HC Deb 01 April 1976 vol 908 cc1591-722

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [31st March]: That this House, recognising the need to provide adequately for the nation's security, welcomes the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1976 (Command Paper No. 6432): and, being aware of the economic factors which have led to cuts in all sectors of public spending, notes with approval that the defence cuts envisaged will fall on support services rather than on front-line forces, thereby maintaining the British contribution to NATO, the security and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and peace in Northern Ireland.—[Mr. Mason.]

Amendment proposed, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'recognising that the previous year's defence cuts reduced the defences of the United Kingdom to "absolute bedrock" and being aware of the continued growth of Soviet military strength and of the increasingly unfavourable military balance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, condemns the Government's proposals to reduce the United Kingdom's defences for the third time in a year '.—[Mr. Ian Gilmour.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will remember that yesterday you promised to give consideration to the complaint that an amendment tabled by nearly 100 hon. Members would not be voted on during this debate. You said that the odds were a million to one against my request being granted. I am now asking you whether the odds have shortened a little in my favour.

Do you think it fair, Mr. Speaker, that nearly half of the majority party in the House, at variance with both Front Benches, should be denied having their deeply-held views placed before the House and voted on?

Mr. Speaker

I regret to say that the odds have not shortened. I have given further consideration to the hon. Gentleman's request. I must obey the rules of order. As for the hon. Gentleman's second point, it is not for me to enter into discussion on the fairness or otherwise of the calling of amendments. I abide by the rules of the House. They are my protection. They are also the protection of the House itself.

There are 40 right hon. and hon. Members who have indicated their wish to catch my eye during this debate. Clearly, a large number will be disappointed, because it will be impossible to get them all into the debate. I must tell the House that long speeches yesterday prevented at least five hon. Members from being called. Between them, five right hon and hon. Members took over 100 minutes of Back-Bench time. Those who are called to speak today should remember their colleagues who also have a point of view which they wish to present.

Finally, like my predecessors, I request hon. Members not to come to the Chair to press their claims or to find out when they are likely to be called. I am trying to be scrupulously fair in the selection of Members to speak, bearing in mind, among other things, those who have not spoken for some time solely because they have failed to catch my eye in preceding debates.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

Further to that point of order and your reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford. East (Mr. Allaun), Mr. Speaker. We understand the dilemma in which you find yourself, but I wonder whether you can understand the dilemma in which we find ourselves. If it is impossible to call the amendment in question, is there no other way in which we can effectively make our point?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have to abide by the rules of the House. I will ensure as far as lies within my power that every point of view is fairly heard within the debate, but I can do no more.

4.02 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. Brynmor John)

The Private Notice Question which has just been before the House provides a sombre background to today's debate. The deaths of three Royal Scots in South Armagh, following the death of one soldier in Craigavon earlier this week, bring home to all of us what defence really means and what serving one's country means at a time when there is trouble in part of the United Kingdom. It also illustrates to us the sacrifices which the Army and its personnel are making in bringing peace and order to Northern Ireland. All who are about to take part in the defence debate would wish to add, following what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office has said, our sympathy to the bereaved relatives.

By the publication of last year's defence review in detailed form and by the equally comprehensive Defence Estimates this year, I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has done a great deal to stimulate the debate on the subject of defence which has been carried on in the country since our accession to office. A subject which had, by comparison at any rate, been curiously neglected, a subject involving larger public expenditure, has at last received the attention it deserves both inside and outside the House.

I had intended to start my comments by referring to the way in which the attitude of the Opposition towards defence expenditure had changed in the last year. However, my time scale was too long. It now seems to change, if last night's debate was anything to go by, from day to day. As hon. Members will remember, the Opposition divided the House last year not only on the defence review, but on the single Service Estimates, presumably on the ground that the cuts had gone too far. I say "presumably" because even then the Opposition were a lot stronger on sentiment than on specifics. I forecast to the House then that whatever synthetic indignation they displayed they would, if ever we were unlucky enough to have a Tory Government again, not seek to reverse those cuts.

It appeared to me that my words were amply borne out even in advance of that unlucky event when the right hon. Lady the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) seemed to accept, on behalf of herself and her right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour), the defence review but to object to any further cuts. But the reactions of the hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench seems to have put that into question. It is important that the country should have clear what Conservative defence policy is, even though it may change from day to day. Let me set out my evidence for believing there had been a change.

On 23rd February 1976 the right hon. Lady appeared on a "Panorama" programme and was interviewed by Mr. Robin Day. That programme was seen by many people. During the course of it she was asked about defence and defence expenditure. It was put to her that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had said that since she and her party did not approve of the planned reduction in defence expenditure, that would mean that she would be adding that amount back to Budget expenditure. She denied this and said that what she had said was that we could not take the extra £110 million pounds over and above the defence review proposals. She went on to say that the Conservative Party would not want further cuts beyond those already announced in defence expenditure. You will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that the defence review measures had by that time been made known almost a year before.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking) rose——

Mr. John

If I may finish, I will certainly give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member who has the floor decides if he is giving way and when.

Mr. John

I do not deny that the hon. Gentleman is right to intervene. I question the timing. If he will wait and show a little more of his accustomed patience, he will perhaps be satisfied on this point.

Mr. Day then put to the right hon. Lady that it would be wrong for my right hon. Friend to say that if she came to power in the immediate future she would cancel the projected cuts over the next nine or 10 years. She said—with what authority I do not know—that the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham had already made that clear, but that what the right hon. Lady did not like was the extra £110 million or the further cuts—that is, the expenditure review.

I must ask the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow)—perhaps this is his cue to intervene in a sentence or two—whether that is what the right hon. Lady says and whether it represents Conservative Party policy, or whether she is still arguing about the defence review. Would the Conservatives restore the reductions in public expenditure reductions, or is what we are arguing about the more limited cuts of today? I believe that the country has a right to know on this very important point.

Mr. Onslow

After that rather ponderous construction on the flimsiest of foundations, the hon. Gentleman will understand the situation better if I put it to him that the interview from which he does not—and so carefully does not—quote verbatim took place in conditions different from those which he has just sought to reconstruct and much more like those at the time I sought to interrupt him. If he believes that in those conditions statements which suit his point of view can be made and twisted to bear the meaning he now seeks to put on them, I shall gladly provide him with the text of what my right hon. Friend said, as reported in The Times, which corresponds precisely with what my right hon. Friend said. Can we now get on with something more important?

Mr. John

I realise that the hon. Gentleman wishes not only to assist all Members of the House but to determine what is and what is not important in this debate. But the people of the country have to listen to the words of the right hon. Lady and to make a judgment upon those words. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that what the right hon. Lady said in the "Panorama" programme on 23rd February last, an extract from the transcript of which I have before me, is not and never has been Conservative Party policy, I shall accept it, but that calls into question what was said on that occasion.

Mr. Onslow rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is not giving way. He has the Floor.

Mr. John

The hon. Gentleman will be able to address the House, and I shall listen to him with as much patience and as few interruptions as he would me.

Mr. Onslow rose——

Mr. John

No, I will not give way. I think that disposes of the matter.

Mr. Onslow rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are getting rather disorderly. This time will only serve to cut out another hon. Member's speech. If the Minister——

Mr. Onslow rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is not giving way. The hon. Gentleman knows the rules well enough.

Mr. Onslow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think it will be within your recollection that the Minister asked a highly provocative and poorly-based question, which he now seeks to ride away from. The hon. Gentleman has carefully quoted something not verbatim. He now seeks to invite me to waste time in my speech on a matter about which I have already informed him.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is not a point of order. No one knows that better than the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John

As the hon. Gentleman is to make a speech after me—if he ever stops interjecting for long enough—he will have an opportunity to answer that question. As for the hon. Gentleman saying that clarification of the Conservative Party's defence policy is a waste of the time of the House, I think that he shows scant knowledge of this country's priorities.

As I said, that was the position last year, and the Opposition have declared their intention of dividing the House again. The country should be told that this is no more than the same stage-dressing as they indulged in last year.

The reason for this change of front is quite clear. When I suggested last year that part of a country's will and ability to defend itself was dependent upon the social and economic health of that country, as well as its military hardware, I evoked responses from Opposition hon. Members which ranged from hostility to near hysteria in the case of the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack), who unfortunately is not present at the moment. That proposition is now tacitly accepted by the Conservative Front Bench, as it was and would be in practice when they formed the Government. That is openly accepted by the Conservative Bow Group in its pamphlet "A Chancellor's Primer" when it says: In the long run military security depends upon the possession of a sound economic base and that should be the prime consideration. I think that we should regard the principle of the interdependence of social and economic health and defence as settled and direct ourselves in this debate to how the details have been worked out by the Government and how they have dealt with the areas of concern. I believe that it is necessary to steer a course between underestimating the need for defence, with its stated belief that we could go further in defence cuts, and over-estimation of that need.

Those who have called for further defence cuts have been fairly prominent in the debate both last year and this year. Yet I cannot conceal a feeling of disappointment at my hon. Friend's contribution. To deny that one is a pacifist or a tool of the Kremlin, which I readily accept, and to couple it with arithmetical arguments for cuts is not a complete defence policy. We need to be told where and how the cuts would be made.

We have had this in part by the singling out of the MRCA and the ASW cruisers. In this the Bow Group and the Tribune Group have been in coalition, if my hon. Friends will forgive the expression. But no one can possibly argue that cuts of this magnitude and in such central equipments can be made while leaving the structure and aims of the Forces untouched. What we need to know now, given the amounts which would be lopped off by the coalition, is what Forces we would be left with and how our defence would be organised. The answers to these questions are of crucial importance, and until they are received we are bound to remain disappointed.

I would say to my hon. Friends—indeed, to all hon. Members—that we are at one with them in viewing détente as a desirable object. I believe that this Government have worked hard for it. We trust that it will succeed, but in the meantime we would be foolish to ignore the military developments in the Warsaw Pact.

I must counsel against the wave of comment which seems to delight in taking a deliberately black view of the defence scene. Often the military balance is distorted, or sometimes old facts are trotted out as new developments. In most cases those who do so do it because of a genuine concern for our safety, but in my view it is dangerous to overemphasise, for two reasons.

First, it may provoke the reaction that, if the balance is so adverse and the situation is so gloomy, there is no point in trying to defend. Secondly, it may discourage the country when, 30 years after the close of the Second World War and nearly 20 years after the Suez tragedy, the wonder is not how little we spend on defence but how much and how essential our people regard defence to be. There has never been a comparable period in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when, in peace, spending has been kept to such a comparatively high level and defence spending has not slumped immediately on the cessation of hostilities.

However, I cannot be as charitable to some of the merchants of doom who have participated in the public debate. A tendency has recently grown up to regard the West as irredeemable. It has sprung up in the wake of the recent comments of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Whilst placing on record our admiration for that man's courage, I must emphatically record that I agree neither with his social analysis nor with the defence conclusions which flow from it. If that is so, I must take even stronger exception to the utterances of the motley school of columnists, editors and peers which has sprung up in this country dedicated to propagating his pessimism. They exhibit a sort of Solzhenitsyn syndrome in which all is worst in the worst of all possible worlds.

The reasons for my views I have given earlier, but I wish also to query the methods used by them. For example, on Monday 13 th March 1976, on the front page of The Times, we read an article by a "Special correspondent". One wonders, first, who he was and why Henry Stanhope, the very reputable defence correspondent of that paper, was not involved. Its first two paragraphs read: Defence officials in Washington are expressing concern at the conclusions of a NATO study on the feasibility of a surprise attack on Western Europe. A report, prepared by a senior officer of NATO's armed forces and now circulating within the alliance, reaches the startling conclusion that the Warsaw Pact is capable of delivering a successful attack on Western Europe using only conventional forces and that the surprise and speed of the operation would make it impossible to use the tactical nuclear weapons which are an integral part of NATO's 'flexible response strategy. The noble Lord Chalfont, in an article on an inside page, takes up the same theme. The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham chose, prematurely I believe, to associate himself with this broadside, as did the ritual Early-Day Motion from a number of Conservative Members.

Two points from the article are undeniable. The first is that the author, or authors, of the two contributions in The Times implied that it was an official NATO study and that it was a contemporaneous study. On 25th March, in a much smaller piece in The Times, the truth was revealed. It was the work of a Belgian general for a doctorate at Brussels University, not a NATO study at all. Secondly, it was written six years ago describing the position in NATO four to six years before that.

This must have discomposed even the most hawkish anti-Russians, but not the noble Lord. He had the freedom of The Times columns on 29th March to reply but again described it as a NATO report. It is not and never has been a NATO report and, since he has obviously seen the paper, he must know that it is not. His piece is dressed up as an attack on complacency. It has the opposite effect, and he is too experienced and expensive a journalist not to know the effect which the use of tenses and titles would have.

In my view the noble Lord does a great disservice to NATO in undervaluing the strength of that organisation and its care in calculating the likelihood of surprise attack. He does an equal disservice to international relations, because the Government's assessment contained in paragraph 25 of Chapter I of the White Paper as to both the evidence of intention and the likelihood of success of any such attack is a responsible and considered verdict, very like the judgments which the Conservative Party put forward when in Government.

I have argued that there must be a wide measure of agreement that defence has to be sensitive to the wider needs of the economy, but equally within defence we must be zealous in ensuring that reductions which are necessary are made without damage to the front line. On the expenditure review this is what we have done, and the cuts, where they occur, have been in the support area rather than in the front line. There is no inconsistency in that course and saying that a first-class support organisation is vital for the efficiency of the front line. As right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in these defence debates over the years know, there is no such thing as a perfect solution in this field. The teeth-to-tail ratio is an enduring subject of consideration and debate.

Its relationship is governed by two factors. The first is the volume of work to be undertaken. In the RAF, for example, the cutting of the Transport Force and the other measures of the defence review diminished the aircraft repair and servicing task in the RAF by some 35 per cent.

Secondly, in order to get maximum economy we must use existing capital facilities as intensively as possible so as to get the best use out of them. This is why, regretfully, in all three Services our search for economies has led to our announcing closures of stations, depots and workshops, or announcing our proposals to do so. Let none of my hon. Friends imagine that these closures are painless or "phoney". They are painful and extremely regrettable, Nevertheless I think it is right that this course be taken. In the current climate we could only keep open all our existing stations by under-utilisation of each, and this would be to the detriment of our frontline effort.

Where one Service has no need for a station, however, it is also right that other Services have the opportunity to take it over. That is why I am so glad that of the 12 stations closed by the defence review so many were taken over by the other Services, avoiding the need for them to engage in massive capital expenditure to improve their facilities.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred yesterday to the decision to press ahead with production of the MRCA. He emphasised that this aircraft is vital for the future not only of the RAF if it is to remain a modern, well-equipped force but also of the British aerospace industry. I think that these points bear repetition.

It is not enough to say "The MRCA is too expensive and should be abandoned", because other questions then arise. Do we also give up any attempt to defend our skies against hostile intruders? Do we forgo the capability of striking back if necessary? Or do we shop around for an aircraft, or a number of different aircraft; do we buy "off the peg" at the expense of hundreds of millions of pounds in foreign exchange and the loss of thousands of jobs?

Most of the controversy has attached to the air defence variant of the MRCA. It is our firm belief, arrived at after a great deal of study and consideration, that the air defence variant will meet our requirements to counter the threat and that it will do so more economically than any other aircraft. A brief look at the alternatives proves the point. The F14 is more expensive and would rely on the very costly Phoenix missile system for its effectiveness. The F15 is at least as costly as the ADV and, as a single-seater aircraft, less effective, we believe, in the interception of enemy aircraft around the United Kingdom and over the Eastern Atlantic.

The Fl6 is, of course, cheaper, but it is wholly unsuitable for taking over the air defence tasks we would require it to meet. The Phantom is a good aircraft but it is by now getting elderly and in the period in which we wish a replacement it would be getting very elderly indeed. We do not have enough of them and no more aircraft are being produced by the factory. Nor does the Phantom have the same capability in radar, avionics or field performance as the MRCA.

Finally—here I come back to a point emphasised by my right hon. Friend—if the MRCA were to be abandoned we should also be throwing away 30,000 jobs and destroying a large part of the British aerospace industry.

The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) asked yesterday to be reassured about the air-to-air capability of the ADV. I am pleased to be able to give him such a reassurance. The weapons system will include an advanced long-range air intercept radar together with both medium-and short-range air-to-air missiles and a gun.

A spin-off over the merits of the MRCA has widened into a debate over the air defence of the United Kingdom. We defend ourselves here as elsewhere as part of an alliance. It was in recognition of this fact that we deployed the great bulk of our resources within the NATO area.

A previous Conservative Administration in the 1950s decided that the days of manned interceptor aircraft were drawing to a close and, therefore, the number of air defence squadrons was run down to the point where they almost disappeared. Subsequent Governments realised that the flexibility of the manned interceptor was irreplaceable, but nevertheless air defence remained a low priority until this Government have undertaken the task, slowly admittedly, of improving the capability. We have now completed the transfer of the Phantoms to the air defence rôle, which greatly improves our capability in that the Phantoms have better radar, a much greater weapons load and longer range and endurance. And, with the future of the air defence variant of the MRCA assured, we can look forward to a continued strengthening of the sharp end of air defence.

In addition, with the deployment of Bloodhound missiles and Rapiers at locations along the East Coast and the provision of new radars which have tracking and data-handling equipment, we are providing a very significantly improved capability for air defence. I believe that this will be supplemented when the decision on airborne early warning aircraft is taken.

I have read in today's New Scientist an article to the effect that the Soviet Foxbat aircraft make regular overflights of this country. I made it clear in answer to a Question on Monday that we are satisfied that there have been no such intrusions in the last 12 months, and I am quite confident that any such intrusions would have been identified by our air defence system. As an example of the inaccuracy of that article, I must refute absolutely the statement that two RAF aircraft were shot down whilst engaged on spying missions over the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

Another of the subjects which have generated much interest, which was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Eye and the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) yesterday, is the question of standardisation. As the hon. and gallant Member for Eye says, this is a matter which everybody agrees to in principle, and everybody believes that the penalty imposed by operating a multiplicity of different equipments is severe and that the better value for money we can get by standardisation is desirable.

My right hon. Friend, as the hon. and gallant Member recognised, played a very energetic part in his year as Chairman of Eurogroup in pursuing this aim. But I warn hon. Members who may be contributing on this basis to the debate today that there are severe difficulties to be overcome. The unconscious tendency is to think that standardisation will always be on the basis of one's own equipment. Therefore, when equipment is chosen which does not favour national industry, there are squeals about that particular choice.

Let us be clear that the way ahead is difficult and there will come in the near future one of those conflicts which will cause such a problem. I think it would be fair to the House if I quoted the sort of divergent advice which my right hon. Friend is getting on the subject of the AWACS which has a possible AEW capability. This is from two articles in The Times of 12th and 26th February. The first, on the 12th, reads: If Roy Mason decides to crown his year as chairman of Eurogroup by ordering AWACS for Nato in the cause of 'standardisation', he will have done more damage to our defence industries than the Luftwaffe ever achieved. The second one, on the 26th, reads: The Labour Government may be tempted to flirt with an AEW Nimrod. But, were Mr. Mason to ditch AWACS in favour of a British system—that exists on paper only—the consequences for the Alliance would be most serious. Both those writers, who give directly opposite views, are Members of this House. The first is the hon. Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) and the second is the hon. Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Critchley), and both are members of the Conservative Party.

The studies on this subject will be complete and the decision taken on this equipment later this year. But this simply underlines the difficulty which my right hon. Friend will have in pleasing everyone, especially every Tory, on this subject.

Mr. Geoffrey Pattie (Chertsey and Walton)

The hon. Gentleman has just referred to me as being the author of the first article, which indeed I am. Does he not agree that it is quite healthy to have debates in public on matters of defence equipment procurement? What is more, as the hon. Gentleman has just referred to AWACS, does he think that an aircraft costing £30 million a time is a project that we can consider when we have a system of our own under development?

Mr. John

I agree that it is healthy to have a debate in public on defence. What I am not so clear about is why, when it is within the Conservative Party, it is a proper, gentlemanly difference of opinion but when it is in the Labour Party it is a matter for the utmost derision. It is a matter involving differences within and between the parties, and that is healthy. To answer the hon. Gentleman's second point, that is precisely the reason for the studies and for the decision to be taken later this year. When it comes, the hon. Gentleman will realise how much care has gone into the studies.

Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy referred to the interdependence of our forces and how co-operation between them had reached very high levels. I believe that interdependence rather than integration is the key to the development of our forces in the future.

It would be remiss of me if on this occasion I did not pay tribute, first, to the successful Belize operation, which must have reassured many people that we can mount a long-range operation at short notice should the need arise, and, secondly, to the demeanour and coolness of the Royal Navy in the very difficult situation which exists off Iceland. Speaking as Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force, I know that my Service is proud to be associated with the Royal Navy in this episode and is full of admiration for the work that it does in the protection of our trawlers.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

The hon. Gentleman referred to the successful operation in taking forces to Belize. Does he still think that an operation of that sort would be possible with the reduced transport fleet proposed in the White Paper?

Mr. John

The proposed transport fleet was stated in the defence review and not necessarily in this White Paper. But, yes, I believe that it is possible.

Mr. Spencer Le Marchant (High Peak)

Can the hon. Gentleman say how long it would take to assemble helicopters, if we do not keep the big freighters, to get forces out to a place like Belize, which in that case took somethting under a day? If we did not keep our big freighters, we would not be able to do it in under three days.

Mr. John

We are retaining a very significant freighter capacity still in the transport force, and we are satisfied that we could meet this kind of challenge in the future.

I want now to say a word or two about morale and welfare in the Forces——

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. John

No. In view of Mr. Speaker's injunction, I am anxious not to give way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

I am glad that the Minister has made that point. A large number of hon. Members wish to speak. If we have too many interventions in speeches, obviously a number of contributions will be cut out.

Mr. John

I was about to refer to recruitment. Last year was a very successful one for Service recruitment. I am the first to acknowledge that the economic climate played a part in recruiting, but we are very happy about the quality of the young people who are coming forward, and we believe that their quality will greatly enhance our capability in the future to keep up the high standards maintained by the present generation in the Armed Forces. When we are discussing adverse numerical balances between alliances, we must aim for the superior quality, motivation and training of our Service men to offset numbers.

We are determined wherever we can to add to the welfare improvements such as the television service in Germany, improvements to the assisted house purchase scheme and extra leave which we have introduced. We are also determined to carry on with such worthwhile improvements as our tribute to those who make sacrifices on behalf of us all.

Despite all the injunctions from the Chair about the brevity of speeches, I realise that I have already transgressed on the patience and time of the House, and I am anxious to conclude my remarks as soon as possible. However, I feel that I ought perhaps to give way briefly to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun).

Mr. Frank Allaun

I might point out to the Opposition that so far there has not been a single question to my hon. Friend from the Government Benches. Before my hon. Friend concludes on these interesting but detailed matters, will he give a straight answer to a straight question on the major issue? Will there be a further early review of arms spending aimed at bringing it down to the lower level of GNP of the other European NATO Governments?

Mr. John

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State initiated the defence review for precisely that reason, and it is phased over the next decade to bring about that sort of alignment. As I have said already, there is always a balance between the military and the social and economic health of a country. Further than that, I am sure that my hon. Friend would not expect me to go.

These matters are always reviewed constantly, as are all economic matters, in the light of the economic health of the country. However, my hon. Friend must realise that we cannot assure our safety without cost. It is a very expensive business, but we believe it to be necessary for the country.

To sum up, the price of preparedness is the interference with people's lives in the process of training such as, for example, those affected by low flying. To those who serve us it means a mobile life, periods of separation and, in some cases, even the loss of their lives.

This Government are not and never will be complacent about defence. Its importance as a subject demands and ensures that. We must, however, beware the extremes and strike the right economic and military balance in the conditions of the time. It is because the White Paper does that and gives Britain the chance of economic expansion while preserving her security that I commend it to the House.

4.37 p.m.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I think that my task is quite simple. It is to be brief where the Minister was lengthy, to be brisk about it, and perhaps to be even blunter than he was.

The only part of the hon. Gentleman's speech which I endorse is what he said about the latest tragic incidents in Ulster. For the rest, his comments on Mr. Solzhenitsyn struck me as a tissue of trivialities, and his attempts to create a smoke screen round his own uncertainty about what my right hon. Friend said or did not say on the "Panorama" programme I shall treat with the contempt that they deserve, because there is no doubt about where the Conservative Party stands on defence—and stands united, which is more than I can say for Government supporters.

I come at once to the Labour Government's White Paper. Yesterday, the Secretary of State was very anxious to claim it as his own—indeed, to claim the debate as his own. He was in a very possessive mood, not to say a Napoleonic one, so much so that he prompted the thought in my mind that his term of command of our defence affairs had been most noted for what might be described as the retreat from Moscow.

This year, there was no claim on the right hon. Gentleman's part to support from the Chiefs of Staff, which was scarcely surprising in view of the deserved reprimand that he received from my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) for his attempt to enlist the Chiefs of Staff in his own aid in his last defence White Paper. Nor, indeed, is it likely he would make such a claim now, in view of some of the comments which our most senior officers and civil servants in the defence field have been making about the state of the nation's defences. The kindest thing one has heard said recently about Government defence policy in Whitehall was how much worse it might have been. And, indeed, how much worse it may yet be.

The Secretary of State was not particularly keen yesterday to claim allies for himself in the Cabinet in his struggle on behalf of the Forces of the Crown. On his left, an uncertain number of flowers bloom. We were told there would be about 100 but the Table Office tells me there are still no more than 85. In the Lobbies tonight it will be a case of "Where have all the Left-wing gone? Voting for Michael every one."

The fact is that the pretended merits of the defence White Paper were most effectively demolished yesterday, particularly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour). There is still a bit of mopping up to be done and I will set about it as quickly as I can.

One of the extraordinary omissions from the hon. Gentleman's speech, and indeed the defence White Paper, was any mention whatsoever of the matter of German offset costs. The right hon. Gentleman did not even mention that the agreement expired yesterday. Are we not to be told about it at all today? Is there to be any announcement about what the Government intend to do to try to get a new agreement? Is some serious attention to be paid to this matter? I hope that the Minister who will be winding up the debate will turn his attention to this and not share his right hon. Friend's apparent complacency.

Complacency is a feature of the White Paper in other respects as well, particularly about the training standards of our Forces and about the capability we possess in reserves and reinforcements. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends for the number of opportunities they have given me during the year to see for myself exactly what is happening to the Forces on the ground. I can vouch for the fact that in the Navy there is growing concern about the way in which limited sea time and the demands of the cod war are cutting into the training which should be done for NATO duties. In relation to the Army, we all know the effect Ulster is having on virtually every arm except the signals. The basic skills of the armoured units, the artillery and even the infantry, which are all essential to NATO tasks, are inevitably being eroded by the continuing commitments of peacekeeping in Ulster.

The RAF has been hit by restrictions on flying hours and it is bound to be hit by unserviceability because of spares shortages. There is a genuine worry—I hope the Under-Secretary will take it seriously—that two or three recent, and tragically fatal, crashes may have been caused, indirectly if not directly, by the resultant pressure on training sorties. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look most seriously into that situation, and that when we come to the RAF debate, he will categorically assure us that he is satisfied this is not so.

We shall return to all these matters and to the question of reserves and reinforcements in the debates on the individual Services. In the meantime I believe that there is a case for reconsidering the adequacy of our reserves and our ability to call upon them when we need them. This is perhaps more extreme in our case than with some of our Allies who have regular training exercises involving the recall of reservists. As I was able to see for myself last year, the Americans have their Reforger programme, which represents a considerable, yet routine, reinforcement of the capability of their forces in Germany. I hope that there is no danger of our falling into a trap whereby we are prevented in time of threatening emergency from carrying out a partial mobilisation because that might in itself escalate tension.

The next point on the defence White Paper is the question of cuts in support. The Secretary of State was very anxious to tell us yesterday that he always knew there was more room for such cuts. The Under-Secretary who wound up last night actually claimed someone had said that last year. I am bound to say I have not found it easy to discover who that was, or what he said. Indeed, such facts as I have been able to find suggest that the opposite was true. Certainly in last year's defence White Paper in Chapter 1, paragraph 65, we are told: Future manpower needs have been calculated against the commitments to be met under our revised defence policy and the new force structures required to discharge them. We are told also in paragraph 69, about civilian employees: We estimate that the number of civilians employed in support of the forces in the United Kingdom will eventually be reduced by about 15,000, largely by normal wastage. There was no suggestion there that another 10,000 civilians were waiting in the wings to be declared redundant. There was no suggestion, even as an olive branch to the Left, that there might be scope for further cuts if they would just be patient. Very much the same tone ran through the whole review—that it had been thorough-going, complete and exhaustive, and that there was absolutely no room for a further reduction.

But in this year's White Paper we see one commitment clearly spelled out, and it is, for the first time, to cut a further 10,000 civilians. This has been presented, of course, in a way that severely underestimates the likely extent of redundancies, and I suspect virtually all of these employees will in fact have to be declared redundant in the end. The White Paper also carefully obscures the effect these cuts in support must have upon the efficiency and performance of the Forces. The fact is that there must be consequent cuts in front line performance. We were reminded again yesterday that in military terms the tail exists to support the teeth, and that if we cut the tail we must erode the efficiency of the teeth.

There must also be a serious effect on research and development, especially in the long term, and no one should underestimate the damage this will do to our chances of recovering the ground we shall lose in the technological race.

I come next to the matter of defence sales, to which there is a reference in Chapter III, paragraph 34 of the defence White Paper. This is not a particularly informative reference nor a very long one. It simply says: Overseas sales of defence equipment cover a wide range of items produced by industry and by the ROFs, with the Defence Sales Organisation providing support, assistance and advice. These sales continue to make a valuable contribution to the national balance of payments and are expected to reach £700 million in 1976–77. Then there is two-thirds of a blank page underneath. There was room for a bit more, and the House may agree that there is room for greater frankness. I do not believe that everything in the defence sales garden is lovely. If it is, I have not been given any evidence about it yet. Maybe the Minister will rectify this when he comes to wind up the debate tonight.

When the Secretary of State talks about standardisation, he is right to warn us against expecting any miracles or any great break-through. He is right to remind us, if we needed reminding, what standardisation around someone else's equipment can mean. That has been the chief experience of our defence Forces under his Government. And yesterday the Secretary of State implied that we shall soon have standardisation on HOT and TOW in the anti-tank field. We also hear that a decision on AWACS is to be made in the spring; at least it says so in the defence White Paper. Is that still the case?

What now about this great memorandum of understanding with the Americans in which the Secretary of State used to take such pride? If hon. Gentlemen are rash enough to ask questions about this, I am afraid they are likely to get non-answers. I myself tried on the 23rd of last month to ask whether the Secretary of State would list the items of British defence equipment which had been ordered or considered by the Americans since this memorandum was drawn up. I was referred back to an Answer given to my hon. Friend for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) in November last year, which said: It has been the practice of successive Governments not to reveal details of possible arms sales".—[Official Report, 25th November 1975; Vol. 901, c. 113–14.] I do not know how much longer the House will be content with a situation where the Government use the practice of not revealing possible arms sales to enable them to refuse to admit that none has been achieved. Nor does the Secretary of State appear to have taken aboard the importance of persuading the American Government actually to induce their defence contractors to allow British manufacturers to enter into the competition for tenders in defence contracts. This is something which needs much more urgent attention and a great deal more reference in next year's White Paper than it has received in this.

What happens meanwhile? As we know, the sales seem to be going very much our competitor's way. Twelve months ago there was great confidence among British manufacturers about what they would achieve, in the Middle East for instance. But, most of the sales concluded and announced in the last twelve months seem to have gone to our competitors—French, American and so on. This applies even to countries to which the Government's political restrictions do not extend—and there are enough of the other sort. It makes sad reading to see the sales achieved by our competitors in countries with which this Government refuse to allow British manufacturers to trade.

Therefore, particularly on the aerospace side, industry's efficiency is hamstrung by the Government's nationalisation legislation. No doubt more of my hon. Friends would be here now to make that point if it were not for the fact that the Standing Committee considering the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill is still dragging on upstairs.

The manufacturers are left in a decision vacuum; the customers lose interest and confidence and go elsewhere. So decisions on critical orders and critical collaborative projects are being taken now or will shortly be taken and these are going increasingly against this country's industry. There may not be many prospective sales left after the end of this year on which to keep up our military aerospace exports at today's level. The industry's exports were worth £800 million across the exchanges in 1975, but what will they be in 1980? And without the military side, how can the civil side hope to prosper?

Let us not forget that, although it would have been a scandal if the MRCA had not been ordered, there are as yet and in prospect no potential export deals to be gained from the MRCA order, because the deal is so set up that no cash passes across the exchanges between the present collaborators in the project.

I want to return now to the threat we face. The Secretary of State told us yesterday that NATO was vigilant, watching the Russians as keenly as the Russians were watching us. His message no doubt to Mr. Brezhnev was "Little Brother is watching you." The more information that we as a country can have about what the Russians are doing, the more we must welcome it.

I welcome in particular one thing which the Secretary of State said yesterday—that he would arrange for his successor to publish a more informative document for the general public this coming year. I suggest that in so doing he might also consider the possibility of getting the Army and the RAF to run the same kind of admirable presentation teams as the Navy already has.

But the public should know what they have to watch and why so far as the Warsaw Pact countries are concerned. Anyone who has read the West German defence White Paper will probably agree that the political context of NATO's defence effort and needs is set out much more clearly, concisely and directly there than it is in our Government's White Paper. When we see what the German document has to say about the Communist defence motive, and when we study, as it is open to us to do, what the Russians themselves say to their armed forces—for instance, in the messages on Army and Navy Day a few weeks ago—it ceases to be necessary to remind ourselves that we are dealing with a militaristic society whose values, standards and motives are quite different from our own.

But there is one question which the Secretary of State might have tried to answer yesterday. That is, how long he thinks the Warsaw Pact countries can keep up their enormous effort in arms expenditure? He stressed how great the costs were, telling us that they had hitherto been grossly miscalculated—underestimated by 50 per cent. or more.

What he did not say was how long he thought the Russians themselves would be prepared to pay the price and subject their people to those pressures and what he supposed might happen if the sheer inertia of the Soviet military machine were to roll Russia's leaders onwards on a course which led inevitably to military confrontation. The Under-Secretary might have read and re-read in the Solzhenitsyn interview what that very perceptive and qualified observer had to say about the momentum of the Soviet rearmament programme.

We must all agree that if there is an arms race—the signs are that there is—it is the Russians who have been setting the pace for the past 10 years. That being so, it is fair for people in this country to ask one important question and to expect it to be answered. If the Russian armed forces are the greatest present and foreseeable danger to world peace, how should the West react? It is doubtful whether there will be any time for strategy in any future world war. I doubt whether the distinction between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons would have any relevance if that awful event were to come about.

Therefore, perhaps we need to look again at the triad, and to reconsider it in terms of one of its three supports being nuclear deterrence, another conventional deterrence and the third political and economic deterrence. If we do this, we must also realise that we have to aim to control events at all three levels, always hoping that we never have to move from the political and economic level.

Certainly the Secretary of State was right yesterday to stress the political threat facing the West and to tell us that 1976 must be a year of test for the Soviet Union. To state the thing in those terms does not mean returning to the cold war, but it requires recognition that military balance is not the hinge upon which it all turns.

Even when we declare the importance of the military parity and even when we on this side say that we recognise the need to spend more on defence and to strengthen our defences in consultation with our Allies as circumstances dictate, that does not make us warmongers. The hon. Member for Salford. East (Mr. Allaun) tried to suggest yesterday that he and his hon. Friends had some monopoly of dislike for war. Let me disillusion him. There can be no hon. Member who wants war to break out again. No thinking person anywhere wants that. But we have to recognise that our chances of avoiding it depend upon the determination with which we resist the forces which make war likely. As we need to put more effort into defence, so we need to show more determination in diplomacy.

Tonight the Government may have the doubtful satisfaction of winning the vote. No doubt if the Liberals are here, they will be in the Government Lobby. However, I believe—if I am right I welcome the fact—that the United Ulster Unionist Council MPs are more likely to be against the Government. It is clear from the speeches which some of them made on the Consolidated Fund Bill that they recognise that they cannot opt out of decisions about the defence of the United Kingdom.

The Tribune Group, of course, will be for the Secretary of State—not because he has convinced them, but because they believe that they are within sight of the heights of political power. They believe that they can carry the spirit of their miserable little amendment into the Cabinet room and into the policy of the next Prime Minister and his Government.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

The hon. Member does not really mean that.

Mr. Onslow

The hon. Member seems to find that thought amazing, but I do not doubt that the country will weigh the determination of his hon. Friends to carry their expression of view into the Lobby tonight against the struggle for power in which the Labour Party still persists in plunging itself and the country.

We condemn the Government and their wretched White Paper. We do not expect to see them have the chance to produce another, and for that at least this country and its Allies can be truly grateful.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. E. Femyhough (Jarrow)

The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) has condemned the White Paper. He pretended that we are doing something that has never been done by a Tory Government, something that has been done only when a Labour Government have been in power.

I remind the hon. Gentleman, as I reminded the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) yesterday, that in 1951 a Tory Government took over from a Labour Government. On 5th March 1952 Sir Winston Churchill, the Leader of the Tory Government, said: I should, however, be misleading the House if I led it to suppose that the delay which has taken place is due only to a shortfall in earnings by contractors for various reasons. We have pursued a definite policy of giving a somewhat higher measure of priority to materials needed for exports. The grave financial crisis under which we are labouring supplies more than sufficient explanation for this decision. We depend upon exports to purchase the imports of food and raw materials without which we can neither re-arm nor live as solvent economic society".—[Official Report, 5th March 1952; Vol. 497. c. 433.] Sir Winston Churchill made it clear in March 1952 that he was reducing the rearmament programme introduced by the previous Labour Government. That was sound economic sense.

No nation can be militarily strong if it is economically weak. The Government are determined substantially to increase exports. They are determined to get rid of the balance-of-payments problems. Without some cut in defence expenditure it would be very difficult, as it was for the 1951 Tory Government, to accomplish the Government's aim—namely, to overcome the balance-of-payment problem and to get into a sound financial situation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not a pioneer; he is merely following the example of probably the most respected person ever to be associated with the Conservative Party.

I listened to most of yesterday's speeches. It seems that the world is divided into angels and devils.

Mr. Frank Allaun

The goodies and the baddies.

Mr. Fernyhough

We are always the angels. Yesterday we heard once more about the Berlin Wall. It was said to be an atrocity. We heard about Hungary, and it was an atrocity. We heard about Czechoslovakia, and that was an atrocity. But nobody said anything about the British intervention in Suez. That was equally an atrocity. Nobody said anything about our landing troops in Iran. Nobody said anything about the Americans invading Dominica. Nobody said anything about the Americans in Vietnam.

Portugal was discussed at some length by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). He seemed to think that the situation in Angola arose only last November. In fact, the struggle in Angola continued for 12 years. Angola had pleaded with the West for help but it received none. Therefore, Angola turned to other sources, and it was given what it wanted.

We should have re-examined the position. Angola was determined to get the necessary weapons to free itself. It was determined to get its freedom but the West was not prepared to help it get the weapons that were wanted. When it turned to another source, we should not have cried over spilt milk.

The hon. Member for Woking said that he wanted Britain to keep up with the technological race. What kind of race is it? The Americans boast that they have a 30-times overkill capacity. The Russians boast that they have a 20-times overkill capacity. They are saying that they have the nuclear power to destroy every man, woman and child 30 times over or 20 times over. I have never known such nonsense. The world can be blown up only once.

If it is believed that there is no danger of the world being blown up, I ask those who take that view to listen to the following quotation: If we have not reached an agreement well before 1977, then I believe you will see an explosion of technology and an explosion of numbers at the end of which we will be lucky if we have the present stability, in which it will be impossible to describe what strategic superiority means. And one of the questions which we have to ask ourselves as a country is: what in the name of God is strategic superiority? What is the significance of it, politically, militarily, operationally, at these levels of numbers? What do you do with it?…We will be living in a world which will be extraordinarily complex, in which opportunities for nuclear warfare exist that were unimaginable 15 years ago or at the beginning of the nuclear age…". Those were the words of the American Secretary of State in Moscow. I am quoting from a book that was written by a British diplomat, Robin Edmonds, who served in Moscow. He ends his book with the following: And yonder all before us lies Deserts of vast eternity. That is why I do not want to be in the great strategic race. Neither the politicians nor the generals have a right to use weapons which would destroy the world. This world was not given to this generation alone. Generations not yet born have a right to inherit it.

If ever the great military machines such as the hon. Member for Woking would like to build up lead to the confrontation about which he spoke, there will not be any victors; there will be only the vanquished. There will be no winners; there will be only losers. There will not be life; there will be only death.

5.8 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

I am sure that we all listened with attention to the brief speech that the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) addressed to the House. His words were very reminiscent of the speeches that were made when the Alder-maston marches took place.

I am sure that the House will agree that our defence depends on two factors. The first is credibility and the second is effectiveness. Having heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Jarrow, and when we see that the Secretary of State for Employment, one of the right hon. Gentleman's companions on the Alder-maston marches, is perhaps about to achieve the highest possible office in the Government, we can only wonder where the credibility of the Government's defence policy can lie. That is a major factor that is having an effect on sterling as well as on the views of those outside the House, such as Marshal Grechko and some of the commanders in Western Europe.

I turn to the factor of effectiveness. I sympathise with the Secretary of State for Defence, as he is living in an environment which, to say the least of it, is hostile. It is hostile economically and, as far as he is concerned, hostile politcally when 80 of his hon. Friends can sign a motion on defence showing that they are not behind or even beside him, but rather beside themselves. The problem is that there is no credibility in the Government's defence programme, even though the sums involved are enormous, and there is no indication of any great effectiveness.

Effectiveness can only be proved or disproved when one has been defeated in a war, but the Government have made two great errors. There has been a benign neglect of central direction of defence from the Cabinet committee over which the Prime Minister must preside, and one sees such wild contradictions that we have to wonder whether there has been a proper direction of overall strategy by the Government.

For instance, the Minister boasted of having strengthened the northern flank of NATO, but, by actions for which Britain was at least partly responsible, two extreme flanks of NATO are in total chaos—Cyprus and Iceland. The Iceland confrontation is something which the next Government must cease as soon as possible. It is the greatest disastrous contribution we could make to NATO. This area is the key to our defence of the West.

I have not spoken in a defence debate since I raised the subject of the virtual destruction of the basis of the Territorial Army by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was Secretary of State for Defence. There are problems which the present Ministry seems totally unable to resolve. Among them are the military tactics being employed by our Armed Forces on the land in Europe. There must be urgent consideration of whether the tactical nuclear weapon is an effective weapon which must not lead to ultimate escalation at an early stage.

Whatever we may think of Mr. Solzhenitsyn and the noble Lord to whom the Minister referred in such disparaging terms, one thing is clear. The major option of the Russian defence forces at present is a long war. This is where the Government Front Bench could be deceiving the nation. What matters if one is engaged in a long war is military stocks and reserves, and in this area many of the Government's figures are suspect. Nothing could be more disastrous than that, faced with what the Russians regard as their chief option—a long war—we should have a war programme based on a 30-day or 60-day war. The nation needs reassurance on this point and I hope that the Minister will provide it tonight.

At present, this country has reserves of 166,000 men, 60,000 of whom, according to the plans, will leave this country on the outbreak of hostilities to reinforce BAOR. The reserves of the United States for the defence of the homeland total 1.5 million. The reserves for the defence of Germany total 1 million and for the defence of France, 700,000. We shall have fewer than 100,000 persons to deal with the sort of troubles that might arise and the threats and attacks that could be launched by the Warsaw Pact countries.

This is not a new problem. It is a fact on which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), and I have been warning successive Governments for the last 10 years. It was clearly predictable once National Service had been abolished in the early 1960s. We have to rebuild some form of reserve army soon if we are to regard ourselves as in any way being defended. This is the most important message one can give the House.

I question whether the Ministry is sufficiently powerful in forecasting our military commitments, or whether it is still riven by inter-Services rivalry which can result in priorities being given to the wrong sphere and adjustments being made in the wrong direction. The extremely difficult decision of what to do with the main battle tank must be taken very soon. Since the Yom Kippur war, it is extremely doubtful whether the main battle tank is still master of the battlefield.

It may be we shall have to invest far more in precision weapons of destruction which are cheaper and infinitely more effective. Yet the White Paper says that we are now contemplating plans for a new battle tank in conjunction with the German armed forces. This sort of decision can only be taken by a more centralised and efficient Ministry.

It is noticeable that however much the number of men in the field has fallen, the number of top civil servants from under-secretary down to the third level is almost exactly the same as it was six years ago. The structure is still too powerful in defence of individual Services, arms and instruments.

I disagree with the Minister's view that the situation is not serious. It is serious and deteriorating. When Sir Winston Churchill started disarmament, the situation was improving throughout the world. Who today can talk about peace being indivisible? Even detente is being fractured. Everywhere violence is growing, and peace has been lost somewhere on the Bogside or in Beirut.

The House knows and people outside the House know that the danger to this country is growing, and that is precisely why we need a strong Chief of Defence Staff, whom I think we shall soon have. We need a strong permanent undersecretary of the Department. Above all, we need a change of Government. Only through a strong Prime Minister and a strong Secretary of State for Defence can the military problems that face this country be solved.

5.21 p.m.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

I start from the simple proposition that it is the duty of every Government to provide a defence capability adequate for the country's needs. Never again must we return to the situation of pre-1939. At that time a Conservative Government, who were not helped much by the Opposition, allowed our defences to run down, and in 1939 we went into a war with inadequate material, insufficient men and inadequate weapons. I am sure that all future historians will say that if Hitler in 1941 had turned on us instead of the East, we probably should not have been having this debate today. At that time we had no effective defence.

In co-operation with our Allies—we cannot do it alone—our duty as a nation is to do everything possible to meet any potential threat. We have to ask ourselves whether there is a potential threat. Some of my hon. Friends think that there is not, but we then have to ask why the Russians are building so many submarines and surface warships. Are they for defensive purposes? If they are, what are the Russians defending and from which potential aggressor? It might be said that they are afraid of China, but if that is so, will someone explain to me why most of those naval forces are concentrated in the Baltic, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean?

I wish that some of my colleagues who constantly put down motions criticising British defence expenditure would once or twice in their lives put down a motion criticising Soviet defence expenditure. I read carefully in Hansard the speech made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun). I told my hon. Friend that I intended to refer to him. His speech contained no word of criticism of Soviet defence expenditure.

On the other hand, we must recognise that we no longer have the economic strength to be a world-wide imperial Power. Some Conservative Members still seem to be living in the past. I read the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) who said what I have just said but went on to suggest that we should become militarily involved in Southern Africa—I am not sure on which side. The worst possible defence policy is one which contains commitments which exceed our capabilities. We do not have the capability to deal with world-wide affairs or, for that matter, with Southern Africa.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

I would not have interrupted the hon. Gentleman had he not referred to me. I stressed yesterday that, if there were to be any intervention, it should be on a collective NATO or European basis. If the hon. Gentleman looks carefully at what I said, he will find that is so.

Mr. Mitchell

I accept that entirely, but I do not agree that there should be any collective interference by the West in Southern Africa, because it would weaken the general Western defence capabilities.

We are right to concentrate our defence capability inside NATO. I hope that the Government will not be diverted into long discussions about a separate European defence policy. Discussions on those lines are continually held in the European Parliament and other European bodies, but to my mind they are unrealistic.

We must concentrate our efforts inside NATO. Over the years the NATO Alliance has been strongly criticised by some of my hon. Friends. I often wonder why. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is 31 years since the end of the last war. During that time, apart from Russian aggression in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and the dispute between Greece and Turkey about Cyprus, we have had peace in Europe. I defy anyone here to point to another period of 31 years in our history when we had peace in Europe. That peace has been largely due to the existence of the NATO Alliance. We dare not and must not jeopardise its continuation.

I should place more credence upon the Opposition amendment if, at the same time as Opposition Members called for increases in defence expenditure, they did not go round the country making weekend speeches calling for massive cuts in public expenditure. Shadow Ministers criticise the Government in the House for not spending enough money on, say, defence, education, health, or housing, while at the same time Opposition Members make wonderful speeches in the country calling for cuts in public expenditure. It is a hypocritical attitude.

Further, the Opposition call for massive cuts in taxation. Defence, education. health, housing and everything else have to be paid for and, unless we can increase our national product rapidly, we shall have to pay for all those services out of taxation.

Some of my Labour colleagues put down an amendment which has not been selected. It questions whether there have been any real cuts in defence expenditure. As in housing, education and so on, there are reductions in projected defence expenditure, but those who find themselves out of a job as a result of reductions in defence expenditure will find that those cuts are very real.

I was surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East complained that the previous defence review, instead of reducing the number of jobs by 5,000, increased it by 7,000. It is remarkable, at a time of high unemployment, that anyone should appear to be calling for additional unemployment.

Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)


Mr. Mitchell

I thank my hon. Friend. Some of my colleagues seem to be asking for more men to be put out of work. In Southampton there are 5,000 men directly or indirectly employed on defence projects. I thank the Minister for placing an order for the Type 42 destroyer with Vosper Thorneycroft. But for that there would have been many redundancies by the end of the year, and I hope that the Minister will later in the year place a further order. If my right hon. Friend took the advice of hon. Members who signed that amendment there would not be any Type 42 destroyers, and hundreds of my constituents would be out of work. That applies equally throughout the rest of the country.

I should like to live in a world in which we did not need to spend money on defence. I have spent my life in education, and I rejoiced on the day when education expenditure exceeded defence expenditure. I obviously prefer money to be spent on building schools, hospitals and so on, but, sadly, we do not live in an ideal world.

I want my children to have the best possible education the State can provide, and I am prepared to pay for it through the taxation system. I also want my children to grow up and live in a free and democratic society. I believe that we must be prepared to defend that society and, if necessary, to make sacrifices to do so.

I shall support the Government in the Lobby tonight because I do not believe that the reductions they have made in defence expenditure seriously reduce our defence capability. I issue a word of warning: enough is enough. Any further major reduction in defence expenditure would seriously jeopardise our capability to defend our free and democratic society, and that I would not support.

5 [...] p.m.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)

The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) made some of the remarks in the opening speech sound very like those of the pre-war appeasers, whom he rightly condemned, from whichever side of the House they then came. The Secretary of State in opening the debate yesterday made it plain that the defence cuts, as the hon. Gentleman acknowledged, are real. As confirmed by the Under-Secretary of State in winding up last night, they are very largely in support forces. They are partly due to the reductions in front line troops in the 1975 review.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) made it very plain that it was not the tail that was being cut but, as it were, the backbone, the stomach, the heart and the lungs of our defence capability—everything, in other words, that enables the animal not only to fight, but to go on fighting, and to go on long enough in NATO terms and in NATO slang to enable NATO to move from a former trip-wire philosophy to that of deterrence by capability for flexible response.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) added a new dimension when he suggested that NATO should be thinking of the capacity to continue fighting conventionally in a long war and cast doubt in those circumstances on the effectiveness of the tactical nuclear deterrent. He pointed out that our reserves were dangerously low for that purpose.

Our contribution to NATO depends on our overall defence contribution, and it seems odd, having weakened our non-NATO contribution, further to weaken what we are doing through NATO itself. I do not think it is any good right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite making a mock of those who give warnings on the grounds that they are exaggerating a situation which it is claimed no longer exists. I should like to quote a remark made by Mr. Gromyko in September 1975 when he said the actions of the Warsaw Pact are having a major influence in shaping the situation not only in Europe but far beyond Europe. That is, I think, the situation we all have to face, and while it may be right to keep our main effort for Central Europe, the Eastern Atlantic and the Channel, I am worried by the limitations that this imposes on NATO itself.

The Under-Secretary of State pointed out yesterday that we had thus concentrated our main effort. He added, in reference to the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic, that the Royal Navy still retains the ability to deploy its forces, together with those of our Allies, wherever our interests might be at stake. By "our" I assume he meant British.

I should like the Minister of State to confirm that ability and to tell us that it is not in any way affected by the abandonment of "Bulwark", by the conversion of "Hermes" to anti-submarine warfare, by the fact that the ASW "Invincible" class is at risk any distance from land, with only the Harrier as air cover. Will he confirm that this capability is still on after the "Ark Royal' has been abandoned and we have no further strike carrier?

The whole philosophy underlying the Government's defence policy might have been written as a satire by Lewis Carroll. It is a sort of "Looking Glass" philosophy. The Russians advance into the Indian Ocean and we abandon Singapore and Gan. The Lebanon is in a turmoil and we weaken our effort in Cyprus and in the sovereign bases. Central and Southern Africa is penetrated by an armed invasion from Soviet satellites and clients, and the Government rejoice that we are abandoning Simonstown.

I think that this attitude stems from a point of view which I am not sure that the Member for Itchen shares, but which was expressed by the Under-Secretary last night when he said Defence has to take its place in the battle for relative priorities."—[Official Report, 31st March 1976; Vol. 908, c. 1430–2.] That is true up to a point, but only up to a point, because the first duty of Her Majesty's Government must be the defence of the realm, the safety and security of the people in it, and our ability, uninterrupted, to import food and raw materials. This is true despite our economic weakness—in fact, it may be even more true because of our economic weakness.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and my night hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) made very plain just how dependent is the United Kingdom on raw materials which are available only from Southern Africa. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham pointed out that 80 per cent. of the NATO oil and 70 per cent. of its strategic raw materials came via the west coast of Africa. The same dependence applies not only to the United Kingdom, but to Europe.

But now it is the Soviet forces and Soviet allies which dominate these seas from bases in East and West Africa, and which have enough command of the sea generally to interrupt trade. I think it is true that the failure of the West to react to Soviet aggression in Angola makes it all the more urgent to resist further Soviet imperialism and fill the gap which has been left by Britain's withdrawal from her non-NATO commitments.

I do not suggest that this should be done by Britain alone. We should work with our European friends, particularly France, with the United States and, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham pointed out, with Australia, owing to her particular interest—not for the purpose of pursuing any unwise or wrong objective, but simply to secure the raw materials without which we cannot live. I hope that some reassurance will be given to the House about this subject in the winding-up speech.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. Mallalieu) suggested that all defence policy was largely a matter of guesswork, and he suggested that the Government ought to make the guess and to listen to its advisers. I hope that the Government will not make the mistake of failing to listen to those who are in a position of sufficient power to make their will come true. After all, Hitler told us in "Mein Kamf" exactly what he would do, and we might have done a great deal better to pay more attention to what he said.

Last September Mr. Gromyko said that "the forces of peace and progress"—that is double-talk for the Soviet armed forces—now had "a visibly increased preponderance" and might be in a position to lay down the direction of international politics. Our reactions to this statement should be to consider in Europe, within the context of the Community, a united foreign policy. I think that this implies having some sort of European defence policy within the NATO context. The concept of a European foreign policy seems to carry with it the need to think in European rather than merely national terms in the context of NATO.

That is why I would hope that we will consider within Europe, including France, the view put by my right hon. Friend, that perhaps a tactical nuclear deterrent is no longer a valid NATO concept. We should also consider within the Community, including France, whether we ought to have a European nuclear deterrent.

I am sorry that in his last Question Time the Prime Minister was so strongly opposed to the whole idea of any European nuclear deterrent and referred in emotive terms to German fingers on the trigger. If Germany wants a nuclear deterrent of its own, no one can stop it. and I prefer to have a European deterrent than to see any single country escalate the nuclear race. I also prefer a European nuclear capability to having the whole concept of the deterrent become through conventional weakness so incredible that the Germans would be tempted to make some sort of arrangement with the Soviet Union, as Finland has done.

It is ridiculous that the EEC cannot itself defend its vital interests. Separately we may be feeble, but together we are strong. All we need is the political will. The first thing that we Conservatives demand from the Government is that Britain should show itself willing to build up its reserves and, in the light of the forces we must maintain in this country, to do at once little things like strengthening the Gutersloh air base to take wide-bodied jets, to look at the naval building programme which has fallen so disastrously behind, and to try to resolve a little more quickly some of the problems of standardisation which are extremely difficult.

Then I should like to see a British-led European Community approach to our Allies and to the Commonwealth with four objectives. The first would be to resist Soviet aggression now wherever and whenever it may come. We have seen in the past the results of letting things go too far. We saw domination by the Nazis of the Rhineland, of the Sudetenland, of Czechoslovakia, Austria and then Poland. Now we have seen the Soviet Union taking over by force in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, helping its allies in Vietnam, and using its clients to invade Angola.

Are we to wait until Yugoslavia, too, is at risk, because this is not a matter of ideology. I am not talking about the Communist threat. I am talking about the threat of Soviet imperialism, because that is the only threat which the free and peaceful world faces today. There is no other.

Secondly, we should be discussing methods of preventing the Soviet Union from rescuing its allies and clients from the mistakes and failures of their own aggression. Thirdly, we should be discussing changes in aid and trade policies where they might damage our interests, whether they apply to the Warsaw Pact countries or the Third World, including Mozambique. Fourthly, we should reconsider the subsidising of Soviet incompetence by food, including grain, and by economic aid and cheap credit. We should rather consider exploiting Soviet difficulties, both economic and military.

To react like this may require us to rearm and to provide arms for our Allies and those who are willing to help us, including South Africa. So be it. That does not conflict with detente as it is understood by the Soviets themselves. Detente has not prevented them from rearming, and so long as the cold war continues on their side, as it does—often hotted up every now and then—it is up to us to keep our defences strong to avoid the sort of possible disasters which have been suggested in the debate.

I am not depressed by the dangers because I think that we have the capability, the skill, the industry, the workpeople, and, if we can marshal it, the will to maintain our defences and, if necessary, to make sacrifices for our freedom. We need a lead from the Government. The right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) made a brief intervention. I had great sympathy with what he said, because it made sense. But what he said implied that none of this was worth while, that it was better to surrender. I do not agree with that, but it is a policy which could be justified logically. What cannot be justified is wasting money on weakness.

Britain is not a great Power, but it does not need to be. We need enough military strength to make our diplomatic skill usable and enough political will to make it credible. Alas, there is nothing in the White Paper or the Government's speeches to show any real understanding of the dangers that confront us, or any clear will on their part to face those dangers. They seem to be concerned rather to lull the British people into a false sense of security. I hope that by our speeches and our votes in this House we can at least bring home to those we represent the truth which the Government have so far tried to conceal

5.48 p.m.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh. Central)

I do not intend to pursue the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) around the globe in his extensive coverage of world affairs. I must take up his point, however, about movement towards a European nuclear deterrent. He said that he would prefer to have a European nuclear deterrent than to have another independent nuclear Power within Europe. I can see the case for making that choice if the choice has to be made. However, I would much prefer to see Europe without nuclear weapons.

The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) has just left the Chamber, which is a pity because I wanted to tell him that I agreed with a lot of what he said. He said that it was spurious to distinguish between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, and I agree. The only reason why the super-Powers are able to call certain nuclear weapons tactical is that those weapons will not land in the heartland of the super-Powers: they will come down on countries outside Russia and America. However, as far as concerns Europeans, those who are to receive these tactical nuclear weapons dropped on us, the effect will be strategic even if they are called tactical weapons. Many of these tactical weapons are of much greater explosive force than the bombs dropped on Japan in the Second World War.

I and other hon. Members on the Government side of the House were rather distressed when reading the White Paper to see in paragraph 27 that it is NATO's strategy, if deterrence fails, to meet aggression with a a defence tailored to the situation, selecting a suitable level of response from a wide range of options. The language of that sentence is rather opaque, but I hope we are not meant to take that as an endorsement of the Schlesinger doctrine of flexible nuclear options, which many of us find pernicious in that it is aimed to justify overkill capacity and can only bring nuclear war nearer by making it more easy to contemplate by giving it a credible strategy.

In the bulk of my remarks I want to take up a point raised today by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who referred to the current spate of articles in the Western Press concerning the imminence of a Russian invasion of superior might. As Professor Galbraith put it in is letter to The Times recently, Today the Elbe; tomorrow, Nantucket. The culmination of these articles, their apotheosis, came in an article by Lord Chalfont in The Times three weeks ago. based upon a report by a brigadier in the Belgian Army who has never held high NATO command and whose report was made in the form of a private paper on a "worst case" analysis. It is an indication of the extent of mass hysteria in the media and in our society that an article based on such a private report, which is 10 years old, should get coverage on the feature page in the middle of The Times almost as great as the obituary of Sir Winston Churchill 11 years ago and as great as almost any article that has appeared since then.

That article is only one of many and I accept that those on the Government side of the House who do not accept that there is a case for increasing military expenditure any further have a heavy duty to examine what has been said in these articles and, if we find it unconvincing, to explain why we find the arguments unconvincing.

I wish to concentrate on that matter, but before doing so I should like to take up the comments made by the hon. Member for Woking. I quite accept his strictures on the Soviet Union. I certainly accept that the size of military forces there is too large for any conceivable rational purpose. The most benign interpretation that one can put on the size of those forces is that those who run that repressive, autocratic, authoritarian régime find it convenient to militarise that society and keep the system of universal conscription which reduces dissidence and protest. This may give us some reassurance that those forces may not be aimed at the invasion of the West, but it is not a reassurance that will give much comfort to those of us with a commitment to democracy, because it is based on an entire negation of democracy.

I do not expect to see disarmament achieved through international negotiation. I believe that it is a fallacy to imagine that if one brings together those who are at the top of the pyramid of military-industrial-political machines these people will then agree to dismantle the pyramid on which they arose.

For instance, I would mention the progress at the Vienna talks. This is the eighth White Paper in eight years that has referred to the progress of talks on mutual and balanced force reductions there. The talks have been going on for only three years, but the five White Papers that preceded them covered the preparations for the talks. We have failed to see one concrete result of these talks. I would ask those hon. Members who believe in disarmament only through multilateral negotiation to give us some evidence that it ever has succeeded or will succeed in the foreseeable future.

If we are to have progress towards disarmament and the reduction of armed confrontation, it will be achieved much more through the internal domestic debate between those who wish to adopt a lower defence profile and those who wish to maintain a high posture of armed confrontation. To those of us who accept that analysis, the most distressing feature in the current international situation is just how weak opposition in the Soviet Union is to the military regime and just how brutally it is repressed by that same machine.

I want to turn to the allegations which have been made not that that military machine still exists but that its weight, power and might has been augmented in the last five years. I referred last week to the annual paper, "The Military Balance", published by the IISS, an independent, impartial organisation, and as authoritative as any non-governmental organisation can be. I find it striking that between 1971 and 1975—which is the latest issue of "The Military Balance"—the number of troops available to the Warsaw Pact in North and Central Europe—which are the areas in which we agree that NATO is weakest—actually dropped by 65,000. In the same five-year period, the most recent period for which we have figures, the number of troops available to NATO rose by 45,000. Thus, in so far as there has been a shift in the number of troops in those two areas, it has been a shift in favour of NATO.

If hon. Members doubt my deduction from that publication, they may wish to refer to "Problems of Communism", a publication of the United States Information Department—to which the Tribune Group does not subscribe. In the September-October issue, hon. Members will find an article by Laurence Caldwell—again, an accepted international expert—who produces a similar table for the last seven-year period. The table shows a very slight reduction in the number of Warsaw Pact forces in Central and Northern Europe.

If we go back to such primary sources as there are, we find that there is no clear evidence of a build-up. However, if one is selective and takes particular areas and weapons, one can produce a different picture. The defence review that we are now considering achieves that outstandingly successfully with the naval balance by confining its graph to the Eastern Atlantic, which contains the major Soviet base and 50 per cent. of the Soviet navy. It is hardly surprising that, if one takes a sector which contains half of the Soviet navy, one discovers that it has a preponderance in that part of the world. There would be no point in denying that the Soviet navy has modernised at a rapid rate over the past 10 years, but there is no point in exaggerating the extent of the build-up.

I take the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) in the debate yesterday. He made the allegation that between 1964 and 1974 the Soviet navy produced 249 new major combat ships. I am afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not with us today, but when he reads Hansard tomorrow he may wish to consult "The Military Balance" for the current year, which contains a table in an annex which provides the figures for the 10 years 1965 to 1974. In those years the number of ships produced for the Soviet navy was not 249. It was, in fact, 84. In the same 10-year period the NATO countries produced 151 major combat vessels.

The right hon. Member for Farnham is quite right to ask why the Warsaw Pact wants 84 new combat vessels, but someone in the Kremlin, in Warsaw or in East Berlin is also asking why NATO wants 151 major combat vessels. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to go into the Library at the end of the debate and obtain the annual defence posture statement by the American Defence Department, the statement made by Donald Rumsfeld to Congress only in January this year. On pages 155 and 156 of the document he will find the following quotation: Soviet naval peacetime presence increased sharply in the late 1960s but now appears to have stabilised at a level below that of the overall U.S. presence; however, in certain areas such as the Mediterranean the Soviet Union continues to deploy more forces than the United States. When the peacetime fleets of allies on both sides are tallied, it is clear that the U.S. and its allies deploy naval forces in peacetime which are superior to those deployed by the Soviet Union and its allies. That is a quotation from a man who has access to the best intelligence sources in the West. It does not bear out the allegation that the Soviet navy is now in command of most of the world seas.

What I fear is that if both sides adopt a "worst case" analysis of the other side's strength we shall be locked in a spiralling arms race from which we shall not be able to escape. Let me illustrate how this happens. If we look at the figures of NATO's military strength, they exclude the figures of the French military forces. The reason is that France participates in the political organisation of NATO, but has withdrawn its forces from the military command. In examining the situation, it is sensible for us to leave out those French forces from the balance. However, equally any Soviet general contemplating invasion of the West would assume that French forces would be available in those circumstances to assist NATO forces. Conversely, the Warsaw Pact States since 1969 have divided their forces into two contingents, one for territorial defence and another for the Warsaw Pact command. For all I know, Warsaw Pact commanders may look at the forces available to them in the same way as NATO commanders leave out of consideration the French forces—in other words, Warsaw Pact commanders may leave out of account those forces intended for the territorial defence of satellite countries.

Thus, by taking a selective view of their own forces and the forces of an enemy, commanders of both sides are able with sincerity to say to the politicians of both sides that their own forces are inferior, the forces of the other side are superior and, therefore, they must have further military expenditure to bridge the gap. That is what has happened in the past five years.

It is true, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday, that the Soviet military expenditure is increasing. It is also true that military expenditure in Western countries has increased. The hon. Member for Woking referred to the Germans' "White Book" which he found useful. I accept that it gives more information to their House than does our own annual publication. However, one table omitted by the hon. Gentleman shows that German military expenditure has increased by 64 per cent. in five years. Similarly, the Italian military budget has increased by 22 per cent. in recent years, and the United States military procurement budget has increased by a staggering 30 per cent. in one year.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell), who has now left the Chamber, spoke tellingly of the experience of the Second World War, of the country being almost unprepared in a period of appeasement which failed. I address my remarks to my hon. Friend in his absence in a tone of humility because my generation did not live through that period. If I had lived through that period my impression of events would have been more vivid and I might have reached different conclusions. But my hon. Friend must not let the lessons of the Second World War blind him to the lessons of the First World War. In that conflict two world blocs in Europe were locked in armed conflict—not because either side had a political motive or, indeed, a rational diplomatic objective, but because both sides had for so long pursued a competitive arms race that armed conflict became an inevitable product of that race.

I agree with the hon. Member for Woking that we are locked in an East-West arms race. The spectre that haunts me is the prospect that, despite the moves to diplomatic detente, despite the growing trade that exists between the two blocs, we shall find ourselves involved in a final military conflict because we have continued a competitive arms race without seeking to escape from it.

Against that background, I must give grudging congratulations to the Government Front Bench in that its members have not participated in the world lunacy of increasing defence expenditure. Nevertheless, they have not gone far enough. They have not reduced the burden of defence expenditure on public expenditure or industrial strength.

I have time to make only one illustration. I find it significant that we in Britain spend more on research and development on military manufacture than do France and Germany, our two major competitors. At the same time we spend less on research and development in civilian manufactured goods than does France or Germany. It may be that there is no connection and that, even if we were to spend less on military research and development, our investment in civilian research and development would be just as miserable. Surely, however, if we were to reduce the amount of industrial production given over to arms work, we should free skilled resources and investment in research and development. By freeing expensive plant and machinery we could try to make up the leeway lost to our competitors.

If there is a threat to our democratic institutions, I believe that it is not an external but an internal threat. If we fail to solve our economic and industrial problems and to arrest our decline in world export markets in the past decade, this House will be lucky to survive as a democratic institution into the next decade. By maintaining the present large proportion of our industry devoted to armaments we make it that much more difficult to solve these problems of industrial decay. I very much fear that that failure poses the greater threat to our democratic institutions.

6.8 p.m.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) will forgive me if I do not take up his arguments. I am on a somewhat different tack this afternoon.

The White Paper is a false prospectus. It makes the case very vividly about ever-increasing Soviet bloc military strength and then deduces that it is time for us to cut our military strength. The Government motto seems to be "No defence please, we're British". I agree with the White Paper when it says in paragraph 26: The Russians may, however, be tempted to apply other forms of pressure designed, in particular, to influence the political and economic policies of Western European nations". The main point I wish to make is that it is at sea, outside the NATO area, that those "other forms of pressure" can most easily be applied. This can come about because the Soviet Union now has a world-wide oceanic navy. It could harass or interrupt merchant shipping, whether British or the shipping of any Western nation, step by step, without any overt act of war and with minimum risk of escalation—certainly with less risk of escalation than any other form of pressure that could be brought to bear.

It is on the flanks of NATO that the danger is greatest. Yet on the northern flank a civilian car ferry has been brought in for use in a NATO amphibious exercise to contribute to the British lift. This has become known in Service circles as the "Mason-Marsh cut-price cruises". In war this sort of expedient is often necessary, but as a serious long-term contribution to NATO planning such a Heath-Robinson lash-up is deplorable.

On the southern flank, in the Mediterranean, the relative Soviet strength is increasing all the time. Inevitably, there will be a difficult scenario in that part of the world when President Tito of Yugoslavia leaves the scene. Cyprus is our only remaining effective base there. I understand that no fixed-wing aircraft remain in Cyprus. There are no Nimrods and, therefore, there is no effective surveillance of the Mediterranean. Nimrods could fly the length of the Mediterranean in a few hours, as the Minister knows.

Mr. John

Malta is in the Mediterranean.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I am talking about Cyprus.

Mr. John

The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that there was no effective surveillance of the Mediterranean. I was pointing out that the Malta base is still open.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I hope that that will continue to be the case. Will the Minister therefore continue this exchange by assuring the House that surveillance by Nimrods in the Mediterranean will continue whether from Cyprus or from Malta? I am ready to give way to him if he will give that assurance.

Mr. John

The Malta base will close in 1979 at the end of the present agreement, which was negotiated with the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Government.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I have made my point, and the Minister has reinforced the need for surveillance to continue so that we know what our potential enemies are doing in the Mediterranean.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)

Bearing in mind the recent statement by the Foreign Secretary that there is no intention of leaving sovereign base areas in Cyprus, can the Minister assure us that when Malta is closed down we will keep the sovereign bases in Cyprus and Nimrods can operate from there?

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I do not know whether the Minister has anything to say about that.

Mr. Bernard Conlan (Gatsehead, East)

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will explain how that would contribute to the defence of the United Kingdom.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

The hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan) was a member of the Expenditure Committee which in its unanimous Third Report said of Akrotiri airfield: It is indeed a matter for concern that the airfield, formerly the busiest in the RAF, will henceforth be open for only a few hours a day. The strategic reality is that NATO has another flank which is even more vulnerable—the Cape route and the Indian Ocean. In the years since 1964 the policies of the Labour Party have dismantled British maritime power to vanishing point. British merchant shipping is now totally devoid of any protection at all, except in the North Atlantic, and even there the number of escorts is insufficient. The White Paper says smugly: By the end of March, the withdrawal from Gan, Mauritius, and Singapore will be complete. I am pleased to see that the Minister of State has come back into the Chamber, because I want to ask him some specific questions. Who is to take over Gan, and what will happen to the facilities, the runways and all the installations on which a great deal of money has been spent in recent years? What is to stop the Soviets walking in the day after we walk out? Are there any arrangements to alert the Government if they do walk in, or are we going to slink away from it? What is happening to the medical team which has been so helpful in looking after the inhabitants of the neighbouring island? Are they to be withdrawn with the rest of the garrison?

How will alternative communication facilities be provided for those in Mauritius? I imagine that they will go to Diego Garcia, but there is no mention of Diego Garcia in the White Paper.

The Minister of State for Defence (Mr. William Rodgers)

The hon. and gallant Gentleman should read the White Paper more carefully.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I have read it carefully. The index says that there is a reference to Diego Garcia in Chapter 2, paragraph 56, but not a word about Diego Garcia appears in that paragraph. Why are the Government being so coy? I shall "stand easy" while we wait for the Minister.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

You are right, so carry on.

Mr. Speaker

I have not said a word.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Your silence is golden, Mr. Speaker, and so is the Minister's.

Singapore is the hub of the eastern hemisphere, not only for defence purposes but as the key to the vast markets of Asia. Only the British Labour Party wishes us to scuttle away from it.

Perhaps the Minister, now that he has examined the White Paper, will agree that there is no reference to Diego Garcia in it. He can therefore now listen to some of my other questions. I want particularly to ask him what has happened to our commitment to SEATO. What has happened to the five-Power pact in Singapore? What about the Australian and New Zealand view of our withdrawal from Singapore? Have they been consulted? They were, after all, our partners.

Mr. Rodgers

I apologise to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it took me a long time to find the correct reference. It is in Chapter 1, paragraph 56. If the index of the White Paper is found to be inadequate or in error, we shall correct it for the second edition.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

I am glad that the Minister is now happy. He will now be able to pay attention to answering my questions about what has happened to our commitment to SEATO, the five-Power pact and the views of Australia and New Zealand. What reply has been given to the offer by Mr. Malcolm Fraser of facilities at Cockburn Sound for the Royal Navy?

I turn to the Cape route. The Simons-town agreement was entirely to our advantage and it cost us nothing. I can only hope that the South African Government will, in the long run, be generous enough to overlook the insult of our unilateral abrogation and continue to

make available to us the information from their highly efficient command and control maritime headquarters at Silver-mine. Those who have visited it understand that it is of paramount importance, both in peace and war, to the West as a whole.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said yesterday, what is happening in South Africa has changed the whole dimension of the strategic problem that confronts the West. The Government should point out to the newly independent nations of Black Africa that their own future freedom depends upon the security of the trade routes in the seas on both sides of Africa.

I end my speech by referring to hydrography which is a subject which has been debated recently in the House and in the Lords. A resurvey of the vast areas of the oceans all over the world is urgently required, to meet the needs not only of the super-tankers and giant ore carriers with greater draught than previous generations of ships but of oil rigs, both for delivery of the rigs and for their use in exploration.

The Royal Navy hydrographers have a world-wide reputation for skill and accuracy. The Government should use that reputation to build up the hydro-graphic service as an export, contracting it out to other companies and foreign countries if necessary. The White Paper says, at page 46, that: the defence budget cannot continue to finance the survey fleet beyond the level needed to meet the Royal Navy's own requirements. That view is far too restrictive. I suggest that the service be transferred to the Trade and Industry Vote. It should be used as a valuable asset in our export drive but still be run by the Royal Navy.

The job of the forces nowadays is to prevent war and not to wage it. The threat to peace is world-wide. My concern is that our defence policy is much too inward-looking. One thing is certain, and always has been; that the British cannot make a living sitting at home and taking in one another's washing.

6.22 p.m.

Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)

I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) will not expect me to join him in his oceanographie survey.

I always find defence debates difficult, because on the one side there are vast distances and on the other side depth is often not obtained. I wish to be brief, and therefore I shall take only two subjects. One is the background topic of exactly why a Communist threat to our defences has come about. There has been a lot of hot air about the subject from the Opposition Benches.

One of the reasons why Communism is powerful in Southern Africa today has been the abominable conduct of the Portuguese political régime in Mozambique and Angola. One of the reasons why there is a Communist Government in Saigon today is the colonial stupidity of the French and the hamfistedness of the Americans. The areas where we have fortunately managed to contain Communism are those where there has been a thoughtful colonial régime with a long period of training of the people.

In Europe we face the fact that the Soviet Union is the last imperialist Power. One needs only to go to Peking to hear that opinion endorsed. The Soviet Union has to maintain a large army in Europe to keep the Czechs down, to keep the Poles under control and to keep the Hungarians from doing again what they did in 1956. It is the massive weight of Soviet imperialism that is the real danger to the Warsaw Pact.

Coming to details of the defence review, I shall confine myself to the Mediterranean. I was interested in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks about the Mediterranean, which will be a difficult and unpredictable area in the next 12 months. He referred to the time when the ruler of Yugoslavia will depart. There is an interesting sub-plot there, because the Albanians are the strongest allies of the Chinese and they will have different views on what should happen in Yugoslavia.

I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman has noticed that the Soviet navy is now being forced out of Alexandria. Which way will it move? It has new friendships and relationships with Libya. One must ask whether Soviet power could logistically move along the Mediterranean coast. If it does, it will come dangerously close to Malta, where we have friends and a British community.

The whole Mediterranean is in a state of flux. Although a limitation must be put on our forces, the European members of NATO will need to be much more alert to the dangers in the Mediterranean, particularly now that the passage of our ships through the Indian Ocean has recommenced.

We are seeing a change of Government in Madrid. We must all welcome the move towards a more liberal situation in Spain, but we must also notice that comments have been made that there will still be hostility towards Gibraltar. The House has responsibility for the defence of Gibraltar, and we must be careful to give no indication that we might be starting an early slide out. That would have the worst possible effect on the ultimate development of good relations between Gibraltar and Spain and on Spain's eventual incorporation within the European family.

The position of the Soviet fleet as it is pushed out of Egypt is important. The question of new political relations, verging on defence relations, between the Arab nations and Europe will be part of our defence consideration in the years to come.

I have often thought that the Russian and American fleets in the Mediterranean were giant obstructions to peace rather than contributions to peace. We are entering a new era, with the Arab world and the Europeans coming together not for hostility but to preserve the area in safety.

I should like to ask a few questions about Cyprus. The area has not been in the news much lately, except for what we have heard of the tragedies of the refugees on both sides. I have had some knowledge of the territory for 20 years or so. I hope that we may be told about housing for our Services in Episkopi and Dhekelia. Are any of our families still outside the zones? I asked last year whether there was some danger, because it had been suggested that some of the properties might have been looted. What problems are we having with our elements in the United Nations peace-keeping force? We have not heard much about that recently.

On television the other night I saw the refugees arriving in Cyprus from the Lebanon. One is also aware of the refugee problem in Cyprus itself.

I have pressed on previous occasions that we should enlarge the United Nations content in the sovereign base areas with the agreement of all the parties concerned. Much humanitarian work could be done. Excellent, urgently-needed hospital facilities are available in Dhekelia. What thought has been given to their use? There are constantly tragedies around the world, and nobody is ready to deal with them. The sovereign base areas, which have excellent facilities and are stable, could be of assistance.

To sum up, we must look not only at Communism but at what causes it—dissatisfaction, hunger and white racialist superiority. In limited areas such as the Mediterranean things are moving fast. There are some interesting changes there. I should like both the Soviet and the American fleets out of the area, but we must be ready to do what we can within our limited facilities to help keep the peace in the area.

6.29 p.m.

Mr. R. Bonner Pink (Portsmouth, South)

I hope that the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) will forgive me if I do not discuss with him in detail his thoughtful and penetrating analysis of the spread of Communism. Today we are concerned with one particular aspect of its spread—that of defence.

I accept that a large part of the Soviet forces are required to hold down vast areas of the satellite States in Europe, but I do not see how the hon. Gentleman can equate that with the large and rapid build-up of the Soviet navy, particularly its nuclear submarines, which could not be used for that purpose.

I listened to almost the whole of yesterday's debate and during it I noticed, particularly from the winding-up speech by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, that the difficulty in which the Government find themselves is not over defence but how to placate their own left wing and to paper over the ever-widening cracks in the Labour Party. What also emerged is how the balance between the various factions in that party is changing. It is clear from the number who signed the second amendment and the support being given to contenders in another matter that half of the Parliamentary Labour Party are wedded to disarmament, regardless of the risks. I ask those hon. Members to consider what would happen if our defence fell and we lost our sovereignty.

Suppose that we spent the whole of our defence budget on the Welfare State, and suppose that the Warsaw Pact countries moved in—because they are the only people who could possibly want to do so. Do those hon. Members imagine for one minute that we should be allowed to keep the standards of housing, hospitals, education, health and welfare services that we have achieved? Of course not. Our standards would come down to theirs, and we all know that those standards fall very far below even our present standards. All we would achieve in that case would be disaster.

It was said yesterday that the public were beginning to wake up and to question our defence capability, and doubtless the electors will express their concern at the General Election, whether it comes in June, October or later. However, I welcome the Minister's forthright warning on the risks involved in a reduction of our defences. I also welcome his forthright-ness in spelling out in such detail the repercussions on employment from the reductions proposed. I am appalled at the glib complacency of the Government. The figures and diagrams on page 67 of the White Paper underline the dangers and the deficiencies. Instead of strengthening our forces, however, we steadily weaken them. The Government, and at least half of the Labour Party, react only by sticking their heads ever deeper in the sand. The hon. Member for Edinburgh. Central (Mr. Cook) pointed out that other NATO countries were increasing their defences while we were cutting ours. This is a case of "Look at our Willie, he is the only one in step."

Much play was made yesterday of the proportion of our gross national products being spent on defence. The table on page 85 of the White Paper clearly shows one fault in this reasoning: that our productivity per head is abysmally low; and, as one hon. Gentleman so properly pointed out, defence spending cannot possibly be geared to any arbitrary yardstick. It must be geared to our responsibility. No other NATO country has the problems of Ulster, of the cod war or of North Sea oil that we have. No other country is so dependent on international trade and shipping. No other NATO country is so vitally interested in keeping open, and keeping free, the sea lanes of the world.

Yet the Government get more and more isolationist and are putting all their eggs into the NATO basket—and this at the very time when Russia is maintaining a considerable naval force in the Indian Ocean and we are withdrawing from Gan, Mauritius and Singapore. What surer way could there be to lose the confidence of our friends in those areas? There has been such a run-down of our forces that, according to today's Doily Telegraph, the minor problem, in military terms, of the cod war has forced us to cancel naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. But whilst the commitments to protect shipping remain and the threat grows, we cut our forces. Germany, with some 30 operational submarines in 1939. very nearly brought us to our knees. The Russians have over 300 and are building one new nuclear submarine every five weeks.

Mr. Litterick

On his last point, is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Germans fought the Battle of the Atlantic with 30 submarines?

Mr. Pink

I said that the Germans started in 1939 with 30 operational submarines. Of course they built more. I am saying that today Russia has 300 submarines—in round figures 10 times as many—which they could start operating today. We, on the other hand, are reducing not only our fleet but our vital Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft. It is time to realise that although our naval standards are very high, and while our modern frigates may pack more punch than a pre-war battleship, a ship can be in only one place at one time; and however high the standards they cannot always, in every sense, make up for lack of numbers.

Hon. Members have referred to our new commitment to protect our North Sea oil. I presume that the five Island class offshore patrol vessels are for this purpose. I wonder whether we could have some particulars of these ships—their size, tonnage, speed, endurance, complement and armament—and know whether they are to be manned by the Royal Navy or, as I suggested last year, by civilians. I was interested, too, in the proposition posed by the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacCormick) that Polaris submarines might have to be removed from the Clyde. Can the Minister assure me that if this should occur those Polaris submarines will be stationed at Portsmouth and maintained by Portsmouth Dockyard? In conclusion, I condemn the Government for their smug complacency and for putting the defences of this country at risk.

6.38 p.m.

Miss Jo Richardson (Barking)

The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Pink) will forgive me if I do not immediately follow his argument, because I should like to go back to the very interesting and thoughtful analysis of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), who unfortunately has left the Chamber for a few moments, on the reasons for the build-up of Soviet forces, an analysis with which I absolutely agree. It is probably true that that build-up is based on a combination of fear—unnecessary fear, we would hope—a desire to occupy their own people in a way of which nobody in this country would approve, and to blind them to what others can do and want to do.

What worries me about the speeches of some Opposition Members, for example the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), is that they seem to be over-sabre rattling, if I may put it that way. Such speeches can prove dangerous because they alarm people outside and produce a clamour, as it were, for a return to a cold war situation which itself can contribute towards the starting up of a conflict. Again, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central remarked, the arms race itself and the constant fear by one side that the other has a greater build-up of arms can itself possibly result in setting off a conflict.

I am very worried, as are a number of my hon. Friends on this side, that the Defence Estimates have not shown what I consider to be more realistic cuts and have not reduced our arms spending to a greater extent, because it seems to me, and I know that it seems to many people in the Labour movement outside this House, to be not reaching our election commitment that we would reduce our contribution to the level of that of other NATO Governments. We are spending money on defence which ought to be spent on urgent social needs.

It seems extraordinary that within the space of a week or two weeks we should discuss defence expenditure and elderly people dying of hypothermia because they cannot afford to pay their gas or electricity bills and these facilities are cut off. We are also plagued by constituents who are caught in the poverty trap. We are worried about the general level of the minimum wage and the fact that people cannot manage on it. We are worried about the large-scale unemployment from which we are suffering. We are worried because we do not have enough schools to provide a decent education for all our children and we are losing talent that way. We are always on about the lack of a forward-looking National Health Service, which at the moment suffers from a lack of money. I could go on endlessly pointing to areas in the social programme where more money is needed to keep up the present standards.

There seems little point in contributing vastly to a NATO defence system which invites attack on Britain. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may laugh. We are a small island in the middle of and in partnership with a number of other countries. I am not a militarist. I am not a military strategist. [An HON. MEMBER: "Obviously."] Obviously. 3ut let us consider the matter from this point of view. I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen seriously. Britain is a small country which is part, and only part, of a total defence system. We are in isolation, being an island.

Mr. Litterick

We are a sitting duck.

Miss Richardson

My hon. Friend, as usual, has the right words for it. We are a sitting duck. If I were the chap in the Soviet Union with his finger on the button, I should say to myself "Let us get rid of Great Britain. It will be short, sharp and quick. It will then be out of the way, and we shall have only the rest to deal with." That is how it seems to me. That is why I say that our possession of nuclear weapons and our involvement with our NATO partners in this defence system invites attack rather than defence against attack. I believe that our vast contribution to NATO is unwarranted when it is at the expense of the comfort and warmth of elderly people, of men and women who are out of work and of people who are badly housed. The contribution is not worth the sacrifice which we have to make.

I accept that an enormous cut in our defence bill would not overnight solve all our social needs. It would be ridiculous to expect the effect to show right away. However, if we made a much larger cut it would enable us to take a more realistic view of the resultant prospects for industrial expansion and of the chances of a better standard of living.

Some hon. Members have made much about workers' fears regarding unemployment as a result of arms cuts. We all recognise that fear. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, in his winding-up speech last night—I was not present to hear his speech, but I have read it with great care—said that those who advocate large-scale job losses: should always have positive, detailed and convincing plans for the constructive redeployment of the human resources involved."—[Official Report, 31st March 1976; Vol. 908. c. 1431.] I accept that.

I should like the Minister to tell me whether he and his Department, or other Departments, have made an attempt to have a meaningful discussion with workers in some of the arms industries who themselves are making attempts to consider what alternative plans could be made. Sophisticated proposals which have been made should not be tossed off merely because they come from people on the shop floor. Such proposals ought to be taken seriously. I should like to know whether any of those plans have been discussed with or separately from the people who have drawn them up. My guess, regretfully, is that no meaningful discussions have taken place.

Mr. Conlan

Last week I met some shop stewards from a factory in my constituency which manufactures highly sophisticated radar equipment. They were condemning the Labour Government for forbidding them from exporting their products to South Africa. How does one answer that kind of criticism by workers who want to export their products to South Africa?

Miss Richardson

Their feeling is based purely on fear of losing their jobs. Not every factory has plans worked out on the shop floor for turning to more peaceful production. However, I should be prepared to bet anything that, if those workers had the chance of exporting to some country—not South Africa—products for peaceful use, they would prefer to do that to what they are doing at present. We must consider this situation seriously and try to work it out with the workers concerned. I admire those who have already considered alternative proposals. After all, the people on the shop floor know their machines and what those machines could be used for.

My view on defence and on our membership of NATO is probably not shared by more than a handful of my colleagues, even in the Tribune Group. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) last night said that he started with a handful of supporters on this matter and ended up with over 100. I hope that we shall do the same on the question of NATO. I believe that we should be in a far stronger position in the long run if we announced that we were eventually to withdraw from NATO altogether and were to consider what forces we needed in order to act independently. We should follow the role of Sweden and other countries. That is the role for Britain in future. If we announced our withdrawal from NATO and took advantage of the sophisticated thinking about which I have just been talking in terms of turning our production from arms to peacful products, we would have a chance of getting somewhere.

Furthermore, contrary to what most Opposition Members think, this perhaps startling approach would cut through the proliferation of committees and talks which leave ordinary people in a daze about where we are in world moves towards disarmament. Britain is a party to SALT, to test-ban agreements and to discussion of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear weapon-free zones, mutual force reductions and loads of other proposals. Where has it all got us? As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central said, very often one can believe that the people who are involved in those talks are the wrong people to be discussing the question of disarmament because they have an inbuilt resistance to bringing down the edifice which they have built up.

Our rôle ought to be to ensure that the follow-up to Helsinki should be to try to effect the setting up of a replacement for NATO and the Warsaw Pact—which in my opinion are six of one and half a dozen of the other—to which all European Governments could belong, so as to build up a genuine understanding, because under the present system we cannot be independent and we cannot make our voice heard. We trail, as always, behind the United States.

Two hon. Gentlemen this evening have mentioned Cyprus in different contexts. I want to mention Cyprus, but in a third context. The United Kingdom is a signatory to guarantees over Cyprus. What now is to be our attitude to the new Turkish-American defence agreement, which may well ensure that the formerly independent island of Cyprus, where Greeks and Turks lived peaceably side by side, may not get the chance, because of this new arms agreement, to return to its independence? Are we to be able to object or must we, because of our partnership in NATO, take lying down what the United States does and, therefore, retreat from our obligations to Cyprus?

I repeat that I would have preferred a much greater cut in our defence spending and a much greater positive step towards independent thinking of our defence policy and in our foreign policy. I hope that we shall go on and gather strength on this side and that eventually our own Front Bench will come to see the sense of what we are saying.

6.53 p.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

In his consultative paper of 1972 on the future of Northern Ireland my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) defined "three major concerns" of the British Government in that tortured Province. The third was that Northern Ireland should not offer a base for any external threat to the security of the United Kingdom". The hon. Lady the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) wants cuts and more cuts and she wants our withdrawal from NATO at a time when Soviet naval striking forces infest the coasts of Northern Europe and threaten our communications with North America, and one presumed object of those Soviet warships is the neutralisation of the sea-borne nuclear deterrent of the United States.

Shall we one day see Soviet warships in Lough Foyle? Only, I think, if the sort of doctrine the hon. Lady advocates were to prevail or if the "troops out" movement were to succeed in its squalid agitation and the Government were to weaken and surrender to anarchy what have again become what Churchill described as the sentinel towers of the Western Approaches. The Under-Secretary paid tribute to the young soldiers recently fallen in County Armagh and Craigavon, and no words can do justice to the professional skill, patient constancy and chivalrous restraint of the Regular soldiers, the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Marines in Northern Ireland. Nor should we forget to acknowledge the vigilance of Her Majesty's ships and aircraft in the Ulster seas and skies.

On this side of the House we have repeatedly pledged support to the Government for all-out war on all terrorists whatever cause or colour they use to hide their criminal and sometimes highly profitable activities. At the same time, the Opposition have the duty to criticise what they have considered at times to be a flabby political direction of operations. There is legally no state of war and one understands that excessive military response to terrorist challenge can estrange those we seek to liberate from the reign of terror, whether in South Armagh or the housing estates of Belfast and Londonderry. Subtlety must march with strength. But after many tours of the Province, the latest just concluded, I regret that I am still looking for evidence of a comprehensive operational plan.

It does not appear that victory is being organised in Northern Ireland with the same continuity, co-ordination and drive that eventually prevailed in, for example, Malaya under Templar. Northern Ireland is not a colony; it is part of the homeland, so one would have expected an assault upon lawful authority and civilised society there to have been met with clearer and firmer political direction.

This war—and I am using the word loosely—is an intelligence war. It has been said that a conventional war is a war in which one is concerned to fight the enemy, but in this sort of war one is concerned to find the enemy.

Subtract the phrase-mongering and sabre-rattling of the Prime Minister and one must acclaim his decision to dispatch the SAS to the "special emergency area" of South Armagh. Someone down there said to me that he had never seen the SAS. That is just as well, but to judge by Republican leaflets I have seen distributed around Bessbrook and Cross-maglen the SAS is held in healthy respect. Particularly in the border area, a permanent intelligence base is all-important.

But I wonder—and I do not expect an answer on the Floor of the House—how intimate is the partnership of all the intelligence gatherers, the military, the CID and the Special Branch. If there is, as I believe, a case for a permanent intelligence base, is there perhaps a case also for a more permanent structure of operational command?

The Royal Ulster Constabulary has police functions, functions which are distinct from security work, although it is also involved in security work. But I find it surprising that in a given police division and brigade area there are no combined operations rooms for the security forces as a whole. The criticism is often heard in Northern Ireland that the population, including sections from whom one expects leadership in times of trouble, is insufficiently involved in the defence of Ulster.

I wish that the defence White Paper had said more about the Ulster Defence Regiment. It merits more publicity; it should be better known. It has an admirable magazine called Defence but the media are slow to present in human terms the public spirit and sheer cold courage of the men and women who sacrifice their leisure and sometimes their lives, and I would make particular mention of the Roman Catholic members, who stand up to very special intimidation.

We on this side renew our long-standing proposal, which we have been making for years now, for a full-time company in each UDR battalion. It is often suggested that more of the officers seconded from the Regular Army to the UDR should have Northern Ireland experience. Whether or not it is right to exclude the Irish Guards and Irish regiments of the line from Service in Northern Ireland, officers from such units may well be suitable for secondment to the UDR. I also wonder whether we could have any figures showing how many Ulster territorials have availed themselves of the option of serving with the UDR, although it is understood that Territorial units in Northern Ireland cannot be used for security duties.

Is the Ministry of Defence satisfied with the number of troops in Northern Ireland? The statistics for January and February indicate no lessening of the various forms of political and criminal violence. Then one is forced to ask the question which has been asked already—where are the reserves? That is one of the grounds on which we condemn the defence White Paper.

It is a poor compliment to our soldiers to dismiss the Provisional IRA as merely a Mafia of psychopaths, criminals and hooligans. The Provos are one of the most experienced terrorist groups in the world. They make sophisticated use for their propaganda of our pliant sensation-seeking media. Yet their defeat is inevitable now that Dublin has determined to destroy them, always provided that we in Britain will it. The attitude of Sir Robert Mark to the Balcombe Street gang was correct. He said that they were going nowhere. Other revolutionary guerrillas have prevailed where they have enjoyed or extorted the support or acquiescence of a mass population. But the IRA is today utterly rejected in every poll and election on both sides of the Irish border.

What, however, gives hope from time to time to the violent and tempts the law-abiding to despair are such manifestations of weakness as the purposeless parleys with the political wings of para-military organisations——

Mr. Litterick

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman's speech, and I find it very difficult to discover its relevance to the subject of this debate—namely, the White Paper "Statement on the Defence Estimates".

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

I think that we must allow the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) to develop his argument in his own way.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I was devoting my few remarks, which I am about to conclude, to the only theatre in which Her Majesty's Forces are fighting. That surely is relevant to this debate. It is the only theatre in which members of Her Majesty's Forces are laying down their lives, and it is highly relevant.

There is no room for negotiation between those who stand for the Union and those who demand capitulation. Any ministerial equivocation can only damage morale and destroy confidence in Northern Ireland. It is resented in Dublin, where people understand such matters. It is an affront to the nation and to the men in the Services who make such sacrifices on our behalf.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

The Secretary of State for Defence has an unenviable task. He faces an Opposition who maintain vehemently that this Government's actions are endangering national defence and jeopardising the Alliance. Behind him, there are those who claim that what the Government are doing is in flagrant breach of the manifesto, and they are diverting scarce resources away from more deserving areas and that, far from cutting expenditure, they are increasing it. But if pressures inside this House are intense, I suspect that the pressures to which my right hon. Friend is exposed outside are infinitely greater.

The level of defence expenditure in this country, as in any other country, appears to be a function of the perception of the extent and form of the external threat. There are some who see the threat and over-react. There are others who under-react. The Government have the task of striking a balance and of asking themselves at what level expenditure should be pitched in the national and international circumstances prevailing at that time.

If the Government gauge too high and we have "too much defence", there will be a waste of resources and society will suffer an unnecessary loss of living standards. If they gauge too low, the consequences can be disastrous.

It is probable that we have now reached a level where any further substantial cuts would be injurious to our Alliance. Politically, we have our defence expenditure as low as we can get away with in terms of our international obligations. But, arguably, the level of expenditure is too high to be sustained by our present economy. For that reason, a political and an economic judgment has to be made and a balance has to be struck.

In a democracy, taxpayers do not want to keep on spending large sums of money on armed forces unless they can perceive a threat, and the fact is that, despite the efforts of certain people, Europeans patently do not feel threatened.

These have been good years, despite occasional dangers and flare-ups throughout the world. If one contrasts the time now with the days of the cold war, these have been years of relative peace. When we live in times of inflation and industrial stagnation, internal considerations are paramount and people see far more value to be gained from spending scarce resources on health and welfare. Top priority is not given to defence by many people. In those circumstances, if we are not to increase expenditure I hope that we can get better value for money. I think that the White Paper is a step in this direction.

The military and certain politicians in the free world—and in the unfree world—have a vested interest in magnifying the threat posed by their opponents. Any militarist seeking money will ensure that the public feel that the enemy they face is 25 ft. high. If we live in circumstances where there is no obvious and real threat, one has to be erected.

There is cause for concern, and in a lucid way my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained yesterday what these dangers to the Western Alliance were. Those who howl and cry that very soon we shall have Admiral Gorshkov arriving up the Thames have to ask themselves whether what they are going is not counter-productive. They may be helping to create an inferiority complex which can be far more damaging, and that is what has been happening.

There must be a public debate, and I welcome it. But this debate must take place in a rational arena and not in a hysterical one. We should not be stampeded and terrified into vast armaments programmes, and neither should we be stampeded into abandoning what defence we have at the moment.

Many fears have been raised. Perhaps Lord Chalfont epitomised them in a recent article in The Times with a diagram indicating a rather modern version of the Schlieffen plan, with arrows centering on the heart of Europe from the East. His argument is that the Western Alliance is so weak that it is becoming more and more attractive to Soviet planners to think about piercing these defences and destroying our military capabilities.

I believe, further, that there are many people who fear that the Government are letting down our Western Allies. We are told of the enormous threat posed by the Warsaw Pact with its economic and military strength, and time and time again we are told about the weakness of the NATO Alliance. We must try to strip away from the debate the propaganda and the value judgments.

A number of sophisticated arguments have been advanced indicating that the threat is not as considerable as some Opposition Members make out. On the other hand, I do not wish to give the impression that I, like the Government, regard the present situation with any complacency.

NATO is not about to be struck a mortal blow. I refer to a recent article in a journal called NATO Review by the Defence Correspondent of the Economist, James Meacham. Neither the Economist nor the NATO Review is regarded as a subversive piece of literature. Mr. Meacham's article, published October 1975, was headed Weakness of the central front but not a case for major surgery". He said: NATO today could probably fight the Warsaw Pact to a standstill in a conventional war in Central Europe. Its forces are large enough, although not as large as they should be; its equipment is better, although not as good as it should be for the money that is spent on it; and its disposition is at least adequate, if not ideal…Although the Warsaw Pact's numerical superiority is clear, it is by no means overwhelming. If it should succeed in concentrating a superior force, say 3 or 4 to 1, in a small area, it could very likely achieve breakthrough. But presumably NATO commanders would be doing something to redress the balance. NATO's equipment is, by and large, a lot better than the Warsaw Pact's. We do not need to match the Soviets soldier for soldier or tank for tank. We are already operating within a defensive situation and do not, therefore, require parity of forces.

The article is far from complacent and its conclusion points to the fact that, if we over-emphasise the weakness, or the perceived weakness, of the central front, it Will cause despair and an even greater reliance on nuclear weapons instead of encouraging improvements along the front that would make the Alliance's conventional forces into a major deterrent. One can go to another source, namely James Schlesinger, the Secretary for Defence, in the annual Defence Department report published last year, again an objective analysis, in which he says: As matters now stand NATO has the capability and the resources to attain a more equal balance with the Pact even though it deploys a smaller number of divisions and certain serious vulnerabilities that we are working to correct. When he looks at the naval situation, he says—bearing in mind some hon. Members' fears of the Soviet naval buildup: …if our naval modernisation programmes are approved by the Congress, I am reasonably confident that the United States, together with its allies, will remain able to defend the essential sea lanes in the Atlantic and Pacific, project power ashore under a wide range of circumstances, continue a strong deployed naval presence, and maintain the necessary maritime balance with the Soviet Union and its clients. There are other examples indicating that the situation is not as horrific as some hon. Members maintain. I should like to quote, as has been done by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), another unbiased journal The Military Balance, published by the Institute of Strategic Studies. It emphasises the point I am making. If we are deficient in terms of front-line forces, I hardly think that there will be a sudden attack without warning as a result of NATO's spy network or an air reconnaissance. Clearly warning will be given, known as "political warning time", and any deficiency there may be can easily be remedied by a deployment of reserve forces.

The book talks about differences in ground formation, manpower, reinforcements and equipment, but these are not insurmountable. It says: First, the overall balance is such as to make military aggression appear unattractive. The defences are of such a size and quality that any attempt to breach them would require major attack. The consequences for an attacker would be incalculable, and the risks, including that of nuclear escalation, must impose caution.…NATO has emphasised quality, particularly in equipment and training, to offset numbers". Clearly there are numerous instances which could have been cited which indicate that the Western defence system is adequate to meet the demands placed upon it. Indeed there are difficulties, but nevertheless it is obvious that the West is not badly overmatched. There is no reason to assume that the analysis of Lord Chalfont about Soviet forces piercing their way into Europe is a realistic scenario.

One must recognise that the Soviet forces are being built up, as, indeed, are Western forces, but one must not be panicked. Let us look at this from the other side of the coin. We are used to referring in this House to the strength of the Warsaw Pact, but we spend less time looking at its weaknesses. The Warsaw Pact countries and the Soviet citizens will probably be looking less at NATO's weaknesses than at its strengths, and, indeed, it is a formidable strength despite the differences between members of the Alliance, despite the different historical traditions and despite the fact that over the last centuries we have been fighting each other. Despite internal problems, the Alliance has held together and, indeed, America has had no need to invade Western Europe as the Soviet Union had to invade Hungary and Czechoslovakia to maintain the alliance's unity.

Despite the strains placed upon it, there has been no major war and the Alliance has held secure. Many argue the need for increased conventional forces and, quite clearly, the larger the conventional forces the slower will be the escalation. Conversely, the smaller the conventional forces the quicker might be the climb to a form of mass annihilation.

I believe that there is a third way of looking at the current situation. That is that the Western Alliance is a powerful alliance possessing numerous destructive capabilities and the power to destroy an enemy, real or imagined, time and time again. I believe we should not assume that the Warsaw Pact is insuperable and that the Western Alliance is crumbling and that, therefore, we need to inject vast additional resources to prop up the system and maintain parity. I believe that the strength of the Western Alliance is considerable. One must bear this constantly in mind and not appear defeatist or alarmist.

I remember travelling to Berlin by aircraft, looking out and seeing the low land and saying how easy it was for Napoleon to go from France into Russia. Quite clearly, the Soviet Union throughout its history feels threatened not by the West alone but by China. What if Ronald Reagan becomes President? What if, God forbid, the Leader of the Opposition is the next Prime Minister? What if the Christian Democrats come to power in West Germany? There are other circumstances which might force the Russians to realise that they need to maintain parity.

Let us not forget—it appears to have been forgotten in this debate—about détente. Just because Gerald Ford decides to drop the word does not mean that we should forget what progress has been made. The alternative to détente is a return to the cold war. There has been progress. There has been no major confrontation between the NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact. Let us not forget about the progress which has taken place in the SALT negotiations, the MBFR negotiations and the negotiations at the Helsinki Conference. There is a much better chance of a reduction in forces now that we have reached a situation of equilibrium.

The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said in a lecture to the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies: We have taken it more or less for granted for years that the military balance of power would certainly be to the advantage of the West". We have in the past had an enormous superiority. The Russians, for their own reason, wish to close that gap. There is no God-given reason why we should expect to maintain this great military superiority over the Soviet Union. I believe that we have now reached a position of parity. We now have an opportunity to start force reductions, which is much better in this situation from a position of strength than from a position of inferiority.

In conclusion, I look forward to the day when the NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact will be rendered superfluous. I regret that in the immediate future this is likely to be an impossible dream, and until that dawn arises I hope that the efforts of our Government in maintaining our defence and in maintaining their Alliance with NATO, upon which our futures depend, will continue. It is only, regrettably, as a result of military alliances and parity between them that we are likely to see the general folly of our ways and bring about a reduction of forces and disarmament which can bring nothing but benefit to ordinary working people.

7.20 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Pattie (Chertsey and Walton)

I am very grateful for having caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, having sat through the debate yesterday when many were chosen but few were called. I hope that the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) will forgive me if I do not follow his argument too closely, save to say that many hon. Members, probably on both sides, tend to make the mistake in defence debates of looking entirely at the numbers game instead of considering the composition and the mix of the Soviet Union's forces. I would refer him in this context to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) about the production of Soviet submarines and similar naval vessels.

The White Paper identifies the threat as correctly as its predecessor did a year ago. The Government still stoutly maintain that they are keeping up their contribution to NATO. The rhetoric may still be there, but it seems to be diverging from reality. The White Paper says on page 9: It is, therefore, NATO's strategy, if deterrence fails, to meet aggression with a defence tailored to the situation, selecting a suitable level of response from a wide range of options to restore the territorial and maritime integrity of the Alliance. The knowledge that NATO has a realistic strategy of this kind is itself an important element in deterrence. I hope that the Russians find that as convincing as some of us find it unconvincing.

The Under-Secretary today spent a good deal of time demolishing the credibility of the article produced by a Belgian brigadier, on which a piece appeared in The Times. It is true that that paper was written some years ago and was meant as a treatise for an intellectual group. But what the Minister did not mention is that the German General Johannes Steinhoff, not some years ago but in the past few weeks, produced a book substantially confirming that diagnosis.

The significance of General Steinhoff's book, which has been serialised in Die Welt, is not so much that it confirms the speed and depth of a possible Soviet thrust but rather that it asks what NATO will do to meet the challenge. He says that if NATO wants to reduce the nuclear risk, …they must be ready to fight a long conventional war, and provide the necessary numbers of well-trained and equipped ready troops stationed close to the frontier, together with adequate reserves. If, for economy reasons, they are not prepared to do this, they must accept that the only alternative is to be ready to make early use of nuclear weapons—with all the necessary arrangements for rapid and unanimous decisions. What he is saying is that, at the moment, we are doing neither.

In these days of economic difficulties, any White Paper obviously has a lot to do with expenditure. Every hon. Member who wants to see any defence expenditure at all wants to see the best possible value for the money we spend. On this point I should have no problem with the rationalisation of defence research establishments set out in the White Paper. Some of them have become rather over-established in recent years.

On the question of major force improvements, I note with interest that the Army is likely to receive in the forthcoming year an armoured bridge-laying and recovery vehicle based on the Chieftain tank. Anyone who takes an interest in the findings of the Public Accounts Committee might care to read the cautionary history of the Chieftain tank engine and the bulldozer kit attached to the Chieftain tank, which took eight years to get into service. The engine had to be designed to fit the hole left for it after the hull had been constructed out of phase with the engine itself. If that kind of thing is to go on, the Russians have nothing to fear.

One notices also that we are reducing our number of mine counter-measure vessels at the very time when the Russians are increasing their mine-laying capacity. Several people who are expert in these matters feel that the Soviet Union in future hostilities may try to bottle up our forces in various ports. It would seem to be foolish to be reducing our mine counter-measure forces at this stage, therefore.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) spoke about the memorandum of understanding. The Minister of State will know the interest that I take in equipment matters. As equipment is more than a third of the budget, we should make some reference to it in this debate. I understand that the memorandum of understanding which was signed last September following the Harpoon purchase has identified 13 projects in Britain and a further 37 in the rest of Europe, but that this list has not yet been made known to British industrialists.

Will that list be circulated, particularly since the Secretary of State supports the NATO Industrialist Advisory Group, which has recently set up a body parallel to the European Programme Group, which, as the White Paper says, has been established in Rome on 1st and 2nd February this year? The Government must accept the importance of, and put still greater emphasis on, European industrial co-operation. We shall not be able to do so if we allow the United States to make a series of separate bilateral memoranda of understanding under which they can then play off one European nation against another. That can have unfortunate consequences.

My hon. Friends will be relieved to know that I shall not detain them too long by launching into a great treatise on standardisation, because we all know that the case has been made and accepted in most quarters. But it is another thing if we are to be the nation which makes a series of empty gestures in favour of specific items of standardisation ahead of any specified agreement with our European partners. Above all, it would be nothing short of deplorable for any Government to enter any purchase agreement without adequate reciprocal purchases being agreed at the time that the purchase is made.

I still feel that I have to accuse this Government of absurd naivety in cancelling the British under-sea guided weapon before they entered negotiations to buy the United States Sub-Harpoon weapon. The offset arrangements mentioned on that occasion and many times since tend to include such things as the Harrier project, which have a curious habit of turning up again and again when the United States wishes to give examples of its readiness to buy from the United Kingdom. At the time of the Harpoon agreement the Minister of State, I think, gave the news to the House that the Franco-German Milan anti-tank missile had been purchased.

I was very glad that the Secretary of State, who, I am glad to see, has joined us again, included in the Milan agreement the phrase, "if the terms are right". Does he still think that the terms are right in view of the subsequent escalation of the price from the French?

We had an exchange earlier today on the AWACS, but in the interests of time I shall not go over it again. I am totally unconvinced that this system will be worth the huge amount that we shall be called upon to pay, particularly when the Germans are reluctant to enter this programme and we are developing our own programme.

Any defence review will necessarily be largely involved with matters of detail. When we pass from the broad strategy we come to a series of detailed matters. I shall briefly refer to a few of the details.

In page 50 of the White Paper we read of the new offshore patrol vessels that are on order. By no means am I the first person to point to offshore protection as being a vital matter for the future. It is vital for our oil rigs, and it is also vital if we are to take out 200-mile zones. I am concerned that we may have ordered vessels that are not fast enough to do the job. I am concerned about whether they are carrying the proper sort of equipment.

Is the Minister of State able to assure the House that the protection vessels will be quick enough for patrolling and policing work and offshore protection? Will they have helicopter-carrying capacity? Lighter vessels are now under development that carry helicopters. The Minister of State does not need me to tell him that a helicopter with a missile-carrying capacity on a very fast small boat would be a potent defence measure for offshore facilities.

In page 46 we read about the Hydrography Service. It seems that the Government cannot continue to finance the survey fleet beyond the immediate requirements of the Royal Navy. There is an important point of principle which is linked, although not in a geographical sense, with the provision of the Gurkha brigade in Brunei. If a foreign Power is prepared to pay for one of our Services I very much hope that we shall maintain it and receive the money.

I thought that yesterday the Secretary of State made a rather misleading remark—I am sure that he did not do so deliberately—about the TAVR. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of 250,000 reservists who are to be drawn upon for essential tasks. That is the sort of remark that is guaranteed to bring a warm glow of comfort to those outside the Chamber. In a period of rapidly changing technological skills. I wonder how well trained those people can be. Probably many of them have not been in uniform for some considerable time. The figure to which the right hon. Gentleman refers needs examining.

In the TAVR there are what are known as sponsor units. I am not certain about the origin of the word "sponsor". The units consist of those who are employed on specialised logistic works. The House may not be aware that the establishment of officers on 1st April 1975 was 1,267 and that the strength was 1,104. The establishment of other ranks was 9,490 and the strength was 5,730.

I hope that the Government will give the necessary encouragement to recruiting up to full strength the skilled and essential people to operate in the sponsored units. They are the people who will have to go at short notice to BAOR in the event of an outbreak of hostilities, whether or not the atack is a surprise attack. Clearly, we should not have long to reinforce the front line.

There is now a need for a long period of consolidation and stability that will give the opportunity for the defence forces to increase their efficiency and moral.

7.35 p.m.

Mr. John Carson (Belfast, North)

I hope that the hon. Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) will forgive me if I do not take up his observations.

I welcome the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this debate. Proportionately, Northern Ireland has suffered more from the closing of maintenance establishments than any other area of the United Kingdom. However, I do not wish to debate that issue as my hon. Friends and I have already expressed our views in a previous debate. Northern Ireland has lost over 2,000 skilled jobs.

I find it hard to reconcile the views of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) about the redundancies that have resulted from the closures with his decision to join 82 hon. Members in an amendment that demands even greater defence cuts. I hope that the people and the trade union movement of Northern Ireland can understand his actions. I find it extremely difficult to accept them.

Although we shall be unable to support the Government motion because of the effect of the Governmen's policy in Northern Ireland, we give an extremely warm welcome to its concluding remarks—namely: thereby maintaining the British contribution to NATO, the security and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and, most important of all, and peace in Northern Ireland. It is seldom that the Government make a statement that we so fully support and endorse.

I condemn the murders of the three soldiers in Northern Ireland last night. I express my deep sympathy for the families who have been bereaved, and I offer them my prayers. As for the fourth soldier who was so seriously injured, we wish and pray for a speedy recovery.

I remind the House that the vice-president of the Provisional IRA, Mrs. Maire Drumm, is just as guilty of the murders of the three British soldiers in South Armagh as the man who laid the landmine. Mrs. Drumm, a woman who calls herself a mother, has the blood on her hands of the sons of mothers and the fathers of young children.

I dissociate myself from the members of political groups, irrespective of which part of the community they come from, who question the integrity and ability of the soldiers serving in Northern Ireland. I congratulate them and pay tribute to the tremendous task that they carry out. I congratulate all the security forces now operating in Northern Ireland.

I shall concentrate a few remarks on the Ulster Defence Regiment. I am delighted to see that the Government have paid tribute to the regiment in Chapter IV, paragraph 4. The paragraph reads: The part-time Ulster Defence Regiment continues to play a full and active part in operations in Northern Ireland and has had an encouraging number of successes in recent months.…The Regiment will remain a vital part of the Security Forces in Northern Ireland for the foreseeable future. I thank the Government for the compliment that they have paid to the regiment.

Recently I was rather saddened by a reply that was made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to a question about the Ulster Defence Regiment. I know that the right hon. Gentleman did not really mean what he said.

The Secretary of State said in February: The GOC has the right to deploy his forces where he wills, but it would be wrong to deploy the UDR in some Catholic areas, because of the sectarian break-down of the UDR That is no criticism of the UDR."—[Official Report, 19th February 1976; Vol. 905, c. 1471.] Unfortunately, some people in Northern Ireland, including members of the UDR, got the impression that he was implying that the regiment was a sectarian force. I do not believe for one second that he meant to refer to it in that way and I should like the record to be put straight so that the people of Northern Ireland may realise the UDR is not a sectarian force.

I pay tribute to those members of the minority who have joined the regiment. I urge others to join if they want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom and to help achieve justice, peace and stability for all.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said in a very able speech, as usual, last month: The whole operation has to be seen less as a military operation than as a police operation, and increasingly the UDR and the Army must be part of a strategy which is a police strategy because it is based upon tapping those resources and using those tactics which are essentially police resources and police tactics."—[Official Report, 25th March 1976; Vol. 908, c. 702.] I appeal to the Minister to consider attaching a full-time company of the UDR to every battalion in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is a small Principality of only 1½ million people, but it is a large area and I do not have to tell hon. Members about the length of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the difficulty security forces have, with the numbers at their disposal, to guard the border and be in every other part of Northern Ireland as well. The establishment of full-time companies of the UDR would strengthen the hard-worked security forces and the RUC. When serious rioting or other emergencies occurred, these full-time companies would be able to assist in the operations of the security forces.

Most important of all, it is essential to have a full-time company of the UDR in the border areas where much of the terrorist activity is now taking place.

7.44 p.m.

Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

I regret that the Statement on the Defence Estimates, instead of reducing the current arms bill, in fact increases it, that it abandons Labour's election commitment to reduce the proportion of the gross national product devoted to arms to the level of the other European NATO Governments, and that it diverts money and resources which are urgently needed for housing, health social services and the re-equipment of industry.

The Secretary of State advised us yesterday that he was saving £470 million on projected expenditure this year. If the public were inclined to read his remarks or listen to his remarks carelessly, they might have overlooked the word "projected". He was talking about future planned increases in armaments expenditure and not absolute reductions in defence expenditure.

At the risk of boring the House a little more, I must quote from the expenditure estimates we debated only two weeks ago. In the table 4(1) on page 132 of the Statement we are told that armaments expenditure for 1974–75 was £5,151 million, that for 1975–76 it would be £5,403 million, for 1976–77 £5,492 million, for 1977–78 £5,535 million, for 1978–79 £5,559 million and for 1979–80 £5,627 million. These figures are all stated in common terms so they are directly comparable. They represent a continually increasing level of defence expenditure for the rest of the decade—no cuts.

This is disappointing. At least the Government are not planning to increase defence expenditure by very much, but this is a long way from saying they are cutting defence expenditure; they are not.

The basis of our policy was the average proportion of GNP being spent by other members of NATO in Western Europe on defence. This figure will not be achieved by the end of the decade.

Hon. Members will have noticed that the tendency is for our GNP not to increase, but to contract. The apparent stability of our defence expenditure in absolute terms actually represents an increasing proportion of GNP. I said in the last defence debate that this would happen and it has come to pass.

My constituents, many of whom live in blighted, run-down areas and who have been waiting for years for many different kinds of social expenditure to alleviate the conditions in which they live, in places like Stirchley and Bournbrook in Selly Oak will derive no pleasure from these Estimates because they are being asked to sustain a wholly unrealistic burden of armaments expenditure while enduring unprecedented cuts in social expenditure. They will also note that the Conservative Party advocates further cuts in social expenditure and further increases in defence expenditure. They know there is a trade-off going on in inflation and unemployment and in arms expenditure and social expenditure. They are quite capable of making the right kind of judgment. They know what armaments are for: they are for killing people and destroying their houses. They know that social expenditure is for schools, houses, roads, social security and so on.

Like many of my hon. Friends, hundreds of thousands of people within the Labour Party and millions who voted for the Labour Government, I was looking for a significant reduction in absolute terms in armaments expenditure. It is not good enough for the Government to plead in self-defence that we are unrealistic. That commitment was explicitly entered into by the Labour Party. It does not matter how my hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench wrap it up: the commitment framed in terms of the gross national product relationship is not being met.

The Government say in their defence that the cuts which we demand would cause unemployment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) said, other voices outside the House are replying to that argument. I commend to my right hon. Friends the propositions put forward by the workers of Lucas Aerospace who have worked out an armaments substitute production strategy in which workers use their sophisticated skills to produce useful articles which do not threaten anyone, thus maintaining work and sensible economic activity in place of a destructive, wasteful and wholly inflationary economic activity.

Unfortunately, in spite of the widespread use of the current cant word "participation", no one wants to listen to embarrassing policy statements such as those which have emerged from the workers of Lucas Aerospace, because the paranoia which underlies our arms strategy might be challenged by the voice of sanity, peace and hope for the rest of humanity.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) dealt a blow to the basically irrational fears of the "boom-boom" politicians who are strong on the Opposition Benches. They are happy only when they know that more guns are being made and more soldiers are being placed at the ready to frighten someone else and thus their irrational fears will be justified. My hon. Friend offered facts from impeccable sources. He said that references to the colossal, monolithic, frightening, overwhelming superiority of the arms held by the Russians were not true. I would like to add my small mite of fact by quoting the persuasive authority of General George S. Brown, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently said: in Northern, Central and Southern Europe national ground forces were for NATO 1.78 million and for the Warsaw Pact countries 1.62 million. That statement, made by a senior American military authority, runs counter to the panic-mongering speeches made by speaker after speaker on the Opposition Benches.

To his credit, the Secretary of State is convinced that no one in official circles really believes that the Russians are imminently coming. So many years after the war it is of some comfort that someone in official life is not prepared to be wholly panicked out of his wits.

Mr. Hamish Watt (Banff)

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that we can draw some comfort from the fact that the Russians are short of food and that any nation that cannot feed itself must think twice before going to war with anyone?

Mr. Litterick

I find it difficult to draw comfort from the fact that anyone is short of food. That an hon. Member can derive comfort from such a fact is bleakly disappointing.

The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) said that the significance of the battle tank in modern warfare was declining rapidly and that the lesson of the Yom Kippur war was that the tank was on the way out. I agree with him. The American experience in Vietnam also suggests that the infantryman has come back into his own. That war taught the Americans the modern infantryman's capability to withstand a colossal onslaught by advanced technology and to come up shooting at the end. The Vietnam war was won by the infantry. A country which relies on battle tanks as its main weapon is relying on obsolete technology and is doing what States and military establishments so often do—planning for the last war That is invariably a mistake.

The Secretary of State informs us that one of the areas of massive superiority of NATO forces is in anti-tank weaponry. I am much encouraged by that. Our superiority over the Russians in antitank weaponry is in the ratio of two to one. That makes sense. I only wish that we would contemplate reducing our tank forces quickly, because they are so vulnerable to well-equipped infantrymen.

I am informed that the Russians' commitment to armour is more than double ours. The NATO armour is about 6,000 units and the Russians' is about 15,000 units. By the standard of cavalry generals, who are so devoted to tanks, these 15,000 units are obsolete. The former Head of Defence Intelligence, General Daniel Graham, for example, talking about the standard Russian battle tank, the T-62, says: The T-62 is really a T-54 tank [first manufactured in 1948] that has been modified a little here and a little there.…It has the same engine in it that the Soviets had in their tanks in World War II. There are some drawbacks to that. It isn't a powerful enough engine. Our tank does outrange their tank. I have been in a T-62 and it has a very cramped turret, and you have to be a left-handed midget because you have to load the darn thing from the wrong side of the breech. And you have to be about my size. If they run out of left-handed midgets in the Soviet Union, they are going to be in big trouble with the T-62. That does not sound like the colossal tank army that is to grind across Europe crushing everything before it. I cannot imagine all those little left-handed midgets making lightning thrusts across Europe.

I am sure that the Russians tell their people that their tanks are marvellous and invincible. That is the rhetoric of this kind of lunacy. It is commonly used and it goes like this: "Your tanks, your equipment, your bolts, are the biggest and the best and they will frighten the hell out of everybody else." They frighten the hell out of me. But generals, military people, get seized with a strange conviction about their weapons, as if they were talking about their sexual equipment: they just have to be believed by everybody else; what they have is bound to frighten everybody else.

If we look at it in terms of cost effectiveness, a big tank against a well-armed infantryman, there is no comparison— none at all. A well-armed infantryman can be equipped with a deadly anti-tank weapon costing less than £20,000 and can easily, without being seen by his victim, the tank, kill it with one shot. That is the nature of modern technology. It has rendered obsolete yet another Leviathan. If we push our luck with tanks, we shall be trundling into war with useless scrap iron which will be a sitting target for every well-trained infantryman who cannot be got at by the monster.

The danger to peace is heightened with every incremental increase in arms expenditure, because every increase in arms expenditure has to be justified in rhetorical terms. It is always justified in terms of what the other person is supposed to be doing. We always, unfortunately, find out too late what the other person is doing and not doing.

We should not mislead ourselves. The debate so far, with one or two exceptions, has not been well-informed. It has been a debate in which we have sought to comfort one another in our illusions and our ignorance. Worst of all, we have sought to indulge a kind of chauvinism which I thought we had outlived many years ago.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I remind the House that time moves on.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

Many of us will welcome the unstinted enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) for the infantry. As an ex-infantry officer, I really must tell the hon. Member that. But I must also disillusion him on one point. He said that anyone with any military experience or interest became persuaded that whatever equipment he had—and particularly tanks—was the finest in the world. I remember only too well how, in the early tank battles in the Western Desert, I thanked my lucky stars that I was not in a British tank, because our lads died by the hundred. Our equipment was infinitely inferior to that of the Germans, because we had neglected rearmament for so many years before.

That said, I found it a little difficult to understand that the hon. Member and the rest of us live in the same world. Perhaps it is best to leave the hon. Member's speech at that.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) is here because of my hon. Friend's military service.

Mr. Hastings

The hon. Member for Selly Oak will understand if I do not follow his remarks too far. He says that there have been no cuts. Even if he is unable to accept the figures produced in the White Paper, he may have accepted that there is something behind the statements about depots closing, jobs lost and 40,000 people leaving the defence forces. However, he sees it another way and feels that the rest of us do not trust our fellow man, otherwise we should not be so bothered about defence. I wonder how the Hungarians and the Czechs would have felt about that a few years ago.

I listened carefully to the Secretary of State's peroration yesterday, and there was a good deal in what he said at the end of his speech. Ithink that all of us on this side would tend to agree with it, but how he squares those words with what is in the White Paper is beyond my comprehension.

I do not know whether the Secretary of State or the other Defence Ministers have come across the admirably practical logic of the military appreciation. It starts by defining the objective. It then deals with the factors affecting the attainment of the objective, including the assessment of the threat, and it finishes up with a plan. I shall apply this litmus of logic to the White Paper.

The first section should, it seems to me. set the theme. It should certainly state the objective. Instead, paragraphs 1 to 16 are a sort of dissertation on détente—nothing else. If it is anything at all, this first section is pure political speculation and no more. It does not belong in any White Paper on defence.

It seems to me that, if it says anything, it says two things. The first is that defence is a mean of détente. But, as we all know, defence is armed strength, and what is needed is for the House to assess the threat and decide whether the armed strength to be provided by the Government is adequate or not.

The second thing that it seems to be saying is not to the House of Commons at all but to the Tribunites and that half of the Labour Party. It seems to run like this: "The Government are doing all they can to disarm, but if we cannot wholly ignore the tactless tendency of our Russion friends to do the opposite, please understand our difficulty and come along and vote tonight."

If any détente is needed in this debate, I should have thought that it was between the two halves of the Labour Party. If there were a little more of it, we should not have to be asked to accept the ludicrous stuff in the White Paper.

I should like to give some examples of what I mean. On page 2, in paragraph 4, the Government are talking of the alleged agreement to notify major manoeuvres. It says that the Final Act of the CSCE contained measures which derive from a firm political decision on the part of all the governments who participated in the CSCE", yet two paragraphs later we read that Most NATO countries and a fair proportion of neutral and non-aligned States accepted the invitation; but the States of the Warsaw Pact did not. Over the page we come to the next of the exercises, the mutual and balanced force reductions. We read in paragraph 7 that It is noteworthy that, in their speeches at the conclusion of the CSCE in Helsinki, all European leaders stressed that the next need was for progress in MBFR. It might imply that some progress was made. The White Paper goes on to say in paragraph 8 that The participating States are seeking undiminished security at a lower level of forces in Central Europe. But this objective will not be achieved without a more even ilitary balance between the two sides than exists at present. Yet in paragraph 10 we learn that Throughout the negotiations the Warsaw Pact countries have resisted any approach which would have the effect of correcting the imbalance in conventional forces in Central Europe. If this is "progress," we seem to be talking a different language. It is meaningless. If it were not so desperately serious, it would be hilarious. Therefore, we begin not with a statement of objective at all but with a total confusion about objectives.

The White Paper proceeds then to the assessment of the military threat, which I suspect was made by staff officers rather than by Socialist dialecticians, and it is frightening.

I do not want to deal with this in detail—it has been mentioned a great deal already in the debate—but I put one question to the Secretary of State. We are told that there is no sign of imminent attack in Europe. Is this vast and expensive array, therefore, just for the sake of sabre-rattling? It might be possible to construct an argument on those lines.

It is not mentioned in the White Paper, but I understand that the Soviet spending on civil defence is over $1,000 million a year. That is not necessary for sabre-rattling. That is only there as an earnest of absolute intent to survive in actual war. Of course, we have abandoned our civil defence altogether. But what sort of interpretation do the Government place on this figure?

Surely the Secretary of State realises that a vast military establishment like this imports its own psychological momentum. The Soviet generals may be cautious people. I am inclined to think they are, but if they see an imbalance tending to increase in their favour the temptation in the end could become irresistible.

To pass, therefore, to the conclusion of the White Paper, we get first the confusion about objectives, then the assessment. Then there is the conclusion—or, if one likes, the plan—in this exercise in non-logic. It is to make a few adjustments here and there, and to continue to disarm beyond what we were told yesterday was the safety limit, and to do so principally by cutting the supply base. Do not the Government realise that in modern war the system of supply is doubly important because of the extent of mobility and increased fire power? Have they learnt nothing from the Yom Kippur war and the experience of the Israelis? Have they had no reports about what happened there? If they have, they have ignored them.

According to my analysis, therefore, we have in the White Paper no objective. We have a devastating assessment of growing Soviet might, backed up by Marshal Grechko, who thinks that it ought to grow faster and further. We conclude that the best thing to do is to continue to disarm. That is what this White Paper is all about. I do not think that the Secretary of State will get many marks on the basis of that or pass the staff college. He will not deter or frighten anyone very much, except, perhaps, by the cautious statement in chapter 7, where, in a short paragraph, it says that it is proposed to reinforce the bird control units on a number of RAF ah fields. So the birds had better watch out, if no one else does.

I want to deal with one more aspect, and that is to explain why I believe that the whole approach to defence as defined in the White Paper, which is common to the free world and not restricted to Britain, is inadequate, unimaginative and dangerous. It ignores two factors of immense importance in the Soviet attack. The first was so well illustrated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) only yesterday when he referred to Mr. Brezhnev as having said quite clearly that détente does not preclude support for so-called liberation movements anywhere in the world.

In plain English, that means that, having secured the central front by the illusion of detente, the Soviet Union will be free to secure its imperial designs by military operations anywhere in the world. The latest apppallingly dangerous example of that is in Angola, so near the source of so many of the metals and raw materials for the entire Western world. There is not one word in the White Paper about this. The name Angola is not even mentioned. Yesterday the Secretary of State was congratulating himself before us all on giving up every vestigial hold left to us anywhere in the world from which, with our Allies, we might have done something to contain or deter.

One other passage in the White Paper illustrates the second lacuna that I wish to draw to the attention of the House. It is in Chapter 1 dealing with the Warsaw Pact where it states: many Eastern commentators have restated their views of détente, as being strictly limited to achieving better inter-State relations, and have reminded the West that the relaxation of international tension by no means eliminates the struggle of ideas. What is this struggle of ideas? So far as I am concerned, these people do not have an idea worth offering. The miserable existence they have created for all those under their yoke is the proof of that. What they have, however, is the most formidable subversive machine the world has ever seen. Relentlessly by day and by night, through this massive intricate apparatus of subversion, by betrayal, by what they call disinformation—that is a translation from the Russian—by blackmail and by worse, their agents are at work, and this country is a prime target for this activity.

Their resources are many time greater than all the security forces, including the CIA, deployed by the West as a whole. There is the notorious KGB. There is the GRU, which is the military intelligence system. There is the International Department of Soviet Trade Union Organizations working on exactly the same thing. Then there are the satellite intelligence services all under KGB control. In particular, the most menacing are the Czechs, the East Germans, the Hungarians and the Cubans. All this information is readily available to anyone who takes an interest in it. Finally there are the indigenous Communist Parties in all the target countries, together with their friends.

This, then, is the "struggle of ideas," a ruthless attempt to destroy the economies and the morale of the free nations, and so far it has been remarkably successful. On any possible interpretation of what they profess to believe, of what they only say and do, the Soviet Union and its Communist allies are at war with us now and have been for a long time. But there are two arms to the Soviet attack. There is the massive military build-up which we have been debating and discussing. The second arm is the subversive attack which we ignore completely or, at least, in the context of defence. We should not do so.

That said, however, there is no need for us to despair. Free man is resilient. We are the ones with the ideas, not they. The weaknesses of a free society are many and evident, but the vulnerability of a closed tyranny also exists and can prove as deadly as Achilles' heel. But if we are to resist, if our ideas are to prevail, we must realise what we are up against and we must take adequate counter-measures. Above all, we must have the will to survive. To that end the White Paper and the words of the Secretary of State yesterday make no contribution whatsoever. They only go to prove that in the hands of this schizophrenic Socialist Government the destiny of this country and our very freedom are at permanent risk.

8.18 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

One of the recurring themes in the debate, both inside the House and outside, over past months has been talk of the growth of the military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact countries. It featured in the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). That particular argument is held to justify not merely the present fantastic level of military expenditure but ever-increasing amounts.

It is difficult at times to believe that hon. Members who advocate increasing defence expenditure have fully grasped the economic implications of what they are suggesting. If their ideas were put into practice, either global public expenditure would rise to an all-time peak—and they say that present levels are threatening the economic viability of this country—or it would mean such Draconian cuts in housing, health, public transport and welfare as virtually to wreck whole areas of our way of life. The effects of that would be disastrous in many ways which Conservative Members cannot possibly have thought out.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) argued yesterday, the contention that defence expenditure is being substantially cut does not stand up. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) quoted the White Paper on Public Expenditure. I want to refer to the figure shown on page 31 for the year 1976–77. That figure is £4,566 million at 1975 prices. In 1977–78 it will be £4,548 million. That is £18 million less. That is a reduction of less than½ per cent. In 1978–79 we have a further reduction of £18 million, and the figure remains the same in 1979–80. The reduction is less than 1 per cent. during the period from now till 1979–80. In other words, even if the projections are right, the cuts will be quite minimal. If this is the result of the most far-reaching defence review that has ever been carried out and of subsequent cuts, all we can say is that it is a good job that we did not have a mere superficial review.

We can fairly say that the policy that the Government are pursuing is to maintain defence costs at a constant level and that this policy does not include making real cuts at all. I therefore support very strongly the amendment on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East and in my name and the names of others of my hon. Friends. I hope that the Conservative Opposition will make it quite clear in the country where they would make the cuts in the social services that would be necessary to carry out the increased expenditure that they are proposing.

The argument that the West is falling behind the Warsaw Pact countries, on which the Conservative case for additional expenditure is based, is in many respects, untenable as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) pointed out. I deplore the present level of Soviet expenditure on arms as much as I deplore that of the West, but it must be taken into account that conventional weaponry and armies, to which Opposition Members have devoted most of their speeches, constitute only part of the military strength which could be deployed in a conflict. Both military alliances also rely on strategic nuclear weapons. In this field the United States and the West remain both numerically and qualitatively way ahead.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

Thank God.

Mr. Newens

The total targetable warheads are variously estimated. For the United States the estimates vary between 6,122 and 8,586, and for the USSR the estimates vary between 3,269 and 4,240. On any interpretation the United States is clearly way ahead. The fact that the estimates vary arises because the authorities differ in methods of counting, but there can be no doubt about the superiority of the United States in this respect.

That has been confirmed in the speech which no less a person than Dr. Henry Kissinger made at Dallas as recently as 22nd March this year. According to The Times of the following day, Dr. Kissinger stated that: American strategic missiles, for instance, were superior to the larger Soviet ones in reliability, accuracy, diversity and sophistication. He went on to say: We possess far larger numbers of warheads—8,500 to their 2,500. This represents a larger disparity than that which I have mentioned, which is based upon all the authorities which publish material on this matter.

It is possible that there was a degree of exaggeration in Dr. Kissinger's statement. It is clear that he was making it in the light of Mr. Reagan's presidential aspirations. However, the fact that there is this clear lead in strategic nuclear weaponry makes it absolutely nonsensical for any country to call for more expenditure on nuclear arms.

I am by no means satisfied with the statements that have been made by my right hon. Friend about the expenditure that we are now devoting to maintaining a nuclear deterrent. I believe that the House should be told what the figures are and whether it is true that we are spending a further £400 million. If we are, it is an absolute disgrace. I am quite sure that the people of this country who are forced to put up with cuts in their standard of living because of unemployment and cuts in public expenditure would revolt against it very strongly indeed.

Mr. Stokes

Absolute rubbish.

Mr. Newens

That is a matter of opinion. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman tests that on some of the people within his own constituency who live in the poorer houses there and finds out whether they would be prepared to make the sort of contribution to which he would give his support.

If the West has superiority in nuclear weaponry, this is obviously a stimulus for the Warsaw Pact, on the crazy logic—which is argued here—to maintain a lead in the conventional field. The arguments advanced to justify the concept of flexible response by the West apply equally strongly when looked at from the Soviet point of view. We should recognise that clearly.

Dr. Kissinger said in his Dallas speech that the United States Administration would not be deflected from present policies by contrived and incredible scenarios, by inflated versions of Soviet strength or by irresponsible attacks on SALT. Those of us on these Benches who demand real cuts in expenditure on armaments do not intend to be pushed away from the stand that we have taken and which is set out in our amendment. Those of us who have signed the amendment are totally dissatisfied with the failure of the Government to make effective reductions in military expenditure. It is extremely repugnant to us that the motion should talk in terms of welcoming the Statement. However, the logic of events will eventually drive my right hon. and hon. Friends to recognise that we cannot afford the present levels of expenditure, and perhaps we are now at a unique time when some reconsideration of this issue ought to be undertaken.

The defence policy advanced from both Front Benches, in the view of those of us who stand by the amendment, is totally out of date. Our objectives still include the defence of interests which have nothing to do with the real interests of our people or of the peoples of the world. On numerous occasions I have criticised the British involvement in Oman. The fact that we have helped to prolong the life of the Sultan's regime in that country and have suppressed a national liberation movement is neither right nor in our long-term interests.

I fervently look forward to a time when we shall make a complete overhaul of British defence policy and achieve savings of much greater magnitude.

I warn my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government. We are not prepared in the long run to accept what has been done to date. We are determined to carry on a struggle for real cuts. Over a number of years the number of hon. Members who demand such cuts has grown. We believe that it will continue to grow. The logic of our arguments will eventually carry the day and we shall carry on the struggle until defence expenditure is cut to a realistic level, and certainly far below the levels now proposed by the Government.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I shall not take up the arguments deployed by the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens). I begin by saying how much I support the views expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), who emphasised that the defence of the realm must be the first priority of any Government. The first duty of the Government, whatever its political colour, is to guarantee the security of the State against external aggression.

Whether we like it or not, and whether or not hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government side accept the situation, the vast military resources of the Warsaw Pact countries continue to pose a potential threat of the gravest nature to Western security. This military power must be seen not only in terms of its ability to wage war but as a means of reinforcing political pressure and of advancing the policies of the Eastern bloc without having to resort to open hostilities.

The Warsaw Pact countries have been steadily increasing the proportion of their national resources devoted to defence. The Pact's armed forces continue to grow in both size and strength, far beyond what is needed for purely defensive measures and garrison duties. Soviet strategic nuclear forces now almost match those of the United States in numbers, while the Warsaw Pact's land and air forces deployed in central Europe substantially outnumber those of NATO.

The Soviet Union has emerged as a maritime super-Power. It has developed a large, modern, well-equipped fleet of cruisers, destroyers and escorts, over 1,000 naval aircraft and some 320 operational submarines, of which 120 are nuclear-powered. Two aircraft carriers are under construction. The Warsaw Pact's building rate for nuclear-powered submarines is now twice that of NATO. The numbers of Warsaw Pact and NATO surface ships are broadly similar, but allied surface vessels include a very much higher proportion of older ships carrying substantially fewer offensive or defensive missile systems. One nuclear submarine is completed by the Soviets every five or six weeks.

Numerical comparisons disguise the full extent of the imbalance between the Soviet submarine fleet, which is now increasingly nuclear-powered, and the capability of NATO's anti-submarine forces. The major Soviet threat at sea, therefore, comes more from the very large submarine force and from the Soviet Union's substantial building programme, which is improving the quality and average age of the Soviet fleet compared with those of the Alliance. The maritime balance has shifted and is continuing to shift markedly in favour of the Warsaw Pact. That is the trend as we debate the Defence Estimates.

In the Eastern Atlantic area, NATO's mainly British maritime forces at immediate readiness for forward defence are already heavily outnumbered. I am not talking about a distant menace. Elements of the Soviet fleet skulk off the Cornish coast and patrol the Channel and the Atlantic. That clearly is undeniable. Deployed as they are, Soviet forces represent a powerful instrument of war. Their increasing capabilities must be measured not only in terms of military potential but also as a possible means of reinforcing political pressure without recourse to open hostilities. The contribution of the hon. Lady the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) indicates how successful they have been in her case.

The strategic forces of the West are the ultimate deterrent against strategic nuclear attack. In a period of strategic parity, however, they do not constitute a credible deterrent against lower levels of aggression. For this purpose, the West and the NATO Alliance must also deploy credible numbers of conventional and tactical nuclear forces. How right was my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) to press his case so forcibly for a realistic level of conventional and tactical nuclear forces. He made his point with great emotion, but I believe that the point is understood throughout the country.

Despite all this, however, we find that British defence expenditure in the last six years has remained static. Taking inflation into account in real terms we are now spending less on defence than we did in 1969. With this massive threat to our free society on our doorstep in the Atlantic—and I value our freedom and the sort of society that we have in the West—this year we spent less on defence than we did on health, education, and social security. No doubt this will be welcomed by Labour Members below the Gangway. For every pound spent on defence, we shall spend £2 on the Department of Health and Social Security. At the risk of our freedom, with the Soviet Union virtually rattling on our front door, we prefer to put in jeopardy our freedom. That is the sad situation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) was right to raise the matter of civil defence. We have no civil defence in this country. It is extraordinary that the Soviet Union has allocated more than £300 million for civil defence within its own boundaries. There is one rule for them and another for us. They are prepared to plan, but we are not. We delude ourselves and think that a few worthless signatures from the Soviet Union on the same piece of paper as the signatures of President Ford of the United States or of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary enable us to ignore the growing future Soviet threat.

I shall elaborate on comparisons between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces so that we and the public are fully aware of the real picture and the background to the present fanatical quest for détente. Taking the military balance of ready forces in Central Europe, for every 100 NATO soldiers there are 130 Warsaw Pact soldiers; for every 100 NATO soldiers serving in a fighting unit, there are 140 Warsaw Pact soldiers; for every 100 NATO tanks, there are 270 Warsaw Pact tanks; for every 100 NATO field guns, there are 250 Warsaw Pact field guns; for every 100 NATO tactical aircraft, there are 230 Warsaw Pact aircraft. If that shows parity, if that shows balance, all I can say is that hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government side are living in one world, cloud-cuckoo land, and that we on this side of the House at least, perhaps with some members of the Government, are living in the real world.

Let us also consider the balance of forces in the Eastern Atlantic. It is a horrifying picture. For every 10 NATO surface ships, there are 20 Warsaw Pact ships; for every 10 NATO submarines, there are 17 Warsaw Pact submarines; and for every 10 NATO combat aircraft, there are 15 Warsaw Pact aircraft. These figures are in the White Paper which is the subject of the debate.

It is against that background that the Government—and I condemn them for their policies—are prepared to countenance the folly of détente and place at risk the remainder of the ever-declining free world. Such a Government can never have learnt the lesson of Munich and appeasement. Such a Government are almost as dangerous to the continuing existence of the free world as the Soviets themselves. Détente is a charade.

In the 1930s our great country slept while Churchill warned. Politicians then closed their ears to him. Are we going to make the same mistake today? Last year's Helsinki Conference on security is the Munich of the free world.

Détente sounds a fine word, but throughout this decade of détente the armed forces of the Soviet Union have increased, are increasing and show no signs of diminishing. We have a responsibility, and the Government have a responsibility, to defend the nation. They stand condemned for failing to do so.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

After that little bit of sabre-rattling, we can rest assured that my right hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate will tell the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends exactly what our position is.

I do not pretend to be an expert on these matters. Having listened to nearly all the speeches today, I suppose that it is easy to jibe at the principle of détente. What détente means is that we are trying, as we must, to live together with people who operate different political and social systems from our own.

The figures that the hon. Gentleman and others have quoted of the relative military strength of the Communist world and the West are probably true. I know that they are in the White Paper, but that does not mean that they are true. I have seen many things in many White Papers that are not true, and there are more ways of brainwashing Members of Parliament than producing White Papers.

The House of Commons as a whole is probably the worst instrument, or at any rate not the best, for investigating in depth the problems that we are now trying to face in a two-day debate. It would be interesting to cost the various proposals put forward from the Opposition Benches in the past two days. I stopped making notes on those proposals in mid-afternoon yesterday, but more were made today, and I took down a few of them.

The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Pink) asked for more ships and aircraft. He was not clear what kind of ships or aircraft we should have, but we may be certain that they would cost many hundreds of millions of pounds, if not thousands of millions. The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) wanted a European nuclear deterrent. I do not know what additional costs that would involve. The right hon. Gentleman said that we must resist Soviet aggression now, and he specifically mentioned Angola. He did not spell out exactly what we were supposed to do in Angola. We cannot send additional forces to Northern Ireland, let alone half way round the world to Angola.

Although I do not think that it has been mentioned in this debate, on other occasions hon. Members have suggested that we send troops to the aid of Ian Smith in Rhodesia.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton


Mr. Hamilton

Equipment, then, but it must get there somehow. It must be flown or go by sea. There have been many suggestions as to how we might increase expenditure in that regard.

I say to my hon. Friends who tabled the amendment—they know it, as I know it—that the easiest way to earn applause at any Labour Party or Left-Wing meeting is to call for massive cuts in defence expenditure so that we may build more houses and hospitals, pay higher pensions to widows and old folk, and the rest. Such calls have been made ad nauseam yesterday and today. The thoughts that inspire such speeches, and the support which they engender, are neither ignoble nor unpatriotic, though some of them may be. I acquit most of my hon. Friends of any such ignoble thoughts.

However, there are wise men and women all over the world who insure themselves against unforeseen contingencies. Most modern countries of whatever political complexion have compulsory social insurance and compulsory military insurace. Nobody can contract out of either in a modern industrialised society and it is right and proper that there should be continuing debate in democracies.

This kind of debate could not take place in the Soviet Union and we should be thankful that it can here. That, I believe, is worth defending. It is right and proper that continuing debate should go on in democracies as to how comprehensive our insurance—and in this context we are talking of military insurance—should be and how high should be the premiums we pay.

No nation in the modern world, however rich, can insure itself militarily against all possible contingencies. Still less can any one nation separately contract out of co-operation with other nations with similar concepts of the kind of societies which they seek to preserve and defend. So we have on the one hand the NATO Powers and on the other the Warsaw Pact Powers and I believe that ideally we should all like to see both disappear. But one cannot afford to take unilateral action in this field, and this is where I disagree with some of my hon. Friends.

There has been, willingly, a tremendous loss of national sovereignty in the pooling of resources on the NATO side and on the Warsaw Pact side. The loss of sovereignty in the military sphere is in many ways greater than the loss of sovereignty that some hon. Members criticise as the price for having joined the Common Market. The great loss of sovereignty in the military field is as important as, if not more important than, the loss of sovereignty in other directions.

I turn to the aims and purposes of the military expenditure we are discussing. The first is surely to deter potential aggressors, the second to preserve the peace. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) is an idealist who would dearly love to ensure worldwide acceptance of pacificism, but perhaps I misunderstand him.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

My hon. Friend does.

Mr. Hamilton

If that is so, I accept it. I myself was a pacificist and conscientious objector in the early part of the Second World War and I ended up with His Majesty's commission.

But my hon. Friends are concerned about the size of the bill that we are now being asked to pay. They accept, therefore, that pacificism on an international basis is impracticable. It cannot be achieved either now or in the foreseeable future. The other alternative, suggested I believe by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson), was that we contract out completely on a unilateral basis, sheltering presumably under the wing of a mightier military partner, in our case the United States of America.

It seems to me that that would be an immoral course to take. We would be saying, "We do not want to spend our cash and our resources on nuclear and conventional weapons but we rely on the Americans to defend us from whatever aggressor there might be." That seems to me an immoral posture to adopt. It would make us a parasitic satellite of the United States.

Mr. Flannery

My hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) has been misinterpreted. She implied this only on nuclear armaments, not conventional armaments, which is a completely different question.

Mr. Hamilton

My hon. Friend may be right, but that does not alter the principle of the argument. The nuclear element in our defence expenditure represents a very small proportion of the total amount. It seems immoral, irrespective of whether it is conventional or nuclear, to say that we will contract out of that and leave it to our more wealthy and powerful partners. That is immoral and indefensible.

The third suggestion is to try to recognise our potential aggressor, to ascertain his intentions, and to decide how big a part we can afford to play in meeting any threat which that aggressor may pose. The automatic assumption by the Opposition is that the USSR is the only threat in the world. There is no other, according to the Leader of the Opposition—the Iron Maiden. Her thoughts on these matters are pathetically juvenile and terrifyingly negative. They are designed to appeal more to the retired Colonel Blimps avid the knights of the shires than as a serious contribution to the maintenance of world peace. When the right hon. Lady made her well-publicised speech about Soviet military expenditure, she was saying nothing novel and certainly nothing constructive in this or in any other area about which she has spoken since she put her petticoats round her Tory brood.

The Tory Party is in favour of massive and immediate cuts in public expenditure, in general, and is equally forceful in pressing for massive and immediate increases in military expenditure. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. They have not spelled out in any detail how they would do it, in which directions they would do it, or anything else. They have tried to make the blood of our people curdle with the fear of the Soviet threat. In terms of sheer military might, that threat undoubtedly exists. I accept that completely. It cannot lightly be ignored or underestimated.

We must make political judgments here. In my judgment—this matter has not been mentioned in the debate—developments in Africa and our attitude towards them may be a greater threat to world peace than the purely military potential of the Communist bloc. The Conservatives apparently—indeed, officially—appear to be on one side in the struggle for Africa. They are on the side of the white minorities all over Africa—the white Rhodesians and the white South Africans. With few exceptions, virtually all hon. Gentlemen opposite take that view. It is as well to bear that in mind when discussing defence expenditure in this and future debates.

In this White Paper, as in others, political and economic judgments have been made. No one—least of all me—can say now or ever whether those judgments are right or wrong. In that context, I am prepared to give the Government the benefit of the doubt. I shall support them, but without any great enthusiasm, because I do not know whether they are right or wrong.

However, I assume that they have acted in good faith and done their best, within the economic, social and political context in which they work and within our limited resources, to give the people of this country as much military protection as they think is possible in the circumstances.

That being so, I want to spend the last few minutes of my speech on what is in a way a local, but none the less important, point. There is a chapter in the White Paper on dockyards. This might appear to be a parochial point but I want to refer to the Rosyth Dockyard in particular and the protection of our oil resources in the North Sea.

Rosyth is an integral part of NATO and its nuclear arsenal. It is the biggest single employer in Fife and when my hon. Friends talk about more massive cuts in military expenditure, I would warn them that if that means the closure of the Rosyth Dockyard, or even a substantial reduction of the labour force, I shall resist them on that score alone. That simply could not be replaced overnight or in a matter of a year or two. I shall give the figures.

I make a criticism here of the people who have gone home tonight. I asked my right hon. Friend about an hour ago for the figures of the numbers employed in Rosyth Dockyard in each of the last five years and I was informed by somebody from the Ministry of Defence that I could not get them tonight because everybody in the Ministry had gone home. Then I wondered where the hell I could get them. I got them. I found them in the Second Report of the Expenditure Committee. Apparently, no Minister or any of his advisers knew that the figures were here, so they can all go home, because I have got them myself. But this is a serious point and they had no business going home while this kind of debate was going on. They are paid handsomely enough, so why the hell should I have to find the information when they are paid to do it?

I quote the figures from page 160 of this book. In 1964–65 it was 5,061. In 1974–75, 10 years later, it was 5,874. The projection for 1979–80 is 5,845. That means that in 1964 one worker in every nine in the dockyards was in Rosyth and in 1979–80 one in every six will be in Rosyth. Therefore, it is getting a bigger share of the total work force in all the dockyards than any other dockyard, and that is because it services the Polaris nuclear submarines.

I come to the speech of the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacCormick) yesterday. Like mine, his geography is a little awry, but I will quote him. He said: … the Soviet naval defence frontier has expanded as far eastwards as to be on a line joining Iceland and Scotland". He added: The effect of the move eastwards of the Soviet naval defence frontier means that the Secretary of State for Defence will have to look carefully at the question of the siting of our Polaris base at Rosyth in the Clyde. The hon. Gentleman will have to attend his geography lessons a little more regularly. He went on: If we accept that it seems reasonable to move the Polaris base from the Clyde to, say, Devonport, it would then also be sensible to refit nuclear submarines at the same place as that in which they are based."—[Official Report, 31st March 1976; Vol. 908, c. 1405.] That means that, if the hon. Gentleman and his party get their way, two factors affecting Fife will flow from it. The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) is on record as saying that he wants to get every Scottish Member of Parliament out of this place. Then we hear that the Scottish nationalists intend to have their own Scottish navy and that they will have no NATO bases in Scotland at all, even though they will remain members of NATO. That is what the hon. Member for Argyll said yesterday. The nuclear base in Scotland will be moved to Devonport, which will mean the servicing of the submarines being moved to Devonport.

I have quoted the employment figures. In our Rosyth dockyard there are nearly 6,000 jobs. That means that the Scottish National Party will lose us in Fife at least 6,000 jobs. What is more, if the hon. Gentleman and his party get their complete separation, English Members here will not complain. There will be no Scottish Members here to say "But we want our fair share of defence jobs". On the contrary, we shall see every ruddy job disappear. The Scottish navy could be put in Troon Harbour and the Scottish army and the Scottish air force could both be put in Rosyth. The English Members will say "Good luck to them". Meanwhile, we shall have these thousands of additional jobs in Devonport, in Newcastle, in Portsmouth and in Chatham.

Mr. Iain MacCormick (Argyll)rose——

Mr. Hamilton

Yes. I will give way to the Admiral.

Mr. MacCormick

I have to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he does not appreciate the basic dishonesty of his party's case on this issue. What I said yesterday was that it was inevitable that this base would have to be moved away from Scotland for strategic reasons. In view of that, does not the hon. Gentleman agree that what he is saying is a smokescreen designed to hide the fact that the only circumstance in which Rosyth Dockyard will offer employment in the future is the situation in which in a self-governing Scotland it will be servicing conventional weapons?

Mr. Hamilton

What conventional weapons? I suggest that the hon. Gentleman looks at the breakdown of the figures and notes the size of Rosyth. Both he and his leader are on record as wanting a separate Scottish navy.

Let me quote what he said yesterday. Incidentally, I am wrong in suggesting that he spoke of a Scottish navy. He called it a Scottish coastguard. But he went on to say that it would protect the oil rigs from these hundreds of Soviet submarines. That must put the fear of God into the Soviet Union. No longer can they view these rigs as targets because there will be these Scottish tugboats protecting them. This is the nonsense being peddled around Scotland. I leave the hon. Member for Arygll to his own imagination, because I want to draw my remarks to a conclusion.

No one on the Government Benches is happy that we have to spend cash and use manpower on defence. In an ideal world, we should all like to get rid of it. But we do not live in an ideal world, and we are not likely to. We have to gear our defence commitments to our capacity to fulfil a rôle in NATO. I do not know that any of my hon. Friends wants us unilaterally to quit NATO, though some of them may——

Mr. Newens


Mr. Hamilton

If they do, I suspect their motives. If they do not, we must try to get disarmament on a multilateral basis. That is what the Government are striving for. I hope that the Labour Government, or even an alternative Government, will do all they can to defend our values and liberties from any aggressor, whoever it may be.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)

I will not enter into the fascinating exchange of the last few minutes. I observe only that, wherever detente may operate, it clearly does not operate in Scotland.

To return to the basic issue of the debate and, particularly to the Secretary of State's opening speech, I was struck by the extraordinary contrast between his words and his actions. He gave us a lot of very tough words about the Russian threat. The balance of power, he said, has tilted further against the NATO Powers. Our quality advantage in weaponry has been eroded. The Soviet Union's defence expenditure, he told us, has been greater than we thought. All of these things, he said, absolutely truly, about the growth of the Soviet threat.

The right hon. Gentleman also emphasised that he was making real cuts in our defence expenditure. He took pride in saying that he was progressively reducing our defence expenditure and that the defence budget in real terms in 1978–79 would be less than it was in 1970–71. These two things do not add up and cannot add up.

There is no possible way whatever of reconciling the point of view which says that our enemy, or potential enemy, is getting stronger and that which says, therefore we are getting weaker. This is fundamentally the point which the Opposition are making tonight in these votes. We believe that it is totally wrong to put forward these two conflicting points of view. It is no way of conducting the policy of this country in an area vital to the citizens of this country.

The Secretary of State reminded me of a Latin tag which students of moral philosophy have been asked to comment on; Meliora scio, detereriora sequor." In the absence of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) I will translate. It means roughly "I know what is better, I do what is worse "—[Laughter.] It may or may not be funny but it is relevant. The usual explanation given by students is that it is an expression of human frailty.

That is probably true, but in this case an additional reason is mat the Minister is in an impossible political position. He knows the extent of the dangers to this country and our Allies. He knows that from the expert advice he receives and from the intelligence available to him. At the same time he knows the political danger of his own Left wing. He knows that from the evidence of his eyesight and his ears and he is trying to reconcile the two. This process of reconciliation does not really further the interests of the British nation.

The Government motion contains the words: being aware of the economic factors which have led to cuts in all sectors of public spending". Those economic factors are largely the failure to control inflation and the gross increase in public expenditure in the early days of the present Government. This is not the time for an economic debate—we shall have plenty of that in the next week or two—but the problem is a stagnant economy and a weak currency. Our Allies will hardly regard as a good excuse for our declining defence effort the fact that we are not doing as well as we could in running our own economy.

But more significant than that is the reference to cuts in all sectors of public spending". Defence, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said, is not just another sector of public spending. It is something totally different. It is fundamental. It is not a question of how much we can afford to spend to enhance life, but how much we need to spend to preserve it. This is determined not by our own choice, but by the extent and power of any potential enemy. Poverty, even if self-inflicted, is no defence against aggression.

Then the Government motion talks of cuts falling on support services rather than on frontline forces". Are support services a luxury? Can armies fight without transport and ammunition? Can a war be sustained—we must consider sustaining our defence and not just operating in the short term—without adequate reserves, replacements and resources? Of course not.

I thought that the Minister's argument was the most extraordinary I had ever heard—that he can now turn to cutting the less essential because he has already cut the more essential. Now that he has blunted the teeth with his earlier cuts, he can turn his attention to combing the tail. I have seldom heard so palpably stupid an excuse for Government action. A Minister who says that he started by cutting expenditure on front line forces justifies his present cuts by saying that other expenditure does not matter at all. That is the most extraordinary argument that I have ever heard from the Government Front Bench.

Then the motion refers to maintaining the British contribution to NATO". Even if that were true, which it is not, there are two things to say. First, our contribution to NATO has been greatly reduced, particularly the real contribution, in the Mediterranean, on the flanks of NATO. As the Select Committee pointed out, and as last year's White Paper made absolutely clear, there has been an enormous reduction in the British contribution to NATO.

After all, what matters is not only the forces allocated to NATO, but the total contribution of Britain to the defence of the West. The White Paper said in paragraph 62: the Defence Review decisions involved reductions in the planned numbers of destroyers, frigates, and mine counter-measures vessels…accounted for by the cut in our oversea and Mediterranean commitments". What cut has the Soviet Union made in its oversea and Mediterranean commitments in the last few years? Yet this country's commitment to NATO is a total commitment to the total defence of the Western world against possible aggressors.

The Government motion then refers to maintaining…the security and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom". That is a bold claim. How do the Government measure their success? Not in terms of the percentage of GNP spent on defence—that does not impress the Russians much. Not by other spending cuts—that doesn not impress them much, either. What impresses a potential aggressor is solely men and weapons, armour, tanks and aircraft, and the obvious will to use them if, God forbid, the necessity should arise. It is that sort of phrase in the motion which will lead us to vote solidly against it.

I imagine that the Government are not prepared to accept our amendment. I wonder why not. We refer to the fact that last year's defence cuts reduced the defences of the United Kingdom to 'absolute bedrock'". Is that true or not? Certainly, it was the view of the Government's most senior adviser in these matters. Do the Government accept it, or do they not? Did last year's reductions take us down to absolute bedrock?

Then, the amendment refers to the continued growth of Soviet military strength and the increasingly unfavourable military balance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact". Is there anything wrong with that? We take those words from their own White Paper. The figures are there. They were in the Minister's speech, in the excellent passages about the threat to our country.

The Government cannot object to our amendment on that score because they agree that Soviet power is growing and that the balance is swinging against the NATO Powers. How can they possibly continue with their policy of reducing our defences when, by their own admission, the armed forces of our potential enemy are increasing all the time? That is the fundamental point that we want to make, and our amendment is based solely on what the Government and their representatives have said and on the facts that they have put forward.

The Government stress the need for mutual and balanced force reductions, and with that I entirely agree. It is right to say that we cannot have a sensible disarmament scheme in Western Europe unless it will lead to a better balance between the Powers. However, the Government are not improving the balance between the forces of East and West; they are increasing the imbalance by reducing Britain's power and Britain's contribution to the West. How can they reconcile that with their view that it is essential to reduce the imbalance between the two sides? All these matters seem to display a total lack of logic in the Government's defence posture.

I turn to the amendment on the Order Paper which was not selected but to which much reference has been made. It has been signed by more than 80 hon. Members of the Labour Party. That is a formidable roll-call of political support against the Government. I find it difficult to understand much of the thinking behind the amendment. It calls for a reduction in the current arms bill. If there is a reduction in real terms or in money terms, it will be equally bad.

The Warsaw Pact countries and our main Allies are now increasing their expenditure on defence. Do we not need defending? If we do need defending do we, as the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) said, rely on others to defend us? Is it the posture of our country to rely on others? Are we prepared to let our Allies build up their strengths while we decrease ours?

The Tribunite amendment says that the Government are abandoning the policy of reducing the proportion of GNP that is spent on arms to the level of other European countries. I am not sure that that is right. The real facts are that the French and Germans are spending more than us and that their spending is increasing. The point is that their GNP is higher than ours, but because we are poorer than they, do we value freedom less?

Mr. Frank Allaun

The right hon. Gentleman is no child in these matters. He knows that the criterion that is used in NATO circles is the comparison of GNPs. Why should Britain, which is poorer than Germany or France, devote a higher proportion of its resources to arms spending than the French or the Germans?

Mr. Maudling

I have already covered that point. The comparisons that the amendment seeks to make are wrong. We believe that the proper measure of defence expenditure is what is necessary for the defence of Britain.

The amendment claims that arms expenditure has the effect of diverting money and resources from the social services. There are many other candidates for Government money—for example, there is nationalisation. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) said yesterday, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was Secretary of State for Defence he said that there was not much point in having schools, hospitals, roads and houses if everything was reduced to cinders by aggression.

I feel that the attitude of the extreme Left towards defence is that they do not want any defence at all. It is rather the attitude of a nervous dog when faced by an aggressive person: the dog rolls on its back hoping that its belly will be scratched instead of its backside kicked. As my right hon. Friend also said, when it comes to saving money, there is no greater waste of money than spending it on defence that does not work.

It seems that the 80 or so signatories to the Tribunite amendment believe that we should have no defence. How will they be able to vote for the Government proposals?

Mr. Frank Allaun

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way twice. I am bitterly opposed to the real increase in arms spending which this White Paper entails, but the Conservative policy would be to spend more. As it nearly says in the Bible, "We have whipped you with whips, but you would whip us with scorpions".

Mr. Maudling

The hon. Member and his hon. Friends will vote for a policy that they bitterly oppose. I do not think that that adds to the status of Parliament in the eyes of the public.

There are two views it is possible to take about Soviet purpose and intent, but only one that it is safe to take—the cautious view. We can say that the Soviets are not expansionists, that they are devoted to Mother Russia and the prosperity of their own people and that their outside activities are designed to weaken potential aggressors. Or we may say, as do the Government in the White Paper: there is no evidence that the Soviet Union and its allies are contemplating a military attack upon the West". However, this means only that the Government do not have such evidence. They may be right—I hope that they are—but they may be wrong, and then it would be too late for regrets.

The Soviet Union has engaged in a vast build-up and world-wide deployment of armaments, especially naval. It would surely be wise to assume that some aggressive intention might be involved in this strange development. On either view of the Soviet intention, it is clear that the Soviets will take every opportunity offered to them to weaken and disrupt the West, whether for defensive or offensive reasons.

The weaker we get in arms and will, the greater the danger. Men do not start wars unless they expect to win them.

Si pacem vis bellum para is not a bad rule. If one wants to live in peace, one should make quite clear to everyone else that it is not a good idea to start a war.

The policy of the Soviet Union since Helsinki has been disappointing. Nothing that happened at Helsinki could justify the standing down of a single NATO soldier. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating and détente, like peace, should be indivisible.

Of course we long for the success of detente, as would any sane human being. The only alternative to co-existence is co-destruction, but progress since Helsinki has been disappointing, whether on Basket III, the individual freedom of movement and families, the expansion of Soviet naval power, or the new phenomenon of the incursion by Cuban troops, with political and logistic support from the Soviet Union, into Africa. That is not what we thought the word "détente" meant.

There is also the continuance of what could be called political aggression. Of course, there is a great range between war and the mere exchange of ideas, but surely it is important to recognise that, in the course of political activities, the Soviet Union is trying to detach from NATO some of our present Allies in order to destroy the current NATO basis of defence. In the detachment of individual countries through political pressure, the Soviet Union may be better than us, but is certainly not invincible.

The defence of freedom must be total—political, economic and military. In the West we must maintain the will to resist by sustaining belief that the free system is worth defending. The Russians have some advantage in this matter. They erect barriers against ideas which are as strong as tank traps or mine-fields.

Despite that, I believe that the power of the ideas of freedom of the West will prove the stronger force if we persist. As O'Shaughnessy said: One man with a dream, at pleasure, Shall go forth and conquer a crown; And three with a new song's measure Can trample a kindom down. The power of ideas is great, and the power of free men's ideas is greater.

In the economic field we have an advantage which can be eroded if we lose access to vital raw materials. For the moment we have a strong economic advantage The Russians cannot feed themselves; they need Western technology and they are desperately short of foreign exchange.

In those circumstances, some Western tactics must seem rather curious to them. For reasons we all understand, America continues to supply the grain the Russians need, so the Russian people feed on the products of capitalism. The West still competes to supply the technology they need, and we in this country press upon them subsidies in the form of cheap credit. Surely we should expect in exchange for this economic assistance some political return from the Soviet Union. If détente means anything, there should be some response.

To these problems we must not add military weakness, for weakness is danger. That is the fundamental point of defence policy. The balance of power of nuclear weapons provides peace between the great Powers, but can it work for ever? If the Soviet Union would not wish to risk an American nuclear onslaught, could it not calculate that the Americans would not wish to risk a Soviet onslaught to defend their European friends and Allies? That stresses the fundamental importance of maintaining the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance. Any possible doubt or any wavering in the support of the United States for its European Allies will be the temptation which might bring about the danger we all want to avoid.

The present imbalance of conventional forces in Western Europe is a grave danger. Reliance on tactical nuclear weapons to redress the imbalance of conventional weapons creates perils. For example, we could not in all circumstances guarantee that the reaction with tactical nuclear weapons would be speedy enough to be effective in response. If it were too slow, where would those weapons fall and how could they be used?

There is the great danger that a nuclear exchange once begun on a tactical level would spread to a strategic level. I do not believe in fighting a war on the basis of the International Red Cross measuring weapons to see whether a bomb is too large to be allowed.

Our conclusion must be that the present imbalance in conventional forces between the NATO Powers and the Warsaw Pact Powers is a great danger to the peace of the world and the security and freedom of the West. We must try to reduce it by negotiation in the MBFR talks. That is the right way to go about it. It is disappointing that the Soviet Government have made so little progress. I accept that Her Majesty's Government are doing all they can to make progress in these negotiations, but so far progress has been very slight.

If the Soviets maintain their position and will accept only reductions which continue the imbalance of forces in Europe in their favour, I cannot see how real progress towards détente can be made. If the imbalance in conventional forces is a danger, we must not increase it but must try to reduce it through negotiation. That is precisely what Her Majesty's Government are doing. The one thing we should not do for the security of this country is to increase the imbalance of forces between the NATO Powers and the Warsaw Pact Powers, and that is the fundamental reason why we condemn the Government tonight.

I do not know what will happen in the Division Lobbies. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) and some of his hon. Friends will happily tread their measure into the Lobby to welcome a policy with which they fundamentally disagree. Perhaps they will, but a Government who rely on support like that are a weak Government. A Government who rely on that unwilling and almost inconsistent support for the defence of Britain are an unworthy Government.

9.30 p.m.

The Minister of State for Defence (Mr. William Rodgers)

I have listened with great attention and some pleasure to the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling). His speeches are usually serious and often ingenious, and have the merit also of being short. I have enjoyed them over the years and learned from them. I am still prepared to be the right hon. Gentleman's pupil, on the basis of his performance tonight, but there was a good deal of the pot calling the kettle black.

The right hon. Gentleman's period in the Cabinet from 1959 to 1964 was marked by a fall in the percentage of gross national product going to defence. At the same time, his period as Chancellor of the Exchequer ended with a massive balance of payments deficit and a major economic crisis. [Interruption.] I advise right hon. and hon. Members to wait. They may laugh too soon.

The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnett and other hon. Members will remember the debate on 11th November 1964. By common consent—it was the first Budget debate after the General Election—defence was seen to be among the public expenditure programmes running away wildly. I think that the failure to get value for money in the defence field had by then become a byword. I am reluctant, out of courtesy and generosity, to chide the right hon. Gentleman over events so long ago, but such a mixed record, to put it no higher, does not suggest that he is necessarily best qualified to lecture the House, even in his gentle way, on these matters.

I should like to add my own word of thanks for the work of the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee I am an unrepentant Parliament man in that the experience of almost eight years of assorted office has strengthened my belief that the Executive always needs watching.

The task of Ministers in every Department, but particularly in the Ministry of Defence, is to bring scepticism and a political dimension to bear on decisionmaking. I note what the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) said on this point, and I agree with him. The military mind of its nature looks for certainty and a settled course. Ministers must be prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom and to encourage the possibility of doubt. I should like to believe that the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee will proceed in a similar way, perhaps endeavouring to take a longer view—longer even than electoral vagaries allow Governments to do.

Concerning the Third Report of the Expenditure Committee, I appreciate the kind remarks which refer to my part in the negotiations for a new agreement on Hong Kong—also touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan) in his speech yesterday. I am sure that the result was fair to all concerned.

In the immediate years ahead, Hong Kong will be making an increasing contribution to the cost of the garrison. From 1978 to 1979 this will amount to 75 per cent. in an agreement which will run from seven years initially and will be open to further renewal. The sums involved are a useful net contribution towards the defence budget. At the same time—this answers, at least in passing, what a number of hon. Members have mentioned—I am satisfied, as is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, that the remaining garrison will be adequate for its purpose.

There have been 18 separate Back Bench contributions to the debate, and I wish that I could refer to them all.

Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the Far East, will he say something about the Government's plans for the proposed withdrawal of a Gurkha battalion from Brunei, since the Sultan is prepared to pay for this battalion and for the reinforcement of it if that is necessary?

Mr. Rodgers

I can only say that discussions are continuing on this matter and that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be reporting to the House as soon as possible.

Among the matters which I cannot deal with at any length today is Northern Ireland. It was referred to by the hon. Members for Belfast, North (Mr. Carson) and for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison). There are frequent occasions for discussion of Northern Ireland affairs and I hope that hon. Members will understand if I do not go into them tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) spoke about the threat. Perhaps I can say that even in so far as I disagree with him, as I have done on previous occasions, I preferred the tone of his remarks to the tone adopted, I believe, by the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). Not only did I listen to my hon. Friend; I have even read his interesting Tribune article. I agree with him that this one area in which the ministerial scepticism to which I have referred should be applied, and I share his view of the dangers of what I think he called the "worst case analysis". However, he has misinterpreted the table on page 60 of the White Paper, and he has made inadequate allowance for the very heavy balance of advantage to the Soviet Union in attack submarines, even though there is rough parity in surface ships. We may wish to return to these figures, and we can do so on a quieter occasion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) made a wide-ranging speech and referred to Cyprus. I can give him the assurances for which he asked, as he asked for them last year, but I shall also write to him.

The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) asked for an assurance that the Royal Navy would continue to operate world-wide. The answer is "Yes". He also asked about naval capability once "Ark Royal" is phased out. The ship will continue in service for some years ahead, and when she is withdrawn from service her Buccaneers and Phantoms will be taken over by the RAF and used in a maritime role. The "Ark Royal" also makes an important contribution to the ASW capability which the new class of cruisers is designed to continue.

Several hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone, mentioned our Reserve Forces and suggested that they were inadequate for our military tasks. I appreciate that this has been a matter of great interest to the right hon. Gentleman for a number of years. I can only say that we do not take his view. As he knows, we rely first upon our professional forces, but the Reserves have a particularly valuable role to play on the central front of Europe as reinforcements for BAOR, which would approximately double in size by the addition of reserves on mobilisation. I regret if I have been unable to convince the right hon. Gentleman this evening, but this is properly a matter that we should consider on a further occasion. It might even be a matter, like the whole question of the threat, which the Expenditure Committee would choose to examine.

The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) raised a number of detailed questions on the effects of our withdrawal from the Far East and the Indian Ocean. These decisions were, of course, announced in last year's White Paper and were fully debated at the time. However, I share in particular his interest in Gan, and I hope that I may allow myself just a little sentimental regret, improper though that may be, at its passing. The detailed points that the hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned have been under discussion. I realise that they are of concern to him. I shall certainly write to him about them or, if he wishes, give an answer that is more generally available to hon. Members who are interested in them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) and my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) returned to the question of the nature of the defence savings. As they made clear, and as the tables in the White Paper and in the Public Expenditupre White Paper emphasise, these are complex matters. Regretfully, I doubt whether I shall find it possible to reach a rapid agreement with them, or with my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun), on their interpretation. For the moment, I am content to rest on what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said yesterday.

However, let me simply say this, because it is important to repeat it. Reductions in public expenditure have always—in Opposition and in Government—been measured against planned programmes at constant prices. This is a well-established convention applying to all programmes, both civil and military. On this basis, taking together the defence review savings, the additional £110 million reduction last year and the recent public expenditure survey reductions, the defence budget has been reduced by £3,200 million between 1975–76 and 1979–80. Moreover, apart from what I say is a well-established convention about programmes, as a result of the latest round of public expenditure survey reductions, we now find that the defence budget totals are due to fall in absolute terms from 1975–76 levels. On this basis there is a reduction, for good or ill—as right hon. Members of the Opposition might think—of £18 million by 1978–79, which is repeated in the closing year of 1979–80 as the programme remains level during this period.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Does my right hon. Friend admit that there is to be an increase in the current year's spending by 1979–80, according to page 133 of the Public Expenditure White Paper, of £244 million in real terms? Secondly, is it fair to purport to be reducing expenditure as all the newspapers report it—because they use the phrases of the Minister and his right hon. Friend—when the truth that real spending is rising is being concealed from the newspapers?

Mr. Rodgers

I do not believe that my hon. Friend is being fair when he says that the truth is being concealed from newspapers. He has had his opportunity today and on previous occasions, and so have other of my hon. Friends, to seek to persuade this House and the general public that the figures that I have set before the House are in some way untrue or deceiving.

I return to what I said. I am satisfied that there will be absolute savings, although they will be small, during the period to which I referred. If my hon. Friend tested his own choice of figures against the figures of my right hon. Friends who have responsibilities in other fields, he would find that they would be saying that there have been heavy cuts in their programmes and that they were no longer able to spend in the years ahead the sums of money that they expected on previous occasions to be spending. This is the language with which we are all familiar. I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East has argued in Opposition against cuts in social programmes very much on the basis of cuts against planned intentions.

I should like to make a reference to the particularly splendid speech made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). I think that all those who heard it enjoyed it. It was admirably supplemented this evening by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). We shall try to help my hon. Friends in the way they have asked. I shall watch with interest the argument between them and SNP Members.

I should like to say a few words about the public attitude to defence—in other words, the attitude of what my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) loosely called the taxpayers. Of course there is a horror of war, but for the great majority of people this is not incompatible with maintaining our defences—rather the reverse.

I have been looking at the only available survey, which shows that 96 per cent. of the population believe that the Armed Forces are essential, a proportion which has remained remarkably steady for at least the last five years. Even among younger people, whose doubts are understandable, the figure is very much the same, although perhaps the intensity of conviction is somewhat less. We should all like to have defence on the cheap. But the great majority of people feel in their guts that our Armed Forces matter, and they would not willingly vote for a party that was thought to be soft on defence. I hope that my hon. Friends who signed the amendment will bear that point in mind.

The nub of the matter in this debate—the issue upon which the Opposition are to divide the House—is whether the additional cuts set out in the Public Expenditure White Paper were justified. The outcome of the defence review is broadly accepted on the Opposition Benches. Nobody seriously suggests that a Conservative Government would seek to reverse it. The key figure is the extra £193 million now to be found in 1978–79.

It is no secret that Defence Ministers would have preferred that cut not to be made. But my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science, for Social Services and for the Environment, to name only a few, would have preferred no cut in their programme. The only question was how the money could be found, once the quantum of savings had been agreed by the Cabinet. It is quite unrealistic—and right hon. and hon. Members who have served in the Cabinet know this in their hearts—to have expected defence to escape entirely. That is not the way in which Governments do business. It is not the way of the world. That is not how successive Administrations have behaved, including those in which the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet and the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition have served. It is humbug to suggest otherwise.

The argument goes that if we were down to bedrock last summer, what room was there for cuts? Much has been made of the remarks of the Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Michael Carver. I leave aside for the moment the propriety of quoting him in the Opposition's amendment. But what did he say? Indeed, how many Opposition Members have read the whole transcript of his remarks? In practice, those remarks were remarkably cautious. In answer to a question whether there could be any further cut, Sir Michael gave no explicit reply but, instead, referred to our geographical commitment. The real burden of Sir Michael's message was that the touchstone of our defence effort lay in the force levels of our contribution to NATO. In practice, as the House knows, these have not been affected by the further cuts. On the contrary, as paragraphs 44 and 45 of the defence White Paper make clear, we have agreed five measures and offered four more calculated to strengthen NATO. Unlike the Opposition's amendment, I do not call upon the Chief of the Defence Staff in evidence. If the Opposition insist on doing so, they should play it straight.

Of course, no Chief of Staff can welcome the consequences of defence cuts, but neither can any soldier, sailor or airman, or any civilian employed by the Defence Department. That is not the point. The question is whether the further cut is tolerable. Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence described measures in the area of indirect support which will have to be taken to find savings of about £100 million in the key year 1978–79. That leaves about £90 million worth of savings still to be found. We have deliberately not yet identified those in any detail. We are talking about savings which are still two years away. Because of the sheer size and complexity of the programme and its dynamic character, there is bound to be a good deal of change in the intervening period.

A factor affecting the programme is unresolved international negotiations, which could have direct implications for the defence budget. The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) rightly raised the question of Anglo-German offset. As he said, the existing agreement expired yesterday, and we shall, therefore, need a new agreement. The Prime Minister discussed the question with the Federal German Chancellor when he was in this country in February, and they agreed that a solution could and should be found. The House will not expect me to anticipate the content of the arrangements which are still to be made. The House recognises that keeping an Army of 55,000 men in Germany, together with a substantial number of aircraft, is a heavy financial burden. The latest estimated balance of payments costs of our Forces there for 1975–76 is about £400 million. The Federal Republic has helped us to offset those costs in the past and we expect it to do so in the future.

I must repeat that we are not saying that the official savings are painless—on the contrary, as witness the reaction of our civilian staffs. From the beginning, however, the central importance of NATO was clearly established, not only by Defence Ministers but by the Prime Minister and the whole of the Cabinet. We do not believe that our measures have weakened NATO. I am sure Conservative hon. Members will accept that they do no service to NATO by suggesting otherwise, once the events of today are over.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State paid a proper tribute to the civilian staffs yesterday. I become irritated by remarks suggesting that our civilian staffs—"civil servants" and "officials" are the pejorative words usually applied—can be lightly discarded after years of efficient and devoted service to successive Administrations. These are difficult times for them, but we hope that close consultation will ease the problems. As often as is possible we shall identify the options well ahead of decisions, so that the views of staff and trade unions can be taken fully into account. I recognise that the need for confidentiality at certain stages raises the question of when, and in what manner, hon. Members should be informed. I ask the House to recognise our management responsibilities towards our civilian staff.

To return to the heart of the matter, I am satisfied that the cuts announced in the Public Expenditure White Paper are consistent with Britain's commitment to the collective security of the West through NATO. In that sense, I have nothing to withdraw from what I said in the House on 13th May 1974 about the acceptability of defence savings generally or from what I said on my own account on 10th December 1975.

It would be rash to predict the future. A rashness which is so attractive in others is often dangerous for a politician. No one can say for sure what will happen to our economy. No one can say for sure how current defence programmes will work out. No one can say for sure whether there will be progress in the MBFR talks. I was glad to note that the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet hopes that there will be progress.

While, however, the present cuts are acceptable and the search for economies continues in any well-run Department, I do not see room for further similar cuts in the foreseeable future. [HON. MEMBERS: "That was what the right hon. Gentleman said last year."] For me at least, enough is enough. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Here I rest with my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) in what he said today.

In the few closing minutes I shall try to define the extent of my agreement and disagreement with my hon. Friends below the Gangway. I agree with them that war is obscene. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East summed it up yesterday when he said that he was opposed to war and militarism on humanitarian grounds. On that basis we are all opposed to war. It is perverse and horrifying that the nations of the world spend to much of their skill in seeking to produce and perfect weapons of mass destruction. It is tragic that even the smallest and poorest of them eagerly seek sophisticated equipment at vast expense.

But pacifism must define its terms. As a personal commitment, it earns respect What is not acceptable, however, is to fall short of a declaration of pacifism but to advocate a course which subtly leads to unilateral disarmament. This is where the greatest dangers lie: to say that we should constantly save on defence without indicating where we should stop; to advocate the cancellation of weapons systems without showing by what alternative means the need can be met; to deplore the scenario whereby NATO confronts the Warsaw Pact without explaining how it can be changed consistent with stability.

The shortcomings of the Opposition are of a different kind. They see defence and defence expenditure as inviolate, separate from the prosaic and humdrum problems of every day. They believe that provided the armour is shining bright there is no need to look at the condition of the man inside. Of course, they are aware of the harsh realities of economic life. My right hon. Friend hit the nail on the head yesterday in his intervention drawing attention to their record when in Government. When they are in Opposition, they adopt a totally different stance. I noticed the declaration of Conservative defence policy yesterday contained in three pale sentences quoted from what the Leader of the Opposition had said.

If a week is a long time in politics, two years speaking from this Bench on defence can feel like a lifetime. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] But, given the hazards of the ballot box, who knows but

that this experience may now be moving peacefully towards its close? Looking back, however, I am more than ever convinced that it is a central task of Government—of all Governments—to find a means of continuing to ensure the adequate defence of Britain even when the going is rough. The money we spend pays for men and arms, the outward and visible signs of our defence. But the purpose is measured by the fact of this Parliament over which you preside, Mr. Speaker, by the values we cherish, by our right to a vision of what could be better, and by our freedom to realise it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 263, Noes 309.

Division No. 104. AYES [10.0 p m.
Adley, Robert Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Higgins, Terence L.
Aitken, Jonathan Dodsworth, Geoffrey Holland, Philip
Alison, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hordern, Peter
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Drayson, Burnaby Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Arnold, Tom du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Howell, David (Guildford)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Durant, Tony Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Awdry, Daniel Dykes, Hugh Hunt, David (Wirral)
Baker, Kenneth Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Hunt, John
Banks, Robert Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hurd, Douglas
Bell, Ronald Elliott, Sir William Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Emery, Peter Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Eyre, Reginald James, David
Benyon, W. Fairbairn, Nicholas Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)
Berry, Hon Anthony Fairgrieve, Russell Jessel, Toby
Biffen, John Farr, John Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Biggs-Davison, John Fell, Anthony Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Blaker, Peter Finsberg, Geoffrey Jopling, Michael
Body, Richard Fisher, Sir Nigel Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Bottomley, Peter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Fookes, Miss Janet Kershaw, Anthony
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Forman, Nigel Kimball, Marcus
Bradford, Rev Robert Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) King, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Braine, Sir Bernard Fox, Marcus King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Brittan, Leon Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Kirk, Sir Peter
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Fry, Peter Kitson, Sir Timothy
Brotherton, Michael Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Knight, Mrs Jill
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Knox, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Lamont, Norman
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Lane, David
Buck, Anthony Glyn, Dr Alan Langford-Holt, Sir John
Budgen, Nick Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Latham, Michael (Melton)
Bulmer, Esmond Goodhew, Victor Lawrence, Ivan
Burden, F. A. Goodlad, Alastair Lawson, Nigel
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Gorst, John Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Carlisle, Mark Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Lloyd, Ian
Carson, John Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Loveridge, John
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Luce, Richard
Channon, Paul Gray, Hamish McAdden, Sir Stephen
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Griffiths, Eldon McCrindle, Robert
Clark, William(Croydon S) Grist, Ian McCusker, H.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grylls, Michael Macfarlane, Neil
Clegg, Walter Hall, Sir John MacGregor, John
Cockcroft, John Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Cope, John Hampson, Dr Keith McNalr-Wllson, P. (New Forest)
Cordis, John H. Hannam, John Madel, David
Cormack, Patrick Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Corrie, John Harvle Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Marten, Neil
Costain, A. P. Hastings, Stephen Mates, Michael
Critchley, Julian Havers, Sir Michael Mather, Carol
Crouch, David Hawkins, Paul Maude, Angus
Crowder, F. P. Heseltlne, Michael Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Hicks, Robert Mawby, Ray
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Pym, Rt Hon Francis Stanbrook, Ivor
Mayhew, Patrick Raison, Timothy Stanley, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rathbone, Tim Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Stokes, John
Mills, Peter Rees-Davies, W. R. Stradling Thomas, J.
Miscampbell, Norman Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Tapsell, Peter
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Moate, Roger Ridley, Hon Nicholas Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Molyneaux, James Rifkind, Malcolm Tebbit, Norman
Monro, Hector Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Temple-Morris, Peter
Montgomery, Fergus Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Moore, John (Croydon C) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Townsend, Cyril D.
Morgan, Geraint Ross, William (Londonderry) Trotter, Neville
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Tugendhat, Christopher
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Royle, Sir Anthony Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Sainsbury, Tim Vlggers, Peter
Mudd, David St. John-Stevas, Norman Wakeham, John
Neave, Airey Scott, Nicholas Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Nelson, Anthony Scott-Hopkins, James Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Neubert, Michael Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walters, Dennis
Newton, Tony Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Warren, Kenneth
Normanton, Tom Shelton, William (Streatham) Wealherill, Bernard
Nott, John Shepherd, Colin Wells, John
Onslow, Cranley Shersby, Michael Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Silvester, Fred Wiggin, Jerry
Page, John (Harrow West) Sims, Roger Winterton, Nicholas
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Skeet, T. H. H. Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Pattle, Geoffrey Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Percival, Ian Speed, Keith Younger, Hon, George
Pink, R. Bonner Spence, John
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Splcer, Michael (S Worcester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, David (Eastlelgh) Sproat, lain Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Prior, Rt Hon James Stainton, Keith Mr. Cecil Parkinson
Abse, Leo Concannon, J. D. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Allaun, Frank Conlan, Bernard Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Anderson, Donald Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Ford, Ben
Archer, Peter Corbett, Robin Forrester, John
Armstrong, Ernest Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Ashley, Jack Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Ashton, Joe Crawford, Douglas Freeson, Reginald
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Crawshaw, Richard Freud, Clement
Atkinson, Norman Cronin, John Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Cryer, Bob George, Bruce
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Gilbert, Dr John
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Ginsburg, David
Bates, Alf Dalyell, Tarn Golding, John
Bean, R. E. Davidson, Arthur Gould, Bryan
Bermett, Andrew (Stockport N) Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Gourlay, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Denzil (LlaNeili) Graham, Ted
Bishop, E. S. Davies, Ifor (Gower) Grant, George (Morpeth)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C) Grant, John (Islington C)
Boardman, H. Deakins, Eric Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Grocott, Bruce
Boothroyd, Miss Betty de Freltas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Delargy, Hugh Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Hardy, Peter
Bradley, Tom Dempsey, James Harper, Joseph
Bray, Dr Jeremy Doig, Peter Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Duffy, A. E. P. Hatton, Frank
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Dunn, James A. Hayman, Mrs Helene
Buchen, Norman Dunnett, Jack Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Buchanan, Richard Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Heffer, Eric S.
Butler, Mrs Joyce(Wood Green) Eadle, Alex Hooley, Frank
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Edge, Geoff Hooson, Emlyn
Campbell, Ian Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Horam, John
Canavan, Dennis Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Howell, Rt Hon Denis
Cant, R. B. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Carmlchael, Neil English, Michael Huckfield, Les
Carter, Ray Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Evans, Gwyntor (Carmarthen) Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Cartwright, John Evans, loan (Aberdare) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Evans, John (Newton) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Clemitson, Ivor Ewlng, Harry (Stirling) Hunter, Adam
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Faulds, Andrew Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Cohen, Stanley Fernyhough, Rt Hon E Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Coleman, Donald Flannery, Martin Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Janner, Greville Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, lichen) Silverman, Julius
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Molloy, William Skinner, Dennis
Jeger, Mrs Lena Moonman, Eric Small, William
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Spearing, Nigel
John, Brynmor Moyle, Roland Spriggs, Leslie
Johnson, James (Hull West) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Stallard, A. W.
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Newens, Stanley Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Noble, Mike Stoddart, David
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Oakes, Gordon Stott, Roger
Judd, Frank Ogden, Eric Strang, Gavin
Kaufman, Gerald O'Halloran, Michael Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Kerr, Russell Orbach, Maurice Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Swain, Thomas
Kinnock Neil Ovenden, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Lambie, David Owen, Dr David Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lamborn, Harry Padley, Walter Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Lamond, James Palmer, Arthur Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Park, George Thompson, George
Leadbitter, Ted Parker, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Lee, John Parry, Robert Tierney, Sydney
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Pavitt, Laurie Tinn, James
Lever, Rt Hon Harold Peart, Rt Hon Fred Tomlinson, John
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Pendry, Tom Torney, Tom
Upton, Marcus Penhaligon, David Tuck, Raphael
Litterick, Tom Perry, Ernest Urwin, T. W.
Lomas, Kenneth Phipps, Dr Colin Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Loyden, Eddie Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wainwrlght, Edwin (Dearne V)
Luard, Evan Prescott, John Waiden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Price. C. (Lewlsham W) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Price, Wililam (Rugby) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Radice, Giles watkins, David
McCartney, Hugh Reid, George Watkinos, John
MacCormick, lain Richardson, Miss Jo Watt, Hamish
McElhone, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton) weetch Ken
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Weitzman, David
Mackintosh, John P. Robinson, Geoffrey Welsh Andrew
Maclennan, Robert Roderick, Caerwyn White,' Frank R. (Bury)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Rodgers, George (Chorley) White, James (Pollok)
McNamara, Kevin Rodgers, William (Stockton) Whitehead, Phillip
Madden, Max Rooker, J. W. Whitlock, William
Magee, Bryan Roper, John Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Mahon, Simon Rose, Paul B. Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Marks, Kenneth Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Williams, Sir Thomas
Marquand, David Rowlands, Ted Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Sandelson, Neville Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sedgemore, Brian Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Selby, Harry Wise, Mrs Audrey
Maynard, Miss Joan Shaw, Arnold (llford South) Woodall, Alec
Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Woof, Robert
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wrlgglesworth, Ian
Mendelson, John Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C) Young, David (Bolton E)
Mikardo, Ian Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Millan, Bruce Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Mr. J. D. Dormand and
Miller, Mrs Millie (IIford N) Sillars, James Mr. Peter Snape.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 305, Noes 257.

Division No. 105.] AYES [10.14 p.m.
Abse, Leo Booth, Rt Hon Albert Clemitson, Ivor
Allaun, Frank Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)
Anderson, Donald Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Cohen, Stanley
Archer, Peter Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Coleman, Donald
Armstrong, Ernest Bradley, Tom Colquhoun, Ms Maureen
Ashley, Jack Bray, Dr Jeremy Concannon, J. D.
Ashton, Joe Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Conlan, Bernard
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Atkinson, Norman Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Corbett, Robin
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Buchan, Norman Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Buchanan, Richard Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Butler, Mrs Joyce(Wood Green) Crawford, Douglas
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Crawshaw, Richard
Bates, Alf Campbell, Ian Cronin, John
Bean, R. E. Cant, R. B. Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Carmichael, Neil Cryer, Bob
Bldwell, Sydney Carter, Ray Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Bishop, E. S. Carter-Jones, Lewis Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cartwright, John Daryell, Tarn
Boardman, H. Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Davidson, Arthur
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) John, Brynmor Reid, George
Davies, Denzil (LlaNelli) Johnson, James (Hull West) Richardson, Miss Jo
Davies, lfor (Gower) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C) Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roberts, Gwllym (Cannock)
Deakins, Erie Jones, Barry (East Flint) Robinson, Geoffrey
Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roderick, Caerwyn
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Judd, Frank Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Delargy, Hugh Kaufman, Gerald Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Kerr, Russell Rooker, J. W.
Dempsey, James Kilroy-Silk, Robert Roper, John
Dolg, Peter Kinnock Neil Rose, Paul B.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamble, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Duffy, A. E. P. Lamborn, Harry Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Dunn, James A. Lamond, James Rowlands, Ted
Dunnett, Jack Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Sandelson, Neville
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Leadbitter, Ted Sedgemore, Brian
Eadie, Alex Lee, John Selby, Harry
Edge, Geoff Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Shaw, Arnold (llford South)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lever, Rt Hon Harold Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Elite, John (Brigg & Scun) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Lipton, Marcus Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
English, Michael Litterick, Tom Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Loyden, Eddie Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Luard, Evan Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Evans, John (Newton) Lyon, Alexander (York) Silverman, Julius
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Skinner, Dennis
Faulds, Andrew Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Small, William
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E McCartney, Hugh Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Flannery, Martin MacCormick, lain Spearing, Nigel
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McElhone, Frank Spriggs, Leslie
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Stallard, A. W.
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mackintosh, John P. Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Ford, Ben Maclennan, Robert Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Forrester, John McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Stoddart, David
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) McNamara, Kevin Stott, Roger
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Madden, Max Strang, Gavin
Freeson, Reginald Magee, Bryan Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Freud, Clement Mahon, Simon Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mallalleu, J. P. W. Swain, Thomas
Garrelt, W. E. (Wallsend) Marks, Kenneth Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
George, Bruce Marquand, David Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Gilbert, Dr John Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Ginsburg, David Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Golding, John Mason, Rt Hon Roy Thompson, George
Gould, Bryan Maynard, Miss Joan Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Gourlay, Harry Meacher, Michael Tierney, Sydney
Graham, Ted Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Tinn, James
Grant, George (Morpeth) Mendelson, John Tomlinson, John
Grant, John (Islington C) Mikardo, Ian Torney, Tom
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Millan, Bruce Tuck, Raphael
Grocott, Bruce Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Urwin, T. W.
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Miller, Mrs Millie (llford N) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hardy, Peter Molloy, William Waiden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Harper, Joseph Moonman, Eric Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Ward, Michael
Hatton, Frank Moyle, Roland Watkins, David
Hayman, Mrs Helene Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Watklnson, John
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Watt, Hamish
Heffer, Eric S. Newens, Stanley Weetch, Ken
Hooley, Frank Noble, Mike Weitzman, David
Hooson, Emlyn Oakes, Gordon Welsh, Andrew
Horam, John Ogden, Eric White, Frank R. (Bury)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis O'Halloran, Michael White, James (Pollok)
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Orbach, Maurice Whitehead, Phillip
Huckfield, Les Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Whitiock, William
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Ovenden, John Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Owen, Dr David Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Padley, Walter Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Hughes. Roy (Newport) Palmer, Arthur Williams, Sir Thomas
Hunter, Adam Park, George Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Parker, John Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Parry, Robert Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Pavitt, Laurie Wise, Mrs Audrey
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Peart, Rt Hon Fred Woodall, Alec
Perry, Ernest Pendry, Tom Woof, Robert
Phipps, Dr Colin Penhaligon, David Wrlgglesworth, Ian
Janner, Greville Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Young, David (Bolton E)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Prescott, John
Jeger, Mrs Lena Price, C. (Lewlsham W) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Price, William (Rugby) Mr.[...] D. Dormand
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Radice, Giles Mr. Peter Snape.
Adley, Robert Glyn, Dr Alan Miscampbell, Norman
Aitken, Jonathan Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Alison, Michael Goodhew, Victor Moate, Roger
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Goodlad, Alastair Monro, Hector
Arnold, Tom Gorst, John Montgomery, Fergus
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Moore, John (Croydon C)
Awdry, Daniel Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Baker, Kenneth Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Morgan, Geraint
Banks, Robert Gray, Hamish Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Bell, Ronald Griffiths, Eldon Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Grist, Ian Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Grylls, Michael Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Benyon, W. Hall, Sir John Mudd, David
Berry, Hon Anthony Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Neave, Airey
Biffen, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nelson, Anthony
Biggs-Davison, John Hampson, Dr Keith Neubert, Michael
Blaker, Peter Hannam, John Newton, Tony
Body, Richard Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Normanton, Tom
Boscawen, Hon Robert Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nott, John
Bottomley, Peter Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Havers, Sir Michael Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hawkins, Paul Page, John (Harrow West)
Braine, Sir Bernard Heseltine, Michael Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Brittan, Leon Hicks, Robert Pattle, Geoffrey
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Higgins, Terence L. Percival, Ian
Brotherton, Michael Holland, Philip Pink, R. Bonner
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hordern, Peter Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bryan, Sir Paul Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Prior, Rt Hon James
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Howell, David (Guildford) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Buck, Anthony Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Raison, Timothy
Budgen, Nick Hunt, David (Wirral) Rathbone, Tim
Bulmer, Esmond Hunt, John Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Burden, F. A. Hurd, Douglas Rees-Davies, W. R.
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hutchison, Michael Clark Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Carlisle, Mark Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda James, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Channon, Paul Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Rifkind, Malcolm
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Jessel, Toby Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Clark, William(Croydon S) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Clegg, Walter Jopling, Michael Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Cockcroft, John Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Kaberry, Sir Donald Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Cope, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Royle, Sir Anthony
Cordle, John H. Kershaw, Anthony Salnsbury, Tim
Cormack, Patrick Kimball, Marcus St. John-Stevas, Norman
Corrie, John King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Scott, Nicholas
Costain, A. P. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Scott-Hopkins, James
Crltchley, Julian Kirk, Sir Peter Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Crouch, David Kitson, Sir Timothy Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Crowder, F. P. Knight, Mrs Jill Shelton, William (Streatham)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Knox, David Shepherd, Colin
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Lamont, Norman Shersby, Michael
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Lane, David Silvester, Fred
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Langford-Holt, Sir John Sims, Roger
Drayson, Burnaby Latham, Michael (Melton) Skeet, T. H. H.
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lawrence, Ivan Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Durant, Tony Lawson, Nigel Speed, Keith
Dykes, Hugh Lester, Jim (Beeston) Spence, John
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lloyd, Ian Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Loveridge, John Sproat, lain
Elliott, Sir William Luce, Richard Stainton, Keith
Emery, Peter McAdden, Sir Stephen Stanbrook, Ivor
Eyre, Reginald McCrindle, Robert Stanley, John
Fairbairn, Nicholas Macfarlane, Neil Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Fairgrieve, Russell MacGregor, John Stokes, John
Farr, John Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stradling Thomas, J.
Fell, Anthony McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Tapsell, Peter
Finsberg, Geoffrey McNalr-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Madel, David Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Tebbit, Norman
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Marten, Neil Temple-Morris, Peter
Fookes, Miss Janet Mates, Michael Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Forman, Nigel Mather, Carol Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Maude, Angus Townsend, Cyril D.
Fox, Marcus Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Trotter, Neville
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Mawby, Ray Tugendhat, Christopher
Fry, Peter Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin van Straubenzee, W. R.
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Mayhew, Patrick Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Gardner, Edward (S Fyide) Meyer, Sir Anthony Viggers, Peter
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Wakeham, John
Gilmour. Sir John (East Fife) Mills, Peter Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Younger, Hon George
Walters, Dennis Wlggin, Jerry
Warren, Kenneth Winterton, Nicholas TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Weatherill, Bernard Wood, Rt Hon Richard Mr, Spencer Le. Marchant and
Wells, John Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton) Mr. Cecil Parkinson.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House, recognising the need to provide adequately for the nation's security, welcomes the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1976 (Command Paper No. 6432): and, being aware of the economic factors which have led to cuts in all sectors of public spending, notes with approval that the defence cuts envisaged will fall on support services rather than on front-line forces, thereby maintaining the British contribution to NATO, the security and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and peace in Northern Ireland.