Military Expenditure (Asia)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 12th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the results of his consultations with Australia and New Zealand concerning proposed reductions in the United Kingdom's military expenditure in that part of the world.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has had with the Government of Australia and New Zealand about the forthcoming reductions in the United Kingdom military expenditure in Asia.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

I have had no further consultations on the level of our forces in the Far East since the 1966 Defence Review was published.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Can my right hon. Friend say why he is not continuing discussions with Australia and New Zealand, in view of the declared intention of the Government to reduce these commitments as soon as they can? Is it not the case—it was certainly understood by hon. Members on this side of the House—that these talks were continuing on that specific basis?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

My discussions with the Australian Government in January last year covered all the contingencies to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since January of last year certain things have happened, most notably that the official policy of the Labour Party in this country has changed in favour of decisive cuts east of Suez? Will not my right hon. Friend open consultations now with the Governments of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with a view to implementing that change of policy by 1970?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

I must explain to my hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government's policy is determined by decisions taken in the Cabinet and not by decisions taken elsewhere, although we take all relevant factors into account. I can assure my hon. Friend that if there were any question of a change in the basis on which we consulted Australia and other allied Governments last year we should certainly wish to consult them about it.

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that Australia takes cognisance of statements made at Labour Party conferences, and will he make it clear to the Australian Government that Her Majesty's Government rule this country?

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

The Australian Government are in no doubt that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is decided by Her Majesty's Government and not by other bodies, including Her Majesty's Opposition.