HC Deb 09 November 1976 vol 919 cc205-6
14. Miss Richardson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence to which weapon programmes the recent nuclear test was related.

Mr. Mulley

I have nothing to add to the report that I gave my hon. Friend on 12th October 1976.

Miss Richardson

With respect to my right hon. Friend, that is a non-answer. The answer that I got before was also a non-answer in that sense, because it was a matter of routine testing of nuclear weapons. Why cannot this House be given more information? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding these matters? Other countries, such as France and West Germany, have much information given to them about weapons programmes, which we seem unable to get.

Mr. Mulley

It has never been the practice of successive Governments to give details of nuclear test programmes. I am sure that my hon. Friend knows that the West German Government do not have nuclear weapons. As far as I am aware, the French Government give no more prior information on their tests than we do.

Mr. Blaker

Does the Secretary of State accept that the Opposition agreed when the Government carried out the recent test, and will he confirm that it is Government policy to maintain the effectiveness of our nuclear defence?

Mr. Mulley

It is our policy to maintain the effectiveness of our deterrent. But I repeat the assurance given by my predecessor that we are not concerned to develop a new generation of weapons or, as is sometimes argued, to add a MIRV capability to our existing weapons.

Mr. MacFarquhar

If we are not developing a new generation of nuclear weapons, until what time and at what cost will the present generation be effective?

Mr. Mulley

It is not possible to give an exact date. But it is necessary that the weapons be refurbished from time to time, and this is the course on which we are engaged.