HC Deb 10 February 1976 vol 905 cc219-20
9. Mr. James Lamond

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has taken any actions as a result of the signing by the Government of the Helsinki Final Act.

Mr. Mason

In accordance with the military confidence building measures contained in the Helsinki Final Act, we and our NATO allies have given prior notification of eight military manoeuvres, three of which were above the level of 25,000 troops. United Kingdom forces have taken part in four of these manoeuvres.

Mr. Lamond

I welcome the Minister's answer, but rather than building up greater supplies of arms in this country would it not be better to build confidence and friendship between the European nations? Will my right hon. Friend, in furtherance of that end, use his Department to assist by inviting to our manoeuvres observers from various European nations, as is suggested in the Helsinki Final Act

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is not a time for advancing arguments.

Mr. Mason

I tried to indicate in my initial reply that we are carrying out the voluntary aspect of the Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement. We are notifying Russia and Warsaw Pact Powers of major military manoeuvres involving more than 25,000 troops. On the 4th January the Russians indicated, for the first time, that there was to be a major military manoeuvre off the Turkish coastline. They notified the Turks and the Greeks, and invited observers. They realise that they are on test. We hone that they will be forthcoming on the voluntary aspects of the Final Act.

Mr. Cormack

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the activities of the Soviets in Angola show that the Helsinki Final Act was an absolutely meaningless charade and that détente is spurious and dangerous nonsense?

Mr. Mason

The Brezhnev doctrine is operating in Angola as it tried to operate in Portugal. In Portugal it failed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take some comfort from the fact that the Brezhnev doctrine, with its ideological conflicts in the various parts of the world, especially in the underdeveloped regions, will not always succeed.

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