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The 1959 Hansard trawl - including nukes, more nukes and advice for Britons in Iraq.

They are being a bit quiet back in 1909, alas.


Mr. Swingler  asked the Minister of Defence whether it is still the Government's policy, as his predecessor stated in reply to Questions by the hon. Members for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) and Newcastle-under-Lyme on 11th February, 1959, to resort to nuclear weapons first in case of an attack with conventional arms on a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, or the Central Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Watkinson The Government's policy remains as stated in the Annual Defence White Papers and in Parliamentary debates.

Mr. Swingler In view of the fact that criticism of this doctrine has now spread to general officers holding very important posts, who have described this policy as being one of insanity, will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the fact that no defence policy can be based on a threat to commit suicide? As this is a threat to initiate nuclear war, involving suicide for the British people, will he not turn his mind to the idea of producing a defence policy?

Mr. Strachey  Does not the new Minister of Defence agree that this is a very serious matter, as his Answer means that he is sticking to paragraph 12 of the 1958 White Paper, which suggests that the very first reaction to a conventional move by the enemy is "a massive nuclear bombardment of the sources of power in Russia " without any attempt to meet the attack by conventional means? Is the right hon. Gentleman sticking to that quite incredible position?

Mr. Watkinson  It is always very easy to quote sentences out of their context. The right hon. Gentleman's quotation is part of a sentence of paragraph 12 of the White Paper, which starts by saying "In fact, the strategy of N.A.T.O. is based on the frank recognition that …"


Mr. Watkinson I know that after his long experience in my present office the right hon. Gentleman will not disagree with me when I say that the purpose of the deterrent is to try to stop war by deterring people. Unless the deterrent is such that it does deter, it does not fulfil its purpose.

One might note that we didn't nuke India over any of the sundry Indo-Pakistan wars, and rather more unexpectedly, Cento was only dissolved in '79.  Probably just as well, as what would we have done when Iran/Iraq kicked off?

And again:

Mr. Grimond  asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.

Mr. Watkinson  I have no statement to make at present.


A master class in weaselling:

Mr. Wade  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why instructions were given to the representative of Her Majesty's Government at the General Assembly of the United Nations to abstain on the vote on the resolution expressing grave concern over the events in Tibet and respect for the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and for their distinctive cultural and religious life.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)  The United Kingdom representative at the United Nations abstained on the resolution on the question of Tibet. But I should like to make it clear that our abstention in no way implied any diminution in our sympathy with the Tibetan people or in our feelings about recent events in Tibet. Speaking in the general debate in the Assembly on 17th September, my right hon. and learned Friend said that we had been greatly grieved to hear accounts of the massive repression by Communist China, of the suppression of national liberties and of ruthless assaults upon the historic life of a sturdy and friendly people.

Shame! Shame!

And I find myself in agreement with Fenner Brockway, not something I ever expected to write:

Mr. Brockway While no one would wish to exacerbate the relations between India and China at this moment, is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us desire to see the independence of Tibet realised and the retention of its very distinctive personality?

Hear hear.

Spain and Gib:

Mr. Dodds asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made in the proposal to abolish visas between Spain and all British territories.

Mr. Profumo  We have made proposals to the Spanish Government, who have not yet replied.

Mr. Dodds Will the Minister bear in mind that, in referring to all British territories in the Question, I include Gibraltar? In view of the shabby way in which Spain has treated the Gibraltarians for years, can we have an assurance that in any settlement the Government will not leave out Gibraltar?

Mr. Profumo  I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there could be no question of our concluding a visa abolition agreement which does not also extend to any British Colony which wishes to be associated with it.


And yet more nukes:

Mr. Shinwell  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent United Kingdom representatives in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreed to the proposal to provide West Germany with atomic tactical weapons and guided missiles.

Mr. Profumo  As my right hon. and learned Friend explained in his reply to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on 2nd December, 1958, this was a decision of the North Atlantic 391 Council at ministerial level, in which my right hon. and learned Friend of course participated without reserve.

Mr. Shinwell  Is this action wise? Does the hon. Gentleman understand that if this process continues, apart from Soviet Russia, Western Germany will be the strongest military nation in Europe and armed precisely with those weapons which it was originally intended Western Germany should never possess? What has caused this change of front and this partiality to Western Germany all of a sudden?

I suppose he had a point, and WW2 was still pretty fresh in the mind, I would think.

And today's gem:

Mr. F. Noel-Baker asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what advice Her Majesty's Ambassador has given British residents in Iraq in view of the situation in that country; and if he will make a statement.

Get on the first plane out...

Somebody understood De Gaulle:

Mr. Osborne Does not my hon. Friend agree that if we were to try publicly to rebuke President de Gaulle for what he is trying to do we would only make him more obstinate and determined to [test nuclear weapons]?

Sounds about right, doesn't it?

And from the same question, this:

Mr. Bellenger Would you, Mr. Speaker, do your best to discourage Ministers from giving simple explanations?

Mr. Speaker   I have enough on my plate without trying to do that.

I can well believe it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:11 pm

1959 wasn't all bad.

That was the year I was born.

Then again..  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:17 am

A classic year, clearly.  

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