HC Deb 20 November 1973 vol 864 cc1121-2
22. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will pay an official visit to RAF Upper Heyford.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

I have at present no plans to visit Upper Heyford.

Mr. Jenkins

If the right hon. Gentleman does make a visit, he will discover that the United States aircraft there are assigned to NATO. Yet these same aircraft were recently placed on alert by direct control from the United States. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the situation and recognise that political control over the military is of the essence and that any degree of alert of troops stationed in this country, if the Government are not fully informed of it in advance, constitutes a breach of the principle of political control of the military in this country?

Mr. Gilmour

The hon. Gentleman has got it quite wrong. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear on 30th October, first, this was a relatively low level alert which did not involve any immediate prospect of action, and, secondly, military facilities in this country granted to the United States are subject to an agreement that any question of their operational use should be a matter of joint consultation with us. That did not arise in that instance.

Mr. Marten

On a more practical note, if my right hon. Friend visits that aerodrome, which abuts on my constituency, may I ask him to visit the local villages and discuss the soundproofing of houses?

Mr. Gilmour

I will certainly do that. I am also considering the other question raised by my hon. Friend of whether the road should be closed.