HC Deb 11 February 1971 vol 811 cc768-9
10. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will call for a full up-to-date assessment of the Soviet threat to this country in all its aspects; and whether he will publish the results.

Lord Balniel

All threats to this country are kept under continuous review in association with our allies as appropriate. We do not disclose detailed assessments but general conclusions are published in the Defence White Papers from time to time.

Mr. Hastings

Does my right hon. Friend agree that internal subversion, disruption and what I understand is referred to as "dis-information" are as much part of the Soviet threat to this country as continuing naval expansion abroad? Is he satisfied that the Government have adequate information on this aspect of the threat and that this information is adequately co-ordinated between Departments?

Lord Balniel

I do not think that any Minister could say that he is satisfied with the information at his disposal. Questions on internal security and internal subversion are basically questions which should be answered by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does the Minister accept that while the threat might be global, the main area of threat is still in Europe? If so, what are the Government doing, apart from the small but welcome increase in the reserve forces, to bring our conventional forces more into line with the Soviet forces and to remove the necessity for our once again being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict?

Lord Balniel

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the main shield that we should maintain is in N.A.T.O. and on the central front. I think that he underestimates the increased contribution we are making not only in the reserves he mentioned but in the running on of "Ark Royal" and the bringing into the front line of a considerable number of additional squadrons of Jaguar aircraft. This is a considerable contribution.