HC Deb 18 December 1973 vol 866 cc1131-2
16. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will undertake that no decision to acquire a Poseidon submarine will be taken prior to full discussion in this House, having regard to the view of the Defence Subcommittee of the Expenditure Committee that it has seen no evidence that such acquisition would be worth while.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

I have nothing to add to what was said on this subject by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force in the defence debate on 12th December.—[Vol. 866, c. 535.]

Mr. Jenkins

The Under-Secretary was rather vague about the matter, whereas I think the Minister will agree that the Committee was quite positive. It went rather beyond what is said in my Question. It said that the conversion to Poseidon should not be made. Is it not right and proper for us to ask the Government to give an undertaking that they will not embark upon any such conversion without full discussions in the House beforehand?

Mr. Gilmour

As the hon. Gentleman knows, this matter was covered by my right hon. and noble Friend in his evidence to the Select Committee. The hon. Gentleman knows that complex issues are involved. It would not be in the public interest to go into the details of those complex issues.

Mr. Paget

Surely the Minister can give an assurance. We are being told that we must make enormous cuts in capital expenditure. As Poseidon has to be obtained from America, surely it is not one of the Prime Minister's sacrosanct pets?

Mr. Gilmour

I do not accept the assumption or the imputation of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He will have seen my right hon. and noble Friend's answer to the Select Committee on this matter.

Mr. Jenkins

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's replies, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.