HC Deb 20 July 1983 vol 46 cc392-478
Mr. Speaker

I draw the attention of the House to the fact that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I ask, therefore, for brief contributions today.

4.11 pm
The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)

In opening the second day of the debate, I should like to describe the purpose of our defence procurement effort, some of the equipment programmes currently under way and those planned for the future, and our relations with industry.

This year we shall spend over £7 billion on defence equipment. The proportion of our defence budget that that represents has steadily been increasing and now stands at 46 per cent. That vast sum takes a substantial proportion of the total output of several sectors of British industry, for over 90 per cent. of it is spent with British suppliers. The primary purpose of expenditure on defence equipment is, of course, to satisfy the needs of our armed forces. However, a secondary aim is to ensure the continuing existence of a national defence industrial base that is capable of satisfying those needs both now and in the future. The necessity of sustaining Britain's defence industries was vividly demonstrated last year by the testing requirements of the Falklands campaign and the dedication and versatility shown by our defence contractors in meeting those requirements during that period of crisis. Their contribution to our victory should not be underestimated.

In his speech closing the debate yesterday my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement spoke about some aspects of conventional equipment for the Royal Navy. I trust that there will be other occasions later in the year when my hon. Friend and I can give the House a more detailed report on all the major equipment programmes for our forces. However, I shall now describe some of the high technology equipment programmes currently under way for the Army and Air Force.

I should first emphasise that our high technology equipment developments are almost invariably a result of collaboration between the defence research establishments, where the fundamental work on a particular defence application will have been carried out, and industry where the high technology elements are incorporated into a particular weapon system. Much defence research is in high technology, and Ministry of Defence establishments have a well-deserved reputation for excellent innovative work. For example, the royal signals and radar establishment at Malvern this year won two Queen's awards for technological achievement—for infra-red detectors and for high resolution X-ray detector crystals—taking its total tally to five awards since 1979.

Whilst research and development in the Ministry of Defence programme is, of course, directed towards defence objectives, the value of defence-inspired technology to industry at large is fully recognised. The Department attaches great importance to securing civil spin-off from defence research whenever possible. In the past, defence research has made major contributions to manufacturing industry in aerospace, consumer electronics — for examply, liquid crystal displays in calculators and digital watches—and engineering. We are always on the lookout for ways in which we can improve and facilitate the process of spin-off. Recently, we invited a wide range of industrialists, financiers, and management consultants to a seminar on spin-off, and we are about to commission a major management consultancy study into how greater benefits can be secured.

Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)

What my hon. Friend has said sounds very good, and I do not mean to decry it. However, is he aware that there has been criticism about the large proportion of our defence effort, in comparison with other countries, that goes on research and development? How convinced is my hon. Friend that some of that money might be better spent in the civilian area?

Mr. Pattie

I am aware of my hon. Friend's point. It is important for him and the House to appreciate that in the total research and development budget in the last full year of £1.8 billion, about £300 million was devoted to what we would understand as pure research and the other £1.5 billion was project-related. I take my hon. Friend's point, but we are meeting that criticism, which has been justified in the past, by ensuring that industry gets more contracts and is progressively more involved in our research programme.

Returning to the military application of defence research, a good example of the collaboration between research establishments and industry—in this case the royal ordnance factories—is the Challenger tank, fitted with Chobham armour developed at the military vehicles and engineering establishment. Over the next few years four regiments will be equipped with Challenger. I am sure that the House will recall that the first tank was rolled out by ROF Leeds in March this year. To keep pace with the ever-increasing size and quality of Warsaw pact armoured forces, we also have a programme of improvements that will keep both Challenger and Chieftain in the forefront of armoured warfare technology. Thermal imaging is another area where our research establishments—this time RSRE Malvern—have given us a world lead. To improve our night fighting capability—the importance of which was so well demonstrated in the Falklands last year—thermal imaging sights are being developed to fit both Chieftain and Challenger. In addition, thermal imaging night sights are being fitted to our Swingfire and Milan anti-tank guided missiles. That will enable them to be used more effectively at night and in conditions of poor visibility.

The RSRE also played a major role in the development of the Rapier missile system which, together with Blowpipe, provides the Army's integral air defence, the operational effectiveness of which was amply demonstrated in the Falklands campaign. Major improvement programmes are under way to maintain their operational effectiveness in the sophisticated electronic warfare environment to be expected during any conflict in Europe. By the end of next year, all towed Rapier units will have increased immunity to electronic countermeasures, enhanced surveillance radar and improved reliability and maintainability. Within the next year or two years, improvements to the Blowpipe missile and aiming unit should also be in service.

For the Army, I should like to mention some of our plans for new command, control and communications equipment, without which the Army could not function. The battlefield artillery target engagement system —BATES—is expected to enter service in the late 1980s. It is a computer-based system that will enable the artillery to make more effective and efficient use of existing resources by concentrating fire on the highest priority targets.

A prototype system of WAVELL — an automated command and control system that permits rapid handling of tactical intelligence and other data—has undergone successful trials with 1(BR) Corps. The first production contract is expected to be placed shortly. Although the equipment will not be fully into service until later in the decade, the first production deliveries of PTARMIGAN —the new trunk communications network—are expected this year.

For its role on the central front, the Royal Air Force will need an advanced agile fighter aircraft to meet the expected air threat in the central region in the mid-1990s and beyond. To give a sounder base for future decisions on an aircraft for that role, we are participating in the experimental aircraft programme, a joint venture involving both royal aeronautical establishment Farnborough and industry.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

Is my hon. Friend saying that the air staff has at long last officially stated a requirement for such an aeroplane? Surely that is the implication of his remarks when he says that the RAF will need such an aircraft.

Mr. Pattie

With respect, that is not the implication of my remarks. It is one thing to say that a need is recognised. That is clearly accepted by the Royal Air Force and by my ministerial colleagues. As my hon. Friend knows, an air staff target and requirement need precise delineation. That has not yet been achieved, but it is currently being worked for.

The experimental aircraft programme will bring together and demonstrate in one aircraft a number of advanced technologies which will be applicable to a variety of future aircraft designs. We are examining carefully with our European partners the potential for the collaborative development and production of a combat aircraft, and discussions so far have been encouraging.

Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

Is my hon. Friend aware that this country pioneered carbon fibre technology? I recognise that the Government do not have complete control over contractors, but is it not unacceptable that the prototypes of the agile combat aircraft are being built with Japanese carbon fibre when equivalent fibre is available in this country, which would provide British jobs?

Mr. Pattie

There must be an extremely good reason for that detailed development, and I shall be happy to look into it. I agree that we pioneered carbcn fibre, as we have pioneered so many other things but have not always recouped the benefits. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing that to my attention.

Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)

The urgency of this matter sometimes baffles me. The predecessor to this requirement—the AST403—existed when I arrived at the Ministry of Defence in 1976. Not much has been done in the past seven years. I am glad to have the Minister's assent to that. Is there now agreement within and between the Ministry of Defence and our allies on whether this aircraft should be optimised in the ground attack or air superiority role?

Mr. Pattie

The right hon. Gentleman, having previously done a job closely approximating to mine, will appreciate that there is an element of what one might call moving target about this kind of situation. The latest thinking is that an air-to-air superiority aircraft is envisaged, although such an aeroplane would obviously need to have a satisfactory ground attack capability.

There has been much interest by hon. Members in the choice of defence suppression weapons especially for the Tornado GR1, on which we hope to make an announcement shortly. For the present, there is nothing that I can add to earlier statements; and the subject was, of course, debated only last Wednesday. An anti-radiation missile is only a part, albeit important, of the comprehensive range of enhancements to our offensive support and strike attack aircraft as;ociated with the introduction into service of Tornado GR1, and subsequently, in the late 1980s, the Harrier GR5. We have placed the production order for the JP 233 airfield attack weapon to be carried on Tornado GR1 In addition, we are acquiring an improved version of the BL 755 anti-armour weapon as an interim measure until an advanced "smart" anti-armour weapon, for which studies are under way, is available in the 1990s. Tornado GR1 will carry the Sky Shadow electronic countermeasures pod, and the RAF's remaining Jaguar, Harrier GR3 and Harrier GR5 will be equipped with a radar warning receiver and active ECM equipment.

I should add a word about our experience of Tornado GRI now that it is in service. The RAF is delighted with the aeroplane, which is meeting reliability and performance standards. Nos. 9 and 617 squadrons are already operating with Tornados in the United Kingdom and the first RAF Germany squadron will redeploy to RAF Laarbruch this year. A total of seven Tornado GRI strike attack squadrons and a further Tornado GR1 reconnaissance squadron will eventually 13:, based in RAF Germany. One reconnaissance and two strike-attack squadrons of GR1s, plus aircraft of the Tornado weapons conversion unit will be based in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robert Atkins: (South Ribble)

I appreciate that my hon. Friend cannot give details, but will he confirm that the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office support the proposal to sell Tornado to Oman and to Greece, which is crucial to the development of the export potential of this aeroplane?

Mr. Pattie

I shall deal later with matters of substance relating to sales of defence equipment, but I can give my hon. Friend a simple one-word assurance—yes.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) asked several questions yesterday about the planned level of defence expenditure. In particular, he asked whether 3 per cent. growth and supplementary funding of Falklands expenditure would be extended beyond 1985–86 and whether growth higher than 3 per cent. would be planned to raise the nuclear threshold. He will not be surprised when I say that he must wait and see. The level of defence expenditure to 1986–87 will be considered in this year's public expenditure review. The issues that he mentioned will be addressed in that review, but clearly I cannot prejudge the outcome.

Several hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot, referred to the possible inclusion of the British independent deterrent in the Geneva negotiations on strategic nuclear forces—START. The priority is to achieve a reduction in the large arsenals of the super powers. The United States, with the full support of its allies, has put forward proposals for substantial reductions in missiles and warheads. The Soviet Union, while rejecting the specific proposals, has apparently accepted the concept of reductions.

Although the independent British deterrent represents only a few per cent. of the massive Soviet strategic force, we have not ruled it out of the strategic arms control negotiations. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said yesterday, we have made it clear that if circumstances change and the Soviet threat to the United Kingdom is substantially reduced, we are prepared to review our position. Furthermore, we have made it clear that the British force would be of the minimum size compatible with ensuring a cost-effective deterrent at all times.

Our decision to procure the Trident D5 does not necessarily imply that we intend to deploy the maximum theoretical capability of that force. My right hon. Friend made it clear yesterday that if START led to a substantial breakthrough in the scale of world deployment, the Government would take that into account in deciding our irreducible level of deterrent. At present, however, the priority must be to achieve parity between the two superpowers at substantially reduced levels of strategic forces.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot asked whether the policy of no early first use of nuclear weapons was the best that could be hoped for in Europe. The Government and our NATO allies are constantly seeking to strengthen our conventional forces in Europe as a means of raising the nuclear threshold. We believe that the successful combination of new technology and new tactical concepts holds out considerable potential for progress towards that goal. Although we wish to push back as far as possible the point at which we might have to consider the use of nuclear weapons, we do not think that it would be sensible to adopt a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.

In deterring war of any kind, NATO must ensure that the Russians do not believe that they could embark on a war in Europe without the risk of an escalation to nuclear war. Their uncertainty makes for effective deterrence. This does not mean that NATO is committed to any decision in principle to use nuclear weapons first at any given stage in a conflict. It simply means that, in the interests of preventing war, it would be wrong to volunteer to renounce the option.

I mentioned earlier that more than 90 per cent. of expenditure on defence equipment is spent with British industry. That does not mean that we operate a "buy British regardless" policy. We buy British when this gives us the best value for money. I should explain what is meant by "value for money" in this context, as this dictates the nature of our relationship with industry. It is not necessarily the same as choosing the cheapest tender. When deciding on the purchase of an item of defence equipment, we take into account not only the initial cost but, as far as we are able to calculate these things, the running costs and spares costs—the so-called through life costs—of the equipment and compare them with those of other options available to meet our requirement. Those calculations are not straightforward. They create problems for items of equipment that might be at the frontiers of technology but we do our best to make as complete and reliable an assessment as possible.

Another deciding factor can be the importance of retaining a British industrial capability in key areas of defence technology. However, our defence firms must maintain and improve competitiveness if we are to keep a strong defence industrial base. The Ministry of Defence has other reasons for being tireless in its search for value for money. Above all, we must counteract what my predecessor, Lord Trenchard, liked to call "the road to absurdity" —the apparently inexorable real increase in cost between one generation of equipment and the next. If nothing were done to mitigate that trend, in about 80 years the entire defence budget would be sufficient to purchase just one tactical aircraft.

The measures that we are adopting to tackle the problem were set out in chapter IV of last year's Defence White Paper. They include the closer involvement of industry in our forward planning; encouraging industry to participate in joint ventures with the Ministry of Defence in the development of new equipment; the move away from "cost plus" contracts to fixed price and other incentive arrangements—that involves the inclusion of enforceable contract conditions to maintain discipline on defence contractors and ensure value for money; the enhancement of the sales potential of equipments designed for the United Kingdom services; the eradication of over-sophistication in weapons requirement; the intramural drive to reduce overheads and improve efficiency in our procurement process; and the pursuit of collaboration where appropriate.

Mr. Wilkinson

Why could not the United Kingdom go in for public tendering for major defence equipment contracts as is done in the United States? Surely that would be the best guarantee of value for money and the competitiveness of British industry.

Mr. Pattie

My hon. Friend and I will have to discuss what he means by "public tendering". We invite companies that we have reason to believe have the capability in the relevant area. I do not know of any major example when we have omitted anyone. Where there are competitive possibilities, we get a full range of options, examine them, and invite people to tender.

The programme that I described before my hon. Friend's intervention involves long-term detailed work. Perhaps one example will illustrate the effect that it is having. I shall give that of the EH 101 helicopter, which is intended in due course to replace the Sea Kings currently in service. This aircraft is not now being developed as a purely United Kingdom defence requirement, which would be expensive, but as a joint venture collaborative project between the British and Italian Governments, the Departments of Industry in each country and the two companies involved, Westlands and Agusta. It will primarily be a civil helicopter, with military variants. It is a substantial programme and an interesting example of a new form of collaboration. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) is not here today, as he was less than kind yesterday about the efforts that the Government had made in their dealings with the Italian Government to bring the programme forward. It is exactly on track and there are no problems with it.

We have made great progress with such efforts to achieve better value and enhance the competitiveness of United Kingdom defence industries, but we must continue to search for means to obtain as much of the benefits of competition in defence procurement as we can. We are therefore exploring the further scope that might exist for increasing competition at the concept, feasibility and early development phases of contracts and for increasing competition at the production phase of contracts, including dual sourcing when that would make sound economic sense.

I must emphasise that we are at the early stages of considering such options. The possible benefits to be had from throwing competition open at the production stage to a range of firms which have not all been involved in the development programme have still to be assessed in depth. However, this subject repays detailed examination, and we shall be continuing with the analysis in coming months.

Ministry of Defence civilian staff make an extremely important contribution to our defence effort in research and development and in other roles. Their efforts during the Falklands campaign bear that out. However, just as we are striving for better value for money in our purchases from industry, so we are utterly committed to controlling the running costs of the Ministry of Defence and especially to reducing staff costs. Since the Government took office in 1979 United Kingdom-based Ministry of Defence civilian staff have been reduced by nearly 39,000 to 209,000, and we are well placed to achieve the target of a reduction to 200,000 staff by April 1984.

As part of those economies, and in line with our aim to concentrate resources on our front line and its direct support, we have examined the possibility of contracting out cleaning tasks in nearly all Ministry of Defence establishments. In almost every case it has emerged that contract cleaning would save money. The exceptions are isolated units where the cleaning task does not amount to a full-time job. So far we have approved contracts at 625 establishments, at a saving of more than 5,500 complemented posts and an estimated £11 million per year. The case for contract catering s not so conclusive and we are therefore letting out catering contracts only in a very few cases.

I mentioned earlier the need to enhance the sales potential of British equipment. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the home market, represented by the needs of our own forces, is not sufficient to sustain an adequate defence industrial base. Our ability to orovide the Services with the weapons systems they require and the survival of our defence industries in their present form depend more than ever on a vigorous but responsible defence sales policy. Acknowledging that, the Government and their predecessors have steadfastly supported the sale of defence equipment overseas whenever that is consistent with our wider political, strategic and security interests.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

Is the Minister aware that, when answering questions this afternoon about General Matthei's visit here in March, the Foreign Secretary said that General Matthei had met the chief of air staff and discussed the sale of weapons?

Mr. Pattie

I do not think that that has been denied. I have not denied it.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)


Mr. Pattie

May I make it clear before I give way to the hon. Gentleman that I have been generous in giving way and that this will be the last time?

Mr. Dalyell

Were arms sales discussed with General Matthei? The hon. Gentleman's answer at Question Time was no.

Mr. Pattie

In conjunction with his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has since written to me and I have given him the answer. I gave a straightforward answer, which is hat we were not discussing arms sales. I am happy to put that on the record.

Mr. Fisher

That is not what the Foreign Secretary said.

Mr. Pattie

I am not aware of what the Foreign Secretary said today, as I was not in the Chamber at the time.

Arms sales arouse strong emotions tut the political and economic arguments speak for themselves. In political terms, we believe that the supply of de fence equipment to friendly nations, often backed by military advice, training and support, underlines our concern for their security, strengthens their ability to resist aggression and helps to protect Western interests. We must also accept, unpalatable as it may be, that a refusal to supply arms often opens the door to another supplier who is hostile to Western interests and hence undermines our influence.

I must emphasise however, that defence sales are made within a policy framework laid down by the Government which takes special account of our security interests, regional balance, human rights considerations and our obligations to the United Nations. Each application for an export licence is considered individually and contentious cases are referred to Ministers before decisions are taken. No equipment is sold to regimes when it is likely to be used for internal repression.

In economic terms, overseas sales play a major role in maintaining the profitability of our defence industries. I am delighted to announce that, yesterday, Western Helicopters, Rolls-Royce and British Aerospace signed contracts for the supply of Sea King helicopters, Gnome engines and Sea Eagle missiles to the Government of India. The equipment we sell overseas consists predominantly of high technology products with a high added value. Hawk and Jaguar aircraft and Rapier missiles have all sold well recently.

It is essential for Britain to maintain an innovative capability in such areas by keeping skilled design and production teams together as a springboard for future industrial development. That can be done only if the production runs are long enough to recoup the substantial investment involved and earn a reasonable level of profits. Since our requirements do not provide the long production runs now needed to secure an adequate return on high technology investment, overseas sales are vital.

Under this Government and their predecessors defence sales have grown steadily. Total receipts are expected to reach £2,400 million in the current financial year compared with £1,500 million in 1981–82. That is a healthy contribution to our balance of payments in a period of recession, accounting for about 3 per cent. of total exports. Opposition Members should also remember that defence sales sustain approximately 154,000 direct and indirect job opportunities in the defence equipment industry and account for 25 per cent. of its total output. Although many of our sales are made to the developing countries, notably in the middle east, it is especially gratifying that we are steadily improving our sales to our major NATO ally, the United States. In this market we measure success by the ratio of defence purchases which each country makes from the other. In 1977 the ratio was 4:1 in favour of the United States, whereas we now assess it to be only 2:1. By any standards that is a significant achievement, which demonstrates that we can succeed in the world's most demanding market place.

In addition to our recent success with the Hawk aircraft, our prospects of selling to the United States the EMI Searchwater radar, nuclear, biological and chemical suits, the 81 mm mortar, more combat support boats and the Marconi ICS3 high frequency communication system are encouraging.

As with the rest of the defence industries, the royal ordnance factories must improve their ability to meet the requirements of overseas customers and compete effectively on the international market. The royal ordnance factories are a unique part of the British defence industries, as they have been in Government hands since their foundation. They have a fine record, but we believe that they will do even better if freed from some of the constraints of operating within the Civil Service and given the means to develop their products and respond to market opportunities.

To that end we intend to introduce legislation this Session to change the status of the royal ordnance factories to enable them to operate in a more commercial environment under the Companies Acts 1948 and 1981. We intend to involve private capital directly either through sale to the private sector, joint venture or flotation of shares. Since last May we have been preparing the royal ordnance factories for this new role as a free-standing commercial undertaking, and we have already set up their own sales arm. A new chairman with wide experience of industry has been appointed and we plan next to transfer the staff and facilities necessary to give them a capability in design, development and applied research.

The royal ordnance factories face a challenging future, but the opportunities are great. I have no doubt that the plans represent by far the best way for them to improve their competitiveness and to succeed in their markets. I am confident that they will thrive in their new environment.

We are very conscious of the contribution that smaller firms in the defence industry can make to a competitive and innovatory defence industry. When we invite firms to tender for defence contracts we take care to include smaller firms for such work as they are qualified to accomplish. Aside from contracts placed at local purchase level by defence establishments, most defence work these days is done through industrial prime contractors rather than direct with smaller subcontractors. Therefore, we actively encourage the major prime contractors to recognise the long-term value of sustaining a thriving and vibrant small firm sector within the British defence industries, and we make it clear to defence subcontractors that it is their responsibility to persuade the prime contractors that they can meet their requirements competitively.

However, I freely recognise that to many firms, not just the small ones, the Ministry of Defence is a daunting labyrinth which the uninitiated enter at their peril. Therefore, I am planning shortly to issue a booklet of guidance to firms — especially small firms, but not limited to them—on how to become defence contractors and whom to contact to find out more about possible defence requirements for their products. In this latter respect we plan to include about 60 useful telephone numbers in the booklet so that firms which wish to know what part of the Ministry's purchasing organisation deals with their products can go straight to the right place.

As I said earlier, the first duty of the defence procurement organisation is to meet the equipment requirements of the armed forces. The constantly escalating threat from the Soviet Union and its allies means that we can never be complacent in that task, but our success in the Falklands campaign demonstrated that our equipment works in practice.

We shall continue to play our role as the centre point of a vibrant defence industrial complex that is an enormously vital part of the national economy, contributing excellent research and development with a commitment to spin-off to civil companies sustaining more than 700,000 jobs and making a significant contribution to our export performance. Hon. Members with contacts in the defence industries will confirm that the Ministry's relations with industry have become better, more harmonious and mutually constructive, which must be good for our forces and for the nation.

However, there is no doubt that, with the increasing complexity of defence equipment and the consequent cost escalations, the task of providing the Services with the kit that they want, when they want it and at a price we can afford, will become ever more difficult. We recognise that, and I have every confidence in assuring the House that we can face the challenge.

4.45 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

The House will look forward to considering in more detail the procurement policies for the services when we return after the recess. We look forward to examining in more detail the Minister's comments this afternoon and some of the facts and figures in the White Paper. However, some of the matters that he mentioned this afternoon are worthy of our attention now.

Unlike Conservative Members, I was not glad to hear about the savings that the Minister said could be made by contracting out cleaning services in military establishments to private firms. In the spring of this year the House annulled the fair wages resolution, which had been introduced to ensure that those who worked in such a service had a proper wage and were not exploited. We all know about the exploitation of unmarried mothers, single parents, and pensioners in the contract cleaning industry. It is no consolation to the House to know that the Government have made a substantial saving at the expense of some of the most underprivileged and vulnerable people in society. Perhaps the Government will tell us whether those savings were made as a result of wage cuts. In the present climate of opinion in the Government, that request will fall largely on deaf ears. However, I must put it clearly on the record that the Opposition deplore the exploitation in the contract cleaning industry and the fact that the Ministry of Defence is profiting from that exploitation.

The Minister mentioned the royal ordnance factories — the House will know that there are famous tank factories in Leeds—and said that private capital would be introduced. How much foreign capital will be allowed in? Will the Government draw up specifications to ensure that they maintain their majority shareholding and that there is no possibility of foreign capital influencing the policies of the royal ordnance factories? Will the proposals mean a change in many of the advantages enjoyed by the present employees within the Civil Service, such as pensions and guaranteed jobs? Those matters will probably be explored in more detail by my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) on another occasion, but they are of immediate concern to the Opposition. When we are returned to government, the royal ordnance factories will be taken back into public ownership.

The Minister paid tribute to the work carried out by defence contractors during the Falklands campaign. I join him in paying that tribute, and I pay special tribute to the shipbuilders and boilermakers in Hull, who worked so hard to get the Norland ready for sea but whose firm has now gone bankrupt. I also pay special tribute to the workmen on Tyneside and in the dockyards of the southeast of England, who have lost their jobs. The Government are not concerned with their future, now that they have served their purpose, nor are they concerned about British merchant seamen.

We had enormous difficulties taking ships from trade to form the armada that went to the south Atlantic. The Government should be examining their conscience, not only about the future of the individuals concerned, but about the whole of our defence profile and the enormous cut that has taken place in the Merchant Navy. We have taken ships away from trade and picked up men from unemployment, and once we have used them we cast them aside.

We listened to the Minister of State for Defence Procurement with more interest than we did to the Under-Secretary yesterday—I am sorry that the latter is not in his place. Yesterday, we had a fascinating account of the work of the Controller in a former third sea lord's office. I am sure that we are much the wiser for knowing what is going on there, but the Under-Secretary did not answer any of the points raised in the debate. The hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) has three questions still to be answered, of which the key one is whether the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are to go to Moscow.

The Minister skated quickly over HARM and ALARM and said that he had nothing to add to what was said in a debate last week. That is disappointing, as a fortnight or three weeks ago we were expecting a decision that would resolve this matter. Are we likely to have a decision before the House goes into recess? It is important that people should know this decision. I understand that the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister are locked in mortal combat with the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary over the future of this systern. If we are to have the system — I believe we need it — it should be manufactured in this country by British Aerospace, which would ensure jobs and ensure that the frontiers of technology are in our control, that is of the utmost importance.

Yesterday the Under-Secretary made an amazing statement when he replied to a question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) concerning a primary jet trainer to replace the Jet Provost. He said: Among the likely contenders could be the Pilatus PC7, which is designed in Switzerland, another trainer aircraft from Brazil, a new design by Fairchild of the United States and the Firecracker, which is produced by Desmond Norman in the Isle of Wight. If a foreign design were chosen, it is likely that the aircraft would be produced under licence in the United Kingdom. —[Official Report, 19 July 1983; Vol. 46, c. 260.] The Minister failed even to mention among the contenders, never mind giving it pride of place, the P164, the new British Aerospace basic trainer, designed in the constituency of the hon. Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall), in which I declare a marginal constituency interest. It is as though the Government have already written it off, but it is only a few weeks since the draft air staff target 412 was issued. The Minister knows that British Aerospace has been working on the project to replace the Jet Provost for a long time, and it has invested a considerable sum of its own private venture capital. That omission last night was a disgrace. I do not wish to rehearse all the arguments about why British Aerospace should have the order, but if a new basic jet trainer, British designed and built, is bought by the RAF, that will be of tremendous importance.

Mr. Pattie

What it was not possible to say, for lack of time last night, was that the required in-service date for the aeroplane would mean that an existing aeroplane would have to be used. The P164, as the hon. Gentleman will accept, is still only a paper design and has not been realised, whereas all the aircraft specified in my hon. Friend's reply are already in flight.

Mr. McNamara

Why then do we have air staff target 412 if it is not relevant to British Aerospace?

Mr. Pattie

British Aerospace may be one of the companies involved in manufacturing under licence, and it knows that.

Mr. McNamara

The Minister is being bounced again. When I raised this matter last year, the implication was that the replacement for Jet Provost was not of immediate urgency for the RAF. Now, 400 potential jobs each in Brough and Prestwick will not be realised if what the Minister has said is correct and the new British Aerospace design will not be considered by the air staff. We shall lose a large potential export market that has been built up by the Hawk trainer and the Harrier. If the RAF staff buys an aircraft that it can have quickly, off the shelf, ready-made from a foreign country, it will eventually have to be adapted by stretching, or shrinking from the inclusion of equipment and facilities. It will be more difficult to service and less capable of generating exports, and there would be considerable job losses. I am surprised at this decision taken and the announcement made by the Minister.

Sir Patrick Wall (Beverley)

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Is he aware that representations were made to the Defence Committee by British Aerospace only last year, and it was turned away and told that the Jet Provost would go on for many years and there was no need for any replacement? This is a rather sudden change of view by the Government.

Mr. McNamara

The hon. Gentleman is right. This seems a remarkable and very quick change of view, which is contrary to what the industry expected and the impressions given to the House last spring on this matter.

Mr. Dalyell

No one has taken more interest in Northern Ireland than has my hon. Friend. Has he heard the strong rumours and the talk of manufacturing 150 Brazilian-designed trainers by Short Brothers in Belfast?

Mr. McNamara

I am aware of that strong rumour, but the trouble is that we hear repeated rumours. I am surprised that the RAF, knowing what it would need in this, as it must have, did not go to British Aerospace earlier to give its staff specifications.

The White Paper says in chapter 1: We cannot afford policies based on emotion rather than logic, nor theatrical gestures which would achieve nothing save to weaken our own security. We agree with that 100 per cent.—it is the only part of the White Paper with which we agree. The Government's policies are based on a knee-jerk, unthinking emotional reaction to a threat that is neither as great as they anticipate nor as incapable of resolution as their policies seem to suggest. It is an unthinking harking back to past glories and a keeping up with the Reagans and Andropovs—the nuclear Joneses — in pursuit of the great deterrent of Trident. Trident may be a great theatrical prop, but we shall never see it. In the next few years it will become a nuclear mirage that will never materialise.

It is the Labour party's argument that the pursuit of Trident does three things. It distorts our conventional forces, weakens them and over-extends them. Therefore, it weakens our role in NATO and our ability in the Falklands and adds nothing to the sum of Western security. It gives greater accuracy to kill more people with its number of warheads, and adds not to our security but to the ability of the world as a whole to blow itself up 100 times over if it wants to.

Ignoring for the sake of the argument whether Polaris or Trident should be in either INF or START, the Secretary of State made a remarkable statement in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) in Defence Questions. The Secretary of State said: I thought that I had made it clear that if in the class of weapons systems to which Polaris belongs there was a significant and substantial breakthrough in deployment between the Soviet Union and the United States this country would not stand aside from that decision."—[Official Report, 12 July 1983; Vol. 45, c. 763–4.] One felt, listening to that statement, despite the Prime Minister's previous statements that Trident was "a weapon of last resort," that there were nevertheless circumstances in which Trident might be negotiated away by this Government. In fact, a flexibility of approach was beginning to appear— not much, but some — and an awareness that, if necessary and if the United States and the Soviets were to reach an agreement of their own accord which meant our giving up Trident, the British Government, while perhaps regretting it, would go along with it.

However, yesterday the situation had changed. Yesterday, the Secretary of State was a little more precise than he was the week before. He said: If those negotiations were to lead to a substantial breakthrough, we have made it clear that Britain, in reviewing the future size of its irreducible minimum deterrent, would not stand aside from such a breakthrough. In the intermediate range nuclear weapons talks—". Then the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) intervened, in an endeavour to understand more clearly, and asked what the words "would not stand aside" meant. He went on: is he saying that we would reduce substantially the number of Trident missiles and warheads and that we would be prepared to put the Trident missile system into the negotiations and effectively take it into account in such a substantial reduction of strategic weaponry? The Secretary of State replied: I thought that the right hon. Gentleman would understand". He dodged the question, except that he said it in this way: I thought that the right hon. Gentleman would understand that what I am saying is that, if in the strategic arms reduction talks there were to be a substantial breakthrough in the scale of world deployment, that would be taken into account by the British Government in deciding their own irreducible level of deterrent in the new context that would then exist. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will welcome that statement. It appears therefore that there are two levels of irreducible minimum—one level if there is agreement, and another if there is not agreement.

What was more significant, and what alarmed Labour Members even more, was when the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) asked: Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that there is an irreducible minimum and that, however much the Soviets and the Americans reduce, we could not go much lower than what is now proposed? The right hon. Gentleman replied: My right hon. Friend will have noticed that the word 'irreducible' is clearly enshrined in my speech." — [Official Report, 19 July 1983; Vol. 46, c. 187–8.] Like "Calais", for our late sovereign Queen Mary, it is probably engraved on his heart.

We are in a difficult and sad position, because we do not know what "irreducible" means. Does it express a determination, as now seems likely, to judge from what the Minister of State said today, that no matter what happens in START, and whatever accords are reached by the United States and the Soviets, the British Government will ignore them and will not give up their independent nuclear deterrent, Trident? Is that what it means? That, I believe, is what the right hon. Member for Pavilion understands it to mean, and it is what I understand it to mean. If that is so, it is a bad day for this country, and it is a bad day for the concept of collective security.

Mr. Churchill

Is the hon. Gentleman incapable of understanding that, to the overwhelming majority of the people of this country who rejected outright one-sided disarmament—the proposition that his party put to the electorate in the general election — it would be unacceptable for us to get rid of our nuclear weapons while tens of thousands of Soviet nuclear warheads remained targeted against this country and against our Allies? Does he not understand that it would be reckless and irresponsible for us to go below an irreducible minimum? I understood from what my right hon. Friend said yesterday that we would certainly be prepared to consider the numbers of warheads to be deployed on the new Trident system, but that we cannot go below one submarine guaranteed on station at any given time.

Mr. McNamara

I am glad to have the hon. Gentleman's interpretation of the words of the Minister of State and the Secretary of State. If he is right, no doubt they will confirm it, but I believe that opinion in this country is dead against our maintaining Trident and against some of the hon. Gentleman's ideas. What we have heard from the hon. Gentleman and what we heard from him during the election campaign is a complete distortion of Labour policies. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] I shall certainly tell the House what they are all about. I am about to do so, and my hon. Friends know that what I shall put forward will be the pure juice of Socialist defence policy. They have nothing to worry about when they know that I am at the Dispatch Box.

So no matter what the United States and the Soviet Union decide, we shall ignore their decision. That raises enormous problems and makes us question the Government's real defence policy. If that is true, we are embarking not on a collective defence policy but on an insular defence policy, and NATO will be a mere convenience to this Government—to accept or reject its decisions, as the fancy takes them. This insular policy will not be accepted by our American allies, or by our NATO allies.

Underlying the Conservative party's attitude on maintaining our own independent deterrent is a basic distrust of the Americans, a feeling that when the crunch comes they will leave us in the lurch. That is what it is all about. Otherwise, the Government would know that the proper and most effective way for us to play our role in defending Europe and the free world would be to put our money into conventional forces.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton and Wallington)


Mr. McNamara

No, I shall not give way. I have given way quite a lot.

That would be a better way to protect the free world than seeking to duplicate what the United States is already doing. There are no circumstances in which this country would want to use this weapon of last resort when the United States also would not want to use it.

Mr. Forman


Mr. McNamara

I have told the hon. Gentleman that I will not give way. I have given way at least three or four times. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) should stop acting like a yo-yo.

Moreover, I do not believe that we have an independent deterrent, for the reasons that we al.. know, which are connected with its manufacture. If the United States left Europe in the lurch, it would not leave in the hands of the United Kingdom Government a weapon so powerful that its use by that Government could drag the United States willy-nilly into a war that was not of its own making. That is what the Government are suggesting.

If, at any time, we were to launch one of these dread missiles—God forbid that that should happen—nobody in the Kremlin or elsewhere would be wetting a finger and putting it to the wind to see whether it had come from a British or an American submarine. All they will know is that there is a Trident missile coming at them, they will retaliate hither and thither and its source will not matter one little hit. The same argument applies to Polaris. I accept that 100 per cent. That is why we should not have Polaris either and that is why it is the Labour party's policy to negotiate out Polaris in the next five years. When we come to power we shall get rid of Polaris.

The Americans would not allow us to use Trident if they were to desert Europe. There are nc circumstances in which we could use this weapon without United States agreement. Therefore, I see no purpose in having it.

One great argument in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament that we advanced during the general election—

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

Look what happened.

Mr. McNamara

When we advanced it, we did all right. Those people who equivocated cid not do so well.

Dr. Hampson

Not the majority of the British people.

Mr. McNamara

If the hon. Gentleman is going to start talking about majorities I can tell him that the majority of people in this country voted for parties that did not want Trident.

We argued that by maintaining our existing deterrent we were increasing the possibility of the proliferation of those weapons. Although we did not believe that to give up our deterrent would cause other countries to do so immediately, we felt that it would put a strong moral pressure on other countries not to go ahead with manufacture and production of those weapons that they had the capability to produce. The possession of nuclear weapons by the two super-powers alone is a greater guarantee of safety than if Britain, France or China had them.

Now we have decided that we shall only have an irreducible minimum. We are entitled to ask what will happen if the Ayatollah or President Gaddafi felt that he too must have an irreducible minimum. What if President Bignone's Government in Argentina were to decide that they wanted an irreducible minimum, financed by the IMF and supplied with spare parts by our colleagues in the EC? In such circumstances proliferation becomes worse and worse. That is why we believe it to be in the interests of the world to ensure that those terrible weapons remain within the purview and monopoly of the United States and Russia.

Dr. Hampson

And France?

Mr. McNamara

Yes, the French as well.

The Secretary of State's statement yesterday has soured the atmosphere surrounding START and he has also set back the INF talks. The Government are saying that, whatever the result of any international negotiations, they are unwilling to negotiate away Trident or Polaris. They then expect the Russians to negotiate and completely to ignore the British and French deterrents. That is an unreasonable stand to take. They should be included in the discussions that will take place.

What does "an irreducible minimum" mean in terms of warheads, missiles and submarines? The hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) suggested that, in order to have an irreducible minimum, we wanted one submarine on station, one on standby and one in refit — three submarines in all. How many warheads would we want and how many delivery systems would we require? What is our irreducible minimum? From all the talk about Trident when it was introduced I should have thought that the proposals that were put forward by the Government were already the irreducible minimum. After all, it is "a weapon of last resort", as the Prime Minister says. It is the Doomsday weapon. On the Government's own terms we do not need more than an irreducible minimum. Have we been planning for more than an irreducible minimum? What does all that mean?

The Government, having made polite noises during the election and suggested that if things went well they would put Polaris and Trident into the discussions, in fact meant nothing of the sort, and they have been found out. The Government will stand outside whatever agreements are made in Geneva and will contribute nothing to world disarmament. That will be a sad day for Britain, but that is the Government's present policy—although I do not believe that it will continue.

Economic events in Britain and politics in NATO will force the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister to change their stance. We had our first indication of what is likely to happen last week. No sooner was the Secretary of State recovering from the intoxication caused by the fact that the defence budget will rise from £16 billion to £22 billion by 1987 or 1988 than he was sobered up by a large bucket of cold water from the Chancellor, demanding a cut of £230 million. He had, if we are to believe the press, been bounced by the Chancellor, who I believe is known to his friends as Niglet. What a headline was missed— "Tarzan bounced by Niglet" or "Chancellor mugs Secretary of State". Of course, it has been shrugged off in the Ministry of Defence. It has said that only one job in a hundred will go on a payroll of 500,000. I should have thought that the loss of 5,000 jobs was important, if not to the Minister and his colleagues, at least to the employees involved.

Perhaps the most damning criticism of the Ministry of Defence came the next day, when the various briefings given to the press by the Ministry appeared. A correspondent in The Guardian said: Looked at another way, the cuts amount to no more than five days' expenditure by the Defence Department, an adjustment relatively so small that it is almost too fine for the ministry's contractual machinery to handle. It was almost as though the Chancellor had gone along and put his hand in the petty cash box. The figure of £230 million is 'too fine to handle'. For them, it is something to be ignored and lost but in any other Departments it would have been totted up in terms of hospital beds lost, school teachers unemployed or council houses not built.

Where will the £230 million cut come, and what will happen? Even more important is what it forebodes for November. Will the Chancellor go mugging in the spending Departments again? Will he bounce the Secretary of State, as he and his colleagues complained last week, or will the Chancellor put the boot in and then jump on him? This is a serious matter because we are discussing the Estimates and their likely effect on the economy and on the future equipment and standards of our forces.

Analysts have made two main points about the adequacy of existing funding arrangements. First, they wonder whether the assumptions about the general rate of inflation upon which the cash limits have been made are sound. They suggest that they are very dodgy indeed, particularly as the proposed industrial take-off, on which many of the cash limits were based, has not materialised. Secondly, there is the assumption of the cost of new weaponry. Credit has been given to the rate of inflation in the cost of military hardware. There is at present no evidence that it will come down to the rate that is expected. If that is so, the Government's five-point policy will be considerably at risk. That policy is based upon the nuclear option, United Kingdom protection, NATO maritime, NATO conventional and out-of-area activity. During the next five years, that policy will probably have been underfunded by 10 per cent. to 15 per cent.

Even if the Secretary of State is not bounced again in November — he probably will be — the Government's defence policy will be considerably suspect. There have already been cuts of £230 million. If there are further cuts of £500 million in the autumn, the total will more than cover the cost of the Falklands garrison. Therefore, rather than the Treasury separately funding the cost of the garrison, it will be directly funded from the defence budget, and the contingency fund might never have been raided.

What will the Secretary of State do then? He will begin to flounder. He will try to cut staff and put out work to private industry, thinking that that will save money. He will play with the idea of privatising the Household Cavalry — free rides around the park. He will cut back—

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. McNamara

I am flattered to be called the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend, but I will not give way—

Mr. Holt

Has the hon. Gentleman forgotten the bombing of the Household Cavalry and—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) is not giving way.

Mr. McNamara

I am well aware of the role played by the Household Cavalry. I am not making a sick joke. I am pointing to the foolishness and defeatism of the Secretary of State's defence policy. He will try to make savings wherever he can. Our conventional forces will become distorted and unbalanced and our allies will begin to worry. He will eventually have to come to the House with a new White Paper.

What the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to carry out cannot be carried by our economy, will not be carried by his colleagues and will not be accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When that happens, the irreducible minimum will be reduced out of all context. Serious decisions about our nuclear defence policy will then have to be made. There will be enormous pressure on the Government to give up their pretence of maintaining Trident. That will come about not only because of what is happening in Britain, but because the United States Government will eventually want to make a deal with the Soviets. They will ensure that they get their deal despite Britain.

Our European allies will continually worry about the pressure on our NATO commitments. The pressure on the cruise decision and the agitation of the peace movement throughout Europe has forced NATO leaders to recognise that first use and early use of nuclear weapons is not an acceptable policy in the west. It is not accepted either politically or economically.

Mr. Wilkinson

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Mr. Speaker enjoined right hon. and hon. Members to be brief. May I suggest that this vapid filibustering by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) verges upon the tedious and repetitious?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Hon. Members are responsible for the length of their speeches. I am sure that the House recognises that a number of hon. Members are awaiting the opportunity to take part in the debate. I repeat Mr. Speaker's plea for short speeches. However, I repeat that hon. Members are responsible for the length of their speeches. The hon. Gentleman has not raised a point of order.

Mr. McNamara

I am aware of the length of my speech, which will shortly be concluded. If Conservative Members continue to barrack and ask me to give way, which I do as often as possible out of courtesy, that will lengthen the time that I take for my speech—as will having to explain why my speech has taken the time that it has.

Because of the political pressures of NATO, the economic pressures of Britain and the pressure exerted by the United States, we will have to give up Trident as a weapon, and I welcome that.

As I said earlier, the Government's policy is based on emotion. It is lacking in logic. It is filled with theatrical gestures. It achieves nothing but weakening our nation's security and putting the NATO alliance at risk. That being the case, the House should not support either the White Paper or the Estimates.

5.25 pm
Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The speech of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) reminded me of a thick sandwich. There was some meat in it, and I shall deal with that first.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State quite rightly gave first priority in his speech to NATO. The NATO area covers the land, sea and air approaches to our islands, and long may that continue. However, none of us can be sure that NATO will exist for the 40 or 50 years for which the Trident programme is devised. I am concerned about my right hon. Friend's reference to bringing our independent nuclear programme to the conference table. I do not see how that programmme can be reduced if we take account of any improvements that may be made by the other side. I have always thought that five boats would be better than four, but, accepting that four are enough, I do not think that we can reduce below that.

I do not want to read too much into what was said yesterday, but I want an assurance that what was said was said in concert with our French allies. If it was not, I would feel that there was cause for grave concern.

Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

The right hon. Gentleman said that NATO might not exist in 40 years and that, therefore, we would need a weapon of ultimate resort. In what circumstances does he envisage us being able to use Trident, even as a deterrent, if that was against the wishes of the United States?

Mr. Amery

I understand that Trident will be under our sole control. The warheads will be manufactured in Britain. I do not see why we would be unable to use it, just as a shotgun bought from a foreign firm can be used against a pheasant if the shotgun owner so wishes.

Mr. Silkin

I am sorry to detain the right hon. Gentleman, but I am sure he understands that this is an important point. The basis of the agreement between Mr. Macmillan and President Kennedy at Nassau in 1961 was that only in the case of supreme national emergency could Britain use Polaris. That condition applies also to Trident. Surely that means that it is for the United States and Britain together to decide what is a supreme national emergency. That implies that the two countries must be in agreement. In those circumstances, I cannot see how it is possible for us to use Trident without the agreement of the United States.

Mr. Amery

The right hon. Gentleman is taking an unduly legalistic attitude. If the weapon is under our control and we think that there is a supreme national emergency, we are free to use it. That was recognised by President Kennedy at Nassau. The decision did not depend on him, and he knew that perfectly well. It is for us to decide what constitutes a supreme national emergency.

I come now to another aspect of the White Paper. A number of us, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall), have been talking for some years of the importance of the threat not to the NATO area, but to the peripheral areas. It is not such a mortal threat immediately as the threat to our island itself, but it is in some ways more tempting to the potential aggressor. He could, for example, risk an attack on the Gulf, with its oil resources, without incurring as great a risk of nuclear war.

The White Paper does not say much about that threat. Let me enlarge on it. There are about 22 divisions of the Red Army on the Iranian border, about 100,000 men in Afghanistan and 40 divisions in the far east. All these forces have associated air power. The Red Navy is in the Indian ocean and increasingly in the Pacific. There are also well established detachments of Soviet forces in Syria, Aden, Vietnam and Cuba, which could rapidly be reinforced. I think we all agree that only the United States can take the lead, with such local allies as it can find, in meeting this threat. It is doing so by sea with the development of the rapid deployment force.

The United Kingdom can make a contribution to meeting the threat, which is directed against vital interests of Britain and the rest of Europe in the middle east, southeast Asia and Africa. We can make a contribution, and to some extent we are already doing so, by associating the United States with us in Diego Garcia, by our possession of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus, by the special relationships that we still have with Oman and some other countries, by naval detachments in the Indian ocean and by the provision of NATO forces, including forces that are based at home, that coud be made available. Ascension Island has already proved valuable to the United States as well as to us, so our facilities on the Falklands may prove not unimportant to the United States in the years ahead. Britain is not the only Western ally that can make a contribution. The French can do quite a bit and they already make a contribution.

I should like an assurance from my hon. Friend the Minister of State that contingency plans for crises that might develop in these areas are discussed between our staffs and those of the United States and France.

The object of planning in NATO and in the outer areas is to deter potential aggressors from starting a war; but we must not forget that war is already being waged on a substantial scale by the Soviet Union against the West. It is war of another sort, but one to which we cannot be indifferent. Important areas are being conquered by the Soviet Union with its own or allied forces. Angola is an obvious example. The Soviet Union has put 20,000 or 30,000 troops into Angola, with a number of East German forces. I think that there are 15,000 Cuban troops in Ethiopia with about 2,000 or 3,000 Soviet troops. It has an enormous army in Afghanistan and it is assisting the Vietnamese in Kampuchea.

The Soviet Union is meeting stiff resistance from the local populations in all the countries to which I have referred and it must be in the interests of the West to give that resistance every possible piece of effective backing to prevent the Soviets from consolidating the gains that they have been making. The Soviet Union has been conducting unprovoked aggression and if it were to succeed in establishing itself in Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Kampuchea, those countries would surely become launching pads for further Soviet expansionism from Angola to Namibia, from Afghanistan to the Gulf and Pakistan, from Kampuchea to Thailand and from Ethiopia to offensives against Somalia.

Another aspect of the undeclared war is the Soviet Union's support of anti-Western movements. These are not necessarily Marxist or Communist—many of them are not — but they seek to destabilise and overthrow Governments and countries with which the West has important economic or political relations. The Americans are facing this problem in El Salvador. A large section of the PLO appears to be entirely under Syrian and Muscovite influence. SWAPO has always been largely in Russian hands. The Somali rebels that are used by Ethiopia are another case in point.

All these movements receive political support and moral encouragement from the Soviet Union. They receive Soviet training in both military and terrorist operations, and they receive Soviet supplies and equipment and propaganda backing. Of course some of them have their own indigenous reasons for operating as they do, but they are being used and exploited by the Soviet Union across the board.

The Soviet Union's objective is to destabilise countries that are pro-Western and, if the opportunity presents itself, to take them over. It is a creeping process. Each gain becomes a launching pad for the next operation. Aden, for example, became the launching pad for the Soviet Union's operations in North Yemen, Nicaragua becomes the launching pad for El Salvador, Ethiopia for Somalia and Afghanistan for the Gulf.

How should the West respond? Britain has had long experience of these operations and so have other countries. There are pretty clear limits to the extent to which a guerrilla movement can be beaten by the adoption of purely defensive operations. We were able to defeat the guerrilla movement in Malaya with the help of Thailand. The Persians, ourselves supporting the Omanis, did so in the Dhofar. But experience has shown that a guerrilla movement can generally be beaten only if the base from which it operates is destabilised, and its base will usually be found in the neighbouring country.

We need a special operations and political warfare organisation at the interface of foreign policy and defence strategy. Its objective would be to destabilise the other side's base, and, as opportunity came, to roll back its control over Angola, Afghanistan or whatever country it might be.

Our American allies are already active in this area, and quite openly so. The CIA is a powerful organisation; its chief is known to be a member of the cabinet and its operations are freely discussed in Congress, sometimes critically and sometimes encouragingly.

Our French friends have done quite a lot in Africa, and it is well known that they solved the problem of the mosque at Mecca when it was seized by rebel forces.

We in Britain have a long tradition of supporting resistance. That tradition goes back to the Marlborough wars, the Napoleonic wars and Lawrence in the first world war. It was certainly maintained in the second world war, when Britain was the most successful encourager of resistance both in Europe and in the Japanese occupied territories. What is the position now?

The campaigns in Oman and the Falklands showed that our SAS and SBS capability is one of the best in the world; but I suspect that something more is needed. We need an organisation to support resistance similar in character, although not necessarily in size, to the organisation that we had in wartime to sustain resistance in the occupied territories. It is almost taboo to talk about so-called clandestine operations, but I make no apology for raising this in Parliament. As we sit here, a subversive war is going on in the middle east, in Africa, in south-west Asia and in central America. Moscow makes no secret of its support for subversive movements. The Soviet Foreign Minister may talk about non-interference as a principle of Soviet policy, but the Politburo makes it quite clear openly and efficiently that it supports "progressive movements".

I see no reason for us to accept the Soviet doctrine that Soviet gains are irreversible. On the contrary, if we claim to champion the cause of freedom we must proclaim our determination to sustain resistance against tyranny and to do all that we can to recover lost ground.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Before I call the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), I must tell him that Mr. Speaker has not selected the amendment that stands in his name and that of his right hon. and hon. Friends, but that it will be in order to discuss the matters contained in the amendment.

5.41 pm
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

This debate takes place against the background of an extraordinary sequence of events. The Secretary of State for Defence published his White Paper and the ink was barely dry before the Chancellor removed £230 million from the defence Estimates. We are now told that the Cabinet is likely to meet tomorrow to discuss further reductions in defence expenditure. The problem that the Government face is that, even allowing for the 3 per cent. increase in real terms in defence spending, which I support, they already have within that White Paper enough commitments to make it extremely hard to live within that financial constraint.

We already know that the defence budget faces an acute crisis in 1986–87. In that year, the Treasury's acceptance of the NATO commitment to a 3 per cent. increase in defence spending comes up for review. In that year too, the contribution given by the Chancellor in exceptional circumstances for the garrisoning and the replacement of the battle losses of the Falklands comes to an end. There is no doubt that in the present economic circumstances it will be immensely difficult to continue on the present projected defence strategy beyond 1986–87.

What is to be done about this? I must draw attention to what the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) said yesterday in answer to my intervention. He justified the reduction in defence spending which various parts of his party want—it seems to be a little unclear—on the basis that there had been a fall of 15 per cent. in the gross national product. I do not know where that figure came from but I have studied the gross national product and it has increased in every year under this Government, as indeed it has done under all Governments. Our relative poverty in relation to the European Community is due to the fact that we have expanded our wealth at a much slower rate, but our wealth has increased in every year.

In fact, over the years that were mentioned, rather than a 15 per cent. fall, there was a 37 per cent. increase. The right hon. Gentleman may have been referring to industrial output, which has fallen, but even that has fallen by only 8 per cent. If the right hon. Gentleman is so way out in thinking that there has been a fall in the gross national product of 15 per cent., no wonder his defence policy is in such a mess. It causes us much concern that the principal defence spokesman of the so-called official Opposition can be so far removed from the financial realities of the day that he can project his defence policy on that basis. But the Government, too, face serious problems on their defence budget.

The fortress Falklands policy must now be examined by the House. I believe that it is strongly in the interests of Conservative Members who are concerned about defence to examine this issue carefully. If they do not grapple with it, and put pressure on the Government to come to a settlement on fortress Falklands before 1986–87, the defence budget, of all budgets, will suffer most. The Prime Minister's fetish in refusing to discuss sovereignty on the Falklands when she is prepared to concede sovereignty on Hong Kong will have a savage effect on the defence budget. Fortress Falklands must become a major interest for hon. Members on both sides of the House who are concerned about the future defences of this country.

The present policy is unsustainable financially and it is unsustainable militarily, without paying a heavy price. If, as a result of a serious attempt to reach a negotiation, Conservative Members find that they cannot reach an honourable settlement, I think, with great reluctance, that many Members on both sides of the House will be prepared to continue and sustain a fortress Falklands policy. But in the absence of a serious attempt to reach a long-term settlement, the Government will be savagely indicted if they come to the House with reductions in the defence budget as a result of being ur able to grapple with this crucial element.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

Is the right hon. Gentleman formulating this policy in advance of having any knowledge of the result of the elections in Argentina?

Dr. Owen

I said clearly during the crisis and ever since that the British Government should start to open a dialogue with Latin America in advance of the Argentine elections. The direct conversations with the present junta will be unproductive but I believe that it is important to start the process of dialogue with key countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, the United States and even Peru. There is also the influence of the Organisation of American States on even the present military junta. We hope that the junta will change its character but I think it may well not—

Mr. Onslow


Dr. Owen

I have given way once to the hon. Gentleman but I will not give way again. Even if the junta were to continue, it would still be in British interests to try to reach a long-term settlement. I believe that it is necessary to do so.

Mr. Onslow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to have to put it this way but the right hon. Gentleman is misleading the House if he is suggesting that there has been no discussion of our relations with Latin America during visits which have been made there.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has been in the House for a long time and has sufficient experience to know that that is not a point of order. Bogus points of order inhibit the opportunities of other hon. Members to participate in the debate.

Dr. Owen

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) mentioned the out-of-area commitment. That is jargon which effectively means a commitment — beyond our primary commitment to NATO—to a worldwide policing role. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen continue to put pressure on the Government to extend that area, that too will add considerably to the already strained resources of the defence budget. I say to everyone who has wanted to strengthen the conventional forces of NATO that it is easy to let that glibly flow off the tongue but it carries with it serious costs. The new, accurate munitions of conventional forces that could substantially improve the conventional capacity of NATO are extremely expensive. This is the highest area of priority for future defence expenditure.

A more important aspect of national defence policy is the Trident programme. The Government have a slight sense of disdain when this issue is repeatedly raised in the defence budget and they wish that it would go away, but it will not go away. It is a massive commitment of expenditure for the forward projection of defence. It is difficult to sustain and it has serious foreign policy and security ramifications.

The Government can rightly claim that they won the election and now hope that the issue will be settled. However, an interesting aspect of the Trident issue is that it is now clear that the United States is examining, much more closely than it did at the time when it initially accepted supplying the missile, the implications of pursuing Trident for its own bilateral negotiations with the Soviet Union.

Her Majesty's Government and the NATO countries have made a mistake, in my view, in not bringing the INF negotiations and START together. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the separation of those talks. It looks at present as though it would be hard to get those negotiations merged and even harder for the Americans and Congress to accept that the United Kingdom should participate in them.

It is becoming abundantly clear that Britain will have to define a minimum deterrent. The exchanges I had yesterday with the Secretary of State for Defence were revealing because there was a logical inconsistency in what he said. If it is an irreducible minimum already, there is no scope for reducing it further. He revealed, however, that it is not the irreducible minimum, and he conceded the case that we have all along argued against Trident—that it is a super-sophisticated deterrent system beyond what this country needs for a minimum deterrent, and that will increasingly be borne in on the Government.

The Government conceded something important when they decided to go for the D5 missile, which on logistic and other grounds had great merit. They said that they would not increase the number of warheads over and above that to which they were committed on the C4 missile. That meant that they had already put a cap on the warhead numbers for the Trident 2 system, and wisely so. But that cap is still substantially above what we need for a minimum deterrent and we shall see in the coming months —certainly in the years ahead—increasing pressure for that cap to be taken even lower.

One of the most significant changes in arms control negotiations in recent months has been the way in which the number of warheads is becoming the critical factor. That is to be welcomed. That has come out of the Scowcroft commission, and I recommend the Government to look carefully at the importance of that commission. Faced by a Congress that was divided along party lines on the issue of the MX missile, the Americans set up an all-party commission of experts and people with weight and authority in their parties and produced a bipartisan report that changes the structure of arms negotiations internationally as well as in the United States, and it achieves a remarkable consensus across Republicans and Democrats.

Her Majesty's Government should try to do a similar exercise over Trident. It does not do Britain any good for this continued partisan political debate to exist on the basis of what minimum deterrent is needed for this country's security.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

We would not disagree with what the right hon. Gentleman says about Trident. Because at some time in the future—be it five years or longer—Polaris will no longer be useful, will he state the policy of his party on whether Polaris should be replaced by another nuclear weapon?

Dr. Owen

On the Government's present plans, some Polaris boats will still be in service in 1998. With the re-motoring of the Polaris missile and warhead modernisation, the Polaris system not only provides Britain with a minimum deterrent now but, in my view, would provide a minimum deterrent into the next century.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Come, come.

Dr. Owen

It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "Come, come," but that is the reality. If we have a minimum deterrent with which we are not trying to penetrate Moscow — if we are not worried about ABM defences, the Galosh deterrent around Moscow—the Polaris system is an adequate minimum deterrent. The problem is that the submarines will require replacement, extending their life as much as possible, by about 2005. Some say that they are already becoming noisy and will need replacement earlier.

The issue of replacement is not the Polaris system itself. We used to argue that, because the supply line had been cut off for motors, we could not continue with the Polaris missile. Now that that line of manufacture has been reopened by the Government, at a cost of £300 million, there is no longer that limitation; nor is there a limitation in terms of warheads.

That is the reality, but there are other ways of achieving a minimum deterrent. The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) asked me to give the policy of my party. I suggest that it is unwise for any of us to put ourselves in a trench, so to speak, by stating exactly what we would do in, say, 10 years, when none of us knows what the negotiations and arms control atmosphere will be like. I have never made any secret, nor has the Social Democratic Party, of the fact that we believe at present that Britain should maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent.

The Government would be more honest, when challenged by the Labour party, to say whether they believe that one reason for holding a minimum deterrent is that they are not totally confident of the United States, to say, "Yes, that is one argument for having a minimum deterrent." It is no use anybody denying it; it is a fear, held in varying degrees throughout Europe, that there are circumstances—perhaps 20 or 30 years down the track —when the United States might go into another period of isolationism.

It is also why people say, "We are not sufficiently certain of the politics even of Europe to wish to give it up." We may be driven to do so. I have never believed that Britain must pay any price, make any sacrifice, to retain a minimum deterrent. I argued against the Trident system when in office. I argued then on the same basis as I argue today — that it is more than what is required of a minimum deterrent.

Mr. Wilkinson


Dr. Owen

I will not give way, because I do not want to make too long a speech.

There are two actions which the Government should take. First, they should look at the Scowcroft commission to see if there is a way of examining the issue on a wider and deeper basis than has been done up to now, with just one party looking at it, and a small number of people doing so in that party. Secondly, if they will not merge the INF talks and START, they should prepare the way for a bilateral agreement between Britain and the Soviet Union relating to the number of warheads that we would deploy under any system which we might have.

That is an essential reinforcement of START. In the United States those negotiations are making substantial progress. What is more, there appears to be a fair measure of agreement. France will not enter START under any circumstances, but Britain should enter them and, following the precedent of the comprehensive test ban, it would be acceptable for Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union to negotiate together; and if France decides to stand aside, it can do so. However, if the United States does not want us to be a partner in START, a bilateral dialogue should be opened with the Soviet Union, and I am sure that the United States would welcome that.

An appalling indictment of the policy of the present Government is that, since taking office, no Foreign Secretary has been to Moscow. I remind Labour Members that, from the point of view of Andropov, according to the diplomatic niceties of the day, it is the turn of the Soviet Union to come to London. It is not necessary always to think of the British Prime Minister going to Moscow, although I do not object to that.

What has been absent is any serious dialogue on these issues between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. Indeed, I was the last British Foreign Secretary to go to Moscow, and I signed an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom on the accidental use of nuclear weapons. As for warhead numbers and placing a ceiling on them, that is now an extremely important aspect of achieving a steep reduction in strategic weaponry.

Personally, I think that France would find it much more acceptable to make a bilateral agreement with the Soviet Union. The question for the British Government is how those points relate to the INF negotiations. I feel strongly that the Government, NATO, my own party and the Liberals have been quite right not to make any commitment on cruise missiles while the negotiations continue. Month by month, the talks have begun to make sizeable progress, although we do not know whether they will be successful at the end of the year. The Government made a mistake in the Queen's Speech by committing themselves to the deployment of cruise missiles regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. They seemed to be assuming that the negotiations would fail.

At this stage, a realist must admit that the most likely agreement will be an interim one rather than a total agreement to deploy neither cruise nor Pershing missiles and to withdraw all SS20s. That zero option disappeared from the serious negotiating table almost a year ago. Some would say that it was never a serious possibility. There is still, however, considerable life left in the concept of a bigger concession on Pershing and a smaller deployment of cruise missiles.

If the Germans do not wish to go ahead with Pershing 2, Britain and Italy should not insist upon a deployment of Pershings as the quid pro quo for our deploying cruise missiles. We should have enough faith in our internal stability to believe that we and Italy could, if we had to, take on the burden ourselves, exempting the Federal Republic of Germany from Pershings at the moment—remembering that Pershing I would continue at this period—and even accepting the non-deployment of cruise missiles in Belgium and the Netherlands. That is a contribution that we could make as a major nuclear weapon state in the context of the European NATO powers.

It has been suggested that the United States should not concede the non-deployment of Pershing, as it emerged from the walk in the woods between the Soviet ambassador and the American negotiating ambassador on the INF, because it would embarrass Britain. I do not believe that that is the case. If the cost of a satisfactory interim agreement in the INF was that only Britain and Italy were deploying cruise missiles, I would justify and defend that state of affairs.

The issue of Trident will not go away. The Government will have to face the fact that at the, moment they are planning to deploy far too many warheads. The United States will not accept the deployment of so many. There are many different options for maintaining a minimum deterrent. By the time of the next election, the first Trident submarine will not have been launched, none of the D5 missiles will have been bought and it will be possible to cancel the whole system.

The Government may feel confident that they can win again. I doubt it, but that may be a partial judgment. They would do well to recognise, however, that the Trident system does not have the wholehearted consent of the British people. It does not have the wholehearted consent of senior admirals, generals and air force officers in the Ministry of Defence either. The project does not carry conviction across the span of those who are interested in defence policy. The Government would be well advised not to pitch it into an election campaign in four or five years time. That might lead to an expensive cancellation. They should seek a consensus in this country and internationally. Our handling of the Trident issue could contribute to deep cuts in strategic armoury and earn Britain once again an international reputation as a constructive force in the pursuit of arms control and disarmament. That prize is within our grasp. It would be within the grasp of the Prime Minister, if she had the capacity and vision to see it. I urge her 1:o think afresh and to envisage a role for Britain as a serious contributor to arms control. The right hon. Lady could contribute towards opening up a dialogue with the. Soviet Union, as her distinguished predecessor, Mr. Harold Macmillan, did so ably.

6.5 pm

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

II is with humility that I rise to make my maiden speech in this important debate. I thought that I would feel more solitary at this moment than I do. The reason for my comfort is perhaps that a number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have confronted me before, with a broadcasting microphone between us, so I am not faced with complete strangers.

I have the honour to succeed Sir Nigel Fisher, who represented Surbiton with distinction for 28 years and was described by one reporter at the moment of his retirement as the nicest man in the House of Commons. I am sorry that his son, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) is not in his place at the moment.

I have a lot to live up to both here and in my constituency. Sir Nigel's career took in Government office in Commonwealth and colonial affairs, and he ended as a senior Back Bencher. He was a great individualist. He was also the biographer of two distinguished Members of the House, Mr. Harold Macmillan and Mr. Iain Macleod, and I believe that his biographer's pen is at work again.

In Surbiton, Sir Nigel will always be much loved as the Member of Parliament who worked assiduously for everyone he possibly could. He is soon to be honoured with the freedom of the royal borough of Kingston upon Thames, of which the constituency is part. Surbiton is a sound, sensible, and stable community which built up rapidly with the development of the railway network in the last century. It consists principally of domestic dwellings and small businesses, with some small green fields in Chessington in the south.

Appropriately in this debate, I am proud to say that the commander of the Falklands task force, Sir John Woodward, lives in my constituency, and also in the royal borough, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont), there is the British Aerospace factory, which builds the remarkable Harrier aircraft. Some members of the skilled work force of that factory live in my constituency. A serious question mark hangs over the future of that factory, but that will be the subject of another debate.

The people of Surbiton are rightly proud of those within their midst, and they are always very concerned about the defence of our islands and dependencies. During the election campaign I was asked many times about my attitude to defence. I was able to give a full assurance of my wholehearted support for the Government's policy, which was so well set out in the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

My generation has had very little knowledge of, or contact with, war. I was born towards the end of the second world war and was too young to remember any detail, with the exception of having a father who, sadly, returned from the war seriously mentally disabled, and of seeing an uncle who had suffered grievously in a prison camp. I have read the history of the build-up to that war. I have read of warnings unheeded, of appeasement and of complacency towards the Nazi threat. I never again want to see such complacency towards the defence of our people. Defence must be our first priority. It is the cornerstone of all our freedoms, and for that reason I wholly support the Government's policy.

Some of my generation, and those younger, clearly do not feel the same; hence the rise of forces calling for the one-sided nuclear disarmament of our nation. Perhaps I can comment best on those people by using the words that I heard my predecessor, Sir Nigel Fisher, use in several speeches. He described them as "utterly naive". I suggest that they read carefully pages 21 to 23 of the first volume of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates".

The statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is steadfast and rightly emphasises our relationship with our NATO allies and, in particular, the United States of America. He pays tribute to the almost unbroken period of 40 years during which American forces have been present in Britain, and rightly says: the presence here of United States forces is a vital element in ensuring that war does not break out". Despite that surely axiomatic statement, too many people in his land complain about, run down and positively stigmatise America. I very much agree with the comments made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell). I am glad to say that I have not heard the phrases in this debate, but to talk of "United States Fascists" and to denigrate President Reagan is dangerous talk indeed. Considering all that the United States of America has done for Britain, and is doing, our premier ally deserves full credit and finer words than those which we hear so often from propagandists.

Much of the sadness in me about such dangerous talk stems from the fact that it seems too often to come out in our schools from young teachers who, like me, have never experienced war. They, in turn, inculcate even younger people with their falsely based prejudices. Too often, supposedly informed journalists belonging to my former profession, and working in Fleet street and broadcasting, add to the nonsense that can so debilitate our national and international security.

If there is one thing on which I would particularly welcome an assurance from my hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, it is that the Ministry has the financial means, expertise and manpower, in adequate supply, to explain our policies, through the written word and other media, to counteract propaganda attacks on our valued alliances. Every hon. Member should be at the forefront in the task of explaining our vital defences.

In conclusion, I realise that the statement shows only too clearly the multi-billion pound nature of our defence commitment. Some people say in siren voices that that money should be spent elsewhere in our lives and that we could make vast savings by carrying out one-sided nuclear disarmament and—on any serious analysis of what they say—by running down other major arms of our defence. To the proponents of those arguments I have said before —but it cannot be said often and loudly enough—that our defence, and the necessary expenditure thereon, is the cornerstone of all our other freedoms.

6.13 pm
Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) on his maiden speech. Although it was the first time that he has spoken in the House, he was courageously outspoken and quite controversial. He paid some generous and well-earned compliments to his predecessor, whom I think he called one of the nicest men in the House. As the hon. Gentleman said, one of the nicest things that Sir Nigel did was to bequeath to us his son, who is one of the excellent new Labour Members.

The hon. Gentleman clearly has some excellent defence connections. He has some celebrated people living in his area, and he also told us of his family background. Although it is the custom to wait a while before becoming embroiled in controversy, I have no doubt that we can look forward to some hard-hitting and well-argued contributions from him in future defence debates. I wish him well.

In his opening speech yesterday, the Secretary of State repeated a commitment, almost word for word, that appears in the first page of the defence statement, where the Government set out their objectives. It states: We must do all in our power to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on the limitation and reduction of armaments. That is an admirable sentiment, but there are several good reasons for doubting how serious the Government are about disarmament. I shall concentrate my relatively brief remarks on that crucial issue.

One reason for scepticism is the handling by the Government, and by the Western powers generally, of the Andropov proposals on Euro-theatre nuclear weapons. The original offer, almost to halve the number of SS20s targeted on Europe to the level of the 162 British and French missiles, was rejected by the Government on three grounds: first, that there was still no comparability, because the SS20s each had three separate warheads; secondly, that the British and French missiles were last-ditch national deterrents, with long-range strategic capability, and therefore irrelevant to an intermediate-range nuclear force count; and, thirdly, that the deal would still leave the United States of America without its own land-based arsenal in Europe.

When Andropov countered the first objection by offering to cut the number of Soviet Euro-nuclear warheads—I stress "warheads"—to the level of British and French warheads, thus involving a further major cut in the number of SS20s, to about 97, the Prime Minister again rejected it on the grounds that the British and French warheads should not be included in the balance, and that the Polaris missiles were sea-based and therefore should not be counted against the land-based SS20s.

The latter is a thoroughly specious argument, because what matters is the level of destructive capability, not the mode of basing. The much more important argument concerns not including British and French warheads. However, I submit that that argument would have more credibility if the Prime Minister demonstrated the genuineness of her disarmament intentions by saying that even if it were not a candidate for the INF talks, Polaris was certainly for inclusion in START on long-range nuclear weapons. That point has already been touched on. However, the Prime Minister has consistently refused to make any such offer.

Of course, as all those who have attended this debate know, the Secretary of State said that if, in the course of START, there was a substantial breakthrough in the scale of world deployment, it would be taken into account by a British Government. He said that a British Government would not stand aside. However, that is quite different from actively seeking participation in the talks and making offers to bring about a successful conclusion, as opposed to simply responding if a successful conclusion were achieved. It has been rightly said, and hammered home, that that is particularly true when the Government retain an unspecified quantum in the form of an irreducible minimum deterrent.

There remains the third argument—that if the SS20s are not removed, the United States of America needs to have its own land-based arsenal if the West is not to be at a disadvantage within the European theatre. The premise of that argument is false. For two decades—little is made of this point during debates on the INF talks—NATO has possessed more missiles capable of hitting eastern Europe than the Soviet Union has had systems capable of hitting western Europe. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may express disagreement, but since 1961 the United States has assigned five Polaris ballistic missile submarines to SACEUR. In 1972, these were replaced by Poseidon C3 Missiles. That means that SACEUR has had no fewer than 400 MIRV warheads since that time. I recognise that these are defined as central strategic systems and as such technically SALT-counted and therefore they cannot be included in European theatre arsenals, but the fact is that they are allotted specifically to the European theatre. Therefore, it is perverse to exclude them from consideration in the European region.

Mr. Wilkinson

Surely the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that his argument is specious, because it is impossible for us to quantify the number of Soviet strategic ballistic missile submarines that could target their weapon systems against western Europe, especially as the prime operating base for such missile launching submarines is in northern Europe on the Kola peninsula at Murmansk.

Mr. Meacher

I accept the hon. Gentleman's point, but that does not alter the effectiveness of my argument that it is not necessary to have a United States land-based arsenal within Europe when an effective sea-based United States deterrent has been allotted to SACEUR for use within the European union. Whether it is matched by a comparable Soviet sea-based arsenal is irrelevant.

It is hard to believe that these objections create an impasse over the INF negotiations. They look more like a smokescreen which has been used to rationalise cruise and Pershing 2 deployment. It is significant that the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley), who spoke yesterday and who has an acknowledged expertise in these matters, recently wrote: the objective of recognising the (Reagan) zero option as a desirable but implausible goal is to place the responsibility for the NATO modernisation on the Soviet Union. I believe that to be the case.

Apart from the INF saga, there are two other immediate grounds for doubting the sincerity of the British and American Governments in the current search for disarmament. The first—it has been mentioned before and it is important to repeat it—is the recent stance of the British Government in the United Nations on this issue. Britain has voted against or, occasionally, abstained from voting on no fewer than 28 disarmament resolutions during the past three years. The British Government have also opposed a nuclear freeze. I do not see how that is compatible with a genuine search for nuclear disarmament.

The second factor is President Reagan's emasculation of his arms control agency. I submit that that puts into a different perspective the person who is sometimes regarded as our major western ally in the search for peace and nuclear disarmament. He has recently selected for the post of deputy director of the arms control agency a former Congressman, Mr. David Emery, who favours higher military spending, nerve gas weapons, renewed production of the neutron bomb and the deployment of MX missiles carrying 540 more warheads than the President favours. In addition, President Reagan has slashed this year's budget for the arms control agency; and he has threatened to make more cuts this year. He has cut the number of staff by a quarter, abolished the independent research unit and transferred 20 years' research material to a local university. If the Kremlin or Mr. Andropov had acted similarly with regard to the Soviet Union's counterpart agency, would anyone credit Mr. Andropov's bona fides with regard to a genuine search for disarmament?

Last, but not least important in interpreting the significance of what is happening, is the eerie sense of replay of past negotiations. It is true that agreement on arms limitations has been reached in the past, but only in a manner that has institutionalised the arms race and only by prohibiting in many cases what neither side any longer wished to do. The partial test ban treaty which was concluded in 1963 has not prevented from taking place 60 per cent. of all the nuclear explosions that have occurred since 1948. With each major so-called disarmament agreement, limitation in one sphere, which had already been largely exploited, has been accompanied by let-outs in another sphere which have greatly facilitated nuclear escalation in other areas. For example, the partial test ban treaty was vitiated by allowing underground tests. The SALT I freeze on the number of launchers was vitiated by allowing MIRV to roar ahead — and that has revolutionised the arms race. SALT II has been vitiated by permitting the accelerated development of a new generation of counterforce weapons such as MX, Trident, cruise and Pershing 2s.

Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith


Mr. Meacher

Therefore, are we not seeing the same process recurring in Geneva? Attention is being focused upon reducing the level of INF balance in Europe and on START taking place in Geneva, which may or may not —I hope that they do—achieve a settlement. If they do, they will no doubt be hailed as achieving a major breakthrough in disarmament.

If that were to be achieved, the significance would be far outweighed by President Reagan's intentions, which were clearly signalled in his "Star Wars" speech last March, to escalate the nuclear arms race in a new and dangerously destabilising manner by the militarisation of space. The development of microwave, particle beams and lasers as ABM systems opens a new dimension of nuclear warfare. Can that be consistent with a genuine intention to seek nuclear disarmament?

For those reasons, the Opposition are singularly unimpressed by the rhetoric of disarmament which is unaccompanied by solid evidence of matching action. Whatever the Government's declared aims, there is a prodigous risk of an escalation of the current arms race. First, there is the current NATO policy of the first use of nuclear weapons by the West, which the Minister mentioned today, and which is surely absurdly dangerous. It is no good saying, as he did, that there is no certainty that the weapons would be used; that the aim is to increase uncertainty for the other side. No deterrent deters unless its use is regarded as plausible. If it were used, ii would be an act of self-immolation without precedent. It would undoubtedly pave the way to uncontrolled and uncontrollable nuclear escalation.

Secondly, the introduction of counterforce weapons with their first strike nuclear capability, far from providing, which presumably is the objective, a greater balance in security, represents an unprecedented, chronic destabilisation which, by any standards, is exceedingly dangerous.

The introduction of MX, Trident or cruise is bound to have an effect on the other side. The proliferation of nuclear weapons which the Government's policy is bound to generate must, mathematically, hugely increase the chances of the outbreak of nuclear war as a result of error or miscalculation. That fact is rarely mentioned, but it is important as there are about 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world and that number is increasing annually.

Above all, for all the insane risks that are involved in the policy, what ultimate credibility is there in a deterrent when, if the Prime Minister pressed the button, as she said during the election she would, it is inconceivable that the result would be other than national self-genocide for us? How can such a deterrent carry any plausibility with potential enemies when they know as well as we do that its use would have such absurdly annihilatory consequences for this country?

It is for those reasons that we find the Government's case so unconvincing. The rhetoric of two-sided disarmament has been used to serve as a cover for what is, in practice, unilateral rearmament. That is the central flaw in the defence Estimates and that is why we unreservedly reject them.

6.31 pm
Mr. Jerry Wiggin (Weston-super-Mare)

I think that I shall have the House on my side when I say that I shall not speak on nuclear matters. When I hear Labour and Social Democratic Members speaking again and again about those things, which were so clearly removed from the consideration of the electorate, I wonder whether they and I were fighting the same campaign.

I cannot give the source, but a grey head once said that the best thing in politics, particularly at the time of a setback, was neither to explain nor complain. Having worked as hard as I can, and having had complete loyalty for the Government during the past four years, I share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), who said that to be summarily dismissed was an acutely hurtful experience. He had spent about 21 years in office, much of the time in high positions of state. After four years at the bottom of the ladder I am tempted to use stronger language, but I must obey my own strictures.

I shall address myself, first, to one or two matters of administration. It is important that junior Ministers look upon a great part of their function as one of management. I noted with pleasure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday referred to his role in managing his Department. The Prime Minister might pay no regard to what I say, but perhaps future Prime Ministers will bear in mind one or two of my points. The Ministry of Defence is in itself a different Department from others. It is not a Department which simply has the Civil Service to communicate with its Ministers; it has the three Services and the procurement executive, all advising, and not always in unity. I have often compared it to a complicated game of poker, because in the end the Minister is under special pressure from no fewer than five different quarters.

In those circumstances, it is important that there should be some continuity. I remind the House that since my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister first went to No. 10 in 1979 there have been three different Secretaries of State, five different Ministers of State, five different Under-Secretaries of State, seven Ministers have been dismissed and one has retired. I humbly suggest that that plays into the hands of those whose smooth organisation, training and brilliance lead them to the top of the Services and the top of a big Department in the Civil Service. It puts Ministers at a serious disadvantage if, in this complicated Department with 620,000 people working for it, buying about 1 per cent. of the gross national product, the managers are constantly changing. I hope that that point is taken up.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, having started to learn his way around the Department, was rightly beginning to ensure that all Ministers had clear individual responsibilities. That should not be exclusive to the Ministry of Defence. It is the right way to run a Department. I suggest that the time has come when the best way to administer the Government is to have a Cabinet assisted by Ministers not in the Cabinet, whether they are called Ministers of State, or whatever. There should be only one second tier of Ministers with specific, known responsibilities, and answerable to their Cabinet Ministers.

Another matter which has concerned me very much, as I believe it has concerned others of my colleagues, is the way in which the Government control their finances. I believe that I am right in saying that, historically, the Government's accounting procedures were invented by Pepys to control the Navy and that progressively over 200 years they have altered modestly. Anyone with the slightest experience of business would find it almost impossible to compare the financing information and accounts of commerce and industry with the way in which the Government run their accounting system. The rules of annuality put constraints on economies, capital investment and other things which even the smallest business does as a matter of routine.

Given the availability of information, with modern systems, the time has come to suggest that we make a quantum change in how we administer Government accounting. On many occasions I have found that one cannot do what one would do in business—for example, amalgamate two establishments—because the once-andfor-all cost is never discounted over 20 or 30 years as it would be commercially, but is totalled in the year in which the change takes place. That elementary housekeeping system is too primitive for the sophisticated Government that we run today.

Therefore, I was particularly pleased to see in the recent announcements about the Ministry of Defence that a small concession had been made by the Treasury to run savings over the end of the accounting year. It is depressing for a junior Minister to find that there is no incentive because the savings will be dragged away to the Treasury or distorted by annuality. I hope that I shall be supported in considering whether we can act in a more modern and better way.

Many people have said to me in the past couple of years that they wish that we could go back to the old system of service Ministers. From my experience, I strongly oppose such a change. There are several reasons for that. A problem arose with my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). After many months of working for the Navy, he was faced with a dichotomy of loyalty on the one hand to the service in which he had been brought up, was working for, and of which he was the titular political head, and on the other hand to the Government for whom he was working. He was put in an incredibly difficult position. The more I considered the facts afterwards, the more I was sympathetic. That should never be allowed to happen again.

My predecessor was in the new post for only a few months, but I soon found that I was surprised by the number of occasions on which when we examined a function, perhaps across all three services—something mundane—we found that one service did it differently from the others and that one service did it better than the others. I could give many examples.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Dog training.

Mr. Wiggin

I have been assured that an Army police dog requires a completely different place to be trained in and a totally different team to train it than a Royal Air Force police dog.

As for teaching cooks to boil cabbages, or whatever, I had the great success of getting them all into one school. In relation to the Ministry as a whole many of these are tiny matters, but there are also major areas—medical services, educational establishments, maintenance depots and so on—in which tens of millions if not hundreds of millions, of pounds could be saved through a determined approach by a Minister to pull these things together for the benefit of the services and of the front line. I certainly learnt that, working with all three services.

I entirely oppose a purple service on the Canadian model, in which the three front-line services are put together. That would destroy many wonderful features of our services, but we can do a great deal of good in the background administration and support services. The House and various Select Committees have played a major role in pressing the Ministry to do these things. I am sorry to say that there has been plenty of kicking and screaming, but I believe that when the savings become apparent many developments in which I was involved will be seen to have been working towards a successful conclusion.

The problem of combining Ministers is that what was once a job for nine Ministers when there were three departments is now carried out by five, two of whom rightly deal with defence procurement. Defence procurement takes up 46 per cent. of the defence budget. Anyone with any experience in the services, in the House or as a Minister will agree that there have been quite disgraceful instances of the Ministry of Defence being ripped off because for many years there was no ministerial responsibility to study procurement. I was delighted that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement made so much of this, setting out a long list of steps that he was taking to try to clobber this problem.

All this leaves the armed forces sick, of the Ministry with a great deal of work. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has been dealing with the problem of arranging the work load. In the past, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) and I had 48 subject headings between us. That was too many and we became overloaded. I hope that the new arrangements will deal with that domestic problem. When I came into the Ministry, we started work on implementing the White Paper, "The Way Forward", Cmnd. 8288, but just as that was getting under way the Falklands war occurred, with all the lessons that that brought. The Ministry is probably now moving into its age-old triennial battle with the Treasury. I hope that I am wrong, but I shall have more to say about that.

Having attended a great many debates on defence White Papers over the years, one is tempted to pick out a handful of minor subjects and to attend properly to none. I hope that I shall not be guilty of that in commenting on various aspects of each service which left an impression on me.

The Navy conducted an extremely militant political campaign against Cmnd. 8288. I believe that that was wrong and did no credit to the Navy. Indeed, at times that campaign came close to the borders of constitutional propriety. The first sea lord now in office, however, has stamped out that feeling and relationships within the Ministry and between the Navy and the other Services have been restored to their rightful harmony and cooperation.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces will beaver away at his opposite number to ensure that he obtains the submarines mentioned in Cmnd. 8288. I shall not go into the technicalities of why I believe that the numbers will not be as they should, but there is a lack of capacity in our yards for building submarines.

People ask why Sir John Nott got the White Paper wrong and say, "Look what happened in the Falklands." His general proposition in Cmnd. 8288 was that there were too many platforms which could not defend themselves and not enough submarines. In the Falklands conflict 16 ships were hit by not particularly sophisticated aircraft and, happily, utterly unsophisticated bombs, but our submarines contained the Argentine navy from the day they were known to have arrived. In my view, the general conclusion from the Falklands war is that that was a correct philosophy and I hope that my hon. Friend will pursue it.

I worry about the Royal Marines because they have a minority interest and the Navy controls their budget so that they do not always get the finance or attention that they deserve. They certainly do not have the officer structure that they deserve. It would be rash for a Minister to say this, but as a Back Bencher I can now say that in my view it would be in the interests of the Royal Marines to be attached to the Army. There are virtually no Royal Marines at sea and we need an amphibious capacity.

Sir Patrick Wall

The view of the Royal Marines is that either they stay with the Royal Navy or disband altogether.

Mr. Wiggin

I am aware of the Royal Marines' view, but I ask them to be courageous. They stand very high in the public's mind and they have a real role to play. They train quite ruthlessly and I have nothing but admiration for them. En passant, the remarkable way in which General Pringle has conducted his personal recovery in front of his own corps has been a deeply moving example of magnificent bravery.

I am glad that it has been possible to do something for the Royal Naval Reserve. Too often the reserves are second best, they take resources from the regulars and it is hard to persuade a regular that a reservist is good value for money. At the end of the last Parliament, however, we were able to announce that a new ship had been promised for every Royal Naval Reserve division. The London division will also have new headquarters, so I believe that the climate of opinion has now changed.

Two or three years ago the Army realised with a jolt that it had spent too little time on defending the home base. Since then, efforts have been made to ensure that every service man knows what he is to do at the outbreak of war. The Territorial Army is expanding on line, the building programme for drill halls is going ahead and the home service force has got off to a good start. Those matters may sound basic, but they are crucial.

The Army's money problem must lie in BAOR, with its vast army of civilians, many of them Germans, and a building programme with costs far in excess of our own, while our own barracks have not yet been modernised. The Army must attend to many problems in the immediate future.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement referred to the Challenger tank—a superb item of equipment and probably the finest tank ever produced—but our infantry now carry weapons which can knock out tanks even of that calibre. We also read of the sophisticated weapons, both helicopter-borne and tank-borne, which will be introduced on to the battlefield, so one must question whether tanks will ever be viable again.

The Air Force has been locked in the greatest re-equipment programme ever, leaving little room for political manoeuvre as I suspect that cancellation would now cost more than going ahead. The Air Force has too many different types of aeroplane and it carries too vast an inventory of spare parts. I believe that it also has too many men, although that will of course be denied.

The decision to consider the new trainer came as a direct result of the realisation that it was no longer necessary to go for an all-jet basic trainer. I am not an expert on these matters, but I have studied the figures and am convinced that an elementary course on a Chipmunk, followed by the basic trainer and then proceeding straight on to the Hawk at an earlier stage makes good sense. The pilots would be trained just as well. However, it is a bold step to take. I hear people ask why it should take so long to reach that decision. The reason must be that it is a major departure from the Air Force's philosophy.

In the Falklands, the role of the Ministry of Defence has been to respond to the threat and create a relatively small garrison for a small number of ships and aircraft. It has had to do that further away from home than ever before, in great difficulty, and in the complete absence of resources. There is no local labour force, no water supply and none of the things that people would expect to find east of Suez. The process has been carried out with great fortitude. Although for a long time there will be debates in the House about costs, they are as much under control as possible and much is being done each day to pull it all together.

I have three worries. The first is that none of the three services has yet given adequate thought to protecting itself from a threat from the air. For as long as history, service men must have said, "You politicians do not know about defence. We have studied the matter for 10 years and we assure you that such and such is the case." The grandfather of my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) promoted the invention of the tank because service men had not. Service men sent their soldiers to war on horses in 1939. Everyone can understand the implications of that. Once again it is the responsibility of Ministers, other right hon. and hon. Members and non-technical people to point out that the odds are too great. The services have not appreciated the threat from the air.

My second worry is the threat of chemical warfare. There can be no doubt that to subject the Army, the Air Force or the Navy to chemical attack, no matter how well protected it is, is the most inhibiting, slowing and discomfiting of all operations. Even if the clothing and gas masks prove adequate, such warfare would hold up our troops immensely if they came under attack. This must be the classic case of a deterrent—it worked throughout the second world war. The Russians have built up stocks of chemical weapons in their tens of thousands of tonnes and arranged methods of delivering them to our side of the battlefield. Surely we should seriously consider doing the same, for the deterrent effect. Chemical warfare is the last thing that we want, but the only way to prevent it is to have a deterrent. We should start to do that.

My third, and perhaps most important, worry is money. My hon. Friend the Minister should know that the Conservative party will not tolerate a Ministry of Defence, which has finally made itself able to spend approximately the correct amount of money — there is less wild overspend and less wild underspend—and which has a cash limit system which is beginning to work, being subjected to a long series of attacks by the Treasury. That would be disastrous and would undo much of the good that has been done in the past few years.

Without taking credit for it myself, I can say that the services are in good order. That is the result of the policies which the Government adopted in 1979–80 in regard to pay and then on consistency about equipment and other matters. The morale of the services is high. They have spares and fuel for training and can see that money is being spent on weapons development. I say that with pride.

Serving in the Government for the past four years was a great honour and an unforgettable experience. I sincerely believe that almost all of my hon. Friends have the capacity to be a Minister, yet many never are. I am grateful for my good fortune. I should like to thank the many people, civil servants and service men alike, who helped me through a frenetic life on the sixth floor of the Ministry of Defence. I wish my successors well and urge them as strongly as I know how to keep as their main objective the welfare and maintenance of Britain's armed forces—the very best in the world.

6.54 pm
Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)

The debate has already provided me with two pleasant surprises. The first was the speech by the hon. Member for Weston-superMare (Mr. Wiggin). He made a speech that I did not realise he had in him. It was much better than any speech that he was allowed to make from the Dispatch Box. I do not regret his being on the Back Benches. Although I did not agree with everything that he said, I listened to most of it with a great deal of interest and support.

My second pleasant surprise is to find an Opposition motion on defence with which I can almost agree, or, conversely, with which I can agree without too many mental gymnastics. There is nothing in it about getting rid of American bases, nor is there any mention of getting rid of Polaris. I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Shadow Cabinet and the Front Bench team responsible for defence on starting their pilgrimage back from the disastrous election manifesto with which the Labour party was saddled during the election campaign.

In my part of the country—I speak for no other—nuclear issues were important during the election. It was clear that many people switched their vote away from the Labour party because they did not want Britain to be deprived of nuclear weapons while other countries refused to give up theirs. I am not saying whether that judgment is correct, but the Labour party's stance was electorally disastrous. I predicted that it would be, and I told my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) privately more than once before the election. Now I shall deal with the future.

It is no secret that I have supported Britain's having a strategic nuclear capability. I shall address myself to what I call the Down, South question. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) is not present. I apologise to him for not giving him notice that I would raise this point. In the previous defence debate he posed the question whether a British Prime Minister would ever initiate a strategic nuclear exchange. For reasons that are familiar to many of my hon. Friends — my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) mentioned it today—such a strategic nuclear exchange, would lead to national disaster from which Britain would be unlikely ever to recover. It is clear that there is no need for Britain to make a "no first use "declaration. "No first use" is inherent in the logic of Britain's stance on strategic weapons. It is pointless making such a declaration. Other concepts are wandering around—"no early first use" or, as I have recently heard, "no early use". The latter is incapable of analysis.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that Conservative Members regard Polaris and Trident almost as anti-American weapons and as a sign that we do not trust the United States. I must argue along the same lines as the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). When Britain first acquired Polaris, it was regarded substantially as an anti-American weapon. It was designed, if we felt that the Americans would not be with us on the day, to create a state of affairs in which the Americans would be dragged into the conflict on our side. That might have been an utterly naive failure on our part to recognise the sheer horror of such weapons systems—those were the days before hydrogen bombs, when we thought simply of atomic weapons of the Hiroshima type—but that was largely the motive behind the decision to have Polaris. Of course, that was never said.

Trident, which has an enormously increased striking power, is not so much an anti-American weapon to drag them into a conflict as an insurance policy against the Americans not being there on the day. That is the one justification for Britain having a strategic weapons system. As the right hon. Member for Devonport said, there can be no guarantee of what the state of the world will be in 30 or 40 years' time. That does not mean that we do not trust the present American Administration. The acquisition of a strategic nuclear capabilitiy simply means that one can never predict 30 years ahead, and that it would be folly to predicate Britain's security on an alliance that may not exist 30 years ahead.

It may surprise some hon. Members to know that I believe that there are many possibilities for unilateral nuclear disarmament by the Alliance and by Britain alone. I start from two premises. The first is that the Alliance, Britain and the Warsaw pact countries need not supremacy or parity in nuclear weapons, but stability in the international security arena.

My second premise is that the size of the nuclear arsenals on both sides of the iron curtain is such that neither a considerable increase nor a considerable decrease will have a measurable effect upon the security of either side. Nuclear disarmers, especially those in the United Kingdom, are obsessed with big ticket items, such as submarines. However, they could make a more constructive and rational contribution to the discussion on international security if they started less ambitiouslay. There is a clear case for unilateral disarmament of battlefield weapons. That case will become stronger as we develop our conventional capability, although we should take seriously the French view that the nuclear threshold should be kept as low as possible, because the lower the threshold, the greater the fear of an incident that could lead to a conflict. I do not endorse the concept, but it is foolish of us not to discuss it.

Once we have made a start with battlefield weapons, we can turn our attention to theatre weapons such as Tornado, which costs much more than Trident. Tornado is a precision guided weapon that must acquire greater range, accuracy and reliability, and I am glad to see the signs of that.

I agree with what the right hon. Member for Devonport said about strategic systems. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) and I said much the same in a minority report of the Select Committee on Defence when it considered Trident some years ago. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has caught up with us. Several years ago we said that Trident was not the only possibility as a successor to Polaris. There were cheaper alternatives. The Government of the day and successive Secretaries of State for Defence have not been fair to the Select Committee, the House or the British people in not making available the facts about the cost of alternative systems, such as a running-on strategic deterrent with a modernised Polaris-type system.

We must recognise that the longer the Conservative Government stay in power—God help us all—the more likely it is that Trident will become the Polaris of the future. However, it is evident that the majority of the British electorate voted for parties that opposed Trident. That is statistically unarguable. The electorate wished to have nothing to do with cruise missiles. However, they voted in favour of Britain's having a strategic nuclear deterrent, and in eight or 10 years' time the cheaper option will no longer be available. I reinforce what has been said by the Opposition, and I beg the Government to consider seriously the possibility of a cheaper option to Trident while preserving Britain's strategic nuclear capability.

The United States has far more warheads than it needs. For some time I have not believed that the best anti-tank weapon is another tank. A fortiori, the best defence against a nuclear weapon is not another nuclear weapon. There is no need in military terms for parity in such weapons systems. The present arms build-up does not seriously challenge international stability, so large are existing nuclear arsenals. That view is shared by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. It is clear that our American friends at the strategic level, and ourselves at lower levels of nuclear weapons systems, could easily dispense with part of our nuclear arsenals. It would become progressively easier for us to do so with the growing sophistication of conventional systems. If we did so, we would save our Treasury much money and our people much anxiety, and we might persuade our potential enemies that their security would not be jeopardised if they took similar steps.

7.6 pm

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

I have chosen to make my maiden speech during a defence debate because the constituency that I have the honour to serve is a defence town. Gillingham's links with defence are part of our glorious history and stretch back more than 400 years. It is customary to take the House on a Cook's tour round one's constituency during a maiden speech, but I shall keep that part of the exercise brief because the bulk of my speech will concern the single major feature for which my constituency is best known.

Gillingham lies on the Medway in Kent and is one of the three Medway towns. With an electorate of about 70,000 and a population of more than 90,000, it is a tight and compact urban area. However, along the motorway at the eastern end of Gillingham are several prosperous farms and farm-related businesses, as one would expect in the garden of England. Travelling west from the farming villages, one comes to Rainham with its enormous commuter estates and its busy commuter railway line to London. As about 7,000 people travel daily between Gillingham and London, the House can expect a contribution from me when it discusses British Rail.

From Rainham one moves west along the old A2, just as the Romans moved along Watling street, to Gillingham proper. From Norman times, Gillingham developed as a fishing village and port, and in 1547 Chatham dockyard was founded on the banks of the Medway. That great installation gave Gillingham its prominence. Although the third of the dockyard that is described as the historic dockyard lies in Chatham, and is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Medway (Mrs. Fenner), the other two thirds which form the modern and commercial dockyard are in Gillingham. I shall concentrate on Her Majesty's dockyard at Chatham and on the associated Royal Naval base, HMS Pembroke.

In some respects this will be a sad speech—almost a funeral oration over the near-cold corpse of the dockyard — but I hope that it will also contain a message of optimism. As one door closes, another opens, and I shall say a little about the new door opening.

I shall talk of the fall and rise of Chatham dockyard. There are others better able to recount the history of Chatham dockyard than myself. However, I must mention that many of the ships that sank the Armada in 1588 were built at Chatham. Nelson's flagship, Victory, was built at Chatham in 1765 and rebuilt there shortly before the battle of Trafalgar. In 1863, the first iron ship, the battleship Achilles, was launched and from 1908 a tremendous expertise with submarines was developed. Latterly, this expertise in submarines has most symbolised the Chatham dockyards.

Particularly in the refuelling and refitting of the hunter-killer submarines, the SSNs, Chatham has enjoyed a preeminence. This pre-eminence caused many to doubt the wisdom of the decision, announced in the 1981 forerunner of today's White Paper, to close the dockyard and its associated royal naval base HMS Pembroke. Those doubts linger. It is not so much the loss of employment prospects that hurts, grievous though that wound is, as the lack of confidence in the alternative facilities for the difficult tasks involved in handling SSNs. The White Paper makes little mention of the royal dockyards. The closure of Chatham commands just 13 words—not much of an obituary for a major part of our naval history.

I pay tribute to my predecessor Sir Frederick Burden, for I share some of his apprehensions about the closure of the Chatham dockyard. Those apprehensions related particularly to the loss of the SSN refuelling and refitting facilities. Sir Frederick fought to save Chatham dockyard in his latter years in the House. He sat in the House for a third of a century and for the whole of that time he fought for the retention of the Chatham dockyard. In his last two years he fought like a tiger for his constituents' interests, frequently to the discomfort of his colleagues. That discomfort did not worry Sir Frederick for he held the interest of his constituents second only to the integrity of the nation. He fought his last battle for the dockyard and lost, but his fight was honourable, for all that.

The dockyard is closing rapidly and the last frigate, HMS Hermione, has completed her refit, which was a particularly long and complex one, and left, as has the nuclear submarine Churchill. The flag officer, Medway, has been appointed to a new post and will finally call down his flag in September. The last social events have been held, and the last wedding has taken place in the garrison church. The petty officers have consumed a bottle of rum and buried the empty near their now-closed petty officers' mess. However, I must not become maudlin. Her Majesty's dockyard Chatham and HMS Pembroke will finally close on 31 March 1984 and 437 years of naval history will be at an end.

Now for the good news. The historic dockyard will be preserved as a living museum with several craft industries vying with one another to set up their skilled trades in the beautiful Georgian dockyard buildings. Already, the newly formed Chatham dockyard flag loft has replaced the naval enterprise making flags, taking on all the former yard employees, and a further four youngsters under the youth training scheme. The historic ropery has been taken on by a private company; it will use the ancient machinery to continue to make ropes, and will provide the Victory with its supply of rigging, which has come from Chatham for the past 200 years.

Here, my speech turns from a mood of pessimism to one of optimism. When I was adopted last August as prospective candidate for Gillingham, there was still an air of all-pervading gloom. The closure of the dockyard would inevitably lead, particularly when combined with other major closures locally, to high unemployment and local desperation. Since then, apart from the craft industries moving into the historic dockyard, the Medway ports authority has decided that it will run port operations in basin No. 3 of the Chatham dockyard. Already, more than 100 workers have been taken on by Thames Ship Repair Services, and there is a prospect of more initiatives.

The Government have taken a praiseworthy initiative by appointing the English Industrial Estates Corporation to redevelop the commercial dockyard. North-west Kent has been granted an enterprise zone. Much has already been done, although much remains to be done, and some of it must be undertaken by Government. Among other things, the road access to the dockyard is not good, but that is a topic for a transport debate.

In the context of this debate, I hope that where it is possible the Government will nudge new defence-oriented industry in the direction of Gillingham and the Medway towns so that those skills that have been developed and honed over 400 years may be put once again to the defence of the realm. I welcome the sound steps taken for the redevelopment of the dockyard and the new youth training scheme with the 5,200 trainees taken on by the services, and, as I read in the paper today, the 2,000 places in the civilian establishment. That may well appeal to those youngsters who would formerly have been taken on by the dockyard to train in HMS Collingwood, the apprentice school. I welcome the new Medway information technology centre that has been set up in Collingwood with 50 young trainees.

All these steps will help the Medway towns to overcome the trauma of losing the Chatham dockyard. They should also help to attract new defence-oriented industry to an area where defence has always been the major employer. Gillingham will mainftin its commitment to our armed services with the presence of the royal school of military engineering. Gillingham's roots in defence are steeped in history, but also have a tremendous potential for carrying the town forward into the future.

I have not talked of the NATO twin-track decision, of cruise and Pershing, of Trident or the conventional forces balance, although I could have done. Rather, I have tried to offer a tribute to the defence efforts of my constituents in the past and to proffer their efforts in the defence of the realm in the future.

7.18 pm
Sir Patrick Wall (Beverley)

I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House will join me in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) on an exceptional maiden speech. As he said, his predecessor, Sir Frederick Burden, was a fighter. Unfortunately, he lost that fight, but his successor will no doubt prove an equally doughty fighter—perhaps over the commuter train services to which he referred. I do not believe that Devonport and Rosyth can compete with the refuelling and refitting of our nuclear submarines in times of tension or war. I regret the closing of that facility, although Chatham as a major dockyard had to go. However, I am glad that my hon. Friend was able to end his speech on an optimistic note.

The White Paper as a whole, with one exception, to which I shall refer later, is excellent, particularly in its explanation of nuclear matters, which are simplified enough to make anybody understand the Government's policy. Trident and cruise are essential. That is shown by the fuss that the Soviet Union, aided by its dupes and fellow travellers in Europe, is making over the deployment of cruise missiles. The result of the general election must have been a blow to the CND, but that will not keep rabble rousers such as Monsignor Bruce Kent quiet, and we shall hear more from that gentleman later. Sometimes, his words against the leaders of both the Church and the state seem to verge on the seditious. However, cruise missiles will be deployed, and only then, in my opinion, will the USSR negotiate seriously in the various defence conferences, such as those on the INF, the MBFR, and so on.

The main burden of my speech will concern NATO. My experience with the NATO Parliament — or the North Atlantic assembly—now spans a decade, and it has taught me much. I shall say a word, first, about the Navy. All the senior NATO naval commanders were horrified at the last Government's plans virtually to decimate the Royal Navy, as we knew it. Fortunately for the Royal Navy, the Government and Europe, it was saved by the Falklands campaign. However, we have to consider not the indifferent Argentines, but the efficient USSR.

The White Paper tells us that in Eastlant the balance is as follows. There are 32 NATO submarines to 81 Soviet submarines, including, of course, the Typhoon of over 25,000 tonnes—the size of a battleship during the last war. In maritime patrol and strike aircraft the balance is 291 on the NATO side and 444 on the Soviet side. Nevertheless, every 24 hours 1,000 ocean-going ships dock in European ports. NATO has about 7,900 ships, 31 million gross registered tonnes, or 7.5 per cent. of the world shipping. Unfortunately, that is declining rapidly, as, of course, is the British Merchant Navy. Nevertheless, in wartime about 2,200 cargoes have to cross the Atlantic every month. That is vital at the start of tension and the continuation of war. How will that vast number of ships be provided, and how will they be defended? How will the ports be kept clear of mines?

In page 14 of the Estimates I see that we now have 59 anti-submarine vessels. However, the most grave sentence in the whole document appears in that page: Numbers are expected to decline to about 50 later tn the decade". The anxiety of all naval commanders, from SACLANT downwards, is the paucity of anti-submarine vessels, helicopters and aircraft in NATO fleets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer need not worry about social services, education, pensions and so on, because, if the third world war happens, there will not be any. If we can avoid world war 3 in the next five years, which I doubt, it will be only by showing the Soviets that they cannot win. At present, I believe that they can win, and we shall never catch up if, for example, it takes us eight years to design and build a small frigate, or a 2,000 tonne submarine. I suggest that the whole of our ship design and building programme needs to be looked into. I am glad that that was mentioned by the Minister in winding up last night.

Now let me say a quick word about the Royal Air Force. The key at the start of any war is the suppression of enemy airfields. The JP 233, mentioned in the White Paper, is an excellent weapon, but it is not a stand-off weapon. In this day and age, against Soviet defences which are extremely good, it is impossible to destroy any well defended airfield without the use of stand-off weapons. That is the view in America. I found, from my experience of visiting various armaments firms, that every firm is adapting its own weapon, the Lance or Patriot, or even the MLRX, to a stand-off capability that can be delivered by an aircraft. We have no such weapons in this country, with the possible exception of Sea Eagle, which in any case is a maritime weapon. Stand-off weapons and good anti-radar weapons are essential for the RAF now —not in 10 years' time, which may well be too late.

I should like to make a constituency point, which has already been mentioned by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). It concerns the P164. I remember visiting British Aerospace in Brough, in my constituency, where I was shown diagrams showing that the Jet Provost will fall out of the sky in six or seven years' time. That was denied categorically by the RAF, which said that it did not need a replacement. A replacement was designed at Brough. I have seen the designs, and they have been shown to various hon. Members. Now the RAF suddenly tells us that the air staff target is produced, that it needs the machine in two or three years' time, and that it will have to be bought off the shelf from another country. That is a disgrace. Frankly, for the RAF to say that it does not need a replacement for a number of years, and then to have a volte face, saying that it is needed in the next two or three years and that it will have to buy it off the shelf, is a disgrace. It is bad for British industry, not only for Brough, which expected to manufacture the new training aircraft, but for the whole export potential that would follow.

For the Army, the key problem in war is to identify and engage the enemy, particularly second echelon armour. Today, that could take up to four hours or more, but by the 1990s it will be nearer to four minutes. That shows the advance in high technology that is taking place at present and will take place in the next few years. Developments in America, such as JTIDS, which is mentioned in the White Paper, TAWDS/Pavemaker, which are battlefield airborne radars, Firefinder for locating artillery and mortars, and PLRS for locating other targets, will change the whole shape of conventional warfare. Once that happens, one does not have the same dependence on tactical nuclear weapons. The nuclear threshold will be raised, and that is what hon. Members on both sides want.

Once one has located the target, it must be engaged as rapidly as possible, and in this respect MLRS will be the first weapon system of the new generation. Its rapid engagement is such that it is 45 times the rate of the present artillery for immediate engagement, and 4.7 times the rate for sustained engagement. This illustrates the changes that are taking place in the battlefield in conventional weapons. Let no one think for a moment that conventional weapons will be cheaper than nuclear weapons. They will probably be more expensive. However, if we are to avoid a nuclear war, we must concentrate on the high technology developments that have taken place in the United States and, to a lesser extent, in this country.

It is therefore right for us to spend 24 per cent. of our total budget on research and development. The Minister said that 46 per cent. of the whole defence budget is spent on equipment. We must keep ahead. That is expensive, but it is much cheaper than war. We are ahead of the Soviet Union, even though it has greater numbers than we have.

Lastly, nothing has been said about standardisation, interoperability or co-production. All are happening, but far too slowly. For example, the different ammunition for tanks and different rockets would cause absolute chaos of supply on the battlefield. I believe that Governments should insist on co-operation. We have set a good example. We have co-production with the Americans of the AV8B and the VTXTS trainer and the MLRS that I have already mentioned. That sets an example for the rest of NATO. Of course it will be expensive in the short term, but in the long term it will save money. Greater, not complete, standardisation will be of immense benefit to NATO on the battlefield, if we ever have a war. If the British, American, French and German Governments insisted that every major weapon system should be standardised and co-produced, it would be an immense gain for NATO. That will happen in due course, but by then it may well be too late.

7.30 pm
Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

I endorse the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) and I welcome most warmly my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's first White Paper and his able and wide-ranging speech which introduced the debate yesterday. Many of the improvements to which he referred and which will come into service this year alone will significantly improve the capability of our armed forces —specifically, Challenger, Tornado and tracked Rapier, as well as the many improvisations that have resulted from the lessons learnt in the south Atlantic last year.

It is a sad spectacle to see the Labour party, especially its spokesman the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin), who I am sorry is not in his place, lying stranded like some defunct walrus on the sands of time by an abrupt ebb in the tide of one-sided disarmament, so vividly demonstrated by the electorate's categoric rejection of the Labour party's defence policy. It was not merely rejected by the electorate: it was significantly rejected by a majority of Labour voters who are deeply patriotic and solidly in favour of the defence of the realm and who are not prepared to swallow policies that reek of appeasement and which led us into a world war in a previous generation.

So slipshod has the Labour party's approach to defence become that the amendment on the Order Paper today in the name of the right hon. Gentleman and the leader of the Labour party contains two glaring factual errors. It is untrue that Britain spends more, as a percentage of GDP and per capita, on defence than any of our NATO allies. Reference to page 28 of the defence White Paper would have advised the Labour party's defence spokesman that the United States spends twice as much per capita as we do—$856 compared to our $432. The United Kingdom is not just second to the United States in its percentage spending of GDP, it is fourth, coming behind Greece, the United States and Turkey. Such slipshod homework by the Labour party must make the country doubly cautious about accepting the seriousness of any of the propositions that it has advanced about defence.

One key proposition advanced by the Labour party is that we should move as a nation towards a non-nuclear defence in a nuclear age. That may be possible in terms of facing aggression from non-nuclear countries, such as Argentina last year. But what would be the Labour party's response should it ever be returned to government with the policies that it now enunciates, in the event that the Soviet Union demanded the United Kingdom's unconditional surrender and disarmament under threat of a nuclear attack? As my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) so ably put it in an excellent maiden speech yesterday, Britain would be as naked and defenceless in the face of such a threat today as the empire of Japan was in similar circumstances in 1945 when, following the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it had no alternative but to agree to unconditional surrender.

We are also told by the Labour party that we should be doing more for conventional defence. As implausible as the Labour party's proposed non-nuclear policy is its complaint is that the Government are not spending enough on conventional forces. That is rich coming from a party that recently fought an election on the avowed proposition of cutting defence expenditure by no less than 31 per cent. —a cut of a scale that even the scrapping of the entire Royal Navy would be insufficient to satisfy.

We are told that we and our NATO allies should agree to a concept of no first use of nuclear weapons. That certainly gives great concern to many people, but the fact is that it is utterly impossible for NATO allies to resist an all-out onslaught by Soviet conventional forces without resort to nuclear weapons, either today or in the foreseeable future. It is difficult for us to appreciate the scale of conventional forces that confront us and it is not made any easier by the White Paper which, by taking a blinkered view of a narrow geographical area on the central front, minimises the scale of the threat that confronts us. That is a complaint that I have registered not only with the previous Secretary of State but with the Secretary of State in the Labour Government.

I make this plea to my right hon. Friend. In future, a wider geographical area should be taken into account, because the figures published in the White Paper show that the Warsaw pact, not just the Soviet Union, has 980,000 men with 17,800 tanks confronting NATO which has 790,000 men and 7,200 tanks. That is only a fraction of what confronts the West, because what is included on the Western side is virtually all our capability apart from the air mobile forces of the United States which would be flown in in a crisis. Thereafter, we have virtually no significant reserves worth the name to throw into such a conflict. In contrast, the Soviet Union has 25 million reserve forces which it can call up, which have had formal military training within the past 10 years on conscript service and which have done regular subsequent refresher training.

The scale of the disparity can be shown by the fact that the Soviet manpower on full mobilisation of all reserves amounts to 30 million while that of the United States is one tenth of that, at 2.9 million. There is no way in which under such circumstances NATO forces could hold their ground in the face of such a force without a minimum of two years' conscription throughout the Alliance and a doubling of the present outlays on defence, which most would find an unacceptable burden in peacetime.

I am the first to agree that we need to raise the nuclear threshold, which is unacceptably low at present. That can be done by acquiring the latest anti-armour precision-guided munitions and at the same time by increasing the reserve forces. That brings me to two areas in which the Government's efforts have been less titan adequate and where a high priority must be given to rectifying the situation. They are the reserve forces and air defence which are both vitally concerned with he defence of the United Kingdom's home base. The cheapest and most cost-effective form of raising military manpower on a large scale is by expanding reserve forces. I warmly welcome what has been achieved already in terms of expanding the territorials and creating the home service defence force. The fact remains that in, the event of an unforeseen future crisis we would have to mobilise more than 98 per cent. of our people without a weapon or a uniform. That is a grave weakness. I want a substantial expansion of, above all, the home service force to provide for our defence and to supplement the regular and territorial forces.

I had some fierce strictures to make on air defence some eight years ago when the Labour party was in government. I pointed out then that there were no more than seven squadrons with 70 aircraft available for the air defence of Britain. When the Conservative Government took office they said that they would give a high priority to that problem. I am sorry to note that the White Paper allows for only six squadrons of Phantoms and Lightnings with fewer than 70 aircraft. Why is it taking so long to arm the 72 Hawks with sidewinders? That is desperately needed.

Following the renewal of the Government's mandate, I hope that they will take the lead in two areas above all others. First, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said, I hope that they will assist Third world countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Somalia and others to resist Soviet expansionism. It is in our interests to help them to do that. Secondly, I hope that we will take the lead in ensuring that no stone is left unturned in efforts to secure a far-reaching, balanced and verifiable disarmament—not only nuclear, but chemical and conventional. The time has never been more favourable to do that. We are close to reaching an agreement. Although we are a junior partner in the Alliance, we should take the initiative to bring about the agreement that we are so anxious to achieve.

It is time for a greater dialogue between the Government and the leadership of the Soviet Union. While it is important that in such dialogue we should hold tenaciously to our objectives, it is equally important that there should be discussions between the Government and the Soviet leadership. We should not leave that to our allies in Europe and to the United States.

7.43 pm
Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke)

I catch your eye for the first time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but not without that feeling of awe and trepidation known to so many other new Members. A maiden speech is a hurdle that must be cleared quickly. The longer one puts off clearing that hurdle, the more daunting the task becomes.

I have listened with close interest to many of the speeches in both yesterday's and today's debates. Before making a specific contribution, I wish to make some general observations.

Since 9 June it has been my great privilege to represent the constituency of Basingstoke. Savaged by the Boundary Commission, the revised constituency is very different from the previous constituency represented for 19 years by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Mr. Mitchell). Hon. Members will not be surprised to hear me say that he was held in great respect, admiration and even affection by his former constituents. He is proving to be a difficult man to follow. My great hope is that I shall serve the new constituency as well as he served the old.

The revised constituency falls naturally into two parts. First, there is the new development of the town of Basingstoke. The developers and planners of the late 1960s and early 1970s transformed almost beyond recognition the old market town. It is now effectively a vigorous and thriving new town. Its industrial life exemplifies the transition that much of British industry must make from the smokestack to the microchip.

The industry of Basingstoke is essentially modern. It has generally weathered well, and is continuing to weather, the recession, for a number of reasons. One is its diverse and varied base. It is far from being a one-industry town. Another reason is that the Conservative-dominated local authority has done its best to keep down costs. The result has been a growing town.

Around the town the constituency boasts some of the most delightful countryside and picturesque villages to be found anywhere in Hampshire or even further afield. Agriculture dominates those areas. The villages are, perhaps, being transformed slowly due to planned growth and the arrival of the commuter. The latter is attracted by the proximity of motorways and the excellent rail service.

As there are no military bases, depots or installations in the constituency, it is the least military of all the Hampshire constituencies. However, at least two of the town's largest employers—Lansing Bagnall and Smith's —are involved in defence contracts, and many of those working at Aldermaston live in the constituency. In recent months the proximity of Greenham has been hard to forget.

I welcome and applaud the contents of the defence Estimates. I especially welcome the quotation from the 1980 Estimates: It is the fundamental duty of Government to ensure the nation's security". I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell), who yesterday said how much that principle had influenced the result of the general election. The evidence that came my way overwhelmingly convinced me that national security was one of the greatest reasons why so many people changed their traditional voting habits.

I also welcome the White Paper commitment to continue substantially increasing defence expenditure … over the next few years and to make provision to meet the NATO aim of 3 per cent. annual real growth up to 1985–86". With the clear lesson of history in mind that a potential aggressor becomes an actual aggressor when he thinks he can get away with it, it is essential to maintain sufficient spending to achieve an approximate balance of military power. The old saying, "If you want peace prepare for war," has lost none of its meaning.

Another welcome statement is: We must do all in our power to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on the limitation and reduction of armaments. The INF negotiations and START provide the immediate forum for that. Such agreement will be achieved only by negotiating from a position of strength. Therefore, I fully accept the statement's argument: Only if they"— the Soviet Union— are faced with a resolute approach may they eventually be brought to recognise that a balanced agreement to limit and reduce forces is in the interests of both sides. I wish to widen my remarks and mention one or two or my heresies—areas where I depart from that norm of orthodoxy, the statement itself.

The first such area is the Navy. Despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-Super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) said, I take courage from my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Pink), who expressed sentiments similar to those which I am about to declare. I confess that I still harbour lingering doubts about the wisdom of the reduction in size of our surface fleet. I hope that I am wrong, but I remain uneasy. There is a compelling logic in the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South that if our commitments are not to be reduced our Navy should not be reduced either. The statement refers to the deployment of a major maritime capability in the eastern Atlantic and the Channel as one of our strategic objectives. I wonder whether the right decisions have been made about how that may best be implemented.

I suspect that my second heresy will not make me popular with Opposition Members. However, it so happens that I have come to believe that a scheme of national service would do more good than harm. I have in mind a scheme that would include a major element of military service, but not exclusively such. A recent development which I welcome very much is the plan to extend the youth training scheme to the armed forces. I see the YTS thus applied as a measure that will go some way towards fulfilling my wishes. I wish the scheme well in that area and I hope that it will be expanded in the course of time.

I have the courage to mention my third heresy, which may well invoke wrath from my right hon. and hon. Friends. I am one of the unfashionable who are not entirely happy about the overall strategy of reinforcing BAOR at a time of crisis, or, God forbid, when hostilities seem imminent. I am a commissioned officer in the reserve forces and I do not think that I speak in entire ignorance.

I doubt whether such reinforcing could be carried out effectively and efficiently within the limited time factor. However, I am aware that the strategy was devised at a time when West Germany played a lesser role in defence of the West. There are strong political, military and economic arguments for thinking that West Germany should play an even greater part in the defence of mainland Europe.

In the Estimates we find reaffirmed with clarity and vigour the belief that our best security lies through our total commitment to NATO, in our independent nuclear deterrent, in our efforts to maintain an approximate balance of military power and through multilateral disarmament. I believe, just as the electorate decided a little over a month ago, that that is the voice of sanity.

7.54 pm
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)

I am sure that we all much enjoyed the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter). If he felt nervous, he certainly did not show it. I hope that he was able to appreciate the way in which the House listened to him attentively. He will always find that the House listens to him in that way when he speaks with the knowledge and candour to which he treated us today.

I agree profoundly with the second and third of his heresies. I do not think that my hon. Friend should ever worry about admitting to a heresy, provided that he argues with the conviction and sincerity that he demonstrated this evening. He and his constituents must feel proud of his performanc. He is following in the footsteps of someone who is fortunately still with us in this place—my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Mr. Mitchell). I feel sure that the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke will come to respect him as much as they respected his predecessor.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to page 24 of the White Paper. Under the heading "New Technology, New Tactics", the first sentence of paragrah 4 sets out succinctly the Government's intention. It states: The successful combination of new technology and new tactical concepts holds out considerable potential for a major improvement in NATO's conventional posture, and the hope of a significant raising of the nuclear threshold. In that paragraph the Government are expressing their support for and agreement with the June 1982 decision at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Bonn that the Alliance should explore ways of taking full advantage, both technologically and economically, of emerging technologies. That, as much as anything else, gives the lie to the rather stupid statements that came from the Opposition Front Bench — that somehow they, the Opposition, invented conventional warfare, that they are the only people who believe in conventional technology and that the Government Benches are occupied by unreconstructed nuclear holocaust men. That is not true, and I think that many Opposition Members recognise that fact.

Conventional defence has been the subject of growing interest within the Alliance. For many years there have been repeated calls for increased conventional capability. The current debate has taken on a particular significance. As a member of the NATO assembly we have attempted to show our interest in the issue by setting up a subcommittee on conventional defence, of which I am chairman.

First, there is the desirability of raising the nuclear threshold. There is considerable public concern—which was expressed throughout the nation during the election campaign—about the role of nuclear weapons within the Alliance strategy.

Secondly, the changing balance of military strength and conventional forces between NATO and the Warsaw pact has been the cause of increasing concern. For many years we were able to say that NATO was quantitatively outnumbered by the Warsaw pact, but that we would be able to make good by qualitative superiority. As we all know, the qualitative gap has closed or is closing in many significant areas.

The third cause for increasing concern is the development of dramatic technological advances that will make revolutionary improvements in conventional force capability. Some important consequences flow from these developments, but we should not allow them to carry us away too far. I have in mind equipment such as Stealth, which will make aircraft invisible to radar. That development is taking place now. High definition airborne radar can pick up, identify and track moving vehicles many miles behind the enemy's lines. Command and computer control systems can interpret information and dispatch missiles loaded with hundreds of thousands of lethal microprocessor precision guided munitions—no bigger than clay pigeon skeets — to home in like a swarm of bees on unsuspecting Russian tanks.

The House will know that the SHAPE headquarters is close to the battlefield of Waterloo. A British commander, with a fine sense of history that we like to see possessed by our senior military men, reminded my Committee that, for the first time since Wellington's day, the modern commander will be able to see what is happening not only on the battlefield but behind the battlefield. We all know that Wellington was able to do that by sitting on a horse on a hill. Modern commanders will be able to see what is going on with the use of sensors, airborne radar and precision guided missiles. The new microelectronic technology, allied to the computer, will make for increasing accuracy in targeting capability. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) said, these developments will fulfil many of the military missions assigned solely to nuclear battlefield weapon systems.

That is all heady and exciting stuff. The harnessing of emerging technologies to military science conjures up a vision of conventional terrestrial "Star Wars". Before we become too carried away by that prospect, a few observations should be made. I do not wish to be unduly sceptical, but certain reservations should be raised at this juncture. The danger is that the emerging technology, which may influence the conduct of battle and the credibility of our deterrent, may raise expectations that cannot realistically be fulfilled. It is possible to raise false hopes by fostering the belief that emerging technology will abolish dependence on nuclear weapons.

If we were to deprive ourselves of the nuclear deterrent, we would, of course, play completely into the hands of the Soviet war planners. I accept that, because many of NATO's short-range nuclear weapons are deployed far forward in Germany, we face the choice "use or lose them" in the event of aggression. Replacement by conventional weapons would help to move the Alliance towards, a "no early first use" policy. Therefore, on that score alone, I believe that we should encourage the Government vigorously to explore new ways of using the emerging technology for conventional forces.

It can also be argued that, by raising the nuclear threshold, one is lowering the general threshold of war by making conventional conflict more rather than less likely. Should the Alliance field conventional forces capable of holding and defeating a Warsaw pact conventional attack, Soviet war planning may include the early pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. For that reason, I think that it would be folly to encourage people to believe that this new technology offers an easy escape from the necessity of possessing nuclear weapons. We should be in no doubt that, emerging technology or no emerging technology, we shall continue to require nuclear weapons in our armoury of response.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin)—I am sorry that he is not in the Chamber, but some of his hon. Friends are present—denied the need for this type of response. I do not know what reliable source he draws on to sustain his belief. Yesterday, during the debate on the defence Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman was challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who said: The right hon. Gentleman has said that he wants to meet conventional with conventional, but if we do not have adequate conventional forces to meet the attack, what are the choices? They are either nuclear or surrender. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford replied: The answer lies in two facts. First, we have the conventional forces available."—[Official Report, 19 July 1983; 'Vol 46, c. 193.] The right hon. Gentleman went on to explain how he put faith in their ability to act as a suitable deterrent, if not to repel a Soviet attack.

The right hon. Gentleman wants people to believe that emerging technology is the salvation. I believe that that is an erroneous doctrine. The right hon. Gentleman believes that one can have a credible defence policy without nuclear weapons, but he cannot claim the backing of the most distinguished group so far to complete a study of conventional defence in Europe — the report of the Europe security study entitled "Strengthening Conventional Deterrence in Europe". The group included Field Marshal Lord Carver. The study accepts the NATO doctrine of flexible response under which the Alliance stands ready to use whatever level of strength may be needed to repel aggression. It accepts the need and ability to raise the nuclear threshold when this helps to sustain an initial and preferred resistance against conventional aggression by conventional means. That is what we all prefer. The group adds: We do not believe that the Alliance can hope to escape from the need for nuclear weapons in order to deter nuclear attack. Let the Government be aware that there are Conservative Members who respect the need to look for ways and means of raising the nuclear threshold. We also expect our Government to ensure that we have, and continue to have, in our armouries an adequate nuclear response.

Dealing with the conventional side and the emergence of new technology, paragraph 5 in page 24 of the White Paper says: The introduction of new technology cannot take place overnight, nor should it be seen as a panacea for any weakness in our conventional forces. There are three main reasons for this. Owing to their long gestation period, weapons systems that take advantage of even modest technological advances are unlikely to appear in numbers for some years; and more advanced systems may take a decade or more to appear. The Government are wise to utter those caveats. They are well supported by people outside

Not long ago we saw the commander-in-chief of the central region in NATO. He told us that he was unable to include emerging technologies in his force planning. He noted that the cost of weapons systems increases exponentially as a function of depth of targets to be hit. In his book, emerging technology was not a number one priority. That, of course, is in the region where emerging technology would eventually become more applicable. Expenditure on sophisticated systems to attack poor quality follow-on forces would not necessarily make most sense from a military perspective. Enhanced readiness and sustainability of existing and programmed forces may produce more direct and meaningful results. They are less exciting and less exotic; but it is results we want.

In any case, before we plunge too readily into this giddy world of high technology, we should recognise that the Alliance force goals are not being met. Few countries are meeting the extra targets laid down and agreed to by their own Governments. Britain is one of the few exceptions. Fulfilment of these goals would be one immediate and straightforward measure to improve conventional defence. That is the sort of support that we expect also from Opposition Members who believe so fervently in conventional defence.

This will cost money. We must still focus our attention on prosaic things — my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) emphasised this point—such as logistics, readiness, better trained reserves—goodness knows, we need them—air defence, ammunition stocks and, of course, greater efficiency through interoperability. An important consideration is the cost not only of those things, but of emerging technology. The report of the study to which I referred estimated that over 10 years the cost would be about £10 billion for NATO as a whole. That could be 50 per cent. out either way. It is a crude guesstimate and we should be careful that we know what we are getting into.

What will be the effect of applying new technology on our relations with the United States? I shall not develop this point today because I am conscious that other hon. Members have sat through a long day on the Back Benches, but one point should be made. I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement in the Chamber, because he fights a good battle on our behalf. Given the restrictive technological transfer issue, and the protectionist measures undertaken by the United States, is it not likely that emerging technology could mean for us not development and production of European technology, but additional European purchases from the United States defence manufacturers? It is not my purpose to put a wedge between us, but that point is worth making to encourage the Government to keep up this fight. If we are to adopt the technology, it must be on a fair basis between the American and the European producer.

Those are some of the issues raised by the reference in the White Paper to the new technology. Despite the fact that it is easy to get carried away by the new technology, in no way should that diminish the Government's resolve to raise the nuclear threshold.

8.8 pm

Mr. Colin Moynihan (Lewisham, East)

I regard it as both an honour and a privilege to stand before the House as the Member for Lewisham, East. Any who doubt the high standard of political debate in the House should have listened to the many speeches that I have had the privilege to hear during the past few days. I only hope that my contribution will not completely disappoint those of my hon. Friends who have spoken before me.

A significant reason for feeling both humility and honour derives from the outstanding public service given to the people of Lewisham, East by my predecessor. Roland Moyle. Throughout his career he gave dedicated service as much to his party as to his constituents. He was a capable Minister, worthy of praise. Hon. Members in all parts of the House who have known him will long have recognised him as a loyal, likeable and highly competent Member of Parliament. Roland Moyle set standards I shall do my utmost to maintain. I take this opportunity to thank him for all the work he has undertaken on behalf of the people he has served.

The challenges in Lewisham, East remain considerable. It is a constituency notable for wide variations in housing and social conditions, embracing the large estates of Downham and the historic village of Blackheath. Such diversity requires a Member of Parliament who is capable of dedicating himself to hard work and close and continuous communication with his electorate.

The people of Lewisham are themselves the inspiration for the hon. Members representing that borough. They create an excellent community spirit and they maintain the very best characteristics of Londoners: independent minds, strong wills, friendly and open dispositions, a great sense of humour, yet powerful and determined in their views. Their privilege is to be Londoners in an historic borough. Mine is the honour to serve them. It is fitting that I should have the honour to address the House on an issue which concerns all my constituents, all Londoners and everyone who is rightly concerned about our future peace and prosperity.

During the election campaign, the whole question of our defence became a major electoral issue for the first time since Suez. It was clear to all of us on the doorsteps that, as important as understanding the technicalities of modern weapon systems, we needed, and will continue to need, to enunciate what we are defending. We must be prepared clearly to voice the kind of society in which we want to live and how we shall defend it. We must strive for individual freedom, not just for our people but for everyone born into the community of nations around the world.

We must be prepared fully to understand the nature of systems which are inimical to the principles of freedom and democracy. Ours must never become a world where individual voices are muffled, where no public opinion is allowed to exist. Ours must never become a world where individual liberty extends no further than thought and where freedom of thought is exorcised by political indoctrination. Those characteristics find no home on the hearth of freedom.

Democracy has deep and strong roots. Its fruits may be delicate but they are well worth protecting because they feed our people with hope and opportunity. They are the fruits of representation, liberty and law. They nurture freedom for the individual. They protect the inalienable rights of all of us and they must be defended as much against external aggression as against internal subversion and anarchy.

Externally, we need to be realistic about what is and is not possible. What we arguably can do is to work with the Soviets to try to reduce the enormous expenditure on both sides and to turn away from the escalation of the nuclear balance towards a long and continuing process of arms reduction. What we cannot do—the sooner everybody realises it the better—is disinvent the nuclear bomb.

Those who want to engage in a serious debate about arms reduction should now consider carefully how we are to proceed. Those who want to disinvent the bomb have, I regret to say, embarked on a futile exercise which has no bearing on the serious debate.

From the nuclear arms build-up which we have experienced in recent years we muse move towards a balanced stand-off position and from there to verifiable and mutual disarmament. We must never settle for agreements which undermine our ability to deter. Nor should we restrict our full and total commitment to the arms control negotiating tables. It is the unity of NATO and a united and strong West which brings the Russians to the negotiating tables.

Without unity, there can be no strength. Weakness and disunity will be mocked in Moscow. One-sided disarmament has no place in this defence equation. Survival consists of an arms stand-off. Mankind has invented a weapon so fearsome that, provided the balance is never upset, it will never be used. In the year in which I was born, the late Sir Winston Churchill gave in this House a characteristically brilliant address on defence. In one of his last speeches as Prime Minister he said that it may well be that we shall by a process of sublime irony have reached the stage in this story where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation." —[Official Report, 1 March 1955; Vol 537, c. 1899.] Such foresight heralded the era of armed peace. Tomorrow, we must look to where new threats lie. In my view, they are twofold.

The Soviets already recognise that they effectively face a stand-off. They are therefore using political will to destabilise our democracies and win by stealth what they cannot win by arms. Against this threat, we have the difficult and challenging task of defending our democracies. A system where choice and consent are principles of government is far more susceptible to penetration and subversion than a system in which the state insists that the individual must, in duty, respond in full to the state.

In tomorrow's world, the second and potentially the greater danger that we will face is instability and proliferation. People who have something to lose do not start revolutions; they are started by hungry people. Lunatics or dictators in the mood of Hitler with a nuclear arsenal at their disposal highlight the potential danger of proliferation. Moreover, the moral dilemma of counter-strike in such circumstances increases manifold in countries where 90 per cent. or more of the people may be known vigorously to oppose a dictatorial or military government.

Over the years, the House of Commons has seen many young men and women determined in their turn to voice their concern against the spectre of war. Half a century ago, many spoke of the need for disarmament and appeasement. Today, those voices are not silent. However, a new generation is entering the House. Its members are passionately determined to maintain the peace and passionate in their belief that we have a real prospect of doing so by attributing proper spending programmes to defence and maintaining an updated and serious NATO counterbalance to the Warsaw pact.

I recognise that many hon. Members have travelled the road through war with its misery, deprivation and suffering. Their experience and knowledge humbles me. However, I hope that, after 38 years of the most heavily armed peace in the history of the world, I will have the honour and opportunity to stand in this Chamber in 38 years' time. I pray that at the age of 65 I will then be able to say that my zeal on entering the House has not dwindled, my total belief in our system of representative government has not waned and my passionate conviction that peace is achieved through strength has been proved correct.

8.18 pm
Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

I can forgive the electors of Lewisham, East for their temporary aberration a few weeks ago. I could not forgive them if that aberration lasted for 38 years, but having heard an excellent speech, which raised the standard of literary excellence to levels rarely exceeded in this House, I feel that the old stagers in this House, who always bring out the same speech, or permutation of five speeches, will be considerably threatened by the likes of the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan) with his new and sensible ideas, which may seem rather strange to his colleagues. It has absolved me from the difficulty of having to eulogise, as so often happens, an appalling maiden speech. Thankfully, I do not have to go through the tortuous process of lying, because the hon. Gentleman's speech was highly competent and well delivered, and will no doubt be delivered many times in the years ahead.

Given the upsurge of Conservatism following the election, I suppose that it will be my lot in life to rise to speak after many maiden speakers in the months ahead. However, I hope that the wheel will turn rather differently at the next election. Apparently, the worst maiden speech ever was made by a gentleman named Gibson Craig. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) related the story in one of his books. He said that Mr. Craig got up for his maiden speech, opened his mouth and closed it. He tried to speak, but no words came out. He looked like a stuck pig. His friends cheered, "Hear, hear, hear," but no words came out. Finally, he sat down. I have no idea how Hansard coped with that speech. However, if the hon. Gentleman goes up to check his speech an hour from now, I am sure that he will discover that Hansard found it very difficult to improve on his style of presentation.

The Minister has heard my speech in part before. I have often said the same thing, but nothing ever happens to make me change my analysis of the situation. I am sure that the same is true for others. The White Paper is an excellent read, but it should be filed in many libraries on the shelf marked "fiction". At £8.50, however, it is reasonably good value for money, although at some stage I hope that we shall follow the pattern set by other countries in putting out cheaper versions that are easier to read. That would save people from wading through a document that is, nevertheless, in this case well written in parts. It is important not simply to rely on newspapers in order to pass on the contents of defence White Papers to the wider world.

It is not the Ministry's fault that the debate has not been preceded by an investigation by the Defence Committee. Publication of a White Paper involves more than just a ritual debate here. For three years, since the establishment of the Defence Committee, there has been a series of hearings at which Ministers, senior civil servants and military men have given evidence. The contents of the document are analysed closely and the House is then often presented with an excellent analysis of it. Therefore, those hon. Members who are interested in defence can read the White Paper and then read a good and searching study. It is regrettable that there was no such inquiry last year because of the Falklands war. It is even more regrettable that there has been no inquiry this time because of the failure to establish the Select Committee system.

It is most unfortunate that it will be some months before the Select Committees are functioning. However, I suspect that the fault lies more with the Opposition than with the Government side of the House. In any election, pundits tell us that there will not be much of a debate on defence and foreign affairs in a democratic society. In democracies, people are obsessed by their economic self-interest. After all, we are told, politics ends at the sea shore. That implies that there may be differences between parties, but that they are not fundamental. I am not saying that there has been a consensus on defence in the past 20 years, but it is regrettable that the views of the parties should have diverged so considerably.

The election settled some matters—who was to leave and enter the House and who the Government were to be — but it has not settled the defence issue for the Government or the Opposition. The Government cannot claim that they have a mandate to do all that they wish in defence. Anyone who invested money in the Conservative manifesto — a rather bland document — would hardly have been enlightened about defence.

If we analyse the poll data produced by reputable organisations, we will see many contradictions. Despite the fact that the Labour party took a hammering—in some cases deservedly—because of its ambivalence not just on defence policy but on some of our other policies, some elements of our defence policy did not incur the universal contempt that a reading of Conservative speeches since the election would have us believe. We must remember that there is by no means an overwhelming majority—depending on which poll one looks at—for the siting of cruise or Trident missiles here. Quite the reverse.

The Labour party failed to convince the electorate that it was seriously interested in defence. We made the ritual statements that we were committed to NATO and that we wanted to build up conventional defences. However, because of what had occurred in previous years, many of the statements were looked upon with some sceptcism by those of the electorate who were interested. That does not necessarily amount to a majority of the population. The electorate was interested, but not knowledgeable in every case.

The Labour party has lessons to learn and I wonder whether it is prepared to learn them. The first lesson is that if it is a democratic Socialist party, that does not imply that it must be a pacifist or a neutralist party or that it has no obligation to maintain a viable defence policy. If we look at sister or brother Socialist parties throughout Europe, we will see that socialism does not mean a low defence commitment.

Next week, I am going to Paris at my own expense—this is a bit difficult because of the decision of 4 o'clock this morning; my plans were laid before the vote—to look at French defence policy, to see how a Socialist President can have a defence policy that out-deGualles de Gaulle. In France, Socialism is not to be equated with the laying down of arms and reliance upon the good nature of potential adversaries. If we look at all shades of Socialist parties, not just thoughout Europe, we see that a fundamental duty of any Government is to maintain a level of defence expenditure that the country can afford and, in many cases, a level that it cannot afford.

Governments do not devise defence policies just on the basis of internal party politics and compromise but on alliance obligations and a perception of the threat. While I do not belong to that camp of the Labour party that views the Government of the Soviet Union with great favour, it is not the time to adopt such a charitable attitude towards such a potential adversary. This is a view shared by many of my colleagues in the Labour movement. When that time comes — I hope that it does — we can devote our resources to health, social services and those areas of public policy that have been, and I suspect will be, starved of funds.

The first lesson that the Labour party must learn is that it must develop a viable defence policy that serves our needs and convinces the electorate that it is seriously interested in defending this country. There is nothing immoral about the concept of patriotism, although patriotism carried to extremes is repugnant. Working-class people can have a pride in their country and want to defend it whichever Government might be in power. The Labour party must not assume that patriotism or nationalism is per se immoral and repugnant.

We must say not what we will abandon, but what we will provide for defence. At the Labour party conference, we passed resolutions maintaining our support for NATO, although many of its policies might have weakened NATO and might have led to something that I fear—an attitude developing among many Americans who say, "Why do we bother? If the Europeans are not prepared to defend themselves, why should we?" That may be an irrational view — Europe may be contributing more to its own defence than many Americans believe —but it is not what is true that is important, but what people think is true. Therefore, the Labour party must play its part within the Alliance and the Labour party and the Government must ensure that the Alliance is kept on a proper course and maintains a proper balance between rearmament and arms control. Those are some of the lessons that the Labour party must learn, but whether we do only time will tell.

The election campaign was not spent rationally debating defence issues. It focused largely upon the deficiencies, real and imagined, of the Labour party, which meant that the spotlight was turned away from the Government's defence record, which, despite high expenditure, is not one in which Conservatives can have enormous pride. I have listened to the codewords being used by hon. Members who are not yet sufficiently courageous to condemn the Government or to make a frontal attack upon them. It is done clandestinely in subliminal words. If Ministers read the speeches, they will find many hon. Members voicing reservations about defence policy.

The hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman), in his maiden speech, made a fine attempt to justify what is being done by job creation schemes and small craft industries in Gillingham. However, that did not hide the fact that this Government have done what no Government have done since the time of Henry VIII—denude that area of a royal dockyard. If there were Members of Parliament here representing Gibraltar, they would say the same, and hon. Members from Portsmouth would lament the fact that the dockyard there is beilg run down. That is unfortunate, because the party committed to defence is diminishing our Navy, which has played such an important part in the Alliance and in our history.

People are worried about the cuts in the Navy. No doubt the Admiralty board is expressing anxiety about the size of the Navy and the fact that naval de sign is farmed out to private enterprise. It is surprising that we did not send Group 4 to the Falkland Islands, such is the Government's mania for privatisation.

We are going for Trident, which means that the hunter-killer submarine programme will be reduced and eliminated. The Soviet navy has 200 attack submarines which might directly threaten us, yet we will virtually abandon any hunter-killer submarine programme.

As a member of the Select Committee on Defence, I have seen how tank drivers and others have been deprived of practice because of fuel cuts. I have seen pilots whose expertise and efficiency are decreasing because they have not been allowed to fly for long enough. There has been a so-called reorganisation of BAOR. There have been cuts in service personnel. In 1979 the Government proposed an emergency programme to improve our air defences by arming the Hawk. How many Hawks have been armed with sidewinders so far? I believe that it is only one. If I am wrong, I will apologise. So much for an "emergency" programme.

It has been said that we have 70 planes in our air defence. I remember an article in the Daily Telegraph five or six years ago, when Labour was in office and when the size of our air defence was larger, stating that its size was a major scandal. Scandals in defence are reserved for the Labour Government and not for the so-called party of defence.

If we are going for Trident, as the Government are determined to do, a price will have to be paid. It is too accurate for our needs and too expensive. We shall not have enough money to put the missiles in the missile tubes. Trident's range is too long and its price is too high. The costs of maintaining it will be even higher than budgeted. The Government are already making room for Trident expenditure. The cuts in service personnel and the dockyards and the reorganisation are to make room for Trident expenditure. I have said many times that there is no way that the Government can have Trident and adequate conventional defences. I said that 18 months ago. If one superimposes on our stretched defence budget the Falklands expenditure and the new runway, it is stretched to the limit.

The Falklands runway should be improved, but I am sceptical of the need to build it on a green field site at March Ridge. I am not yet convinced that the case for expanding Port Stanley runway has been made. We need to have a strategic airfield, though at Stanley it might be less diplomatically provocative. It might be more expensive to build it on a green field site. It might be more difficult to defend because we are splitting our forces between the new airfield and the seat of Government. As the Select Committee on Defence said on page 81 of its report: We have not sufficient detailed information to state a firm preference for any particular course of action. The press got it wrong. It said that the Select Committee was in favour of the fortress Falklands policy. It was more in favour of a stockade Falklands policy. "Fortress" implies permanence and "stockade" implies impermanence. There was little contact between the Select Committee on Defence and the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, but they appear to have come by different routes to the same conclusion. We have to stay in the Falklands in the short term and perhaps in the medium term until we can enter into genuine negotiations with a civilian Government in Argentina. Then, once again, we can start negotiating properly. The reason is obvious. We are digging a hole for ourselves in the Falklands and pouring vast sums of money down that hole, and our defences elsewhere will be—perhaps not now, but in the near future—stretched thinly.

Hon. Members may not regard the department of peace studies in Bradford as a sacrosanct source of information. If they cut through their prejudice and look at the well-argued case and the evidence given to the Select Committee on defence, which was expanded in a paper published yesterday, they will come to the conclusion that I came to—that we shall be maintaining far too high a percentage of our diminishing Navy in the south Atlantic. We need to look at that matter with considerable trepidation.

Many diplomatic solutions for the Falklands have been suggested, but rejected. I am certain that in the not-toodistant future, with some intelligence and good will on both sides, the leaseback arrangement that was mentioned some years ago and rejected out of hand will have some validity and support.

In today's edition of The Times we are told by a former hon. Member, Bill Rodgers, how the Select Committee on Defence, of which I am a member, has shirked its responsibilities and been duped by the armed forces, civil servants and Ministers. That is unfair. I am proud to be a former member of the Select Committee on Defence and I hope to be a member of that Committee when it is reconstituted. I am sure that the stampede to be a member of that Committee will be greater among Conservative Members than among Labour Members. The Committee was not afraid to enter contentious areas. We examined the D notice system, the replacement of Polaris, the defence of the Falklands, the relationship between the media and the Ministry in that war and positive vetting.

Committees of that kind also play an important role in informing hon. Members and in improving accountability. That is why they must be swiftly reconstituted. They enable the quality of debates in the House to be maintained, to put it politely, or even enhanced. Few hon. Members on either side of the House express interest in and have knowledge of defence issues. Ministers and civil servants can thus get away with generalities and platitudes and debates in the House frequently revolve around such generalities.

The House must establish a raison d'etre, not just in defence but in other areas, because we have lost much of our power. That power has not been usurped; it has been thrown away by Back Benchers. We must reassert our historic role and be involved in policy formulation at an early stage. The Government have no monopoly of wisdom and intelligence. There is a knowledge of defence matters throughout the House which should properly be incorporated into the decision-making process.

In conclusion, I reiterate my compliments to the hon. Member for Lewisham, East. I warn him that he will ruffle many feathers with his new approach and speaking with such style, but no doubt the dead hand of mediocrity that tends to prevail will in time reduce him to the standard of us mere mortals.

8.43 pm
Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

We are all indebted to the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George), who showed great courage in criticising his party's approach to defence in the general election. Perhaps that is because he was a member of the Select Committee on Defence. President Mitterrand's stand, as I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree, derives from the fact that France has been invaded twice within a century. Mitterrand himself took part in the last war and he appreciates the dangers of the Soviet Union as an enemy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan) said in a brilliant speech that the general election was the first election in which defence was the paramount issue, and that was certainly my experience. Whether he likes it or not, I am sure the hon. Member for Walsall, South will agree that the Labour party did not approach defence in the right way. The result of the general election shows that the country as a whole has departed from a unilateral approach to a multilateral approach to disarmament. The argument between unilateral disarmament and multilateral, verifiable disarmament helped to give the Conservatives their large majority. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that Cmnd. 8951 sets out the general policy on which the Conservatives fought the general election. There is no question about that. The election result thus proved that the electorate would never accept any form of unilateral disarmament.

The document before the House spells out how Britain and NATO can preserve peace in the world by a combination of three things — our possession of an independent nuclear deterrent, our reliance on NATO and the presence of the United States. We must never forget that the United States has a presence of 60,000 people in Britain and more than 500,000 in Europe. Nor should we forget the generosity that the Americans have shown us in the supply of equipment. That has meant that we have been able to stand up to Soviet superiority.

I am always impressed by what my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) says. Today, he spelt out the disparity between us and the Soviet Union, especially in conventional weapons, and it is not only in conventional weapons that the Soviet Union is greatly increasing its superiority. It will be a tremendous task to persuade it to reduce its arms. All the signs are that the Soviet Union is determined to preserve its strength. As my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East said, there is a great danger that we shall come out of any peace negotiations at a disadvantage.

As we do not have compulsory military service, we must ensure that we have sufficient armed reserves, not simply in the form of the Territorial Army. Like many hon. Members, I welcome the youth training scheme, but the scheme for military training is not sufficient. We must increase our manpower in the Territorial Army and other reserve forces.

The day might come when the American Administration flag and do not support NATO and our islands. Therefore the Soviets must be alarmed by our independent nuclear capability, because in the unlikely event of the Americans ceasing to back us — such an eventuality might rest in Soviet minds—we should still have our independent nuclear deterrent to pose a real threat.

American fear of the Soviets might be illustrated by the fact that they believe it necessary to reappraise their chemical arsenal. Although they have an enormous stock of such weapons it might not be sufficient to combat the vast Soviet reserves.

China's role has not been mentioned. Those who study the Mongolian scene will be aware of the tremendous friction which exists between China and Russian dominated Mongolia. Hon. Members will agree that the East is an unknown factor. China might go with the Russians and produce the greatest force in the world. However, the Russians are fearful at the moment that they might have to fight on two fronts. That could influence events.

I am sure that the Government are doing the right thing and that we can look forward to their making every effort to defend the West and also reach agreement on balanced and verifiable arms reduction.

8.50 pm
Mr. Ioan Evans (Cynon Valley)

There has been some misunderstanding in the debate about the Labour party's attitude to defence, as there was during the general election campaign. The central objective of the Labour party's defence policy is the promotion of peace, and it believes that Britain should have sufficient military strength to discourage external aggression and to defend itself. Some hon. Members have said that the Labour party is pacifist, but,it is not. It believes than Britain should have defence forces. Some hon. Members have suggested that the Labour party wishes Britain to leave NATO, but it is clear from our manifesto that we wish to remain in NATO.

Mr. James Hamilton (Motherwell, North)

I was a sergeant major in the Army.

Mr. Evans

My hon. Friend says that he was a sergeant major. Many Labour Members served in the armed forces, for much longer than some Conservative Members. The Secretary of State for Defence served for only a short time in the Services.

Recent events have set in motion a series of political and military developments, the momentum of which threatens to carry Europe into a nuclear holocaust. We should consider that matter, because the international arms race has escalated. The balanced force talks between NATO and the Warsaw pact countries have made little progress, and American support for repressive military regimes in neighbouring territories in central America, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and military rule in Poland, have highlighted world tension.

The House must discuss the fears of many people in the world about the dangers of nuclear warfare. I hope that Conservative Members do not believe that a policy of nuclear disarmament lost the Labour party the election. We lost the election because of a major defection from the Labour party when the SDP was formed—

Mr. James Hamilton

Where are they?

Mr. Evans

They are not here tonight. There are only six SDP Members left, and they are seldom here. Where is the Liberal party tonight?

Mr. George

Its Members are on holiday.

Mr. Evans

The alliance shows little interest in defence or in much that is discussed in the House. A few Labour Members defected to the SDP during the previous Parliament, which had a major impact on the general election. Conservative Members should realise that they polled fewer votes in this election than they did in the previous election. They must not believe that they carry with them the overwhelming support of the British people. An overwhelming majority of the population opposed the basing of cruise missiles and the introduction of Trident.

Mr. Bill Walker


Mr. Evans

The hon. Gentleman knows that I usually give way, but I cannot do so now because there is so little time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] Very well, but be quick.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman is probably aware that for the past four years I have gone round Scotland explaining why we should have a submarine base there, and that I have more than 50 per cent. of the support of my electorate. Can he say the same?

Mr. Evans

I received the votes of more than 50 per cent. of my electorate. I was not aware that the hon. Gentleman had been round Scotland. That may be the reason why there are more Labour Members in Scotland now than there have been for some time. It is nonsense for him to put forward his experience in his constituency—[Interruption.] The problem with giving way is that it is a waste of time.

One reason why the Conservative party gathered support at the election was the Falklands invasion. That is strange, because, although Britain had a military victory, the way in which the Government stumbled into that unnecessary war was a political disaster. Month after month and week after week we hear about cuts in necessary public expenditure, yet in this year alone the Government will spend £625 million on defending the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Keith Best (Ynys Mon)

The hon. Gentleman supported it.

Mr. Evans

The Queen's Speech brought together the Falkland Islands, which are costing us—

Mr. Best

The hon. Gentleman supported it.

Mr. Evans

I wish that the hon. Member for Ynys Mon (Mr. Best) would not interrupt. He knows that there is not enough time.

Mr. Best

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. James Hamilton

Sit down. The hon. Gentleman is only a boy.

Mr. Evans

I am surprised that in the Queen's Speech the Falkland Islands are coupled with Hong Kong. The relevant paragraph says: My Government will continue fully to discharge their obligations to the people of the Falkland Islands. They reaffirm their commitment to the people of Gibraltar. They will continue talks with China on the future of Hong Kong". The Government are talking about the Falklands. Gibraltar and Hong Kong in the same breath. I hope that they will not now start talking about fortress Hong Kong or fortress Gibraltar. The Government are falling into a dangerous trap.

From this House we governed a quarter of the world's population in the British Empire. We now have left the remnants of the imperial outposts. We must come to grips with our problem. I hope that the Government will not stumble into a war with China, where over 1,000 million people believe that they have certain rights over Hong Kong, and that the Government do not want military exploits with Spain over Gibraltar either.

Certain lessons must be learnt from the Falklands. It is a tragedy that one of the greatest political blunders by any British Government—a stumbling into military conflict — has been exploited by a Tory Government and has contributed, perhaps, to their gaining momentary support. If we are faced year after year with cuts in social expenditure, unemployment benefits and pensions, while at the same time being told that we are to spend over £1 million per family per year on the Falkland Islands, the British people will say, "Enough is enough." It is to that issue that we must address ourselves.

There is a misinterpretation of the Labour party's attitude to defence. We believe in defence, but say clearly in the amendment that we regret the Government's failure to take any initiative to stop the escalation of the nuclear arms race and it will be our first step to stop the nuclear arms race.

Today we are told that the United States has stockpiled a total explosive yield that is the equivalent of 9,000 megatonnes of TNT. That means that the United States has added the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb to its arsenal about every 30 minutes since world war two. The USSR has increased its stockpile by roughly the same level. This policy is referred to as MAD — mutual assured destruction. I am proud that my party is prepared to give a lead to the people of the world in moving away from the mad policies being pursued by the great powers.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan) made his maiden speech today. I did not agree with much of it, but I agreed with what he said about the dangers of proliferation. These dangers are real. The CND and the Labour party argue that if we are to prevent all the nations from joining the United States and the Soviet Union in providing one Hiroshima bomb every 30 minutes we have to prevent other countries from entering the nuclear arms race. There is a mad escalation of the arms race, heading for a world war that will be the end of civilisation. We already know that the leading nations possess enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world—some say ten times, some say 17 times. Civilisation as we know it could be destroyed, and the Tory Government are giving no lead to deal with the situation.

Time is passing, but I want to make one last comment. The White Paper says that defence expenditure in 1977 was £6,158 million. In 1982 it had increased to £12,607 million. In 1982–83 there will probably be an increase in defence expenditure, but I am not quite sure what it will be, because we had a defence White Paper one day and a cut was announced the following day. That is not good defence planning.

In 1983–84 the plan is to spend £15,973 million on war preparations. That is an increase of £9,815 million since 1977. Are we to increase our defence expenditure each year? Our amendment says that we are spending more on the defence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation both in terms of gross national product and per head of the population than any other member of the Alliance". Why should we take on the task of providing more than any other member of the alliance?

Mr. Best

That is not true.

Mr. Evans

It is true.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin), in an excellent speech, referred to the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December, which was sponsored by Sweden and Mexico. It was adopted by 119 countries to 17, and called for a nuclear freeze. This House should give a lead, have a nuclear freeze and call for nuclear disarmament.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute year book says that the estimate for the size of world military spending incurred in 1982 had reached a figure of between $700 billion and $750 billion. The world is spending over £500,000 million in preparation for a war that no one wants. I am delighted that my party decided that enough is enough. We shall not be stupid and waste our people's wealth in preparing for a war that no one wants. We must give a lead. It is not just a matter of the strength of a nation being determined by the amount of arms that it has. If that were true, every military junta in the world would say that it was strong. Strength lies in getting a Government to pursue policies that will maintain social services, improve industry, export manufactured goods and defend ourselves, but defend ourselves within reason and not at the expense of the well-being of our country.

9.2 pm

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

My hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mr. Evans) has not only shaken Conservative Members out of their complacency, but reminded the House, quite rightly, that these are issues not just about warheads, technical jargon, and so on, but about life and death. It is important for people both inside and outside the House to recognise that, because it is easy to fall into the jargon and pretend that we are living in our own rarefied world.

We have had four excellent maiden speeches in this debate today, from the hon. Members for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey), for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman), for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) and for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan). I congratulate them all, and hope that we shall hear more from them, as I am sure we shall, in defence and other debates.

The hon. Member for Surbiton followed Sir Nigel Fisher, who was a most respected Member of the House. He made a substantial contribution in both domestic and international matters because of his wide knowledge.

The former hon. Member for Gillingham, Sir Frederick Burden, was very active in our defence debates, particularly because of the decision by his own Government, which he deplored and which we deplore, to close Chatham dockyard. Ministers—I am sure they are sad that he is no longer here—will no doubt have a slightly easier ride because he is not on the Benches behind them.

The former Member for Lewisham, East, a close friend and colleague, Mr. Roland Moyle, was an excellent Minister in the Labour Government and a good spokesman in the House. It is no disrespect to his successor to say that Labour Members are sorry that Roland Moyle is not with us in the House after the election.

The debate has shown to some extent the gulf that exists not only between the mainstream views of the Labour and Tory parties, but between Conservative Members and Members of other parties.

The consensus on defence issues, certainly on nuclear issues, has broken down in Britain, and there are many reasons for that. The Secretary of State tried to bridge the gulf a little, but I am afraid that the Tory party over the past few years, especially with the Prime Minister's rhetoric, has, with many hon. and right hon. exceptions, moved to being the party of cold war.

The Secretary of State mentioned arms talks, but got into great difficulty once he started to talk about the irreducible minimumn of the British nuclear deterrent. No doubt we shall hear a lot more of that phrase when these matters are debated again.

The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) recognised the lack of consensus and, in characteristic Social Democratic fashion, suggested setting up a commission to deal with it. He seems to have been bamboozled and dazzled by the Scowcroft commission in the United States. Unfortunately, that commission did not solve any problems, as he knows, because, like all commissions, it made a brilliant analysis of why there was not a window of vulnerability or the danger of a first strike and concluded therefore that the MX missile was not necessary because it was created and designed to close the window of vulnerability. Having made that brilliant analysis, the commission said that it still needed the MX missile, apparently because it would be a bargaining chip in the Geneva negotiations. Unfortunately, the world is littered with nuclear bargaining chips which are put into negotiations but which, at the end of the day, become dangerous weapons systems.

The first comment to be made on the White Paper is that. however long the Secretary of State may be in office, this is likely to be a fairly temporary document. Already, as we know, some of the expenditure figures have been changed. While the Secretary of State was perhaps congratulating himself on his election victory or playing with his MINIS—or whatever the Ministry of Defence does these days—the big bad bear came along, slipped into his kitchen and took £250 million out of his larder. It is ironical that that big bad bear was not the red one from the Urals, but the one from across the road in the Treasury in the form of the right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson). The Secretary of State knows that over the next few years — certainly from tomorrow onwards — he should keep his sights trained on the Urals of Great George street. Perhaps he should get one of those new-fangled thermal imaging night sights that the Minister described.

The reason for the Treasury's concern is obvious. According to the White Paper, almost £ 16,000 million will be spent next year on defence. That is more than is spent on any programme, except social security, which in the main now is keeping people on the dole. Under this Government defence expenditure has risen by almost 25 per cent. in real terms since 1979. The only growth has been in defence and social security. Labour Members believe that it is a sad but telling commentary on the Government's political philosophy and economic management that the only real growth after four years in office has been in guns and dole queues. That is not only morally reprehensible but it makes little economic sense.

As the White Paper and the amendment show, we are now in the absurd position of spending more on defence than any other European country—except Greece and Turkey, which have an ancient feud to settle. That is true whether we look at it in terms of actual expenditure, which is not a very good way to calculate such things, of the percentage of the country's GNP—its national wealth—or of the expenditure per head of population. By all those figures and measurements, we are now spending more than any of our European allies or defence. That is nonsense. We are spending more than West Germany, which is almost twice as wealthy as Britain, is far closer to the Russian bear and, because of its historic association with Russia, is more worried about the threat that it poses.

The reality is that the Government's defence policy is not based on any rational and clear analysis of Britain's real security needs. It is rooted in the same emotional and ideological hangups as characterise the Government's economic policies. The defence policy is an unlikely cross between old-fashioned imperial nostalgia and the Commie-bashing red-baiting attitude of the American radical Right. That is why there is no coherence in the Government's defence policy.

Rather than waiting for the Treasury's blunt axe to fall—and fall it will, and it will be characteristically blunt—the Secretary of State should begin to think seriously about defence. He should think also about foreign policy, which obviously preceeds defence strategy. He should do that before his defence budget is torn to pieces by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Secretary of State should wind up that propaganda unit hidden in the basement at the Ministry of Defence. He should try to give up those little gimmicks that so endeared us to him before the election. He should abandon that cold war mentality that we heard from him before and during the election—and which led him to parade around the Berlin wall looking like a down-market John Kennedy.

As many hon. Members have said, there will have to be another defence review. The defence budget cannot stand the strain of Trident, which we believe will cost more than £10 billion. It cannot stand the strain of the cost of making an adequate contribution in conventional forces to NATO, while providing for the adequate and proper defence of Britain and the pursuit of the fortress Falklands policy. The pressure for a change in the fortress Falklands policy will come not from South America or the United Nations, but from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary-General of NATO. When NATO considers these matters and realises how low will be our naval contribution, it will apply pressure for a change in policy. In addition to the fortress Falklands policy, we must protect those other relics of empire that are scattered around the world. The Government cannot maintain a defence policy that will pay for all that expenditure.

The key to all that must be the decision to buy Trident. We have always argued that the Trident missile system should be cancelled. It adds nothing to the real defence or security of Britain. It is too expensive and, most important of all, it increases the danger that a conventional war in Europe will escalate more quickly into a nuclear confrontation.

The only way to pay for Trident is by cutting our conventional forces. There is no other way. Already, the Navy has been cut by the previous defence review, and that was before certain things happened. It was before the decision to buy the expensive Trident 2 and prior to the Falkland war and all the costs of the Falklands policy.

The debate during the next few years will be not whether we should have a blue water Navy against the continental Army, but whether we have Trident and a weaker conventional contribution to NATO—with all the dangers of that—or not have Trident and therefore have a better contribution to NATO.

I do not know where the axe will fall. It might fall in Germany on the continental Army, or it might fall on the Navy and our maritime contribution. Wherever it falls, the debate will centre on Britain's ability to make a conventional contribution to NATO instead of the ridiculous nuclear totem pole of Trident.

Ministers must know that Trident is of little use to the western Alliance. I believe that it will represent only about 2 per cent. of the total nuclear capacity of the West. The other 98 per cent. comes from America's huge strategic nuclear arsenal. Our NATO allies would much prefer us to use our money to make a conventional contribution to the Alliance.

If 98 per cent. of the West's nuclear capability deters the Soviet Union, what is the point of Britain having an extra 2 per cent? If the 98 per cent. fails to deter, the extra 2 per cent will not deter the Soviet Union. Trident is a waste of money in terms of the western Alliance, NATO and our partnership.

I have no doubt that some will argue that Trident is a weapon of last resort. Perhaps the Prime Minister believes that, and I am sure that the Government do. On that basis, the scenario becomes very different at the end of the day. It will be something like this: the Russian hordes are sweeping across Europe, an American President is not prepared to risk nuclear destruction for the defence of Europe, the French nuclear Maginot line is bypassed and Britannia stands alone with Trident and with her back to the sea. Ultimately, that is the scenario, and that should be faced by those who argue for the weapon of last resort.

I have no doubt that some in that situation might wish to invoke the spirit of 1940, but it is no longer 1940. I am sure that the debate in 1940 was about victory or defeat. Given the horrible scenario that I have outlined—which, please God, may never happen — the debate will be about survival or extinction, not victory or defeat. It will be about the survival or extinction not of a way of life or of democracy but of the island itself.

If the United States were out of the war and most of western Europe were under Soviet domination, I do not believe that Britain would be prepared, or be seen or thought to be prepared, more importantly, to fight a nuclear war. We are talking about a weapon of last resort and fighting a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. That is preposterous and incredible, and I do not accept that anyone really believes that such a thing could happen.

Mr. John Powley (Norwich, South)

It is an incredible scenario.

Mr. Davies

Indeed, but it is one that we must face. It is the only one that we can consider if we are talking about a weapon of last resort.

The White Paper restates the Government's determination to carry out the NATO twin-track decision of December 1979 to put cruise missiles in Britain. I believe that that decision was wrong and that NATO made a mistake in not rescinding it. It should recognise that it was wrong and rescind it even at this late hour. No one has ever argued a convincing military case for cruise, and cruise has been a complete disaster politically. It has brought to the surface the latent anti-Americanism that exists in Britain and the rest of Europe. It has caused great difficulties between us and the United States and been a political disaster in terms of our relationship with the Warsaw Pact. Apart from the Soviet Union, other countries in eastern Europe and the eastern block are now afraid that they may have to take cruise missiles in return for the cruise missiles that we are deploying.

The West has enough nuclear weapons already to destroy the Soviet Union many times over. What is the point of having cruise missiles, even if we take into account the Soviet deployment of SS20s? I shall quote an authority. Professor Michael Howard, who I believe is one of the Conservative party's favourite historians, in The Times last November, wrote: The SS20s remain a very small proportion of the enormous nuclear forces that the Soviet Union is capable of launching against Western Europe. The belief of some strategic analysts that the Russians can be deterred only by the installation of precisely matching systems—that ground-based missiles must be matched with ground-based missiles—is naive to the point of absurdity. Once we go down the road of matching every weapon with another weapon, every missile with another missile, we are heading for complete disaster.

Cruise is the latest part of that crazy NATO concept which is described euphemistically as "flexible response", when it is really fighting a so-called limited nuclear war. That is what we are talking about in those terms. What does "limited" mean? It means that when the conventional battle looks as though it is being lost, we throw a few nuclear shells at them. If they do not work, we move up the nuclear ladder, going on to bombs and missiles—cruise, perhaps Pershing, and, at the end of the day, the strategic systems. That scenario is also ridiculous, and even those who play war games, the generals and others, do not believe that it is credible.

The decision to deploy cruise was taken mainly for political reasons, and I do not blame the Americans. It was taken because the Europeans, especially the Germans, went through their periodic panic that an American President might not be prepared to see New York become a nuclear desert in the defence of Stuttgart, Bremen, or any other city in Europe.

Cruise does nothing to resolve that dilemma. If the United States is afraid to commit its strategic forces to the defence of Europe, it will not use cruise for fear that that will lead to a strategic war. The dilemma—I accept that it is real—is created by nothing but the limitations of geography, and cruise or any other weapon system will not be able to bridge that gap or solve that problem, which, in the present situation, will remain with us. Whether the missiles are on Greenham common, in Germany, Nebraska or the depths of the sea, the American President is still faced with the awesome decision whether he can risk the extinction of his country in the defence of Europe, and cruise makes no difference to that.

The Government like to say that the decision to deploy cruise followed the SS20s. In fact, cruise was designed and planned long before the technologists and planners knew about the SS20. The history of cruise is a classic history of what happens in the nuclear arms race. The technologists and scientists finish designing one weapon and have to look for another to create; otherwise, they are out of a job. So they design something a little bigger, better and rather more clever. That is what happened to cruise.

Once that has occurred, the missile must be sold to Congress or Parliament, as the case may be, and it is sold by the think tanks—those organisations that are actively becoming job creation schemes for PhDs who cannot find jobs anywhere else. They think up some kind of spurious intellectual justification for what they propose. They say that there is a bomber gap, but at the end of the day it turns out that there is no such gap. They then say that there is a missile gap, but there turns out not to be one. Apparently there has recently been a "window of opportunity", but the Scowcroft commission—the SDP constantly quotes it—has said that there is no such window.

There must be a spurious, pseudo-intellectual reason why a new missile must be bought. Once the politicians have accepted that, they tour their respective countries curdling the blood of their electorates by declaring that if the missile is not bought, the other side will have an enormous advantage. That is the history of cruise and that is the dangerous reality of the nuclear arms race, which is escalating all the time.

The Government stand condemned because they have shown no real interest in any form of nuclear disarmament, even multilateral disarmament. They are not present at the two talks which are taking place in Geneva; no British weapons feature in either of those talks. The Government talk about multilateral disarmament, but where is the "multi"? They are bilateral talks. The Secretary of State tried to move in that direction by saying that if substantial progress was made at START, something might happen with Trident, and he went on to talk about an irreducible minimum, but what he said did nor: make sense. This Government have taken no steps in favour of their professed policy of multilateral disarmament. By buying Trident and by deploying cruise they are engaging in unilateral nuclear rearmament. They are engaging in an escalation of the arms race and making the world a more dangerous place.

It was pointed out in the debate that at the United Nations the Government voted several times against a freeze — not a one-sided freeze, hut on both superpowers' manufacture, deployment and testing of nuclear weapons. They were prepared to do so in deference to President Reagan's mad and futile attempt to try to regain American nuclear superiority. The Government voted against the freeze because President Reagan believed that he could go back and recreate the world of the 1950s in which there was American economic and nuclear domination. He cannot do that. We cannot go back to that. That is one reason why the Government, instead of standing up, instead of deciding matters on their merits, followed President Reagan and decided to vote against the freeze.

The Government have done nothing to try to promote the idea of no first use of nuclear weapons. No one is saying that it is possible overnight for NATO to move towards a position of no first use. We understand the difficulties about conventional weapons, but at least the Government could start arguing the case instead of scorning it and pouring cold water on it. Eventually NATO will have to move to a doctrine of no first use. Its present doctrine—which is, at the end of the day, one of first use of nuclear weapons—is immoral. It is based on what an American general described, in the characteristic way that only Americans can describe these things, as a bigger bang for a buck. That is the basis of NATO's nuclear policy and we must start moving away from it. The Government should at least start arguing in the councils of NATO for a change of policy.

The Government have lost little opportunity to employ all the rhetoric of the cold war to create and increase tensions in Europe. Just as we reject their mean and narrow economic philosphy at home, we deplore and reject their bigoted and dangerous ideology abroad. That is why we shall be voting against the Government in the Lobby tonight.

9.27 pm
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. John Stanley)

Our interesting debate today has been marked by a distinct and pronounced imbalance between the two sides of the House. On the Conservative Benches my hon. Friends have been queueing up, seeking to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad to say that a great many have been able to do so and have been able to contribute a great deal of expertise and knowledge of defence. That has been in striking contrast to the near-desert that we have seen on the Opposition Benches, where there was a striking lack of interest in participating in what is undoubtedly an important debate.

I am glad that the debate has seen four maiden speeches of considerable quality from Conservative Members. I should like to endorse what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) in paying tribute to his predecessor, Sir Nigel Fisher. We remember Sir Nigel with a great deal of affection and regard. Sir Nigel was clearly a model parent and believed in conferring a total independence of mind on his children. I am sorry that he has not managed to pass on his own political views, but we remember him with much regard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton spoke most forcefully and eloquently about the ultimate priority that we must give to defence, which he rightly described as the cornerstone of all our freedoms. I can assure him, as he specifically referred to it, that the Department gives a great deal of attention to the manifold defence policy issues. We also give a great deal of attention to explaining defence policies and trying to secure a greater public understanding of defence policy. I assure my hon. Friend that we intend that to continue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingharn (Mr. Couchman) who is my near neighbour, also spoke with much knowledge and great feeling about the closure of Chatham dockyard. The dockyard is only a few miles from my own constituency, and I endorse what my hon. Friend said about the tenacious fight put up on behalf of his constituents by his predecessor, Sir Frederick Burden. We shall all miss Freddie Burden, but we welcome my hon. Friend in his place. He made a helpful and forceful contribution to our debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) spoke about his constituency with a great deal of knowledge. He also spoke with much acknowledge about defence, clearly drawing on his experience as an officer in the reserves. I can assure that he will make many other speeches on the subject of defence. I welcome his comments about the armed services youth training scheme, which is a valuable initiative. My right hon. Friend has just announced an extension of the scheme to the civilian part of the Department. The scheme will make a worthwhile contribution to creating more employ merit in the armed services and in civilian Ministry of Defence posts for those aged between 16 and 17.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan) paid a warm and generous tribute to his predecessor, Roland Moyle. I am sure that that tribute will be much appreciated on the Opposition Benches as it was on the Government side. My hon. Friend made a conspicuously lucid and eloquent speech, saying that the defence of the individual and parliamentary freedom are the ultimate rationale of our defence policy. All those who heard his speech greatly appreciated it. I am sure that my hon. Friends have made only the first of many contributions to defence debates. What they have said today will stand the test of time.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) referred to our out-of-area defences. I can assure him that my right hon. Friends and I will study closely his proposals about how, organisationally, we should assist those in Third world countries who are seeking to preserve freedom and independence. 'We are also very much aware of the importance of consultation between the NATO nations on out-of-area matters. However, we regard contingency planning as essentially a national matter.

Mr. Wilkinson

On the crucial question of out-of-area operations, can my hon. Friend give a firm undertaking that there will, particularly in current circumstances, be no question whatever of Her Majesty's Government withdrawing the garrison from Belize? That step could have a serious adverse effect on stability in Guatemala, and would be deeply disquieting to our American friends.

Mr. Stanley

The Government have made no statement about the duration of that deployment. The garrison is there to safeguard the external defence of that country. If there were a proposal to end that deployment, my right hon. Friend would of course come to the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Weston-Super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) spoke about his time at the Department in a well-informed, fair and constructive manner, which we all appreciated. I echo his admiration for General Pringle, whose recovery and leadership of the Royal Marines are in the very highest traditions of the indomitable spirit of that corps. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend's work in the Department in many areas, and in particular his conspicuously important and valuable work in carrying out the Government's policy to expand the reserves and the Territorials. My hon. Friend called for defence Ministers to remain longer at their posts and I can assure him of our unanimous and enthusiastic support on this Front Bench for that proposition.

The right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) made a very refreshing and candid speech, which may be why he is not yet back in his place. He acknowledged the electoral damage done to his party by its defence policy and stated once again his commitment to the retention of a British strategic deterrent. His speech deserves wide praise from his party, although I have some doubts about whether it will get it. We on this side certainly appreciated it.

I shall touch later on a number of the points made by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). However, I should like to make just two comments now. The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) made a telling intervention when he asked the right hon. Member for Devonport whether he favoured the replacement of Polaris if there was no breakthrough in Geneva. The right hon. Gentleman replied that he would wait and see. He suggested that Polaris would be an effective deterrent into the 21st century. I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is wrong on that point. We cannot afford the luxury of saying that we shall simply wait and see. That is why the Government have taken decisions now. The right hon. Gentleman and the SDP will have to get off the fence and say whether they support the maintenance of a British strategic deterrent.

Dr. Owen

The hon. Gentleman must either listen to replies or at least study the position. The SDP has made it quite clear that at present, and as far as it is possible to envisage, we believe that it is right for Britain to retain a minimum strategic deterrent. We have not committed ourselves and will not commit ourselves to saying that the only way of perpetuating such a deterrent is to purchase the Trident system.

Mr. Stanley

The right hon. Gentleman perhaps misses the fundamental point. The issue involves the retention not only of a deterrent, but of an effective and credible British strategic nuclear deterrent. That is the only logical rationale for the possession of a deterrent. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue that path, he must make clear now what his policy is, whether he is in favour of procuring a replacement system for Polaris, and what it would consist of. The issue simply does not admit of being fudged, because the time scale is not as he imagines it to be.

The right hon. Gentleman also suggested that there should be bilateral negotiations between Britain and the USSR on strategic weapons limitations. He outlined what Britain should give as concessions in such bilateral negotiations, but he did not say what the Soviet Union should concede in return, or mention the implications for our security. It is not good enough first to talk about bilateral discussions with the USSR in the context of Britain cutting back its nuclear strategic capability. If that proposal is to have any credibility or currency, it is essential that the right hon. Gentleman should make clear what is to be expected from the Soviet Union in return.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) rightly highlighted another important aspect of the defence White Paper — the impact on defence of the emerging technologies. I can assure him that that subject takes up much of the Ministry's time and that we pay it great attention. Notwithstanding all the enormous advances on the technological side, I am sure that he will agree that we must not lose sight of the enormous worth of the basic human skills, such as discipline and training, that were so vividly demonstrated in the Falklands.

I regard it as a very great privilege and a matter of great good fortune to have been asked to be Minister of State for the Armed Forces. At the outset, I should like to convey to the armed forces on behalf, I am sure, of both sides of the House, our admiration for their extraordinarily high standards and professional skills, our recognition of the demanding and often hazardous work that they do and our firm support for their physical guarding of our freedoms.

I am sure that every hon. Member, in approaching this debate, shares the same hopes for the world. We all want a world in which nations renounce force as an instrument of policy and in which no nation need fear that its independence and sovereignty might be violated. Much as we might want it to be otherwise, that, unhappily, is not the reality of the world. The Government must, and will, work responsibly and persistently to realise our hopes, but we cannot afford to allow our hopes to propel us out of reality and into illusion.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made an admirably realistic and constructive speech yesterday when he opened this debate. In his agenda for peace, he spelt out the whole series of proposals that have been tabled by the West to try to secure genuine progress on multilateral disarmament. Nothing would give me, or any other Minister, greater pleasure than to be able to come to the Dispatch Box during the defence debate next year and to say, "Since our debate last year, progress on multilateral disarmament has been so good and the reduction in the threat to western Europe so great that we can sensibly and responsibly contemplate a significant reduction in our defence capability." However, that is not the case today.

Any rational consideration of our defence needs must start and finish with a cool, realistic and objective assessment of the threat that faces us. The unpalatable reality is that the Soviet Union continues to enlarge and improve every arm of her already massive offensive military arsenal—nuclear, conventional and chemical. There are many illustrations of this, and I shall give one.

The nuclear capability of the latest Soviet ballistic submarine, the Typhoon—my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) referred to this—is so great that it has a displacement approximately half as much again as HMS Invincible. The Soviet Union continues to spend a much higher proportion of its GNP on defence than the NATO countries—over twice that of the United States and approximately four times that of the European members of NATO. Her military occupation and subjugation of Afghanistan is a daily reminder, if any were needed, that the Soviet Union is ready not merely to possess a massive military capability but to use it.

The persistent language that we have heard during this debate from the Opposition has been the language of abandonment, especially on the nuclear side. We have been urged to abandon Trident, cruise and Polaris and to oblige our most powerful and important ally to abandon its bases in our country. In our view, that is not the substance of a responsible defence policy. Any realistic and sober assessment of the world must make this a time not to talk of abandonment but to retain and strengthen our defences until the Soviet Union is willing seriously to embrace multilateral disarmament.

One of the key areas of defence is expenditure. During this debate there has been a glaring contradiction within the Opposition between those who have been seeking to criticise the Government for not spending enough on our conventional defences and those who, like the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) yesterday, have wanted to criticise the Government for spending far too much even on our conventional defences.

The Opposition cannot have it both ways. It is absurd for the Labour party in its manifesto to criticise this Government of all Governments for not spending enough on defence, including conventional defence. The Labour party's position on defence expenditure was clearly stated during the last election. It said that it would reduce the proportion of the nation's resources devoted to defence so that the burden we bear will be brought into line with that of the other major European NATO countries". The House will be interested to know what the results would be if that policy were implemented today. It would mean a cut of approximately £5,000 million in our defence spending this year, which is why it is utterly absurd for any member of the Labour party to criticise the Government over the level of our conventional spending.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) suggested incorrectly yesterday that expenditure on the Trident programme would destroy the country's conventional capability. It is not Trident that will destroy our conventional capability, but the £5 billion a year cut in defence expenditure to which the Labour party committed itself during the last election.

The House will be glad to know that, excluding Falklands and nuclear expenditure, expenditure on the Navy is 15 per cent. higher in real terms than it was when the Labour party left office. Expenditure on the Army is 7 per cent. higher in real terms, and on the Royal Air Force 19 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1978–79. It is an excellent record of spending on the conventional forces.

The right hon. Member for Devonport has put his name to the SDP-Liberal amendment on the Order Paper which pontificates somewhat and regrets the reduction in British conventional forces". I remind him that Government spending on our conventional forces knocks into a cocked hat what was achieved by the Government of which he was a member. The position of our conventional forces is much improved compared to what it was in 1979. We have made substantial strides on pay and in all three of the armed services. The Navy's capacity has been mentioned. An increasing proportion of the naval programme has been devoted to submarines. An illustration of that is the fact that by the end of the 1980s, we expect the number of nuclear hunter-killer submarines in service to be more than half as many again as in 1979.

The conventional position of the Army and the Royal Air Force is substantially better than it was in 1979. As many of my hon. Friends said, we have substantially expanded the TAVR—the home service force—and our reserves.

The nuclear side of our forces has rightly preoccupied the House for a good deal of this debate—

Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant)

Before my hon. Friend deals with the nuclear side, I want to refer to one element of the control of defence expenditure which I raised yesterday. The Minister will be aware that I produced figures showing that $1 billion-worth of arms have been supplied during the past four years to the front line states — a portion of $3.7 billion. The rest has been supplied entirely by the Soviet Union. The Minister referred earlier to the importance of the public understanding and perception of the rationality of our defence policy. Neither he nor my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement said anything about what I said.

We are entitled to an answer. Who is paying for the supply of those weapons? The supply of $1 billion-worth of weapons in four years means a considerable resource allocation which might have gone to our armed services. Who paid for the weapons? What proportion was paid by the countries involved? If they have not paid for them, who is picking up the bill?

Mr. Stanley

I cannot answer now the detailed points raised by my hon. Friend. I shall look into them and write to him as fully as possible.

The deployment of cruise missiles has featured in the debate. I find it striking that just three and a half years ago the then shadow defence spokesman said from that Dispatch Box: It was the view of the previous Government that theatre nuclear modernisation was essential, and that is our view today." —[Official Report, 24 January 1980; Vol 977, c. 691.] It is quite extraordinary that in so short a time the Labour party has adopted a policy of not merely rejecting basing modernised theatre nuclear weapons in this country but doing so without attempting to get any concessions in return from the Soviet Union. In the Conservative party we are in no doubt that for Britain not to play its part in NATO cruise missile deployment, in the absence of the Soviet Union's agreement to the zero option, would be damaging and dangerous. I shall spell out why.

If this country and perhaps other European countries did not proceed with cruise, we would be saying to the Soviet Union, "You can develop an entirely new nuclear missile of a range and type that has not previously existed in Europe, with no response from the West." We would be further saying to the Soviet Union that, having developed its SS20, it could target approximately two thirds of the warheads—over 700—on western European countries, again with no response from the West. Finally, we would be saying to the Soviet Union that even when NATO had decided to deploy a weapons system that would go at least some of the way to balancing the number of Soviet SS20s, Britain had so lost the will and resolve to make a contribution to NATO's defence that she had told the Americans to get out of their bases and take their cruise missiles with them. I cannot think of a more irresponsible or potentially more dangerous message to convey to the Soviet Union.

No one should think that a unilateral decision by Britain to prohibit the deployment of cruise missiles in this country would have consequences limited to Britain. It certainly would not. Such a decision would be intensely damaging to our relations with the United States and also to the all-important perception by the American people of the willingness of the European members of NATO to play a full role in the defence of their own countries. A decision by this country not to deploy cruise missiles here would have profound consequences in other European countries. The December 1979 decision to deploy cruise was not taken by Britain alone. It was taken by the whole of NATO. Its deployment involves the Belgians, Dutch, Germans and Italians as well as ourselves. If Britain were to break ranks unilaterally, that could jeopardise our other European allies going ahead with deployment in their countries.

The Labour party's policy unilaterally to reject cruise missiles being deployed in Britain is neither responsible nor soundly based. There is one way to stop the siting of cruise missiles in this country or in any other European country. That would be through the Soviet Union agreeing to the zero option. The offer is on the table.

We are also prepared to consider a reasonable interim settlement based on equal numbers of warheads. We shall do all that we reasonably can to make progress at the INF talks. If the Soviet Union will not respond, however, the only responsible course is for cruise missile deployment to go ahead. Any other course could only show the Soviet Union that she could deploy a new nuclear weapon system against the Europeans with complete impunity and that the Europeans had lost the will to safeguard their defences. That would be an extremely dangerous message to convey to the Soviet Union. It would damage peace and would not further it in any way.

The Opposition have made themselves unambiguously clear about the Trident programme. They want to cancel Trident, which means that they wish to deprive Britain unilaterally and without conditions or safeguards of an effective and credible strategic nuclear deterrent. That is a perfectly clear position, although what is much less clear and has become no clearer in the debate is why the national defence imperatives that caused both the 1964–70 and 1974–79 Labour Governments to support the maintenance of the British nuclear deterrent and to improve it with Chevaline, cease to be national defence imperatives today. The explanation of that change of view seems to lie not in any shift in defence or any reduction of the threat facing us but solely in the ideological make-up of the Labour Front Bench.

The Labour party wants to go still further down the unilaterist track. In addition to offering the cancellation of Trident in return for nothing whatever from the Soviet Union, it wants to offer up Polaris as well. In the interests of accuracy, I remind the House of the words of the Labour party's election manifesto: We will propose that Britain's Polaris force be included in the nuclear disarmament negotiations in which Britain must take part. We will, after consultation, carry through in the lifetime of the next parliament our non-nuclear defence policy. In effect, it says that, regardless of circumstances and without any stated conditions, a Labour Government would unilaterally abandon Britain's nuclear deterrent within the lifetime of a Parliament. That is a profoundly irresponsible policy and I am sure that it will not find favour with the great majority of British people.

Unilateralism has been tested before—for example, in relation to chemical weapons. The serious consequences of that are well known, with the enormous expansion in Soviet procurement of chemical weapons.

Recently I read the following interesting comment about unilateralism: Unilateralism, whatever the intentions of those who preach it, is the enemy of a real and lasting peace. It is better to follow the road to genuine multilateral disarmament, however long and difficult, than to be diverted by a will-o'-the-wisp which can only lead us into greater danger. We do not want to see East and West frozen in a cold war. We care passionately for peace, as passionately as those who claim proprietary rights over the word. But not peace at any price. Not one-sided disarmament. Those are not the words of any Conservative Minister or politician. They are the words of Terry Duffy, Frank Chapple, John Lyons and Bill Sirs, among others, who talk more common sense and realism on defence than any Opposition Front Bench spokesman in this debate.

Against that background, the case for Trident is clear. The retention of Britain's strategic deterrent is supported both by the United States and by the European members of NATO. It represents a further not insignificant addition to NATO's nuclear capacity, an added dimension of deterrence to the Soviet Union and the ultimate safeguards for the defence of our country. Our strategic deterrent has now been contributing to the preservation of peace in Europe for nearly 40 years and the Government have no intention of abandoning it unilaterally.

Mr. McNamara

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Stanley


This two-day debate has focused on what are undoubtedly the two central issues.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is not giving way.

Mr. Stanley

The first is the need to strengthen Britain's conventional defences. The second is whether to adopt a multilateralist or unilateralist approach to the reduction of nuclear weapons.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) has said that unilateralism as an issue is dead. I wish that he were right, but I am afraid that he is wrong.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Stanley

Unilateralism is far from dead on the Opposition benches.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is clearly not giving way.

Mr. Stanley

Conservative Members see unilateralism for what it really is—a policy as irresponsible as it is naive and devoid of defence justification in the light of the remorseless build-up of Soviet conventional chemical and nuclear weapons.

Freedom should never be taken for granted, least of all in Europe. It must be protected if it is to be preserved. The Conservatives will neither gamble with freedom nor shrink from the cost of protecting it.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is not giving way.

Mr. Stanley

Our free way of life is our most valuable legacy from the previous generation.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Speaker


Mr. Stanley

There is no higher obligation on any Government than to ensure that it is passed on to the next.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 384.

Division No. 34] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Dormand, Jack
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Duffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, Donald Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Eadie, Alex
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Eastham, Ken
Ashton, Joe Edwards, R. (Whampt'n SE)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Evans, loan (Cynon Valley)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Ewing, Harry
Barnett, Guy Fatchett, Derek
Barron, Kevin Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Fisher, Mark
Bell, Stuart Flannery, Martin
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John
Blair, Anthony Foster, Derek
Boyes, Roland Foulkes, George
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) George, Bruce
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Godman, Dr Norman
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Golding, John
Buchan, Norman Gould, Bryan
Caborn, Richard Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Hardy, Peter
Campbell, Ian Harman, Ms Harriet
Canavan, Dennis Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Haynes, Frank
Clarke, Thomas Heffer, Eric S.
Clay, Robert Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cohen, Harry Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Donald Hoyle, Douglas
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Corbett, Robin Hume, John
Corbyn, Jeremy Janner, Hon Greville
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) John, Brynmor
Craigen, J. M. Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Crowther, Stan Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunningham, Dr John Kinnock, Neil
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Lambie, David
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Lamond, James
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Leadbitter, Ted
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dewar, Donald Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Dixon, Donald Litherland, Robert
Dobson, Frank Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Loyden, Edward Richardson, Ms Jo
McCartney, Hugh Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
McCusker, Harold Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Robertson, George
McGuire, Michael Rogers, Allan
McKelvey, William Rooker, J. W.
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McNamara, Kevin Rowlands, Ted
McTaggart, Robert Ryman, John
McWilliam, John Sedgemore, Brian
Madden, Max Sheerman, Barry
Maginnis, Ken Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Marek, Dr John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Martin, Michael Short, Mrs RW'hampt'n NE
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Maxton, John Skinner, Dennis
Maynard, Miss Joan Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Meacher, Michael Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'klds E)
Michie, William Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Mikardo, Ian Soley, Clive
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Spearing, Nigel
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Stott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Strang, Gavin
Molyneaux, James Straw, Jack
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Nellist, David Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Nicholson, J. Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tinn, James
O'Brien, William Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
O'Neill, Martin Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wareing, Robert
Park, George Weetch, Ken
Parry, Robert Welsh, Michael
Patchett, Terry Wig ley, Dafydd
Pavitt, Laurie Williams, Rt Hon A
Pendry, Tom Wilson, Gordon
Pike, Peter Winnick, David
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Woodall, Alec
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Prescott, John
Radice, Giles Tellers for the Ayes:
Randall, Stuart Mr. James Hamilton and
Redmond, M. Mr. Harry Cowans.
Adley, Robert Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)
Alexander, Richard Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Braine, Sir Bernard
Amess, David Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Ancram, Michael Bright, Graham
Arnold, Tom Brinton, Tim
Ashby, David Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Ashdown, Paddy Brooke, Hon Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Browne, John
Atkins Robert (South Ribble) Bruinvels, Peter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Bryan, Sir Paul
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Buck, Sir Antony
Baldry, Anthony Budgen, Nick
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Bulmer, Esmond
Batiste, Spencer Burt, Alistair
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Butler, Hon Adam
Beith, A. J. Butterfill, John
Bellingham, Henry Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Bendall, Vivian Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Benyon, William Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Berry, Hon Anthony Carttiss, Michael
Best, Keith Cartwright, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Biffen, Rt Hon John Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Chapman, Sydney
Blackburn, John Chope, Christopher
Blaker, Rt Hon Peter Churchill, W. S.
Body, Richard Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bottomley, Peter Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Henderson, Barry
Clegg, Sir Walter Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cockeram, Eric Hickmet, Richard
Colvin, Michael Hicks, Robert
Conway, Derek Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Coombs, Simon Hill, James
Cope, John Hirst, Michael
Cormack, Patrick Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Corrie, John Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Couchman, James Holt, Richard
Cranborne, Viscount Hordern, Peter
Critchley, Julian Howard, Michael
Crouch, David Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Dickens, Geoffrey Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, T. Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Dorrell, Stephen Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Dover, Denshore Hunt, David (Wirral)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dunn, Robert Hunter, Andrew
Durant, Tony Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dykes, Hugh Irving, Charles
Eggar, Tim Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Emery, Sir Peter Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Evennett, David Jessel, Toby
Eyre, Reginald Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fairbairn, Nicholas Johnston, Russell
Farr, John Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Favell, Anthony Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Finsberg, Geoffrey Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Fletcher, Alexander Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Fookes, Miss Janet Kennedy, Charles
Forman, Nigel Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Kilfedder, James A.
Forth, Eric King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman King, Rt Hon Tom
Fox, Marcus Kirkwood, Archibald
Franks, Cecil Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Freeman, Roger Knowles, Michael
Freud, Clement Knox, David
Fry, Peter Lamont, Norman
Gale, Roger Lang, Ian
Galley, Roy Latham, Michael
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Lawler, Geoffrey
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) Lawrence, Ivan
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Lee, John (Pendle)
Glyn, Dr Alan Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Gorst, John Lester, Jim
Gow, Ian Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Gower, Sir Raymond Lightbown, David
Grant, Sir Anthony Lilley, Peter
Greenway, Harry Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Gregory, Conal Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Griffiths, E. (By St Edm'ds) Lord, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsn'th N) Luce, Richard
Grist, Ian Lyell, Nicholas
Ground, Patrick McCrea, Rev William
Grylls, Michael McCrindle, Robert
Gummer, John Selwyn McCurley, Mrs Anna
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Macfarlane, Neil
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) MacGregor, John
Hampson, Dr Keith MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Hanley, Jeremy MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Hargreaves, Kenneth Maclennan, Robert
Harvey, Robert Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Haselhurst, Alan McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) McQuarrie, Albert
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Madel, David
Hawksley, Warren Major, John
Hayhoe, Barney Malins, Humfrey
Hayward, Robert Malone, Gerald
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Maples, John
Heathcoat-Amory, David Marland, Paul
Heddle, John Marlow, Antony
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Mates, Michael Sayeed, Jonathan
Maude, Francis Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Shelton, William (Streatham)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mellor, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Merchant, Piers Shersby, Michael
Meyer, Sir Anthony Silvester, Fred
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Sims, Roger
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Skeet, T. H. H.
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Miscampbell, Norman Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Moate, Roger Soames, Hon Nicholas
Monro, Sir Hector Speed, Keith
Montgomery, Fergus Spence, John
Moore, John Spencer, D.
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Squire, Robin
Moynihan, Hon C. Stanbrook, Ivor
Mudd, David Stanley, John
Murphy, Christopher Steen, Anthony
Needham, Richard Stern, Michael
Nelson, Anthony Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Neubert, Michael Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Newton, Tony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nicholls, Patrick Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Normanton, Tom Stokes, John
Norris, Steven Stradling Thomas, J.
Onslow, Cranley Sumberg, David
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Tapsell, Peter
Osborn, Sir John Taylor, John (Solihull)
Ottaway, Richard Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Page, John (Harrow W) Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Terlezki, Stefan
Paisley, Rev Ian Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Parris, Matthew Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Patten, John (Oxford) Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Pattie, Geoffrey Thornton, Malcolm
Pawsey, James Thurnham, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Penhaligon, David Tracey, Richard
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Trippier, David
Pink, R. Bonner Trotter, Neville
Pollock, Alexander Twinn, Dr Ian
Porter, Barry van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Powell, William (Corby) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Powley, John Waddington, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wainwright, R.
Price, Sir David Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Prior, Rt Hon James Waldegrave, Hon William
Proctor, K. Harvey Walden, George
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Raffan, Keith Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wall, Sir Patrick
Rathbone, Tim Waller, Gary
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Walters, Dennis
Renton, Tim Ward, John
Rhodes James, Robert Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Warren, Kenneth
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Watts, John
Rifkind, Malcolm Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Wells, John (Maidstone)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wheeler, John
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Whitfield, John
Roe, Mrs Marion Whitney, Raymond
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wiggin, Jerry
Rossi, Hugh Wilkinson, John
Rost, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Rowe, Andrew Winterton, Nicholas
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wolfson, Mark
Ryder, Richard Wood, Timothy
Sackville, Hon Thomas Woodcock, Michael
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Yeo, Tim
Young, Sir George (Acton) Tellers for the Notes:
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Mr. Alastair Goodlad.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 351, Noes 30.

Division No. 35] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Crouch, David
Alexander, Richard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dicks, T.
Amess, David Dorrell, Stephen
Ancram, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Ashby, David Dover, Denshore
Aspinwall, Jack du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Dunn, Robert
Atkins Robert (South Ribble) Durant, Tony
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Dykes, Hugh
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley) Eggar, Tim
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Emery, Sir Peter
Baldry, Anthony Evennett David
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Eyre, Reginald
Batiste, Spencer Farr, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Favell, Anthony
Bellingham, Henry Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bendall, Vivian Finsberg, Geoffrey
Berry, Hon Anthony Fletcher, Alexander
Best, Keith Fookes, Miss Janet
Bevan, David Gilroy Forman, Nigel
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Forth, Eric
Blackburn, John Fowler, Fit Hon Norman
Blaker, Rt Hon Peter Fox, Marcus
Body, Richard Franks, Cecil
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Peter Fry, Peter
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Gale, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Galley, Roy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Braine, Sir Bernard Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bright, Graham Glyn, Dr Alan
Brinton, Tim Goodhart:, Sir Philip
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Gorst, John
Brooke, Hon Peter Gow, Ian
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gower, Sir Raymond
Browne, John Grant, Sir Anthony
Bruinvels, Peter Greenway, Harry
Bryan, Sir Paul Gregory, Conal
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bulmer, Esmond Grist, Ian
Burt, Alistair Ground, Patrick
Butler, Hon Adam Grylls, Michael
Butterfill, John Gummer, John Selwyn
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carttiss, Michael Hampsor, Dr Keith
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hanley, Jeremy
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hargreavos, Kenneth
Chapman, Sydney Harvey, Flobert
Chope, Christopher Haselhunst, Alan
Churchill, W. S. Havers, Fit Hon Sir Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hawksley, Warren
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hayhoe, Barney
Clegg, Sir Walter Hayward, Robert
Cockeram, Eric Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Colvin, Michael Heathcoat-Amory, David
Conway, Derek Heddle, John
Coombs, Simon Henderson, Barry
Cope, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cormack, Patrick Hickmet, Richard
Corrie, John Hicks, Robert
Couchman, James Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L
Cranborne, Viscount Hirst, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Montgomery, Fergus
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Moore, John
Holt, Richard Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hordern, Peter Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Howard, Michael Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Moynihan, Hon C.
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Mudd, David
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Murphy, Christopher
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Needham, Richard
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Nelson, Anthony
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Neubert, Michael
Hunt, David (Wirral) Newton, Tony
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Nicholls, Patrick
Hunter, Andrew Normanton, Tom
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Norris, Steven
Irving, Charles Onslow, Cranley
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Osborn, Sir John
Jessel, Toby Ottaway, Richard
Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey Page, John (Harrow W)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Paisley, Rev Ian
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Parris, Matthew
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Patten, John (Oxford)
Kilfedder, James A. Pattie, Geoffrey
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Pawsey, James
King, Rt Hon Tom Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Pink, R. Bonner
Knowles, Michael Pollock, Alexander
Lamont, Norman Porter, Barry
Lang, Ian Powell, William (Corby)
Latham, Michael Powley, John
Lawler, Geoffrey Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lawrence, Ivan Price, Sir David
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Prior, Rt Hon James
Lee, John (Pendle) Proctor, K. Harvey
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Raffan, Keith
Lester, Jim Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lightbown, David Rathbone, Tim
Lilley, Peter Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Renton, Tim
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Rhodes James, Robert
Lord, Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Luce, Richard Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lyell, Nicholas Rifkind, Malcolm
McCrea, Rev William Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
McCrindle, Robert Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Macfarlane, Neil Roe, Mrs Marion
MacGregor, John Rossi, Hugh
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Rowe, Andrew
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Ryder, Richard
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Sackville, Hon Thomas
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
McQuarrie, Albert St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Madel, David Sayeed, Jonathan
Major, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Malins, Humfrey Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Malone, Gerald Shelton, William (Streatham)
Maples, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Marland, Paul Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marlow, Antony Shersby, Michael
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Silvester, Fred
Mates, Michael Sims, Roger
Maude, Francis Skeet, T. H. H.
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Speed, Keith
Mellor, David Spence, John
Merchant, Piers Spencer, D.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Squire, Robin
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stanbrook, Ivor
Miscampbell, Norman Stanley, John
Moate, Roger Steen, Anthony
Monro, Sir Hector Stern, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Waldegrave, Hon William
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wall, Sir Patrick
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Waller, Gary
Stokes, John Walters, Dennis
Stradling Thomas, J. Ward, John
Sumberg, David Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Tapsell, Peter Warren, Kenneth
Taylor, John (Solihull) Watts, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wells, John (Maidstone)
Temple-Morris, Peter Wheeler, John
Terlezki, Stefan Whitfield, John
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Whitney, Raymond
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Wilkinson, John
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thorne, Neil (llford S) Winterton, Nicholas
Thornton, Malcolm Wolfson, Mark
Thurnham, Peter Wood, Timothy
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Woodcock, Michael
Tracey, Richard Yeo, Tim
Trippier, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trotter, Neville Younger, Rt Hon George
Twinn, Dr Ian
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Tellers for the Ayes:
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Waddington, David Mr. Alastair Goodlad.
Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Ashdown, Paddy Harman, Ms Harriet
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Home Robertson, John
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Hughes, Simon (Southwark
Boyes, Roland Johnston, Russell
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Marshall, David (Shettlestor
Cohen, Harry Meadowcroft, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Parry Robert
Eastham, Ken Pavitt, Laurie
Fatchett, Derek Penhaligon, David
Freud, Clement Richardson, Ms Jo
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wilson, Gordon
Skinner, Dennis
Thorne, Stan (Preston) Tellers for the Noes:
Wainwright, Robert Mr.A. J. Beith and
Wareing, Robert Mr.Archy Kirkwood.
Wigley, Dafydd

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1983, contained in Cmnd. 8951.

It being after Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded to put forthwith the Questions which he was directed by paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 18A (Consideration of Estimates) to put at that hour.

  1. Defence Estimates 197 words
  2. c478
  3. SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES 1983–84 93 words
  4. c478