HC Deb 08 July 1969 vol 786 cc1160-1
Q5. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to hold discussions with President Nixon about security arrangements at United States military air bases in Great Britain.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mrs. Short

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that a short time ago there was an incident which might have ended in serious tragedy for this country? If the American serviceman who decided to take a 'plane had headed not out to sea but towards, for example, the Soviet Union, might not great difficulties have been created for this country? In view of this, will my right hon. Friend reconsider the whole matter and take it up with President Nixon?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that that suggestion would be helpful in this case. The American authorities are holding a very detailed inquiry into the matter. I am aware of the concern that is felt in the House, and more widely, about this incident. Indeed, it was the subject of an Adjournment debate initiated by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) not long ago in the small hours, when these anxieties were expressed by the hon. Gentleman and when my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for Equipment dealt with these matters.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is the Prime Minister aware that locally there has been great concern about the security arrangements for these aircraft but that the answers that were given by his hon. Friend to that Adjournment debate were perfectly adequate, were well received and that there is no longer the anxiety to which the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) referred?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for those comments. It was clear from his speech in that debate that he was reflecting the great anxiety on the part of his constituents and others living in that area. As my hon. Friend said in reply to that debate, apart from his comments about security arrangements, we cannot at this stage be clear about what further safeguards will be instituted by the United States authorities until their inquiries have been completed.

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