asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence what arrangements he has agreed to for the command of the Turkish and Greek land, sea and air forces in connection with the entry of those two countries into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for the defence of the Western Mediterranean.
The ground and air forces of Turkey and Greece assigned to N.A.T.O. will operate under the overall command of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, through Admiral Carney, the Commander - in - Chief, Southern Europe. The details of the command arrangements are now under consideration in S.H.A.P.E.Turkish and Greek naval forces will remain for the present under their national Chiefs of Staff, pending a solution of the Mediterranean Command problem, which is still under discussion by the Standing Group of N.A.T.O. Meanwhile Turkish and Greek naval Forces are working in close co-operation with the naval Forces of other N.A.T.O. Powers in the Mediterranean.
Is there not a possibility that the Turkish and Greek Forces may come under the command of an Italian Admiral and would not that be a rather unwise procedure?
I do not think that will happen. I would rather not comment further because the matter is under international negotiation.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary apprecate that some hon. Members will take offence if the whole of the Mediterranean naval command is transferred to naval officers other than those who represent the United Kingdom? Could I have an answer to that?
The right hon. Gentleman is an authority on offence.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary appreciate that I put a perfectly reasonable question, which emerged out of the debates we have had in this House? Moreover, does he understand that the question of transferring the whole of the Mediterranean naval command, including Turkish and Greek naval Forces, to the United States naval chiefs has been canvassed, and that that is precisely what I am anxious to avoid?
The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the matter is under negotiation.
Is it appropriate, Mr. Speaker, for the Parliamentary Secretary, when a Member puts a Question, to cast a slur on the Member by speaking of him as being offensive?
I did not hear that said.
Is it not perfectly clear that my hon. Friend said "defence" and not "offence"?
Is it not the case that the Parliamentary Secretary got up to withdraw and was told by his boss to sit down again?
For my part, I did not hear the word "offensive" used. I thought some reference was made to defence, but I could not hear it properly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ask the hon. Member what he said."] In the circumstances I think I had better ask the hon. Member what he did say.
I did use the word "offence" and I certainly withdraw it.