HC Deb 26 November 1970 vol 807 cc596-7
17. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will state the approximate cost of changes to be made by him in the run-down of British forces east of Suez.

Lord Balniel

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraph 11 of Cmnd 4521.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister explain to the House how he can possibly do all that he proposes for a mere extra £5 million to £10 million a year? Does that figure include the Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the extra weapons involved?

Lord Balniel

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should read the Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy which sets out fully the means by which we shall implement the defence policies on which we were elected to Government.

Mr. Moyle

Can the Minister say whether the reinforcement of British Forces east of Suez in the event of an emergency will be contained within the £10 million ceiling?

Lord Balniel

Reinforcement ability will be the same as under the previous Administration; namely, out of the general capability that we have.

Mr. Mather

In coming to a decision about the future of British Forces in the Persian Gulf, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the extra danger of abandoning these countries of the Gulf to their fate before they have come to an agreement on union? Will he also bear in mind the importance of the Sharjah training area to British Forces?

Lord Balniel

My hon. Friend has made an important point which we shall, of course, bear in mind, but he will know that we are awaiting the report of Sir William Luce, who is reporting to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Mr. George Thomson

Will the Minister say specifically whether the options which the Government are keeping open in relation to the Gulf are contained within the £10 million upper limit of the figures that were given in the White Paper?

Lord Balniel

I think that I have already answered that question.

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