HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc565-6
19. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of State for Defence what is the total cost to date of maintaining the Beira patrol.

Mr. Kirk

The total extra cost to date is just over £2 million.

Mr. Farr

Does my hon. Friend agree that this vast sum of money would have been better spent on expanding British naval influence in other parts of the world, particularly in countering the Russian expansion in both Middle and Far Eastern waters?

Mr. Kirk

It might have been better spent in several other ways, but we are under an obligation to the United Nations to spend it in this way.

Mr. Fernyhough

Will the Minister tell me, as an innocent abroad, by how much we can expand the British Navy for the sum of £2 million?

Mr. Kirk

Not without notice, no.

37. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of State for Defence what are the latest results of the Beira Patrol; and which of Her Majesty's ships and aircraft are still retained in the Mozambique Channel and Malagasy.

Mr. Kirk

The patrol is achieving its object in preventing the arrival at Beira of oil destined for Rhodesia. The ships and aircraft engaged on the patrol naturally change periodically. We do not detail their deployment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Would it not be right now to wind this nonsense up? Should not these frigates perhaps be moved to the Gulf, where, in the opinion of many of us, a continuous British armed presence is essential?

Mr. Kirk

Any questions on the general future of the patrol should really be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Minister aware that many of us are astonished to find such new-found enthusiasm for disarmament on the other side of the House?

Mr. Kirk

The hon. Member will be constantly astonished by lots of things.