the effect it had on preserving the peace of the world. When I remembered the stories that used to be circulated, that something like 60 or 70 hon. Members opposite were associated with the Committee of Nuclear Disarmament, I realised that they must have been gross distortions. They would never have sat silent, listening to that exposition of the importance of nuclear power.

The support of the unity of the alliance, N.A.T.O., we were pleased to hear; not just N.A.T.O. but N.A.T.O. equipped with the most powerful nuclear weapons. What a long way we have moved since 1960. At any rate, one can say with certainty that there is no moral opposition left in all this for the Labour Party. They cannot now say that there is something immoral in the possession of nuclear weapons. The only conceivable question now left is, how best are we to organise or arrange these matters?

The objectives which the Prime Minister described indeed commend themselves to all hon. Members—unity in the alliance and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. These are common and serious aims. The objectives are admirable. True, the Prime Minister made a terrible hash of the solution, as I shall seek to show, but I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that no one would assert today that we will not see even closer integration in the matters of conventional and nuclear weapons in the years to come—in the weapons not only of this country but, perhaps, of America, France and Germany.

The day will come when we will see a united Europe and certainly a much more closely united Atlantic union. Political institutions will rise and we must all strive for them. We will see a greater centralisation in economic and military decisions, and these are common to a large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House.

However, that day has not yet arrived. Our criticism is not of these objectives but that the activities of Her Majesty's Government in the last 50 days have been to set those objectives back, that the mission to Washington placed even larger obstacles in its way—[Interruption.]—and the reason for what I deem to be the failure of that mission was that the Prime Minister forgot these larger hopes and wider visions. He quoted the objectives which were so ably set out in the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) last night. He turned most of the discussion on the rather squalid purposes of a political deal with the British nuclear deterrent, a deal which, I may add, is utterly irrelevant to all the great purposes which I have been describing.

It was in many ways an astonishing mission. I think that seldom, if ever, has a Prime Minister returned from such a mission and indulged in such an orgy of self-praise. Seldom has he revealed less, and seldom has more doubt and confusion been spread at the conclusion of any such event. What was the real purpose of the right hon. Gentleman? I do not often quote my own speeches, but may I quote what I said on the last occasion: We think that it is possible that he is anxious to get rid of the British deterrent, or as much of it as possible, but he cannot think where to put it. What he is looking for is a depository for the thing. He wants to find some sort of organisation…and put it into that…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1022.] That is precisely the objective on which the right hon. Gentleman was engaged. He covered it with a good deal of very quick double-talk. In Bonn and Washington tonight I will warrant that they expect M.L.F. to go forward.

The Socialist manifesto—quoted, to the great embarrassment of the Government Front Bench, by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins)—plainly said that M.L.F. would not be a part of the Labour Party policy. Indeed, it was absolutely plain that they were not going in. Since then the right hon. Gentleman has said that he has left the whole thing open, the position is reserved. He has told us that paragraph 9 of the Nassau Agreement was not even discussed in Washington. I believe him, I believe anything he tells me as the Prime Minister of this country. If it was not discussed, what an astonishing thing that the Foreign Secretary of this country within a few days was announcing that it was to be abrogated in Paris.

The awful thing is that I believe it is true. I believe that it is quite likely the way in which the right hon. Gentleman did conduct these affairs. Sometimes it is said that the British nuclear deterrent is to be abandoned. The next moment we hear that it is to be kept for the Far East. We have been told that in Europe the B.A.O.R. is to be increased. That was the first statement. Then it was to be cut, and it is to be kept as it is. Almost every position has been taken up in these last few days. Then complaint is made that the Press do not get these stories quite clear. Anybody who listened to the Prime Minister describing how he was going to get rid of a deterrent which he has said was not there to an organisation which did not exist must have some sympathy with the British Press.

The camera cannot lie, and as we saw the right hon. Gentleman on the television screen coming down the steps of the White House to the tune of "Land of Hope and Glory", the anxieties of the Left wing of his party were as nothing to our own. But the right hon. Gentleman has a remarkable facility for seeing that his actions betray his words. His purpose throughout has been to find some way of getting rid of the British deterrent, and maybe this is the way. But what a way. What a moment for a unilateral abnegation of the British deterrent. The British taxpayer is to spend millions of pounds to sustain these weapons which are ultimately no longer to be under our control. Any enemies are to be informed in advance that we shall never be able to use these weapons in our own defence. What conceivable satisfaction can that give even to a member of the nuclear disarmament committee?

May I summarise our criticisms to the right hon. Gentleman? I will summarise them in this way. Having placed N.A.T.O. in jeopardy, he has put paid, probably for a long time, to negotiations with the Russians in the cause of nonproliferation. He has created a costly and, undoubtedly, incredible deterrent, and he has sacrificed the heart of British defences.

I take the question of N.A.T.O. to start with. The right hon. Gentleman said that his objective was to unite the alliance. Whatever other arguments may be advanced for a M.L.F. or an A.N.F., is the right hon. Gentleman going to stand up tonight and say that the steps that he has taken have tended to unite N.A.T.O? N.A.T.O. is in deadlock. N.A.T.O. is unable to agree on any of these proposals. The right hon. Gentleman's proposals are resisted by France, which, after all, is the heart and centre of Europe—they are deeply suspect by Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Canada. They are all standing aside from this, and, used as they are as a cloak for the unilateral disarmament of this country, they are viewed with increasing bitterness and concern by large sections of the British public.

The proposals which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward have given rise to a speech by the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. giving the gravest warning to the whole of Europe about what might flow from pursuing these particular suggestions. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman when he replies to state quite firmly whether he really believes that this is a way of uniting the alliance. I also want to pose this direct question to him: Is this force to be inside or outside N.A.T.O? This seems to me to be crucial. The Secretary of State ducked this question when it was put to him. What is proposed was made relatively clear by the Prime Minister. A new political authority is to be set up. It is to have the responsibility to take decisions to release the weapons and to develop an agreed policy on the rôle of all types of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. How is that to be reconciled with N.A.T.O?

N.A.T.O. today has its full nuclear organisation. With weapons assigned, with a deputy SACEUR appointed, with a whole organisation and staff there, what is to happen to them? Are they to stay or are they to be abandoned? Is the deputy SACEUR to remain? What is the proposal? This is a very big and important staff to which SACEUR attaches the very greatest importance, established in the great alliance at the present time. The House is entitled to know whether it is to remain or whether it is to go. That organisation was set up with full agreement, with all N.A.T.O. countries agreeing and has never been used in any way as a suggestion or an excuse for proliferation. What additional power is to be given to Germany or anybody else under the new set-up, what powers additional to the ones which they have under this closely integrated organisation today? We are entitled to know. I think that other countries in the world are entitled to an answer to that question. If this is to meet some German aspiration—I am not saying that German aspirations should not be met, and I shall say something about them in a moment—what is the aspiration and how is it met?

The strategy and tactics, both conventional and nuclear, of this great military alliance are today discussed in the alliance. They are the responsibility of SACEUR and SACEUR is responsible to the N.A.T.O. Council. Under these proposals, a new political authority is to he established outside that, and, as stated by the Prime Minister, it is to discuss all these matters at present discussed inside N.A.T.O. Inevitably, there will be one body discussing all the nuclear problems and another discussing all the conventional problems. I cannot think of any organisation more likely to create military bedlam in Europe than the one which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed.

He has asked us to think about it. We have been thinking about it. He said that he would debate it with us. Let him debate it with us this evening. This is the time to do it. Let him explain how this organisation is to work. The way we organise the defences of Europe matters a great deal.

What is the purpose as regards proliferation? The right hon. Gentleman says that he is putting non-dissemination first. The whole House will agree that, if it were possible to reach agreement with the Russians on non-dissemination or nonproliferation, it would be the most wonderful follow-up to the partial test ban agreement negotiated under the previous Government. How does the Prime Minister think that his proposal will help agreement with the Russians? Will it help or will it hinder?

The Russians have made clear, in unequivocal terms, that they dislike these arrangements and deeply suspect them. I put aside what they might positively do. Whether they would set up ships themselves or put missiles in them is another matter. I am talking only about agreements at the moment. But we must take account of the Russian attitude if we want any agreement with them at all. It is no good just talking. The Russian views are based on history and geography. The great fear which they have always had is that the Germans might, by some arrangement of this character, secure an influence over nuclear matter. This is a fact of life which must be faced by those who say that they will come to an agreement with the Russians. The Russians have said that they find it hard to believe that the Germans would be prepared to pay £45 million a year for a weapon over which they could never have any hope of control.

I am perfectly prepared to argue that the Russians are wrong, to argue that this is a military monstrosity and no use to anyone. I can sustain that argument, but the right hon. Gentleman must ponder seriously whether the Russians are more or less likely, in the foreseeable future, to come to an agreement on non-proliferation or non-dissemination if he proceeds much further with the proposals at present before N.A.T.O.

The truth is that when the right hon. Gentleman and his friends talk about non-proliferation and non-dissemination, they are not talking about the world at all. They are talking only about Europe. They are considering whether it is possible to stop proliferation in Europe, and when they talk about Europe they mean not Italy, Norway or France, but Germany.

It is a matter of credit to both sides that no one has risen on either side to try to raise an anti-German case. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), greatly to his credit, took the lead in this matter yesterday. No one will do it. The Germans have behaved with great statesmanship and great restraint in these matters. They have entered into agreements not to manufacture. They have signed the Test Ban Treaty. In no circumstances have the Germans said, "We intend to make or acquire nuclear weapons". They have not said that.

I must say that I resent and resist the idea that an argument for these proposals can be found in a belief that the Germans wish to break either the spirit or the letter of the agreements they have entered into. I do not believe that is true. I do not believe that a single responsible German statesman can be found today who would contemplate an action which, after all, would mean that N.A.T.O. would be riven from top to bottom and an end to everything that every post-war German Government has striven for.

What we are entitled, however, to ask the Prime Minister is this: what is his proposal on the M.L.F., the mixed-manned surface fleet? He is the Prime Minister of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is right to cheer a Prime Minister, but it is also right to ask him to stand at that Box and give a straight answer to a straight question.

Is the Prime Minister or is he not going to join in a mixed-manned surface fleet? I say this about the attitude of the Prime Minister to the British deterrent: his dilemma is quite simply that he has pledged himself not to enter the M.L.F. —his party is pledged not to do so—while at the same time he has pledged himself to get rid of the British deterrent. But he is increasingly realising that these two pledges are contradictory, because by far the best chance of getting rid of the British deterrent is to get, by some means or other, into the M.L.F.

The purpose of all the Prime Minister's activity has been to get rid of our weapons, to internationalise our bomb and to do it unilaterally. The abandonment of this control is central—and I address this particularly to the Defence Secretary, who has all the military advice and knowledge—to the defence of this country. So long as British control exists there is a certainty in the minds of any enemies that, whatever happens to any alliance, whatever might be the view of any future American President, there is no prize that they could ever win which would compensate them for the damage they would suffer by inflicting an attack upon us.

We could join the M.L.F. We could subscribe our bombers to such a force. But we could still keep control of our weapons. The only relevance of this abandonment of control would be if we were asked by someone else to give these weapons up, and I want to ask the Prime Minister a direct question. Could I have his attention for a moment? I listened to his speech.

Has any foreign Power asked the Prime Minister that this country should abandon control of these weapons? Has that demand come from either the Germans or the Americans? Have the German Government said to him, "We ask you as part of a deal to give up control of your weapons"? Was such a demand addressed to him by President Johnson? Did President Johnson ask the Prime Minister to abandon the rights under paragraph 9? I do not believe that any foreign Government has asked for this act of abdication. I believe that, if it is done, it will not be done to gain any particular prize or advantage for this country. No one will follow our example. There is no reason advanced by the right hon. Gentleman or his right hon. Friend why we should do it. It will be done for a simple reason. It will be done to secure a particular political decision in order that the right hon. Gentleman can say that in some way or other he has abandoned the deterrent.

I want to say this about the military position. I think that it is generally agreed that the force which the right hon. Gentleman has set up is of no, or very little, military value. All the weapons in it, including our own, will be subject to the American veto. They will never be fired except at the same time as the American deterrent. Indeed, they will be part of it. They will be paid for by British taxpayers. I do not think that ever in human history will such a vast sum have been paid for such a militarily worthless project.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

If the right hon. Gentleman considers the rôle of these weapons inside N.A.T.O. to be so nugatory, why did he himself make such a thing of assigning them to N.A.T.O. under the Nassau Agreement?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The right hon. Gentleman knows the answer as well as I do—we assigned them with the right to take them out in our own defence. If the Secretary of State has not yet understood that, he has not started to understand what this debate is about.

The Americans know that this A.N.F. which the right hon. Gentleman is setting up is militarily worthless. Whatever the Secretary of State may say, this weapons system, covered with safety catches and fingers and all the other matters which he described, will never be fired. He knows and the Americans know that it can never be fired. I warrant that every target it covers will be re-covered by the American deterrent. The Americans would never dream of leaving uncovered any target which might be the subject of the veto of any single European country.

The Prime Minister moved on to the rôle outside N.A.T.O. I am glad that he is now having some briefing from the Secretary of State, for he probably needs some briefing on this. He described taking the V-bomber force and cutting it into two. The right hon. Gentleman's main criticism of the deterrent has always been that it was too small—so he gets into power and cuts it into two. What a wonderful solution to a military problem! Anybody could tell him—perhaps the Secretary of State for Defence will tell him—that the whole purpose of the use of V-bombers is their flexibility, their range and their striking power. The right thing to do is to hold them in one force and not allocate irrevocably to any of these purposes, irrevocably to either a nuclear or a conventional rôle.

The Prime Minister should not forget the damage which he may be doing. These V-bombers in their conventional rôle are of crucial importance in South-East Asia at the moment and if he starts tying up large sections of this force and allocating them to one particular postion, he will be doing a great deal of harm.

The policies which the right hon. Gentleman is now pursuing are likely to do considerable damage to the interests of this country. I believe that he is dividing N.A.T.O. tonight, not uniting it. I believe that the steps he is taking will make the proliferation of weapons more likely, not less likely;. I believe that the Government are putting a very considerable obstacle in the way of any chance of signing a non-dissemination pact between East and West.

These are great matters and some simple statement on them from the right hon. Gentleman tonight would be of universal advantage—if he would say what he is to do about the M.L.F., what we are really to do about control of British weapons, what he really has in mind about electronic locks and all the rest of it, and say it in the same language so that it can be understood in Bonn and London, Washington and Moscow, Rome and Paris in identical terms. Let us have for once a moment of truth from the right hon. Gentleman.

9.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think the House enjoyed the speech of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) almost as much as he enjoyed it himself. We all recognise that he is in a competitive situation. Certainly, if vigour and exuberance are the test, he is bidding fair—I am very glad about this—to get into the "top three". I am bound to say that my money is, and always has been, on the Gaullist wing of the party against the Poujadist view of the former President of the Board of Trade. But I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman is moving up.

The right hon. Gentleman put a number of questions to me.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Hirst Mr Geoffrey Hirst , Shipley

Try to give a straight answer.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think that when my right hon. Friend interrupted he said that it is for the Government to answer. I am glad that he takes this view, because I cannot remember a single speech of his from this Box which did not consist three-quarters of questions to the Opposition because he did not have an idea himself to put. One thing was very clear tonight, and that was that whereas the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon made it clear that he supported the M.L.F., the right hon. Gentleman was still against it. Every single argument he used tonight against the Atlantic nuclear force is an argument against the M.L.F., including his argument that the Russians would never negotiate if this came into being.

What is happening, and what has happened today, is that the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend are still carrying on the same departmental row without departments. There was nothing new whatsoever either in his speech or in that of the Leader of the Opposition. What we have had is the same old speech—we know it so well—[Interruption.] There was quite a lot new in my speech yesterday, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. But right hon. Members opposite, like the Bourbons of old, have learned nothing and forgotten nothing since the election.

There was one part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech with which I found myself in complete agreement, and that was in the tribute which he paid to the maiden speeches which we heard yesterday and today—those of my hon. Friends the Members for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) and Preston, South (Mr. Peter Mahon), the hon. Members for Westbury (Mr. Walters) and Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) yesterday; and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) and of the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) and Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) today.

The right hon. Gentleman made a bit of a point in his speech about an alleged contradiction between the Foreign Secretary and myself. Let us get the facts clear. I said in a television answer on Sunday that I had not—[Interruption.] The Leader of the Opposition quoted from a television transcript. He had it with him, and I will reply to what he said. I said in this answer that I had not in Washington discussed with the President or anyone else renegotiation of the Nassau Agreement. This was true. We were concerned with future policy, not with past White Papers or past agreements. As to what the policy was, I went on to say on television—the right hon. Gentleman can check this from his transcript—that I was not going further in that interview specifically because I was saving my answer to that question for my statement in the House yesterday. The statement which I made in the House yesterday and what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said were exactly the same as far as this is concerned.

The right hon. Gentleman has just referred again to control mechanisms, which was dealt with at great length by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley). This question—permissive links, and the rest—was dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot go into further detail about this, because he knows perfectly well that if I did—this, I think, is why he did not press it very much—I should have to give publicly information about missile components, about existing control mechanisms and about possible developments of them which I should be utterly wrong to give in public. I shall not, however, take refuge behind this necessary secrecy.

I suggested yesterday that we were prepared, on an agreed basis, to have joint talks on the changing realities of defence to keep right hon. Gentlemen opposite in the picture. If they accept our proposal, which, I believe, is in the national interest, I should certainly be more than happy to explain in the kind of detail which would be required details of a kind which the right hon. Gentleman knows cannot be discussed in the House. I should be perfectly prepared to discuss with him or the Leader of the Opposition the precise points about the permissive links, the mechanism, and so on, in a degree of detail which would satisfy him.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, because I forgot yesterday to answer this point about talks with the right hon. Gentleman. He knows the traditional difficulties about the Opposition consulting the Government. We are divided by some fairly fundamental views on defence at the moment and I do not know that we can make much progress. but I am always ready to talk with him and hear his ideas. We know something about locks and devices put on submarines. What we want to know plainly from the Prime Minister is that no lock will be put on which cannot be taken off.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. Certainly, we will have the talks which he suggests. He also knows enough about locks to know that the kind of question which he has raised can be discussed in private. We shall be happy to do it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The question was answered clearly by my right hon. Friend this afternoon.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

There is nothing either technical or secret about this question. It is quite simple. Will an electronic lock be put upon these missiles, and under whose control will it be?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

If the right hon. Gentleman believes that there is nothing technical about this, he has forgotten a great deal that he knew two months ago. [Interruption.] All right. I will agree to meet the right hon. Gentleman; I will give him these details. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The right hon. Gentleman is not getting me tonight to give details in the House that he would never give.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

We are not asking, and we would not ask, the right hon. Gentleman to give away any secrets.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

That is what the right hon. Gentleman is asking. He has no right to ask it.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I am not asking the right hon. Gentleman to give away secrets of any kind. What we want to know is whether any lock will be put on the submarines for the duration of the alliance.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend has explained already this afternoon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—that there will not be any system of locks which interferes with our right of communication with a submarine or our right to withdraw the submarine. [Interruption.] That is the answer that the right hon. Gentleman is getting. If he wants the details, the right hon. Gentleman is getting to a very high degree of irresponsibility, because he knows—[Interruption.]He is not the only one.

I should like now—[Interruption.] If some of those hon. Members opposite suffering from a state of postprandial euphoria will recognise that we are tonight debating a very serious issue about defence and if they do not want to listen and cannot take it, there is plenty of room in the Smoke Room for them.

I am now going to turn to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] There is one point about which I was not clear. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to say that the new arrangement for an allied nuclear force would not be credible, he said, because of the American veto. I may have misunderstood him and I do not want to misrepresent him, but I think that in a previous debate, on 23rd November, he said it was absolutely vital that this should be continued. Today I thought I heard him say—it was a little difficult—that if the multilateral force were created it would be free to loose off missiles without the American veto. If I misunderstood him I am very ready to give way.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

The right hon. Gentleman has not only misunderstood me but has misunderstood me in so important a matter that he must allow me to say, because I have always said it and have never deviated from it, that of course the Americans must have a veto in a force like this. It is quite clear. If other, if European, countries have a veto, the Americans must have it, too. But it does not make the force credible if there are nine fingers on the safety catch. That was the point I was making.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman stuck to the point he has held on the American veto. I am very glad he did, but the result of his argument, of course, is really that if we keep the American veto and our veto—I am sure that he insists on that equally—any multilateral force, A.N.F., or anything else, is not really meaningful for the countries of which he was speaking. I think that that is certainly the view of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. All right. We are making progress.

I want to turn now to the speeches of both right hon. Gentlemen about our influence in the world. After all, the vote tonight is really going to be about the one issue, their complaint, as they put it, that we are giving up the independent deterrent. I want to look at that. And first on the point about our influence in the world.

They say that it depends on our having independent nuclear power. On this argument, that if one is to have any influence in the world one must have independent nuclear power, how can one then prevent Germany, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Japan, India, Egypt, Israel from insisting on becoming nuclear Powers? Every one of them could—many within not years but within months could—become a nuclear Power. If hon. Gentlemen opposite have given up any hope of stopping proliferation, this is really a very gloomy situation for us to be facing. We have not. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman specifically whether he himself would advise India to become a nuclear Power in the light of the Chinese threat. And if India does, what about Pakistan? That is an attitude of direct incitement to proliferation.

Secondly, he talks about an independent foreign policy. I am going to leave on one side, tonight at any rate, the question of how far one can have in- dependence except on the basis of a strong economy on which one can be seen to be paying one's way. I want to come to this point that our influence depends—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware of the figures of trade throughout this year—and the hon. Gentleman was jolly lucky to get in a couple of months ago, too. In fact our influence depends, of course, partly on economic strength, which the right hon. Gentleman referred to this afternoon, but partly on whether we have any ideas to contribute in some of the international conferences. The reason why we are playing a rôle, and a key rôle, is because we have shown our willingness and ability to break the deadlock which has overlain the world community and the alliance for many years. The right hon. Gentleman thinks this so-called independent deterrent is a necessary ticket to all important international discussions. It does not matter about ideas. A bore with a bomb can get to the top tables and other places when no one without the so-called independent bomb has any hope of entering.

What are these negotiations about which the right hon. Gentleman is talking? Where are all these tables? Let us look at them. Our right in the matter of Berlin, Germany, and central problems of Europe derives from one plain fact. Not the bomb, but the fact that we won the war. We are there as of right, first as an occupying, and now as a protecting Power. This has nothing to do with bombs and, indeed, in this respect nothing to do with N.A.T.O.

The 1955 Summit was partly over Berlin, and partly over Indo-China. We held our position then, and we hold it now, as co-chairman of the post-1954 conference. We are there because we are co-chairman. Nothing to do with the bomb. The 1960 Summit, if it had happened, was related, or would have been, to Berlin and the wider questions of Germany, and indeed these talks with the Russians were made possible because of the encouragement which Mr. Macmillan had given on his Moscow visit to certain proposals for relaxation in Europe. Again, nothing to do with the bomb. Because of his visit to Europe, and because he raised certain hopes, these talks were to take place. Unfortunately they were dashed when he came back, and his ideas were vetoed by Dr. Adenauer and others.

I turn from that to the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the Committee of Eighteen. We are not there because of the bomb. A leading part is played by Sweden and India, who are non-nuclear Powers, and the same is true of debates on disarmament in the United Nations. It is true that sometimes a smaller group can go into a back room from these Geneva talks. That has happened this year, but every vital discussion in 1964, when it has taken place in a back room, has taken place on a bilateral basis between the United States and the Soviet Union and we have not been there. We have not been there, and I thought that we had a ticket to the back room.

Tickets to N.A.T.O. CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. do not require a nuclear bomb. Our central position in the Commonwealth, which I feel right hon. Gentlemen opposite never properly developed, certainly owes nothing to claims of independent nuclear status. It depends far more on our policy on issues like South African arms, and questions of race and colour, and the same is true about our influence in the United Nations. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Test Ban Treaty?"] I shall come to that, because I know something about it. Unlike right hon. and hon. Members opposite, I was in Moscow, and I know a bit about it.

I have always paid tribute to Harold Macmillan for his initiative in this matter, which I believe was endorsed by President Kennedy. I believe that Mr. Macmillan played a crucial part within the Western Alliance in creating the position in which the West was prepared to go to the conference table. I have said that before, and I say it again. The Leader of the Opposition signed the Treaty, but he did not negotiate it. When those talks were planned, the West had no other idea apart from getting agreement on a comprehensive ban, including underground tests, which we all wanted, and this, we are all agreed, was possible only if the Soviet Union would agree to permit a certain number of effective inspections. There had been talks about whether it should be seven or three or whatever it was. There had been misunderstandings between the United Sates and Soviet negotiators at a lower level.

When did the then Government first learn that the Russians were not prepared to accept any inspections? The right hon. Gentleman can check what I am saying. He can look at the telegrams again. They had no intimation of this before 11th June, 1963. On that date Mr. Khrushchev for the first time said that there was to be no inspection, and that was reported to the right hon. Gentleman from Moscow. Mr. Khrushchev further said that he was not prepared to contemplate the idea of a partial test ban which had been talked about for years, and which had been the subject of a vital resolution by the American Senate—the Humphrey-Dodd resolution.

Yet, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, by the end of that week Mr. Khrushchev was prepared to talk. I know that there will be titters from his hon. Friends, but I am prepared to challenge the right hon. Gentleman as to the basis of these telegrams. Mr. Khrushchev said on the Monday to my right hon. Friend and myself that he was not prepared to have inspections, that he was not prepared to have a partial test ban, yet by the end of the week he told us, without a Tory being in the room, that he was prepared to reopen his mind on this question. [Interruption.] I am prepared to submit the telegrams to the right hon. Gentleman's inspection.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Apparently we must accept that he has done everything in this field and that all the disarmament achievements are his.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No—I am just querying the right hon. Gentleman's spurious claim to a monopoly in these matters.

I come now to the main argument on which we shall be voting tonight. I hope that I have dismissed this tomfoolery about the right to a ticket to the top table. I come to the point of the whole argument of the right hon. Gentleman today—the argument that we heard so often in the election and before the election; this tedious repetition every time he made a speech. His argument is—and he said it again today—that we have and always will have an independent deterrent, and that we must not give it up. That was the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's speech just now. Let us look at it.

The V-bombers? Yes, certainly, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth for an independent rôle in the kind of war that hon. Members opposite have been talking about, with the Soviet Union. I do not think they will disagree with that. I mentioned yesterday that the Americans no longer regard their equivalent of the V-bomber even the most sophisticated American bomber—as having an independent strategic rôle. Their bombers are intended to go in after the missiles have done their deadly work. The position of the bombers was stated quite clearly by Mr. McNamara in his testimony to Congress last year. That has never been queried.

All our bombers are due to be phased out by 1968. My authority for that? The right hon. Gentleman himself, speaking from this Box, on 17th March. On that occasion my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) raised the question of President Johnson's proposal for a missile freeze and asked about Polaris. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had had assurances that President Johnson's proposed freeze did not cover the Polaris submarines. He said that it did not apply anyway, because there would be no addition to our nuclear striking power because, he said—and I quote— before the missiles and the Polaris submarines come in. the bombers will have fallen out."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c. 1180.] That was his phrase, and since the Polaris submarines are due to come in in 1968, the right hon. Gentleman, by that statement, was setting a final date for the end of our only British strategic weapon. It is the only genuinely British strategic weapon we have, or are likely to have, and he had set the date for the end of it. It is too late for him to get out of that now. He said it, and he did not contradict it.

He has always argued that after 1968 we shall have Polaris supplied on terms which require us to contribute it to N.A.T.O., or to a multilateral force under N.A.T.O., but with the right, under Clause 9, of withdrawing it at a time of supreme national emergency. It is on this withdrawal right that the whole Con- servative election argument and all the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, were based. It is on this that they have said, time and again, that any other policy would mean surrendering our foreign policy and the defences of this country to the Americans. The right hon. Gentleman said that in all his election broadcasts.

The argument that I could never follow is why, if we assume that the Americans may default on their most solemn obligations to N.A.T.O., they would in all circumstances carry out their obligations to supply Polaris. My view is that the Americans will honour all their obligations, both to N.A.T.O. and to us, in respect of Polaris. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is so selective about what the Americans will do. I suppose that right hon. Gentlemen would agree that from now to 1968 there is a certain risk about this; that we are not completely independent, and that we do not have an independent deterrent until the missiles arrive in 1968. Then, to judge from the mood of some of the right hon. Gentleman's election speeches—I believe that there was one in Dover—from then on, the grateful Tories, having accepted Polaris submarine missiles, could thumb their noses at America and proclaim our final declaration of independence. That was the sort of argument we had from him. But I wonder whether we are really sure about it. The right hon. Gentleman's argument about surrendering our freedom means, presumably, that we shall have to depend on the American nuclear umbrella. There may come a time when we lose our independence because the Americans are pressing us to do something which we do not want to do, but we have to accept because we depend on their nuclear umbrella. This is the argument which we have always heard from him.

Suppose that we have to depend on the Americans for assistance and supplies which go outside the contracts signed in respect of the Polaris, and suppose that we are dependent on them for our deterrent, and there comes this state of disagreement with the Americans which the right hon. Gentleman imagines. Suppose, further, that the Americans were to say—I am taking this on the same somewhat unlikely hypothesis which the right hon. Gentleman assumes about the Americans—"We will fully honour the contracts signed. We will supply everything that we undertook to supply for Polaris", but we find, in this hypothetical row with the Americans when our independence is in question, that, because of some technical deficiencies, we need something beyond the contracts, some important component or material. Will there not be a danger, on the Opposition's argument, that, even though the Americans fulfilled and stuck to the letter of the contracts which they had signed, they might feel free to withhold some essential component or material not covered in the contracts? Is there not a danger there?

The question is not hypothetical. I should like the Leader of the Opposition to tell the House whether he is now satisfied that Britain can, from its own resources, without long delays wrecking the whole programme, supply every essential component for the Polaris programme without dependence on the Americans.

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer our question?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I shall answer the question about Polaris and whether it is as independent as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I can tell him now—I am surprised that he does not know; perhaps he was too busy making speeches instead of getting the facts—what the answer is to the question which I have just put to him. I can give chapter and verse to both the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend about fundamental components which it was intended that we should manufacture but which were not covered in the contracts and for which we now have had to turn to the Americans for help.

What about the position after 1968? Why did not the right hon. Gentleman come clean about the warhead when he was at the Box? Is it a British warhead? Yes, it is. It has been possible to redesign the warhead to fit the missile. But has it been tested? It cannot be under the Test Ban Agreement. So the whole of the independent deterrent, the whole security and future of Britain, of which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have talked so much, is depen- dent on tests carried out by the Americans or dependent on an untested missile.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The Prime Minister has called in aid the argument of secrecy, purporting to describe a series of alleged deficiencies in this missile and our components. From my knowledge, his information to the House is false.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I now tell the right hon. Gentleman, as to the secrecy on the other point and on this, that he is free to come and to examine the information which we have. In respect of the warheads, I will ask the Leader of the Opposition—he is the one who makes all the speeches—one or two questions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The House needs to have this information. I know that it does not want to hear it, but it is going to get it. If hon. Members stop me saying it tonight we shall say it next week. They are going to get it sooner or later.

The question which I am asking is—

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Hirst Mr Geoffrey Hirst , Shipley

Answer the questions.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

This is what hon Members are all about to vote on. I want them to know what they are voting about.

The question is whether after 1968 we shall be in a position to supply all the fissile materials required to maintain the effectiveness of our warheads having regard to the half-life of these materials and so on. The Leader of the Opposition knows what I am talking about. I will not specify these materials. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am prepared to give them to the right hon. Gentleman. I will give him their numbers in the atomic table. I will tell him anything that he wants to know.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Is not the Prime Minister going to buy these "rotten" submarines and put them into his force as a credible deterrent?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

What I am saying to the Leader of the Opposition is that this programme would work only on an inter-dependent basis and not on an independent basis. He is not going to wriggle out of this one. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The fact is that there is no independent deterrent because we are dependent on the Americans for the fissile material for the British warheads. That is what I am telling him. This is true and he knows it.

Finally, we want to know what sort of war they were going to have the deterrent for. Obviously not some nuclear Suez. We acquit them of that. Obviously not as a contribution to a trigger mechanism to bring the American bomb into action when the American Government did not want to do it. The argument which we have had is that one day we may get some lunatic American President who, when the crunch came was prepared to retire to Fortress America and to leave Europe to its fate. We have now answered that point, because we have made it clear that this is committed to N.A.T.O. as long as the alliance lasts. So I put to the Leader of the Opposition—what are they voting about tonight? It is not a nuclear Suez. It is not the trigger for the American strategic deterrent.

We are left with one possibility—that the Leader of the Opposition is talking about embarking on a go-it-alone war with the Soviet Union when the rest of the alliance does not wish to do so. Is that it? Our credibility depends on this—it depends on the credibility of the Government. I want the Leader of the Opposition to tell us, as a former Prime Minister, as the head of the alternative Government, knowing that a go-it-alone war would mean a certain amount of posthumous revenge against the Soviet Union and total annihilation of all human life in Britain, whether he would be prepared to press that button in that kind of war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] If he is not prepared to answer that question—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer, answer."]— Hon. Members cannot take it—this has proved that their argument is a charade.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes, 291, Noes 311.

Division No. 43.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Agnew, Commander Sir PeterCampbell, GordonFarr, John
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Carlisle, MarkFell, Anthony
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertFisher, Nigel
Allason, JamesCary, Sir RobertFletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianChannon, H. P. G.Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.Chataway, ChristopherForrest, George
Astor, JohnChichester-Clark, R.Foster, Sir John
Atkins, HumphreyClark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)
Awdry, DanielClark, William (Nottingham, S.)Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
Baker, W. H. K.Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.
Balniel, LordCole, NormanGammans, Lady
Barlow, Sir JohnCooke, RobertGardner, Edward
Batsford, BrianCooper, A. E.Gibson-Watt, David
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonCooper-Key, Sir NeillGilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)
Bell, RonaldCordle, JohnGilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)Corfield, F. V.Glover, Sir Douglas
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)Costain, A. P.Glyn, Sir Richard
Berkeley, HumphryCourtney, Cdr. AnthonyGodber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Berry, Hn. AnthonyCraddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Goodhart, Philip
Biffen, JohnCrawley, AidanGoodhew, Victor
Biggs-Davison, JohnCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverGower, Raymond
Bingham, R. M.Crowder, F. P.Grant, Anthony
Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelCunningham, Sir KnoxGrant-Ferris, R.
Black, Sir CyrilCurran, CharlesGresham -Cooke, R.
Blaker, PeterCurrie, G. B. H.Gr[...]eve, Percy
Bossom, Hn. CliveDalkeith, Earl ofGriffiths Eldon (Bury St. Edmund.)
Box, DonaldDance, JamesGriffiths, Peter (Smethwick)
Boyle Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardDavies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)Gurden, Harold
Braine, Bernardd'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHall, John (Wycombe)
Brewis, JohnDean, PaulHall-Davis, A. G. F.
Brinton, Sir TattonDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir WalterDigby, Simon WingfieldHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)
Brooke, Rt. Hn. HenryDodds-Parker, DouglasHarris, Reader (Heston)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Doughty, CharlesHarrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir AlecHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Bryan, PaulDrayson, G. B.Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)
Buchanan-Smith, Alickdu Cann Rt. Hn. EdwardHarvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Buck, AntonyEden, Sir JohnHarvie Anderson, Miss
Bullus, Sir EricElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Hastings, Stephen
Burden, F. A.Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Hawkins, Paul
Butcher, Sir HerbertEmery, PeterHay, John
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Errington, Sir EricHeald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel
Heath, Rt. Hn. EdwardMathew, RobertSandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Hendry, ForbesMaude, AngusScott-Hopkins, James
Higgins, Terence L.Maudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldSharples, Richard
Hiley, JosephMawby, RayShepherd, William
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Sinclair, Sir George
Hirst, GeoffreyMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir JohnMeyer, Sir AnthonySmyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John
Hogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinMills, Peter (Torrington)Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher
Hopkins, AlanMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Spearman, Sir Alexander
Hordern, PeterMiscampbell, NormanSpeir, Sir Rupert
Hornby, RichardMitchell, DavidStainton, Keith
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.Monro, HectorStanley, Hn. Richard
Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)More JasperStodart, J. A.
Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)Morgan, W. G.Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Hunt, John (Bromley)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Summers Sir Spencer
Hutchison, Michael ClarkMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesTalbot, John E.
Iremonger, T. L.Murton, OscarTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Neave, AireyTaylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Nicholls, Sir HarmarTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Jennings, J. C.Nicholson, Sir GodfreyTemple, John M.
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Noble, Rt. Hn. MichaelThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Jopling, MichaelNugent, Rt. Hn. Sir RichardThomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithOnslow, CranleyThomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)
Kaberry, Sir DonaldOrr, Capt. L. P. S.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Kerby, Capt. HenryOrr-Ewing, Sir IanTiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)Osborn, John (Hallam)Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Kershaw, AnthonyOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Kilfedder, James A.Page, John (Harrow, W.)Tweedsmuir, Lady
Kimball, MarcusPage, R. Graham (Crosby)van Straubenzee, W. R.
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Kitson, TimothyPeel, JohnVickers, Dame Joan
Lagden, GodfreyPercival, IanWalder, David (High Peak)
Lambton, ViscountPeyton, JohnWalker, Peter (Worcester)
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir KennethWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Langford-Holt, Sir JohnPike, Miss MervynWall, Patrick
Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryPitt, Dame EdithWalters, Dennis
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Pounder, RaftonWard, Dame Irene
Litchfield, Capt. JohnPowell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochWeatherill, Bernard
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)Price, David (Eastleigh)Webster, David
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Prior, J. M. L.Wells, John (Maidstone)
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)Pym, FrancisWhitelaw, William
Longbottom, CharlesQuennell, Miss J. M.Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Longden, GilbertRamsden, Rt. Hn. JamesWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Loveys, Walter H.Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lucas, Sir JocelynRedmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir MartinWise, A. R.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughRees-Davies, W. R.Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
McAdden, Sir StephenRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Maclean, Sir FitzroyRidley Hn. NicholasWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Macleod, Rt. Hn. IainRidsdale, JulianWoodnutt, Mark
McMaster, StanleyRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)Wylie, N. R.
McNair-Wilson, PatrickRobson Brown, Sir WilliamYates, William (The Wrekin)
Maginnis, John E.Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)Younger, Hn. George
Maitland, Sir JohnRoots, William
Marlowe, AnthonyRoyle, AnthonyTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Marples, Rt. Hn. ErnestRussell, Sir RonaldMr. MacArthur and Mr. McLaren.
Marten, NeilSt. John-Stevas, Norman
NOES
Abse, LeoBowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)Cullen, Mrs. Alice
Albu, AustenBoyden, JamesDalyell, Tam
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Darling, George
Alldritt, W. H.Bradley, TomDavies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Bray, Dr. JeremyDavies, Harold (Leek)
Armstrong, ErnestBroughton, Dr. A. D. D.Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Atkinson, NormanBrown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Bacon, Miss AliceBrown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)Delargy, Hugh
Barnett, JoelButler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Dell, Edmund
Baxter, WilliamButler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Dempsey, James
Beaney, AlanCallaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesDiamond, John
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.Carmichael, NeilDodds, Norman
Bence, CyrilCarter-Jones, LewisDoig, Peter
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodCastle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraDonnelly, Desmond
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Chapman, DonaldDriberg, Tom
Bessell, PeterColeman, DonaldDuffy, Dr. A. E. P.
Binns, JohnConlan, BernardDunnett, Jack
Bishop, E. S.Corbet, Mrs. FredaEdelman, Maurice
Blackburn, F.Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Edward, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)
Blenkinsop, ArthurCrawshaw, RichardEdwards, Robert (Bilston)
Boardman, H.Cronin, JohnEnglish, Michael
Boston, T. G.Crosland, AnthonyEnnals, David
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurCrossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.Ensor, David
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Leadbitter, TedReynolds, G. W.
Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)Ledger, RonRhodes, Geoffrey
Fernyhough, E.Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)Richard, Ivor
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Floud, BernardLipton, MarcusRose, Paul B.
Foley, MauriceLomas, KennethRoss, Rt. Hn. William
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)Loughlin, CharlesRowland, Christopher
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Lubbock, EricSheldon, Robert
Ford, BenMabon, Dr. J. DicksonShinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)McBride, NeilShore, Peter (Stepney)
Freeson, ReginaldMcCann, J.Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N' c' tle-on-Tyne, C.)
Galpern, Sir MyerMacColl, JamesShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Garrett, W. E.MacDermot, NiallSilkin, John (Deptford)
Carrow, A.McCuire, MichaelSilkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
George, Lady Megan LloydMcInnes, JamesSilverman, Julius (Aston)
Ginsburg, DavidMcKay, Mrs. MargaretSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Gourlay, HarryMackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)Skeffington, Arthur
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. AnthonyMacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke N.)
Gregory, ArnoldMackie, John (Enfield, E.)Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Grey, CharlesMcLeavy, FrankSmall, William
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)MacMillan, MalcolmSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)MacPherson, MalcolmSnow Julian
Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Solomons, Henry
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.Mahon, Simon (Bootle)Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Spriggs, Leslie
Hale, LeslieManuel, ArchieSteele, Thomas
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Mapp, CharlesStewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hamilton, William (West Fife)Marsh, RichardStonehouse, John
Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)Mason, RoyStones, William
Hannan, WilliamMaxwell, RobertStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Harper, JosephMayhew, ChristopherStross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Mellish, RobertSummerskill, Dr. Shirley
Hart, Mrs. JudithMendelson, J. J.Swain, Thomas
Hattersley, RayMikardo,IanSwingler, Stephen
Hayman, F. H.Millan, BruceSymonds, J. B.
Hazell, BertMiller, Dr. M. S.Taverne, Dick
Healey, Rt. Hn. DenisMilne, Edward (Blyth)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Heffer, Eric S.Molloy, WilliamThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. ArthurMonslow, WalterThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Herbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Hill, J. (Midlothian)Morris, Charles (Openshaw)Thornton, Ernest
Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)Morris, John (Aberavon)Thorpe, Jeremy
Holman, PercyMurray, AlbertTinn, James
Hooson, H. E.Neal, HaroldTomney, Frank
Horner, JohnNewens, StanTuck, Raphael
Houghton, Rt. Hn. DouglasNoel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)Urwin, T. W.
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)Varley, Eric G.
Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)Norwood, ChristopherWainwright, Edwin
Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Oakes, GordonWalden, Brian (All Saints)
Howie, W.Ogden, EricWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hoy, JamesO'Malley, BrianWallace, George
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.)Warbey, William
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Orbach, MauriceWatkins, Tudor
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Orme, StanleyWeitzman, David
Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)Oswald, ThomasWells, John (Maidstone)
Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)Owen, WillWhite, Mrs. Eirene
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Padley, WalterWhitlock, William
Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Page, Derek (King's Lynn)Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Paget, R. T.Wilkins, W. A.
Jackson, ColinPalmer, ArthurWilley Rt. Hn. Frederick
Janner, Sir BarnettPannell Rt. Hn. CharlesWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPargiter, G. A.Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Jeger, George (Goole)Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)Parkin, B. T.Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Pavitt, LaurenceWillis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Peart, Rt. Hn. FredWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Pentland, NormanWinterbottom, R. E.
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Perry, Ernest G.Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Popplewell, ErnestWoof, Robert
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Prentice, R. E.Wyatt, Woodrow
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Probert, ArthurYates, Victor (Ladywood)
Kelley, RichardPursey, Cmdr. HarryZilliacus, K.
Kenyon, CliffordRandall, Harry
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)Rankin, JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)Redhead, EdwardMr. Sydney Irving and
Lawson, GeorgeRees, MerlynMr. George Rogers.