I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
I intend not to discuss the merits of the case, much as I should like to do so, but purely the reasons for it to be debated. First, it is specific. The Secretary of State for Defence has told us that he intends to support the NATO proposal to instal American nuclear missiles on our soil. They will be solely under American control and will not be subject to a two-button key. There must be no annihilation without representation. It is of vital importance, because the decision will shut the door to negotiations to reduce nuclear missiles as proposed by Mr. Brezhnev two months ago. The world would then, in my view, have passed the point of no return. There would be a fearsome heightening of tension. If, by design or accident, a nuclear bomb landed on Moscow or Leningrad, there would be immediate retaliation against all its possible sources. That would turn our crowded island into a sitting duck. We, our children and grandchildren would die quickly, or, if 50 miles or so away from the explosions, in agony a few days later. What could be more important than that? Although all the other countries among the 14 involved have discussed the issue seriously—four countries have revolted—we in Britain have not discussed it in the House. We have not even had a statement from the Minister."The NATO meeting on 12 December to discuss deploying Cruise and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe."
The new factor yesterday was that the Secretary of State for Defence made a speech that did not merely assent to the installing of nuclear missiles in Britain but positively urged talks and hectored the other nations to take the same approach.Television, radio and the press have all debated the issue, but we in the House have not. Surely a matter of such importance and relevance should take precedence over the relatively trivial matters on the Order Paper this week.
The hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) gave me notice before 12 o'clock noon today that he would seek leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,
I listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said and to the exchanges earlier this afternoon between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister on this very issue. The hon. Gentleman has obviously raised an important matter. The House knows that I do not decide whether it shall be debated. My choice is limited to deciding whether it shall be debated tonight or tomorrow, if it is to be debated at all. The house has instructed me to take into account the several factors set out in the Order but to give no reasons for my decision. I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House."The NATO meeting on 12 December to discuss deploying Cruise and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe."