HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc411-2
22. Mr. Ramsden

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the basis for his estimate that Great Britain's defence commitments will have been cut by half in the period between October, 1964, and the end of 1972.

Mr. Healey

The defence policies I have announced in this House.

Mr. Ramsden

When the right hon. Gentleman made his computation about commitments, how many battalions did he allot to Northern Ireland in that context? In general, is it not rather misleading to attempt to quantify commitments in the kind of terms that the Secretary of State has been using in recent pronouncements?

Mr. Healey

No, Sir. If I may give the right hon. Gentleman a clue, we shall reduce the number of United Kingdom uniformed personnel stationed outside Britain by one-half by the end of 1972. This reduction in manpower stationed abroad is paralleled by the ending of commitments in South Arabia, the Gulf, and the Far East, which, as far as I know, the Tory Party propose to maintain, while not providing the forces to support them.

Mr. Dalyell

Mr. Speaker, may we have an opportunity, just for one minute, perhaps at the end of Question time, to hear the answer of the right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) to the question put to him in the exchanges on Question No. 19 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence?

Mr. Speaker

We should have to change the rules of order for that.