HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1377-8
33. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what further action is being taken, in view of the warning conveyed to the Soviet Government with regard to Soviet interventions affecting the situation in Europe and the Mediterranean in the final communiqué after the Ministerial meeting at Brussels on 15th and 16th November, by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to augment its forces and organise reserves to meet this new commitment.

Mr. Healey

The improvements to N.A.T.O.'s capability that are being made in the light of recent Soviet actions are described in paragraph 8 of the final communique.—[Vol. 773, c. 859.]

Mr. Cronin

Would my right hon. Friend agree that this is a partial and limited reassurance? Is he not aware that, while this sabre-rattling at Brussels may or may not have frightened the Russians, it certainly frightens those who are aware of N.A.T.O.'s reported deficiencies at present?

Mr. Healey

I am not an expert on the degree of fear which my hon. Friend feels, but all our allies are immensely heartened by the fact that every allied Government offered at the Brussels meeting some improvement in its planned military capability for this year, although, as I said on Monday, no country made an actual improvement as large as the British improvement on its contribution this year. I hope that my hon. Friend will take some comfort from the fact that, on this matter, we led in the Alliance.

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