HC Deb 21 February 1978 vol 944 cc1198-9
9. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure implementation of the recommendation from the North Atlantic Assembly that the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, be given reinforced authority to plan for protection of vital shipping lanes, in particular in the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Mr. Mulley

The NATO Defence Planning Committee authorised SACLANT in 1972 to undertake contingency planning for the protection of allied merchant shipping outside the NATO area in time of tension or war. A plan has been prepared, but it has yet to be approved by NATO.

Mr. Wall

Will the right hon. Gentleman say when the plan is likely to be approved, bearing in mind that it was five years ago that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation made its recommendation to the Council?

Mr. Mulley

The recommendation, which I think was sponsored by the hon. Gentleman, was made by the Assembly. However, it is much easier to pass resolutions than to give effect to them. A number of member countries of the Alliance have asked for more time to consider these plans. In any event, they could not be published because the whole purpose is to provide contingency plans in time of tension.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

What is Her Majesty's Government's policy?

Mr. Mulley

I can say that it is not because of any reservations on the part of Her Majesty's Government that the delay has occurred.

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