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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 645: debated on Wednesday 26 July 1961

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British Army

No 7 Military Families Hostel, Kidderminster


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement concerning the future of No. 7 Families Camp at Kidderminster.

Present plans are to release No. 7 Military Families Hostel in about March, 1963.

Will my hon. Friend tell the House two things about the future of this camp? First, is the closure to be total and at the same moment in 1963, or is it to be a gradual close-down? Secondly, how many women and children are at present accommodated in this camp? Will it be the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to arrange alternative accommodation for them in concert with the appropriate local authorities?

At the moment, there are 59 families, including 133 children, in the hostel. In the nature of things, a closure of this kind would be gradual. We should naturally, when making our plans nearer the appropriate time, pay regard to the convenience of the families then concerned and to my right hon. Friend's other responsibilities.

Gurkha Soldiers (Pay)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now evolved a system of total remuneration for Gurkha soldiers parallel to that paid to others.

Yes, Sir. The Gurkha soldier will get a special United Kingdom allowance on top of his Indian basic rates of pay, which will make his total remuneration almost the same as that of the British soldier.

May I thank the Secretary of State warmly for that reply, because I take it that it fits into what he told me on 17th May and he has now achieved his aim of giving a total remuneration which will be in tune with the cost of living in this country and other standards.

Sandhurst Cadets


asked the Secretary of State for War what proportion of cadets at Sandhurst come direct from public schools.

Does the Minister think that in the national interest it is a good thing that Army officers should be selected from so small a minority of the general population? Will he do what he can to broaden the intake? If I send him details of regiments which accept commissioned officers who have been only to public schools, will he investigate the matter?

I am not very keen on the imputation made by the hon. Member. The selection of an officer is on merit only—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is on merit only—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]—but the selection board can choose only from the people who apply. It is a fact that the public schools provide something like one-half of the applications for entry. I should add that the selection board is a wise body of people and that it is open to the hon. Member or anyone who has any qualms about what happens to attend a selection board.

Accommodation, Kuwait


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a further statement on the provision of accommodation for British troops stationed in Kuwait.

Forward troops are still deployed operationally in the desert, but their numbers are being reduced. Most of the rest are accommodated in buildings. An air-conditioned rest camp is available in the desert for the use of the forward troops, and another one for 150 men in Ahmadi. There is a tented rest camp by the sea which can accommodate about 500 men.

Without notice, and trying to recollect what I saw when I was there, I would say none from the point of view of rest camps, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman from my own observation that the accommodation in the direction he is asking about is adequate for the reasonable comfort of the troops, bearing in mind the rigours of the climate.

Will the hon. Gentleman look into the question of schools? My information is that they could be much better used than they are.

I am not aware of any request from those on the spot for more accommodation. My information is that they have what they feel they need, but I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Signallers, Kuwait (Reinforcements)


asked the Secretary of State for War what reinforcements of signallers were sent to Kuwait to supplement those landed with their units.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was a serious Shortage of signallers in the crucial stage in the Kuwait campaign? Will he say, first, where the 86 came from—what theatres; and what action he is taking to prevent shortages of this kind from occurring on future occasions?

With great respect, there was not an acute shortage. They could have carried on even without the reinforcements, but this was part of a reinforcement which we knew would have to take place if we intervened in Kuwait. At any given time units are under strength with men away sick, on leave or on courses. It is obviously uneconomic to post a surplus of men to allow for this in normal times. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman particulars of exactly where they came from, but I will write to him, or perhaps he would like to put down another Question.

There is no need for action to prevent this happening on another occasion. It all went all right. It is not a question of signallers. I do not want to delude the House. There is a shortage of signallers, but when we do send troops abroad we send a sufficient complement of ancillary troops so that they can do their job.

Regular Army Recruitment


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that on the basis of the latest recruiting figures the target of 165,000 for the Regular Army by January, 1963, is going to be reached; and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the very full statement I made to the House last Wednesday.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that to save the Government's skin he is taking a terrible gamble with our national security? Will he agree that if his present sales promotion methods fail he will have to introduce a sudden measure of conscription so that we can face our commitments?

I answered that specific question in reply to a supplementary question on my statement last week. I cannot and will not agree that we are taking a gamble with our national security. What I have announced to the House—and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will have a look at it, for it was a very full statement—seems to me to represent a sensible attempt to see that we are not on present trends running a great risk, as I said last week, in what I have done. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to throw himself behind this and not against it.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the efforts he is making to establish an adequate long-service voluntary Regular Army, but will he inform the House how individual Members of Parliameat can help in his endeavours—

bearing in mind that this is not a party political matter but something of vital importance in the national interest?

I am very grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend, particularly with his record, for what he has just said. I did ask the House when I first made my statement, and I would appeal again to all hon. and right hon. Members, when they are in their constituencies or making public speeches, to stress the importance of our having adequate forces to carry out any defensive rôle and to point out that life in the Army today is a really good life, a life of service, and that the conditions have considerably improved. If any hon. Member would like to have specific points to make in his speech, I will gladly give them to him.

Would the right hon. Gentleman, to settle this controversy, since it is becoming a little tiresome, break clown the figures showing the number he is anticipating as the number of combatant troops to be at his disposal when he reaches the target of 165,000, and the number of ancillary troops, because everything depends on the number of troops available in an emergency?

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and my colleagues at the War Office and I are attempting to see that just what he has in mind does happen, and we are trying to steer the new recruits into those spheres of the Army where there are particular shortages. I believe we can do this.

Caterham Barracks


asked the Secretary of State for War when Caterham Barracks will cease to be occupied by troops; and what are the future plans for the use of this property.

On present plans Caterham will continue to be occupied by troops until at least 1967–68. It is therefore too early to draw up plans for the use of the property after this date.

In view of the fact that Chelsea Barracks are being rebuilt to accommodate two battalions, why is it necessary to keep troops at Caterham after Chelsea Barracks are finished?

As my hon. and learned Friend knows, Caterham is needed in connection with the current rebuilding plans. I will keep him in touch with progress.

Royal Air Force

Meteorological Research


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement about his proposals for improving meteorological research.

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 123 and 124 of the Air Estimates Memorandum.

That is not helpful, Mr. Speaker, because I have not seen those paragraphs. When the right hon. Gentleman listens to the weather broadcast on the radio at night does he not think the coverage given is very short, and will he say what research is going on in co-operation with America, when the satellite is put up, and, if necessary, with Russia, to provide us with a world coverage which will tell us not merely about rain and change of wind but about those vast tornadoes which sometimes destroy crops and kill thousands of people?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Meterological Office is in the closest touch with scientific work in meteorology, mainly through membership of the World Meteorological Organisation, and also by attending ad hoc conferences on meteorological subjects.

V-Bomber Force


asked the Secretary of State for Air what consideration is now being given to the life of the V-bomber force and Great Britain's independent deterrent, in view of the fact that the recent display of Soviet air strength indicated that Russian air defences now include Mach 2 fighters.

Nothing seen at Tushino alters our view that the V-force, with the successive improvements already planned in its offensive capability, will remain a valid deterrent for the rest of this decade.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be a little more specific? Is he saying that the existing V-bomber force is a valid deterrent in view of what we saw at the air display, or that the V-force which he has in mind, which I understand is not in operation, would be a valid deterrent if it were in operation?

The V-force as it is is a valid deterrent. We are, of course, and have been for some time aware of the general direction of Soviet developments in air defence, and, of course, it has been with this in mind that the improvements we have planned and are undertaking have been conceived. We are quite satisfied that as things are developing at the moment the V-force is and will continue to be an effective deterrent.

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that, whatever else may have been learned from the Soviet Air Display, it certainly indicated a great and important rôle for manned aircraft in the future?

Would the right hon. Gentleman not also consider this in the light of the general requirements of the Air Force, and if we are short of transport and other planes, should he not perhaps consider that these should also be taken into account and that we should concentrate more on mobility than on producing a new V-bomber force at this time?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we attach the greatest importance to mobility and to transport, but plainly, I think, the evidence of increasing developments in Soviet air defence and combat shows the wisdom of our plans in the Air Ministry for maintaining the effectiveness of the deterrent over the decade ahead.

Middleton St George Station

11 and 12.

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) on how many occasions during the last year Middleton St. George Royal Air Force Station has been used by civil aeroplanes; and what are the conditions for its use for this purpose;

(2) on how many days in the last year Middleton St. George Royal Air Force Station has been in use for Service flying.

Middleton St. George airfield has been out of use since the beginning of June for runway repairs. However, in the year ended 31st May, it was open for flying on 351 days and used by Service aircraft on 292 of them. This involved about 20,000 movements. It was used by civil aircraft on 92 occasions. When the runway repairs are completed next month, the airfield will again be available to civil aircraft for diversion purposes and for occasional civil flights provided the permission of the Commanding Officer is obtained beforehand.

As the only means of developing a civil air service to and from Tees-side lies in the use of this airfield, and as there seems to be scope for the use of it to be increased provided that there is no interference with priorities for the Air Force, will the right hon. Gentleman make every effort to bring this about so that we can have a civil air service to Tees-side?

I am well aware of the strong feeling on Tees-side about this. It was made clear to me during a visit which I paid recently to Middlesbrough. We shall certainly do everything we can to provide this, compatible with the operational rôle.

Are requests growing greatly at the moment for the use of this station by civil aeroplanes?

I do not think that they are growing all that much. There were 92 occasions on which there were civil movements up to 31st May this year.



asked the Secretary of State for Air what version of Skybolt has been ordered for the Royal Air Farce, in view of the fact that the United States Government have already produced a surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting a weapon with the performance of Skybolt Mark 1.

Only one version of the Skybolt is at present being made. We are ordering this, as is the United States Air Force. We know of no developments in anti-missile defence which give reason to suppose that Skybolt will not remain a valid deterrent throughout the 1960s.

Is the Secretary of State prepared to deny the American claim to have developed a surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting?

The hon. Member would have to study very carefully, as we will have to study, the capability of any antimissile defence system. So far there is not even a proving test taking place, and certainly no test against Skybolt, which has not yet been perfected and built. Although plainly there are all sorts of Possibilities in anti-missile defence, we do not believe that anything sufficiently effective can be devised in the decade ahead to prevent Skybolt continuing as an effective deterrent for ourselves and the United States Air Force.

Blue Steel


asked the Secretary of State for Air when he expects the air-to-ground missile, Blue Steel, to be operational with Bomber Command.

I have nothing to add to the forecast I made on 8th March in the Air Estimates debate.

Is it not the case, therefore, that Blue Steel now is being so seriously delayed that it is quite probable that Skybolt, which has a vastly superior performance, will be available very shortly after Blue Steel? Is there a real purpose to be achieved by continuing with the production of Blue Steel?

Yes, indeed, Sir. I do not accept, to begin with, that we shall not have Blue Steel substantially in advance of Skybolt, and I think that it will fulfil a very useful rôle. Its continuing importance in air defence all over the world, to which reference has been made already in Questions today, underlines the importance of having a stand-off weapon of short-range first and of long-range later, and we shall be glad to have Blue Steel.

What is the purpose of having a stand-off weapon with a 100-mile range about a year before having one with a 1,000-mile range?

I do not entirely accept the hon. Member's time-scale, but as I tried to explain during the Air Estimates debate, there are two phases in air defence: one is point defence, namely, building up defence round a particular target; the other is overall defence over the country's air space. The stand-off missile would be extremely valuable, whatever the state of overall defence, in attacking a particular target.

We are discussing rather hypothetical considerations, but may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give an assurance, in pursuing the idea of Blue Steel, that it will come in a considerable time before Skybolt? In a previous answer the right hon. Gentleman said that the United States had now definitely ordered Skybolt for the United States Air Force. Is that so? I was under the impression that it was still in an experimental stage and that no firm order had been placed.

I am answerable in the House only for the Royal Air Force, and I think that what I have said explains the situation where Skybolt is concerned. As to Blue Steel, I have nothing to add to the forecast which I made and which I think at the time went fairly far.

Transport Aircraft


asked the Secretary of State for Air what interim arrangements he is making to improve the carrying capacity of Transport Command, pending the entry into service of the Belfast transport aircraft in 1964.

We expect to take delivery of the 56 Argosies and 5 Comet 4s now on order.

Is it not the case that none of these aircraft to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred is capable of carrying heavy equipment long distances? In view of this very serious gap in our transport capacity between now and 1964, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman could indicate what consideration the Government have given to purchasing Lockheed C.130s, which are the only aircraft to have a cargo cross-section, a payload, and a range so as to be capable of carrying heavy equipment long distances, until the Belfasts are available?

We have considered all these things. The hon. Member must realise that the Belfast is due to fulfil the strategic rôle of carrying not only heavy payloads but particularly the bulky equipment required by both the Army and the Air Force. The Hercules, or Lockheed C.130, would not be able to carry the equipment which we have in mind, not so much because of the weight as because of the bulk. Therefore, it would not fulfil the rôle for which the Belfast is required.


asked the Secretary of State for Air when he expects to have strategic air freighters in service; and whether he will now arrange for the placing of orders for the Lockheed Hercules as soon as satisfactory arrangements are made for its manufacture in this country.

The Britannia already gives us some strategic freighting capability and the Belfast is due in service in 1964. We have no plans to order the Hercules for this task.

Can the right hon. Gentleman really assure the House that he is satisfied with the strategic freight capability of the Royal Air Force and is prepared to wait until 1964 for the substantial addition of the Belfast with these very small additions in the meantime? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that we can wait three years after what was disclosed in the Kuwait operation?

As I tried to make plain when we discussed Kuwait a week ago, we are certainly not complacent or satisfied with the situation. But there is no aircraft that we know of, apart from the Belfast, which, between now and 1964, would carry the heavy and bulky items of equipment that the Army and Air Force wish to be transported. We there- fore have to wait for the Belfast for that purpose.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the American Air Force has equipment which could do this work and that by not acquiring suitable aircraft this country runs itself into a dangerous position in the present state of international affairs? Does he not think that for all we do for the Americans it is about time that they did something for us?

We are well aware of the importance of carrying this equipment around. Some of it exists and some of it is still in development in this country, but heavy equipment—not Skybolt—as far as we can make out, could be effectively carried only in the Belfast, and we shall have the Belfast in 1964.

Farm, Maidenhead (Right Of Way)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused both to Mr. H. J. Burfitt, of Altwood Farm, Maidenhead, and to the Maidenhead Borough Counciil by his Department's delay in issuing the necessary documents concerning a right of way over Lees Gardens; and when he expects to be in a position to reach a final settlement with Mr. Burfitt.

I think my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has written to my hon. Friend. He will appreciate that there are several matters still to be settled between Mr. Burfitt and the Air Ministry and that it depends on both sides when a final settlement will be reached. But I can assure my hon. Friend that we are anxious to reach a settlement at the earliest possible moment.

While I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for at last taking speedy action since I put the Question down on the documents concerning the right of way, may I call his attention to the fact that negotiations between his Department and my constituent have been running for nearly nine years? Although I admit that this is not entirely a straightforward case, may I ask whether he will do his best to reach a final solution fairly early?

As I have said, we are very anxious to reach a solution as soon as we possibly can, but the difficulties are not all on one side in this matter.

Kenley Airport (Land)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the land at Kenley Airport comprising the old runway and adjoining land can now be released for use for building or as a public open space.

I have asked my Department to review our requirements for land at Kepley, but I am not yet ready to make a statement.

Will my right hon. Friend be kind enough to inform me as soon as he comes to a decision? I think that he ought to do his best to come to a decision as soon as possible.

Aircraft And Missiles (Expenditure)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what percentages of his expenditure on new aircraft and missiles in the financial year 1960–61 and in the current financial year have been for Bomber Command, Fighter Command and Transport Command, respectively.

The estimated cost of new airframes, engines and missiles, expressed as a percentage of the net Vote for aircraft and stores was, for Bomber forces 11 per cent. last year and 13·5 per cent. this year; for Fighter forces, 9·5 per cent. and 9·5 per cent.; and for Transport forces 4·5 per cent. and 6 per cent.

Do these figures not disclose the inadequate state of Transport Command, and in view of the increasing necessity for preparing for possible limited war action as distinct from global war, should not the Transport Command allocation be very substantially increased?

I think the hon. Gentleman has to realise that the figures are, naturally, influenced not simply by the programme but by the dates on which the bills for the aircraft acquired fall due. Thus, in 1959–60 the Transport percentage of expenditure was higher than the Fighter. It is a question of when the actual bill is presented by the firm concerned for the aircraft supplied.

While I understand the difficulties of accounting and the rest of it, might I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman does not realise that the important thing is what planes are actually in service with the Royal Air Force at this moment?

Yes, Sir, and the planes in service with the Royal Air Force at the moment do not bear a direct relation to the percentage of expenditure incurred in one year.

Ministry Of Defence

Sea Cadets, Dewsbury (Equipment)


asked the Minister of Defence why his Department and the Service Departments concerned were unable to meet the request of the Dewsbury Sea Cadets for the loan of one small marquee, two small tents and some cooking equipment for their summer camp.

I have already written to the hon. Member on this subject. We always want to help Cadet units as far as we can; it is patently in our interests to do so. Nevertheless the demand for this kind of equipment during the summer months, when service training is at its height, is very great and some units must inevitably be disappointed. I am sorry that we could not meet this particular request.

But is the Minister aware that this is an extremely bad piece of public relations by his Department and the Service Departments generally? Is he aware that my constituents were willing to fetch and transport the tentage if it were made available? Is he further aware that the Departments cannot really have it both ways; either they will not make the tentage available as a matter of principle, or, which I cannot believe, the tentage is simply not there? Finally, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, despite his lack of co-operation, the camp will go on anyway?

I am very glad to hear that the camp will go on, because I spent a great deal of time on this matter personally, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and I am very sorry that we could not meet the request.

United States Secretary For Defence (Discussions)

25 and 31.

asked the Minister of Defence (1) if he will make a statement on his conversations with Mr. McNamara, the United States Defence Secretary;

(2) what representations he has received from the United States Government to increase expenditure on the United Kingdom Armed Forces.


asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on his recent discussions with the United States Defence Secretary concerning military planning in preparation for a crisis over Berlin.


asked the Minister of Defence whether, in his talks with the United States Secretary of Defence, an increase in the number of troops and other forces at the disposal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was under consideration; and if he will make a statement.

My meeting with the United States Secretary for Defence was one in a series of informal meetings between N.A.T.O. Defence Ministers for exchanging views on mutual defence problems. We discussed interdependence and N.A.T.O. long-term planning and Mr. McNamara took the opportunity which I welcomed of giving me the views of the United States Government on the military aspects of the Berlin situation.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether Mr. McNamara made certain proposals which would greatly increase the defence expenditure of this country and whether he told Mr. McNamara that we are facing a financial crisis and that he did not want the same percentage of unemployed as America has?

Mr. McNamara and I found ourselves in general agreement about the military measures which might become desirable, but only when Foreign Secretaries have met and decided the general policy.

While I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to confide details in us, for that would be asking too much, might I ask whether we can have his assurance that he is not going to yield to the United States—to Mr. McNamara, President Kennedy, or anybody else—and increase our defence commitments, which we cannot afford?

The right hon. Gentleman can have my assurance—he knows this already—that I hope that I shall behave to the United States as a good ally of very long standing and recognise that it is in our mutual interest to strengthen N.A.T.O. at this time against the possibility of difficulties over Berlin.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that The Times today reports Mr. McNamara as saying when he got back to Washington that he could find no feeling of opposition in Britain against dramatic moves over Berlin? Does he confirm that that is a correct statement?

I am not responsible for what appears in The Times, but Mr. McNamara and I discussed no dramatic moves over Berlin so far as I am aware.

While I am not a consistent advocate of excessive deference to the United States, might I ask my right hon. Friend, with reference to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), whether our defence commitments ought not really to be determined by what is necessary for the safety of the Realm?

That seems to me to be a very good yardstick and I agree with my hon. Friend.

Is there any significance in the fact that in his original reply the Minister listed some questions which he and Mr. McNamara had discussed and that be then said that Mr. McNamara took the opportunity, to quote the Minister, "which I welcomed, to give me the American Government's views about Berlin"? Does that phraseology mean that our Minister of Defence did not take the opportunity which, no doubt, Mr. McNamara would have welcomed, to give the United States Defence Secretary the British Government's views about Berlin?

No, Sir. I certainly gave Mr. McNamara my views about Berlin and the general situation with which we are faced, and we found the mutual interchange of great value.



asked the Minister of Defence whether he will make a statement upon the formations and dispositions of British troops now remaining in Kuwait; what is the total cost to date to British public funds of the Kuwaiti expedition; whether a supplementary service estimate is to be called for; what part of the cost of the expedition is to be contributed by the Sheik of Kuwait or United States oil interests; or whether the entire cost of the expedition is to fall on the United Kingdom.


asked the Minister of Defence what has been the estimated weekly cost of operations in Kuwait; and by whom such costs will be borne.

I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the main units which have been withdrawn from Kuwait; it would not be in the public interest to identify those remaining or their dispositions. As I said yesterday in reply to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), the extra cost of operations in Kuwait up to the end of July is likely to be of the order of £1 million. I have no statement to make at present on how the costs will be borne.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday referred in his statement to negotiations within the framework of N.A.T.O. as to our defence costs in Western Europe? Would it not be wholly incompatible with national economic policy that we should allow the whole cost of the Kuwaiti expedition to fall on our shoulders when the Sheik, a very friendly Sheik, has £300 million or more lying here in London while we have defended as to 50 per cent. American oil interests? Surely there should be some equity in a matter of this kind.

Following is the information:

  • 2 Companies Coldstream Guards.
  • 1 Squadron Hunter aircraft.
  • 1 Parachute Battalion and Light Battery.
  • 2 Royal Marine Commandos.
  • H.M.S. "Bulwark".

United States Navy (Facilities)


asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement about additional facilities for the United States Navy in the United Kingdom.

Agreement has been reached with the United States Government to provide certain facilities in the United Kingdom in connection with the Distant Early Warning Line. A small communications station will be established by the United States Navy near Thurso to supplement the facilities already available at the United States station at Londonderry. In addition certain radar picket escort vessels will make use of existing naval facilities at Rosyth and commercial facilities on the Clyde.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what this involves us in by way of provision facilities and financial obligations?

The financial obligations will be borne entirely by the Americans except for the provision of one small area of land. The other provisions which we shall make are largely docking and repair facilities and so on, for which, again, the United States will pay. This is actually, as I think the right hon. Gentleman knows, a radar warning system. It is against conventional aircraft, but it serves a useful purpose and fills a gap in the chain.

German Troops, United Kingdom


asked the Minister of Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that former Nazis and neo-Nazis are not included amongst those Germans who will be coming to this country for military training.

Surely the right hon Gentleman is not saying that anybody, whether he has a Nazi background, happens to have been of high ranking order in the Nazi set-up, or is a neo-Nazi, will be allowed into this country in order to spread that sort of vicious doctrine? Is not something going to be done about it? Will the right hon. Gentleman consult the Home Office or the Foreign Secretary about what is to be done?

The hon. Gentleman might take note of two things, first, the extreme care with which the Federal German Republic acted when its forces carried out similar training in France, entirely without any incident or objection, and, secondly, that ever since the new German forces were raised by the Democratic Government immense care has been taken to screen not only the forces but all servants of the Government against Nazi backgrounds.

But surely in a case of this description the right hon. Gentleman will make it known to those who are going to send troops here that we do not and will not tolerate the spreading of that kind of doctrine in this country?

That goes without saying, and it is just as clearly known to the German Government as to the hon. Gentleman.

Has the Minister any information to show that the Federal Government have checked on Heusinger and his association with the Nazi Party?

That is quite another matter. I think that the gentleman whom the hon. Gentleman mentions was involved in the plot against Hitler.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I propose to raise this matter again at an early opportunity.


Nuclear Propulsion


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a statement about the award of a contract for the building of a nuclear-powered tanker.

I will make a statement as soon as I can.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the reason for this very long delay? The shipbuilding industry is very anxious about this. It is over a year since tenders were invited, yet the right hon. Gentleman, week after week and month after month, refuses to give any indication of whether the whole project is to be abandoned or of what the situation is. Why the delay? Cannot he at least answer that?

The reason for the delay is the complexity of the technical considerations. The question exercising my mind is whether our limited resources should be used in another way.

In view of the progress that has been made by the United States and Russia in this, will my right hon. Friend make a statement before the House rises for the Summer Recess? Will he bear in mind that quite a lot of technical information was assembled by the Galbraith Committee, and that the decision was taken to try to embark on the building of a commercial ship to collect commercial data? Is my right hon. Friend's difficulty related to the fact that the shipbuilders do not want to find the money and neither do the Government?

I said during my speech during the recent debate on shipping and the shipbuilding industry that I hoped, but could not promise, to make a statement before the House rises. As for the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I am bound to say that neither the shipbuilders nor any shipping firms want to make a contribution. We have to decide whether it is worth while to spend money this way or upon trying to find a reactor which is economic.

In view of the slack in the shipbuilding industry—when we have considerable unemployment in the yards and berths lying empty—is not this a glorious opportunity in physical terms to undertake some experimental construction of this kind?

If this project were agreed to it would hardly make any difference to the shipbuilding industry. The great thing is for that industry to be competitive, because there are quite enough orders going about if it can get them.

Foreign Orders


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the drift of shipbuilding and ship-repairing orders from British shipyards to continental shipyards; and what steps he now plans to counteract this drift of British finance and employment away from Great Britain.

I am aware of this development. I told hon. Members in the debate on shipping and shipbuilding on 13th July of the independent inquiry which I have arranged for Messrs. Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company to make into the reasons why British ship-owners have ordered ships abroad.

Why did not the right hon. Gentleman act earlier? Is he aware that this drift has been going on for far too long, and that during the last three months alone the tonnage that has gone to foreign shipyards from British yards amounts to over 250,000 tons? That is a very serious loss to British employment and to British finance. What is he doing about it?

I am finding out the real answer, firmly and impartially, as to why these orders are going abroad. Then perhaps we can see that our own industry is made more competitive.

In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said during the recent debate on the shipbuilding industry, is he aware that the leaders of the industry still maintain that their major handicap in getting orders is absence of credit facilities comparable to those granted by other Government and foreign banks to their own industries? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this further?

I have myself recently seen about 15 ship-owners, and not one of them has given as a reason the fact that they could not obtain credit. No case like that has been brought to my notice. The inquiry will soon find out whether that is the reason, but I do not believe it is.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he will be able to get the sort of information from the foreign yards that he is to get from British yards? Unless he gets that information and is then able to make a direct comparison, the whole operation will be valueless.

I do not agree that it will be valueless, but the firm will try to get what information it can from abroad.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the British ship-owners who have placed orders for vessels in foreign yards are recipients of the 40 per cent. investment allowance? If they are, is it not time to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to inform these owners who are so unpatriotic that they will not receive this relief at the expense of the public?

Any owner who buys a new ship is entitled to the 40 per cent. investment allowance.

Passenger Liners (Accommodation)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the inadequate provision of accommodation on some British passenger liners; and if he will take steps to ensure that reasonable standards are maintained for passengers on all ships.

The standard of accommodation in British post-war passenger liners is extremely high. There are, however, a few pre-war ships, now near the end of their useful lives, in which some of the accommodation is not up to present-day standards. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars of the ships he has in mind, I will look into the matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have a very serious complaint, concerning the s.s. "Orontes", that six men are sleeping in bunks in a cabin in which they have 70 inches by 40 inches in which to dress and undress and do everything else they wish to do in that cabin? There are also six women in another cabin with six bunks with only 70 inches by 40 inches free space. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is less than the space provided for quality animals in transit?


Road Programme


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the need for the road programme to be expanded forthwith to at least twice its present size; and whether he expects to make a statement before the Summer Recess with regard to his plans for expanding present expenditure on the roads.

We are already devoting a large proportion of our resources to the road programme, and it would be wrong for me in present circumstances to hold out any hope of an increase of the order suggested by the hon. Member.

Was the right hon. Gentleman in the House yesterday when the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that, in the field of public expenditure, it is essential to see that priority is given to whatever directly affects national efficiency and that we should not wastefully disrupt programmes under way? Will the right hon. Gentleman insist that the Chancellor recognises that a great improvement in our roads is absolutely essential to national efficiency?

That is why we have the biggest programme this year that we have ever had.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he intends to take any steps this year to free the Selby toll bridge?

I can answer that categorically. I do not intend to take any steps this year to free Selby toll bridge.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will be viewed with great concern by all road users? Although, as we freely admit, the programme is a large one, it is still not large enough. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if long-term programmes are to be cut down because of the economic situation, this nation will be the first to suffer?

There is an overload on the building industry at the present time. For example, there are 1,111 vacancies for carpenters in London and the South-East but only about 230 carpenters registered as unemployed. Merely to announce an astronomical figure, as was suggested in the Question, would be disastrous.

Gossops Green, Crawley


asked the Minister of Transport what steps he proposes to take to provide safe access for pedestrians and particularly children across A.23 in the Gossops Green neighbourhood of Crawley.

We propose to ask the Crawley Development Corporation and the Crawley Urban District Council to discuss the provision of a suitable facility with officers of our Department, though we cannot at this stage undertake to accept any financial responsibility.

Great West Road


asked the Minister of Transport what progress has been made in improving the efficiency of the flow of traffic on the Great West Road, as a result of the study that has recently been made of traffic problems on that road.

I hope soon to introduce clearway conditions between Chiswick Flyover and Colnbrook. A dual carriageway now in course of construction at Cranford will help to eliminate some turns. Schemes for dealing with right turning traffic at other junctions are being worked out. Four sets of traffic lights are shortly to be linked.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that statement. Can he tell the House when he expects to have further information available in connection with the right turns and other matters now under investigation on the Great West Road?

All the conditions are now being surveyed, so it should not be too long.



asked the Minister of Transport why, in respect of the county of Warwick, he has not so far authorised any classified road scheme of over £100,000 grant value for the next three years; and when any such additional authorisation can be expected.

We have been able to include in the first three year programme only those schemes which command the highest priority throughout the country, having regard to the urgent need to alleviate congestion in our cities. I regret that it was not possible to include all the schemes submitted. We hope to announce the programme for 1964–65 later this year.

Cain we have an assurance that road schemes of this character which have been announced will not be cut back because of any financial arrangements about which we heard something yesterday?

I cannot depart from the terms in which my right hon. and learned Friend addressed the House yesterday.

Car Parking


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will take powers to control car parking in streets too narrow for this purpose.

I already have powers to control car parking on trunk roads and on roads in the London Traffic Area. On other roads this is a matter for the local authorities.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has been reported as saying that he gave some measure of encouragement to car drivers to park part-way on the footpaths? Will he ask his right hon. Friend at least to show a good example to the travelling public?

The hon. Member should put a Question to my right hon. Friend so that he can answer it direct.

What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to control the all-night parking of commercial vehicles in streets already overcrowded? If members of the public have to provide garage accommodation for their cars, is not the least we can do to see that off-street parking facilities are used by these commercial vehicles?

In London, where this problem is at its most acute, my Department and the police are in consultation with local authorities at Bermondsey and other places in the hope of taking remedial action.

While there has been much discussion of this matter in the House and statements by the Home Secretary and the Minister, is it not about time that this serious problem was sorted out and some announcement made about car parking on the pavements in narrow streets, often making it impossible for pedestrians to walk along the pavements properly? Ought there not to be some decision in the matter and a proper Government announcement, or some direction to the police which can be properly obeyed?

Any question of directions to the police is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and not for me.

Can the Minister of Transport say whether it was after consultation with him that the Metropolitan police moved parked cars away from outside the house of the Home Secretary?

Euston Road (Traffic Congestion)


asked the Minister of Transport why repair work is being done to the road outside St. Pancras and King's Cross stations in the middle of July, so causing dislocation at the height of the holiday period.

These are improvements urgently needed to improve traffic conditions at King's Cross. They should result in better traffic movement and savings in police manpower.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that by that answer he has proved that he has not been in that area during certain times of the day? Is he aware that what I thought was temporary dislocation at the time I put down the Question is in fact to be permanent chaos in the area? Is he aware that people desiring to catch trains at King's Cross Station now find themselves in a queue for about 20 minutes, and that those arriving at St. Pancras and desiring to go westwards must first go 300 or 400 yards eastwards, 20 minutes later finding themselves on the opposite side of the road?

I assure the hon. Lady that there will be no condition of permanent chaos at this place. What we are trying to do is to improve the traffic flow, something on which the House has consistently helped us. I hope that this improvement will be completed within a short time.


Motor Vehicles (Noise)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will introduce regulations prescribing noise levels, based on an acceptance of the internationally agreed methods of noise measurement as applied to motor vehicles.

The International Standards Organisation has not yet agreed the proposed standard method of measuring noise from motor vehicles. In view of the delay, we propose to put in hand the making of new regulations based on the revised British Standard, which I understand will be published shortly. It will, however, be some time before new regulations in this complex field can be drafted and the statutory consultations completed.

While thanking my hon. Friend for that statement, may I ask him for an assurance that, when these regulations are introduced, he and his right hon. Friend will use what good offices they can to see that they are robustly enforced, since he will agree that a great deal of noise resulting from transport is wholly unnecessary and, indeed, is deliberately created? This is a matter in which a great deal of progress can be made by robust administration of the regulations.

It is because we are well aware of these considerations that we are taking the action I mentioned. We are, in fact, going a little ahead of international agreement on this matter.

British Transport Commission (Houses)


asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to undertake the immediate repair, with a view to letting, of all untenanted houses in their possession.

Does the Minister realise that this doctrine of the day-to-day affairs of the Commission can be carried too far and that this problem has been rendered acute by the closure of branch lines in Scotland? Is he aware that many of the buildings at level crossings and elsewhere are lying derelict and are a great loss of public property? Will he remedy this state of affairs?

I am afraid that this is a matter of day-to-day management for the Commission.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the same time there is a good deal of evidence coming to hand to show that the British Transport Commission is very slow in getting rid of untenanted and unwanted property? Will he give a general direction to the Commission telling it to hurry up and to get rid of the houses and buildings and so on which it does not require?

No, I will not give a general direction to the Commission, but when reorganisation takes place it will no doubt have greater powers than it now has about property.

Channel Tunnel


asked the Minister of Transport whether in view of the need to decide future policy for the improvement of road and rail communications with the Continent of Europe, he will organise at the earliest possible opportunity a conference of those authorities concerned with the problem of the Channel Tunnel.


asked the Minister of Transport whether in view of the need to provide better and cheaper transport facilities for British exports to the Continent of Europe, he will now state Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to the authorisation of a Channel Tunnel, so that a decision can be taken in this matter at an early date.

I shall not be in a position to consider calling a conference or to make a policy statement until a later stage in our consultations with the French Government.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say that conversations with the French Government on this subject are taking place? Is he not aware that there is widespread opinion in both countries that the two Governments are playing an Earl of Chatham and Sir Richard Straughan game with this business? Will he make a move?

It cannot be done unilaterally. We are in touch with the French Government through the usual diplomatic channels.

Can my right hon. Friend tell us exactly how far he is in touch with the French Government? Is he aware that there is tremendous difficulty about developments on the coast on both sides of the Channel because of the uncertainty about how the money is to be spent, as people do not know whether we are to have a tunnel or not? Is he not aware that there is an appalling increase of traffic between the countries?

All I can say is that we are in touch with the French Government. I had better leave it at that.

Coal (Transport)


asked the Minister of Transport what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the transport of coal by lorry.

The Government's policy is to permit the transport of coal by lorry according to the desire of the user and the facilities available.

Does not the Minister agree that it is far more suitable that coal should be carried by rail? Does he think that the small marginal gain in road costs to industrial undertakings should outweigh the grave nuisance caused to the public by coal lorries in many places such as Derby?

Most of the coal is taken by rail, of course, and it is a traffic suitable to rail. In those cases where industrialists choose to send it by road it is obviously because the balance of advantage lies in taking it by road.

Should not the public loss in the discharge of diesel fumes and accidents and other things be a grave factor on the other side?

In his assessment of the carriage of coal, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that coastal shipping is also available, and will he take care not to eliminate coastal shipping in this matter?




asked the Minister of Transport what capital expenditure he has authorised to electrify the North Staffordshire loop line, for the construction of a main line by-pass diversion of Harecastle tunnel, and for electrification of the main line that runs through Stoke-on-Trent.

No proposals have been submitted to my right hon. Friend by the British Transport Commission for the electrification of the North Staffordshire loop line. The London Midland Region electrification scheme, which has been given general approval, includes the electrification of the main line through Stoke-on-Trent. I understand from the Commission that they are planning to by-pass the Harecastle tunnels.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary be good enough to convey to the British Transport Commission the ideas contained in the Question?

I think that the Commission is already aware of the hon. Member's views, because it was consulted about this Question.


asked the Minister of Transport what capital expenditure he has authorised or intends to authorise to modernise and electrify the line which connects Piccadilly, Manchester, main line with Ordsall Lane, linking up Exchange and Victoria Stations, and to provide for direct and indirect through running between the electrified lines at Piccadilly, Manchester, and Liverpool.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree with me that density of population in this area is the greatest in the country, if not in the world, and that revenue where modernisation has been applied has already increased by between 50 and 70 per cent.? In view of the urgent needs of people who render great service to the country's export trade, should not the Commission concentrate on this area to carry modernisation to the maximum extent?

The hon. Member asked my right hon. Friend what capital expenditure he had authorised in this connection, and I gave the answer which is that we have not authorised any. However, if the hon. Gentleman has a suggestion to make to the Commission about this electrification, the proper course is to approach the Commission direct.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind that, because of Parliamentary rules, the Question had to be phrased in this way? It is due to a weakness imposed on us by someone who is no longer a Member but who is now in another place and against whom some of us took a strong stand at the time. We have been proved right. Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Commission to consider the ideas contained in the Question?

I am not altogether clear to what Member of another place the hon. Gentleman is referring. I think that that must have happened before my time.

Mr Wang (Visa)

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to prevent the exclusion from the United Kingdom of Mr. Wang, a political refugee from Taiwan.

Mr. Wang, who appears to be an officer of the Formosan Navy, arrived at London Airport yesterday afternoon, having obtained a visa for a visit to the United Kingdom in Los Angeles on 20th July. He informed the immigration officer that he wished to stay here permanently. He claimed to have left the United States as an alternative to returning to Formosa where, he said, he would be under suspicion in respect of his political opinions. The immigration officer took the view that the visa had been obtained by misrepresentation and, in the exercise of his powers under Article 1 (1) of the Aliens Order, 1953, he refused Mr. Wang leave to land.

In deference to representations by the hon. Member, I am inquiring into the circumstances of Mr. Wang's case, and, meanwhile, my right hon. Friend has authorised him to stay for 14 days. I shall communicate with the hon. Member as soon as possible.

I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for that Answer. May I ask, in defence of Mr. Wang, whether the Minister is aware that he has passed a master's degree in mechanical engineering—it is true that he passed this degree in the United States of America while an officer of the Taiwan Navy; that he wishes to live in the free world and is not desirous of going to the Communist part of the world; that he and his wife are being trained in the Catholic faith; and that because of being harrassed both he and his wife have attempted suicide? Will the Minister therefore look carefully into this case to consider whether Mr. Wang might be given an opportunity of exercising his profession either in the United Kingdom or ultimately in the United States of America?

Those of the considerations mentioned by the hon. Gentleman which are relevant will be borne in mind.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it right for an hon. Gentleman to say that Roman Catholics want to commit suicide? They do not.

I think that, by and large, the House would be well advised to pass to other business.

Kuwait-Iraq Border (Arrested British Soldiers)

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the arrest of three British soldiers on the Kuwait border with Iraq.

Yes, Sir. On the morning of Sunday, 23rd July, a Ferret scout car, carrying three Royal Engineers—a staff sergeant, a lance corporal, and a sapper, from 34 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers—set out on a routine road check in the forward desert area. The scout car was unarmed but the crew, of course, had personal weapons. The party had instructions to stop at the 11th Hussars check-point, which is 12 miles from the frontier.

In fact, at about 1.30 p.m., the scout car passed the check-point without stopping, and proceeded northward along the main road to the border. The soldiers are then believed to have lost their way and accidentally entered Iraq where they were arrested.

According to the Iraqi Press reports, the men are now at Rashid Camp, Baghdad. They are reported to have stated at a Press conference the day before yesterday that they were in good health and were being well treated.

A note from Her Majesty's Ambassador was handed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday morning, asking for the men's release, and for access to them meanwhile. Her Majesty's Embassy is pressing for a reply.

Although Baghdad Radio has been reported as stating that the men will be tried by a military court, Her Majesty's Embassy understands that it is not at present intended to hold more than a judicial investigation.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this incident might have led to much graver results? Will he answer three questions? First, what instructions are given in these cases where, as often happens in desert conditions, a reconnaissance patrol loses its bearings? What instructions are given during the course of training? Secondly, what action is he taking to prevent incidents of this kind occurring again? Thirdly, will he say what grounds the Iraqis have given for denying access to the men by the British Embassy?

So far, the Iraqis have not given any grounds for denying access. That is why Her Majesty's Ambassador is pressing for it.

The instruction to all troops, particularly those on active service, is that when they get lost near the territory of another country they should return to their own units. Indeed, there is evidence that in this case they stopped a local person and asked how they could get back to Kuwait. I agree that this could have led to something more serious, but I am happy to take the opportunity of saying that it was an innocent mistake and not an intentional act. I am seeing whether the instructions need any alteration to prevent further occurrences of this nature.

Is it not the case that they asked the way of a young lad, who led them to an Iraqi post? The Minister treats this with some levity, but will he try to prevent this kind of thing recurring, if only in view of our manpower shortage?

I was not treating it with levity. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were doing that. They stopped and asked the way from the only person they could find. I am not sure whether it was a boy, a girl, or a grown-up, but they were led to the wrong place.

Can the Minister, first, give an assurance that all the legal rights of these three soldiers will be properly safeguarded; and, secondly, that while the soldiers are being detained the interests of their dependants will be fully looked after by Her Majesty's Government?

I certainly give an undertaking about the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, and it will be the intention of Her Majesty's Ambassador to secure an answer to the first part of his question.