HC Deb 19 May 1981 vol 5 cc149-50
19. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether any consultations have been held with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies about possible changes in priorities of the United Kingdom's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation roles.

Mr. Nott

The Alliance is aware of the current work in hand on our future defence programme. The details will be worked through in accordance with normal Alliance planning procedures.

Mr. Miller

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that any change in our NATO commitment or role would require not only consultation with our allies but their consent?

Mr. Nott

All changes to NATO declarations are proposed and discussed within NATO. They take place constantly. Whenever we or our allies seek to make a change, as often happens, the changes are, of course, the subject of NATO consultations.

Mr. Marks

Has the Secretary of State discussed with our NATO allies the gross disparity between the proportion that this country pays and that which other European countries pay towards NATO? Are not we taking on too many commitments? Does the Secretary of State regard it as fair that we contribute more than Germany and France, which have a higher gross national product?

Mr. Nott

Apart from very small sums of money for items such as infrastructure, which are NATO-funded, we do not contribute anything to NATO. We contribute to our own defence, which is a quite different matter. Our defence is part of the collective defence of NATO but we do not contribute to NATO in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a primarily underwater fleet would not be the best way to safeguard NATO's convoy lines?

Mr. Nott

There are a whole host of ways of safeguarding NATO's convoy lines. I think that submarines would be one very important way, but only one.

Mr. Leighton

Will the Minister explain whether there is any connection between these changes in priorities and the resignation of one of his principal colleagues.

Mr. Cryer

Resignation? He was sacked.

Mr. Nott

The hon. Gentleman must ask my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend must give his own reasons, as no doubt he may seek to do in the debate.

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