HC Deb 24 February 1977 vol 926 cc1625-7
Q1. Mr. Churchill

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the coordination between the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to Her Majesy's Government's response to the NATO offer of an intelligence briefing for Allied political leaders.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)


Mr. Churchill

I thank the Prime Minister for that reply, but will he say whether it would be his intention to make this intelligence briefing on the Soviet threat available also to Opposition parties? Secondly, is he aware of the statement by Secretary General Brezhnev to Warsaw Pact Heads of Government in 1973, that it was the aim of the Soviet Union to be in a position to dictate to the rest of the world by 1985? Does he feel that that is a significant report?

The Prime Minister

As I believe she knows from previous exchanges a year ago, if the Leader of the Opposition wished to join in such a defence briefing such a facility would be made available on the usual basis. As for the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers, of a speech made by Mr. Brezhnev, those remarks were evaluated at the time, but there were differences of opinion as to the significance that should be attached to them.

Mr. Watkinson

Will my right hon. Friend ignore the warmongering of the Opposition and refer them to the works of Dr. Kissinger and Admiral Stansfield-Turner, the latter having recently pointed out that NATO retains a clear qualitative superiority in all arms?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I believe it is true that the NATO Alliance is perfectly capable of meeting any threat. It is also true that the Soviet Union has been spending more resources on defence in recent years. Both these factors must be taken into account. However, it is the opinion of the NATO Allies that basic Soviet policy is still one of seeking d¹tente with the West.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Despite the many distractions that assail the Prime Minister at the moment, will he arrange for himself an intelligence briefing about Soviet activities in the continent of Africa? Will he seek to arrange for his NATO colleagues to pay attention to the same important sector?

The Prime Minister

I try to keep up with intelligence matters in Africa, as elsewhere. I can promise the hon. and gallant Gentleman that my distractions are as nothing compared with the difficulties that the Conservative Party will fall into shortly.

Mr. Pardoe

Will the Prime Minister confirm that over the past 20 years the expenditure of the Warsaw Pact Powers on their military effort has been almost identical with the expenditure of the NATO Powers on their military effort? Does he accept that the whole problem is the comparable efficiency of the expenditure between the two sides? Does he accept that we need much greater integration, in defence terms and politically, in Western Europe?

The Prime Minister

Yes, there are constant efforts through the Eurogroup and in other ways to secure better cohesion in Western defence. It is not good enough yet, but national identities are involved, and it must be a slow process.

Mr. Litterick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last year I and a number of Members from both sides of the House met senior American military intelligence officers, including a general, who, in the course of the meetings, demonstrated quite clearly the ludicrous and grotesque unreality of the Conservative Party's line on defence?

The Prime Minister

I am willing to accept that that could be so. I must say that President Carter's approach on these matters is one that commends itself to me, and I think that it is of assistance to the whole of the West. There is no doubt that both for the budgets of the West and the budgets of the Warsaw Pact countries the levels of arms expenditure are too high.

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