§ 6. Mr. James Lamond
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will seek to place on the agenda at the next meeting of NATO Defence Ministers the matter of the possible deployment of Pershing II missiles.
§ Mr. Lamond
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the speeches by President Brezhnev and Mr. Gromyko recently were no doubt seriously and sincerely meant? Rather than make a decision of this kind and run the disarmament talks in parallel, would it not be 1086 better to postpone this decision in order to give the Vienna talks the best possible hope of success, in accordance with the speeches that were made on our behalf at the United Nations' Special Session in New York?
§ Mr. Pym
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the talks in Vienna have been going on for a very long time. Naturally, we should like to see progress made there. So far it has been, and it is today, the view of the NATO Alliance that the modernisation programme has become necessary in view of what has occurred on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But that approach, which we shall consider next month, is, as the hon. Gentleman knows, coupled with an arms control approach. We shall consider both together because they are two sides of the same coin.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
As nuclear confrontation and tension can lead to war, certainly since the Americans have their finger on the button, will the Government try to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons by postponing, for 12 months at least, the decision on the new generation of Pershing and cruise missiles?
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
Would it not help arms control negotiations, and the possible consideration of the modernisation of theatre nuclear weapons, if the Soviet Union were to make a meaningful offer to halt production of the SS20 and Backfire bomber and to withdraw those already deployed against this country and Western Europe?
§ Mr. Wall
Is not the present position that with the SS20 the Soviet Union could hit any place in Europe, and that we have no means of hitting back by tactical nuclear weapons? Therefore, is not the modernisation of our weapons essential, and would not that give us a leverage towards SALT III, which most people want?
§ Mr. Rodgers
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that even many committed supporters of NATO feel that the Government's response to Mr. Brezhnev's statement has been brusque, negative and lacking in any positive initiative? Will he indicate, if not to the House today, very soon and before 12 December in a full debate in Government time, what the Government's attitude is to containing the nuclear arms race and to positive measures of arms control and disarmament?