HC Deb 06 May 1970 vol 801 cc402-3
28. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many desert training exercises will be held this year based from Sharjah.

Mr. Hattersley

Between 1st May and the end of the year the Army will conduct four exercises based on Sharjah. None of these exercises is intended specifically to train troops to operate under desert conditions.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will the troops be going out from the United Kingdom? If so, what acclimatisation will they need before they can effectively carry out any exercises in the desert? As this is the only place which we have left, having evacuated Libya, are four exercises sufficient to make a force ready to come to the aid of our treaty allies in the Middle East?

Mr. Hattersley

Some troops will not be stationed in Sharjah before the exercise is carried out. I have no doubt whatsoever that the plans for acclimatisation are adequate. The hon. Gentleman overstates the needs in this area and in the Far East. As for future desert training, my right hon. Friend made clear in the House a month or two months ago that one of the purposes of the large desert areas was to provide not desert training but training in very large areas where there was sufficient space properly to carry out the operations. That must be the criterion against which we judge our future policy.