HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc884-5
7. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of Polaris as part of the British naval defence system.

Lord Balniel

The Polaris force will continue to form our contribution to the Western strategic nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Judd

Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of anxiety about the deliberations which are known to be going on in the Ministry of Defence about the future of Polaris? Can he assure the House that we shall not drift into the commitment for a second generation Polaris before there has been an opportunity for the fullest possible debate in the House in which we can evaluate all the implications, including those of the SALT agreement?

Lord Balniel

We shall not drift into any conclusions. The Government will consider the matter with the utmost care and with the greatest seriousness. It is always open to hon. Members in defence debates to discuss these issues, but the House will realise the difficulty of a Defence Minister giving information on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Burden

Does my right hon. Friend remember that the Opposition, when in opposition, always proposed that Polaris should be abandoned, and that when they had the responsibility of government they realised that it must be retained?

Lord Balniel

I appreciate that very well. I am slightly embarrassed at constantly having to remind the Opposition of these very well-known facts.

Mr. Booth

Since the Polaris submarines possessed by the United States Government are also part of the Western nuclear deterrent, would the right hon. Gentleman welcome an extension of the SALT agreement to embrace the British Polaris submarines?

Lord Balniel

The first phase of the strategic arms limitation agreement has been concluded. This was an agreement reached by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It did not concern our own submarines.

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