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Ministry Of Defence

Volume 723: debated on Wednesday 2 February 1966

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Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (Entrants)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what increase has taken place in recent months in recruiting entrants for the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, from local education authority controlled schools in the north of England; and whether he will make a statement.

Twenty-one such candidates were accepted last year from Northern Command, compared with 18 in 1964.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this improvement, small though it is, will be widely appreciated in the North, and that the broadening of the school and social base from which future Army officers may be drawn will be good for both the schools and the Army, but that a great deal of work still needs to be done in liaison between the schools and the military authorities?

Our team of lecturers in Northern Command visited 400 schools last year in the Northern Command alone, and this seems to have had an effect.

Home Defence Force

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution he proposes that military units should make towards home defence.

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will take steps to form a home security force for aid to civil defence; and if he will make a statement.

While appreciating that we are to have a statement, arising out of my original Question, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is confident that officers and men serving in the Territorial Army at present will be prepared to join his new organisation?

I appreciate that a statement is to be made, but may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he will make clear that he will employ the Territorial Army in this rôle and so try to raise its present sagging morale?

Pensions

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will seek to revise pension arrangements for the Armed Forces to ensure that those who retire voluntarily are no worse provided for than those who are compulsorily retired.

No, Sir. It is the normal principle with public service pensions that voluntary retirement before normal retirement age does not attract a fully proportionate pension immediately.

Does not the Minister think that it is a little odd that at present a Serviceman whose job is threatened with redundancy and who therefore feels that he must leave the Service reasonably soon suffers a reduction in pension, whereas a similar Service man who is unsuitable for further employment and is retired suffers no reduction?

If the service of the first man is needed but nevertheless he retires, it is fair that there should be a reduction in his pension.

Why could not the Secretary of State for Defence have so arranged his programme that he could answer Questions of which there are 34 addressed to him today? Is it not a great discourtesy to the House that he is not here?

The House should recognise the importance of the journey which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is making and give him the requisite leave.

Long-Range Transport Aircraft

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will call for an immediate design study from the British aircraft industry for a heavy long-range jet transport aircraft to come into service in the 1970s.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force
(Mr. Bruce Millan)

No, Sir. We must first establish the need for such an aircraft. This will be considered further in the light of the outcome of the present Defence Review.

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that it is not the Government's intention to rely on the United States to supply the next generation of aircraft, besides the present one, for this country?

It is a little premature to consider the next generation of long-range transport aircraft when the Belfast and the VC10 are only now just coming into service with the R.A.F.

Aircraft Carriers

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends to invite tenders from suitable United Kingdom shipyards during 1966 for the construction of one or more new aircraft carriers; and if he will make a statement.

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the new aircraft carrier is to be laid down.

I suggest that the hon. Gentlemen should wait now for the White Paper which will shortly publish a progress report on the Defence Review.

Why cannot the hon. Gentleman deal with this matter, when he can, apparently, deal with such matters as the Territorial Army and the aircraft industry, pending the Defence White Paper? How many more postponements of the Defence Review are there to be?

The second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question does not arise on the Question. The first part was answered in the debate on the Territorial Army, when we explained the reasons why that particular question could be settled in isolation.

Will my hon. Friend appreciate that very careful consideration is required on the subject of the new aircraft carrier or carriers because it might lead to a great deal of opposition from this side of the House?

It certainly needs careful consideration, and it has not yet been decided.

if we have to await the Defence Review for the answer to this Question, why did the hon. Gentleman tell the country in the middle of November last that Her Majesty's Government were about to come to a decision on increasing Britain's carrier force? What has gone wrong since then?

European Armament Board

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action he has taken to establish a European Armament Board, as recommended by paragraph 3 on page 3 of Document 354 of the Western European Union Assembly.

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he is having in order to promote the establishment of a European Armament Board as recommended by the Western European Union Assembly.

This idea is under consideration by the Western European Council. Her Majesty's Government cannot take unilateral action on it.

Will the Government adopt a warm approach to this matter, in which we have a suggestion for practical co-operation between the members of the Six and the United Kingdom, and will they take some initiative on it?

We certainly share the view of W.E.U that there should be a fairer share-out of arms orders.

Will the hon. Gentleman recognise that the objects, at least, of this proposal are highly desirable? Surely the Government recognise that.

I have said that the main object of W.E.U. is also the objective of the Government.

F111 Aircraft

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Govern- ment will not take up the option to buy United States F111 fighters in order to avoid adding a further £300 million to the balance of payments deficit.

As my right hon. Friend indicated to the House on 13th December, a decision on the Canberra replacement aircraft and thus on the need or otherwise to take up the F111A option will be taken as part of the Defence Review now in progress.

In making up his mind on this subject, will the Minister's right hon. Friend bear in mind that these planes cost £3 million each in dollars, that they are wanted only for the east of Suez rôle, and that this rôle itself is regarded as highly controversial by a great many Members not only on this side but on the other side of the House as well?

I assure my hon. Friend that the question of the cost of the F111 and the rôle for which it would be intended if it were in fact purchased will be fully taken into account before any decision is made.

How much longer is this indecision to go on? Does the hon. Gentleman realise the great harm which failure to come to a decision on this question and the carriers is doing to the Services?

As the House knows, the Defence Review is now nearing completion. If hon. Members will contain their impatience for a few weeks longer, they will have definite answers to all these questions.

East Of Suez (Defence Discussions)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand about defence policy in the Indian Ocean; and whether he will make a statement.

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his recent talks with United States Government representatives, in general, and, in particular, on cutting British military expenditure and on Great Britain's east of Suez policies.

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his recent discussions with members of the United States Administration.

My right hon. Friend has been discussing defence matters of mutual interest with the Governments of the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Any statement must await his return.

One of the items on the agenda has been the stationing of British aircraft in Australia with nuclear capability. What are the Australians saying about that?

I am not prepared to comment on what was or was not discussed by my right hon. Friend during the conversations.

First, is it not rather unfortunate that, since this is the only chance we shall have to ask these questions before the Defence Review—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members opposite have no right to talk, because they want bigger armaments.

Order. There must be no debate across the Floor; only questions to the Minister.

Will my hon. Friend give an understanding at least that expenditure will not go up this year but will go down?

On the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, which, I think, is the only question arising out of the Question on the Paper, the House would not wish decisions on the Defence Review to be taken without consultation with our allies. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. They want the Secretary of State to consult our allies, and then they will have the Defence White Paper sooner.

Is it not a fact that the visit of the Secretary of State to the United States finished last week? Cannot the hon. Gentleman tell the House something about what happened there?

What happened in the United States is a matter primarily for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, but, in addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will, no doubt, inform the House on his return. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] On his return. He is returning on Sunday. In the meantime, the House really should face the fact that, plainly, it is not possible to reach these decisions without consultation with our allies.

Buccaneer Mark Ii Aircraft

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is intended to order Buccaneer Mark II aircraft for the Royal Air Force.

The choice of further new aircraft for the Royal Air Force is one of the major questions on which decisions will be taken in the course of the Defence Review.

Can the hon. Gentleman say how long he expects the development of the Mark II** to take, and will he comment on the Chancellor's suggestion made during the North Hull by-election campaign that these aircraft might be sold to the Americans as part of a package deal?

The Buccaneer Mark II is being considered along with a number of other alternative aircraft in the context of the Defence Review, with particular relation to the Canberra replacement.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that this is an excellent plane, the best of its kind in the world for its purpose, and can he tell us of any possible export markets for it, other than North America?

I confirm, of course, that this is an excellent aircraft. The question is whether it is the particular aircraft we require for the rôle which we need for the Canberra replacement. This is what is being fully considered at the moment.

Kestrel Aircraft

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has now placed a firm production order for the Kestrel vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

No, Sir. The development programme is proceeding at the required rate and the firm already has authority for work on tooling.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the P1154, a much more advanced concept, was cancelled a very long time ago, and the evaluation squadron has come to the conclusion that it was a great mistake on the part of the Government to cancel the P1154? Will he now get moving on the P1127 before other countries start producing vertical take-off aircraft of their own?

It is quite inaccurate to say that the evaluation squadron has shown that it was a mistake for the Government to cancel the P1154. It was a very sensible decision, the sense of which has been confirmed over the past year. As regards the P1127, there is a good deal of preliminary work still going on. There is no question of it being held up at the moment. There is plently of work and there are funds available for that work to be continued, but the question of a production order does not yet arise.

How much longer do the Government intend to take before placing a production order for this aircraft? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that it is the firm intention of the Government to bring this aircraft into service as speedily as possible?

I confirm that work is going on on the P1127 at the minute, in accordance with previous Government statements about it. When the appropriate time comes for the question of a production order to be considered and placed, the Government's decision will be made clear. If hon. Gentlemen will simply wait till the Defence Review statement is published, they will get answers to all these questions.

British Forces, Far East (Armalite Rifle)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent British forces in the Far East are now equipped with the Armalite rifle.

Infantry rifle companies, Commando and Special Air Service units operating in Borneo are equipped with this rifle.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the great value of this rifle, particularly in areas where much jungle fighting goes on, and can he assure us that there is no shortage whatever in these areas?

There are sufficient available where its use is an advantage over the ordinary S.L.R.

Royal Navy Surface-To-Surface Missile

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy with regard to the development or procurement of a surface-to-surface missile for the Royal Navy.

Can the hon. Gentleman at least confirm that it is the Government's intention to equip the Royal Navy with some form of surface-to-surface guided missile? Is not this a serious gap in our present naval armament?

The hon. Gentleman will realise that this is bound up with a number of other decisions on the Defence Review, and I can make no comment on it now.

Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that his Under-Secretary of State last week indicated that one of the standing requirements of the Royal Navy for surface-to-surface weapons was for a medium-range armament at present covered by the 6-inch and 4½-inch guns? Is he saying that there are no proposals for and no consideration being given to the next generation which will replace those?

All these things have been and are under study, but, on the question of future missiles, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that we already have surface-to-air missiles and at present we depend for surface-to-surface capacity on the strike aircraft, so we cannot take this decision in isolation from the Defence Review.

Will my hon. Friend advise his right hon. Friend on our behalf not to make the mistake of the previous Administration in spending vast sums of money running into hundreds of millions of £s for missiles and other arms which were discovered to be of no value?

Maritime Comet

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about progress in the Maritime Comet for Royal Air Force Coastal Command; whether a firm production order has now been placed; and when the aircraft will come into service.

The integrated development and production programme is proceeding well and the aircraft is expected to come into service in 1969. My right hon. Friend hopes to have more to say about this project in a few weeks' time.

Does the answer mean that production orders have been placed for the aircraft? Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is important and urgent now to bring the aircraft forward into service, if possible, earlier than the date he mentioned?

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to await the statement which my right hon. Friend will be making about this project, as I have said, in a few weeks' time. But work is proceeding, and the introduction date of 1969 will certainly be met.

In view of the uncertainty about the employment position in Hatfield where it is hoped the aircraft will be manufactured, can the hon. Gentleman give any indication of the scale of the production order which is likely to be placed?

No, Sir. It has never been the practice to give numbers with an aircraft of this sort.

British Indian Ocean Territory (Defence Facilities)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what modification of his plan to establish defence facilities in the British Indian Ocean Territory he proposes to make following the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly of 16th December on this subject.

None, Sir: the British delegate made it clear that we could not accept the references to these islands in the resolution.

While I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for saying that he will not pay any attention to the United Nation's resolution in this case, may I ask him whether the resolution does not make it clear that the establishment of land bases anywhere outside these shores is always liable to run into political difficulties, and ought we not, therefore, to be studying the alternatives?

We did not think that the resolution dealt with the problem realistically. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have taken certain action here that we think is wise bearing in mind that we cannot foresee what the future defence needs in the area might be.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that it would be impossible to carry out any policy in the area east of Suez with borrowed money? Would he agree that in the present economic situation it is impossible to sustain the sort of defence commitments that we have at the present time?

17 and 18.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether he will give a general indication of the nature and purpose of the defence facilities to be constructed in the British Indian Ocean Territory;

(2) what approximate estimate has been made of the total cost of the defence facilities to be constructed in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Neither Her Majesty's Government nor, I understand, the United States Government have at present any specific plans for constructing military facilities on any of these islands. There are, of course, a number of military uses to which the islands might be put in due course, as and when specific requirements arise, and this was the justification for the establishment of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Is the hon. Gentleman saying, then, that the establishment of this Territory—which, as the former Colonial Secretary said, was intended to be available for the construction of defence facilities by both countries—was a pure speculation when no ideas had yet been formed either as to the purpose or as to the cost?

The future defence requirements of the area are extremely difficult to foresee, and I think that if we had not taken this decision we might well have laid ourselves open later to a charge of extreme lack of foresight of the kind we saw so often during the previous Government.

Will the hon. Gentleman make proper use of the defence facilities of the Union of South Africa in terms of the Simonstown Agreement?

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what understanding exists between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America as to the proportion in which the cost of any defence facilities in the Indian Ocean area will be shared between them.

Each country will pay for the facilities in which it has the prime interest. All facilities will be available for use by both countries without charge.

Does that apply to both existing bases and possible future airstrips such as Diego Garcia?

Has an understanding in these terms been reached between this country and the United States without there being any idea at all what the facilities will be or what their purposes will be?

No, Sir. Of course, a number of ideas have been put forward—for instance, an American communications centre and a British fuelling base. I merely say that these are ideas which are not specifically decided on yet, but the facilities exist for putting them there if we want them, and that this is a sensible precaution.

Can my hon. Friend tell me to what extent this sharing of defence facilities and defence costs in the Far East means an integration of British defence policy with that of the United States? Can he, further, give an assurance that it is not the policy of this Government to fight Communism or put down revolutions in other people's countries?

We have had very long and very successful experience of this sort of military co-operation with the United States.

Royal Navy Ice-Breaker

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to build an ice-breaker for the Royal Navy; and whether he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy
(Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) on 31st January.

Can the House assume from that reply that the Government have no further interest in arctic patrols or our position down there?

Hms "Centaur"

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he will make a statement on the future of H.M.S. "Centaur".

A decision on her future will be taken in the light of the Defence Review.

In regard to this decision, will the hon. Gentleman urge the Government to realise a lesson which they have learned recently off the east coast of Africa, that an aircraft carrier is a handy thing to have around even in peacetime?

H.M.S. "Centaur" is a rather special case, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows. It is rather smaller in size than suits our requirement.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Has it not always been the practice that a Department, to save the time of the House, when it proposes to give identical answers to several Questions takes them together? We have had many Questions with the same Answers.

Officers (Mess Subscriptions)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if it is the practice that officers are required to become members of their respective officers' messes and to pay the appropriate mess subscriptions.

Does it not mean, therefore, that the officers concerned are making these payments necessarily in the performance of their duties, and ought not the subscriptions therefore to be allowable for tax relief?

No, Sir. The subscriptions do not pay for the basic needs of a mess—the food and so on. They pay for the additional amenities, and that seems to be a fair charge on a man's private income.

Army Reserves (Re-Organisation)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will defer legislation to implement proposals in Command Paper No. 2855 until the Defence Review and the Review of Civil Defence are completed, and until he has decided on the contribution that military units should make to home security.

Since the Government's one vote victory when the White Paper was debated really amounted to a technical knockout for them, and since it is clear that had a free vote been allowed on what ought to be a non-party matter the Government would have been heavily defeated, is it not clear that the Government ought to withdraw their proposals and think again?

I think it was the Leader of the Opposition who, on a momentous occasion, said that one vote was enough. One vote is enough. The hon. and gallant Gentleman's right hon. and hon. Friends have all the afternoon been criticising us for deferring things until after the Defence Review. I am surprised that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should be asking us to delay this until after the Defence Review.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimates he has made of the annual cost to be carried on other votes resulting from his decision to remove from the Territorial Army the contribution to Civil Defence and the Cadet Forces, showing the figures separately; and by how much the estimated annual net saving to the taxpayer of £20 million by 1969 resulting from the reorganisation of the Reserve Forces, will therefore be reduced.

The £20 million saving took into account the fact that there may be additional expenditure on the Cadet Forces of about £300,000 a year. Civil Defence expenditure is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who will be making a statement later today.

Aden Base

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to retain the Aden base.

I think this is the first time that the Government have made an equivocal statement about the future of the Aden base, in great contrast to the statements made by the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend in answer to earlier Questions by myself and other hon. Members. Will the hon. Gentleman indicate when he can be more definite about this very important matter?

In the Defence White Paper towards the end of next month. I am adding nothing to previous statements on this question.

Will my hon. Friend go into the matter and see whether it is a question not just of transferring the base but of a positive reduction in the area?

Service Men (Death Overseas)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the parents of a young soldier killed in Aden were asked to pay for his body to be flown home; what charge was proposed; and what progress he has made in his review of the arrangements for flying Servicemen's bodies home at public expense from places other than North-West Europe.

It is long standing practice that Service men who die overseas should be given a military funeral there and this is done at public expense. Where practicable next-of-kin may have a body brought home if they wish by private arrangement and at their own charge. My right hon. Friend has not yet completed his review of these arrangements.

If there is space available in an aircraft that is coming home anyway, why is it necessary to make this large—in some cases I would think impossibly large—charge to the parents? Does it really cost the Government anything at all? If not, why should the cost be borne by the parents?

I realise the strong feeling on this matter, but, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force said last week, there are other difficulties. There are great difficulties, all of which are being taken into account. This matter has been considered before and we hope to announce the result of the review very shortly.

Will my hon. Friend take note that there is very deep feeling in the country on this question, apart from the feeling among hon. Members? Will he see that this is speeded up? Let the Government not follow the example of the previous Administration, who did not do anything.

There are very real problems to be solved. It is not merely a matter of the logistics of carrying the body but of health as well. We are considering the problems and will announce a decision soon.

Since bodies can be brought back from North-West Europe at public expense, or two members of a bereaved family can go there at public expense, could not a similar sum of money be given to a bereaved family bringing back a body from Aden?

Military Satellite Communications System

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has for a British military satellite communications system; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has recently signed an agreement with the United States Secretary of Defense under which British ground terminals will take part in an experimental defence communications satellite system which the Americans are to establish this year. As part of our study of long-term policy we hope to start discussions with the Americans shortly on the possibility of British participation in a subsequent operational system.

This is only British participation in an American project. Are we not to have a national space programme with a launcher and satellite communications for our own defence purposes?

This experiment will give us a considerable amount of technical knowledge which we require. Work on Black Arrow is also proceeding at the moment.

In my hon. Friend's explanation about participation with the Americans is there any ideological content in the word "satellite"?

None at all—neither in this nor in any other context so far as co-operation with the United States is concerned.

The Under-Secretary of State's original answer was not, in its essentials, any different from the answer given by his right hon. Friend on 31st July last year. Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, in the meantime, any programme at all has taken place in conjunction with the United States in the experimental military communications satellite system?

My Answer demonstrates the progress that has taken place, for the agreement to which I referred was signed in November 1965, which was later than the answer given by my right hon. Friend.

Bondi Report

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give a non-classified summary of the recommendations of the Bondi Report on space matters.

I have nothing to add to the summary which was given by my noble Friend the Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force in another place on 3rd November, 1965.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that information was not enough? The industry wants to know what was in the Report. Will he look at this again and chuck aside some of the security?

There is the question of security, but I would not agree that the information given was not of use. Considerable information was given about the military implications of space matters from the point of view of communications, reconnaissance and so on. If there is any further information that we can give, we shall give it.

Reserve Forces

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what employers and what employers' associations he consulted, other than the Confederation of British Industries, before arriving at the proposed conditions of training and call-out for the reorganised Reserve Forces; and if he will make a statement.

Is that really the case? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the smaller firms that have been helping in regard to the Territorial Army have great difficulty in freeing men for this work? Might not the hon. Gentleman have taken a wider look at this? Will he take a wider look in future?

We hope to get the cooperation of all employers in allowing employees to volunteer for the Reserve Forces. The Government are satisfied that the Confederation of British Industries provides sufficiently representative advice on these matters.

Service Men, Zambia (Living Conditions)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with the living conditions of British Service men stationed in Zambia; and whether he will make a statement.

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the complaints about the living conditions of Royal Air Force personnel at Ndola.

The British Servicemen recently deployed to Zambia are stationed at Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone. As their deployment was an emergency operation, living conditions are naturally not ideal and it was not possible, except at Livingstone, to make suitable accommodation arrangements at once. The men at Lusaka and Ndola are accommodated in buildings on the local showgrounds in these towns. These buildings were not ready at the time of their arrival, but much work has been carried out subsequently. For example, the accommodation is being partitioned to make dormitories, ablutions have been constructed, and hot and cold water is now provided. Further improvements will be made in these buildings and it is hoped that more accommodation can be obtained.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, if Press reports are correct, the men at Ndola have no chairs, no lockers and only the minimal ventilation and washing facilities? This does not say very much either for the Government's humanity or contingency planning.

No suitable accommodation at Ndola or Lusaka was available when these R.A.F. personnel were sent there, but, as I have made clear, we are providing facilities as quickly as we can. Considerable improvements have been made within the last two or three weeks.

Was it in connection with the living conditions of British forces in Zambia that Major-General Willoughby made his recent visit to that country?

The question of living conditions in Zambia is obviously something to which the Commander-in-Chief and everyone concerned are giving attention at the moment.

Army Volunteer Reserve

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will safeguard recruiting to the new Army Volunteer Reserve by integrating the Regular Army reinforcement element wherever local conditions allow with that of the home defence force.

I would ask the hon. Member to await the statements my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I will be making after Questions today.

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the T.A. associations know far more about the problems of the Territorial, than the Regular Army? If the home defence forces could, to some extent, be integrated with the Regular Army, would there not be more chance of getting more recruits?

If the hon. Gentleman is casting aspersions on the knowledge of the Territorial Army among Regular officers, I would remind him that a large number of them have served with it. We value the advice of the Territorial Army associations, but, like everyone else, they must await our statement.

Aden

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons are currently employed at the British base at Aden; and what is the total annual cost of their salaries and wages.

6,630 civilians, not counting the Ministry of Public Building and Works staff and the crews of Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. The total annual cost of their wages and salaries is £2,827,000.

Does this not mean that, together with the salaries of other people and the capital costs, the base is costing a very large sum of money? Can he give a firm assurance that the matter is being considered in the Defence Review?

I thought that hon. Members at least knew by now that this was being considered in the Defence Review.

Nuclear Deterrent

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the defence budget is currently being spent on the nuclear deterrent; what percentage is being spent on defending deterrent bases; and what percentage is being spent on air defences.

About 6 per cent. will be spent this year on nuclear strategic forces. The figure includes the costs of defending bases, in so far as defence specifically for this purpose is identifiable. The percentage attributable this year to the Royal Air Force air defence, fighter/reconnaissance, ground attack and surface-to-air missile forces world-wide, will be about five.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that at the General Election it was Labour Party policy to do away with the nuclear deterrent? What steps are the Government taking to implement that pledge?

Labour Party policy was to internationalise the deterrent, and that is what we are attempting to do.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the word "internationalise" did not appear in our election manifesto?

I recall a considerable discussion on this point over a long period of time. "Internationalise" is shorthand for a policy which my hon. Friend well understands.

How can the Government justify spending £120 million a year on something which the Prime Minister has repeatedly told the country is not British, nor independent, nor a deterrent?

The right hon. Gentleman, who has recently arrived to his task, has not studied—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—The Government's policy is not for an independent British nuclear deterrent. That has been made plain over and over again.

Sultan Of Muscat (Armed Forces)

43 and 44.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) why the names of Army officers seconded to serve with the Sultan of Muscat's armed forces were published in the Army List for 1962 but not for subsequent years;

(2) how many officers and other ranks of each of the three services are at present seconded to serve with the Sultan of Muscat's armed forces; and what were the numbers for 1962, 1963 and 1964, respectively.

Twenty-eight Army and 10 Royal Air Force officers, and seven soldiers are at present seconded to the Sultan of Muscat's armed forces. Twenty-five Army and 10 Royal Air Force officers and five soldiers were so seconded in 1962, and 1963; and 25 Army and 10 Royal Air Force officers and seven soldiers in 1964. The names of Army Officers seconded to the Sultan's forces have always been listed in the Restricted edition of the Army List, but they are not listed in the edition on sale to the public.

Gibraltar

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is intended to retain Gibraltar as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation base.

We contemplate no changes in the N.A.T.O. tasks allotted to our military establishments in Gibraltar.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Spanish Government have recently said that they refused to recognise Gibraltar as a N.A.T.O. base? Will he take the necessary steps to inform the Fascist Government of Spain that we do not intend to be kicked around?

Again that would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. In the meantime, no change is planned on our side.

Do the Government intend to make representations to the Spanish Government this year not to interfere with British holiday travel in Spain?

Perhaps the hon. Member would address his question to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Military Medal

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many awards of the Military Medal were made in World War I and in World War II; and whether any monetary grants are associated with these awards.

One hundred and twenty-one thousand, five hundred and fifty-four Medals and bars were awarded in the First World War and 17,058 in the Second. Awards made since 1939 have carried eligibility to a gratuity or an addition to pension, but before then no monetary grants were made.

Would my hon. Friend consider paying all the holders of the Military Medal in both wars on the same footing? Would he not agree that it is an invidious situation for those who gained the Medal in the First War to find that it carried a gratuity in the Second but not in the First? Would he bear in mind that many of those who won the Military Medal in the First War must have passed away by now and that the numbers remaining will be very small?

When the Government of the day decided in 1945 to grant the award, it was done with effect from 3rd September, 1939, and back payment was made. If the rule were to be altered it would mean searching back, because it is considered that dependants of people who were awarded the Medal would have a right to payment. This would be a difficult task, but in view of the hon. Gentleman's latter remarks I am quite prepared to look at this again.

Ta Annual Camps

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are being made for annual camps for the Territorial Army this year.

All Territorial Army training, including annual camps, will continue as previously planned.

Have the usual camps been made available for the use of the forces in the usual way? If so, is not this a little unusual if we are to abolish the Territorial Army, which is the Government's intention as we know it?

It is completely usual. We want things to go on as usual this year, because it is essential that we should be able to provide, on 1st April, 1967, a sufficient number of volunteers from the Territorial Army to join the new Force which the Government propose.

Does that answer imply that the Territorial Army should go to camp and train in the usual way next year?

The Army Volunteer Reserve will be training next year in its usual way.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the opinion prevails in the Territorial Army that definite decisions have been taken and have statutory effect? Will he take steps to disillusion the Territorial Army and point out that all that has happened is that a White Paper has been approved?

The White Paper has been approved by the House and legislation will be introduced in the near future.

Royal Naval Armament Depot, Crossgar

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the 22 Admiralty Constabulary now stationed at the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Crossgar will be entitled to superannuation benefits if they are unwilling to accept transfer to other Navy Department establishments.

If unestablished they would get a gratuity under either the Redundancy Payments Act or the Superannuation Act, provided they had given at least two years' service. Established officers over 50 would retain accrued superannuation benefits. Established officers under 50 who rejected the offer of transfer would not normally receive superannuation benefits, but we would consider each case sympathetically on its merits.

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will state in detail his reasons for the forthcoming closure of the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Crossgar, County Down.

We now have more armament storage space than is needed to meet the demands of the Fleet. The closure of the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Crossgar will enable us to achieve the most efficient organisation, and at the same time a saving of over £75,000 a year.

Can the Minister explain why he has answered so many questions today saying that they must await the outcome of the Defence Review, yet has taken this decision, which affects the livelihood and employment of many people in an area where employment is difficult, in advance of the Defence Review?

This is an instance where an obvious saving could be made at once and where we should not delay.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this closure will be viewed with anxiety by many people employed by the Royal Navy in other parts of Ulster, and will he do his best to see that there are no further closures?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment.

F111 And Mirage /Spey Aircraft

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in estimating the comparable delivery times of the F111 and the Mirage/Spey, he was allowing for the use of the Elliots nay/attack radar in the British aircraft.

No, Sir, but there is no reason to believe that it would have any favourable effect on the delivery time for the Mirage/Spey.

Have the Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force examined reports put forward by B.A.C. and Dassault jointly to produce the Mirage/Spey by late 1969, that is to say, by a date comparable with the F111? Is he aware that these planes make provision for British and French electronic equipment, which already is far advanced? Is not the forecast that this Anglo-French plane will be two or three years later than the F111 totally erroneous?

Certainly all the reports of B.A.C. have been considered. We consider that the time-scale to which it says it could operate is an extremely optimistic one, particularly in view of our past experience of projects of this complexity.

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the Government believe the Americans because it suits their case, but that they do not believe the French and British when it does not?

Not at all, because as I have already made clear, no final decision has been taken. I thought it would be common ground that it is extremely dangerous to take optimistic assessments of time-scale from anyone in view of our past experience over the last ten years. I should have thought that this was a lesson that we had all learned to our cost by this time.

Can the hon. Gentleman give the slightest evidence to suggest that the time estimates for the Mirage/Spey are based on any more optimistic grounds than those for the F111?

Certainly. The Mirage/Spey does not exist. At the moment it is simply a paper proposal and there is no such thing. The F111 has already flown.

F111 And Spey-Mirage Aircraft

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has now made of the prospective merits of the F111 and the Spey-Mirage IV as successors to the TSR2, and of their respective dates of delivery and costs.

On the comparative merits, delivery dates and costs of the F111 and the Spey-Mirage, I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary told the House as Minister of Aviation on 13th December last. The assessment of the precise requirement for a successor to the TSR2 and of the extent to which it is met by the various contenders is a major factor in the Defence Review and is not yet complete.

Is my hon. Friend aware that since that statement was made a most important debate took place in the House last night, in which an assessment was made of the respective capabilities of these two aircraft? Would he pay attention to that debate and particularly to the speech which I made comparing their qualities.

Order. Question Time is not the time to refer to previous debates of the current Session and it is perhaps immodest for a Member to refer to his own speech.

Western Europe (Soviet Missiles)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the 735 medium range ballistic missiles that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has targeted on western continental countries are targeted on Great Britain; and if he will publish a list of these in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

I have nothing to add to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) on 24th November.

Does the Minister not agree that if the nuclear deterrent is to be a deterrent it should be credible? Would it not be more credible if we had a list of all the places likely to be destroyed in the event of a nuclear attack? If all these missiles are going to be directed on this country, what is going to happen to the four million people who are to be evacuated? Where are they to be evacuated?

Thanks to the Western nuclear deterrent, it is unthinkable that any of those 735 missiles would be launched upon this country.

Reserve Forces

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has now had with Great Britain's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies about the shape and rôle of Great Britain's future Reserve Forces; what views they have expressed on his proposals; and whether he will make a statement.

Our N.A.T.O. allies were told of the reorganisation of the army reserves but have not expressed any views on it.

Am I to understand that they are also proposing to reduce their reserves?

Our N.A.T.O. allies are concerned with our ability to fulfil our N.A.T.O. commitments. As the reorganisation of these reserves improves our capability to meet these commitments, we can only assume that they will be satisfied.

When the Government informed our N.A.T.O. allies of this, did they not think it strange that the Continental nations should be endeavouring to build up territorial forces at the same time as we were endeavouring to destroy our own?

There may be some other nations in the N.A.T.O. Alliance which are still finding it necessary to build up forces in order to meet their commitments. We shall meet our commitments better from the A.V.R. than from the Territorial Army.

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will give details of the estimated saving in pay and allowances, &c., of Regular Army personnel who would be made redundant by the proposed reorganisation of the Reserve Forces and whether this figure is included in his estimated annual saving of £20 million when the Territorial Army is finally abolished.

No, Sir. Details of the premature retirements that will be entailed have not yet been worked out. My Written Reply of 25th January to the hon. and gallant Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Henry Kerby) makes it clear that any possible saving resulting from a reduction in the size of the Army is not included in the £20 million figure.