Defence Policy in 1946

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Defence Policy in 1946

The Cabinet discussed defence expenditure for the coming year on 18 February 1946.  The discussions covered how the UK´s commitments could be met with the least detriment to economic recovery, whether commitments in Germany could be reduced, the evidence that there were attempts to revive the Nazi party, the proportion that the UK paid in connection with the occupation of Germany as compared to other powers and the fact they were still working under Armistice conditions as peace treaties had not been signed.

The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:

P.M.

Have examd estimates. Imposed heavy cuts. This is far as we can reduce this year. Can´t stand this mil. expn for long.

R.S.C.

How does this figure relate to that anticipated for Loan discns.

H.D.

Higher. Much concerned qua Budget burdens. Prosp. deficit next year. But ever more concerned qua drain on f. exchange. Net payout £1.091.M. Total £1.667M. But £576M = terminal. Grateful for redn: but still heavy. If things go wrong, may have to face Supplies. This is over double the £500M of Coaln Govt. estimates for p. war.

A.B.

Any comparison with U.S., Russia & Fr. – on basis of popn figures. viz. what wd. their expendre be if they had Forces on same scale as ours in reltn to popn.

A.V.A.

2.6 in R. forces in Foreign countries – on basis of repts. on their Elections. Don´t know much re rest of Forces.

E.Sh.

R. occupn troops can live on the country. Can we say how far our troops live on sterling rather than dollar sources?

H.D.

Not v. easily.

E.Sh.

Wd. help to give the picture. Need = reduce the dollar expre of Forces.

H.D.

Our mil. expre in G. is partly to fund Germans.

E.Sh.

Believe we´re spendg. too much on that. And on people who are going to bite us.

P.M.

If A.B. means we are doing more than our share, its true. Can. doing no more. Aust., & N.Z. doing v. little.

E.Sh.

What is it costg. us to maintain order in G? Shd. we not getting somethg. out of it?

P.M.

Must discuss this separately and later. We have accepted oblign of occupying Germany.

P.L.

I agreed on understandg. tht. if need arises troops will be available in India. Understand some reserves will be available shortly.

E.W.

Is B.A.O.R. paying sufft. attn to U.K. needs – caring too much for Germans.

J.J.L.

B.A.O.R. is running down v. quickly because no. of veterans in it. The Nazis are m´while pulling themselves together.

E.W.

Reduce mil. strengths & build up Soc. Dem. Forces.

P.M.

They were crushed - & can´t be revived as soon as that.

A.B.

Danger of re-action in U.K.

E.B.

Much more if you allowed Nazidom to revive.

H.M.

Worried over time factor. How long? No indication of any move twds. a solution.

E.B.

Earlier assumptn 10 yrs. occupn. Think that too long. But experce after last war shows risk of makg. it too short. Must look at this seriously – not a side issue.

A.B.

Must review. R. forced us into imposs. policy of Govt. thro´ Zones. Now Comm. are workg. to show ridiculous results of that policy.

P.M.

Still under Armistice condns. Can´t pull out this year. Haven´t yet settled any Treaty, still less German Treaty.

J.

Must do this – but can´t go on for long. £500M shd. be maximum.

E.B.

Remember £500M was then prices. Then figures before you are much lower than anyone thgt they´d be in pv year. Assumed it wd. be 3yrs. before we got down to £500M.

P.L.

Remember it comes down throught. year. – and at end/46 the expendre will be running at a much lower rate. That wd. make it look better.

H.D.

True: but we can´t show it yet because don´t know when or if Indian troubles will arise.

E.B.

For policy reasons don´t want to show the run down. Wd. wreck our dipl. influence. Peace Confce in May: Indonesia: Greece: Famine. U.S. now alarmed at rate of their demobiln.

Taken from C.M. 16(46) - Meeting held on 18 February 1946.