§ 20. Mr. Marten
asked the Secretary of State for Air what was the estimated cost of the special precautions taken by Her Majesty's forces, and any ancillary forces, to cope with the nuclear disarmament demonstrations at Brize Norton, Ruislip and Wethersfield air bases, respectively, on Saturday, 9th December.
§ Mr. Marten
Many hon. Members would like to congratulate my right hon. Friend upon the steps that he took to protect these operational airfields. Does he agree that the great thing is to keep expenditure down to a minimum? Further, does he agree that one way of doing this might be to use fewer airmen—who had to have their weekend passes cancelled—but to station behind the perimeter, to avoid a breach in it, a deterrent in the shape of a few fire hoses?
§ Mr. Amery
We were anxious to make sure that nobody got hurt, and in this we succeeded. I am sure the House will agree that it is wrong that a few irresponsible young people should put this burden on the taxpayers' shoulders and—what is in many ways worse—spoil the weekend arrangements of several thousand young airmen and policemen.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that although the charge on the taxpayers is no doubt very regrettable, these young people are not irresponsible, even if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that they are mistaken? Far from being irresponsible, they are actuated by a deep and conscientious conviction, and feel utterly frustrated in making any other kind of protest. Was not it a perfectly peaceful and orderly demonstration? Would any harm have been done if it had been allowed to continue undisturbed?
§ Mr. Manuel
Can the Minister tell the House how many of the ancillary forces which he mobilised at the various places mentioned in the Question were not used at all?