Skip to main content

United States Deputy Secretary For Defence (Conversation)

Volume 648: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

4.

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on his recent consultations with the United States Deputy Secretary for Defence.

11.

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on his recent conversations with Mr. Gilpatric, United States Deputy Secretary of Defence, regarding a common policy on the supply of nuclear weapons to the West German army.

My meeting with the United States Deputy Secretary for Defence was one of the series of informal meetings between N.A.T.O. Ministers dealing with the defence field in which we exchange views on questions of common interest. On this occasion the main item of our conversation was interdependence in the weapons and equipment field.

The question of the supply of nuclear weapons to the West German army did not arise.

In the course of his conversations with Mr. Gilpatric did the right hon. Gentleman tell him that Great Britain was bearing a disproportionately high share of the total burden of Western defence, as pointed out in the White Paper of 1957? If the right hon. Gentleman still believes that, why is he going to call up those conscripts who are the youngest and the least able to resist conscription?

That is quite a different question. Mr. Gilpatric. no doubt, had taken note of the recent statement by N.A.T.O. that this country's foreign exchange burden, as a result of our fulfilling our N.A.T.O. commitments, is a very heavy one indeed.

The right hon. Gentleman says that his conversation with Mr. Gilpatric was informal, but is he not aware that the week before conversations had taken place between Mr. Gilpatric and the West German Government and that announcements were made about agreements reached about the supply of nuclear weapons to the West German Government? The right hon. Gentleman says that this matter did not arise in the conversations, but does he not think it was his duty to raise such an important matter and to report to this House what proposals the Government agreed to about the supply of nuclear weapons to Germany? Does he not realise that the peace of the whole world may depend on this subject?

I do not accept at all the hon. Gentleman's view of what arrangements have been made between the American Government and the West German Government as necessarily the correct one. Anyway, my Answer was perfectly correct;that is to say, this matter was not discussed.