HC Deb 03 May 1983 vol 42 cc12-3
12. Mr. Race

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now revise the published figure on the number of American bases in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Blaker

In addition to those bases and facilities listed in previous answers should be added RAF Kemble, which, as forecast in a parliamentary answer by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces on 20 January, has recently been made available to the United States Air Force for aircraft and equipment maintenance work. Poole and Wincombe should be deleted from the lists as they are no longer used by the United States forces.

Mr. Race

Why did the Minister not publish the right figures in the first place? Who is fooling who? Are President Reagan and his officials fooling the Minister, or is the Minister fooling and misleading the House by giving it misleading and untrue information about the number of American bases? Why should the British people not know how many American bases, run by foreign powers, are on British soil?

Mr. Blaker

We have published details of the number of bases and facilities used by the United States in Britain —indeed, we did so recently. One of the problems of Opposition Members is that they seem unable to distinguish between a base and a facility. They originally asked about bases, and they received an answer about bases. They subsequently alleged that there were more than 100 United States bases and facilities in Britain. I have discovered that there are two petrol stations, not one as I previously told the House. I discovered the second in Glasgow. An example of the Opposition's ridiculous accusations is the mooring in Poole harbour. It is unmanned and contains one ship.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

When will my hon. Friend give the House further information about the facilities that the Americans will reqire at RAF Kemble in my constituency? What details can he give us?

Mr. Blaker

The purpose of the United States' forces at Kemble is to maintain equipment. I do not believe that aircraft will be based there.

Mr. Marks

Does the 1951 agreement cover facilities as well as bases?

Mr. Blaker

Yes, indeed.

Mr. Churchill

Does my hon. Friend agree that the liberation of Europe from Facism would have been impossible but for the American forces based in this country? Does he further agree that the overwhelming majority of people in this country appreciate deeply what the United States is doing, and has done for the past 35 years, to maintain the peace and freedom of Great Britain and western Europe?

Mr. Blaker

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. United States forces have been in this country continuously since the Berlin blockade of 1948 and have helped us to ensure that we remain at peace and freedom. I was interested in a recent gallup poll which showed that the majority of people support the presence of the United States bases in this country.

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