HC Deb 11 March 1980 vol 980 c1145
18. Mr. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects next to meet the Defence Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Pym

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today.

Mr. Cook

Will the Secretary of State recall his assurances to the House that the NATO Council of Ministers regards initiatives for negotiations on arms control of theatre nuclear weapons as every bit as important as the deployment of cruise missiles? As that initiative foresaw negotiations taking place in the context of SALT III, what does he expect the Council of Ministers to do at its next meeting to revise that package now that SALT II has been withdrawn from the Senate?

Mr. Pym

I have no responsibility for the Council of Ministers. Naturally, the hon. Member's comments about the SALT II and SALT III are accurate. There is no question but that the progress that we were making towards arms control has received a severe knock as a result of the events in Afghanistan. Consultations and discussions are continuing in Vienna, but we must face the fact that work in the area of detente has received a setback. We all hope that it will be possible to make progress before too long, so that verifiable and balanced reductions can be made.

Mr. Thompson

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to discuss the recent attacks on British soldiers in Germany by the murderers for a United Socialist Ireland?

Mr. Pym

That is more a matter for our own forces than those of NATO. Naturally, it is the cause of some considerable anxiety. We are taking all the steps that we can to warn our soldiers and to increase the protection for our troops in Germany.