HC Deb 11 March 1980 vol 980 cc1143-5
17. Mr. Temple-Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends next to meet the United States Secretary for Defence.

Mr. Pym

I expect to meet Dr. Brown in May when I attend the NATO ministerial meetings in Brussels.

Mr. Temple-Morris

When my right hon. Friend next meets Secretary Brown, how far will he feel able to go in expressing satisfaction with American progress towards getting military facilities in the South-West Asian area? Will my right hon. Friend stress the importance, of these facilities and urge the Americans to get a move on?

Mr. Pym

We are in consultation with our allies about the consequences of the events in Afghanistan. I cannot say that that subject will be discussed at the NATO meetings, because it would be out of NATO's remit. However, I shall seek an opportunity to have a private discussion with the United States' Secretary for Defence—not only then, but at other times when it seems appropriate, convenient and necessary.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Secretary of State discuss with Dr. Brown the speech made last night in Heidelberg by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath)? Does the Secretary of State accept or reject the view that severing political, economic and social contacts with the Soviet Union should be no part of our foreign policy?

Mr. Pym

That raises questions that are far outside my remit and would be more appropriate for the Lord Privy Seal. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) was very interesting and I am sure that importance will be attached to it.

Mr. Amery

Without asking for any detailed commitment, may I urge my right hon. Friend to make it clear to the House that we shall be alongside our American allies, in however small a part we can afford, in anything that they do to ensure the defence of South-West Asia and the Gulf?

Mr. Pym

We have a capability in our Forces for work and action outside the NATO area. We are in close and constant touch with our American and other allies, and naturally we are joining in the assessments that are being made in Europe as well. Obviously we cannot make any commitments specifically, but the whole spirit of what we are doing is to analyse the possible ways in which Forces might be required, and as far as we are able we shall co-operate when the circumstances require us to do so. My right hon. Friend can be assured that we are in close touch with the Americans.