HC Deb 15 July 1964 vol 698 cc1199-200
42. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his latest estimate of the total cost of the proposed Polaris submarine fleet and its nuclear missiles, and of its annual cost of upkeep.

Mr. Thorneycroft

About £400 million capital and about £25 million operating.

Mr. Allaun

Would not this money be far better spent from the British point of view and from the peace point of view if it were spent on housing, pensions, health and helping the hungry nations? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House of one circumstance in which a Polaris missile could be used against Russia without our country being wiped out in retaliation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If the hon. Gentleman reads the Answer, he will see that for a modest insurance of £25 million operating costs in the 'seventies, when the capital has been paid, we can have this deterrent under our own control. I would have thought that this was the cheapest investment that we had ever made.

Mr. Kershaw

Can my right hon. Friend say what would be the approximate cost of cancelling the Polaris programme at this stage, and what other weapon could take its place?

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. I would not like to give such a figure, though it would be substantial; but the losses to this country would be in more than money.

Mr. McMaster

Can my right hon. Friend say how many men would be unemployed in this country if the Opposition proposals for defence were accepted?