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Germany (Destroyers)

Volume 641: debated on Sunday 7 May 1961

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15.

asked the Minister of Defence what consultations have taken place within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as to the rĂ´le within the organisation to be performed by the 6,000-ton destroyers that West Germany is proposing to build.

I have been asked to reply.

The force requirements, to meet which the Federal Republic has now been permitted to build eight 6,000-ton destroyers, were recommended by the Military Committee of N.A.T.O. and approved by the North Atlantic Council.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us some indication as to what they are for? How is it imagined that surface ships could be used in the Baltic for war against the East or indeed in any German waters? If the ships are not to be used in German waters, where are they to be used? It seems an odd reply.

This was done through N.A.T.O. I understand that these ships are required for assignment to SACEUR in accordance with approved N.A.T.O. plans. The Question asked what consultation took place and in my answer I addressed myself to that. If it was not the answer which the hon. and learned Member had in mind, perhaps he will put down a more specific Question.

As these ships are twice the size of a British destroyer, should not they be classified as cruisers?

I am not sufficiently conversant with all the niceties of the Royal Navy to answer that supplementary question. I have tried to answer the Question on the Order Paper.