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Secretary Of State For War (Title)

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1962

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asked the Prime Minister whether, for greater accuracy and in order to make clear that United Kingdom policy is non-aggressive, he will substitute for the title of Secretary of State for War the title of Secretary of State for the Army.

I agree that the title "Secretary of State for War" is an anachronism, but I do not believe that it gives rise to any serious misunderstandings either here or overseas.

In view of the fact that the word "war" in some way implies aggression and that we have now adopted the word "defence" to show that we mean no aggression—and in any case since the Secretary of State for War is really the Secretary of State for the Army—would it not be wise to make this description more accurate so that it complies with present conditions?

It would be convenient at a convenient moment, but legislation is necessary and I hardly think that it is justified.

In view of some of the exchanges in this House in the past week and the general opinion—expressed by the Government also—that there is no actual defence against nuclear attack, would the right hon. Gentleman consider substituting for the title of "Minister of Defence" the title of "Minister of Retaliation"?