House Of Commons
Monday, 7th March. 1960
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Oral Answers To Questions
Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, now that the investigations of the Franco-British group into the practical and economic possibilities of a tunnel under the Channel have been carried out, if he will approach the French Government with a view to facilitating its construction.
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The International Group who have commissioned the studies of the Tunnel project have not yet transmitted their report to Her Majesty's Government. We shall have to study it before taking any action.
Assuming that this report is favourable, both as to the engineering possibilities and as to the economic prospects, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure the House that any action taken by the Government will at least help and not hinder this great project for peace?
Certainly, I can assure the hon. and learned Member that we shall study the report carefully and bear in mind the point which he has made.
Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Will the Foreign Secretary assure us that we shall not have the objections on defence grounds which have always been put forward since the 1880's?
That is certainly a consideration which is present to our minds.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent Her Majesty's Government still adhere to the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter; and, in particular, how far they still support Article 3 which enjoins respect for the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Her Majesty's Government adhere to the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter, including Article 3.
Do the Government regard the principle set out in Article 3 as being of universal validity? If they do, is there any reason why it should not apply in Nyasaland, the Rhodesias, South-West Africa and the Union of South Africa?
It is not for me to answer about those territories, but the hon. and learned Member will recollect that this principle was more precisely defined in the Charter of the United Nations, in particular, in Articles 73 and 76. We abide by those articles.
Did not the Prime Minister on 17th July, 1958, proclaim in the House, in justification for the Jordan policy, the right to intervene on behalf of any Government which asked Her Majesty's Government to help them out against their own subjects, and is not that a violation of this article?
I think that is getting some way away from the Question on the Order Paper. If the hon. Member will again study the provisions of the Charter dealing with non-self-governing territories, he will see that we certainly abide by what is said there.
World Refugee Year
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is yet able to say whether Her Majesty's Government will increase its contribution to the World Refugee Year Appeal, in view of the response of the general public, as exemplified by the information supplied by the Mayor of the Borough of Willesden and sent to him by the hon. Member for Willesden, West.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if Her Majesty's Government have yet decided to make a further contribution to the United Kingdom Appeal for World Refugee Year.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I warmly welcome the magnificent response of the public to the World Refugee Year and have noted the success of the appeal in many districts, including Willesden. The year ends on 31st May. These facts will be taken into account in deciding, towards the end of the period, whether or not a further contribution should be made by the Government.
While thanking the Secretary of State for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that if the present rate of public support continues it will make the Government's rate of contribution look rather niggardly? Will he tell me how much of the money has been given and when the remainder is likely to be given?
I should want notice of the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question. Answering the first part, whether we subscribe as individuals or as taxpayers, it all comes out of the national wealth.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that hon. Members are receiving many communications from all over the country and that considerable pressure is being applied in this respect? Is he aware that so far we have not had a negative reply to the Questions which have been asked on this subject? May I ask that in the near future we shall be given a positive and agreeable reply to the representations which have been made?
I am glad that the hon. Member has noted that there has not been a negative reply, because that is indeed the case. We have warmly supported this great effort from the very beginning, and it has had a magnificent response. We hope that it will double its target. Whether one subscribes voluntarily as an individual or compulsorily as a taxpayer is a matter to be taken into consideration. We will, however, look again at the question of a further Government contribution towards the end of the year.
Victims Of Nazism (Compensation)
5 and 6.
Sir L. Plummer
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Federal German Government, in the course of his current discussions concerning victims of Nazi persecution, as a result of their declaration that their proposed fund for compensating otherwise ineligible victims is to be a hardship fund;(2) what reply he has received to representations he has made to the Federal German Government as a result of their decision that stateless victims of Nazi persecution, rightly or wrongly suspected of sabotage in occupied countries, are to be ineligible for compensation from their proposed fund for otherwise ineligible victims.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what conclusions have now been reached in the negotiations concerning compensation for the victims of Nazi persecution; and what proposals have been made for the setting up of a fund by the German Federal Government.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
As far as British subjects who were victims of Nazism are concerned, I am afraid I cannot yet add to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) on 10th February.With regard to compensation for stateless and other ineligible victims, I understand that the Federal Government are at present examining various proposals in this connection and are hoping shortly to come to a decision.
Sir L. Plummer
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that decent opinion is shocked by the subterfuges of the Federal German Government in making it as difficult as possible for the victims to get proper compensation? In his conversations with the German Government, will he make it clear that we are not asking that allowances should be made on the basis of hardship, but that justice should be done to these people?
I do not accept what the hon. Member says about subterfuges. On previous occasions when I have answered him, I have said that I thought that ethical rather than legal considerations should prevail, and I have hopes that the matter will be regarded in that light.
Since the victims of Nazi persecution are the responsibility of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that if such a fund is set up it would be better to have it placed under the responsibility of the High Commissioner for Refugees rather than under the responsibility of the Federal Government? Will he put forward that view in his further discussions on this matter?
That is a matter which I should like to consider. I could give a more precise answer to the question if I had more notice of it.
Mr. Elwyn Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, for a period of twelve months, he will arrange for the original captured German documents, jointly owned by the United States and British Governments and presently kept in Washington, to be transferred to London and made available for study by English and European scholars, historians and research workers.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I understand from the Foreign Secretary's answer to an earlier Question that a sorting-out process is now taking place and that some of these documents are being retained for security reasons and the rest returned to Germany. Is it not desirable that before that return takes place British scholars and others should have an opportunity of examining these documents in view of present conditions in Germany, since the consequence of their return to Germany may merely be that they are conveniently pulped?
I do not accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's insinuation about the effect of their return to Germany, or what he indicated about conditions in Germany at present. What is happening is that the work of sorting out these documents is going on. About 15,000 cubic feet of documents still remain to be dealt with, about 9,000 cubic feet having been dealt with and returned. Microfilms are made of all the documents before they are returned. The precise purpose of this is to ensure that the material contained in them shall be available for suitable use.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements Her Majesty's Government have made with the United States Government for the original captured German documents to be available for responsible research to those wishing to examine them.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
There are various collections of these documents. The collections in this country and in Washington are under joint British and United States control; and there is also the Berlin Documents Centre, which is under United States control. In so far as a general answer can be given about facilities for research, applications by qualified research workers are considered on their merits, in cases where access for this purpose is not already unrestricted.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman use his good offices, if he possibly can, to see to it that the Berlin Documents Centre, which contains official documents from Nazi official files, should be open to responsible people who want to examine the documents, in the interests of removing Nazi influence and ensuring that those who were responsible for Nazi crimes shall be properly brought to justice?
The Documents Centre is under United States control, and the United States authorities, as I told the House on 10th February, have stated that they will not provide information from the documents except in answer to requests made through official channels. It is for Her Majesty's Government to decide what applications they will sponsor from British subjects for access to such documents. That is where we stand in the matter.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the United States proposal for a plebiscite to settle the future of Germany, he will propose consultations with the United States Administration about the joint policy of the principal Allies in the war in deciding on the terms of the peace treaty and the framework of collective security and disarmament within which the unification of Germany is to take place.
Consultations on these matters are already taking place.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be good enough to refer to what he told the House on previous occasions, that Her Majesty's Government agree with the proposition that the reunification of Germany can take place only within a framework agreed and guaranteed by the Powers?
I am not sure that that is the Question on the Order Paper. If the hon. Gentleman will put it down, I will endeavour to answer it.
Mr. A. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Her Majesty's Government agreed, in the revised 1954 Brussels Treaty, to the prohibition on the manufacture of atomic, biological and chemical weapons by the Federal Government of Germany being limited to German territory.
The prohibition to which the right hon. and learned Member refers was, in fact, a voluntary undertaking. It is true that it only refers specifically to the territory of the Federal Republic. There was no question then (nor is there now) of a German Government wanting to manufacture these weapons outside Germany.
Was not the British public led to understand at the time that the Federal Government of West Germany—voluntarily, as the right hon. Gentleman said, but absolutely— gave up its right to manufacture nuclear weapons? Is it intended to amend the Brussels Treaty so as to extend the prohibition to territories outside German territory?
I think the right hon. Gentleman must be satisfied with my answer. There was no question then and there is no question now of the German Government manufacturing these things either on German territory or outside.
Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that there is a report that German soldiers are to be based on and to do certain exercises in this country? Is he aware that our germ factory at Porton is under the control of the War Office? Will he give an assurance that none of these German soldiers will be studying germ warfare in this country?
I cannot always follow the supplementaries of the hon. Member. Is this an invitation to an exercise in Ayrshire?
In view of that contemptible answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.
Berlin Air Corridors (High Altitude Flying)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what official discussions he has had with the Governments of the United States of America and France regarding the height at which Western aircraft should fly to Berlin.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if agreement has yet been reached with other Allied Governments about high-altitude flying into Berlin; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I have had discussions with the United States and French Governments and I am aware of the reports which have appeared in the Press. As I said in the House on 20th April last year, Her Majesty's Government hold the view that Allied aircraft have the right to fly into Berlin along the air corridors at any altitude. The modern aircraft coming into service everywhere have higher operational altitudes than do the aircraft which have been in use hitherto. The question at issue is primarily a practical one, not a political one. I hope that it will so be regarded by all affected.
Can the Foreign Secretary assure us that he is now taking the same position as he took at the time when he answered the Question to which he now refers, namely, that while maintaining our right to fly at any height over Berlin, it would still be desirable for the Western Powers to avoid any provocative physical assertion of that right until the Summit Conference?
I think it would be desirable for both sides to avoid any physical assertion of any rights. I think it a technical problem and hope it can be dealt with in the spirit of commonsense as a technical problem.
Can the Foreign Secretary say whether or not there is an intention to fly now at over 10,000 feet? I sympathise with the view that if it can be postponed until after the Summit Conference it should be.
This has all arisen out of some leak somewhere. I hope it will be dealt with as a technical matter to be discussed between the air safety control authorities on both sides.
International Red Cross (Draft Rules)
Mr. Elwyn Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why no official reply, other than an acknowledgement, has been sent to the memorandum of the International Committee of the Red Cross, received in May 1958, asking for Her Majesty's Government's views on the Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers incurred by the Civilian Population in Times of War, designed to restrict the use of nuclear weapons, in view of the fact that the preparation and furtherance of the Draft Rules received the approval of the Government during the 19th International Red Cross Conference held at New Delhi in October 1957.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
These Rules were transmitted for consideration, and we are considering them. As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, we believe that the banning of the use of nuclear weapons should be discussed in the context of general disarmament.
As two years have elapsed since a Government representative supported these Rules in the International Red Cross Conference, is it not at the very least discourteous not to have given an answer to the memorandum in the meantime? Is the trouble due to the fact that the adoption of the proposed Article 14 would, in conditions of a European conflict, be tantamount to the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, because of the inevitable injury to civilians that the use of such weapons would cause?
The point made in the second part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question is precisely the purport of the second part of my original Answer. As for the first part of his question, as was pointed out at the time, there are many complicated legal matters to be examined. These Rules were sent to Governments in draft, not necessarily with the idea of getting a reply but for consideration. If the hon. and learned Member will read again the speech made by the United Kingdom representative at the time, he will see the accuracy of what I am saying.
Middle East (Tripartite Agreement)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what recent consultations he has had with the United States and French Governments regarding the implimentation of the Tripartite Agreement.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
None, Sir. I have nothing to add to what I told the House on 17th February.
In view of the doubt about the interpretation of this agreement now, will the Foreign Secretary, if and when a suitable moment arises, consider making some proposals for a new agreement to guarantee peace in the Middle East?
That is a very wide proposition to deal with by way of an answer to a supplementary question. The realities of the present position are that, by reason of the United Nations' responsibilities and the part that the Secretary-General has been playing, we feel that the forum of the United Nations is the correct one in which consultation should take place at present.
In view of the fact that the Jordan Government have recently declared that they will fight on the side of the United Arab Republic if that Republic becomes involved in war with Israel in regard to the frontier problem east of Galilee, can the Foreign Secretary say whether the Government recognise any obligations for British intervention in such a situation?
The hon. Member knows that the more I say publicly about the Tripartite Declaration and any possible action under it the more difficulty it makes in the Middle East, and the more our statements and actions are open to suspicion. It is of no benefit to the interests of stability in the area to explore this matter further. I have stated our position previously, and I have repeated it to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I would ask him to leave the matter where it is.
I was not relating this question directly to the Tripartite Agreement, but it is a matter of importance not only to this country but to the peace of the world that the British Government should state whether or not they recognise any obligation to intervene in case of war in the Middle East.
I have stated on a previous occasion what I regard as our obligations. I have stated them both in terms of this Declaration and with regard to the Charter of the United Nations. That remains our position.
Has not the Foreign Secretary observed that Colonel Nasser has recently denied the validity of the Tripartite Agreement and said that it is merely an aspect of imperialism which he rejects in its entirety?
Certainly he has said that. He made a speech which was provoked by a statement made in this House in answer to Questions asked. We have stated our position, and we had much better leave it as we have stated it.
Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Since the interpretation of the Tripartite Agreement given by the Foreign Secretary is not in accord with its plain meaning, or with the interpretation given by the United States, would it not be far better to have further consultations?
I find it very difficult to please the Opposition in this matter. It was suggested by one hon. Member that because of what Colonel Nasser has said the Agreement has no effect, and by another that because of what I said we should have further consultations. It would be better to leave the matter exactly as I stated it the last time I was questioned.
Western European Union (Nuclear Weapons)
Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state the outcome of the Western European Union meeting concerning the possession and joint control of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The Assembly of Western European Union, which met from 30th November to 3rd December, adopted a Recommendation a part of which proposed the establishment of a joint European Strategic Nuclear Force.
Although the stated aim was to avoid the spread of nuclear weapons to further countries, such as Western Germany, does not the Foreign Minister think that the probable result will be the exact opposite?
The hon. Member ought to argue that matter out with certain of his colleagues, such as the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), the hon. Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Randall) and the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) who voted in favour of the Resolution.
United Nations (Israel And United Arab Republic)
Mr. A. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct his representative at the United Nations Organisation to propose that the Security Council should consider the present situation on the Israel-United Arab Republic borders and the continued refusal of the Government of Egypt to allow Israeli ships and cargoes to pass through the Suez Canal.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the nature of the current action being taken by Her Majesty's Government within the United Nations to ensure for the ships of all nations the application of the right of free transit through the Suez Canal.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
In the last few days tension on the Israel-United Arab Republic borders seems to have diminished in spite of the incidents to which there has been reference today. In the circumstances, the action suggested by the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not seem to be necessary. As regards Suez Canal transit, this is still being handled by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Is it not time Chat the Security Council took some positive action to ensure that the Government of Egypt observe the provisions of the 1951 Resolution? Would it not be possible for United Nations observers to be placed on Israeli ships seeking to pass through the Suez Canal? Further, has not the time come for contingents of the United Nations Emergency Force to patrol the borders between Israel and the United Arab Republic?
The difficulty about what the right hon. and learned Member refers to as positive action by the United Nations is one of enforcement. One has to proceed in this matter by a process of consultation with all the people principally concerned, using the very great influence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in this matter. At present, I do not think that a meeting of the Security Council, to which the Question refers, would advance the causes which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman also take into consideration the fact that the granting of moneys by the World Bank to a country which refuses absolutely to allow the Canal to be used for international purposes is entirely wrong and that some steps should be taken to prevent that money being utilised for the purpose of stopping international shipping from going through the Canal? Why cannot the Foreign Secretary do something in that direction in order to prevent instead of encouraging an abuse of the Canal facilities so far as international matters are concerned?
I do not want to relate an answer to a supplementary question to the events of some time ago. All I would say on the specific point of a loan by the International Bank is that I think the hon. Gentleman should reflect carefully on the wisdom or unwisdom of attaching political conditions to such a loan. I think that is a wider issue which I suggest the hon. Member should carefully consider.
Mr. A. Henderson
Will the Foreign Secretary do me the courtesy of saying whether he will consider the suggestion contained in my supplementary question, that United Nations observers might well be put on Israeli ships, and that the situation is such that United Nations observers should be put on the borders of Israel and the United Arab Republic? Will he consider that?
I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will absolve me from any desire to be discourteous. I will consider carefully any suggestions which he may put forward.
Egypt (Sequestrated Property)
Mr. W. Yates
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many sequestrated properties have now been returned to their owners under the terms of the Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement; how many properties are still in the hands of the Sequestrator General; and if he will make a statement.
As my answer is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
In view of previous statements, and in advance of any opportunity of seeing the reply, may I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will bear in mind the undertaking of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if sufficient funds are not available to pay British business men who have lost their property, the Foreign Secretary will bring the matter before the House?
Certainly we shall bear in mind previous statements which have been made.
Following is the answer:
According to the latest figures supplied by the Sequestrator General to the British Diplomatic Mission in Cairo, the position was that, by the end of February, 4,716 applications for desequestration had been submitted, 2,655 had been accepted; release agreements had been signed, or were ready for signature, in 1,526 cases (1,346 individuals and 180 companies); while 253 of the remainder were cases where the applications submitted had been found to be incomplete or insufficiently documented, or where further information was required from the claimants. The normal interval between the signature of a release agreement and the actual return of the property to its owner or his representative is between three days and six weeks according to the complexity of the case. But unfortunately it has not been possible to obtain detailed or reliable figures regarding the number of properties actually returned.
Holy City Of Jerusalem
Mr. W. Yates
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when, and on what occasion, he last requested Her Majesty's Government's representative at the United Nations to draw attention to the fact that the United Nations resolution calling for international status for the Holy City of Jerusalem has not been implemented.
I have not instructed our representative at the United Nations to raise this.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that it is all very well to ask our representatives to raise matters concerning the Suez Canal and Israeli shipping passing through it, but that Israel has been condemned by the mixed Armistice Commission over the recent incidents in Syria and also branded as an aggressor? Would he, therefore, consider carefully asking Israel to honour one or two of her obligations under the United Nations Charter?
That goes very wide of the Question of the Order Paper, which deals with the international status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The United Kingdom voted against that Resolution —I think it was on 9th December, 1949 —because we said we could not vote for any solution which was not acceptable both to Israel and Jordan. That remains our position.
I find the replies given by the Foreign Secretary about the Resolution of the United Nations concerning Israel and the Arab States to be unsatisfactory and beg leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on Cyprus.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the progress of the Cyprus negotiations.
The discussions in Cyprus, in which my hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies is taking part, are continuing.
Can the Foreign Secretary tell the House why he is not prepared to make a declaration on the Cypriot administration of base areas which will be legally irrevocable, and why he will not agree that the bases should revert to the Cyprus Republic in the case of Britain having no further use for them? Would he agree that the position taken by the Government on these issues seems to be based entirely on considerations of national prestige and is actually damaging to national interests?
I have tried to suggest to the the hon. Gentleman that it does not further the success of the negotiations when the Opposition constantly take a view inimical to that of the Government— [Laughter.]—it does not; it delays the results. The discussions are proceeding and a measure of progress has been made. The last time I referred to some part of their content I was rebuked for revealing confidential discussions and, having received that rebuke from the hon. Member, I have no intention of saying more than I have said, which is that discussions are continuing and some progress is being made.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, judging from the supplementary questions from hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would appear that there are sources of information open to the Opposition which, are not open to back bench Members on this side of the House? Will my right hon. and learned Friend arrange to make an equal division of the intelligence regarding confidential negotiations now going on so that we on this side of the House may ask intelligent supplementary questions as well as hon. Members opposite?
There was an important inference in my hon. Friend's supplementary question about intelligent supplementary questions from hon. Members opposite, but I do not control all the sources of information.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Exercise)
Mr. R. Edwards
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has received regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's recent exercise, Big Deal, by the Portuguese and United States air forces on 9th and 10th February, for the defence of the Iberian peninsula.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
That was not a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise.
The information is that there was an important exercise for the defence of Western Europe outside the control of N.A.T.O. in which forces of the Portuguese, American and Spanish Armies participated. Is not it an important matter for this Parliament that the defence of the West is supported by Fascist forces which do not accept de- mocratic principles? Does this mean that West Europe is now expendable up to the Spanish Pyrenees?
I do not think that any of the inferences drawn by the hon. Member are correct.
Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will consider supporting at the ten-nation disarmament commission the new proposals of the Canadian Government for the ending of nuclear tests.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The Canadian Government's opposition to further nuclear tests is well known to Her Majesty's Government but we have no knowledge of any new Canadian proposals in the sense implied in the Question.
I was referring to those made by the Prime Minister of Canada two or three weeks ago. In view of the 18 months' deadlock at Geneva and the innumerable series of evasions and objections both by East and West, does not the Foreign Secretary think that these new Canadian proposals, to stop all nuclear tests without becoming involved in a long series of qualifications, are sensible?
I do not think the hon. Gentleman has got the point of view of the Canadian Government correctly In a statement I have read, the Minister of External Affairs said control was an important part and that stopping tests is important. That is exactly our position. We wish to have tests stopped, but we wish to have proper control. I do not accept that there has been 18 months of delay. Although the conference has proceeded slowly, it has made steady progress towards objectives which, I think, will meet our point of view and that of the Canadian Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent agreement has been reached between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation powers on the disarmament proposals to be put before the ten-nation disarmament commission on 15th March.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a statement on the disarmament proposals which Her Majesty's Government intends to put before the ten-nation disarmament commission on 15th March.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what level the armed forces of the five permanent members of the Security Council are to be reduced in the first stage of the proposals to be submitted by Her Majesty's Government to the forthcoming disarmament conference.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
These proposals are still under discussion between the Five Western members of the Ten-Power Committee (United States, France, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom), and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State is going to Paris tonight to continue these discussions.
While thanking the Foreign Secretary for that reply, may I ask if he has seen the report in some of today's newspapers about the discussions in the American Senate criticising the lack of clarity and the confusion between departments about Western disarmament policy? Considering that there is only one week to go before proposals have to be prepared, may we be assured by the Foreign Secretary that some proposals will be put forward at any rate by the United Kingdom on 15th March, and that they will be comprehensive proposals for all-round disarmament?
I think the hon. Member can be assured that proposals will be put forward. I have a very clear idea of the nature of the proposals I should like to see put forward, and the Minister of State, who goes to Paris tonight, is fully in my confidence in this matter.
On the specific point in regard to the level of armed forces, could the Foreign Secretary say just a further word? Is it not the case that we are aiming at a reduction to 489,000 by 1961, which represents a big decrease from the figure of 625,000 originally canvassed in these discussions? Could we not seek to secure among the other four members of the Security Council a proportionate reduction?
Pending the outcome of these discussions, it would be unwise for me to get involved in consideration of a particular matter such as that. The hon. Member will, I know, draw consolation from the fact that we have declared our purpose of bringing down the armed forces of all countries to the level necessary for internal security purposes.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what conclusions he has reached regarding the advisability of publication of the proceedings of the forthcoming conference on disarmament.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Automatic publication inevitably leads to propaganda speeches. It would not, therefore, in my provisional view help the Committee to a successful result if its full proceedings were made public day by day. I am inclined to prefer the procedure, adopted in the nuclear tests negotiations, of a brief daily communiqué. This is, however, a matter upon which we must have regard to the views of the other participants and it will, no doubt, be discussed as soon as the conference convenes.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware, from what work he has seen of the recent proceedings of the nuclear test conference, that this procedure leads to leakages with a much distorted version of what actually takes place? Would it not be far better to have full publication of all full meetings so that the people of the interested countries know what is being said and proposed in their names by their Governments in sufficient time to be able to intervene if necessary if things are not going on well?
I fully admit that the present procedure adopted in the nuclear test conference is not perfect. There are disadvantages, but on the whole I think it is better than having a debate in public from day to day. I am not at all certain that all the interventions that we should get from various people, whom I will not now specify, would always be helpful.
Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Even if the meeting is held in private, will there not be a great advantage in the rapid publication of the speeches as corrected by the delegates? Is there not great force in what my hon. Friend has said? With ten delegations in the room—probably 80 people—there will be leaks and angled versions from many quarters, with inevitable misunderstandings and probably rancour.
I think there is force in what the right hon. Gentleman said. It is, in many ways, a choice of evils. For example, the debates which take place in the United Nations in public which are fully reported—I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would say that they have really advanced the cause of agreement in these matters. We have to get some kind of procedure going which will be capable of being a negotiation, and that means an element of privacy. I think, therefore, that we had better stick to this idea in which a certain amount is said. There are, I am afraid, inevitable leakages, but it does admit still of there being negotiations. Whatever has leaked from the nuclear conference, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there have been considerable periods when genuine negotiations have been going on.
Mr. P. Noel-Baker
While everyone would admit that there must be private conversations, as there are conversations behind your Chair, Mr. Speaker, is it not also true that there are great advantages in the people knowing what their delegates are saying in their name? How can the full United Nations Commission be properly informed unless the records are published at regular intervals?
I should like to consider carefully what the right hon. Gentleman has put forward. I think myself that contemporaneous or simultaneous publication would be a mistake, but that is different from what he is suggesting, that periodically there should be a resume or statement on what has been going on. I will look at that.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at what stage he proposes that the People's Republic of China shall be associated with the discussions on general disarmament under international control.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
This is an important point, but it would be premature for me to make a public statement on the matter.
Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman go so far as to agree with me that we cannot expect China to accept the rules of the conference if we are not giving her admission to it, and that association would not serve the purpose that full admission would?
I have said that the hon. Gentleman has put forward an important point which I think is very relevant to this discussion, but it would be premature to say anything more about it today.
Spanish Foreign Minister (Visit)
Mr. R. Edwards
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements have been made for the visit of Senor Castrella, the Spanish Foreign Minister, to the United Kingdom; and what is the purpose of the visit.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I hope that the Spanish Foreign Minister will accept my invitation to visit the United Kingdom this year. No definite arrangements have yet been made. The purpose of the visit will be to improve relations between the two countries.
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that this gentleman received the Iron Cross from Adolf Hitler and that he fought in the Blue Division against Allied Forces? Would the Foreign Secretary not agree that had Spain not been technically neutral this man would have been tried as a war criminal? Will the Foreign Secretary read the book by this man in which he states that the Second World War had been planned during the Civil War in Spain? If he reads the book, he may take a different view about 1936?
The hon. Member is talking about things which happened a long time ago—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] —indeed, that is so—and we have to live in the world as it is today. This gentleman is the Foreign Minister of Spain, and it is my duty to do the best I can with him to improve relations between our two countries, an objective I should have thought hon. Members on both sides of the House would wish to attain.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the visits of Foreign Ministers from friendly countries of Western Europe will always be welcomed by the people of this country?
Bbc Overseas Services
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the British Broadcasting Corporation's Overseas Service is being cut, including broadcasts to the Far East; and whether he is satisfied that these cuts are in the national interest.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to reduce the overseas broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Departments of Her Majesty's Government prescribe the languages and hours of broadcasting of the British Broadcasting Corporation's External Services. The cost is met by a grant-in-aid which is included in the total sum authorised for expenditure on overseas information services. Within this sum, it is necessary to adjust our overseas information effort, including overseas broadcasting, from time to time as circumstances change. The adjustments include some small decreases and increases. I believe that the action decided upon is right in the circumstances.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that one of the decreases he mentioned is the Thai service, which is to be totally abolished? Is he further aware that Chinese Communist broadcasts to Thailand are being increased? Will he reconsider the decision in this matter in view of the fact that the overseas services of the B.B.C. are our best form of overseas publicity?
I have every sympathy with the point of view of my hon. Friend, but one has to try to cover one's expenditures—one's commitments— within the level of expenditure agreed. Having regard to that fact, I think we have taken the best course open to us, and I do not believe there will be the serious consequences which my hon. Friend considers possible from the ending of the Thai service.
Is not the first point in the reply of the Foreign Secretary a little misleading? Is it not a fact that there has been some inescapable rise in cost in the B.B.C. and, as a result, these services have been considerably reduced? Is there not rather a lack of balance in trying to save a few thousand pounds in this country on something which is effective when we are spending hundreds of millions on defence projects of much less real value to us?
That is a point of view for which hon. Members would expect me to have considerable sympathy. In fact, there is to be a considerable increase in the ceiling for information next year. One has to have regard to the nature of the increases and decreases, but, on balance, this is a reasonable solution.
Sir G. Nicholson
Is it not a false economy not to have more broadcasts in Thai when there is keen interest in this country in Thailand and a desire for knowledge of British views? Is not the money we spend on Far Eastern broadcasts some of the best-spent money out of the national expenditure? Will my right hon. and learned Friend look again at this matter?
One has to try to come to a balanced view on this. I should like to spend all the money available and have constant broadcasts twenty-four hours a day, but I am not sure that that would improve our interests. We want to have the maximum benefit, but one has to have some regard to what is financially possible. We have to strike a balance and I think I am right in saying that the broadcasts to Burma are being increased. We have to consider other ways of bringing our influence to bear, and I think that on balance this is a fair decision.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the estimated cost to public funds of the British Broadcasting Corporation's transmissions to Persia, Japan, and Thailand.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I am informed by the British Broadcasting Corporation that the direct cost of the Thai Service was £8,940 per annum and the direct costs of the Japanese and Persian Services are at present £14,829 and £15,700 per annum, respectively. But a realistic gross figure would have to take into account the overheads which are difficult to apportion among the individual vernacular services.
Are these not comparatively small sums? Is the Foreign Secretary aware that on both sides of the House there is a feeling that these broadcasts are effective at comparatively small cost? Why should we not develop and expand, instead of cutting them in this way?
The cut in the Thai services amounts to about a quarter of an hour per day. We have to look, as I think the hon. Gentleman in his time had to look, at the whole of the budget to try to fit it into the financial ceiling available to make the best balance between the various services that one may run. That has been done in this case.
International Security Force
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of discussions with other countries regarding the establishment of an executive body of high calibre, with an international security force answerable to it, to keep the peace when general disarmament has been effected.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Not yet, Sir.
When putting forward proposals for the important idea of the International Police Force to keep the peace when total disarmament is effected, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman avoid prejudicing the idea by confusing it with the rôle of the International Control Commission for disarmament, or attempting to substitute for the executive organ of the United Nations some other executive body which is not under their control?
I think that the hon. Gentleman has made two valid points. What we want is not a body which is completely hamstrung by the veto, or a question of a two-thirds majority, but a body which has enough executive authority of its own to take certain action. At the same time, one must not frighten people that that body will take too much on itself. All these matters have to be worked out in discussions, because different points of view are held by the leading nations.
Czechoslovakia (Reverend Odrich Trnka)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to obtain the necessary permission from the Czechoslovak Government for the wife and children of the Reverend Odrich Trnka, a British subject, to leave Czechoslovakia and join him here.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Her Majesty's Embassy in Prague have urged the Czechoslovak authorities on humanitarian grounds to permit Mrs. Trnkova and her children to join Mr. Trnka in this country.
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that this couple have been separated for about ten years? As she is a British subject, will he see that these representations are continued so that they may be reunited?
As my hon. and learned Friend knows, the trouble is that the lady is question has Czechoslovakian as well as British nationality, and that the children are not British. However, we will continue to do the best we can to help.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will oppose the admission to, or association with, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or Western European Union of the Spanish Government, either as a condition for granting Germany firing range, storage, etc., facilities in Spain or for any other purpose.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
No, Sir. Membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Western European Union, or association with them, is a matter for all the member Governments not just for Her Majesty's Government.
Can the Foreign Secretary give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will vote against any such proposal? We have our responsibility, and in fact we have a veto power on it. Does he propose to use it?
I am certainly not going to make any such declaration in advance. We will judge any such application or suggestion from the point of view of military necessity and political wisdom. I can promise the hon. Gentleman that, but I am not going to specify in advance what particular action we shall take.
Sir T. Moore
Can we not keep a sense of balance on this matter? Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it was this country—Spain— through its leader General Franco which resisted the blandishments and threats of Hitler and thereby saved the Mediterranean for the Allies and made the North African invasion possible and successful?
I think that my hon. Friend is quite right in saying that the arguments are not all on one side.
I put this question quite seriously to the Foreign Secretary. Is he aware that the admission of Spain to either N.A.T.O. or Western European Union would, in the view of an overwhelming number of people in this country and outside, destroy the political validity of those organisations?
I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. It would be very foolish for anyone holding my position to say that in perpetuity he is going to exercise a veto on an application by a particular country.
|NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS AND DEATHS REPORTED TO THE FACTORY INSPECTORATE|
|—||1958||1959 (provisional figures)|
|January-September||Whole Year||January-September||Whole Year|
|Works of engineering construction||1,675||2,329||51||2,122||2,886||41|
|The figures for deaths are included in the number of accidents for the whole year.|
Building Workers (Casualties)
asked the Minister of Labour how many men employed in building operations and in work of engineering construction were killed or injured in 1959 and 1958; and whether he will give comparative figures for the initial nine months of each year.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Peter Thomas)
As the reply contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Would it be fair to say, however, that the trends have been for the figures to rise in the last few years? If that be so, will the Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend seriously consider increasing the number of fully trained inspectors over and above the seven now engaged to see to this work, because they are obviously very much needed?
In answer to the last part of the supplementary question, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are keeping that matter under very close observation. In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, which dealt with numbers, there has been some increase in the number of accidents over the last year, but I am happy to say that the number of fatal accidents is down.
Following is the table of figures:
asked the Minister of Labour how many appointments have been made under the scheme of the Industrial Training Council to appoint training officers to help with the organisation of group apprenticeship schemes.
Mr. P. Thomas
The number of posts for training officers created so far under the Industrial Training Council Scheme is five; and four appointments have already been made. These posts are concerned not with group apprenticeship schemes alone but with the setting up of training schemes in industry generally.
Are not five training officers hopelessly too few to perform the tasks which need to be performed in the field of group apprenticeship schemes and the other matters which the hon. Gentleman mentioned? Will he say if and when further appointments are likely to be made?
Further appointments are likely to be made as soon as the demand for this service from industry grows.
Youth Employment Service
asked the Minister of Labour what proposals he has to improve the training schemes for new entrants to the Youth Employment Service.
Mr. P. Thomas
I understand that discussions will take place shortly on this question between the Central Youth Employment Executive and the local authority associations.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the recent Report of the National Youth Employment Council emphasised the need for much better training facilities for members of the Youth Employment Service?
In particular, can he say how many places the Ministry is now taking for the excellent one-year course organised by the Kent County Council?
The Ministry gives at the moment five scholarships to students at that course.
asked the Minister of Labour how many youth employment offices still remain below the standard considered to be proper by the National Youth Employment Council; and when these sub-standard offices will be modernised.
Mr. P. Thomas
No definite standards have been, or could be laid down, and the process of inspection and modernisation is a continuous one. I cannot therefore give a precise answer to the Question, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that progress is being made, though not so rapidly as I should wish.
In view of the very considerable unemployment amongst juveniles, especially boys, and the very great pressure that is sometimes brought to bear on them to take any sort of job, can he not bring very strong pressure to bear to see that at least the bureaux are brought up to standard in order to attract the maximum use from parents, employers and juveniles?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that this matter is being considered all the time.
The Minister's own people have reported that a proper standard should be devised for the bureaux. The hon. Gentleman knows what the standard is. Can he not indicate those bureaux which fall below standard?
asked the Minister of Labour what steps he has taken, since the issued of the National Youth Employment Council's Report, to increase the number of his inspectors so that formal inspections of youth employment bureaux can be maintained at the previous 6–7 year intervals.
Mr. P. Thomas
One additional appointment has been made to the Inspectorate of the Central Youth Employment Executive since the end of the period covered by the National Youth Employment Council's Report. Although my right hon. Friend and I are not in favour of a rigid timetable, we are anxious that the average interval between formal inspections of Youth Employment Offices shall not increase, and we are keeping the inspection programme under review.
In view of the Minister of Education's considerable loss of power over local education authorities through the institution of the general grant, does not the hon. Gentleman think that recourse to more inspection would be a very good way of getting the more reactionary authorities to bring their service up to date? Will he not, therefore, do much more about this question of producing inspectors and sending them round, especially to the more reactionary authorities, much more frequently?
As I said to the House, we are anxious that there should not be a lengthening of the interval between inspections. We are keeping the inspection programme under review.
asked the Minister of Labour how many visits were made in 1959 by factory inspectors to building operation sites and to works of engineering construction; how many of these inspectors had recognised technical or professional qualifications in building construction or civil engineering; and how many visits by such qualified inspectors were made in 1959 to building operations and works of engineering construction.
Mr. P. Thomas
Thirty-two thousand, seven hundred and eighty-one visits were made to building sites and 1,718 visits to works of engineering construction. Eleven of the visiting inspectors had recognised professional, technical or equivalent academic qualifications, and 551 of the visits to building sites and 43 of the visits to works of engineering construction were made by them.
Has the Parliamentary Secretary noted from his Answer that it is apparent that only a small proportion of the visits were made by inspectors who were technically or professionally qualified? Is not that unsatisfactory, in view of the changes which are occurring in building construction and civil engineering works? They are becoming very much more dangerous to the men who are at work. May we have an assurance on the lines of my last Question that we shall have more inspectors who are fully trained for this type of work?
Experience of the present system shows that the great proportion of building work and much civil engineering work can be inspected effectively by experienced inspectors with knowledge of the Regulations and their practical application. Qualification by membership of a professional institution is not necessary for this work. It may be, however, that more specialisation on it in the general inspectorate would be desirable, and this is being considered
Is it a fact that accidents in building and in constructional engineering are still increasing, although industrial accidents generally are decreasing? In view of that, is it not urgent to consider the need for more inspectors with the technical and professional qualifications to which my hon Friend referred?
I think that it is very important to consider all aspects of safety in the building and civil engineering industries.
asked the Minister of Labour how many women were registered as unemployed at the Blackburn Employment Exchange on the latest available date.
The Minister of Labour (Mr. Edward Heath)
Eight hundred and ninety-three on 15th February, 1960.
Is the Minister of Labour aware that that is an increase of 100 over four weeks? This figure is expected to rise as the cotton reorganisation scheme comes into effect. Will he, therefore, make representations to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that it is quite absurd for Blackburn to be removed from the D.A.T.A.C. list, or list of areas to be helped under the Local Employment Bill, when there is this mounting problem of the unemployment of married women over 40 who need alternative work?
It is, in fact, an increase of 74 over the last four weeks, but I understand that probably about 200 more women will become unemployed as the result of further closing of the mills. On the other hand, about 400 more women have been taken into employment in the mills remaining open, and about two-thirds of the 1,200 new jobs which employers estimate will be provided in Blackburn will be for women.
House Of Commons Catering
asked the hon. Member for Holland with Boston as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee if, for the information of hon. Members now participating in the boycott of South African goods, he will circulate in HANSARD a list of the articles of South African origin supplied by the Refreshment Department, and identify them on the menus, wine-lists, etc., in the rooms in which they are served.
Sir H. Butcher
To ascertain the country of origin of all goods supplied by the Kitchen Committee would be to impose a substantial burden on a limited staff. It is not likely that menus or lists indicating this would be accurate for very long.
I did not ask the hon. Member to do it for very long, and I did not ask him to indicate all the countries of origin. Is he aware that this information would be useful to hon. Members taking part in this boycott, which is supported by members of all the political parties represented in this House, and that it would also be useful to those hon. Members who prefer to follow the example of Mr. Randolph Churchill and Sir Oswald Mosley and consume as much as they can of South African produce?
Sir H. Butcher
The hon. Gentleman will find that South African wines supplied by the Refreshment Department were already differentiated on the wine list. I would further advise him, if he desires to practise the boycott, to avoid fruit salad for the near future.
Will my hon. Friend recognise the great importance of the Question on the Order Paper, which represents the highest common political factor of Members on the benches opposite?
Several Hon. Members
From movement, I understood that the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee desired to answer. If that is not so, I will call another Question.
Sir H. Butcher
I was only going to say, Sir, that I think it is wise to allow the general manager of the Department to purchase supplies from the best sources available, irrespective of pressures from constituents for political purposes.
Will not my hon. Friend agree that the Socialist-proposed boycott of South African goods is about as stupid as their vendetta in regard to Spain?
I rather doubt whether that is a question for the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee.
Jolly good question, though.
I think that the best solution for hon. Members who wish to take part in this childish business would be to bring sandwiches with them from home during the month of March.
Oil Heaters (Report)
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
A Report by the Joint Fire Research Organisation of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Fire Offices' Committee on the effect of draughts on the burning of portable drip-feed radiant oil heaters is being published this afternoon. Copies have been placed in the Library.The main conclusion is that these heaters are safe in a house with the outer doors and windows closed, but that all the heaters of this type tested are capable of starting a fire very quickly if exposed to a draught such as can be caused by an open outer door. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education stated last Thursday in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Lady Gammans), copies of the Report have been sent to the Government Departments concerned. Copies have also been sent to the manufacturers, and immediate consultations will be undertaken with a view to the adoption of a safe standard of performance for the future, and of any other measures that may be found desirable and practicable. Meanwhile, it is important that portable oil heaters of the drip-feed radiant type should not be used unless it can be ensured that they are not exposed to a draught.
Mr. Gordon Walker
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very alarming and unsatisfactory statement? It is difficult to understand how firms have put such dangerous appliances on the market. The right hon. Gentleman was rather complacent when he said that they are safe in a house with the outer doors and windows closed. It surely would be easier to say that they are very dangerous if there is a window open. Would he not agree that he has an obligation to start very quickly making regulations, and ought not the Government also to embark, because these appliances are so widespread and dangerous, on a really vigorous propaganda compaign to bring to people's attention the danger of these appliances, which they have bought in good faith?
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That is the reason why I took the exceptional course, on a Monday afternoon, of making a statement to the House, so that the public should be aware immediately of the danger directly the Report of the D.S.I.R. is published, which will be this afternoon. As I have said, copies will be placed in the Library.I trust that all means of propaganda, the wireless and other methods, will follow the remarks made in the House this afternoon. I do not agree that there is any complacency about the matter. What I have said comes as a digest from the Report of the D.S.I.R. and I cannot exceed them in precaution or knowledge. I shall be having immediate consultations with the manufacturers with a view to finding a safe standard of performance for heaters in the future and any modifications, where possible, of existing heaters. After that, I shall decide what is the quickest possible method of remedying the situation which has come to our notice and about which I think we are quite right to tell the country immediately.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that these heaters have been demonstrated to hon. Members by experimental laboratories and that they have three serious dangers which must be looked for? One is the threat of their bursting into flame in a draught; the second is their not going out if knocked over by chance by a child, or dog, or for any other cause; and the third is that if there is the slightest damage to the burner they give out large quantities of carbon monoxide which could prove fatal and which has, in fact, proved fatal in some cases. All these three dangers have to be looked at in consultation.
I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will read the full Report, in which he will see that some of these points are mentioned.
Will any attempt be made to withdraw these types of apparatus already in use and to get people to return them for suitable modification at the proper time?
That is precisely the object of the consultations which we are immediately undertaking.
Does not my right hon. Friend recall that last December I questioned him as to what powers he had within existing Statutes to specify a minimum standard of proficiency and safety for these very dangerous oil heaters and he replied that he had no such power? Would he not agree that it is wholly insufficient to rely on optional British standards of minimum proficiency and safety and that he should legislate to give the appropriate Minister powers to require these safety standards for all new appliances from a very early date?
Yes, Sir. That may well be a necessity. The question of taking legal powers must follow upon the immediate consultations which my Department is undertaking.
Mr. de Freitas
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that each year the Royal Society of Arts has a competition for the examination of devices with a view to preventing fires in such cases as this? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider getting in touch with the Royal Society of Arts to see whether it cannot consider this matter in one of its next competitions?
Yes, Sir; certainly. I should like to have advice from whatever sources will help me in this problem.
Sir G. Nicholson
To get this matter in true proportion and to prevent undue alarm, and to cause the necessary measures of precaution to be taken, can my right hon. Friend tell us how many fires or accidents have taken place from this cause during the last appropriate period?
The most serious outbreak of fire occurred at Ware, in November, 1959, which was caused precisely by such an oil heater as this. The Director of Fire Research gave evidence at the inquest. I am glad to say that in co-operation with the manufacturers the Fire Research Station undertook a series of tests of the effect of draughts on 34 different oil heaters of the drip-feed type, and it is arising from that that we now have the Report of the D.S.I.R.
Sir G. Nicholson
How many accidents?
That is the main one of which I have knowledge in recent times.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a fire took place in my house about five weeks ago, caused by one of these oil burners? Will he look at the very intensive propaganda of the oil companies? It may well be that because of the financial advantages people who would not otherwise take these risks are being induced to take them.
Yes, Sir. I think that we must be quite definite in dealing with what might otherwise be a very serious problem in all our homes, and many homes with children in them.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that about 3 million portable radiant oil heaters have been supplied up to the present? Will he see that the widest possible publicity is given to his statement? Will he also take steps to ensure that manufacturers cease immediately from supplying any more of these heaters and see that no more are imported?
Yes, Sir. The latter points are very much in my mind in the consultations which my Department is undertaking. The figure quoted by the hon. Gentleman is correct. There are about 3 million heaters of the drip-feed type and there would be approximately 10 million of a variety of types, but this dangerous type in respect of outside draught numbers about 3 million.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
While I agree that there are many of these dangerous appliances about, will my right hon. Friend confirm that very active research is going on at the moment, and that there are modifications that can be quickly applied to new stoves? Would it not be possible soon to be able to put a stamp of approval on stoves safe to use even where there is a draught?
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. In fact, the Director of Fire Research has drawn attention to this in some of his annual Reports—not in detail, but in general warning. The Fire Research Station has now produced a wind-producing apparatus, believed to be unique, which has, as a matter of fact, been in operation for only a few months. It is in this way that science catches up with danger. I am glad to say that we now have the equipment at the Fire Research Station necessary for dealing with this sort of difficulty, and we shall be able to take the necessary action.
In view of the danger to which consumers are subject, would not this be an appropriate occasion to advise consumers to use gas, electricity or even coal fires? Has it not occurred to the Home Secretary that he might advise his right hon. Friend the Minister of Power in this direction?
Naturally, we should wish those who have heard of my statement to be very careful about their existing stove and, alternatively, to consider other sources of supply.
Mr. Gordon Walker
Would not the right hon. Gentleman be a little more specific in answer to the suggestion that he should stop free sales of these dangerous appliances while various consultations and considerations are being undertaken? These things really are very dangerous. Clearly, the House is worried about them.
The trouble is that under our Constitution there are certain limits to the powers one has, but I shall be very glad to keep the House informed of the steps that I have in mind and, if I need further powers, to come to the House for them.
Several Hon. Members
Order. Clearly, we cannot debate this now.
Orders Of The Day
[5TH ALLOTTED DAY]
Considered in Committee.
[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]
Navy Estimates, 1960–61
VOTE A. NUMBERS
Motion made and Question proposed,
That 102,000 Officers, Seamen and Juniors and Royal Marines, who are borne on the books of Her Majesty's Ships and at the Royal Marine establishments, and members of the Women's Royal Naval Service and Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, be employed for the Sea Service, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1961.
The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)
Before I come to the Navy Estimates for 1960–61, I should mention the Supplementary Estimate required for the current year. I am glad to say that this is for a token amount of only £10. An explanation as been published in the usual way, and all I want to say is this. For the two previous years we had to ask for fairly large supplementary Estimates; and last year I spoke of the measures that we were taking to improve our control of production expenditure. It is in the production Vote that expenditure largely exists. Although I would not claim that we had solved all our difficulties, these measures are having some success—as our need for only a token £10 shows.I have seen a good deal of comment, more, I must admit, in the newspapers than in Parliament, concerning the load which the defence budget is putting on the economy. The amount spent on the Service Estimates depends on three factors: the nature of the threat, the strength of the friends and allies who share our task, and, thirdly, the resilience of the economy. My right hon. Friend, when he opened the defence debate, showed clearly that defence is placing a reducing load on our economy. The proportion of the gross national product which is steadily from the peak it reached in being spent on defence has fallen 1952–53. Over the same period, the Navy's share of the defence budget has remained roughly constant at about 25 per cent., so that the Navy is taking about 2 per cent. of the gross national product. For the next financial year, we are asking for a total net grant of £397·5 million. This is nearly £27 million more than the grant for the present year. About a third of this increase is due to our having to provide more for naval and civilian pay and pensions. As a result, out of the gross Estimates we shall be spending about 40 per cent. on our naval and civilian personnel. I notice that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air said, when opening the debate on the Air Estimates, that this item represented 41 per cent. of expenditure in that Service, so we are roughly comparable. This is nearly £5 million more than last year, and it is being spent on fewer people. We shall also be spending substantially more on the material side. Page 4 of the printed Estimates shows that the gross estimate of what we shall be spending, under Vote 8, Section III on naval production by contract is more than £121 million. This is over £12 million more than last year's total. The net estimate for new ships, aircraft and associated equipment amounts to just over £100 million—about £9 million more in real terms than in the present year. These figures are unmistakable evidence that our production drive is increasing, and that our plans for modernising and re-quipping the fleet are producing the goods. Our warship programme is also making, at a time when it is most needed, a very useful contribution to the shipbuilding industry. Although I would not want to exaggerate its benefits in terms of jobs in the shipyards, the facts are that Admiralty work is spread over 46 firms in all the main shipbuilding areas, and that the total value of our present orders is nearly £200 million. I should like to make an announcement here about the contract arrangements for our new ships. Before the last war, competitive tendering was standard practice for all classes of warships, even battleships. In the war, the practice had to give way to arrangements which made the maximum use of all available building capacity. Subsequently—with the shipbuilding industry at full stretch, and commercial orders, specially export orders, getting priority—we have used, for the most part, a system of negotiation with the shipbuilders, both for placing orders and for fixing prices. For some time, however, orders for small craft such as ships' boats and L.C.A.s and, more recently, tugs, have been placed by means of competitive tendering. From now on, we are reckoning to restore this actice for the larger warships, such as frigates and destroyers. In doing so, the main considerations will be price and delivery dates; but we shall, naturally, take into account the employment factor. We are confident that the effect will be to encourage the building of our ships as quickly, and that means as economically as possible, and we are confident that the shipbuilders will respond to the challenge that this healthy competition will provide. My noble Friend has tried, in this year's Explanatory Statement, to give as much information as possible, and to present it in as striking a manner as possible. The Statement shows that the Navy is continuing to protect British interests, show the flag, and collaborate with Commonwealth and allied navies all over the world. This is the traditional rôle of the fleet, and it makes a significant contribution to the maintenance of peace. Before I come to examine the progress we have made in re-equipping the Navy, I should like to say a word about the size and quality of the fleet. This year, we have 147 ships in the operational fleet, and a further 42 ships engaged on trials or training. Of course, we cannot match in size the navies of the economic giants—the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.— but we are the third biggest Navy in the world, and a growing proportion of our ships are new and of high quality. Of the 1960 fleet, all the carriers, two of the five cruisers, 22 of the 34 frigates, and all 37 minesweepers, have come into service since 1950. In addition, among ships on trials and training or in operational reserve, 140 minesweepers, 30 coastal craft, and 12 destroyers or frigates were also completed during the last ten years. There is a higher proportion of small ships than in the past, but the capability of individual ships is much greater and, in some instances, very much greater. This is also something which we have brought out in this year's Explanatory Statement with the chart. It is our continuing policy to replace our older ships with new, better equipped and more powerful ships, though I can assure the Committee that we do not cast off any ships on grounds of age or obsolescence alone so long as they can continue to serve a useful purpose in the Navy. As I recently told the House, the total tonnage we are now launching is above the annual average of the post-war years; and the total of 25,500 tons for 1959 is more than 7,000 tons better than the average for the last five years. But it would be wrong to think that our total naval strength alone could match the Soviet Navy. Much is being made of the threat which 500 submarines pose to the supply lines of this country and Western Europe. Our efforts are directed to countering this, not single-handed, but with the dozen other N.A.T.O. navies. That is why my noble Friend has this year, on page 22 of the Statement, put more fully than before some details of the extensive exercises which we have undertaken with our N.A.T.O. allies. The anti-submarine field is one in which Britain plays a unique part because her experience is unique. Here is a sphere where interdependence can, and simply must, be a reality. I hope to visit soon the N.A.T.O. Anti-submarine Warfare Research Centre at La Spezia, which opened last year. It concentrates on basic and applied research, as distinct from development and has made a promising start on tackling a number of the problems of anti-submarine warfare. Close and continuous collaboration of this kind—at the planning level, in exercises, and in research and development— is essential to N.A.T.O. if this vital alliance is to remain strong. Because the N.A.T.O. shield is effective, it is not surprising that the Soviet Union are deploying considerable effort on strengthening some of the countries on N.A.T.O.'s flank. Their policy has been to provide Soviet instructors, Soviet technicians, and Soviet armaments to their satellites and to their friends. This process is continuing in the naval sphere. Nine Soviet submarines are now working with the United Arab Republic under President Nasser's control, and Egyptian crews have been trained. The number of Soviet submarines based in Albania has increased. There are now eight there, and their ship-borne support has been strengthened by a modern submarine tender which was recently seen sailing into the Mediterranean past Gibraltar. I am not surprised at this. What I find a little surprising is that there has been so little criticism of this further example of Soviet bases overseas. Now let me turn to our own submarines. They have several tasks today of the greatest importance. They are warships of attack and defence, and they are essential to the fleet for training our anti-submarine forces. Submarine philosophy is more and more turning towards their use in the anti-submarine rô1e; and this is likely to grow in importance as nuclear submarines come into general use. We launched five submarines last year; they totalled 8,000 tons—a figure exceeded only once, except in the war, during the last forty years. The quality of our "Porpoise" and "Oberon" Classes as conventional submarines, is second to none. Five of the "Porpoise" Class are with the fleet; two more are expected to complete next year; and two of the "Oberon" Class have been launched. These submarines are most effective warships, with a capacity for silent stalking which has shown up well in recent exercises, even against nuclear submarines from the U.S.A. Conventional submarines have a further asset in relation to nuclear submarines; they are very much cheaper. One can build about half a dozen conventional submarines for the capital cost of one nuclear submarine. Their running cost is about a seventh of a nuclear submarine's. Their refits will be much less expensive, though exact figures of comparison are not at present available. Of course, the nuclear submarine, with its high speed and underwater endurance, has an immeasurably greater all-round capability; but finance and other factors point to a policy of having some nuclear and some conventional submarines for many years to come. No fewer than 11 "Porpoise" and "Oberon" submarines are now building. I now come to one of our more exciting projects: the "Dreadnought." The deliveries of machinery to this country from the U.S.A. have begun, and we are getting all the information we want. Staff from the Admiralty, and our own contractors, have had courses in reactor technology in the U.S.A. Officers and ratings selected to serve in the "Dreadnought" have been having training in nuclear technology at Greenwich and Portsmouth, and in operational techniques in U.S. submarines; and I hear that they have been showing up pretty well. The electrical officer designate for the "Dreadnought" and two chief petty officers have just made a submerged crossing of the Atlantic in the U.S. nuclear submarine "Skate," which arrived at Portland last week. We shall have the first party ready to stand by the "Dreadnought" as soon as she is launched. Although we have met difficulties in the use of some techniques in hull construction which are being used for the first time, we plan to launch the "Dreadnought" in the autumn, and this will meet the programme. As the Committee will already know, fortified by the experience we are gaining from the "Dreadnought", we plan to order this year a second nuclear submarine which will be British made. To remove any possible misunderstanding, I should like to emphasise that, like the "Dreadnought", she will be equipped to hunt and kill enemy submarines and surface warships; and she also will be designed to carry an asdic that can detect at much greater ranges than those at present fitted in our conventional submarines. She will not carry ballistic missiles—I wish to underline this—and could not be converted to do so. Ballistic missile submarines are of a different size and design. To take the U.S. Navy, the "George Washington", their first Polaris submarine, has a displacement of something under 6,000 tons. The "Skipjack"—to which the "Dreadnought" can be compared—is a little over 3,000 tons. Both these types are, of course, nuclear propelled, but the missile-carrying submarine is twice the size—and, incidentally, about twice the cost. I should say that we have very full information about the U.S. Navy's progress with "Polaris" and we are in continuous touch with them. "Polaris" has already reached the stage of exhaustive trials by the U.S. Navy, and the First Sea Lord had a detailed tour of the "George Washington" when he visited America last November. Our second nuclear submarine will be British made. Its hull will be broadly of the same Admiralty design as the "Dreadnought's". Its reactor core will be made in this country, and its machinery will be of British design and manufacture, after the pattern of the shore prototype now being installed in the Admiralty Reactor Test Establishment at Dounreay. This is why we are pressing ahead as fast as we can at Dounreay. The prototype is urgently required for testing the British reactor design and the components of the British-made machinery. It will also be essential for training our submarine crews and others in nuclear propulsion techniques. I should perhaps stress, in passing, that submarines are not the end of our interest in nuclear propulsion. Although the sponsorship of merchant shipbuilding has now passed to the Ministry of Transport, we continue to take a close interest in the possibilities of applying nuclear propulsion more widely. To turn to surface ships, next year we shall have over 50 frigates in commission, of which more than half will be less than five years old. These are efficient ships, whether employed as policemen on the beat or showing the flag or on fleet escort duty. The Type 12 "Whitby" class anti-submarine frigates are proving particularly successful. Ten of these will be in service in 1960, and we have decided to exploit their good qualities in an improved and more versatile ship. This improved Type 12 will be known as the "Leander" class. The hull and steam turbine machinery will be substantially the same as for the "Whitbys". The main new features planned are a long-range air warning radar, the "Seacat" anti-aircraft guided missile, improved anti-submarine detection equipment and a light-weight helicopter armed with homing torpedoes. We shall also introduce air conditioning and better living conditions. As far as possible, these improvements will be extended, during refits, to the "Whitbys" now in service as well as to those still building. In all, we have some 17 frigates under construction for ourselves and eight more for Commonwealth countries. This brings me to the Commonwealth. We have had a particularly good year for naval co-operation within the Commonwealth. Last August I spent a week visiting ships which were taking part in the Commonwealth manoeuvres —Exercise Jet. This involved the navies of Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, and with the largest contribution coming from Britain. At the start of the exercise, we assembled at Karachi. Never, not even in wartime, have so many warships been seen in Karachi Harbour. As we steamed down the west coast of the Indian subcontinent, it was a stirring sight to see nearly 50 warships working and exercising together. Each day I transferred by jackstay— quite a stimulating experience, even in a relatively calm sea—to visit two or three different ships. One cannot help being struck by the tremendous progress which the Commonwealth navies are showing. Every year now they are growing in strength, experience and efficiency. There is a common bond between seamen all over the world. There is a much stronger bond between navies of the Commonwealth. The officers speak the same language, use the same expressions, enjoy the same jokes—salty ones—and share the same naval traditions. This is only to be expected since the great majority of them were educated and brought up at Dartmouth. We have another task with the youngest Commonwealth countries. Last year Ghana established the nucleus of a navy with two of our new inshore minesweepers and some of our officers and ratings to help them with training. The Royal Nigerian Navy has now taken over an Algerine minesweeper and a seaward defence motor launch and is planning to add other vessels. This process of technical assistance and training is continuous, and with older Commonwealth countries it is certainly not all one way. I believe that the close relationship which is being increasingly developed with the twelve navies of the Commonwealth is one of the most important activities of the Royal Navy in peacetime. Twenty years ago the Commonwealth navies, other than the Royal Navy, amounted to only four cruisers, 14 escort vessels, and a few smaller ships. Now, in escorts alone, they have nearly 100 between them. Since the last war some 70 warships and 30 miscellaneous craft have been transferred from the Royal Navy to Commonwealth and Colonial navies. Nor should we forget that these navies have modern warships designed by the Admiralty, ordered by them and built in British yards. The Commonwealth countries are all sovereign and independent, but should the occasion arise where our common traditions and freedom were threatened, then the close bonds between the Commonwealth navies might well stand us all in very good stead. To return to our own ships: there are now four guided missile ships of the new "County" class being built—on the Mersey and the Clyde, and the last two have just been laid down on the Tyne, and in Northern Ireland. We expect to spend about £12½ million on them in the coming year. It is planned that the "Devonshire" will be launched at Birkenhead in June. That is the first. These four ships will be fitted with the Seaslug missile, for which a production order has now been placed. The development of the close-range guided missile Seacat is also going well and ships are being fitted to take it. We are particularly glad that Sweden has placed an order for the Seacat system and missile in order to evaluate this British replacement for their own very famous Bofors gun. To turn to aircraft carriers, the accent is also on first-class equipment. H.M.S. "Hermes", which commissioned last November, is one of our smaller carriers. When I visited her last month I was very struck by the skill in design and construction that enables her not only to operate the latest generation of aircraft—the Scimitars, and the new Sea Vixen squadrons—but also to provide the most up-to-date living accommodation. She shares with the "Victorious" the distinction of having what is at present the finest air defence equipment in the world; and this was splendidly tested last July during an exercise with the U.S. Navy, Exercise Rip Tide, off the coast of Virginia. Over 90 per cent. of some 150 aircraft dummy attacks on her were intercepted by fighters directed by the "Victorious", and our American friends could not have been more generous in acknowledging the outstanding success of the 984 radar and comprehensive display system which goes with it, which have proved to be a triumph of electronic ingenuity. I was associated with radar for about twenty-one years of my life and I can say without doubt that these two equipments are absolutely outstanding in their way and a great credit to the British electronics industry and naval design. The introduction of new types of aircraft is going ahead steadily. The first Sea Vixen squadron, which formed in July, 1959, embarked in the "Ark Royal" last week. The second squadron formed five weeks ago. The gas-turbine powered Wessex helicopter enters service next month and the first squadron, should join the fleet next year. I have said something about N.A.T.O. and Commonwealth collaboration. We have also had a year of especially close association with the United States. H.M.S. "Victorious" went on from Rip Tide to visit Boston and New York; following the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the 5th Frigate Squadron visited ports in the Great Lakes; and H.M.S. "Adamant" and 10 of our submarines exercised with the United States Navy and other N.A.T.O. navies before visiting the United States submarine base at New London. In marked contrast, we tried something of an experiment in the United States by showing something which has been seen here many times and has become almost traditional. We accepted an invitation to send two field gun crews of the Fleet Air Arm to the United States after their success at the Royal Tournament. They travelled 15,000 miles and performed in Portland, San Francisco and Chicago before over 100,000 people. Having read a complete report of the tour, I have no doubt that it left a great impression. I gather that a typical reaction was that of the American who, at the start, was resistant to what he thought would be another piece of ancient British pageantry. Very soon he was yelling his head off in enthusiasm, and at the end of the show he said, "If they'd all been like this, George Washington wouldn't have had a hope in hell." He had put his finger on the point. Field guns are not part of the Navy's fighting potential, but the men who manned them are. I should like to pay tribute to the fine qualities of skill, toughness and particularly team work which they, and many others of them, in the fleet, show. Those Fleet Air Arm gun crews were nothing if not versatile, and I would like to end what I have to say about our new ships by emphasising the growing versatility and mobility of the Navy. From the operational point of view, 1959 was a quieter year than the years immediately preceding it; but there has been no letting up in our plans to strengthen the capacity of the Navy to provide well-equipped forces at short notice in any part of the world. The growth of nationalism in many countries and its effect on our overseas bases and air routes underline the value of the high seas—across which, in an emergency, our ships can still move freely and, perhaps even more important, discreetly. This is the background to three developments to which we attach great importance. First, H.M.S. "Bulwark," our first Commando Carrier. She will embark No. 42 Commando next week and sail east of Suez later in the year. With her ability to accommodate a complete commando of 600 men and to carry a second commando or battalion when necessary, with her helicopters and assault landing craft, she will be ready to play a major part in any emergency in any climate. But, if we are not to lose this capability whenever H.M.S. "Bulwark" is due for refit, there will have to be at least a second Commando carrier before very long.
Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
Hon. Members said that in the House two years ago.
What is perhaps even more important, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said it last week, and I was delighted to hear it.
The difficulty is that he did not say when.
Nor did I.Secondly, amphibious craft. We have been giving a lot of thought to how we can best replace our amphibious warfare vessels. We envisage the amphibious craft of the future as being a larger vessel than in the past—one capable of transporting at high speed a considerable force and its equipment. Design studies for a ship of this type are well advanced. It would be complementary to the Commando carrier, and would carry a number of smaller amphibious craft for landing troops and heavy equipment over exposed beaches. But these projects lie quite a few years ahead, and we have, therefore, overhauled the ships of the present amphibious warfare squadron and installed air conditioning, so that they can operate wherever they may be needed in the meantime. Lastly, afloat support. Our ships cannot be poised for or engaged in operations indefinitely without needing fuel, food, ammunition and the other necessities of Service life. Many of the fleet maintenance ships and depot ships are gradually being modernised, and a building programme of fast replenishment ships and tankers is being planned for the next few years. So much for the ships and weapons— all essential to the balanced fleet of the future—which are coming along, as part of a continuing programme, to meet the ceaseless threat of obsolescence. I now come to personnel. I have spent some time on equipment because, having listened to thirteen hours of the defence debate last week, I had the impression that this year the House of Commons was less concerned with this matter, possibly as a result of the pay and pensions increases, than it was with hardware. Admiralty civilian staffs have a large share in the task of countering this threat. The many developments in our material strength are the result of much thought and detailed design work—not only by boffins working on black boxes, though we have quite a few of them, but also by naval architects, engineers, draughtsmen and many other kinds of technical staff. In all, well over a third of the staff employed at Admiralty H.Q. are working directly on the design of ships and weapons, or in watching over work by contractors, or controlling work in research establishments and in the dockyards. Naval officers and civilians work side by side in this sphere. This seems to me the best way of blending the different experience so that we can exploit the rapid advances in technology. It is striking what a greatly increased effort these technical advances demand from us. For example, the effort in terms of design staff required by the "Dreadnought" project is gargantuan. We have about 100 draughtsmen on this project alone, more than five times what we needed twenty years ago for an A Class submarine. Compared with a "Dido" class cruiser, the new guided missile ships require five times the design effort for the actual ship, and almost eight times for the armament. One of our major problems, in fact, is to find enough design capacity for all the projects we would like to undertake. Both we and the shipbuilding industry have difficulties in recruiting all the design staff of high quality that we need. Perhaps I might emphasise that ship design and shipbuilding—especially in these days of nuclear propulsion and other new developments—offer as fascinating and valuable career as any now open to young men of ability. To turn from civilian to naval personnel, I have an encouraging report to present. Vote A is about 100,000 men. This is a little bigger than the Navy we had during most of the inter-war years. It is very much bigger than the Navy which existed in the fifty years before 1900—the period of Pax Britannica. We have once again become virtually an all-regular Navy. Our task is to achieve a high standard of recruiting and a high rate of re-engagement in order to build up the balanced Service we need. The rate of re-engagement for pension is particularly striking. It has continued to improve and, except for one or two branches, is at its highest since 1936. Two in every three Royal Navy ratings completing twelve years' service are deciding to stay in the Navy for a further ten years. Considering the high level of employment and prosperity in the country, I think that this is remarkable evidence that the men who really know what life is like in the Navy find it a satisfying career. There is also a useful dividend in terms of greater efficiency and a saving in training effort. For those leaving the Service, the prospects of obtaining a good job have never been better. The modern rating is well placed to make his mark in civilian life, with his combination of technical efficiency and the qualities of integrity, loyalty and good sense which naval service develops. As to recruiting, we are confident that the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will be able to attract all the Regular recruits they need, though there are still some categories which are short. After some disappointments in the past, I am particularly glad to be able to say that we have obtained this year all the artificer apprentices we require. These young men have an increasingly important part to play in the Navy of the future. It is part of the price which the Navy has to pay for its new ships, aircraft and weapons that it will need many more— and more highly skilled—technical ratings for maintenance work. The new pay code, which ensures that Service men keep abreast of the increased rewards of civilian life, offers special benefits to technical ratings with its emphasis on skill and experience. A young artificer of 25 today can earn nearly £14 a week all found. If he is over 25 and married, his total income will amount to about £1,000 a year. His corresponding earnings in 1950 would have been about half that. To take another example, the unmarried leading seaman who was earning £5 a week in 1950 will now be receiving a weekly wage of nearly £9 15s., all found. In real terms he will be about 40 per cent. better off. I think that the Committee will agree that it is a very satisfactory development of recent years that, generally speaking, naval ratings are content with the level of pay and do not feel at a disadvantage compared with those in civilian life. All this means that sailors have become expensive people. Today, the annual cost of an able seaman is about £740 and a seaman petty officer costs the Navy £1,120. This makes it all the more important to deploy our uniformed man-power as efficiently as possible. I believe that the situation is no less good for officers. We are still not quite getting all the able young men we need for entry to Dartmouth, and I would, therefore, like to sum up briefly what we can offer to those who are attracted to the sea and the career of a naval officer. I shall start with pay and pensions, for these are probably what parents and schoolmasters, not the boys, tend to look at first. The Navy now offers pay and pension rates which compare favourably with what young men can expect to get elsewhere. The young unmarried officer of 21, for example, can now earn nearly £600 a year, with free board and lodging. If he marries between, say, the age of 25 and 30, his total income, including marriage allowance, will be over £1,300 a year. This seems a fair enough begin-ing within the Service. But if he should wish to leave it, and should not be selected for further promotion, he will in future be able to retire with a pension in his late 'thirties when he can start a new career in civilian life. If, on the other hand, he takes advantage of the longer career we are going to offer, he need no longer be afraid of only a negligible pension. For example, a lieutenant-commander retiring at 50 would receive a pension of £800 a year. This sum, naturally, increases for longer service in the higher ranks. A senior captain, for instance, retiring in his 'fifties could expect to get a pension of about £1,400 a year. Last March, I told the Committee about our new entry standards and scheme of training at Dartmouth, and we have been discussing our plans during the year with many schoolmasters and many schools. In broad terms, the position is that we are after young men of university entry standard—nothing less will do for the highly complex Navy of the future—and we shall be offering them careers which, from the financial point of view, will be as rewarding as anything that a great many university graduates can expect in civil life. That is the career side. No less important—and this is what I would stress to the young men themselves—is the kind of life which the Navy gives. It is a life of service, which offers as much responsibility and adventure as it ever did. In the Fleet Air Arm, a young man of 23 or 24 can expect to be flying a Sea Vixen or a Scimitar only about six years after joining the General List. A submariner, at the age of 28, may be captain of his submarine, responsible for 60 or 70 officers and men on what may be long and arduous patrols in any part of the world. No wonder that we are looking for qualities of intellect and character wherever we can find them. As I stressed in an Adjournment debate, we want boys from every type of school and background. Our liaison officers visit as many schools as they can; and one of the appendices to my noble Friend's Explanatory Statement shows the many schools from which they come. As the Committee knows, a boy who has the qualifications we require can now hope to secure a naval scholarship at the age of 16. This will help his parents to meet the cost of his last two years at school, or, failing that, to get a reserved cadetship which, subject to his clearing the academic hurdle, will guarantee him a place at Dartmouth later on. I warmly commend this system to the parents of any boys who, at an early age, have set their hearts on joining the Navy. I hope, however, that our introduction of this system of scholarships and reserved cadet-ships will not discourage boys from trying in the ordinary way for a place at the age of 18. Some boys may very well do better when they are a little older. There are always late developers, even in the House of Commons. I have spoken at some length about the problem of officers because we have been giving much thought to it with our new system of training, starting at Dartmouth this year, and the new rules for entry coming into force in September, 1961.
Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
What the Minister has been saying is exceedingly important in connection with the attraction of boys of all schools to the Navy. Can he say to what extent the Navy is receiving cooperation from local authorities in putting over this information to all capable young lads in State grammar schools, many of whom would be interested in the Navy as a career?
I am grateful to the hon. Member for raising that point. The great majority of education authorities allow liaison officers of all three Services to make approaches in this matter, but there are still some areas in which they are completely debarred. In a recent Adjournment debate I said that there were about 50 constituencies in which we were not able to point out to boys the advantages of a Service career. Since that debate there has been an improvement, to the extent that in one area— Swansea—we are now able to tell the schools what we have to offer.I hope that this process will spread, because at a time when the bulge in the birthrate will make many more young people become available we have wonderful opportunities for them in every sphere, and the more information we can put before these schools in all areas the better it will be for the Services and for the country. It was necessary to speak at length of the officer problem, because all three Services have a problem in this direction, and it is desirable that the country should know what is to offer. We recognise that we are competing, with the other two Services, for a share of the best young men in the country. But we see no reason why we should not get all we want. We believe that our new entry standards are on the right lines, and that the selection system is fair to boys wherever they come from. The opportunity of commanding one of Her Majesty's ships at sea, together with an income of over £1,300 a year before the age of 30, are a prospect that no other profession can offer. And our future career structure and the new pension code ensure that if an officer leaves the Service he goes out not only with an excellent training, but a reasonable pension. Before I summarise, I would say that with a Vote A of around 100,000 we are continually tackling the problem of manning the maximum number of ships. The recent cyclone at Mauritius and the earthquake at Agadir both showed that sudden and extra tasks can arise. H.M.S. "Gambia" went 2,500 miles to bring help to Mauritius. Her Majesty's ships "Tyne" and "Darlaston" went nearly 500 miles to give help to Agadir. These acts of God occurred without warning. Similar acts of man may also occur without warning. This illustrates most vividly why the Royal Navy must always have ships available to react with speed and the utmost versatility. I would put the present position in this way. Today, we have a flexible Navy. Our ships are not designed for one kind of task or one kind of war; they have an all-round capacity for a wide variety of tasks both in peace and war. There is a higher proportion of small ships than before, but the capability of individual ships is greater. We have an operational fleet of 147 ships, and a further 42 ships on trials or training; a vigorous programme of new construction is under way. The size of our total naval manpower is very much what it has been in the past, except in war-time. The opportunities for a useful career and promotion to the top are, therefore, as great as they have ever been. We take pride in the efficiency of our ships all over the world. We take pride in the weight and precision of the attack which the fleet can deliver, but, above all, we take immense pride in the spirit of the men and women now serving throughout the naval Service. I ask the Committee to approve the grant we need for the next financial year.
Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I congratulate the Civil Lord on having survived at the Admiralty for two years, and on having been able to introduce these Estimates on two occasions. I also congratulate him on having gathered unto himself the double responsibility of Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, and Civil Lord. I am sorry that he has not gathered unto himself the double salary.When the two offices were merged I wondered why. At first, I thought that it was simply a rather typical naval gesture of defiance that the office of Parliamentary and Financial Secretary should disappear precisely at the moment when our naval expenditure was the highest ever in peacetime. Then I thought that that might not be quite correct; it might be a tacit recognition on the part of the Admiralty that the Navy is becoming increasingly a shore-based force.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
The hon. Member shakes his head, but he will remember that last week, in answer to a Question, he told me that out of a personnel of about 89,000, no fewer than 54,000 are now based ashore and only 35,000 afloat. I found that rather difficult to reconcile with his statement today that we had to deploy our skilled manpower as efficiently as possible. I cannot see how that can be done if the great bulk of it is ashore.We are faced with an Estimate of £397½ million, which is an increase of £26·8 million over last year. This is the smallest in the Service Estimates. The days are long past when the Navy accounted for fully half of our defence ependiture. As the hon. Member said, it now accounts for only one quarter. In spite of this, however, expenditure has steadily increased, both in monetary terms and as a proportion of our net national income. The hon. Member said that our expenditure was decreasing. He took 1952 as the year for comparison, as did the Minister of Defence during the defence debate last year. I would say only that in taking the year 1952 both the Minister of Defence and the Civil Lord were taking the year in which we were engaged in a rearmament programme. The facts concerning the Navy—and I give them because the hon. Gentleman rather discounted what I said last year on this matter—are that in 1928 we spent 1·37 per cent. of our net national income on the Navy; in 1935, 1·57 per cent.; in 1948—one has to omit the war years —1·7 per cent.; and if we omit the period of rearmament, which I think it is fair to omit, and come to 1958, we find that the Navy is consuming over 2 per cent. of our net national income. We are spending an increasing amount upon the Navy. Commenting on this last year, I said:
This still remains true, although this year we are being asked to pay an additional £27 million. It is true that during the defence debates last week the whole question of the future shape and rôle of the Navy was discussed. We heard a great deal about mobility, about credibility, about invulnerability and the necessity of putting the deterrent at sea. Polaris may now be in. We do not know. In any case, all these things are several years ahead. What we do know is that these Estimates make no allowance at all for any of the many suggestions which were made during those debates. They re-represent this year's cost of the fleet that I have indicated. Let us not shirk the fact that this is an enormous cost. There has been a tendency to try to write down this cost during these debates. I do not think that it is a wise thing to do. It is far better to face the fact that it is a very large sum of money for which we are asked. What is more, all the available evidence points to its becoming even larger in the near future, in spite of which we become less and less able to defend ourselves, as, of course, do other nations. It becomes increasingly urgent then, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) pointed out during the debate on the Air Estimates, that we make some progress towards controlled international disarmament, and we must hope that no effort will be spared in attempting to make any talks successful. Meanwhile, we have to face the fact that discussion of defence in national terms becomes less and less real as year follows year. The present Minister of Aviation, when he was Minister of Defence, said during the defence debates in 1958:"In spite of this … we can no longer … build aircraft carriers. The missile cruiser … is out. The missile submarine is also out. The Polaris is out. We have a smaller operational fleet than we have ever had before and smaller reserve fleet than ever before. The Navy will make no contribution at all to the strategic deterrent … We are left today with a fleet that is capable of certain limited operations and a certain limited anti-submarine rôle, in spite of the fact that we are spending this increasing proportion of our income upon the Navy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1017.]
In naval terms, Admiral Wright said at the N.A.T.O. congress last year that it was not a case of one nation defending the Atlantic, nor two nations nor three nations: it was a job for everyone. It is because of this interdependence that we have our alliance and our co-operation with the Commonwealth. It is a serious criticism of both the Defence White Papers and the Explanatory Statement that neither of them gives us any picture at all of how our defence forces fit into the allied defence plan. With very great respect to what the hon. Gentleman has said, and to the Explanatory Statement on the Navy Estimates for this year, we really learn very little about this matter. Why is this? Why should not this Committee be told what is being done with our forces with our allies? The Economist said in its issue for 27th February:"With the increase in the power and range of modern weapons, no country can any longer defend itself in isolation. The conception of separate national defence has become almost wholly replaced by that of collective security organised through a system of alliances."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1958; Vol. 583, c. 386.]
It never will, of course, unless we know what it is supposed to fit into. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman and to the Government that they ought to consider the possibility of publishing as an appendix to the Statement details of what is being done by the allied forces as a whole. I should like to ask one or two questions about this matter of how we fit into this plan. Last year, my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) quoted the "SACLANT N.A.T.O. Story" at great length to indicate the policies our naval forces were expected to follow. The significant sentence of his quotations was this, that the policy was"The shape of the Navy still does not make much sense."
It was the naval equivalent of the notorious paragraph 12 of the 1958 White Paper. Are we still committed to this policy? Or has it been modified? We tried to find this out last year. We were told nothing at all about this during the whole of the debate. My hon. Friend also asked the important question: who decides when the atomic strike should be delivered? Once again, we were told nothing. I do not know, and I doubt whether very many Members know, how exactly we fit into this picture. One thing we do know is that if this atomic strike is delivered we can expect nuclear retaliation and can more or less expect to be wiped out. In other words, this is a policy of suicide, and we ought to know something more from the Government of what their views are about this. Talking of operational activities, the Explanatory Statement, in paragraph 15, says:"First, to strike, with the maximum atomic capability, the enemy airfields and naval bases which support the forces which would seize control of the seas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 914.]
The hon. Gentleman said during his speech that there was an Appendix published in the Explanatory Statement this year telling us about the exercises which had taken place during the year. That is very good, but I am bound to ask whether this is enough. In the Report "State of European Security", which was adopted by Western European Union, very serious criticisms are made of the N.A.T.O. naval arrangements. In paragraph 62, there is a very heavy indictment of the N.A.T.O. forces because of the lack of integration of the supply services. It says:"Never before in peacetime have major powers progressed so far in training and planning for a common purpose."
They go on to suggest that there should be a joint solution of these logistic problems. In paragraph 74, they criticise the lack of balanced naval forces, and say:"The Committee was shocked to discover the lack of integration of the supply services of the various nations. Under present circumstances, ships of different nationality operating under an allied command in the event of war would depend on their own supply system, and it would be difficult for a destroyer of X to be refuelled by a refuelling ship of Y. Apart from financial considerations the operation of this system leads to duplication and waste of physical resources."
They go on to recommend that specific tasks should be allotted to the various members of the alliance. Paragraph 75 recommends that the units of the strategic strike fleet should be placed permanently under the command structure which will operate in wartime. Paragraphs 72 and 77 criticise the SACLANT command structure, and call for its overhaul and rationalisation. We all know that the existing command structure was brought about in an endeavour to satisfy the national prestige and aspirations of nations taking part in N.A.T.O., but it does not measure up to the realities as they exist today, and something should be done about it."There appears to be little attempt to produce an overall balanced force designed to provide the minimum naval strength needed by the alliance. Indeed, while N.A.T.O. naval forces consist only of units allotted by nations from navies whose composition is largely determined by national and not N.A.T.O. considerations, it is difficult to see how adequate naval forces can be built up. Arguments for collective as distinct from individual defence efforts seem equally convincing on sea as on land or in the air."
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
I do not wish to take exception to the quotations which the hon. Gentleman has been reading, but when he says "they" the whole time I think that he should make it clear to hon. Members that the Report is the personal report of his hon. Friend on the Committee who prepared it. Although the recommendations at the beginning of the Report were, in fact, adopted by the Assembly as a whole, not all of us, as I am sure the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) will agree, accepted with unanimity all the points which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned in the Report.
That might have been so, but these recommendations and criticisms were accepted by Western European Union. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Yes. As I understand the recommendations were, in fact, sent to the Council of Ministers. I rather fancied that the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) would have something to say about this, because I noticed that he was one of the members of the Committee. While he may wish to dissociate himself from some of them now, the fact remains that these are serious criticisms. [An HON. MEMBER: "He voted for them."] I do not know whether he voted for them or not, but I am told that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did vote for this Report.
Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. We must get this quite clear. The procedure at the Assembly is that the Rapporteur is personally responsible for the Report, but the Committee is responsible only for the recommendations. I certainly voted for the recommendations, but there are a number of points in the Report which the hon. Gentleman read out which are rather different, in nature and emphasis, from what is to be found in the dehydrated recommendations.
As a member of the Committee, I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that what my hon. Friend said in reading out the document itself was that, in fact, the basis of these remarks was embodied in resolutions which were adopted by the Western European Union Assembly, for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman voted.
I will leave the hon. and gallant Member to fight it out with my hon. Friend. The point that I wish to make is that these are serious criticisms, and, as such, we ought to be told something about the position in relation to them. They appear to have a considerable validity, and I think that probably the hon. and gallant Gentleman would agree that he voted for the resolutions which were ultimately sent to the Council of Ministers.The Government ought to tell us something about this. After all, when we are asked to vote 102,000 men and women and £397 million, we are entitled to know whether the purposes for which they are required are being met in the most efficient manner possible, and if not, why not. If these criticisms are valid, quite obviously this money is not being spent as efficiently as it ought to be spent. We are, in fact, wasting money. It seems to me, too, that we ought to be told what is being done under the N.A.T.O. infrastructure arrangements. We read from time to time in the Press small paragraphs about a very expensive boom defence or bases being established here, there and elsewhere, but we should know something about this in the House of Commons. This does not seem to me to be secret information, but the only people who are not able to get it easily are the Members of the House of Commons. We have to search in all sorts of obscure publications, in the Library and elsewhere, to try to find out something about it. Let me now turn to the fleet. Whatever our views about the future, and I agree that these are very important, the shape and size of the fleet are likely to remain much as we see them now for several years ahead. It makes some sense, but there are a number of questions which I should like to ask. The first is about cruisers. Three years ago, I questioned the wisdom of proceeding with the three "Tiger" class cruisers. They are to be completed at a cost of £40 million. They are obsolescent. Would it not have been better if we had spent some of this money on some of the more urgent needs of the Royal Navy at present? Would it not have been better if some of this money had been spent on a second Commando carrier, or if some had been spent in providing up-to-date craft for amphibious operations? I can think of a number of ways which, in my view, would have better ways of spending this money. I have never yet been able to discover properly what are the functions of these cruisers today. In last week's defence debate, we had the curious situation of the Minister of Defence and the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut-Commander Maydon), who wound up the debate on the first day, both claiming as the raison d'etre for these ships that they could help in times of disaster. Nobody is against ships helping in times of disaster. We are all proud and pleased when they do, but we do not need ships costing £14 million a time simply to help in times of disaster.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
What was behind the remarks of my hon. Friend in that debate was that they are ships of long endurance and high speed which can operate a long way from bases, which get further and further apart and more difficult in this troubled world. Therefore, cruisers and ships of that type have become of tremendous value not only in a disaster—but it is the intrinsic merits of the ships that make it possible to use them in a disaster.
I would call the hon. Gentleman's attention to his own publication, the "Admiralty News Summary". The last paragraph in the February issue, dealing with the Commando carrier H.M.S. "Bulwark"—not cruisers—says:
I think that that is correct and that it is a much better proposition than a £14 million cruiser."By virtue of the great variety of stores and equipment onboard, the ship is particularly well suited for providing rapid assistance in cases of civil disaster, such as earthquake, typhoon and flood."
Much more expensive.
It also fulfils rather more important rôles than can be performed by a cruiser.
Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Is my hon. Friend aware that "Britannia" was originally built as a hospital ship and that it would be far more economical to use her rather than these expensive cruisers?
I do not want to enter into controversy about the merits of "Britannia", but I agree that something much more economical could be used. This is as poor an excuse as the one we had a few years ago, when these ships were described as good ships because they could stay in port a long time. I thought at the time that that was a queer kind of reason in favour of ships for the Navy.But, to be serious, the advantages announced two years ago were that these ships were capable of operating alone and capable of putting on shore a sizeable landing party and of carrying fuel, workshops, repair facilities, stores and medical supplies. One is driven to the inevitable conclusion that these things could be supplied by a depot ship much more cheaply than by a cruiser. I thought two years ago that this money had been badly used. Speaking of Commando cruisers, I understand that we are to have a second, but are we to have a third? Why cannot the old hulk "Leviathan" be used for this purpose? Sooner or later the Admiralty will have to make up its mind what it is going to do about "Leviathan". Unless some use of this kind is found for her, the money spent on her in the first place will be wasted. Two or three years ago we heard about the Admiralty's conception of an aircraft carrier task force. We have heard nothing about it since. Is it still part of the Admiralty's conception of how our forces should be used that a task force should be grouped round an aircraft carrier? We tried to find this out last year, but we have been told nothing. In any case, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said last week, the aircraft carrier is very vulnerable. I ventured to mention this when I first appeared at the Dispatch Box to speak in a debate on the Navy Estimates. In addition to being vulnerable from the air, the aircraft carrier has the disadvantage of being vulnerable from below the surface of the sea. We were told two years ago that we cannot afford any more. They are increasingly less credible and it appears that there must be a very big question mark concerning the future of aircraft carriers, unless they are to be regarded simply as part of the N.A.T.O. naval strike force. If that is their function, the case for integrating them would appear to be fairly strong. The Civil Lord told us today about the present position of nuclear submarines. Last year, we were told that Polaris was out. Now there appears to be some doubt about this. It might, after all, happen that the Government will decide to carry the strategic deterrent in submarines, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that last year the then Civil Lord said this about Polaris:
I believe that that was a rather modest statement and that it would require a recasting of the whole of our defence expenditure, because if that task is to be undertaken by the Navy there cannot be much of a case for the Air Force undertaking it. We must ask ourselves whether we can afford this and, what is more important, we must ask ourselves a much more fundamental question concerning our policy on the strategic deterrent. Last week, in the debate on defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West suggested that the deterrent might be put aboard a conventional submarine. This idea has been canvassed with me and probably it has been canvassed with other people. It seems to me that the canvassing of this idea is a method of trying to avoid facing the much more difficult questions which the Government have to answer as to what our future policy on this deterrent is likely to be. I was interested in the Civil Lord's remarks about craft for amphibious operations. This is one respect in which the Navy has a very definite rôle. It knows that rô1e and it is not tied very closely with allied considerations. One would have thought that the Admiralty could have got on with the job. Two or three years after Suez, when some of the weaknesses were revealed, we are told by the hon. Gentleman that a great deal of thought is being given to the problem, that designs are well advanced, and that we might even have a few ships in a few years' time. This is not good enough. This is far too slow. The Admiralty should undoubtedly carry some of the responsibility for our failure to keep up-to-date in this respect. We are glad that "Vanguard" is to be scrapped, but I should like the Civil Lord to reconcile two statements which he made on Wednesday in answer to two Questions. In reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis), he said:"It is something which is quite beyond our own capacity to develop … without a radical recasting of the whole of naval expenditure."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1037]
Three Questions later, in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell), the hon. Gentleman said about "Vanguard":"The current policy is for Government ships to be disposed of for scrapping through the British Iron and Steel Corporation (Salvage) Ltd."
I have been puzzled by this. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could explain how competitive tendering is achieved if the vessel is to be disposed of through the British Iron and Steel Corporation (Salvage) Limited."I cannot give a precise statement because we are considering disposal of the ship following competitive tendering."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 1191–2.]
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
We might get that question disposed of straight away. It is true that in the past we have used B.I.S.C. for scrapping vessels and on occasions it has gone out to tender. We are reviewing now whether this procedure should continue for a further number of years. Therefore, at the moment, I am not in a position to say whether "Vanguard" will go to B.I.S.C. —and if it did the Corporation might itself go to another tender—or whether we might introduce a system whereby we would go to tender direct. That is why there is an apparent contradiction of ideas.
I am grateful for that explanation.Turning to the Estimates rather more closely, one of the first things that strikes us is the fact that the number of personnel at the Admiralty office has increased—18 more in the warrens of Rex House with 4,000 fewer men. This is not good enough. In five years the Navy has been reduced by 31,000 out of a total of 133,000, but there are only 16 fewer at the Admiralty office. The Admiralty has carried out a reorganisation of the Departments within the last year and this makes it difficult to track down some of the people about whom we have asked questions in the past. In spite of the reorganisation, however, I notice that there are more psychologists than there were five years ago with 31,000 fewer men. It will soon be much easier for a psychologist to reach the Board of Admiralty than for a scientist to do so. May I put it once again to the Civil Lord that with the highly scientific Navy we have, with some of the finest scientific equipment in the world, is it not time that, in addition to the hon. Gentleman himself, we should at least have a serving officer familiar with this aspect of the Service? I should not like to suggest which seat he might hold. I could do so, but it might be invidious. I notice, too, that the Admiralty has increased its scientific personnel, and the Civil Lord has explained to us that this is because of the fact that nuclear research demands a large number of scientific personnel. I want to ask one question on paragraph 38 of the Explanatory Statement, where it states:
I understood that this work was being done at La Spezia. If it is to be done there, what is the point of our duplicating the work? Is not the desirability of joint work the fact that it enables an interchange of knowledge, that it should save scientific manpower which is in short supply, and should also result in some saving of money to us? I see that I have taken rather a long time, but I have been interrupted a great deal. May I say one or two things about personnel? I will reserve my comments on pay for Thursday. I think that the amalgamation of the electrical and engineering specialisation in the General List is good. I ventured to suggest during last year's debate that it might also be carried out rather lower down, because on the whole it appears to me to be desirable. I also think that the changes in artificers' structure are fair enough, but there is still no comparable rank in the Navy to the Warrant Officer I and II in the Army, or to the Master Technician in the R.A.F., and this seems to place technicians of the Royal Navy at a disadvantage. The hon. Gentleman himself talked about their great skill, and in the Navy recruiting leaflets they are described as the most skilled men in the Navy. It is not much to ask that there should be a rank in the Navy equivalent to those in the Royal Air Force and the Army which I have mentioned. What has happened to the Committee on Lower Deck Structure, which was set up three years ago and which reported eighteen months ago? Is it not time that the Admiralty considered its report and gave us the result of its consideration? Or is it that the Admiralty cannot do very much unless the Army and the Air Force also follow suit? We should be given some reason for the long delay. The scheme for mechanician apprentice is good but it does envisage two and a half years at sea as part of the training, although already in the Service we cannot find sufficient sea-going billets for men undergoing training. In reply to a Question, the hon. Gentleman told me that the difficulties had been largely overcome. I do not know what that means. He also said that no training was being held up to any significant extent. I do not know what that means either. The fact is that men cannot get to sea to complete their training, and this holds up their promotion. Now mechanician apprentices are to have two and a half years at sea, which means crowding the ships much more than at present, and also means that many of the boasts the Admiralty has made about improved accommodation will not be realised. While on the subject of accommodation, and, in particular, accommodation on the "Hermes", about which the hon. Gentleman said something, I received the following letter the other week:"Particular attention is being given to launching and control equipment for guided missiles and to counter-measures to the fast submarine. Underwater detection devices of improved performance are coming forward."
This rather destroys some of the publicity which the Admiralty has been putting out about the improvement in accommodation. Now a further point about the problem of training. It has been put to me that there is a great waste of expensive ships and material equipment in sending some of those ships on various patrols and "showing the flag," trips, because while on those duties they have no submarines with which to train men in the use of asdic gear and they have no aeroplanes with which they can train men in the use of radar. This seems to me to be a legitimate criticism and suggests the need for cheaper all-purpose ships without such valuable equipment. I put forward that suggestion to the hon. Gentleman because of suggestions that have been made to me. Now I turn to Chatham Barracks, about which the hon. Gentleman said nothing, although last year we were told emphatically by the then Civil Lord:"I spend most of my time on new construction ships of all sizes, in between trials I usually make it my business to investigate messing arrangements, and in my opinion the situation is worsening. Even on a large ship like ' Hermes' there is not even room to sit and write a letter in the chief petty officers' messes."
Twelve months later the Admiralty finds that it has made a mistake. Is there not some incompetence somewhere, since the Admiralty was unable twelve months ago to estimate its requirements of accommodation for the ships that might be refitted at Chatham? Was not that envisaged when it was decided to keep on the Collingwood Block, and if so, why should those barracks be taken back again? I received a letter about this from an ex-naval man who, after reading the news in The Times, wrote:"What we have decided, is that the Royal Naval Barracks, together with a proportion of the married quarters, should be transferred to the War Office … we in the Navy are very glad to be able to hand them over. … We are keeping Collingwood Barracks, as many of the married quarters as we require, and we are staying in the dockyard."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1031.]
This block was built to accommodate the artificer apprentices. The writer goes on:"If this is all true … it is absolute nonsense. The naval barracks can house many thousands and there would be no need to retain it to house 1,000 or so. In any case, most of these men would be living ashore on Ration Allowance, either in their own homes or in married quarters. Furthermore, if accommodation was required for that number it is easily available in a part of the Naval barracks known as the Collingwood Block."
It certainly seems that there is going to be some empire building here."Far be it from me to advocate or encourage the disposal of the naval barracks to the Royal Engineers or anyone else … but as a taxpayer I would object to the expense of the Royal Engineers building alternative barracks elsewhere when these premises are available to them."
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he knows quite well that if increasing numbers of men are to be accommodated ashore at Chatham there will be an increasing staff to look after them. There is bound to be. No justification of this has been given to us unless, of course, if some of the Press reports are true, the Admiralty has in mind the fact that we might be getting German ships to refit in this country.I have made a number of criticisms of these Estimates and would like to make more, but time forbids. No doubt, however, hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will add to them. This must not be taken as a prejudice against the Navy, for if there is one thing of which I am sure it is that no Service holds a greater place in the affections of the British people than the Royal Navy. But this should not blind us to the fact that there is widespread concern about the very large sums which we are being asked to vote this year. That is borne out by the results of the Gallup poll published today. The poll indicates that both Conservative and Socialist voters do not like paying more and more for defence. In fact, they seem to be against doing so. Year by year we are asked to vote more and more for less and less. Nobody can feel happy about this, and while it is not our intention to vote against these Estimates we are bound to express the concern that is so widely felt. Very big decisions have yet to be made, and it is our view that only if these decisions and policies are correct can that anxiety be dispelled. The responsibility for this rests not on the Admiralty, but on the Government. The results must be seen in terms of controlled disarmament and ever closer co-operation and integration of our naval forces with those of other nations. Only in this fashion can we hope to lighten the burden of defence and pave the way to our future security and to peace.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
This is not the first occasion on which I have had the good fortune to follow the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) in a debate on the Navy Estimates. It is a pleasure to do so, although I am bound to say. if the hon. Gentleman will not think me rude, that I think in this Parliament he has become something of a Jekyll and Hyde. We sometimes see Mr. Hyde in the small hours of the morning on Scottish business, but we see more of Dr. Jekyll when we are discussing the Navy because, like so many of those who have served in the Navy and in spite of those proper criticisms which he has been called upon to make, the hon. Gentleman still retains considerable affection for the Service as, indeed, do I and other hon. Members on this side of the Committee who have had the same experience.I do not wish to bore the Committee by answering at length the points made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East concerning Western European Union resolutions, but I must repeat that he really must not hold those delegates who vote for the recommendations which come before the Assembly as necessarily agreeing with all the aspects of the reports which come before them. That is not the procedure. Indeed, his hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and myself both voted for the very interesting report by the same author, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), on providing a European nuclear deterrent. We voted for it, but in doing so I am sure that in our minds we voted for something quite different, and said so. If the hon. Gentleman is anxious to know how far some of us on this side went in criticism of that report I would ask him to read the record of the proceedings in the Assembly, because I for one spoke at some length on the subject. The hon. Gentleman also had something to say on the higher strategy behind the Government's policy today in so far as it is reflected in the Navy Estimates. I will not follow him in that way at all. There have been criticisms in the Press and, indeed, in this House, of the very small attendance both of the defence debate and during the debate on the Air Estimates. Indeed, the attendance at this debate is well up to the standard of the two previous occasions. I suggest that the reason why we do not get more hon. Members attending these debates is because we really have not the information on which to base criticisms of the wider issues. I spoke at some length about this in the defence debate last year and asked whether the Government might not think the time had come to lift the veil of secrecy a little. I regret that it has not been found possible to do so and therefore I do not feel qualified to express an opinion on the major strategical policy of the Government. On the other hand, there are quite a number of points of fairly big detail, if it comes to that, in these Estimates which we can follow and on which I would like to make some criticisms. I always feel a little unkind in doing this in Navy Estimates debates, because the Navy Estimates are presented in a clearer way than that of the War Office or the Air Ministry. The Navy's only reward for this is to receive more criticism when the Estimates are debated. Be that as it may, I would again like to refer, as did the hon. Gentleman, to the Admiralty Vote and, once again, to register a protest at its having gone up by very much the same amount as it did last year, namely, £500,000. This criticism has now been made year after year, and I say to my hon. Friend at once that I do not for a moment accept the story about requiring more people because of greater complexity. I think that the real reason for the rising Vote is that some of the staffs of the out-stations are too big. They make paper work which has to be sent to Government Departments to be answered. That is the root of the trouble. But, be that as it may, it is now, fortunately, unnecessary to pursue the matter, because I understand that the repeated complaints made in these debates have reached the ears of the Select Committee on Estimates and that the Committee's eagle eyes are now scrutinising the Admiralty. All I can say to my hon. Friends who serve on the Select Committee is that I wish them very happy hunting. Let me now turn to Vote A itself. It would appear that the running down of the Vote is becoming a good deal slower. I see that in the coming financial year it will decrease only from 106,000 to 102,000 men. I should like to ask my hon. Friend four questions. What is the target figure at which the Admiralty is now aiming, and how does that compare with the sort of indication of the target figure given in the 1957 White Paper on Defence? Has the policy been changed, and has the Admiralty, like the War Office, now succeeded in persuading the Government that it must have a few more men? I should also like to ask my hon. Friend why it is necessary to have in Vote A more leading rates and above than there are working hands, and not a few more but a great many more, because there are more even when we include in working hands all the men under training—all the artificers' apprentices, all the boys under training, and so forth. It seems to me that the structure is getting a little top-heavy. I am bound to confess that I am a little disturbed about what appears to be happening on the personnel side. I hope that the forces of reaction have not gained control of the Admiralty once again. I was a little suspicious last year when we heard that what my hon. Friend called the "middies"—young boys of 20 to 21—were to go back to sea for training. I do not propose to criticise that at any length now, because, again, I do not have the knowledge. However, I served on a committee which recommended the change in the naval training practice to conform with what has always been the practice in the other two Services. We developed various arguments saying that, with the older entry, it was not appropriate to send these young men to sea to learn on the job. I am sure that not one of the arguments which was used in 1954 could possibly have changed today. Be that as it may, this year we have had two much more severe shocks, both of which have already been mentioned. Last week, in a Written Answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East we were given the figures for officers and men at present at sea. If my arithmetic is correct, those figures show that 73 per cent. of the officers and 60 per cent. of the ratings are ashore. Furthermore, I am inclined to suspect that the position is a good deal worse than appears by that mere recital of percentages. What does my hon. Friend mean by "Service afloat"? Are we to understand that the ships listed under "B" in page 5 of his Explanatory Statement count as "Service afloat", since they include training ships, many of which seldom go more than two or three hours from the port at which they are based? Do the ships listed in "C"—"Fleet support and auxiliaries" —count as "Service afloat"? Above all, are the crews of ships doing refits shown as being afloat, notwithstanding the fact that some of the refits may go on for a long time and that men may have to be accommodated ashore or. more sensibly, sent home on leave? That brings me to the second shock, which is much more severe. In a reply which my hon. Friend gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley), we were told about the naval barracks at Chatham remaining open. I confess to a prejudice against barracks. I remember that the first time I ventured to take part in a debate on this subject, I was incited by the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) into suggesting that barracks should be blown up and not rebuilt.
Mr. Emrys Hughes
Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I still hold the same views.Let us look at the reasons given for the retention of barracks. We are told that ships will be refitting at Chatham and that during some such refits, a substantial number of the sailors and the ratings will need to be accommodated ashore. We are also told—and I cannot help feeling that this is a much more cogent reason for what must have gone on at the Admiralty—that the change also enables the Royal Naval Supply and Secretariat School to remain at Chatham instead of having to suffer the hardship of being moved to Plymouth. Why is it necessary to keep these men hanging about if their ships are having refits, the nature of which makes it impossible for the ships to be habitable? Why should not the men be used to man another ship from the Reserve? In those conditions, why cannot ships be paid off into dockyard control, leaving a small number of key ratings to stand by, men who could be accommodated, like Vickers accommodate their key men who go to Chatham in exactly the same circumstances and for exactly the same reason? Why should not those men be paid allowances and allowed to find their own accommodation, probably with their wives and families, in lodgings or hotels in the town? What makes me rather alarmed about this is whether we will next hear about the reversal of the decision about the Commander-in-Chief and his staff and whether the post of C.-in-C Nore is to be continued after all. We are witnessing a reversal of the policy which has often been described to us in these debates and to the Press as "The way ahead", a policy which we came to associate with the noble Lord, Earl Mountbatten, who has now gone to the Ministry of Defence. I should like to be reassured and told that the Admiralty has not changed its slogan from "The way ahead" to "Back the way we came". The fact is that for a generation there have been two navies so far as personnel are concerned. There has been a navy composed of officers and men who go to sea, officers for more than half of their total service and ratings for two-thirds or three-quarters of their time. There has been a second navy which was growing all the time I served in the Navy and which has evidently continued to grow in the years since I left, a navy which practically never goes to sea. That navy should be eliminated, because the work done by the officers and men in that navy could be done with greater efficiency and at smaller cost by civilians. That is truer than ever it was now that the rates of pay of the uniformed personnel have been so strikingly increased. It is quite disgraceful that the Navy should keep highly-skilled young men hanging about ships chipping paint and cleaning out double bottoms when they are trained for and should be employed in operational ships at sea. I want to say a word about officers. One reason given for the recent considerable increase in pensions and pay for serving officers was that it was necessary to tempt more boys into joining cadet colleges, and my hon. Friend touched on one or two of the difficulties which the Navy is still experiencing. I believe that to be a mistaken argument. I believe that, on the contrary, we are probably entering too many and not too few cadets. Ever since the war, it has been the practice to fill every job requir- ing an educational background higher than normally available from the lower deck with a cadet entry career officer. The result of that—and I do not wish to criticise only the Navy in this respect, for I am sure that it applies to the other Services as well—is that in a warship one finds officers employed as technicians, employed in jobs which call for considerable personal skill, but not for the qualities which are normally described as officer-like qualities. It is not good for them and it is a very extravagant policy. The type of young man far more fitted —at least, equally fitted—to carry out those jobs is the product of our modern technical colleges of which the Service makes no use. The Committee on Officer Structure which I have mentioned and which sat in 1954 was driven, rightly at the time, to recommend promotion factors far above what would normally be desirable, on account of the very poor pensions available in those days. Had it been foreseen that there would be this tremendous increase in pensions, I do not think that the same recommendations would necessarily have been made. That Committee recommended that there should be a new type of officer, a type whose educational background would be more comparable with those of short-service pilots and those who entered the Service with such success during the war in large numbers in the Special Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, officers with three or four General Certificates of Education at Ordinary level. To some extent, these proposals were approved. If hon. Members will turn to paragraphs 96 and 97 of the Admiralty Fleet Order which dealt with the new officer structure, and which was placed in the Library of the House early in 1956, they will see that a Supplementary List was established. The Order explained that to begin with, the Supplementary List would be for pilots and observers only, but that its scope would be expanded when necessary to provide for the employment of Supplementary List officers in the seaman, engineer, supply and secretariat and electrical branches. It stated later that it was not intended to do that so long as it was possible to employ officers of about 50 years of age who had missed their promotion and would like to do the jobs instead. The concept was, therefore, entirely different from what had been proposed by the Officer Structure Committee. It may be asked, why not fill some of these posts, or more of them, from the lower deck? The answer, paradoxically enough, is probably the improved educational system of the country at large. It is an unfortunate fact that except for, I think I am right in saying, the artificer branches and, to a lesser extent, the writer branches, the Navy does not enlist a large number of grammar school boys. One of the paradoxes of improving the national educational standard is that inevitably less officer material comes into the Navy by way of the lower deck. Surely, the answer is to create this new type of officer, something between the officer as he is now understood and the man. It always seems to me that the Admiralty is still in the 18th century, when we had the gentlemen and the labourers and nothing in between. In this way, a great gulf was fixed. It is rather as if one tried to run the Civil Service with the clerical class and the administrative class and no executive class in between. It would be exceedingly wasteful of talent and the first complaint we should hear about it was that there was difficulty in recruiting the necessary number of graduates for the administrative classes of the Civil Service. The Committee and the taxpayer would know what was coming next. The opposition to that view comes from people who say, "But you cannot have two different kinds of officers." I have heard it said that we cannot have Brahmins and Untouchables. I regard that argument as rubbish. Again, the answer is to be found in the Civil Service. Turning now to the later Votes in the Estimates, I should like to say a word about the enormous sums of money which are spent on major refits and modernisations. This is something which I have criticised before and, I have no doubt, will criticise again. It is easy to say that only the very latest gadgets will suffice when we have a small Navy, but I wonder how far that is true. We have spent £20 million on the "Victorious" and I do not know how much—is it to be another £20 million? —on the "Eagle". My hon. Friend the Civil Lord would be wise not to answer Chat question. I do not expect that he has been let into the secret yet. The history of the "Eagle" is quite enlightening. She joined the fleet for the first time in August, 1952. I well remember, because I was the first Admiral to fly my flag in her. Even on the day she joined the fleet, an imposing list of proposed alterations and additions had been drawn up by the ship's staff. They were all desirable and all expensive and included extra dynamoes, extra evaporators, a new wardroom, better mess decks here and there and quite a lot of other things. Being devoted to the cause of economy, I made myself unpopular by refusing to allow those items to go forward, because I said that sooner or later the ship would be due for an extensive modernisation and that that was the time to do all the work. When my hon. Friend the Civil Lord replies tonight, however, I would like him to tell us, in the seven and a half years since the "Eagle" first joined the Fleet, how many months she has spent refitting and how much money has been spent in having some of these alterations done. It is an unending process. That raises the question of whether we can really imagine these ships fighting the sort of enemy, against whom it would matter whether the weapons were bang up to date, without the war becoming a nuclear war. I cannot imagine that happening. On the other hand, if we contemplate a nuclear war, even if the nuclear weapons were used only between the armed forces and the civil population did not have to withstand a direct nuclear attack, I do not believe that these aircraft carriers would last a week. My hon. Friend the Civil Lord said that the "Hermes" was able to shoot down 90 per cent. of the aircraft that attacked her. He did not tell us what aircraft they were. When I say "shoot down", I do not want to be misunderstood, but I take it that what is meant is that interception by the fighter aircraft of the "Hermes" would enable them to stop 90 per cent. of the attacking aircraft. Whether they are the equivalent of Victors or Vulcans at their maximum operational height and speed, I do not know. Even assuming that they were, it is not the least use nowadays shooting down 90 per cent. It is no use shooting down 99 per cent. We must shoot down 100 per cent., because one single nuclear weapon would destroy the greatest carrier ever built. I ask myself whether it might not be better to have more ships of a simple nature—and to this extent I go part of the way with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East—suitable for peace-time duties and for dealing with minor troubles. For example, as a Commando carrier the "Bulwark" is admirable. I am given to understand that before she became a Commando carrier in 1958, the "Bulwark" played a decisive part in dealing with the troubles that arose in Arabia. Her aircraft were by no means the last word in modern fighters. I wonder whether we are are not underestimating the Navy's rôle in time of peace. The Royal Navy still enjoys a worldwide respect and affection which is not shared by any other fighting force of any other nation. This unique reputation rests mainly neither on the Navy's achievements in the last two wars nor upon the memory of Trafalgar. It rests rather on the conduct of Her Majesty's ships during the long years of the Pax Britannica. For generation after generation, the Navy acted as the policeman of the seas all over the world. It became known to many millions of humble people as the friend of the weak and the helper of the distressed. There is still this rôle to be played I should have thought that it could bring this country greater influence and more good than can the possession of the very latest gadgets. Today, unfortunately, in playing that rôle we are hampered by lack of ships. Only twenty-five years ago, the British Navy would have been first on the scene at Agadir. and it would not have been with merely a minesweeper and a depot ship. A fleet would have arrived there. For the cost of modernising the "Victorious", we could have built about ten small cruisers or big sloops, call them what we will. I dare say the same number could be built if we left the "Eagle" as she is and invested the money in that way instead. Those ships would admirably fulfil the sort of peacetime rôle which I have in mind and be capable of dealing with the sort of trouble that can be dealt with by force today with any degree of safety. I am not saying that there is no global rôle for the Navy—I am sure there is. It is the rôle which has been advocated from both sides ever since I have been a Member of the House of Commons and, I should imagine, for some years before. The proper rôle, surely, is to send part or all of the nuclear deterrent to sea and to have it afloat. I do not mean to have it afloat in the form of carrier-borne aircraft. Last year in a similar debate I ventured to criticise the obsession of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation with Blue Streak. I suggested to my hon. Friend the Civil Lord that the Navy might develop its own form of Polaris, that it might go to the torpedo establishment and ask for advice. I was not entirely joking. From what we know of Polaris, which is little—there has been a certain amount reported about the American trials—I think that the Americans have gone off on the wrong tack and that they will have a good deal of trouble with this weapon. But now we are told that the deterrent has to be indestructible if it is to be valid. That is the origin of this Sky-bolt project, but surely the Skybolt project has gone only half way to solving the problem. The aircraft carrying it will have to operate from fixed airfields which would still be vulnerable. A nuclear-propelled warship, whether operating on the surface of the sea or as a submarine, would be able to stay at sea for months if that proved necessary. I hope that my hon. Friend will resist proposals to build new super carriers or aircraft to carry the Skybolt. I feel sure it will not be long before that suggestion is put to him. I think we should be mistaken in thinking that a nuclear ship carrying a nuclear missile need necessarily be a submarine. It could be a medium-sized surface ship that could be designed tomorrow. It might have a tough outer skin and be fitted with anti-aircraft guided missiles, which would give it a high degree of immunity from bombing attack, and also it could be fitted with anti-torpedo protection. It would not be invulnerable or indestructible, but it would be a good deal better than a missile base in the United Kingdom. This is by no means a new idea, as my hon. Friend may know and as I am sure hon. Members opposite who were Members of the Labour Government will recall. The same sort of idea has been advanced for over ten years. Royal Air Force enthusiasts will reply that ships would not stand for a moment against the stand-off bomb. I do not accept that, but were it true, what possible value are the carriers? They are far from vulnerable when compared with the sort of ship which I have mentioned. There is one aspect of this nuclear deterrent policy which worries me a great deal. To what extent is the policy being governed by inter-Service rivalries? Is the R.A.F. determined to make a corner in the nuclear deterrent and if possible to deny the Navy from having any share? Is it a coincidence that the misgivings regarding Blue Streak coincided with the emergence of Skybolt which will require both rockets and bombers? If there is anything in these fears, the sooner we merge the two Services the better it will be for the country. I wish to conclude on a different note. This is the year in which all men of vision and good will look for a disarmament agreement. I would not venture to prophesy, but I feel certain that there is a greater prospect of such an agreement in the coming months than has existed at any rate during my lifetime. Therefore, it is my earnest prayer —I am sure it is the prayer of any hon. Member taking part in these debates— that when we debate the Estimates next year we may no longer be concerned with a nuclear deterrent; that that will then be a nightmare fading into the past. Rather we shall be concerned, let us hope, with the need for a force of warships designed to play its part in the maintenance of international law and in the defence of the freedom of the seas.
Mr. John Dngdale (West Bromwich)
The Committee always listens with the greatest possible interest to the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows what he is talking about and he speaks with remarkable clarity, so that those of us who know less can understand. I find difficulty in disagreeing with anything which the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, and particularly with his concluding remarks, but I wish to take up one or two points which he made before making others of my own.I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman about the veil of secrecy which is cast over the affairs of the Admiralty. This applies also to other Service Departments. I agree that the case of the Admiralty is better in many respects and I think that the Explanatory Statement that we have had is very good. But even so, there is much too much secrecy. I agree particularly with the references by the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the numbers of officers and ratings ashore. I once had a brush with no less an eminent person than the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman had a great deal to say about the large number of officers and ratings ashore at the time of the Labour Government. Apparently, it was something particularly wicked that the Labour Government had done. It is interesting to note that the same thing goes on today. In defence of the Civil Lord, I am bound to say that very many are in the Fleet Air Arm, so, obviously, they must be ashore, but I have no doubt that the Civil Lord can put his own defence. It is certainly a large percentage and I do not think that any of us thought to see so many ashore.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
There are the marines also, of which about 92 per cent. are ashore.
Of course, there are also the marines.Like many other people, particularly those who have held the office, I mourn the demise of the office of Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty. I am glad to welcome this new office under what I feel is a rather awkward title of "Civil Lord (Parliamentary)". That does not seem to me the best of titles.
It is just "Civil Lord".
I am glad to hear it. I understood that "Parliamentary" was still attached from force of habit.While I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment, I do not congratulate him on having exactly the same salary as he had before. I have been looking at the salary of members of the Board of Admiralty and it is interesting to see that the Civil Lord receives less than half the salary of any other member of the Board. This is an extraordinary state of affairs. Not only that, but he has a smaller salary than any of the private secretaries of members of the Board of Admiralty. Looking through the list I was staggered to see that that was so, except possibly in the case of his own secretary, although it may be that even his own secretary gets more than the hon. Gentleman. Anyhow, all the salaries of private secretaries of naval members are higher than that of the hon. Gentleman and I do not think that this is right. Of course, this raises an issue which goes far wider than the subject we are discussing. I realise that the salaries of all junior Ministers are involved. I hope that the status of the hon. Gentleman will be increased as a result of his new office. When I was at the Admiralty I thought it wrong that when the First Lord was absent the chair at the Board of Admiralty should be taken by an admiral; in other words, by a naval officer acting in the same way as a chief civil servant might do in a civil Department. I think it wrong that any Minister should have to sit at a table at which the chair is taken by a man who is not a Minister, be he a civil servant or an officer of the Armed Forces. This does not apply in either of the other two Services and I hope that as a result of this change of office the situation may be remedied. I do not ask the Civil Lord to comment on it now, for obvious reasons. It is something upon which I did not comment when I held the office, but I can do so more freely now. I wish to speak mainly on the question of submarines. On looking at the Estimates I looked, first, at the Estimates of the Admiralty Office. Last year, the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East said that he hoped the Parliamentary Secretary and Financial Secretary would look at the Admiralty Office Estimates and reduce them. He has, in fact, looked at them and increased them by £½ million. That has been the result of the efforts of the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary. We hope that the Civil Lord will look at them again and perhaps be able to decrease them next year. I have looked at some of the more detailed Estimates. Here I speak with some diffidence as I am not as sure as I might be of the actual scope of the work, but the Undersurface Warfare Division would seem to be a division concerned, at any rate indirectly, with submarines, and which might be expected to play a very big part in the work of submarines. I find that there are 14 people in the department and that it has had no increase from last year to this year. I find, on the other hand, when I look on page 171, that the Historical Section has exactly 14 people in it, but last year it had 13. In spite of the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, it has been increased to 14 and has now caught up with the Undersurface Warfare Division. I cannot think it right that there should be the same number to record the past services of the Navy as there are to prepare for the future warfare of the Navy in its most important aspect, the aspect of the undersea warfare. That is something which should be attended to. It shows that there is something of unbalance in the Admiralty Vote. So strange is it to me that the hon. Gentleman has not looked into it himself that he might well consult that other department, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), the Department of the Chief Psychologist. I see that department has gone up in numbers by one. There is one more psychologist than there was before. I have nothing against the department. It performs very good service, but its increase is an interesting point. When I was at the Admiralty a number of ratings were anxious to leave the Service, as can well be imagined, because it was shortly after the war. One was so anxious to leave that eventually he was sent to the psychologist, not to the Chief Psychologist, but to one of the junior psychologists, who saw him over a considerable number of weeks. At the end of that period something extraordinary happened. The psychologist himself put in for leave of absence from the Navy. I turn to Vote 8, which perhaps is the most important Vote in the whole of the Estimates. It is a Vote of £233 million. I note that it is no less than two-and-a-half times what it was ten years ago. That is quite a big increase. I am sure that all of us will agree that it is better to spend money on equipping the Navy well and possibly having rather fewer men in it than to have a larger number in an ill-equipped Navy, but I am not quite certain that the money is spent as well as it might be. It is difficult to discover how it is spent. One has this enormous block and there is very little subdivision which makes it practically impossible to discover details of expenditure. I should like to know how much is spent on submarines. The Explanatory Statement says that five were launched last year. I understand that the nuclear submarine has not yet been launched.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
Not yet, and there is one planned in addition. The Civil Lord said that it was difficult to contemplate planning any more and difficult to contemplate planning a submarine of the Polaris type because it was so expensive. I think he said that it was six times the cost of the others. I may be corrected on this by those who know better, but I understand that it is about 300 times as effective as a normal submarine. That seems quite useful. In any case, however, none of them, apparently, is to be capable of firing nuclear weapons. Why is this? My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said that it was time we recast our defence policy.
I was quoting from what the Civil Lord said last year, that if we were to consider Polaris we would have to consider the whole of our naval strength.
It might be well worth doing that. The Navy today has an opportunity such as it has never had for the past ten years, or indeed, since the war. It has been forced by the other two Services into third place. Those of us who are fond of the Navy, and want to put it first, should make no mistake that it has been forced into third place. The Air Force, as carriers of the nuclear deterrent, naturally has the leading place and the Army, with the amount of work it has to do, has second place.Here, I sound the only controversial note of my remarks. Largely as a result of Government policy in Cyprus, in Kenya, and one or two other places, the Army has had a great deal of extra work to do. One has heard of its work much more than one has heard of anything the Navy has done. Now we have come to a point when people are beginning to say, "Is it right that the whole of the nuclear deterrent should be concentrated in this country?" My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) put it very clearly in the defence debate, when he said:
I will not argue whether there should be a nuclear deterrent or not. That seems much too big a subject to get involved in at the moment, but I am asking whether, if there is to be a nuclear deterrent, it is better that it should be placed in this country or placed on board ships which are floating, which are away from this country, and can be in different places. There are two disadvantages in having the nuclear deterrent here. The first is that it is static and everyone knows where it is. The second is the particular place it happens to be, in the middle of the United Kingdom. Those seem very large disadvantages. We have a large American force here, kept to be able to deliver the deterrent. We have little right to say to them, "Take your deterrent away" unless we can say, "We offer you somewhere else from which to fire it." That is always assuming that there is to be a deterrent. What we can offer them today, or should be able to offer them today, is that it should be fired from Her Majesty's ships of the Royal Navy. I do not know what ships can fire it, or if any ships can fire it, but I know that apparently the best ship for firing it, and the ship from which it could be fired with the greatest effect, is a submarine of the Polaris type. The money spent on the Navy today, therefore, could well be spent not so much on developing a large number of small ships or a large number of antisubmarine ships, as on developing a smaller number of Polaris-type ships capable of carrying the deterrent. When they are developed, and only then, can we say to the Americans, and, indeed, to the Royal Air Force, "We do not want any more nuclear deterrent bases in this country, because we are providing them elsewhere." That is a task which the Navy can carry out, a task which could not be done better by any other Service, a task which would place it in the front rank of all three Services. Judging from the Civil Lord's speech, the Navy, unfortunately, will not be able to carry out these duties. He said that we were not to have such a ship as this. There is no possiblity of having it for some time, yet we are spending this enormous sum of money. It could be better spent on preparing a Polaris submarine than on many other items on which it is proposed to be spent. With all the money that the Navy has today, it could take up this rôle of being the carrier of the nuclear weapon which is now based in this country. It could take over this rôle if it was willing to prepare itself to do so, and I hope that it will. If it was prepared to undertake this duty it would again become of the first in importance among our defence Services."a fixed site missile was an invitation and not a deterrent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th February, 1960; Vol. 618, c. 884.]
Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I always feel rather diffident about taking part in a debate on the Navy Estimates, because I am probably the only hon. Member present who has not had the opportunity of serving with the Royal Navy. However, since I have been in the House I have taken a keen interest in the affairs of the Navy, and I have gone as far as my hon. Friend has in going from one ship to another in a jackstay.I should like to take this opportunity of saying how much we appreciate the work that the Civil Lord does, and in particular to thank him for the many problems which I send and he attends to in addition to the work that he does in the House. We on the Government benches are pleased that since the last election our numbers have been increased by Members who have far more knowledge of the Navy than we had previously, which is an additional reason for my diffidence in joining in the debate. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) referred to the number of civilians employed. In April, 1955, there were 180,600 civilians. There are now only 150,000. That shows a drop of 30,600, and may mitigate some of my hon. and gallant Friend's feelings about civilians. During the defence debate there seemed to be a shift of emphasis with regard to the Navy. It seems that we are now not going to rely entirely on the nuclear deterrent, and that some reliance will be placed on conventional weapons. I presume that the Royal Navy, as has been mentioned by one or two right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, will have a bigger part to play. The notes in Cmnd. 949 are very helpful, and perhaps the diagrams were put in for people like myself. We have been given more knowledge this year than in previous years, though the votes themselves are tied up in a way which rather confused me. Dealing with the point made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), I suggest that this Cmnd. 949 Paper should be sent to headmasters of schools from which boys are likely to come into the Navy. It would be of great interest to them, and would be an excellent form of publicity. I was delighted to see that at the end of the notes there is a map showing over 300 places visited by the Navy. Diplomatically that is a great asset. It shows, in addition, the forces that we have can be spread round the world. I presume that these visits were made during the year, but I should like confirmation of that. We have a good chance of publicising the Navy by showing that it is capable of going a considerable way round the world. The Minister of Defence stated that the nuclear and non-nuclear deterrents must be more mobile. During the defence debate, he said that the accuracy of the Russian rocketing seemed to prove this. It seems to prove what the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said, that if missiles were fired from ships they would be less vulnerable than if they were fired from a static point in Norfolk. I support that view, and I hope that we will consider having more missile-carrying vessels, besides the nuclear submarines which apparently we cannot have at the present time. In this context, I should like to know what has happened to the Girdle Ness trials. Has any progress been made? If the Navy is to retain its rate of recruiting, it is essential that there is not a change of policy every year. People do not join the Navy because we have a different policy from year to year. I hope that we shall now get rid of the view expressed in the White Paper issued by the Ministry of Defence last year about the rôle of the Navy, and that its future rôle will soon be settled. We have heard a lot today about the good work that the Navy can do in rescue work, the work it did during two world wars, and during the period of the Pax Britannica. All hon. Members are anxious that whatever happens there shall be no war in future, but we realise that there is a need for a Navy to police our seas. We must, therefore, make it plain to future generations coming into the Navy what part they can play in a peacetime Navy. The peacetime Navy can play a great part. The presence of a Navy on the seas contributes to peace. Fishery protection has not been mentioned. I notice from the Cmnd. Paper that 53 ships were used to protect our fishing trawlers off Iceland. I understand that that is good training for the younger officers and ratings. I was interested in trying to find out the average age of the people in these ships, and I understand it is about 20. My only concern is whether there is sufficient change in the drafting of the crews. These young men go to sea for a long period, and it might be better to change the crews more frequently and give more people this experience. I know that this duty is not being carried out at the moment because the trawler fishermen have agreed not to fish off Icelandic shores until the Conference on the Law of the Sea, which I hope will be successful. If, after all, the Navy again start protecting our trawlers, I hope that the need for changing over the personnel on these ships will be emphasised. The feeding arrangements on small ships are not as satisfactory as they are on the larger ships. I have visited larger vessels where the messing facilities and feeding arrangements are good, but on the smaller vessels the food is monotonous and cooking is done under difficult conditions. Paragraph 54 of the Command Paper refers to candidates for direct entry to Dartmouth. None of the candidates came from a traditional recruitment area, which is Plymouth. I wonder whether there is sufficient publicity, as I notice that very little is spent on publicity. If we are to attract the type of young men we want, both in the Navy and as apprentices in the dockyards, there must be more publicity, because the Admiralty has to compete against industry. Unless we put our policy stating the type of life in the Navy over to the public, we will not get the young men that we require. They may not volunteer for the Navy because they do not know the various careers that they can follow. The first paragraph of page 9 of the Command Paper says:
My hon. Friend told us today that ours is only the third largest Navy in the world. Perhaps we can be told later in what way we shall try to match the other navies. We obviously cannot do it in all sections—it is important to know how we are going to match them. Are we to match them in regard to submarine warfare, or are we to match them in regard to aircraft carriers in which the Americans are vastly superior to us? It would be very helpful to have a more definite explanation of that paragraph. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East, mentioned H.M.S. "Eagle", which at the moment is refitting in Devonport. I can assure him that he is not wrong in suggesting that the amount of money envisaged by the First Lord and publicised by our local papers will be £20 million and that it will take between three and four years to complete."The Navy must always keep abreast of technical advances affecting sea warfare; the quality of its ships, aircraft, and weapons must match that of the other principal navies of the world."
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
Four and a quarter years.
After that, will it be a modern ship? Consideration should be given either to speeding up the reconstruction of this ship or to doing it in not such a "complicated manner", which my hon. and gallant Friend criticised. If a refit is to take four and a quarter years and cost £20 million, would it not be better to build a new ship, which I gather would cost about £50 million? How much longer would it take to build a new ship?I am saying this because I visited H.M.S. "Ark Royal". Despite its refit, I would not call it a modern and up-to-date ship. The accommodation, though very much improved, is still not equivalent to that in a great many merchant ships which I have seen. I know that naval ships have to carry more equipment. If the "Eagle" is to be re-equipped, we should think seriously about whether it can be made modern with an expenditure of £20 million or whether it would not be better to build a new ship. I was interested to hear that the "Ark Royal" is the first carrier to be able to operate at the same time Scimitars, Sea Vixens, Gannets, A.E.W.s and Whirlwind helicopters. This is a credit to the reconstruction of the ship and to the new technical equipment which enables her to land all these types of planes on her deck. What is to be the policy in regard to Her Majesty's Dockyards? I am not referring only to the dockyard at Plymouth. It is essential that the towns which are dependent on the yards should know what is to happen in the future. Are they to be merely repairing yards or are they to be turned over, as has been done in the case of Devonport at the moment, to building ships? At present, as my hon. Friend knows, we are building H.M.S. "Plymouth" and another frigate. There should be a definite policy in this. We are only too delighted to be able to build these ships in order to train young men, but if this policy is changed we might again be left with many unemployed and, if we had, have to return to repairing the Navy's existing ships. It would appear that there will not be much money for building more ships. In the present Estimates provision is made for £750,000. The other money would seem to be going simply to hurrying up those ships which have already begun. Furthermore, there does not appear to be any money in the Estimates for the provision of new machinery for the dockyards. In many dockyards the machinery is becoming very obsolescent. There is also a need for new machine tools, but there is a reduction in the Estimates concerning these.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
It is a little confusing. Dockyard machinery has been transferred to the Navy Works Vote.
Will there be any extra money in the new Vote for machinery? The trouble may arise from the new way of computing the accounts, but I have been informed that there is not sufficient money to make any real improvement in the machinery.Furthermore, there are to be cuts of about sixty in the established personnel and 601 in the hired personnel. Is this to be a continuous process? Are the dockyards to be gradually run down, and is it to be a continuing process year after year? There is an increase for wages of only about £3 million. It does not look as if the dockyards will be able to increase wages in the coming years or make any increase in the numbers employed. The Civil Lord was kind enough to receive a deputation about apprentices. Many yards are anxious to be allowed to take on more of these young people. The British Employers Federation has circulated its member firms, and 154 public companies have agreed to take an increase of boys into skilled occupations in 1961, 1962 and 1963. I hope that the Admiralty will consider following suit, because in certain areas there is no other industry which can take up the training of young boys. When can we expect the second Nihill Report to be ready? The reorganisation of Chatham and Rosyth is being carried out. This I believe is very desirable. We cannot expect to get into the dockyards the best recruits from the Services or from the engineering students if they do not know what the future organisation of the yards will be. Further, I am worried about the number of safety officers. There are only six of these officers employed in all the yards. There is very complicated machinery in many yards, but there is only one safety officer for each yard. If he is sick or on holiday, there is no one of his grade to take his place. The dockyards are very short of welfare officers. All the yards employ many thousands of men. There are only fourteen welfare officers altogether, four of whom are at Rosyth. I hope that my hon. Friend will reconsider the position, because it would be very useful to have more welfare officers to deal with the many problems which occur in the yards. I asked a Question of my hon. Friend the other day about the Royal Marine Barracks at Stonehouse, and he said that he might be able to reply during today's debate. We should retain these barracks. They are very admirable and beautiful buildings. They have a long room, and also a theatre. The interior accommodation could be repaired and modernised. Then they would provide an excellent centre for the future. The Minister of Defence went on board H.M.S. "Bulwark", the first Commando carrier. According to the Press, he said:
I suggest that we have another ship of this type which could be used particularly by the Royal Marines. Is any further action to be taken about the accommodation at Bickleigh, where men are still housed in huts? I wish to thank my hon. Friend for allowing the use of the Royal Naval Hospital at Stonehouse for civilians. It is a great asset at the moment when there is a shortage of accommodation in civilian hospitals. There is also the problem of the Admiralty constabulary. I hope that the Minister will be able to say today—he may remember that I had an Adjournment debate on this question—that there will be no further reduction in the age of retirement of these men. They are now being retired at the age of 63 and they have still two years to wait for retirement pension. This is causing hardship, and I hope that he will see that the age is not lowered any further. I should like to bring to my hon. Friend's attention two final points in regard to pensions. I understand that at present naval officers on special duties receive a lower pension than those on general duties. For instance, a Royal Navy officer on special duties receives £700 per annum, whereas a Royal Navy officer on general duties receives £800. I believe that this is not the case in the comparable ranks of the Royal Air Force or the Army. Perhaps this has been overlooked or is a mistake, and I shall be glad if my hon. Friend will look into it and put it right? I want to refer to paragraphs 49 and 50 of the Command Paper in regard to the retirement age of officers. I understand that in order to carry out certain recommendations of the Report of the Grigg Committee, Command 545, there is to be an earlier retirement age. Lieut.-commanders, in particular, would like to know whether they are to be allowed voluntary retirement within the next four years. It would appear that there is to be an inroduction of this earlier age for those entering after May, 1957. This does not help a considerable number of officers because of the difficulties of promotion. Can those who cannot be promoted further be allowed to retire, as they should be allowed to, in their late 30s or 40s? There are quite a number of officers who were in the 1939–45 War for whom there is no possible chance of promotion because during the war R.N.V.R. officers were given permanent commissions. Is it the wish of the Admiralty to keep these men if they have no chance of promotion? Is there a shortage of officers of this type? Many of them would like to retire before the B scheme officers who are being released from 1960 onwards. They cannot get promotion and they would like to know what is to be their future. I should like to pay tribute to the Women's service. I see that they are particularly mentioned in this Command Paper, and that they are playing a larger part in the Royal Navy than previously. I also raised this matter in an Adjournment debate with regard to the Grigg Committee's Report on conditions of women in the Service, and I take this opportunity of thanking my hon. Friend for various steps that have been taken to improve their conditions."In addition to its fire brigade rôle, which I regard as of the greatest importance, she can still act in the anti-submarine rôle."
Mr. Walter Edwards (Stepney)
It is not my intention to keep the Committee for long and, therefore, I do not propose to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) into the details of the Estimates. I want to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) and the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) with regard to Vote 12, but to refer to it on a different basis.It may not be apparent to many hon. Members that in Vote 12 we find a situation where there is a reduction by one in the membership on the Board of Admiralty. This has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) and my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich. The posts of Parliamentary and Financial Secretary and of the Civil Lord have been for the first time merged. That means that there will be one less political member on the Board than has been the case, certainly for the whole of this century, and perhaps for the last one hundred years. We now find in the Board of Admiralty a situation in which the naval officers retain their numbers this year— and, of course, the Permanent Secretary has to be there—but there is a reduction in the political membership of the Board. I view this change with serious concern. I am quite sure that those who believe in Parliamentary democracy will be a little worried that this century-old ratio has now altered to the disadvantage of the political members. I am sure that most hon. Members are aware that it is the Board of Admiralty which finally sends this Vote to the House of Commons. There is a body in the Admiralty called the Finance Committee which, for months, goes into the financial situation for the ensuing year and sends its recommendations to the Board for its final decision. Until now there have always been two political members on the Finance Committee, one the chairman and the other the Civil Lord. Representatives from other Departments go to the meetings of the Finance Committee which decides whether financial requests for the ensuing year should be allowed. That situation is to be changed, because of the change in the composition of the Board of Admiralty. I imagine that it will mean that the Civil Lord himself will take the chair, and I am wondering whether it will be possible for him to stand up to the Departments, when they go there, without the assistance of the other political member. I always found that that was necessary, and I am sure that the Civil Lord will. I suggest that this reduction in the political membership of the Board of Admiralty, although voting does not take place at the meetings of the Board, will mean an increase in the power on the Board of the naval staff and a corresponding decrease in the power of the First Lord and the Civil Lord. I had the privilege of serving at the Admiralty for over six years, and it is my conviction that this change in the Board's composition will do a great disservice to the House and to the country. Let us look at the situation. The First Lord is in the other place. The Civil Lord is the only Admiralty representative in this House, whereas both the Army and the Air Force have two representatives. The Civil Lord has had to open this debate on his own, and, if he wants a cup of tea, will doubtless have to be replaced by his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War—who does not know the first thing about the Admiralty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for War will agree that he does not know the first thing about the Admiralty's work. I merely mentioned it because it is hard on him to have to take over while his hon. Friend gets some refreshment. I have served on the Board with a number of admirals, with three First Lords, and with others of my colleagues in the position of Parliamentary and Financial Secretary. I do not know whether the First Lord will be one of the most outstanding men in that post that we have had, but I am sure that, without the assistance of another junior Minister, the Civil Lord's job will be much more difficult. If the Press reports were right, one read that just after the present First Lord took office his private secretary was in the wrong, because the Press photographs showed him, and not the First Lord, in a peak cap. It is important that we should have a First Lord of the most outstanding type, and one who can let the admirals know that he means to be First Lord. No doubt, the Civil Lord will try to help him in that way, and I am sure that he would agree that we should not have had this change. It would be much better to retain the second political member on the Board, and, perhaps, get rid of two admirals—at their rate of pay, it would certainly be cheaper. The Board might then function more in accordance with a political democracy. However, it may be a little too late to examine this change. The Finance Committee is very important, especially at the beginning of the Estimate period. Comment has been made that the cost of the Board has gone up by £1 million. I do not know by how much it may increase next year without the watchful eye of a Financial Secretary. Most of those who serve on the Board come under Vote 12. It is, therefore, quite feasible that that part of the Estimate might be looked on fairly generously, but that, next year, we shall again find ourselves complaining of the cost. I hope that public notice will be taken of this change. I do not think it has been made on the initiative of the Board, although I have sometimes suspected that the naval members preferred not to have so many political colleagues. This change is one of the most retrograde steps in the Admiralty, and bears out the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich that the Admiralty will now be No. 3 on the list instead of being the senior Service. Of course it will be No. 3. If it is to be treated in this way by the Government, everyone will take for granted that it is No. 3. Those of us who have some regard for the Royal Navy should express our disapproval of the Government's action. It is a good job that we gat the Navy Estimates each year, or we would not notice these changes, and I see reference to another rather striking change. There was an important department called the Civil Engineer-in-Chief's Department. It existed for over a hundred years, and carried out its work most efficiently during and after the last war. It has now been given the new name of Navy Works Department. That is confusing to the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport in regard to machinery in the dockyards, and confusing to all of us in regard to Vote 10 and Vote 8 work. The Civil Lord has not told us why it is proposed to change the system which has worked so well in a department for which he is primarily responsible. If all the Board has to do is to change the name of a department in this way, it is high time it found something better to do. I want the fullest information on this. The first change has been to reduce the political membership of the Board of Admiralty to the lowest figure in the last century. We are left in this House with one junior Minister—let us hope that he never has to go sick. That hon. Gentleman has to answer for the Admiralty in this House. He is responsible not only for the naval service, but for the supply services, for the Admiralty's works programme and for all industrial employees both here and abroad. Can we expect the Royal Navy to be efficient when the Government adopt such a cheeseparing reduction of the political membership of the Board? It will probably mean that this one Admiralty representative will not be able to supply the House with all the information that it requires. The second change means that an establishment that has been in being for over a hundred years is more or less merged with some other establishment, and we are not told whether it is for the benefit of the works programme, for the benefit of the Navy, or of any benefit to the Admiralty at all. I hope that the Civil Lord will be able to give a very considered reply to both the matters that I have mentioned.
Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)
The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) made it clear that it was not his wish that the Admiralty should become No. 3 in importance. I assure him that I agree with any suggestions which he may make which will ensure that the Admiralty is not third on the list.Having said that, may I come at once to what I think was a striking passage in the opening speech of my hon. Friend the Civil Lord, when he talked of the co-operation between the navies of the Commonwealth and mentioned that we had 12 Commonwealth navies. That is a figure which surprised me. and if it comes as a surprise to me, I think it might be of interest to people outside the House and, indeed, outside this country. In the precincts of the Palace of Westminster I have been asked by some nationals of one of our allied countries how we manage to persuade the people of the Commonwealth to subscribe so liberally to the defence programmes of this country. I explained to them as best I could that we had no power to do any such thing. However, I believe that there are people who are under the impression that the Commonwealth contributes in this fashion at the suggestion of us here at Westminster. When the Civil Lord tells us that there are 12 Commonwealth navies, it might be worth making the further point that such decisions are taken by independent countries, by people who want to accept their responsibilities for the peace of the world. This means that the strength of the Commonwealth is greatly increased, because they are free decisions. The Civil Lord, I think, might well on another occasion attempt to tell us a little more about the development of the navies of the Commonwealth. I know a little about the development of the Navy in Canada. In 1939, there was a very small naval force in Canada, but by the end of the war the Canadians decided that they wanted to continue to be a naval Power, and we now find them a most valued and important part of the N.A.T.O. contribution. Therefore, I suggest that the Civil Lord should see whether he can in some way make available fuller information about the Commonwealth which, I am sure, would be of interest to many of us. We have been discussing today the nuclear deterrent. I have always felt that the policy of the Government was right in developing the deterrent, and I have also felt that in having the deterrent, is to be found the greatest possibility that we should never see it used. I am sure hon. Members will remember that at the beginning of the last war, whether we were civilians or in the Services, we all had to carry gas masks. We did so because we knew there was a weapon in the possession of the enemy which, if it were used, could have devastating results. Now we have reached the stage in the nuclear deterrent where we can feel that there is, perhaps, a state of balance between the two sides, I hope that the Civil Lord and those responsible for our naval policy will not concentrate purely on nuclear activities. I believe that if, unfortunately, the time should ever come when a war has to be fought it is con- ceivable that it will not be a nuclear war. I am reinforced in my conclusions by the leading article which some of us may have seen in The Times last Saturday when it considered the reasons for the lack of support in the recruiting programme for civil defence in London. The article summed up its argument in these words:
If the people who might serve in civil defence in London come to the conclusion that nuclear war is unlikely, it is as well for us to consider the situation in which we would find ourselves if we were involved in a war which was not a nuclear war. It is impossible to range over the whole subject of naval defence, but I should like to consider one aspect in this context; that is, the position in which we should find ourselves if we should happen to be fighting a war against submarines. The only information which I possess is available in the documents with which we have been supplied. If we look at pages 4 and 5 of the Explanatory Statement we find that the ships in the operational fleet and those engaged on trials and training which would be suitable for anti-submarine operations—the smaller ships—number 23 destroyers and 39 frigates. If we turn over the page we find reference to ships of all classes in reserve, numbering 29 destroyers and 37 frigates. These total 52 destroyers and 76 frigates. The Civil Lord said that we might find ourselves engaged in dealing with 500 submarines. Some of us have heard an even higher figure mentioned, but let us assume that many of those were engaged in other fields of endeavour and suppose that we had to deal with only 100 in the Atlantic. I wonder whether any of us who saw the anti-submarine war in the Atlantic in the last war would feel happy if we knew that we had only 52 destroyers and 76 frigates available."In short, the common feeling seems, not unreasonably, to be that total nuclear war is unlikely but that it would virtually annihilate this country if it came."
Mr. Emrys Hughes
Has not the hon. Gentleman left out of his calculation the fact that there is also the large naval strength of America and other naval countries?
Mr. Godman Irvine
If the hon. Member, who is always nimble in his arguments, would be kind enough to wait he would find that that was the point with which I was about to deal.As the hon. Gentleman will recall, I was dealing only a few moments ago with our Commonwealth naval strength. We also have N.A.T.O. in which there are massive forces. At the end of the last war I was with the United States Navy, and I had the greatest admiration for the work that it did. However, there was a time during the last war when the people in the United States had its eyes firmly fixed on the Pacific, and some of us who were fighting the war at this end felt that for quite a long period there was not quite the same devotion to the war which was being fought in Europe as there was to the war in the Pacific. That is no criticism whatever. All I am saying is that we might find ourselves in a similar position again. We might find that if the United States was harried on both its coasts by different forms of attack, it would not be quite so eager to deploy all its forces to come to the assistance of this country. The Canadians have specialised in anti-submarine warfare, so we would doubtless be able to rely on them. But the point I am making is one which has already been made by my hon. and gallant Friend She Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) and by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), that we do not have the information on which we can make any real assessment of the position. I have raised this point on other occasions, as have other Members, and I would reinforce the plea which has been made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, that there ought to be some way in which a little more information could be given to us, because it may well be that this point has been dealt with in our various alliances and agreements. During the debate on defence last week my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence mentioned that it was
I know that "military" sometimes includes "naval", and I have not seen that document. It may well be that in that document we can get a good deal of the information which we require. But if it is not there, I would ask the Civil Lord to take a look at this problem and see whether there is some way in which we can get better information about the actual defence position of this country should we be faced with, for example, anti-submarine warfare. We are in exactly the same position if we look at the future. Figures of ships being built are given on page 12 of the Explanatory Statement, and in pages 220 to 229 of the Estimates. But insufficient information is given for hon. Members to form any adequate idea of what is likely to happen. The words"… not customary or proper for one member Government of N.A.T.O. publicly to disclose the details of the numbers and so on, but in my researches I found a very good pamphlet recently issued by the Institute of Strategic Studies and entitled "The Soviet Union and N.A.T.O. Powers—The Military Balance". This pamphlet quotes certain figures and I can tell the hon. Member from my own knowledge that those figures seem to me to come from a well-informed source."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1960; Vol. 618., c. 1150.]
does not take us very far. It may well be that we cannot have complete details of everything, but the 17 frigates which are mentioned would not carry us very far in the shipbuilding programme and that is nearly all the information about the future which we are given for anti-submarine ships. I know that there is a school of thought which says that the right way to fight submarines is by other submarines, and we have heard of the extra nuclear submarine which is to be built and of the possibility of its being used in this way. There is a passage in the speech of the Minister of Defence in the defence debate, when he referred to this matter and said:"Other ships are on order …"
What did the Minister of Defence mean when he said that we needed these submarines for "the missile-carrying rôle"? So far as I know, we have not entered into that business, which the Minister of Defence said we should get into. We have been asking for mobility and for methods of carrying troops speedily, and now we have the Commando carrier "Bulwark", for which we are all grateful. However, this carrier might be needed in anti-submarine warfare and I hope that in the operational work which "Bulwark" carries out there will be some regard for the fact that in a limited way she could be used as an anti-submarine vessel. I hope that some time will be given to her training for anti-submarine work. I want to refer to the assistance which the Civil Lord and Admiralty have given to hon. Members to visit the fleet. When I first became a Member of Parliament it was occasionally indicated that it would be possible for some of us to visit ships of the fleet. Although I applied on such occasions as were open to me, nothing happened for about three years. During the last two or three years, however, the situation has appeared to be entirely different and I thank the Civil Lord and those responsible for the facilities which have been offered, and I have to say how much they are valued by all hon. Members. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East spoke of the results of a Gallup poll being published today and providing some results of which, unfortunately, I am not aware. Evidentally, the hon. Member has been reading a newspaper which is not included in those which come to me."As to the rest of the scene, we must get into the nuclear submarine business because we may need these submarines for the hunter-killer rôle and equally for the missile-carrying rôle. It is, therefore, quite right that we should lay down our first nuclear submarine".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th February, 1960; Vol 618, c. 852.]
Mr. Emrys Hughes
It is the Scotsman.
Mr. Godman Irvine
Perhaps it is not surprising, then. I was going to say that is was not a newspaper which circulated in my constituency, because the one thing of which I am confident is that my constituents would like to see the Navy occupying a strong place in the defences of this country.
Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
Like the hon. Member for Rye (Mr. Godman Irvine), most of us, in present circumstances, want to see the Navy as strong as we can afford. I say "in present circumstances" because constant efforts are being made to achieve disarmament. And we all hope they will succeed. However, we ought not to be too sanguine about those efforts, because many people think—and I am one of them—that there will never be disarmament as long as we hang on to the ridiculous idea of sovereignty appropriate to a bygone age. Since most people hang on to it to a very large degree, we find it necessary to have Service Estimates, which many of us would like to do without. When we have Service Estimates, it is our duty to see that the money is properly spent.I have two points to make before coming to the short main theme of my contribution to the debate. Perhaps a note can be taken of the first, because I should like a reply, although not necessarily in this debate. From Vote J, Subhead Z, I see that there are to be fewer Commonwealth students at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, this year than there was last year. With Nigeria beginning to have a navy and with Ghana starting a navy, I should have expected more students than usual. Can we be told how in these circumstances there are to be fewer? I had an opportunity to meet the first two Nigerian cadets when I last visited the college, and very fine fellows they seemed to be. I thought that if people such as this were to follow them Nigeria would not have very much to fear in naval matters. About three weeks ago, I was privileged to be conducted by the captain around the Apapa Naval Base, at Lagos, where the beginnings of the Nigerian Navy were very much in evidence. There, I saw a handful of British officers rendering devoted service and I thought what a pity it would be if that sort of thing were to come to an end. I hope that this diminution in the number of cadets at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, is not indicative of a trend which is to set in, because there is something at that college from which students can benefit and which they can take back to their own countries. If they do so, it will be very much to the future advantage of both our countries. I hope that we shall continue to do all we can to help this friendly people. The second comparatively small point is about the service which is being rendered, or was rendered until recently, by the Royal Navy in Icelandic waters. I see the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) in his place. Like him, last summer I had the opportunity of going into Icelandic waters to see this work. I do not know whether he went into the Arctic Circle, but much of my experience was in the Arctic Circle and I saw at first hand the absolutely splendid work done by the Royal Navy there. As hon. Members are aware, parts of the sea around Iceland are divided into havens, perhaps 20 miles in width and going out from Iceland to the limits claimed by Iceland. In those havens our trawler men can go about their lawful occasions under the protection of ships of the Fishery Protection Squadron. It was my very great honour to be on the vessel commanded by the Commodore of the Fishery Protection Squadron and to see what work was being done by the Royal Navy in this serious problem of the Icelandic fishery dispute. Every trawler which came into the haven had to report to the naval vessel which was the centre of the seaborne community. Trawlers are not able to go into Icelandic ports or shelter, even in emergency, for fear of being captured and suffering crippling fines and imprisonment. It is a seaborne community entirely, and the naval vessel is the centre of it. Every night the commodore had fireside chats, so to speak, with the trawler skippers to keep them in the picture and produce team work; and it was a remarkable experience to listen to them. I have more than a shrewd suspicion that it is due to the amazing combination of maritime bluntness and diplomatic tact shown by that man and She men he commanded that we have managed to avoid this Iceland dispute turning into a hot war, with shooting and all the rest of it. I am glad to have had the opportunity to pay tribute to him here, because I know how much hon. Members like to hear from first-hand experience of other hon. Members, about the jobs that these men, whom we have sent out. do in distant parts. I should like to return to a point raised by the hon. Member for Rye about the knowledge which we can have in approaching a debate of this sort. It seems to me that back bench Members are quite incapable of making genuinely useful contributions to the serious problems which often arise in this sort of debate. They can make detailed suggestions and criticisms about points in the Estimates, but on the really serious matters we have not the sources of information which are needed to enable us to stand up to the Government. For instance, we have nothing like the Library of Congress, where there are trained and qualified librarians to collect material for Congressmen. This material goes through civil servants of administrative rank, who predigest it and present a brief to the Congressmen. This enables Congressmen to put forward a case and to stand up to the Government. The St. Lawrence Seaway would never have been constructed if it 'had not been for the fact that the Library of Congress supplied briefs to Members of Congress showing that the Government were wrong in their facts and figures. We have nothing like that, and there is, therefore, little that we can do. It is very much with a feeling of our own limitations that I shall make the comments that I am about to make. Apart from Polaris, which does not seem to me, strictly speaking, to be a naval matter, it seems to me that the Navy of today should have two main functions. The first, the fire brigade function, is to go to any part of the world where trouble arises and try to put the fire out. The Admiralty has dealt with that matter by the Commando carrier task force method. The other main function is to keep our lines of communication open in a non-nuclear war. I am not dealing with a nuclear war, because in such an event, —search me!—I do not know the function of the Navy. It may be that some people in the Admiralty think that they know; but I doubt whether they in fact know. In any case, we do not know what they know and have not the means of finding out. I therefore leave that matter out altogether. To return to the fire brigade function, I think that the Admiralty is on the right lines with the idea of the Commando carrier, with its attendant escorts of antisubmarine vessels and supply ships. How many there should be, I am not certain. It may be four anti-submarine frigates and two guided missile destroyers, although these latter are not in existence yet. What will happen if such a force meets serious air resistance? H.M.S. "Bulwark" and the other Commando carriers which are yet to come will be completely defenceless. They have to have other vessels and aircraft to defend them. If they are to be able to stand up and not go straight out of the fight if they meet serious air resistance, they will have to have a carrier in attendance with fighter aircraft; and this means more escort vessels for the carrier. Even in this case, where I feel that the Admiralty is on the right lines, there is a serious gap which has yet to be filled. I now come to the other aim which the Navy should have, that of keeping open the sea lanes in case of non-nuclear war. What have we in the way of frigates? I need not go through the figures in detail, because they are probably well known. We have 23 operational anti-submarine frigates and 37 in reserve. We have seven operational anti-air frigates and 12 in reserve. Also, we have destroyers. Even including the vessels in reserve, we have still far less in the way of anti-submarine defence than we had at the height of the Hitler menace, which was not anything like as great as the Russian one apparently is. I am not forgetting that we are members of N.A.T.O. and that N.A.T.O. countries contribute to our defence in the same way as we contribute to their defence, but we in this House are not able to estimate the extent to which the interplay of other N.A.T.O. countries including the United States Navy on our defence has any real effect. I believe that we have just nothing effective, even with the help of our N.A.T.O. friends, to cope with this known menace. Are the Admiralty and the Government satisfied with the present situation? Do they think that in the foreseeable future we shall ever have a defence that will be able to stand up to the menace of the submarine fleet of the U.S.S.R.? It seems to me extremely improbable, whether there are nuclear submarines in the Russian fleet or not, and it would be very unwise obviously to assume that there are not. Secondly, even if there are not nuclear-propelled submarines in the Russian fleet, if we are to be defended against the threat of that fleet, is it not essential that we should have nuclear submarines our- selves? I know that one is coming along and that another is planned. Is it not essential that we should have a nuclear-propelled submarine defence against the submarine menace of the Russian fleet? We do not even know how much it. would cost us to have such a defence, either in conventional surface craft or in the nuclear-propelled submarines. We should know the relative costs and effectiveness of the two ways of defending ourselves against that menace if we are to make sensible decisions. We do not know these things at present. I know that it is far more easy for the Admiralty to jog along in its own sweet way, not taking this House into its confidence and not telling us the facts which we must know if we are to be useful in making our criticisms: but we must have the necessary information. It is well over a year since I, and no doubt many other hon. Members, said that we should be given the opportunity of knowing the basic facts of naval life and the strategies called for at present. This can be done by lectures, perhaps, to all hon. Members interested in these matters who are prepared to follow them through. It is not good enough for us to have to fish about in the Library to find the facts amongst bits of paper. At present, we cannot do our duty. The Admiralty will not do its duty by this House unless it takes steps to take into its confidence hon. Members who are willing to devote time to the matter so that they may adequately keep the Admiralty on its toes. If the Admiralty does not do this, it will not be doing its duty to the House, and hon. Members will be unable to do their duty by the country and by the electors who have sent them here. We all want to do that duty. Will the Admiralty help us to do it? I hope that we shall have an effective answer to our request which will put us in the position in which we all want to be put —to fulfil our duty to the country which has put us here.
Mr. G. R. Howard (St. Ives)
The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) will forgive me if I do not follow him into his extremely useful arguments, except to endorse every word he said about what the Service has done during the very difficult time in Icelandic waters. As one who commanded a ship in those waters during the war, I know how extremely unpleasant conditions are, not only in the gales in winter but in the summer as well. It is a good thing that the House of Commons should pay tribute, especially at this time just before the forthcoming Law of the Sea Conference in Geneva, to the work of the Service.I would also like briefly to refer to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) about the First Lord of the Admiralty. I am not making any reflection against the present incumbent of that office when I say that many of us would wish to see the First Lord in the House of Commons. If that is not to be, however, we have in the First Lord a man who has given much devoted service to the country in responsible and important offices. It was not quite fair that we should have what I call a newspaper stunt which was put out by a certain newspaper which does everything it possibly can to "poke Charlie" at the Navy and be derogatory about the Service. Unfortunately, the other newspapers picked up the story. It was a rather stupid and unimportant thing of the kind which one comes to expect from the newspaper in question. We should not treat it except with the contempt that it deserves. To make the kind of remarks that that newspaper made about the First Lord of the Admiralty was just about as absurd as many of its usual comments. Page 9 of the Explanatory Statement refers to "complexity, complements, and costs". These three things are extraordinarily important. First, complexity. During today's debate, we have heard many remarks about the future young men who will come into the Navy. In the future, we are likely to face an extremely difficult situation in view of the complexity of the armament, machinery, radar and the rest that goes into our ships. The time will come when the kind of men who will get into the responsible positions of leadership will have had more time dealing with complex equipment than dealing with men. This is a problem which must be looked into and thought out now, because the old days of what used to be known as the "salt horse", or the "executive" officer with no specialisation, are bound to disappear and we shall get the difficult job of marrying up the claims of the man who is an expert leader of men, who has been brought up for the task by his training, experience and everything else, vis-à-vis the highly-skilled technical man who, by the very nature of his work, does not have the ability, the time or the chance of the leadership that the other man would have had in the past. We have heard a good deal today on the subject of complexity of design. We must strike a balance between what I call the old Heath Robinson arrangement and the other extreme. Many of us who have been involved in refit of ships will know the story. One man puts a pipe from one place to another. A second man comes along and says, "That is awkward. That is just where I wanted to put mine." So he puts a bend underneath the original pipe. A third man then comes along and says, "That is just where I wanted to put mine." And so there is another bend. Amongst the sailors, the story goes that the men fitting the pipe get £5 for every bend and that that is why there are so many! That may be so or not—I do not know. Against that, I believe that in the American Navy all design is broken down by draughtsmen so accurately and to such a small scale that a lot of this kind of thing is obviated. I am told, however, that if we were to do the same, the enormous cost of doing it would make it quite prohibitive, if not impossible. Somewhere between these two extremes, however, there must be an answer. There must be an answer also to leaving all the pipes, leads and everything else exposed. I know that in new ships, they are being covered. There was every kind of excuse for it not to be done in the past, but I believe that we are overcoming that. In the case of refits or new construction, I wonder whether the Director of Naval Equipment is sufficiently senior and has enough power. If something is badly designed, is he sufficiently senior to be able to thump the table and to ensure that it is put right or is stopped before it is too late? In one carrier which I have visited recently, the officers' galley was sited three decks above the wardroom. That is disgraceful. Things like this simply should not happen today. We have not built a new carrier from scratch for twenty years. We have refitted old ones and not-so-old ones, but we have not actually built a new one. In the present state of affairs, all our carriers will be running out at about the same time. What will happen then? What is the thinking on this? I shall have something to say presently about work study, but are we putting out what I would call a really high-powered study design team to consider a new carrier if we are to have one? Consider, for example, the viewpoint of the young man who goes into the Navy today. He wants to know whether we will have carriers in 1970. If we will —and I think we will—are we getting down to the matter of design? I am not talking of the D.N.C.'s department or similar people, but of high-powered men who have operated aircraft carriers at sea, be they seamen, specialists or supply people, the men who have to keep the ships operating for long periods under all sorts of conditions, who have had to deal with the kind of awkwardnesses that we get in ships. Are we really getting out a first-class design team to look into all this sort of thing? What consideration has been given to the question of stabilisers? I know that in carriers as a whole they might not be necessary, but I foresee the day when, with larger and larger aircraft, even a slight roll when an aircraft is being handled might cause damage. This is merely one of the many things which should be considered. Complement is extremely important. I was delighted to hear the tributes that were paid during the defence debate. It is quite right that something like 49 per cent. of the money spent on the Services should be devoted to personnel. I had the great honour and privilege of spending a few days in a carrier on a recent visit to Hamburg and I saw for myself what the new sailor is like. He is very different from the man we used to know and respect so much in the war. He has grown with the country and with the better state of affairs of the majority of people. His home, his outlook and his training, and everything about him are different. I am not running down the men who made the Navy great through the centuries. I am merely saying that these young men in the Navy today are a very different type of young man. I am immensely struck with their politeness. I am struck with the easy though very respectful friendship between officers and men. I think one sees that particularly in a carrier, going fore and aft along one of the long alleyways, stepping over those sills we heard so much about last year, and coming in contact with very many men; one learns how polite and friendly they are. I cannot tell hon. Members how impressed I was during that visit to Hamburg. There is no doubt that such visits as that are most valuable and informative. I am told that there were more people at the Press conference in Hamburg than there had been at the one in America. Certainly a huge crowd tried to get on board to see the ship, and there was almost a riot, such was the demand to get aboard. There were literally thousands of people, and there was a traffic jam ten miles long so many followed the ship up river. I do not think it is any exaggeration to say that one of the greatest assets we have on that sort of trip is the sailor and the way he behaves. We officers going out in the evenings often met the sailors and had a cheerful word with our ship's company. They were behaving as one proudly expects them to behave in public in a foreign land. I think that is the sort of thing of which the public at home ought to be told a great deal more. We often hear in this Committee about our men being ambassadors and so on, but I am talking in down-to-earth terms. The news about our sailors was in every newspaper in Germany and on the radio and television, and they all had a good word to say about them, and the good our men did was enormous. In this country we do not do enough to publicise them and to put their story over. A lot could be done by publicity, by films—films, for instance, to show the kind of conditions in which the men live ashore today, conditions which are vastly improved. I must say something about food, which comes under the general heading of complement, because food is so vitally important. I have in my hand the most amazing photographs of the kind of food which I saw being eaten by the men in the forward dining hall of that carrier. I personally thought they were jolly lucky. To be quite frank, I think their food was better than that in the wardroom. One could not have seen better food, and the men themselves told me that it was quite delicious. They told me that when they were at Gibraltar—I think it was—some time ago they had a lot of chaps coming from other ships to eat with them. The "buzz" about their food had got round, and the men from other ships were joining the queue hoping to get "big eats". I think it is an excellent thing that they should have such good food. It is essential that we should give the very best to men in carriers like that, who work so hard and who have such a tremendous time at sea. From that point of view, I think their conditions are a great deal better than they were. I should like to say something about officers for a change. In a place like Hamburg officers are always delighted to play their part in entertainment, for which the Navy is justify famed and of which it is justly proud. They receive large numbers of people coming on board whom they do not know but whom they are delighted to entertain. I wonder just what is the situation about entertainment and Income Tax. This has been a sore point with me for years. I remember when I was commanding a ship in the war and had large numbers of people coming on board and my wine bill was extremely large. I put in for an allowance. I was told that because I was a lieutenant-commander I could not have one, that only commanders got it, but I had to do just the same entertaining as a commander. It seemed very unfair, and I think this is something that ought to be looked into, and something ought to be done about it with a view to reasonable expenses for entertainment being set off against tax. Now I come to a subject I have raised before, the R.N.R. It does seem unfair for R.N.R. officers going on weekend training alongside R.N. ships that in R.N. ships drinks are duty-free but the R.N.R. drinks are not. I have raised this privately with the Admiralty, and I have been told, "Do not do anything about it. because if you do the Navy may suffer loss of its privileges." I think that most unfair, if I may say so. It is not a very strong argument. I think we should make it not two negatives but one positive, and say that if ships are for the training of reserves who are giving up their weekends there should jolly well be tax-free drinks in the wardrooms in those ships, too, with no question of the Navy suffering. As to costs, some people say sailors are expensive people. It was said by my hon. Friend the Civil Lord just now. Of course they are. They have to be properly trained, they have to be properly fed. But there is a point I would stress. I think that, especially in a shore establishment, if a man goes, for instance, to H.M.S. "Vernon" for training in antisubmarine work, or in some other form of specialisation, it rather goes against the grain if he has to spend much of his time on his hands and knees scrubbing out a bathroom. I know sailors have to do it at sea. That is one of the unpleasant necessities they come to in due course, but is it necessary in shore establishments where specialised training is going on? I was happy to see one establishment recently where they were employing civilians—women—to do this job in the petty officers' quarters, their cabins, and so on. As was pointed out to me by the president of the mess, these good ladies who do the cleaning are trained to do it and, therefore, they do it better, and fewer of them are required than would be the number of sailors to do the same job." After all, the sailors' job is to be learning the specialisation for which they go to such an establishment. Surely, then, if there are ladies who can come in to clean, they should be allowed to, and this also gives employment to civilians. That is a matter which ought to be looked at. Now I come back to the question of works study in the attractively got up papers we have quite rightly been given. Works study is something which the Navy does very well. I am told that I.C.I, say there is no better works study team anywhere. However, I just wonder what works study is done on the Civil Service side of the Admiralty. I see that it is stated that there is a works study team, but I am not quite sure what they do, and I should like to know exactly what happens, because I have heard it said that there is no works study. It is rather a taboo subject. I should like to know what goes on about that. Again as to cost, I believe it right to say that approximately £14 million are being spent on surface equipment and £1·6 million on underwater weapons. We have heard a good deal on the subject of submarines and so on, but it is not only submarines which this expenditure covers. We have to think of mining and counter-mining measures. Take, for instance, the question of mining. Suppose some man lobs a mine over the side of a felucca in the Gulf of Akaba. The very thought of its being done will at any rate for a while bring all shipping to a standstill In that connection, I am glad to see that in this year's Explanatory Statement a minesweeper squadron now released from Cyprus will go East of Suez. Are we happy that we have enough of these excellent coastal minesweepers, which are first-class training vessels not only for R.N.R.s but for giving naval officers a bit of sea time, which many of them, alas, lack owing to shortage of ships? Now, we come to the question, which loomed so largely in the defence debate, of the Blue Streak. I am not going into the matter in detail now, but I wish to say that if we have to make up our minds on the matter I personally am 100 per cent. behind the mobile deterrent. It seems to me that it is only common sense. If we have a ship or an aircraft, we know that it is far harder to locate than anything at a fixed site in East Anglia. Therefore, I am not going to advocate Polaris, but whether this is to be done from an aircraft, or submarine, if Blue Streak is allowed to run down, let us make up our minds on the one thing we can afford to do. If it is not to be Polaris, I suggest that we should try to make some lease-lend arrangement with the Americans by which they would undertake the Polaris project and allow us to get the benefit of it. I think that is a most important matter. I apologise for speaking at much greater length than usual, but, unfortunately, I was unable to take part in the defence debate. There is one other point I wish to mention concerning our world-wide commitments. We have heard about Agadir and Mauritius, but it is stretching the Services quite a lot in expecting them to go to all sorts of places in addition to those to which, traditionally, the Navy has been expected to go. There is also the question of whether the service can get there. We have heard about fisheries protection and the fire brigade rôle of the Navy. On the question of the fire brigade rôle, we must not be too glib in our ideas that these Commando carriers, which I welcome very much, could be instantly interchangeable with carriers of A.S. capability. The A.S. helicopter has to have a different team, with different maintenance and probably different operating conditions, and I do not know how long it would take to effect the change from one rôle to another. I was interested to hear what the Civil Lord had to say about those Russian bases. I mentioned just now the instance of the mines and the felucca. We must be prepared, not so much for the Russians starting something with submarines, but for something started by Russian submarines lent to somebody else. That is what we ought to watch— some Egyptian or some creature of that sort. On the subject of afloat support, I think this is vital. When one looks at the quotations about afloat support and also looks up the references in these Estimates one sees a very interesting situation. In the Explanatory Memorandum, we find:
One therefore realises the importance of the matter. It has been found to be far more practicable, because it is now realised that oilers can carry on oiling a carrier while that carrier is turning into wind in order to fly an aircraft, and that is an astonishing thought. They do not just steer on one course, but can actually turn while refuelling. Surely, anything that was possible during the last war should be more easily achieved now. Replenishment today is mostly carried out at sea. It is easier and quicker as men are available who would otherwise be on leave. We must also consider the question of the lost bases, including Cyprus. We must remember the bases which have been lost to us in the last 20 years, and should also remember the airfields we have lost, and yet I do not think that we have had a carrier sunk since 1943. I think we must go 100 per cent. for afloat support and for a completely mobile force, which I think is essential. I have already referred to the mobile deterrent and do not wish to press that matter any further, but I should like my hon. Friend the Civil Lord to make a note of the point I have made about Polaris and to ask the Minister if we could have some lease-lend arrangement with the Americans. On the subject of nuclear submarines, I think everyone should read a book on the subject by Commander Anderson of the United States Navy, which gives us a picture of the incredible future of the nuclear submarine. We talk about the A.S. menace and the A.S. rôle and what can be done with conventional submarines, but, as somebody said to me the other day, "When it comes to the nuclear submarine, I might as well throw my binoculars at it." I am quite sure that the Service is working on this problem, looking ahead and thinking of something that will be effective against the nuclear submarine, possibly using the nuclear submarine. I know that these things are very much in the future, but I am sure that the Departments concerned are thinking about them now. The last point I wish to make on the subject of afloat support concerns the reference that my hon. Friend made in his speech to balanced forces. We have been talking about the fire brigade rôle. The Navy is mostly ready at 48 hours notice. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War has gone, but the view has been expressed to me that the Army takes three months. Therefore, it is quite obvious which is the better fire engine to send to the fire, and I wonder whether it is possible for us to be told by my hon. Friend what is being done about a balanced force— some kind of force which could be instantly available to be sent to trouble spots throughout the world. Is it to be done by means of Commando carrier with a brigade group?—I am talking about soldiers as well—and can my hon. Friend tell us anything about that? It seems to me that with the loss of our bases and so on, this is something that we ought to be thinking about. To sum up, I think the Royal Navy is worth a packet of cigarettes a week to everybody in this country. That was the figure of the cost given by the Minister of Defence, and it reminds me of the story of two sailors whose ships came alongside each other. One said to the other, "What's it like to be in the second largest Navy in the world?" to which the other replied—and one can guess Who he was—"What's it like to be in the second best?" I think that we have the best Navy in the world, with the highest technical developments. We cannot have the largest Navy, but we must keep up with the highest technical developments. We also have an excellent nucleus of material and men, of whom we are proud, as we have always been in the past. I am happy to see that 49 per cent. of our expenditure is now going on personnel, and I repeat that the Royal Navy is well worth the cost of a packet of cigarettes a week to everyone in this country."Last year approximately one-third of all the fuel used by H.M. Ships was supplied in this way, as compared with a mere 10,000 tons in 1949 and none at all in 1939."
Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
I always feel on the annual occasions of debates on the Navy Estimates that I ought to apologise as a landsman for intervening in what comes almost to be a kind of conversation between seamen. Indeed, the atmosphere is so nautical that one would not be surprised if someone passed round the port, except that on my side it would no doubt be the rum ration.My constituency is more intimately connected with the Merchant Navy, the sister Service, and the Navy knows that I am a fierce critic of certain aspects of naval recruiting on which I propose to speak again tonight. Yet whenever I have gone to see the Navy I have been received with the courtesy of which the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) spoke. That kindness and friendship officers of the Navy have extended to a critic in their midst. Another reason for my not making any apology for intervening is that I propose to speak about youngsters entering the Navy, and my own work has always been on behalf of the young people of England. The hon. Member for St. Ives said that we were getting a navy for the price of a packet of cigarettes per person per week. That is no doubt literally true. We are spending 2 per cent. of the national income on the Navy, out of the 8 per cent. of the national income that we are spending on defence. I hope that hon. Members opposite who will vote quite happily for the 2 per cent. and the whole 8 per cent. will, when we come to discuss the Crowther Report on the education of the young, against the background fact that we are spending only 3½ per cent. of the national income on education, equally eagerly vote in favour of our providing the advance in education that the Crowther Report demands, at a cost which will still be well below the 8 per cent. of national income spent on defence.
Mr. Emrys Hughes
And less than the price of a packet of cigarettes.
Yes.I want to return briefly to a topic which I raised recently in a debate on the Adjournment and which I have raised again and again ever since I became a Member of the House ten years ago. I do not want to repeat this evening what I said in that Adjournment debate, although I am tempted to do so because if I remember rightly the only persons present on that occasion were Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary concerned, and myself. It is common ground between the Civil Lord and myself, and between hon. Members opposite and myself, and between the best men in the Navy and myself, that the Navy ought to be officered by men of ability, intelligence, character, initiative and personality. Especially in these days when the Navy is advancing and we are living in a scientific and technical age and the demands of the Navy are for high skills, trained intelligence becomes far more important among the officers than it ever was before. I think that it is common ground again among all the people that I have mentioned and myself that all the boys who have these qualities are not born in one social group—the group that go to the independent schools or the public schools. But it is still true that the bulk of the boys selected for cadetships in the Royal Navy this year and last year came from public schools. Hon. Members will have seen in the Explanatory Statement a list which has been printed for the first time of the schools from which our cadets are drawn. The healthy thing about that list is that it is the longest in the history of the Royal Navy. The Navy is recruiting officers this year from more schools than ever in the past 200 or 300 years. But while every public school is in the list, the number of State grammar schools in it is smaller. Many of the big public schools send many pupils, not one, but a grammar school gets into the list even if it sends only one, and obviously there are at least ten times as many State grammar schools in the country as there are public schools. The existence of one or two State grammar schools in the list therefore does not invalidate the case I have made year after year. One swallow does not make a summer. I do not propose tonight to go into what I have said in previous debates about selection. I want to put the matter in another way. The Government have devised an instrument which, if properly used, can give us a wide field of youthful ability to draw on. The scholarship system for the selection of boys who will ultimately go to Dartmouth, as to the Royal Air Force colleges, Sandhurst and the Army colleges, provides that if a boy is selected for a cadetship his parents need have no financial fear about his future. He can get the full cost of his education, board, uniform and, in the words of the Estimates, "sundry expenses" all met by the Royal Navy. If he is selected not by direct entry but two years earlier, that is while he is still at secondary or grammar school, he can receive a grant towards the cost of his education in the last two years at school which is far more generous than anything provided by any local authority in maintenance grants. I want to emphasise that somehow we must get over to every parent of every able young lad in the country that if a boy is selected for a cadetship in the Royal Navy, no matter how poor the parent is, that parent need have no anxiety. It is even true, paradoxically enough, that there are parents whose boys are selected for a cadetship who are better off than the parents of those who are selected for entry into a university. There is no means test and no supplementing of the State award by private means which to the lower and middle-income groups is such a real burden. It has been suggested to me that one of the reasons why middle-class parents are so eager for their boys to have a cadetship in one of the three Services is that it will mean a university education free of a means test for the parents; and the cadetships that we are talking about I regard quite seriously as the equivalent of a university education. It also needs emphasising that once a boy gets inside Dartmouth or any of the cadet colleges of the three arms of the Services, poverty or wealth and social origin are things which go by the board. There are no social classes in Dartmouth. Indeed, there is none inside any worthwhile college. Once one is inside them, the public schools of England are a perfect democracy. Last year a boy from a secondary modern school won a place at Dartmouth. I am sure that this boy, and all other boys from State grammar schools who are now in Dartmouth or who have passed through it, would be happy to assure every hon. Member and the general public that everybody there is treated in exactly the same way and that the only thing that matters inside a cadet college is the ability of the cadet and not his social origin. Once a boy gets inside the college all the social problems and cleavages disappear. Therefore, the problems that confront the Navy in trying to obtain the best boys in the country and especially the boys from whom it will draw its officers in the future are, firstly, recruiting candidates from the widest field and, secondly, selecting the best possible candidates for cadetship. The disquieting fact is that this year, as last year, as indeed all through the post-war years, practically every officer cadet selected for the Navy has come from an independent school. There is little sign of progress in this respect. Very few come from State grammar schools. Indeed, the boy who came from a State grammar school who, I seem to remember, was first or second on the list when I was at the selection board, was unable through physical disability to take a cadetship. Despite all that some hon. Members have been urging for a number of years, we have not broken down a barrier that exists. I believe that the class structure of British society is changing only slowly and that our educational system still perpetuates that class system. The rate at which it is melting away is far too slow in my opinion. Every grammar school in the country has a careers master. Every sixth form in the country is a recruiting ground for every worth-while career. The Navy, rightly, has a Public Relations Department doing the work for which the hon. Member for St. Ives has asked. It has liaison officers whose special job it is to lay before the youth of Britain the worth-while careers inside the Royal Navy, and the advantages and opportunities offered by those different careers which the Civil Lord set out clearly and eloquently in his speech this afternoon. Yet I understand that nearly half the local education authorities have refused permission to the Navy to give, talks on naval careers in their schools.
Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
I am sorry if I gave that impression. I was talking in terms of constituencies. About fifty Members of Parliament represent places where the local education authorities do not co-operate, and out of a total of about 600 Members of Parliament that would be about one-twelfth, not one-half.
I am grateful for the correction. I was taking the figure which the Civil Lord gave me in our previous debate. I can understand the correction. If, say, three constituencies are served by one local education authority, the picture is not so black as I had imagined.At any rate, there are some local education authorities which refuse to allow the liaison officers to visit their schools. I understand that the number is shrinking and that some authorities which previously refused permission now give it. I know from a quarter of a century's experience just how crowded is a school timetable and how impossible it would be if the fifth and sixth forms had to make room in lesson time for dozens and dozens of high-powered salesmen on behalf of all the worthwhile careers which we are seeking to present to the young and able lads in our grammar schools. Moreover, I would not ask for military and navy recruiters anything that was not available for any other branch of British life which has a special career to offer to able youths. Just as it is right that able youngsters should compete for worth-while jobs, so it is right that the Navy should enter into competition with other worth-while jobs to win the cream of our youth. However, outside of formal lesson time, in the last year of a secondary modern school it is the job of the employment officer, in consultation with the headmaster and the parents, to lay before all the youngsters in the fourth or fifth forms of that school what careers are available. We must make sure that before them is a picture of the career available in the artificer class and for the young boy entrant into the Navy. Similarly, in the fifth and sixth forms of the grammar and comprehensive schools, probably out of school time, one would hope that all local education authorities will ensure that the able young lads in every corner of our country have the fullest knowledge of what openings there are for cadetships in the Royal Navy. The liaison officer should be enabled to enter the school; or at least we should ensure that the careers master is fully equipped with the literature which the Navy can provide. We should also make sure that the school film society can show the excellent films which exist on the careers offered by the Royal Navy. Above all, let us get over to the poorest people in the country the knowledge that we are seeking merit and ability, and that these qualities have nothing to do with social conditions or the wealth of parents. Somehow we must break a vicious circle. It is partly because in the past so few grammar school boys have been selected that so few of the abler boys in the grammar schools care to face the challenge and adventure of facing a selection board. On the other hand, I have been told by at least two directors of education that it is because the grammar schools are not sending their ablest lads to compete before the selection boards that so few are selected. Certainly on the occasions when I watched the candidates that was my own impression also. For a variety of reasons, there is a tradition of officer service in the public schools, which have provided the bulk of our officers for generation after generation. Somehow we must establish a similar tradition in the State grammar schools. This will take time, and I am glad that the Admiralty is reaching out in the directions that I have so long urged. For example, last year it called together a group of grammar school headmasters and told them roughly what the Civil Lord said today and what I am saying now about careers in the Navy. Again I say that every successful candidate, every boy who for the first time wins a place from a State grammar school to Dartmouth, is the best publicity the Royal Navy can have. It has been the experience of selectors that when one boy has broken through, and later goes back to his old school as an old boy wearing with pride his cadet uniform, this encourages other youngsters to enter the contest for selection. It is also for the heads of the grammar and comprehensive schools, as well as for the local authorities, to do some reaching out. In my opinion, Britain must become in reality a country in which a boy in a village primary school, or a young boy entrant into the Navy on the lower deck—I hope my single technical term in this speech is correct —may know that, if he deserves it, he can become an admiral. In many respects I am dissatisfied by the slow rate of progress we are making along the road of equality of opportunity, but I welcome every step which the Admiralty and educationists can take towards achieving this goal because it is good for the Navy that it should recruit the best. Like most hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I am a pacifist. I want to see the end of all the navies in the world and the end of all armed forces, ours and everybody elses. I believe that the only hope of the world is in controlled disarmament, in multilateral disarmament, in the gradual whittling away of the armed forces of the world—our few submarines and Russia's many submarines, our armed forces and those of every other country in the world. That is the goal at which we are aiming, but we must live in the world as it is. We must be prepared in the meanwhile to defend ourselves, and in that defence the Navy has an important part to play. I was glad to note in the tone of the speech made by the Civil Lord, and in the tone of the speeches made from both sides of the Committee, an end of the inferiority complex which seemed to have got into the Navy in past years as compared with the other two Services. I know that the officers and men of the Navy were conscious of the fact that somehow they did not have the confidence and the affection and that pride of place in the hearts and minds of the House of Commons which they used to have. I am glad to see that change. In the Navy, as in the Army and the R.A.F., we want to widen the field for recruitment of officers. Of the three Services the Royal Air Force has been far more successful than the other two. If the Navy is bottom of any list, it is the one which shows the social range of its selection of young entrants for cadetship. This can be proved by comparison with the R.A.F. and Army schemes I hope that some day the Royal Navy will catch up. Tonight my special appeal is to headmasters of State grammar schools, to local authorities and to parents in this country to allow keen young lads of whatever social class to have a go at the selection boards, knowing that they will get a fair deal. Then they will have a most exhilarating experience and if they prove worthy and are successful they may ultimately secure an admiral's flag.
Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)
On this, the first occasion on which I have spoken on the Navy Estimates, it is a great pleasure to be able to follow the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) because, despite his confession of pacifism, we have many views in common. I believe our views regarding the officer entry into the Royal Navy, in so far as they concern the provision of the best type and proper quantity of young officers, are common to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. Perhaps we differ slightly on the means by which we would attain that desirable objective.I wish to enlarge on the remarks of the hon. Member for Itchen and to bring to the attention of my hon. Friend the Civil Lord the fact that this first shortfall in the officer entry into the Royal Navy—I believe the first in the whole of our naval history—coincides with a most remarkable increase of enthusiasm for sailing by young people in this country, both men and women. It is a remark- able coincidence that at a time when small boat sailing is more popular than ever before, when I and other hon. Members are being bombarded by constituents who wish to sail small boats on newly opened reservoirs, etc., we should be unable to get the right quantity or quality of entry into the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. I believe that that has a specific relationship to the age entry at 18. While I was still serving in the Royal Navy the age was altered—for political reasons, if I may say so—from the earlier age of 13 which had served this country so well, as was evidenced by the results achieved in two world wars. I suggest that an immediate return to an earlier age is indicated, but I do not wish to enlarge on that subject because to do so would take a longer time than would be acceptable to the patience of hon. Members. I advocate a return to an earlier age for many reasons—of most of which hon. Members will be aware— as the best possible solution for this problem. For many generations it has been suggested that a naval flavour, whether merchant or Royal Navy is immaterial in this context, to a young man's education is wholly beneficial. I am aware, as all hon. Members will be, that the reputation enjoyed by the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, the Nautical Colleges at Pangbourne, Worcester and Conway, in my day and in the time of others, stands very high indeed in the general level of education of young men. I believe it not beyond the wit of man— my hon. Friend may be forced to study this question by the figures of entries into the Navy as they progress next year and the year after—to devise some coordination of those scholastic establishments of a naval flavour with an age drop, perhaps to 11, in order to fulfil the purpose which we all have in mind. I throw out that idea for further development as the opportunity may offer. I cannot consider these Navy Estimates in isolation. Although my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) felt that he could not discuss the question of broader strategy for lack of information, I feel that I must rush in where more senior officers have feared to tread. I wish to make a few points on the Navy's part in fulfilling the objects of this vital service, the prevention of war and the successful survival of this country in the event of a limited war. I say "limited" advisedly because, as has been stressed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, the prospects of the Navy's rôle in a total nuclear war are indeed dim and need not be seriously considered by the Committee. In a general defence policy, in which the Navy's contribution is very important, there are two main criteria, what we can afford and the strength and reliability of the alliances with which alone we can at present guarantee our security. As a student of history, it seems strange to me that N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., CENTO and other organisations are discussed quite often by hon. Members as though they were something peculiar to this day and age. Surely they are simply part of the alliances, formerly called coalitions and having other names, which enabled us to fight wars successfully for many hundreds of years of our history. I feel that N.A.T.O., which I shall mention particularly later in my speech, must be considered in that way. as one of our traditional alliances and not as something peculiar to this day and age. I believe that in our defence policy we must be flexible. We must be prepared to shift the emphasis not only between deterrent and conventional weapons but within each Department as political conditions change and as weapons develop. In the context of knowledge given to hon. Members, I believe one can agree that a reasonable balance has been struck by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence between our deterrent and our conventional forces. I welcome the shift of emphasis to the latter which is revealed in this year's Defence White Paper. I welcome the increased emphasis on the Navy as a participant in the deterrent. The success of our defence is, in the first place, in the provision of nuclear fire-power to our carriers. Although that has not been explicitly stated, from the facts given to us I believe that no other conclusion can be reached. It is known that certain carrier-borne aircraft are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and, with the mention of this fact in the White Paper, one can only reach the conclusion that that nuclear fire-power has now been provided. The second—this is not altogether clear—is the probable arrival among our defence forces of the sea-borne deterrent in the form of the Polaris submarine. I am sorry if my pronunciation of "Polaris" differs slightly from that of many hon. Gentlemen, but I was always taught at Dartmouth that Polaris was the North Star. The third emphasis which has been shifted in this year's White Paper is very welcome to a naval officer, a return to the historic rôle of the Navy in transporting fighting ability as quickly and as efficiently as possible to all parts of the world as part of the deterrent known colloquially as its fire-brigade duties. I believe, nevertheless, that in all these welcome shifts of emphasis my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has rather lost the sense of proportion within the allocation of money for conventional weapons. I was particularly struck by a speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) when he said what a danger there was in trying to be effective everywhere and therefore successful nowhere. It is my opinion, such as it is worth, that the Government over many years have yielded to the blandishments of some of our powerful allies in departing from one of the ancient principles of British strategy by trying to be a continental power and remaining at the same time a maritime power. The ground given away in 1954 has not yet been regained. I as a sailor welcome the doubts expressed in the Defence White Paper about the possibility of yet another shift of land and sea forces from the Continent of Europe. Surely interdependence between allies in N.A.T.O. must not mean ditching the experience of centuries and incurring grave national risk to ourselves. Surely, in concluding treaties of alliance and adjusting them to changed diplomatic and weapon conditions, we should take this factor into consideration. Before I proceed to the main section of my argument in this respect, I wish to mention three domestic matters in connection with the Navy Estimates. In the first place, I think it disquieting—I believe this figure to be correct—that 38 per cent. only of the Vote A strength of the Royal Navy is at present holding appointments on board seagoing ships or craft. There is little doubt that that figure was considerably higher before the war. I have had personal experience of this before the war. It reflects dissociation of many officers and men from the element on which they have made their lives. It is wholly wrong to my mind that that figure of 38 per cent. should be so low. In this context, the question of the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham has been mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East. I support him wholly in this. In my view, it is a thoroughly retrograde step. I would not suggest that the naval barracks should be blown up, for I know it too well, but it should be converted for another use. Another naval barracks left means more men on shore. The time will surely come when some latter-day Jackie Fisher will have to see, that the Navy goes to sea and stays at sea performing its proper rôle. It is no accident that the reputation of the Royal Navy depends on seamanship and finding at sea its proper element. I deprecate the increasing tendency which has been mentioned by many hon. Members for naval officers and men to go ashore and stay ashore. I have dealt with the short-fall of young officers, and I believe this is all part of the same picture, but I add another thought here. Will my hon. Friend pay a little consideration to the shabby way—and I use the word advisedly—in which certain senior officers of all services, particularly in this case the Navy, have been treated? That has reacted on young men endeavouring to enter the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. Headmasters and parents have an undoubted influence in this respect. Many of them have experienced this. They see the parsimony of the authorities in allocating upto-date pensions to those senior officers, many of whom are in rather distressing circumstances. Finally in my domestic points, I wish to put one which is small, but which irritates me more than anything. I ask my hon. Friend why it should be that in Vote 5 the sum of some £50,000 is allocated in respect of three shore naval training establishments for overtime. That this word should occur rings false to me. It seems completely agai