HC Deb 26 November 1970 vol 807 c589
5. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of State for Defence what proposals he has for modernising the tactical nuclear weapons supplied to the British Army of the Rhine.

The Minister of State for Defence (Lord Balniel)

It is not in the national interest to divulge information of this nature, but my hon. Friend can be assured that the modernisation of tactical nuclear weapons is constantly under review, and in collaboration with our allies we are keeping a close watch on weapon development in this sphere.

Mr. Wall

Is my noble friend aware that Honest John must surely by any standards be considered obsolete? Can he say anything about the development of the American weapon Lance, and is consideration being given to purchasing that weapon?

Lord Balniel

I cannot quite accept what my hon. Friend says. The effectiveness of all tactical nuclear weapons systems is being kept under review. It is true that Honest John was introduced into service as long ago as 1960, and, obviously, Lance is an alternative which we are keeping under active review.

Mr. Paget

Is not the trouble with tactical nuclear weapons, not that they are ineffective, but that they are so effective that nobody would possibly dare to use them?

Lord Balniel

That is the whole point of a deterrent system of defence, that it will deter aggression.