24 JANUARY 1964, Page 8

Skybolt Post-Mortem The Opposition continue to gnaw at the Sky-

bolt bone. They have a•t best only half a point. What Mr. Amery told the House of Commons was no more and no less than President Ken- nedy had already said a few days earlier. To accuse one of deceit is to accuse the other.

Yet there was a failure of communications. Indeed President Kennedy felt this so keenly that he invited Professor Neustadt to make a special inquiry into this very point. The Americans did not realise how much we were depending on Skybolt: we did not appreciate the strength of the resistance to the project.

One solution being canvassed which has con- siderable merit is to appoint a Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office. Two Treasury Ministers and two Foreign Office Ministers sit in the Cabinet. Mr. Sandys has the help of five other Ministers to run his departments. The Prime Minister hasn't even a Parliamentary Secretary. Not even such an outstanding Ambassador as Sir David Ormsby-Gore can from a distance know exactly the 'feel' of the thoughts in the Cabinet and in Whitehall. But a 'McGeorge Bundy' could. And frequent meetings with his opposite number would surely help. There may well be other and better suggestions. 'But if President Kennedy was so worried about the misunderstanding that he started searching for ways to put it right, then so should we.