HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc556-7
4. Mr. Laurance Reed

asked the Minister of State for Defence, whether he is satisfied that the Royal Navy has the techniques and know-how to verify that foreign powers are adhering to the ban on the emplacement of weapons of mass destruction on the sea floor as laid down in the Seabed Treaty; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Peter Kirk)

I am satisfied that if it becomes necessary to check the possible existence of the kind of installations which are forbidden under the Treaty, the necessary techniques would be available and that the Royal Navy would be able, if called upon, to validate at the depths at which such installations might be found.

Mr. Reed

My hon. Friend is aware that the Royal Navy has only one dry submersible at its disposal, and that is a a commercial one. Is it not time we developed more sophisticated underwater systems projects comparable to the Deep Sea Submergence Systems Project of the United States Navy?

Mr. Kirk

We always try to keep up to date in these matters, but the specific matters to which my hon. Friend refers in his Question can be covered by the resources that we have available.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the Minister make it clear that the Royal Naval Research Station at Alverstoke is one of the best of its kind in the world?

Mr. Kirk

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman.