HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc410-1
21. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warships took part in exercise Peacekeeper in September; how many nations provided these warships; and how many of them were British.

Dr. David Owen

37 warships were provided by five N.A.T.O. Navies. The United Kingdom contribution was one aircraft carrier, one destroyer and two submarines, as well as three Royal Fleet Auxiliaries.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

As our contribution was the smallest of all countries except for one, it points to continued over-stretch of our ships and ships' companies. Will the hon. Gentleman bring up to date, as far as he can without breaching national security, the overstretch figures in the way in which they were published in the Defence Review, 1966?

Dr. Owen

That is a question which goes far wider than the Question on the Order Paper and it has been answered in the House on a previous occasion.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

As the right hon. Gentleman published these figures in 1965, what has happened to provide a reason why we are not able to have the overstretch figures now? The Minister seemed to be trying to make political capital out of a major point of Government policy in 1965. Why is this now secret?

Dr. Owen

It is not secret. It is a question of judgment when we reveal these figures. It is never the practice of any Government to reveal facts thought to be revealing of operational requirements.