HC Deb 16 November 1982 vol 32 cc135-6
5. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a further statement concerning Argentine weapons and equipment discarded in the Falkland Islands; and if any uses can be found for such material within the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Wiggin

We are continuing to examine and, where appropriate, recover to the United Kingdom, Argentine military equipment left on the Falkland Islands. The majority of items being retained are for operational use by our own forces or for technical evaluation.

Mr. Atkins

I am grateful for that reply. To what extent does my hon. Friend think the Territorial or reserve forces can use some of the equipment that has been left behind, thereby enabling them to have more ammunition than would otherwise be available? To what extent are the weapons or equipment being returned to this country for evaluation likely to be used by our forces?

Mr. Wiggin

We are evaluating all these factors. If the Territorial Army has requirements that can be filled by this equipment, it may well be issued with such equipment. I am afraid that I cannot quantify the matter, as research is proceeding at the present time.

Mr. James Lamond

As Conservative Members, and in particular the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins), continually stress, erroneously, that our enormous defence expenditure creates jobs, is it not rather illogical of the hon. Member to suggest that we should revert to using secondhand military equipment?

Mr. Wiggin

In the interests of the taxpayer, my Department will always use that which is available to it. In this case all the equipment is in excellent order and will be of use to our forces.

Mr. Hoyle

Were any Exocet missiles containing British components supplied to Argentina during the Falklands campaign? Did any of the Exocet missiles that were used during this campaign contain any British components? If so, what were those components?

Mr. Wiggin

That is a long way from the original question, The facts about the Exocet missiles are well known.