HC Deb 31 October 1983 vol 47 cc620-712
Mr. Speaker

Before we start this important debate, I must inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the leader of the Liberal party. Furthermore, I have received a large number of requests from right hon. and hon. Gentlemem to take part in this debate. I should be grateful if that were borne in mind when the Chair calls them. There is great pressure to speak.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. While acknowledging the efficacy of your announcement on the selection of the amendment, could you tell us something of the result of the exchanges between you and the leader of the Liberal party, referred to in c. 528 and 529 of Hansard of 27 October? We are not clear whether we will hear one or two voices from the parties represented in the alliance reflecting the differences, divisions and distinctions in the relationship. Will you make the position indelibly clear, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker

Those discussions have not yet taken place. Furthermore, I select amendments on the basis of whether they are in order.

3.32 pm
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

I beg to move, That this House reaffirms its support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 1979 twin track decision on intermediate range nuclear forces; strongly backs the West's efforts to achieve a balanced and verifiable agreement at the Geneva negotiations; but confirms that in the absence of agreement on the zero option cruise missiles must be operationally deployed in the United Kingdom at the end of 1983. The motion asks the House to reaffirm the 1979 NATO decision: to seek a negotiated arms control agreement for intermediate range weapons with the Soviet Union, in the absence of which the Alliance would deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles operationally by 31 December 1983.

I start with the events that gave rise to what is now known as the NATO twin-track decision of December 1979. NATO, to preserve certain deterrence, has sought to maintain a range of weapons systems which would never leave any doubt that, at whatever level of threat it faced, it possessed a potential response that did not itself involve an escalatory step so large as to be in itself incredible.

In the mid-1970s, it was possible to foresee three clear risks that would have to be dealt with over the decade ahead. First, NATO's longer range intermediate nuclear forces—the F111 bombers of the United States' air force and the ageing Vulcan bomber force of the RAF, to be replaced by the shorter range Tornado—were limited in number and would be of declining credibility against the growing sophistication of the Soviet offensive and defensive threat to Western aircraft.

Secondly, the Russians were themselves introducing into service a new generation of mobile, accurate missiles with three warheads—the SS20s—to which there was no equivalent on NATO's side.

Thirdly, the 400 Poseidon warheads assigned to Supreme Allied Commander, Europe—of which much has been made—represented a sea-based intercontinental level force which the Soviet Union might perceive that the United States would be reluctant to use in circumstances short of a strategic exchange between the super-powers. Moreover, the United States' Poseidon force was counted in full—rightly so—as a strategic weapon in SALT and was part of the equal totals of strategic weapons allowed to the United States and the Soviet Union.

The concern in Europe was that the SALT process would codify strategic parity between the Soviet Union and the United States while leaving unconstrained the Soviet nuclear threat to Europe below the strategic level. The Soviet Union might come to believe that it could attack countries in western Europe with relative impunity while deterring the use of US "offshore" nuclear weapons by its own increasingly formidable strategic armoury' held in reserve. At the very best, the weight of this Soviet advantage would have political implications for the conduct of relations between European powers and the Soviet Union.

It was these three issues that led Europeans—and Helmut Schmidt in particular—to express concern about the risks of decoupling of the American nuclear commitment to Europe, which was of particular concern to Germany and those other European powers which had renounced any nuclear capability of their own. The House will appreciate that much of the dialogue about these matters was conducted on behalf of Britain in private by the right hon. Members opposite who were then members of Her Majesty's Government. There is much controversy as to the part played by the previous Labour Government in the cruise missile decision. Naturally the papers of that Government are not available to me, so I must rely on the published evidence.

First, let me make it clear that the previous Labour Government did not take the decision to bring cruise and Pershing missiles to Europe—it was this Government that did that—but the evidence is overwhelming that the previous Labour Government were deeply involved in the discussions that led up to the decision and accepted the need for that decision when, six months after the 1979 general election, we took it.

The first central evidence is to be found in the NATO communique of April 1979 at which Fred Mulley—the then Secretary of State for Defence—was authorised to speak on behalf of the Labour Government for Britain.

I must quote from that communique in some detail in order that a clear background to the decision is seen: They also discussed with continuing concern Soviet modernisation of theatre nuclear force systems which is being undertaken on a scale well in excess of defensive requirements and unprovoked by any NATO developments. In particular, Ministers took note of the extensive improvements the Soviets are making in their long range theatre forces threatening NATO Europe. especially the SS20 missile which affords improvements over previous systems in providing greater accuracy and more mobility and in having multiple warheads on each missile. In their consideration of NATO's requirements, as part of the Long Term Defence Programme, to modernise theatre nuclear forces, Ministers reaffirmed that NATO could not rely on conventional forces alone for credible deterrence in Europe; and that, without increasing dependence on nuclear weapons or prejudicing long term defence improvements in conventional forces, it would be necessary to maintain and modernise theatre nuclear forces. As a key element in this and taking into account developments in Soviet capabilities, Ministers continued their consideration of the modernisation of longer-range theatre-based element in support of the Alliance's strategy of forward defence and flexible response, for preserving a credible capability in that field. No decisions were taken at this stage. While then, as I have said, the then Labour Government——

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

The right hon. Gentleman has sought a convenient moment at which to cease reading the communique. It went on to say: No decisions were taken at this stage. Ministers emphasised that consideration of a modernisation effort would need to take full account of arms control possibilities and they noted with approval that these are being studied in further depth by a special group recently set up in NATO for this purpose.

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman's intervention is extremely helpful. He has proved beyond peradventure that the second arm of the twin-track decision—to negotiate at the same time—was on the same agenda of that conference at which the modernisation of nuclear weapons was agreed. So, rather earlier in the debate than I had expected the right hon. Gentleman and I have reached common cause about precisely what was being discussed on that communique.

As I have already said, the then Labour Government did not take the decision, but, beyond question, they acknowledged that a decision had to be taken.

Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

Not this one.

Mr. Heseltine

We shall come to what decision it was.

Moreover, it was clearly a decision about the response to the threat of the SS20s and about NATO's own theatre nuclear forces in a similar area of capability that would be needed.

I would go further. The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), the then Foreign Secretary and close colleague of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government, working with him and seeing eye to eye on those critical matters, was quoted, I hope accurately, in The Observer on this matter recently. I hope that he will be fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, but, if I might anticipate the right hon. Gentleman's views on some of the speeches of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was quoted in The Observer as saying: There is Denis Healey trying to pretend we never made any decision at all, which is nonsense. But it is equally nonsense"— as I have said— to say that the last Labour Government made all the decisions that led to cruise coming to Britain. The House will perhaps detect at least a difference of emphasis between those two former collegues; not what might yet be called a full split, just a lapse of memory. But in trying to assess the merits of aguments hidden in papers denied our inspection but widely leaked on both sides of the Atlantic, the House will want to bear in mind two factors.

First, all the other Governments that were represented at that April 1979 NATO meeting, all those Governments who put their names to the same communique as Fred Mulley, had within six months turned their support for that communique into support for the decision to deploy cruise and Pershing missiles by the end of this year.

We are asked to believe that, alone of the NATO allies at that meeting, Labour in office would have taken a different course. Just to show how incredible that assertion is, there can be found Bill Rodgers' statement in Hansard[Interruption.]I do not understand why the Labour party should doubt Mr. Rodgers' position, speaking then on behalf of the Labour party. Mr. Rodgers' position on the Labour party's defence policy is no further away from its present position than is the position of the former Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the previous Labour Government. The only thing about Mr. Rodgers is that he continued to say much the same things out of office.

Let us remember Mr. Rodgers' words when he responded to the statement by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), the then Secretary of State, who made the original twin-track decision announcement to the House. With the full authority of the Labour shadow Cabinet Mr. Rodgers said: As the House knows, when the right hon. Gentleman"— my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East— made his statement on 13 December, we accepted the need to move ahead on the proposed timetable. 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.] The conclusions are clear. The Labour Government were involved in the discussions leading to the twin-track decision and the deployment of cruise missiles in this country. The evidence is that they would have taken the same decision as all their NATO Allies and this Government actually took. Once the Government had taken the decision, they accepted it as essential. The trouble with the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Heale) is that he has all the intellect, all the experience, and none of the integrity necessary for his job—[Interruption.] He has become the worst sort of juke box politician—he will play any tune that the occasion seems to demand.

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

Let us see the right hon. Gentleman's war medals.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Many things are said in the Chamber with which hon. Members disagree.

Mr. Heseltine

The twin-track decision was taken——

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman, who bought his way out of the forces, to allege that another right hon. Member is lacking in integrity?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not hear any allegation against another hon. Member's integrity.

Mr. Heseltine

The twin-track decision was taken. It was a conditional decision——

Mr. Healey


Mr. Heseltine

I am delighted to see the right hon. Gentleman reach for blank pieces of paper. It will doubtless contribute to the argument that he will deploy.

The twin-track decision was taken. It was a conditional decision offering the Soviet Union the opportunity to remove the weapon systems that we perceive to be a threat, in which case we would abandon our plans for deployment, or, if it chose not to do so——

Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)

So why are the missiles coming here this week?

Mr. Heseltine

This is the answer to the hon. Lady's question.

—to face the certain consequence that we in NATO would begin our deployments by the end of 1983.

At the time that NATO took the twin-track decision, the Soviet Union had deployed 126 missiles, of which about 80 faced west. At the latest count, it has increased the total to at least 351 missiles, two thirds of which are targeted on western Europe. Today, I know of no equivalent weapons deployed in Europe.

The one certainty in this matter so far is that an attempt to persuade the Soviets to control or limit their deployment programme has failed. Sadly, negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on those intermediate range systems—INF—only began in Geneva in November 1981 and it is vital that they continue.

It is sometimes claimed that the delay in the start of the Geneva talks is the responsibility of the United States, which was not serious about pursuing the arms control track of the 1979 decision. The reality is different. The Soviet Union was initially reluctant to come to the negotiating table.

First it sought to overturn the 1979 decision by falsely claiming that a balance already existed, which NATO deployments would upset. Then, it sought to impose preconditions in its favour which would prejudice the negotiations, by refusing to negotiate unless NATO agreed in advance to scrap its modernisation plans. It was only when it became increasingly clear that the Alliance was determined to proceed that the Soviet Union announced that it would participate in the negotiations without any preconditions. This process of procrastination occupied two years, during which time no progress on the negotiations was made, but the Soviets had increased their deployment of SS20 missiles facing the West from 80 to 170. The lesson for the West is that we shall succeed in negotiating with the Soviet Union only if we make it clear that our unity and resolve will not be broken by threats or pressure. It is this unshakeable resolve by the West which first brought the Soviet Union to the negotiating table at the end of 1981.

I do not intend to discuss in detail the progress of those negotiations in the past two years. Little by little some areas of disagreement have narrowed, although major obstacles remain. The West sought—as suggested in the amendment selected for debate—to take timely initiatives which would build towards an agreement. The latest Western proposal, which dealt with limitations on aircraft, our willingness to agree to reductions in both cruise and Pershing IIs, and to see a matching of Soviet deployments only in Europe, was, for example, tabled as recently as 26 September. We have made clear our readiness to look carefully at the latest statement by President Andropov.

There has, moreover, been some progress in the negotiations. First, the Russians have agreed that warheads are the proper unit of account in these negotiations. Secondly, they have recognised that surplus missiles should be destroyed and not merely withdrawn into the Asian part of the Soviet Union from where they could be rapidly redeployed to threaten Europe. Finally, they have recognised the possibility of some reductions in the number of SS20s deployed.

But I have to say, with considerable regret, that the main Russian theme in the negotiations continues unaltered. They wish to maintain a monopoly of land-based missiles of the SS20 type. To do this, they argue that dissimilar Western systems should be counted in the balance, in particular British and French strategic systems. We will not agree to include our Polaris force in these negotiations because that system is not an intermediate range system but a strategic system, as the Soviet Union has previously sought to argue in other arms control negotiations. Its inclusion together with the French strategic system, which again is not on offer, would leave the Soviets with their monopoly and Europe with no linked American deterrent to the SS20. The Russians would then have secured the major objective of the legitimisation of their SS20 deployment without any NATO equivalent.

Mr. Healey

The Secretary of State described the British and French nuclear forces as strategic and said that the Russians wished them to be included in strategic arms limitation talks. Does he agree that they should be included in the START talks?

Mr. Heseltine

The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and I have made it clear that if START succeeds in changing dramatically the level of deployment of intercontinental strategic missiles, Britain would not stand apart from the consequences of that decision, which would welcome—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I have answered the question.

Mr. Healey

With respect, the Secretary of State said that he would not agree to their being included in START but might consider the position if those talks made dramatic progress.

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman knows that in technical terms Britain is not involved in the process of START any more than are the French Government. Were the two super-powers able to make the sort of advance that we would all welcome—and which the Americans have already offered—of dramatically reducing the scale of intercontinental deployment, this Government would recognise a legitimate interest in the consequences.

Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

In that situation, would the Government be prepared to sign a bilateral agreement with the Soviet Union, and hopefully the French, to put a ceiling on British and French warheads? Does he not accept that if the Soviets accept a ceiling on their weapons systems in a bilateral relationship with the United States, their anxiety is that that could be got round by an expansion of the French and British weapons systems?

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that it would be quite impossible for a Government to conduct negotiations with the Soviet Union, the United States or the French over the Dispatch Boxes of the House of Commons. He is fully aware that the present deployment of the British and French independent deterrents represents a very small proportion of those deployed by the Soviet Union and the United States. It would be quite inappropriate to try to conduct international diplomacy in the type of forum in which we are now conducting the INF conversations. No Government would every move from such a position, and the right Gentleman knows that as well as I.

The critical judgment for the House, in examining the progress in the INF talks at Geneva, such as it is, is whether we would have made any progress had there been any doubt in the Soviet mind of our determination to proceed with our modernisation plans. We Conservatives have no doubt that progress has come because, obviously, we have the determination to see through both spheres of our decision—both tracks of the 1979 decision. That was reaffirmed by all Governments of the NATO Alliance, with the exception of Greece, at our meeting in Canada last week.

Indeed, this policy has been central to the election platform of the major European allies, be they Conservative, Socialist or Liberal Governments. As I have said, as the negotiations have proceeded the Soviets have continued their SS20 missile deployment, so that the 126 missiles of 1979 are now 351 missiles or more.

The contrast with the West is striking. We have tried by negotiation to avoid any deployment of these weapons. We have also carefully considered our existing NATO deployment of nuclear weapons, and that matter was also on the agenda at Montebello last week.

When we took the 1979 decision, we said that, for each of the 572 new cruise and Pershing II warheads to be deployed, one existing warhead would be withdrawn so that the total numbers deployed on our side did not increase as a result of the twin-track decision. In practice, we have gone further than that. In 1980, we completed the withdrawal of 1,000 warheads. A team of experts from Alliance countries have also been asked to examine the possibility of further reductions. As a result of our further work, we have now decided to reduce our stockpile by a further 2,000 warheads, including those required to make way for cruise and Pershing II warheads.

The consequence is that, over the implementation period of the twin-track decision, the net reduction in nuclear warheads in Europe will be 2,400 bringing their number to the lowest level for 20 years. As every one of those warheads that are to be withdrawn was in position while the last Labour Government were in power, I hope that the Opposition will join me in welcoming that development.

The NATO commitment is that, unless an agreement at Geneva makes it unnecessary, we shall achieve the first operational deployment of cruise and Pershing II missiles by 31 December this year. I must emphasise that this is an initial, limited step in a five-year NATO programme. Our plans can of course be halted, modified or reversed at any time if the results in Geneva justify it.

In order to achieve the first operational deployments in an orderly and safe manner, it is necessary for there to be a progressive build-up of arrivals of the components of the system. Because time is then needed for such tasks as the final assembly, testing and personnel training of those responsible for the equipment, full operational capability is not achieved until some time after all the individual items of equipment have arrived. Throughout we have taken all necessary steps to achieve that end—a steady build-up to operational deployment by the end of the year. Visibly, the necessary buildings have been constructed and the initial supporting equipment has been arriving at Greenham Common by air and road for some time.

Further equipment, including the transporter-erector-launchers, will be arriving shortly. Those arrivals will not include the cruise missiles. I will make a further statement to the House when the missiles themselves arrive in this country.

There remains one important subject, and that is the issue of control of cruise missiles. The Government first considered this matter when they agreed in 1979 to be a basing country for cruise missiles. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have raised this matter with me over the past year. The matter was also raised, I think, by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) in the original House of Commons debate on the subject. Certainly the right hon. Member for Devonport has also concentrated on this issue. Of course, I am fully aware of the media and public interest.

When the original decision was taken in 1979, the Government had to consider this issue afresh and they concluded that cruise posed no issues of principle that would justify offering to buy the system from the Americans at considerable cost in order to establish an overt method of control. This had been used for the Thor missiles when they came in 1958 but had never been considered necessary by any Government in respect of either F111 bombers or Poseidon missile submarines subsequently.

The House is aware of the understandings with the United States on this matter. They have been jointly reviewed by the British and American Governments in the light of the planned deployment of cruise missiles. Let me read to the House the relevant part of the Prime Minister's answer on 12 May to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck): The arrangements will apply to United States cruise missiles based in the United Kingdom whether on or off bases. The effect of the understandings and the arrangements for implementing them is that no nuclear weapon would be fired or launched from British territory without the agreement of the British Prime Minister."—[Official Report, 12 May 1983; Vol. 42, c. 435.] That is a categoric agreement on a specific subject affecting the direct interests of this country.

No nuclear weapons will be fired or bases used without the agreement of both the Prime Minister and the President.

The House will realise that for 30 years every British Prime Minister has been convinced that those assurances were absolute.

Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

I am one of those who entirely support our defence policy, and in particular our nuclear policy. What my right hon. Friend says is quite correct. However, since the Grenada incident the special relationship that we have had with the United Staes has, in the minds of many millions of people in this country, been called into question on this issue. Will my right hon. Friend agree to review this control mechanism so that there is a cast-iron protection that no foreign power may launch any nuclear weapon from our land, air space, or territorial waters, to ensure that it is physically impossible to do it, and that such a launch does not depend just upon joint consultation?

Mr. Heseltine

I accept what my hon. Friend says, that there is much public concern and interest in this matter. I have been aware of that ever since I held this job. However, having considered the matter afresh, and bearing in mind the fact that my right hon. Friends considered the matter when they held my job, the fact remains that we have reviewed the assurances with which all British Governments, including Labour Governments, have been content, in respect not only of aircraft but missiles with nuclear capability in this country.

Dr. Owen

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House. There is no precedent for the decision that he has taken. Before 1958, aircraft flew from this country carrying nuclear weapons. There were also American submarines. In 1958, the first decision was taken by Harold Macmillan that there would have to be a dual control of missiles. Since then, the only other missiles are those which are held in BAOR and they are controlled by Britain and America under a dual key. There is also a dual key for Pershing between the Germans and Americans. In fact, all the precedents are that any missiles held on British territory or by British forces have always had a dual key.

Mr. Heseltine

I am fully aware that the Lance missile in Germany, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, is a dual-purpose system. That is why we have a physical separation of the two types of capability. I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman about the American Poseidon submarines, which are not subject to a physical dual key. They fire missiles. If he, when he was Foreign Secretary of this country, believed that missiles fired from British territory needed a dual key, I would be more impressed if he had acted then, when in government, than now, from the Opposition Benches. [Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Heseltine

I have not finished what I want to say on this matter. It is a subject of great importance, and I know that the House will want to debate it at considerable length. It is therefore important for me to finish what I have to say. I have already given way on the matter.

As I have said, the House will realise that for 30 years every British Prime Minister has been convinced that the assurances we have are absolute. Certainly, there are no military arguments for now changing to a dual key position. [Interruption.]

We could not signal in advance to the Soviet Union any conditions we might seek to impose on the use of cruise missiles, because the essence of our deterrent strategy is precisely that the Soviet Union does not know what response the West might adopt.

A dual key in Britain would not prevent the use of cruise missiles in Europe because other missiles in other basing countries could easily be substituted. Nor would we diminish the risk to Britain as a basing country because if cruise-missiles were fired from another country, nothing that we said would persuade the Soviets that we might not subsequently fire missiles from this country. The essence of our policy is that the system has a deterrent value which ensures that these missiles will never be fired in any circumstances.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

Having lived for some 20 years close to the United States third air force headquarters in my constituency, where large numbers of nuclear weapons have been deployed for many years, may I tell my right hon. Friend that his trust is well placed? However, as a matter of presentation, would there not be some advantage in asking the Royal Air Force regiment to take some responsibility for safeguarding the missiles? Secondly, would it not also be advantageous if he made it clear now that the deployment of the missiles from the bases to other parts of the country, which could be necessary, would specifically require the authority of the British Prime Minister?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend is most helpful. He is quite right to draw the attention of the House to the unique characteristic of cruise missiles—that they cannot be deployed unless they are accompanied by a contingent from the RAF regiment. So there is indeed a partnership arrangement of a physical nature for cruise missiles which was never appropriate in any earlier deployed system of which I am aware.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)


Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)

Will the Secretary of state answer a very simple question? How can he physically guarantee that the assurances that he talks about will be implemented?

Mr. Heseltine

In precisely the same way as the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) would have answered when he was a member of a Government who had exactly the same assurances.

Mr. Straw


Mr. Heseltine

I have said that there is no military argument for introducing a dual key, but of course I am aware that public concern has been expressed, particularly because politicians who were perfectly prepared to defend and justify the arrangements when they were in office have—since losing the election and becoming the Opposition—sought to put this issue in an unfavourable light. It is quite extraordinary that when the right hon. Members for Leeds, East and for Devonport had total responsibility for such matters, they never sought to raise them with the United States, with a view to introducing the controls that they now seek.

But for those who now want at the very last minute to propose a physical dual key on cruise missiles to reassure British public opinion, let me add another note of caution. In the defence of western Europe it is in the essential interests of this nation that the NATO Alliance should remain the bastion of our defences that it has been for more than 30 years. If we are to impose physical control on American weapons now, with all the political undertones that that implies in order to meet British public opinion, what possible argument is there to American public opinion that America should provide us with the absolute freedom to use the British independent nuclear deterrent without a dual key system? [Interruption.] There cannot be any doubt that the use of Britain's independent deterrent would have incalculable consequences for the United States, or that that country trusts us absolutely with that independent nuclear deterrent. It is, then, a question of trust, and I urge the House to remember that tonight.

This week we have seen a severe and damaging disagreement of judgment between two close allies, but we on this side of the House discuss that not in the language of relish but as allies whose interests are in the defence of Europe, and are, indeed, interwoven in that defence. It is inconceivable that in the flow of world events such disagreements do not arise, but in the last resort we face a common threat and we have evolved a common defence. The quicker that any doubts about that are set aside, the clearer our deterrence will become. Therefore, I invite the House to reaffirm its support for the decision that we took in 1979, which events have abundantly justified.

4.13 pm
Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

As we would expect, the Secretary of State for Defence made a vigorous and entertaining speech as long as he confined himself to party points. At least he pointed out that the Labour Government took no decisions on these matters, although he speculated on what decisions they might have taken if the Labour party had won the election in 1979. I shall deal with some of that speculation in my speech. Meanwhile, I leave the House and the country to judge whether the right hon. Gentleman is personally well qualified to make imputations against my integrity or my service to my country in both a civilian and a military capacity.

Mr. Heseltine

On this occasion I should like to say publicly that I have often gone out of my way to praise the right hon. Gentleman's quite remarkable war contribution.

Mr. Healey

I had the impression that the right hon. Gentleman was praising my remarkable contribution at the Ministry of Defence, but I am in any case grateful to him.

The right hon. Gentleman lost the attention of the House and greatly irritated many hon. Members on both sides of the House when he sought to deal with the subject of the debate. We are debating the most important decision that Parliament will be asked to approve in the lifetime of this Government. Incidentally, it is a decision that the House has never previously approved. The Government have never put the December 1979 decisions to the House for approval. The only debate that the Government dared to hold at the beginning of 1980 was raised on the Adjournment of the House, and hon. Members well know what lack of confidence that implies in the Government.

For the first time in nearly 20 years foreign nuclear missiles are to be deployed on British soil, if the decision is approved. For the first time in our history, missiles will be deployed on our soil when the British Government do not have the physical ability to prevent them from being fired.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of us, including no doubt the right hon. Gentleman, have gone into details and know perfectly well that removal of cruise missiles from the steel canisters in which they are placed and from any of the United States air force bases where they may be for the purposes of deployment, will be subject to the inevitable physical control of the local Royal Air Force regiment and the police?

Mr. Healey

The Secretary of State did not seek to make that point for the obvious reason that it is not relevant to the decision to fire. Many hon. Members, at least on this side of the House, would oppose all nuclear weapons in all circumstances in any country. I do not share their view. I want to deal with the concerns of those who believe that the Western Alliance is essential to Britain's security, and that it must possess nuclear weapons as long as potential enemies possess such weapons. I shall seek to show that the ground-launched cruise missile is a weapon without military value, whose deployment would expose the British people to an increased risk of nuclear attack. would undermine public confidence in the Alliance—as it is already doing in all the countries in which deployment is proposed—and would make the prospect of disarmament far more difficult.

The proposition that ground launched cruise missiles have no military value is endorsed by military experts on both sides of the Atlantic, including Field Marshal Lord Carver—[Interruption.]Conservative Members should not sneer at possibly the most distinguished soldier to have held office under a Conservative Government since the second world war. That view is also held by Professor Michael Howard—the Prime Minister told us the other day that he was among her favourite bedtime reading— by the American ex-Secretary of State for Defence, Robert McNamara, and by many other distinguished generals and airmen, including General Maxwell Taylor.

I should think that the Government would find it most important that that proposition is also supported by the main apologist for the deployment of cruise missiles, Mr. Richard Perle, Under-Secretary of State in the American Defence Department. Mr. Perle told the Boston Globe on 2 June 1983 that the cruise missile never had much military utility because it was vulnerable to attack.

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)


Mr. Healey

I shall not give way.

The reason for the cruise missile's vulnerability is clear to anyone who knows anything about it. on its bases at Greenham Common and Molesworth it is a sitting duck. Two Soviet nuclear missiles could wipe out all 160 cruise missiles in one attack. Indeed, on its bases, it is even vulnerable to attack with conventional weapons. It must be dispersed to a limited number of firing sites south of a line from Hull to Exeter—a line which is familiar to all students of British politics and, indeed, of British economics.

Deployment from Greenham Common would involve 264 vehicles trundling at 18 miles an hour in six convoys for up to six hours. For the whole of the journey the vehicles would be vulnerable to blast, even from conventional weapons.

The vulnerability of ground-launched missiles to attack is the reason why NATO withdrew all such missiles from Europe in 1964—a time when Russia had 733 missiles deployed against western Europe. Instead, NATO rightly decided to allocate Polaris submarines to SACEUR for use by him in case of war in Europe. The Polaris submarines have been replaced by Poseiden submarines, which have 400 warheads on station for use by SACEUR. According to the Scowcroft report and to all the leading American political and military defence experts this year, before long the Trident submarine, with warheads that are almost as accurate as land-based missile warheads, will replace them. In other words, as a matter of military sense, NATO decided 20 years ago not to have land-based missiles, but to follow the advice of the poem and "put those missiles out to sea, where the real estate is free and they are miles away from me."

The vulnerability of the ground-launched cruise missile is indisputable. It has been proved time and again. Even if the missile were not vulnerable, its military function is a nonsense. Its function is not, as the Government suggest, to destroy SS20 missiles, because they are based out of range of the cruise missile. As has been made clear in the United States Congress and Senate, its function is to wipe out command centres and military bases in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union so as to weaken Russia's ability to reinforce a conventional advance in Europe. With respect to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley), its function is not as a second strike weapon because it would be vulnerable to and unable to survive a massive Soviet first strike. It would take three hours to reach its target. By that time the bird would probably have flown, except in the case of command centres. It would take up to five and a half hours to reach its firing site.

Does the Secretary of State really believe that in a large scale war in which the use of these weapons was contemplated the Russians would wait? If they waited until the weapons were fully deployed, would they take advantage of what the Minister of State for the Armed Forces said about 1,000 megatons of nuclear weapons being required to ensure their destruction—I assume equally plastered around a line running from Grimsby to Exeter?

Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

If the right hon. Gentleman is correct in his assertion that ground-launched missiles are so vulnerable, is he surprised that the Kremlin evidently does not share his view, because the SS20, which has been deployed at the rate of one missile every five days against western Europe, is equally vulnerable? The evidence up to now is that it is difficult to target, pinpoint and knock out a mobile missile.

Mr. Healey

The SS20 is far more mobile than cruise with its long wagon train. The area through which cruise would have to move is built up and crossed by roads which have all sorts of other uses. I prefer to rely on the view of Mr. Richard Perle, because I suspect that he is more familiar with the missile's characteristics that the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill).

If the weapons got through and destroyed the command centres, airfields and military bases in the Soviet Union, how does the Secretary of State think the Russians would react? It is possible, of course, that they would stop fighting. That must be the right hon. Gentleman's hope. Millions of Soviet civilians would be killed in the attack. Each missile has the destructive power of 10 Hiroshimas. It is possible—indeed, probable—that the Russians would go straight for the whole of the Western nuclear armoury. The Russians have said repeatedly that that is what they would do.

If the right hon. Gentleman does not already know, he will soon find out that the function proposed for the cruise missile was devised by a handful of bureaucrats and staff officers—the modern equivalents to the medieval schoolman—who, when they put it forward, believed in a ladder of nuclear escalation in which movement from one rung to another was carefully controlled by both sides. That concept is incredible today now that command centres are the primary target of the missiles and both sides have highly accurate counter-force weapons.

The Secretary of State may have read a recent study by Dr. Desmond Ball for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in which he says: The limited nuclear war fighting option is a chimera—a policy which depends on the ability to maintain escalation control of a nuclear exchange is ultimately incredible. The weapon that the Secretary of State asks us to approve has only the slightest intellectual validity within the framework of that chimera.

The right hon. Gentleman's second line of defence was that the aim of the weapons is not to fight a war, but to deter a war. Both sides already have enough weapons to blow up the world 10 times over. The United States single integrated operational plan—known as SIOP—involves 40,000 nuclear targets. What on earth is the point of adding more targets to that list simply to be able to bounce the rubble?

Mr. Heseltine

We have no intermediate range nuclear weapons.

Mr. Healey

That comment is absolute bunk. The right hon. Gentleman knew that and admitted it during his speech.

Both sides, including all the leading spokesmen for the American Administration, admit that there is a rough equivalence at the global level between the West and the Soviet Union. I heard them say so at Hamburg recently. Indeed, America is considerably stronger than Russia because it is well ahead in technology, particularly in the accuracy of its weapons. It is calculated that a 100-fold improvement in accuracy is equivalent to a 1 million-fold improvement in the power to destroy a hard target. The accuracy of the Western weapons is far greater than the accuracy of the Soviet weapons.

There is rough equivalence at the European level as well as at the global level. In Europe, just as worldwide, the West has so far offset its inferiority in land-based missiles with a superiority in submarine-launched missiles. The Soviet Union has been compelled against its will to rely on land-based missiles because its access to the world's oceans is so limited. [HON. MEMBERS Rubbish."] That is true. Those who disagree with me should read the Scowcroft commission report, which makes that point clearly. Russia's access to the seas of the world is limited—there is a Soviet civilian fleet locked in the ice near the north pole at the moment—but the Western world has unlimited access to the oceans at all times of the year.

Mr. Heseltine

I have followed with great interest what the right hon. Gentleman has said. However, I am mildly perplexed as to why the Soviet Union is building such a large submarine force.

Mr. Healey

It is doing so because it is desperately trying to catch up with Western superiority—a superiority that will be vastly increased when Trident submarines come into use.

Mr. Heseltine


Mr. Healey

The small number of Soviet ports with access to the seas at all times of the year, and their vulnerability to Western attack, makes the submarine option less attractive to the Soviet Union. That was the finding of the Scowcroft report, which was accepted by the President of the United States this spring.

Mr. Heseltine

If the Soviets do not have access to the oceans of the world, where will they put the submarines?

Mr. Healey

I did not say that they did not have access. The right hon. Gentleman is not being worthy when he says that. He heard me say a moment ago that the Soviets have limited access through a small number of ports, all of which are not open all the year and all of which are extremely vulnerable to attack by Western forces. That is well accepted by all military experts.

The third line of defence used by the Secretary of State was that we must deploy these missiles not because of their military use but because they will strengthen the unity of the Alliance, and that they are needed to avoid destroying the credibility of the American nuclear deterrent—in other words, to avoid what is called in the trade "de-coupling". The only argument for having these land-based missiles in Europe—interestingly, the right hon. Gentleman reflected this in what he said—is that the Americans might be able to fire the missiles without involving themselves in a nuclear war—thereby limiting the nuclear war to Europe and keeping the United States as a sanctuary. The Secretary of State appeared to confirm that when he said that he thought that the Russians might not believe that SACEUR would use the submarine-based missiles, but would believe that SACEUR would use the land-based missiles.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Healey

I have given way a great deal and I must proceed.

The Americans do not wish to give the host country a veto because, as the hon. Member for Aldershot argued in his article this morning, the host country might veto the use of those missiles when the Americans wanted to use them.

A weapon for which the only rationale is that it might make it possible for America to avoid nuclear devastation when Europe is devastated is the worst type of de-coupling. The idea that in such circumstances the United States might be a sanctuary is a fantasy, but it creates an unanswerable case for giving Britain a physical veto over the firing as we had over the firing of the only other American missiles we had in this country from 1958 to 1964.

On Thursday of last week, President Reagan asked us to believe that there was no problem, and the Secretary of State took the same line this afternoon. President Reagan said: I do not think either one of us would do anything independent of the other. The Prime Minister, I am glad to say, no longer takes that view. The right hon. Lady made that clear in the robust speech that she made yesterday, as did the Foreign Secretary. I only wish that they had spoken with the same clarity last week and carried out their principles by vetoing, with France and Netherlands, the Security Council resolution instead of skulking away with an abstention—an act of courage for which the Prime Minister was at least praised by Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger of the State Department yesterday.

After Grenada, we can no longer be satisfied with the arrangements. Secretary Shultz told the truth, which has been demonstrated again and again under President Reagan's presidency, when he said: We are always impressed by the views of the British Government, but that does not mean we always have to agree with them—we have to make decisions in the light of the security situation of our citizens as we see it. That makes nonsense of the joint decision described the the Secretary of State.

Last week, the United States invaded an independent Commonwealth state because it felt that United States security demanded it. Whether or not it did, I do not know. The Foreign Secretary, in his broadcast interview yesterday, told us that he thought not. Some have sought to justify that intervention by saying that the events were taking place in America's back yard. The hon. Member for Stroud (Sir A. Kershaw), in a discussion with me on television, compared them with putting missiles in the Isle of Wight. However, Grenada is 1,400 miles away from the nearest point on the American mainland. The distance is roughly the same as the distance between London and Suez. If the Russians used the same radius of action, the whole of the United Kingdom would be in the Soviet backyard. No part of the United Kingdom is more than 1,400 miles from the Soviet frontier. If Russia used the same argument to justify military action in its back yard, we could expect a Red army in Whitehall next Sunday.

I ask the House to reflect on one point. Last week the United States brushed the United Kingdom aside when the threat was vague and distant. Do the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister really believe that the United States Administration, certainly under this President, would take any notice when the threat was to thousands of American soldiers in Europe? They would not.

According to a poll published yesterday, some 73 per cent. of British citizens thought that the Americans would fire their missiles even if we did not want them fired. That is why 82 per cent. opposed the introduction of missiles without dual key. It is inconceivable that a British Government could go ahead with this disastrous plan without at least insisting, as Mr. Macmillan did in 1958, on having control of the mission-action links in the cruise missiles, as he had control though permissive action links in the Thor missiles.

I hope that the alliance parties will make their position clear. The amendment that they are asking us to approve tonight was obviously written by Mr. Fudge and Mr. Mudge.

Dr. Owen


Mr. Healey

I suspect—

Dr. Owen


Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is not giving way.

Mr. Healey

I suspect, knowing them both, that the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) is Mr. Fudge, and his close friend and colleague, the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) is Mr. Mudge. When they get married, I hope they will call themselves Sludge. That would indeed be a happy medium.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Devonport will tell us whether he sticks to what he said at Salford a few weeks ago, that if the party made a decision to reject cruise missiles purely and simply on the issue of the dual key … the electorate would see it as a cynical way of treating one of the most crucial defence decisions that has faced this country for many years. I hope that his right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, if he is called—we could have a double turn—will tell us whether he agrees with the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark), will tell us whether he plans to stay in the Government if they reject the views that he and so many of his hon. Friends expressed in a motion and in speeches a few months ago.

The tragedy is that once again—as happened with the MLF 20 years ago—an idea put forward sincerely as a means of uniting NATO and strengthening confidence in the United States commitment is having exactly the opposite effect: it is dividing NATO and weakening confidence in the United States commitment. The British are 2:1 against cruise, the Germans are 3:1 against it and the opposition is equally great in the Netherlands and Belgium. The strains that the decision imposes on the Alliance will continue to increase as the deployment proceeds at the planned snail's pace over the coming years.

The final excuse put forward by the Secretary of State for proceeding was that if we did not stick to a decision taken in different circumstances in December 1979, we would send the wrong signals to the Russians. He said that Russia had made no worthwhile concession in the INF talks, and that it would do so only when deployment began. To believe that is a tragic error.

The circumstances in which the 1979 decision was taken have already changed beyond recognition. That decision assumed the early ratification of the SALT 2 treaty. It has not been ratified. That treaty included an 18-month ban on the deployment of cruise missiles by either side. The intention was to make the ban permanent in the SALT 3 treaty, but there have never been any SALT 3 negotiations. After two years' interruption, the United States insisted on splitting the negotiations between land-based missiles in Europe and strategic missiles worldwide. No provision has been made for British and French forces, although it was clearly envisaged by the talk of grey areas in the 1979 communique that they would be considered in SALT 3. Moreover, the record shows that the Soviet Union has made major concessions, and the Secretary of State listed them this afternoon.

During the past week Mr. Andropov has said that if there were no cruise or Pershing II deployed, he would cut Soviet missiles deployed against Europe to 140, compared with the 600 deployed in December 1979—less than one quarter of the number of missiles deployed when the decision was first taken, and a 40 per cent. cut in the SS20s already deployed, according to what the Secretary of State said this afternoon. In addition, the Soviet Union is prepared to dismantle all missiles it withdraws and to freeze its deployment of SS20s in the far east. Against that total, NATO will still have its American bombers, its 400 Poseidon warheads and its 162 British and French missiles. That is the offer on the table. It is mad not to negotiate on that basis. It would give the West a very good deal.

The idea that if we proceed with deployment the Russians will suddenly give in is far from true. We have every right to believe that the Russians are telling the truth when they say that if we proceed with deployment they will deploy more new missiles in eastern Europe—the SS22 can reach Britain in three minutes—and will go full speed ahead with their cruise missile programme—

Mr. Churchill

They have had that for 20 years.

Mr. Healey

No, they have not deployed any so far.

I fear that the West is in danger of making the same mistake as it now admits it made about MIRVs in SALT 1. The Americans thought that they had an edge with the multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles, and refused to negotiate a limit. Now the Russians have them, and that is the main worry of the United States. If we go ahead with cruise, that new weapon will be deployed in increasing numbers by the Soviets. We shall have gained nothing by this whole tragic episode. We shall have enormously increased our insecurity rather than strengthened our security.

There is an overwhelming case for taking the last Andropov offer as the basis for urgent negotiation to reach agreement. The major obstacle to taking that sensible course is the refusal of the British and French Governments to have their nuclear forces counted in the balance—as they were in the SALT 1 agreement—tacitly in one of the protocols to the treaty—and as the French troops are counted in the MBFR negotiations in Vienna, although they are not, strictly speaking, part of the NATO forces.

The Russians cannot be expected to ignore the British and French forces. If they did, there would not be much point in our having those forces. Both the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym) and Sir John Nott, who were the first two Defence Secretaries in the right hon. Lady's Government, said that the British Polaris force is committed to NATO and targeted according to SACEUR plans. Secretary Weinberger agrees. In this year's posture statement for the fiscal year 1984, he excludes the British Polaris force from the strategic forces but includes it in the theatre nuclear forces as available to NATO.

The Government Front Bench cannot laugh that off. Conservative spokesmen have said that Polaris is part of the NATO forces. They have also said that, in the last resort, we might use it independently. It is difficult to see a scenario in which they would be available for use independently because SACEUR would have used them long before that point was reached, if we fulfil our obligations to the Alliance.

The Prime Minister's position is unsustainable, as Vice-President Bush made clear recently. The Government's attempts to justify their position grow wilder and wilder. I recently heard the right hon. Lady say that Britain had the Polaris force long before there were any intermediate nuclear forces. She also said that the Soviet Union had hundreds of nuclear missiles deployed against western Europe 10 years before the first Polaris boat became operational in 1968. Her position becomes even less sustainable if and when current plans to modernise the British and French forces are carried out. The Trident D5 can hit more than 10 times as many targets as the Polaris force in three times as large an area. In the 1990s, if British and French plans are carried through, between the two countries there will be 2,000 warheads as against the 5,000 each of the United States and the Soviet Union under START.

I appeal at the last moment to the Government to think again about the problem. I ask them at least to halt the process of deployment, as Mr. John Glenn in the United States has proposed. He is no Leftist thug. He is the candidate that many believe to be the most likely to defeat President Reagan in next year's American election, if President Reagan decides to run.

The House faces the choice today either to halt the arms race now or to move into a new cycle of weapons infinitely more dangerous and difficult to control than those already deployed in the world.

Pershing II and MX on the American side and the SS20 and the SS22 on the Russian side reduce the warning time against attack to minutes. They would require Governments to decide in seconds whether to retaliate on the basis of information from computers. Yet we learnt the other day from the South Korean airline disaster how fallible computers are to human or mechanical failure. A decision that has to be taken in seconds on the basis of computer information will give no Government time to consult their allies, still less to consult their enemies, and the present machinery is totally inadequate for consultation either inside the Alliance or between alliances. That was proved not only in the Sea of Okhots but in Grenada last week.

In some ways cruise is an even more dangerous threat to peace than some of the highly accurate, potentially first strike counter-force weapons that I have mentioned. In addition to the 464 ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, the United States plans to deploy 4,500 cruise missiles from its bombers and 2,000 missiles from its surface ships. It will be impossible to verify the presence of such cruise missiles, particularly seaborne missiles, by satellite photography. Of course, America is planning to use these missiles for conventional purposes as well as for nuclear delivery. The black fantasy of modern nuclear strategy is taken to extremes when one reads, as did today, that the United States is planning to enable the Soviet Union to identify nuclear warhead-carrying cruise missiles by putting unnecessary decorations on them called FRODS. One cannot have much confidence in the ability of the Soviet Union to distinguish a nuclear from a conventional missile when, over the Sea of Okhots, a trained Soviet pilot was able to mistake a civilian jumbo for a military reconnaissance aircraft, as the Americans have admitted since their original claim.

It is vital that, if there is modernisation of nuclear weapons, it should be calculated to make the balance more stable and disarmament more feasible. Cruise and Pershing II make the balance less stable and disarmament more difficult. That is the case for a nuclear freeze, and a freeze has overwhelming support in the United States—75 per cent. support in the referendums which have been held, and passed two to one by the House of Representatives. There is still time for a major NATO effort to shift the emphasis away from reliance on nuclear weapons to deter conventional attack to conventional weapons, even if it costs more. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It might well not cost more, because I note that the American Congress has been told that these new missiles in Europe will require 20,000 American personnel to service them. Most of us believe that those men would be better deployed in uniform somewhere in the front line with conventional weapons.

There are rarely moments in history when Parliament has an opportunity to change the course of events. I believe that this is such a moment. If the West and Russia continue the arms race as at present planned, there will be an enormous increase in the risk to both sides and the momentum of the technological developments will wrest the power of decision out of the hands of Governments altogether. There is an alternative. We can halt and then reverse the accelerating slide to catastrophe. The House can take the first step tonight by rejecting the Government's motion.

4.53 pm
Mr. David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: `strongly backs the multilateral disarmament and arms control efforts, in particular the Geneva negotiations for reduction in both sides' strategic and intennediate range nuclear weapons; believes that, without weakening its bargaining position, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should continue to negotiate for the remaining period scheduled for the Intermediate Nuclear Forces talks in 1983; calls on Her Majesty's Government to persuade the United States to take a new initiative, building on the position informally proposed by Ambassador Nitze to his Soviet counterpart, on the new Soviet readiness to dismantle some SS20 missiles, on the United States preparedness to give up the zero option, and on both sides' willingness to discuss nuclear capable aircraft; and urges Her Majesty's Government to negotiate immediately on the basis of the United States offer for the installation at British expense of a dual-key system for any Cruise missiles based in the United Kingdom.'. In moving the amendment may I say that I look forward with confidence to 10 o'clock tonight to the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) skulking away with an abstention", to quote his own words. It is all very well to have some fun with the differences of emphasis, which I have never denied exist between our two parties—[Interruption.]but that is as nothing compared with the great void of disagreement that exists within the Labour party, which is represented by the lack of any Labour amendment. We well know that it is difficult within the procedures of the House for any minority grouping ever to get its amendments called because normally the official Opposition occupy the Order Paper. It is highly significant that on two occasions, once in July 1982 and once today—both on the subject of defence—the official Opposition have been unable to present their views on paper to the House. We have only to read the different statements made by the new Leader of the Opposition and his deputy during their leadership election campaign to find that they hold fundamentally differing views. The excellent case made by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East in part of his speech was completely shot through by the fact that he is a spokesman of a party which would have given away the bargaining counter of the dual-track decision with the Russians before the negotiations had occurred.

I wish to explain in not too long a speech the five reasons why we do not feel able to support the Government's motion. The motion opens by inviting the House to say that it strongly backs the West's efforts to achieve a balanced and verifiable agreement at the Geneva negotiations". That is our first point of disagreement because I do not believe that it can honestly be said that the West, either in the form of the United States Administration or Her Majesty's Government, has made strong efforts at Geneva. I have no criticism to make of ambassador Nitze, who I believe has genuinely attempted to seek negotiation with his opposite numbers in the conference chamber and outside, but he has been asked to conduct these negotiations against a hopeless political background. My own impression, whenever I have been in Washington, is that the United States suffers from an Administration who are divided between the hawks and the doves, between those who regard the whole operation in Geneva as a charade and those who genuinely want to seek an agreement, with the hawks always winning.

Prime Minister Trudeau said in Canada last week that he was deeply troubled by an intellectual climate of acrimony and uncertainty; by the parlous state of East-West relations; by a super power relationship which is dangerously confrontational and by a widening gap between military strategy and political purpose. All these reveal most profoundly the urgent need to assert the preeminence of the mind of man over machines of war. I find that language a great deal more palatable in its tone and content than the speech of our own Prime Minister on East-West relations in Washington recently.

If we are ever to get arms reduction talks to succeed, if we are ever to achieve a reduction of these weapons of terror around the world, there must be a political dialogue against which negotiators can operate. That simply has not existed. It is a shattering thought that it is now nearly eight years since the United States and Soviet Presidents last had a face-to-face meeting—eight years, while the arms build-up has gone on. There has been no visit to Moscow for serious discussions by a British Prime Minister or British Foreign Secretary since my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) was Foreign Secretary five years ago. The United Kingdom Government have not sought, either in dialogue with the USSR or with the United States, to use their political influence in Moscow or in Washington. I agree again with Prime Minister Trudeau who pointed out in his lecture last week that the Soviet military system—he quoted the case of the Korean airliner as proof of this—was in danger of edging beyond the reach of the political authorities. He asked: Are we contributing to such a trend by the absence of regular contact with the Soviet leadership? My answer to that rhetorical question is that we are; and if the political authorities in the Soviet Union are increasingly in the control of the military, that is partly our fault for not keeping the political dialogue open all the time.

The second point of disagreement we have with the motion is that we find the Government's failure to accept the principle that British and French forces must at some time be counted in the balance impossible to understand. Indeed, the Secretary of State was distinctly unconvincing in answer to the intervention by my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport. The number of British and French independent warheads is now 144. If we go ahead—as the Government propose, though we are opposed to it—with the Trident programme and if the French go ahead with their modernisation programme, the British and French forces will together increase from 144 to 1,200 warheads.

In those circumstances it is not surprising that the Soviet Union asked where and at what point they would come into the reckoning. Vice-President Bush on behalf of the United States simply said: Somewhere down the line they must be counted in". When he made that statement the British Government got into a flap and the Foreign Secretary said that Britain had never said "never". That is not good enough. They have never said "ever", either. Nor did the Secretary of State say "ever" at the Dispatch Box today. It has been a contributory factor—I put it no higher than that—to the breakdown at Geneva that we have remained stubborn in not accepting that in the East-West dialogue the so-called independent forces of the West must be counted somewhere in the arithmetic.

The third point of disagreement we have with the motion—this point surprised me when I saw it tabled—is the emphasis placed on the zero option. Of course that was the best option—none of us denies that—but it was not the only one, and the proposals put informally in the famous walk in the woods offered one way forward towards something less good than the zero option but still possibly acceptable.

I would go further—this is my own view—and say that if we in the West had been satisfied that there was a sufficient withdrawal of the old SS4s and SS5s, it is possible that the West could have lived with a minimum deployment of SS20s equivalent to what there was well before the 1979 decision was taken. Thus, the emphasis on the zero option brought into the motion at this late stage seems rigid and most peculiar indeed.

The fourth point of disagreement is the one on which the Secretary of State spent some time, and that is the absence of any dual key system of control. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East will be pleased to hear that I agreed entirely with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said at Salford. We are not pinning the whole of our voting decision on this one point. But I cannot accept that the understanding and agreement made between Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman about aircraft can be applied automatically to these missiles, and the quotation that the Secretary of State gave with such conviction was in marked contrast to what former Defence Secretary Robert McNamara said in the 1960s about the nature of the agreement between Britain and the United States. He said: I don't conceive of it as a veto, no. I think 'consultation' means a discussion…with the party having the final authority—in this case the United States—making the final decision. That is a more accurate description of the "understanding" which has always existed between our two Governments. As allies we expect there to be political consultation and we hope that the groundwork has been done into the circumstances in which these terrible weapons might be used. But to pretend that that is the equivalent of some British political control over nuclear weapons proposed to be stationed on our soil is, frankly, misleading, and we must face the fact that the House is being invited to approve this deployment without any such control.

Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

The right hon. Gentleman talks about consultation when the arrangements do not refer to consultation. They require agreement on both sides, and in May President Reagan confirmed that that was his interpretation, too.

Mr. Steel

I quoted what former Defence Secretary Mr. McNamara said about what that agreement meant. It is noticeable that whereas the dual key question has been raised from this Bench for many months—indeed, by my party as far back as 1981—it has suddenly become a matter of public interest because of what happened in Grenada, and no doubt there was joint discussion and an attempt at agreement there. The truth is that there is no control, the word "control" being the operative one.

My fifth point of disagreement centres on the question why the Government have brought forward this motion at this time. Last Thursday, when the debate was announced, coincided with the latest move of the Soviet Union. I do not say that it is perfect, but at least we should stop to examine it. Ambassador Nitze, in contrast to the motion, has said that he is prepared if possible to negotiate right up to Christmas. Given that, what should be the duty of Her Majesty's Government? They should not be asking for approval for deployment now. They should be going back to the United States and Russia and saying, "Let us make, in even the eleventh hour of the last six weeks, an attempt to get agreement to avoid this deployment."

In the light of these differences, it is right that, as the leader of the Liberal party, I should make it clear that the Government have no right to ask other parties in Parliament to support the deployment of cruise missiles. They must accept that responsibility themselves. The Secretary of State said towards the end of his speech that at some future time the decision could be modified, altered or reversed. My fervent hope is that with the change of Administration in this country, with a changed Administration in the United States and with more of a change of heart in the Soviet Union, the decision will be reversed.

I have been disappointed at the Government's approach to the whole Geneva process during the Conservatives' four or five years in office. I speak as one who has always been, and remains, a believer in multilateral disarmament. But I say bluntly that this process has given multilateral disarmament a bad name. We shall end up with cruise and Pershing missiles deployed in western Europe. We shall end up with SS21s, 22s and 23s brought into Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Instead of ending up with multilateral disarmament, we have managed to achieve multilateral further armament. There has been a ratcheting up process in the last four or five years. The time has come to start operating the ratchet down.

Mr. Heseltine

When the right hon. Gentleman says that no Government are entitled to ask for the support of minority parties, may I ask what he had in mind when he wrote in The Times on 7 February of this year: If we renege on the 1979 NATO decision, we shall simply hand the Russians everything they want from the present Geneva talks at no cost to themselves.

Mr. Steel

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I have never reneged on the 1979 NATO decision. I am disagreeing with the way in which the process has been carried out and I have spelt out specifically in five areas why we are not prepared to go along with what the Government have suggested.

We should pay attention to some words addressed to us by church leaders in Scotland. They rightly point out that the increased sophistication and power of this weaponry does not increase security. The word "security" is bandied about in a reckless way. In true terms, they say, such weapons increase the world's insecurity, and they are right to point out: We appear tp be locked into an unalterable assumption that the hostility between the super powers will continue indefimtely. We are planning for a 21st century which will be characterised by the same unresolved confrontation. I am not prepared, as the leader of a political party, to see us continue on that assumption. We should not assume permanent confrontation or believe that the only way to achieve so-called security is to spend more and more on bigger and better arms.

I return to my main point that the political dialogue has not been there from the United States or from Her Majesty's Government. President Eisenhower, whom not even the Prime Minister would describe as a wet, once remarked: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and not clothed. That is even more true of these weapons than it was of conventional weapons. It is time to bring a halt to the process.

5.10 pm
Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)

At least some of the objections of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), the leader of the Liberal party, to the Government's policy and the motion are based on a misunderstanding. The right hon. Gentleman complained about the inclusion of the zero option in the motion and suggested that the Government were going for the zero option and no other agreement. That is a complete misconception. The zero option appears in the motion because without it there will have to be some deployment of cruise missiles. I consider that objection to be without value.

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman complained about the refusal to have our Polaris deterrent counted in the talks. We refused to have it counted because it is not an intermediate range weapon. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) made it plain that it was informally included in SALT 1, which was concerned with strategic weapons. At least two of the objections of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale lack substance.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East has always been pretty inconsistent on defence matters. When he was Secretary of State for Defence in the 1960s he used to produce a new policy every year. In a particularly good year he would produce two new defence policies. There is nothing new in the right hon. Gentleman having changed his mind on cruise missiles. I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence showed conclusively that the policy of the previous Labour Government, or the ruling nuclear group within that Administration, was very much on the lines of the present Government's policy.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East made much of the vulnerability and uselessness of cruise missiles. If that is so, it is a pity that he could not get it through to Mr. Andropov in the Soviet Union. If they are as vulnerable and useless as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, why is the Soviet Union so worried about them? There is an inconsistency in the right hon. Gentleman's attitude in respect of SS20s, as my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) pointed out, and equally an inconsistency in his attitude to cruise missiles.

Contrary to what the right hon. Members for Tweeddale, Etterick and Lauderdale and for Leeds, East have said, I do not believe that anything has happened since 1979 to show that the policy that was agreed upon in December 1979 was wrong. It is still open to the Soviet Union to come to an agreement either to prevent the deployment of cruise missiles or to reduce their deployment.

Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

The right hon. Gentleman claims that nothing has changed since the dual-track decision was taken. When that decision was taken we were looking forward to the ratification of SALT 2 and the reasonable prospect of SALT 3 being ratified. However, those two prospects have not come to pass.

Sir Ian Gilmour

I said that nothing had happened to alter the policy. I do not accept that the two factors to which the hon. Gentleman referred bear any relation to the dual-track policy.

There are many misconceptions about cruise, one of which was expressed by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East. There is the idea that, by accepting cruise missiles, Europe is conferring a great favour on the United States. That is the exact opposite of the truth. Cruise missiles do not add to the security of America; they add to the security of Europe. The need for a counter to the SS20 is a European idea that sprang from Chancellor Schmidt in 1977.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East, who is no longer in his place, suggested that the American invasion of Grenada affects intermediate range nuclear forces. He is fundamentally mistaken. I am strongly critical of what the United States did and of the way in which it deceived the British Government. The attitude of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary was entirely right. What the Reagan Administration has done is at worst wrong and at best ridiculous.

The excuses that the Americans have made have turned out to be either implausible or untrue. The alleged military airfield has turned out to be a civil airfield being built by Plesseys. The Cuban arms stores that have been found must mostly have existed under the regime of Mr. Bishop, whom the Americans seem at one time to have thought of rescuing and whose overthrow was the occasion of the invasion. If the Cubans decided to send more men to Grenada on account of the actions and words of the United States, who can say in the light of subsequent events that they were wrong to do so?

What President Reagan has said about Cuban arms in Grenada reminds me of what was said about the Russian blankets which were found at the time of Suez. The blankets were found in Egypt and were thought to herald a great Russian invasion. Like the Russian blankets, the Cuban arms are an ex post facto excuse. Although the Americans have fastened on to it gratefully, it does not provide even a fig leaf for what they did.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Does the Grenada episode not demonstrate that great nations act according to what they believe to be in their national interest and not according to any contract or agreement, or even any undertaking to the United Nations?

Sir Ian Gilmour

That may be. I shall attempt to show that I do not believe that Grenada has any relevance to cruise, even though I strongly disagree with what the Americans did in Grenada.

When President Reagan said on television last week that the events in Lebanon and Grenada, though oceans apart, are closely related", I think that he was talking nonsense except in a sense that he did not mean. I do not know whether he thinks that the Soviet Union supported Mr. Bishop or those who murdered him. If they supported Mr. Bishop, they could hardly have been responsible for his murder. If they supported murderers, they must be much more inept than we thought. Equally, it is highly far-fetched to suggest that Moscow was responsible for the massacres in Beirut.

The only way in which the events in Beirut and Grenada were related was by way of American internal politics. Having received a humiliating and hideous setback in Beirut, there was an additional incentive for the Americans to lash out in the Caribbean.

That being said, and granted that the Reagan Administration is probably the most unreliable in foreign affairs that America has had since the war—[Interruption.]—I cannot think of one that was more unreliable, and that fact is reflected by the low level of public confidence in Britain in the regime—there is still no justification for saying that the events in Grenada should affect our policy on cruise. There are several reasons for that—

Mr. Budgen


Mr. Wilkinson

My right hon. Friend is stretching the patience of the House to suggest that the democracies of the eastern Caribbean, which have good relations with Britain and the United States, are not the best judges of appropriate action by the United States on their behalf in Grenada.

Sir Ian Gilmour

That depends on a certain view of events, including relations between those countries and America, which I do not share.

Mr. Budgen


Sir Ian Gilmour

I have already given way to my hon. Friend.

There are several reasons why there is no connection between Grenada and cruise. The first is that cruise has not been wished on us by America. The missiles are for European benefit. Secondly, the argument that Grenada makes cruise undesirable, or that it should alter the conditions under which we accept cruise, is not one that is against or about cruise. That is an argument against the Atlantic Alliance itself.

Those who think that the Americans are likely to shoot off cruise without our agreement cannot believe that the Alliance protects us. They must believe that the Alliance is a danger to us and, to put it mildly, they cannot trust the United States. If that is so, their concern should not be limited to cruise, because they should be concerned about getting Britain out of NATO and making us neutralists. I accept that there are some who take that view and I have no doubt that it is the position of some Labour Members. However, that is not the view of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East.

For those of us who are not neutralists, the Atlantic Alliance is still vital for the safety of Britain and Europe. That is so however much we may disapprove of the actions or rhetoric of the Reagan Administration. Our view of that Administration should not affect our attitude to cruise, apart from those who are against the entire Alliance. For one thing, the Americans could start a war or escalate an incident if they wanted to without using cruise. Secondly—a great deal has been said today on this subject—the arrangements on the use of nuclear weapons based in Britain are fully satisfactory. When I had anything to do with those matters a few years ago, the arrangements seemed to be perfectly adequate. I have no doubt that they still are.

The dual key might once have had the advantage of reassuring public opinion, though it would lead to expense and delay. Now it might do positive harm as it would emphasise the lack of trust that Europe has for the United States. It would do more harm than good.

Thirdly, cruise is not a first strike weapon. It is far too slow for that. It could be used only in retaliation to a Soviet attack. It is a defensive, and above all deterrent, weapon. The idea that somehow President Reagan will be anxious to loose it off without the Prime Minister's agreement is sheer fantasy.

Events in the Caribbean are irrelevant to the deployment of cruise. We should carry on with the development of those weapons while continuing, as the leader of the Liberal party wants, to make it clear to the Russians that we are willing to come to a sensible agreement with them. The twin-track policy decided upon in 1979 was designed to enhance European security. It was the right policy then and is the right policy now.

5.20 pm
Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

In the middle of his speech, the right hon. Member for Chesharn and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) delivered a devastating riposte to what he said at the beginning and end of his speech. Therefore, I hope that anyone who reads his speech will read all of it. If we have to deal with the most unreliable Government in the United States since the war—there have been a few other unreliable Governments as well—there is all the more reason for trying to secure all the safeguards that we can, trying to make assurance doubly sure and trying to demand that we should have a dual key, which is not an outlandish request. Everything that the right hon. Gentleman said at the beginning and end of his speech should have convinced us of that.

There are three immediate reasons why we should refuse to accept the Government's motion. If it is passed, and if the deployment takes place, the nuclear arms race will be intensified. Secondly, if it is passed, it will make well nigh impossible—that may be a slight exaggeration—any move towards arms control. At any rate, it will make arms control infinitely more difficult. Secondly, the control of the weapons that are to be deposited on our soil has not been satisfactorily dealt with in the debate or any previous Government statement.

The first charge was seriously underlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). If deployment proceeds, we shall face a much more serious arms race. An intensification of the arms race will proceed over the weeks, months and years ahead. I do not see how anybody can dispute that charge. That is the immediate consequence that we shall have to face. It is not a necessary consequence. We should listen more carefully to some of those who engaged in discussions on behalf of the United States when there was a more reliable Government than now—for example Mr. Paul Warnke, who negotiated on behalf of the United States, seeking to secure the SALT 2 treaty. He had great success when conducting those negotiations. He has given us a warning. He said: I see … no magic in being able to hit the Soviet Union from territory of Western Europe. We already have almost 10,000 strategic warheads that can strike every target that these 572 could strike. Mr. Warnke states that there is the assumption that there's some particular magic, in having an American warhead that the Americans can launch from West Germany or from the United Kingdom. Now we decided back a long time ago that it made much more sense to put the warheads that can strike the Soviet Union on things like our ballistic missile submarines, or in the great plains of the United States, and that's what deters Soviet attack on Western Europe. There is no magic in putting the missiles in launch points in Western Europe. As a matter of fact, the logic of it is something that to me would be appalling if I were a Western European. That warning was given by one of the principal experts on the subject. If we had listened to that advice, we might have conducted the negotiations at Geneva much more successfully.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (East Lindsey)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that that view was not taken by Mr. Helmut Schmidt, a Socialist, who initiated the call for cruise missiles to be based in Europe?

Mr. Foot

I followed carefully what Helmut Schmidt did over the whole of this period. It is true that it was partly on the invitation and encouragement of Helmut Schmidt that arrangements were made for the discussion of the installation of those weapons. However, it is also true that, contrary to what the Secretary of State for Defence said, Helmut Schmidt played a leading part in trying to secure the Geneva talks. I do not want to go over the past as I want to talk about the future, but as the hon. Gentleman raised the matter, I must underline this point.

It is false to suggest that the United States Government were all the while seeking to secure the same sort of discussions on these weapons as those that eventually started at Geneva. Of course that was false. President Reagan did not fight his election in 1980 on that programme. He fought it on a programme of building up arms as fast as he could go. After he won, pressure had to be brought to bear from various quarters. One of the principal people who put on pressure—all honour to him—was Helmut Schmidt. Perhaps he tipped the balance. Quite a few other people in Britain and the rest of Europe—the demonstrators and the rest—were also saying, "Let us get discussions going instead of allowing the arms race to proceed." Helmut Schmidt played a leading part in trying to secure that those negotiations should start at Geneva. I have not the slightest doubt that today Helmut Schmidt would agree much more with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East than with anything that was said by the Secretary of State.

I come now to the second reason why it is so essential that the motion should be rejected. Here, the Government's delinquency is appalling. I listened to the whole of the Secretary of State's speech. I have not read all the speeches that he has delivered on the subject since he became Secretary of State. There are some penances that even leaders of the Labour party can avoid. However, I have read almost everything that he has said on the subject, and have not been able to discover a single reference to what would be the consequences for arms control if we went ahead with this deployment. It is especially strange that he should approach the matter in that way when he spent 10 or 15 minutes of his speech going into the reasons why the Government had embarked on the proposed deployment in 1979—the so-called preparations for the twin-track decision. If anyone reads what was said in 1979, he will discover that many people in NATO and many representatives of other countries applied their minds to this matter. In 1979 the NATO review expressed concern about not increasing the role of nuclear forces. The review underlined the fact that the deployment of cruise missiles in Europe would "make control impossible". The United States national security council had already noted in April 1977 that the deployment of cruise raises complex issues due to its relatively small size, mission flexibility and its compatibility with different kinds of launch platform … verification of arms control limitation is a difficult problem. Verification of cruise is even more difficult. Mr. Paul Warnke, the American negotiator, underlined that fact when he said: Once we begin"— this is what the Government are asking us to approve— to deploy any cruise missiles, it's going to become extraordinarily difficult for the other side to know how many have been deployed. With air launch cruise missiles you've got an identifiable vehicle, the strategic bomber, you know how many each strategic bomber can carry. But launch points for the ground-launched cruise missiles are almost infinite. That is the truth of the matter, but the Secretary of State said that this is just "an initial limited step". The limited step by itself injures the entire prospect of getting an arms control agreement at a later date. The right hon. Gentleman, who is presumably interested, or pretends to be interested, in getting agreement at Geneva has paid no attention to that matter from the moment of his appointment to the present time, when he is asking the House to approve the motion. Anyone who has examined the matter in the past three or four years knows that that is one of the reasons why I strongly oppose the deployment of those weapons. Once that happens, we add a further difficulty to the already extremely difficult process of securing disarmament agreements.

The British Government have often, and rightly, emphasised the need for verification of agreements, and the entire future of the world depends on getting agreements that can be verified. It is wrong for Britain to proceed with such a deployment under the incitement of a Secretary of State who does not try to discuss either in the House or in the country what will be the consequences for the future of arms control of what he is asking us to do.

Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Foot

No, I have given way before.

Dual control would not satisfy me or most other people. It certainly would not deal with the problem of arms control, but at least it would be some improvement. Some members of the Government must have believed that it was right to secure dual control if it could be obtained. About a year ago my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East asked the then Foreign Secretary for an undertaking that exactly the same provisions as were applied to the Thor missiles would be required. The then Foreign Secretary responded in a fairly forthcoming manner by saying that he could understand why hon. Members should think that a highly desirable state of affairs. I thought then that whatever else might happen about the weapons, the Government would insist that they should have control over them.

In that respect, the Government have brought a fraudulent proposition to the House. It is no good coming to the House and saying that an agreement has been reached with President Reagan, especially when the final agreement was made during the election campaign. I imagine that the Prime Minister thought it might be advantageous to say in the middle of the election that she had got an absolute agreement from the President of the United States. The President, as Commander-in-Chief, has no power under the American constitution to say that he will agree that there shall be control over warheads owned by the United States. If the President wishes to change that he must go back to Congress, as happened before. The Commander-in-Chief of the United States forces has no power to do what Ministers are telling the House that he is able to do.

Even apart from Grenada, the Secretary of State is utterly wrong to say that a major decision of this character should be taken without the proper constitutional position being presented to the House. Whatever excuses the Government offer, this matter will come back time and again because people in Congress know what the constitution of their country is. Such matters will be raised persistently in that country.

Nothing would be as satisfactory as the rejection of the weapons themselves, but a further reason why it is essential that we should reject the motion is the atmosphere of crisis which prevails throughout the world. I am not referring just to Grenada, although that is a serious crisis. The world faced a crisis following the shooting down of the Korean aeroplane. The crisis was so serious that the President of the United States said that it was almost the most serious crisis since the end of the war. The atmosphere has changed on that, because some people have been inquiring into the facts. A leading part of the inquiry has been taken by some of the most eminent American journalists. It is perfectly true, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said earlier, that there has been a change in attitude in the United States Administration towards the shooting down of the plane.

I do not know how many hon. Members watched a programme presented on Channel 4 on that subject. I cannot confirm every charge that was made. I am not pressing my argument in that way. I wish to put my argument in more moderate terms than that. Mr. Bernard Gwertzman of the New York Times said a week ago: Mr. Reagan told a national radio audience on 17th September, nearly three weeks after the plane was downed, that the incident was a turning point in world affairs because it produced a worldwide 'fundamental and long overdue reappraisal' of the Soviet Union and had virtually isolated it internationally. The Administration has since conceded that it was possible that the Soviet pilot may not have known he was shooting down a civilian plane, and that Soviet air defence officials might have believed the Boeing 747 was a US reconnaissance craft. But this view, shared by the intelligence community"— presumably, that is the intelligence community in Washington— has not been stated publicly with the same forcefulness as the earlier belief that Soviet authorities must have been all but certain they were shooting down a civilian plane. That is a serious report. I recall to the House and the country the atmosphere in the few weeks after the shooting down of the plane. One of my criticisms, which I thought was legitimate and which was also made by many Americans, was that everyone should have paused at that moment. There were two or three hours when some hot line discussions might have taken place between the United States and the Soviet Union about a plane that was flying over a highly sensitive intelligence area—

Mr. Wilkinson


Mr. Foot

—on our highly explosive planet. My quotation confirms that the atmosphere is different from a week or so after the incident. Such a change could occur in other areas as well. It is all the more necessary that we seek to soften the atmosphere in such moments of crisis.

One of my major complaints about the Government's proposal is that it will intensify the dangers. Many years ago, a famous speaker said in the House: A wise statesman uses the sober moods of a people to guard against the hour of delirium". All too often in our dangerous world, the hour of delirium—whether it be the shooting down of a plane or an attack on Grenada—is exploited to put through measures which sober people would not be prepared to take. We shall return to this subject again. If the Government win tonight, they will not win the argument in the country and throughout the world. The decision that they are asking us to make will be reviled in this country, and it is better that the House express that revulsion now.

5.41 pm
Mr. Cecil Franks (Barrow and Furness)

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak in this debate and in so doing giving me the opportunity of making my maiden speech on a subject which is of vital importance to my constituency. It is a privilege also to be called to speak after such a distinguished parliamentarian a s the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), even though our views will differ widely.

Barrow and Furness is a new constituency comprising the whole of the former constituency of Barrow-in-Furness, together with the Low Furness region of the former constituency of Morecambe and Lonsdale.

Barrow-in-Furness was represented for 17 years by the right hon. Albert Booth who served the constituency and his constituents with great distinction, achieving high Government office as a member of the Cabinet. He is a man of great integrity and principle, and I am happy to have this opportunity of paying him tribute.

The Low Furness area was represented from 1979 by my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). He, too, was assiduous in his concern for his constituents, by whom he was and is held in high regard and esteem, and I wish to place on record my personal appreciation of the guidance and assistance that I have received from him since I became a Member of this House.

The town of Barrow-in-Furness lies at the end of the peninsula of south-west Cumbria. It is a shipbuilding town whose prosperity depends entirely on the viability and success of its major employer, Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd.—a constituent part of British Shipbuilders. The design and building of submarines, both conventional and nuclear powered, has been largely concentrated by British Shipbuilders at the Vickers shipyards, where over 8,000 people are employed in design and construction. In addition, there is a successful engineering section primarily involved in the design and manufacture of armaments, employing a further 4,500 people. With profits last year of £19 million, the company is the most successful within British Shipbuilders and has a management and workforce confident in themselves.

Whilst I have no wish to introduce a note of controversy in a maiden speech, I should be failing in my duty to my constituents if I omitted to make the point that with 12,500 people employed in the company, the vast majority of whom live within the constituency, several thousand of my constituents would have faced inevitable job loss and redundancy if the electorate had preferred the defence policies of the Opposition to those of the Government.

Great efforts have been made to widen the industrial base and three local employers of note should be mentioned. British Gas has constructed a terminal at Rampside, where gas from the Morecambe bay field is received, treated and then fed into the national grid.

British Nuclear Fuels Limited has a large capital investment in its terminal at Ramsden docks where irradiated nuclear fuel is imported from Japan, transported by rail up the west Cumbrian coast to Windscale and Sellafield, reprocessed and exported back to Japan. After the export of oil, the operations of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. are one of the largest, if not the largest, single sources of export earnings, something which is perhaps not widely known.

Also located in Barrow, is the paper tissue mill of Bowater Scott, which, with four mills in production, is the largest manufacturer of paper tissue in the United Kingdom and, together with a similar sized company in West Germany, the largest in the world outside the United States.

Four miles north of Barrow lies the small town of Dalton-in-Furness, whose residents have waited for many years and with great patience, for the construction of the Dalton-in-Furness bypass on the A590, which carries the heavy traffic to and from Barrow. I fear that their patience will not endure much longer.

Beyond Dalton-in-Furness, sweeping up the peninsula, is the Low Furness region, as picturesque a part of the Lake District as any, with its rolling farmland and gentle hills, and its attractive villages and beautiful coast overlooking Morecambe bay.

The natural centre of the area is the market town of Ulverston, charming and dignified and a centre of tourism in its own right. In addition to the market, there is a regular and lively cattle market serving the whole of south Cumbria. There is also a small but successful light industrial estate.

Two other points of interest are that Ulverston is the birthplace of Stanley Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame, and also that it is the home of Hartley's Brewery, from whence comes a well-known and popular local beer. It is fair comment to say that for many years much pleasure has been given to a great number of people by the happy combination of Laurel and Hartley.

Turning to the subject of the debate, let me say clearly and without equivocation that I endorse entirely the Government's approach and policy on the deployment of cruise missiles. I find it incomprehensible that there are those who argue that strength will come from a voluntary and self-inflicted weakness. I find it equally incomprehensible—and reprehensible—that there are those who seem to find their natural allies not with the democracies of the West but with the tyrannies and dictatorships of those who are our enemies in thought and deed; and that there are those who oppose, as a matter of course, each and every act that the Western democracies take to safeguard and defend themselves.

The defence of the realm is the prime duty of the state. The deployment of cruise missiles will counter the imbalance that threatens our security. This threat is not of our making or of our choosing, and those who criticise and condemn should direct their words and energies to our enemies and not to our allies.

We are part of the western Alliance, and the British people, in decisive terms, have spoken for this to continue and to be strengthened. In two world wars, our allies have played a critical part in the defence of our freedom and independence, and our future freedom and independence lie in the preservation of a strong and united partnership with our NATO allies. This is the path that we must follow; there is no other.

I crave your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House, to widen somewhat the scope of my remarks and to make reference to two allied aspects of defence of particular importance to my constituency—the Trident programme and the development of Sea Dragon.

Trident is a parallel part of our nuclear defence strategy. The Trident submarine is being designed and will be constructed at the shipyards of Barrow. The policy issues have been fully debated in the House and suffice it for me to say on that that the Trident programme has my full support. But where others have spoken on aspects of policy, my concern goes further, because the employment of 4,000 constituents is, and will be, dependent on Trident for the next decade and beyond. Barrow has placed its trust in the Government's commitment to Trident and that trust, in turn must be fully honoured.

Sea Dragon is also designed and built in Barrow. It is a close-in weapon system, the last-resort defence to Exocet and similar missiles when Sea Dart and Sea Wolf have failed to take out the threat. British-designed and built, it is currently in competition with two similar but inferior systems designed abroad. The export potential is tremendous and I urge that an early decision be made in favour of Sea Dragon. In passing, may I also mention that a decision is awaited on the conventional submarine, SSK 2400, where export orders are also anticipated.

As I said earlier, where others may speak on defence on matters of policy and principle, my concern goes beyond because the House will appreciate that the whole prosperity and economy of my constituency is dependent on a firm defence commitment. Barrow and Furness has a Member of Parliament who believes in defence, and in defence in modern terms. I will not fail my constituency and I am resolute in my belief that the Government will not fail the country. Strength, not surrender, must be our single-minded objective, for there is no credible or acceptable alternative.

5.51 pm
Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

It is a great pleasure to be able to follow and congratulate the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) on his lucid and cogent speech. Labour Members are grateful to him for his tribute to Albert Booth, who is regarded with great fondness and admiration in the House. The hon. Gentleman described his constituency as charming and dignified and that would be a good description of his speech this afternoon. I am sure that the House will want to hear from him on many occasions in the future.

We are addressing ourselves to a grave and sombre issue. I understand that the equipment for the cruise missiles is to arrive this week, yet this is the first occasion that the House has had a chance to discuss these matters. It seems that the Government have given as little consultation to the House as the United States Government gave to Britain over the invasion of Grenada.

The Government have no mandate for this policy. The majority of votes cast at the election were for parties opposed to this decision and, as has already been pointed out, every test of public opinion recently has shown that over three quarters of the electorate is opposed to the policy. The nation's instincts and common sense are opposed to this step and are far sounder than those of the Government.

We are taking one of the most dangerous steps that we have ever taken in our history. These are a new generation of weapons that will be controlled by a foreign power. There is more disquiet in Britain over this escalation of the arms race than there has been over any other step.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)


Mr. Leighton

I shall not give way because I have only just started and I have promised to be brief.

We should see this step against the background of the nuclear arms race. Surely it is a form of madness. As has been pointed out, we already have an overkill capacity. We already have in place enough missiles to blow up the world many hundreds of times. Why have more? The Prime Minister tells us that Polaris is sufficient to inflict unacceptable damage on the Soviet Union. Yet she tells us that that accounts for only about 2 or 3 per cent. of all the missiles in the world. If 2 to 3 per cent. of existing missiles in place are sufficient to deter the Soviet Union, why on earth do we want even more?

The nuclear arms race is like some form of evil juggernaut which is completely out of control and there are huge vested interests—industrial, financial and scientific—pushing us onwards to destruction. When there are so many unmet needs in the world, so much hunger and deprivation, what an appalling waste of money and resources that the vast spending on the nuclear arms race is to be increased. It is a monstrous perversion of science and technology.

We begin our proceedings in the House each day with prayers. When I listen to those prayers I often wonder about the morality of nuclear weapons. I can envisage no circumstances at all which will justify their use. I cannot conceive any circumstances which would justify wiping out countless millions of innocent civilians and contaminating the very environment which gives rise to life. A first strike would be utterly immoral and an act of suicide for Britain. A second strike—a sort of posthumous retaliation—would surely be an act of supreme futility.

The halting of the arms race is the major imperative of our generation and to bring these new weapons into Britain is the opposite of that. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said, this dangerous escalation makes agreement on arms control that much more difficult because any form of verification is almost impossible. It would be almost impossible to verify which of the missiles might be carrying nuclear and which conventional warheads. The peril of what the House is being asked to do this evening is that we shall be taking a virtually irreversible, irrevocable step, fraught with the danger of long-term consequences.

The weapons are called theatre weapons and this has led strategists, particularly on the other side of the Atlantic, to talk in terms of a limited war—a limited confrontation and "punch-up"—in Europe, after which the two major powers could step back, have a look at the position and see whether they wanted to continue. Whatever happened, we should be destroyed. We are the theatre, and there would be nothing left of Britain. Britain could even be on the winning side globally, when our island no longer existed. It would have become an uninhabitable radioactive ruin.

These weapons are 15 times more powerful than those used in Hiroshima—and, I repeat, they are under foreign control. Surely there could be no greater loss of democratic self-government and sovereignty than to place the decisions of our life and death in foreign hands—into the hands of the United States President whom we did not elect, whom we cannot remove and who has proved himself to be untrustworthy. It is a gross betrayal of British national interests.

President Mitterrand discussed these matters with the Prime Minister. I wonder what his attitude would be if he were asked to have American weapons in France on the same conditions as the Prime Minister is willing to have them here. Recently it was alleged that Grenada was being made into an unsinkable aircraft carrier of a foreign power. This suicidal step will make Britain into an expendable American platform and base. We have talked at length about the general, vague agreement for joint control, but I do not believe in it. That agreement is nugatory and meaningless.

I refer the House to the television documentary screened on 27 October, which dealt with the history of this so-called agreement. Numerous American experts, including ex-commanders, were asked whether consultation would inhibit the capability of the United States to operate the weapons. In effect they replied, "You must be joking." There is nothing to inhibit the United States from using those weapons whatever Britain has to say.

The programme showed that in the afterglow of the second world war, Prime Minister Attlee allowed American bases in Britain without an agreement. When Churchill returned to power he was dissatisfied with that, and went to the United States to demand something in return. The Americans who had dealt with Churchill were interviewed and said that they had decided they must keep him happy, so they had sent him home happy.

Since then the United States bases have twice been put on the highest state of readiness—that is, ready to act. That happened during the Yom Kippur war and when the Iranian hostages were taken; and the Americans did not consult the British Government. The simple, brutal truth is that the United States will act in its interests, and the so-called agreement is meaningless.

The agreement was initially intended for aircraft. An aircraft can be recalled if a mistake is made, but a missile cannot. There will be only a few minutes and no time to call the Cabinet together to discuss the matter.

The objection to the dual-key system is its cost. However, the United States pays no rent to Britain for its numerous bases here. If we charged them a fee or rent for those bases, that would cover the cost of the dual-key system. Why should the British Government pay for it alone?

Above all, the House must be realistic about our so-called special relationship with the United States. There are of course relationships between peoples based on language, but the idea that the United States Government treat the British Government differently and more favourably than other Governments and that we are special to them is nonsense. The idea that there is some unique, intimate and special relationship between like-minded equals is a myth, a delusion, a fantasy and a self-induced hallucination, which exists only in the mind of the British Government. When one puts that idea to leading Americans, they just laugh.

Tracing the history of this myth, we find that it was fostered in official second world war propaganda to bolster the morale of the British people and to reassure the nation that it was not alone and that our powerful blood brother would come to our aid. But even then we were not equals. We paid extremely dearly for the munitions and arms equipment that we obtained. Even then the United States was anxious to break up the sterling area, and I recall that Prime Minister Churchill had to explain to the Americans that he had not become the King's first Minister to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. I also remember the American loan that was to last five years, but lasted only one.

Now, three decades later, there is no question of any equality. The relationship is different. It is as if we were a client, almost a vassal and certainly a subordinate. It is a servant-master relationship, and if we agree to the Government's plans we shall become an expendable United States base. That is intolerable, humiliating and dangerous. These American bases will act as a magnet. They will make us target number one. They will make us a candidate for annihilation on day one of any conflict.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Leighton

I promised to be brief, and I am about to conclude.

Cruise missiles have nothing to do with defence. They expose us and make us more vulnerable. We can only commit suicide, not defend ourselves with these weapons. Instead of bringing extra security, they bring extra danger. It is frightening to think that they are under the control of a United States President who is irrational and unpredictable, who gives every impression that he believes in his own crazy rhetoric, who has destroyed all civilised contact between Washington and Moscow and who has let the arms race rip. As has already been said, he used the Korean aircraft incident to push the MX expenditure through Congress.

Our duty to our country, the world, our children and future generations is to say no to cruise. We must reestablish and reassert our independence. We must distance ourselves a little from Washington and Moscow and use such independence to seek friendship in every continent. In particular, we must use our links with the Commonwealth to work for peace and retreat from the precipice. By our example we should give a lead to halt the crazy, suicidal, destructive and wicked nuclear arms race.

6.8 pm

Mr. Reg Prentice (Daventry)

It is with some nostalgia that I follow the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton). I hope that he is happy there, despite the appalling nature of his speech.

Later I shall return to the anti-Americanism of the hon. Gentleman's speech and those of other hon. Members, but first I wish to reply to the charge by the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that the Government had not given the House a full opportunity to discuss the twin-track arrangements during the last four years.

What on earth were the Opposition doing during that time? They could at any time during that period have called for the revocation of the twin-track agreement—if that is what they think should be done—and voted against Government policy. They did not do so for one reason and one reason only, because they do not want to advertise any more than is necessary the appalling differences that exist in their party.

Those differences have a peculiarly personal effect on the speeches of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East. I was intrigued by the different mood of his speech today, compared with the speech that he made last week. Last week, he was likely, rumbustious and irresponsible. This afternoon he was dull, intellectual and irresponsible. I suggest that the dull and intellectual aspect of the speech was due to the need, as he sees it, to try somehow still to reconcile his status as an ex-Secretary of State for Defence who believed in NATO, played his part in NATO. and maintained Britain's right to have nuclear weapons, with his position now as the top runner in the shadow Cabinet elections. He produces a series of evidence against cruise missiles. After diligent research he assembles one retired field marshal, one professor, one ex-United States Secretary for Defence, and one United States Under-Secretary for Defence. He invites us to put that advice against the total official advice to all the NATO countries four years ago, in the intervening four years, and still today. It was a pretty poor performance, even by the present standards of the Labour Opposition. Above all, it was poor because not once in his speech did he address a word of criticism against Soviet policy.

In the four years since December 1979, the Soviet Union has had every opportunity to come to the negotiating table in Geneva with realistic negotiating proposals—by realistic proposals we surely mean either the zero option or proposals for small and balanced numbers on each side—which could have been discussed in depth and at length during that four-year period. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East suggested that the Soviet position of being prepared to reduce the deployment of SS20s facing our way to 140—each with three warheads—was apparently acceptable to him and will be sufficient reason for him to advise the House to renege on the twin-track agreement and have no cruise or Pershing missiles at all.

If we were to follow that advice it would be a major demonstration of political weakness by us. It would not merely mean that we should be taking out of our armoury the potential to have these middle strength missiles, cruise and Pershing—in my opinion that would be a serious reduction in our armoury, and indeed the previous Labour Government thought so, when they sent Fred Mulley to the NATO Council of Ministers in April 1979—but because the Governments of the West had given way to pressure, it would mean that our whole credibility would be reduced, and every part of our defence, from conventional weapons to the ultimate strategic weapons, would lack the credibility that they have now.

I listened with great interest to the five important points in the speech of the leader of the Liberal party. I wish I had time to discuss those five points in depth. However, with respect, they do not amount to an argument for voting against the Government tonight. They do not amount to an argument for saying that we should renege—that was the right hon. Gentleman's word in an article in The Times—on the policy that was arrived at with our allies in 1979. Nothing that has happened in the meantime is sufficient to justify such a change in course.

I want to say a word about the dual-key argument. In the context of the four-year time span from 1979 to 1983, the argument is already out of date. If we were to choose that option, we should have chosen it some time ago. However, the Opposition Benches have a great affection for fighting out-of-date battles, and I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence answered the argument in his speech. I merely want to underline one word, and that is trust. Without trust between allies there would be no north Atlantic treaty at all. When we entered into a treaty with each other and agreed to defend each other, station forces on each other's soil, and put units under each other's senior commanders, we were all committing ourselves to an act of trust with each other, and that trust has served the Western community well in the past 35 years.

Mr. Budgen

Surely there is a difference between placing considerable trust in an ally and placing absolute trust in an ally.

Mr. Prentice

It is possible to construct improbable scenarios if one wants to, and say that if a whole range of things goes wrong, and eventually there is a failure of trust, we should be in a dangerous position. It is of course possible to argue that, but surely foreign policy and defence policy involve a choice of risks. I ask my hon. Friend to weigh in the balance the other risks—the West not being defended, and having no credibility in its defences—that would be involved in going back on the twin-track decision. As for dual key, I suggest that it is too late to bring that into the argument. The trust has already applied to other nuclear missiles—United States nuclear missiles in Britain, including the present generation of F111s and the Polaris submarines that are based in our waters. We have not had a dual-key arrangement, and no Government, Labour or Conservative, have demanded anything further than the agreement of policy which has satisfied successive Governments.

Mr. Ashdown

While the right hon. Gentleman is on the subject of trust and other missile systems, can he help the House to resolve a curious paradox? On the one hand we trust our NATO allies so little that we must have a £10,000 million independent nuclear weapon system of our own, Trident, while on the other hand we trust them so much that we are prepared to let the United States station their nuclear weapons on our soil, without the British people having a fail-safe system to stop them firing their weapons from our territory. Can the right hon. Gentleman help us to resolve that paradox?

Mr. Prentice

I shall not answer that question for one simple reason. [Interruption.] I could speak about Trident, and I have done so, but it would take 10 minutes to develop the case, and I do not believe that it would be fair to the House to discuss the case for Trident, which I accept, in the middle of a debate on twin-track strategy. I shall not give way again—also for reasons of time.

I was going on to say that this trust has gone both ways. The Americans have been prepared to provide Polaris missiles and will be prepared to provide Trident in British submarines, with British crews, without insisting that an American officer be on board with a dual-key arrangement. Trust in various ways has been at the root of the Alliance. Indeed, the Alliance would not have been possible without it, and it will not be possible in the future without it.

I want to say a word about the theme of anti-American prejudice that has run through this debate. It was particularly virulent in the speech of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), and it was certainly evident in the speech of the hon. Member for Newham, North-East. It has also been evident in the debate outside. I am extremely worried about the spread of anti-American prejudice in this country now. There is both a generalised prejudice, and a specific prejudice against President Reagan. It has become part of the stock in trade of the Labour party. If it was confined to the Labour party it would not matter much, because that party does not matter much any more. However, it goes wider than that. In an excellent article in today's edition of The Daily Telegraph, John O'Sullivan referred to the media's Leftish snobbery about President Reagan". That is an accurate description of the comments made in too many newspaper editorials and in too many of our radio and television programmes. Indeed, that quotation is particularly true of the news magazine type of programme.

That prejudice goes wider than people with Leftish tendencies. I must admit that people right across the political spectrum share that anti-American view. I am very worried about the result of recent Gallup polls, particularly following the Grenada incident. However, one should not read too much into any one poll, and I hope that people will change their mood. We cannot prevent such nonsense, but we can certainly reply to it. I have the greatest possible admiration for President Reagan for many reasons, and particularly because of the skill and forcefulness with which he speaks up for American and western values. Those values are common to our country and his. Indeed, I admire our Prime Minister for the same reason. It is incumbent on those of us who share their views to speak up more often and more loudly.

There never has been, and never will be, a detente in the war of ideas. We can win that war, because our ideas are better than those of the Soviet Union. However, we could also lose that war of ideas by default, and there is a danger that some people are in that mood. There is also a danger that politicians, together with many leaders of opinion in the media and many of the British public, are apathetic about that battle of ideas. It is far too easy to take freedom for granted if people have lived all their lives in a free society. Most of us have lived with freedoms that we now take for granted, but which are really fairly recent in the time scale of history, and which are still rare or nonexistent in many parts of the world.

There is also a tendency to take peace for granted, because it is many years since we were involved in a major war. There is a tendency to assume the role of a spectator of a struggle between two super-powers, hoping that they will not involve us, but the reality is that we are participants on one side of the struggle, and that our freedom and that of our children depends on our success. We enjoy freedom today because successive British Governments since the end of the second world war have been prepared to defend this country and to demand sacrifices from our people in order to do so. We also enjoy that freedom because we have been in a close alliance with friendly nations—the historic NATO Alliance—and because the United States has had the statesmanship to commit its manpower, money and technology on a vast scale to the defence of western Europe. America's response to our request to station cruise missiles in Britain is only the latest example of that support.

We cannot take that support for granted indefinitely. There are those in the United States who for some years have argued for a more isolationist approach. There are those who have argued that Europe should be left tc de fend itself and that the Americans should retreat into a sort of "fortress America". I believe that they are wrong from the American point of view, and I am glad that those voices have not prevailed. I hope that they will never prevail, but, for heaven's sake, let us avoid giving them encouragement. The more those people receive the whining, whingeing message of the CND, the Labour party and many trendy liberals in this country, and the more they hear that story from this country, and to some extent from other western European countries, the less they will be inclined to pursue the traditional policies of the Alliance.

Therefore, when the cruise missiles are installed—presumably within the next few weeks—I hope that the message from Britain will not be the shrill demonstrations of CND or the nit-picking of some of the liberal intelligentsia but a massive vote of support from this House tonight. I also hope that there will be an echoing welcome from the British people for the latest example of American help for the defence of western values.

6.24 pm
Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)

It comes ill from the right hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice), the former Member for Newham, North-East at least once removed, to be so deprecating about the CND and to talk about it whingeing in its protests against nuclear weapons. We appreciate that it has been a long time since the right hon. Gentleman went on a CND march, but if he had been on any of the recent demonstrations he would have been impressed by the tens of thousands of responsible people who marched with their families and young children. They are terrified not only for their future and that of their families, but for the future of mankind. If the right hon. Gentleman feels that that is an absurd argument, he should step back and ask himself how he—if he were ever again a Minister—would advise families to behave in the event of a nuclear attack.

Last week we had a debate on civil defence in the event of a nuclear attack. The Minister proposed to spend an additional £2 million per year on civil defence. However, the British Medical Association estimates that it would cost about two thirds of British national income to make buildings in Britain blast-proof from nuclear attack. How would the right hon. Member for Daventry advise families to behave in that situation? If there is any Government advice at all, it should be for parents to kiss their children goodbye, because that is the only thing to do in the event of an attack being announced.

The right hon. Gentleman levelled strictures against my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). However, my right hon. Friend addressed himself to the argument and that is precisely what damages the case for the deployment of cruise. Indeed, he did so far more than the Secretary of State who only claimed that some former Labour Ministers—some of whom now sit on the SDP Benches—had supported the deployment of cruise in the first place.

The Secretary of State read from the NATO deployment communique of 12 December 1979, but it was noticeable that he did not proceed with the text, and that he failed to quote paragraph 8. That states: Ministers attach great importance to the role of arms control in contributing to a more stable military relationship between East and West and … to make the strategic situation between East and West more stable, more predictable, and more manageable. In the previous Government, Secretaries of State for Defence argued precisely the reverse. They said that it was important to deploy those new nuclear weapons to increase uncertainty in a potential adversary, or in the Soviet Union.

If we were still talking about the old, long-term intercontinental ballistic missiles, that argument might make some sense. However, with the new missiles, especially Pershing, we are talking about reducing the warning times to a few minutes; therefore, that argument makes no sense at all. Rather, it brings us closer to the brink of a nuclear war.

In confronting the deployment of cruise and Pershing, hon. Members must ask themselves the related strategic question: why do we need them in the first place? Is there a conventional arms gap? Volume 1 of the Defence Estimates published by the Government this year claims: the overall picture remains of an unremitting Soviet build up in nuclear and conventional capability". The Defence Estimates also claim that there are 7,200 NATO main battle tanks as against 17,800 main battle tanks for Warsaw pact forces. Battle tank capability and anti-tank weapons are crucial to whether NATO needs new intermediate range missiles, since no offensive could be successfully undertaken by the Soviets or the Warsaw pact powers in western Europe if they lacked clear superiority in tank capacity.

Some Government members may even realise that the tank forces of each side cannot be compared directly. It is recognised that NATO tanks tend to be more sophisticated, that we have a higher planned rate of vehicle recovery and that the Warsaw pact powers have a higher assumed rate of attrition and abandonment of tanks in the field.

As several strategists commenting on the Afghan war recently said, NATO may have overestimated Soviet and Warsaw pact tank capability. First, tanks seemed to be disabled by Afghan rebels effectively and, secondly, their deployment and tactics seemed elementary rather than subtle and penetrative, as had been assumed.

The real clincher in relation to tanks is anti-tank weapons. The Defence Estimates for 1983, volume 1, are little short of fraudulent when they allegedly compare anti-tank guided weapons (including helicopters). The estimates attribute relative parity to the two main sides—7,400 for NATO and 10,200 for the Warsaw pact. Why are the Defence Estimates fraudulent? Because they compare weapon launchers, not weapons. An average of three anti-tank missiles per anti-tank launcher deployed in NATO exceeds the total Warsaw pact battle tank force. An average of 10 per launcher would more than double, even total Warsaw pact capability, including mothballed reserves.

At a recent conference I put that argument to Richard Perle, United States Under-Secretary of State. He would not reply. He simply returned to the launcher comparison. Will the Minister reply? Does NATO already have more anti-tank guided weapons than the Warsaw pact, active or reserve, and by what factor? The reality is that we outnumber that tank force with existing NATO anti-tank capacity. The accuracy of those weapons in the field has been seen in the middle-east, even to the point that it was argued in that context that tank warfare itself has become outmoded. Clearly NATO's fire-and-forget missiles could effectively demobilise such tanks as are likely to be deployed in a Warsaw pact offensive.

If the Minister cannot answer that question, will he say whether he believes that NATO faces a technology gap in sophisticated anti-tank warfare, either land-to-land or land-to-air? I wish to quote not the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research or the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, but a publication not typically known for undermining Conservative Government policy. I refer to an article on defence technology in The Economist of 21–27 May this year which, under the apt caption, "Whose Britannia?" states: One of the most important products of recent technology has been conventional weapons that can substitute for nuclear ones. Russia and its allies have always greatly outnumbered the Nato forces defending the central front. The only way that Nato could hope to stop a mass attack was to use nuclear weapons to destroy enemy forces in wholesale lots: tank formations, airfields full of aircraft.… Now, however, miroelectronics, new sensors and new warheads are making it possible to build conventional weapons that can also attack large numbers of targets at the same time, and at ranges of 100 kilometres or more behind the front line. The article gives two or three examples and claims that an improved Lance missile with warheads of 1,300 lb, could have a devastating effect on either tanks or transport and munitions forces. The other example is the Wasp, being developed by Hughes Aircraft, which uses millimetre-wave guidance and carries a package towards the general location of a tank formation. When near the location, the package looses the Wasps which then turn on their tiny radar, start the rocket motors, locate the targets and home in on them. On the final approach the missiles come in from directly above and strike the tanks where their armour is thinnest.

Another anti-tank non-nuclear munition is the Skeet, designed to be launched either by artillery or rocket shell. Yet another is the German device Stabo, which is launched, 200-plus at a time, from dispensers carried by Tornado aircraft.

The Economist summarises by saying: Command-and-control of armies is on the brink of an improvement so great that it could radically affect not only the speed with which armies can act or react, but could also change the ways they can manoeuvre… It is clear that technology can now replace nuclear weapons with conventional ones for many battleield tasks. So are we behind the non-nuclear defence technology? I should like the Minister to answer, because according to The Economist, Nato is now far ahead in the development of such technology, it appears a favourable development. However, once Russia begins to develop similar long-range conventional systems, fortune may once again smile only on the big battalions.

Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)

What the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) says is true, but trite. Is he in favour of the 3 per cent. increase each year in real terms in NATO spending so that we can purchase adequate conventional defence, which he is advocating?

Mr. Holland

That intervention does not do credit to the intellect or perception of the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley). A 3 per cent. increase would not be necessary if we were reducing our expenditure on nuclear arms. That is the essence of the problem. It is a simple fact. If we cancel the thousands of millions of pounds that we are spending on Trident, we should be able to afford a non-nuclear defence. It is ironic that so many in the shires—the naval, military and flying officers—prefer that kind of technology. It employs their skills and gives them a chance to survive. They realise that the next war otherwise will be over in days, if not in hours.

There is no overall missile gap. That was argued well by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East when he said that the Government fail to compare sea-launched systems and land-launched systems. There is no appreciable tank gap, and certainly there is no gap in antitank weapon systems. There is no technology gap, because we have the advantage. Is there a credibility gap m the deployment of cruise and Pershing? Yes, there is, and it is a threat to peace.

Mr. Perle does not believe in SALT. He claims that the negotiations gave the Soviets an advantage. He does not want START to begin. He does not accept the risk of war by incident or accident through a reduction in the response time in the deployment, especially, of Pershing. Pershing is dangerous in an exceptional way, not only because it will reach the Soviet Union in a time estimated to range between seven minutes and 15 minutes, but because it is a hard-fuelled rocket. Unlike previous rockets using liquid fuel which could be detected by satellite, Pershing cannot be detected in advance.

What kind of a strange hate world, rather than Strange-love world, do the American advisers live in? When I confronted Mr. Perle with the figures at a conference at which my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East also was present, Mr. Perle claimed that my case, that Pershing would take but seven minutes to arrive in the Soviet Union, was wrong. He said that it would take 12 minutes. Will that five-minute difference make it possible for Mr. Andropov to telephone President Reagan and check whether the missiles have been fired, and, if so, ask him to call them back? There is no recall capacity on the missiles as they will be locked into computer response—there will be technological Armageddon.

It could be that, if the phone call lasts only two minutes, as have recent calls between the Prime Minister and Mr. Reagan, there will be a few minutes left to prepare oneself to absorb an attack. If the computers clear the warning in the first few minutes, there will be another two minutes for a phone call in which President Reagan tells the Prime Minister about cruise—"Thank you, Margaret. I am grateful to you for calling. I am sorry, but we feel than. US interests are essentially affected here"—and puts the phone down. There may then be five minutes left to go to the bunker, but no more.

Besides, it will only be possible to go to the bunker if the key can be found in the first place. We are assuming that the American President will turn that key himself, if there is any trace-out from the Warsaw pact powers on the NATO side of anything that could be interpreted as an attack.

Some hon. Members may have forgotten that at the time when an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan outside a Hilton hotel, it was discovered after his operation that his staff had lost the nuclear key. The FBI was asked to check the President's clothing, but could not find the key—presumably because they were not sure what a nuclear key would look like. The FBI officers rang the Oval office and said, "There is no key here." They were told that it was not a key, but rather that it looked like a plastic credit card—were there not any credit cards? The officers said that there was a credit card and allegedly were told, "Will you kindly send it back because we do not want some dumb operative in the hospital starting a nuclear war."

The real horror of the story is this. The United States staff officers responsible tried to reassure the American public after the incident that the United States was defended during that time because it is not actually necessary for the President physically to turn the key for the Americans to respond to a Soviet attack. Therefore, the key debate may be partly misplaced. To some extent, it is clearly a matter of trust, but it is also just a matter of turning keys. The question is the strategic role played by the missiles and whether they are under any meaningful political control.

The right hon. Member for Daventry said that deprecating remarks had been made about President Reagan from the Labour Benches. Having met, seen and heard President Reagan's advisers, I shall quote not my views but those of the editor of a liberal-conservative West German paper sitting next to me when those advisers were addressing us. That man, unlike some of Reagan's closest advisers, knew something about real war. In the second world war he had been most of the way to Moscow with the Wehrmacht and had walked most of the way back. He turned to me and said, "I don't know what these guys do to the Russians, but they scare the"—expletive—"out of me."

This is conservative West German opinion and it is increasingly conservative British opinion, as reflected in the recent opinion poll, which showed that over 73 per cent. of the population were concerned at the deployment of these missiles.

The Prime Minister seems to think that the special relationship, so severely dented by Grenada, will survive. During the Falklands war the right hon. Lady posed as a miniature Churchill in a special relationship with the United States. However, Churchill, on lend-lease, said: Give us the tools, and we will finish the job. He did not say, "Finger our trigger and finish us off." It is unprecedented that we should have such a weapons system under United States control. We do not expect the Prime Minister or the Government to reverse their decision tomorrow, but if, in the near future, the Prime Minister cannot assure the House that she has now insisted on dual control, she may not only sign the exit visa for her Government but the death warrant of this country.

6.45 pm
Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity of making my maiden speech, but I am conscious that I come towards the tail end of the batting order of June 1983. This was a deliberate decision, for my friends never cease to remind me of Sir Winston Churchill's advice to a new Member, that it is better for people to wonder why you don't speak than to wonder why you do. It is a custom of the House that a maiden speaker should refer in favourable and glowing terms to the Member who preceded him in his constituency. I imagine that in some cases this may have proved a Herculean task, but I face no such problems. However, I have a twofold job, because my constituency, being a new one, was previously served by two Members of Parliament. The major part was represented for many years by a man who is still here, but who is now the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Mr. Callaghan). His well-deserved reputation for hard and unstinting work on behalf of his constituents is still remembered by those whom I now represent. The other part of the constituency was represented by someone who is no longer here in a physical sense but whose name and reputation live on in these Corridors and in the Chamber as a man of sterling integrity and sound common sense. I refer to Frank White, who represented Bury and Radcliffe well and faithfully for nine years.

My constituency is known as Bury, South, yet that is a name for which there is little affection or recognition in the minds of many of its inhabitants. Only a small part of it was in the old borough of Bury and it consists now of three strong and independent communities. Two of them, Prestwich and Whitefield, are commuter land and while some of the people who live there go to work in Bury, many others work in the city of Manchester, which was my home for many years.

The third community is in the old Lancashire mill town of Radcliffe, which has a long history, and although its name appears no more in the constituency title, it is steadfastly maintaining its independent identity. It is the industrial base of the constituency, with engineering, textiles and particularly paper-making, being its leading activities. I hope to play a part during my time here in supporting those industries and in trying to ensure that they are allowed to succeed against increasingly unfair competition, for the industries undoubtedly possess the intrinsic ability to provide employment and prosperity for those who serve them.

I am pleased that I can make my maiden speech on this important topic, for in many ways the Government's policy on cruise missiles and the nuclear deterrent is one of the reasons why I am here at all. There was a fierce debate on this very issue during the general election. The arguments were put fairly and squarely to the electorate, and the verdict of the British people was clear. They believe that the nuclear deterrent has preserved peace for nearly 40 years and they are not prepared to throw away that freedom or their peace by any empty or foolhardy gestures.

When I was much younger I read the tragic history of the 1930s. Many well-intentioned and well-meaning people then believed that peace and freedom could be preserved by talk and reason alone. A select few doubted that conventional wisdom, but their voices were largely unheard. Today we face a threat just as strong as we faced then. Our commitment to peace must be clear. It must not, however, be a commitment to peace at any price—it must be a commitment to the preservation of peace by the combination of patient diplomacy and effective deterrence.

That, in essence, is the argument for the cruise programme. There must be a progressive de-escalation of nuclear weapons, but that can come only from action by both sides of the iron curtain. I am opposed to unilateralism in all its forms, save one—I await unilateral action by the Soviet Union to dismantle its intermediate range missiles and accept the zero option. That is the only unilateral way to stop cruise.

There is no doubt that the debate will carry with it the overtones of the events of the past few days. It will be argued by some—and has already been argued—that the United States can no longer be trusted. It will be said that if America ignored our views on Grenada, it will ignore our views on cruise. To advance that argument would be to forget the underlying strength of our alliance with the United States. For nearly 40 years that alliance has been the bedrock of our foreign and defence policies under both Labour and Conservative Governments. For many years American F111 bombers have been based in this country with the ability to strike into the Soviet Union. Neither cruise nor Grenada can change that. Nor can temporary differences between free nations destroy the mutual trust that has existed between the British and American peoples, which has enabled us to trust each other with our nuclear deterrents with all that that implies, not for war but for the maintenance of peace.

Today's debate offers the House the opportunity to reaffirm, in different circumstances, its commitment to that underlying mutual trust. It is sometimes said that in this nuclear age, with all its dangers, Britain should take the option of rejecting its alliances and pursue an independent course. I do not accept that that is a real option. The only option open to us is that of the NATO commitment to peace through strength, of which cruise is a central part. That option has stood the test of time. It is, as John Kennedy once said of the United Nations, the last best hope for peace.

6.53 pm
Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) on his maiden speech. It is a difficult and trying occasion, even though he has waited a few weeks to make it. I am sure that the next time that he addresses the House he will not find it so awe-inspiring. We listened to the hon. Gentleman with great interest. We may not have agreed with every point that he made, but he is to be congratulated on his speech. I thank him for his kind reference to Frank White, who was respected by both sides of the House. I wish the hon. Gentleman well in his fight for industry in his constituency. He, like many other hon. Members, has a large problem to face.

The right hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice) said that President Reagan spoke on behalf of western values. Many Conservative Members have attacked those who have criticised the Reagan regime and said that they were anti-American. In no way are we against the American people or America as a country. We are criticising the policies of a regime on defence deployment. We are also asking questions about the events of the last few days. Surely President Reagan was not reflecting western values when he thought that he was entitled to march into an independent country simply because he had the power to do so. If that represents western thought, we are heading for a holocaust. Sooner or later either the Soviet Union or America will march into a country over which the other side believes it has territoral claims, and that will set everything alight. I regard the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia with total disdain. The same standards should apply in our criticism of the United States action in Grenada.

The main subject of the debate is cruise missiles and nuclear weapons generally. My party is wholly and unequivocally unilateralist in its approach. I realise that there are divisions in other parties, which have been reflected in the debate. My party believes that no one can win a nuclear war. But the very existence of nuclear weapons makes possible a nuclear war. It may be a smaller possibility than the possibility of a conventional war, but its consequences would be so catastrophic that we just cannot countenance such a policy option. One hon. Member said that there were "virtually" no circumstances that could justify a nuclear war. There are no circumstances whatsoever to justify the horror of a nuclear war. We must take that fact to our hearts and act upon it.

It has been suggested that we are arguing about safeguards and that cruise missiles will help to safeguard us against war. That is wholly wrong. Cruise missiles and other nuclear weapons on British soil make us a more likely target. It is time for people to speak out loud and clear on that. I wish to put it on record in this Chamber that I salute the women of Greenham Common for their stand on this issue. I hope that they gain the success for their brave campaign that they merit. It is in the interests of all humanity that they should do so.

One argument today has been about dual keys. That argument has no bearing on the problem. I would be no happier if the cruise missiles were in the joint hands of the Prime Minister and President Reagan. There have been times during the past two years, such as in the Falklands war, when a nuclear conflict could have happened. We all saw the mood of the House during that Saturday morning Falklands debate. What if the the ship carrying Prince Andrew had been sunk by an Exocet missile? There would have been calls for the "nuking" of Buenos Aires. How quickly we can escalate to that position. Wars can so easily begin by mistake. The way to avoid a nuclear war is not to have nuclear weapons.

The main argument is not about dual keys, although it may be of passing comfort to have them. There is a danger from this approach of a wholly chauvinistic and narrow attitude—provided we have control of the nuclear weapons, that is all right, but it is not all right in the hands of others. If we justify independent nuclear weapons for Britain, how do we tell such countries as Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Argentina and Libya that they cannot have them? If it is right for this country to have independent nuclear weapons, presumably those countries also have that right—and, if circumstances justify it, the right to use them. What then will be our future? What stability will there be? Is every computer that controls the weapons throughout the world to be relied upon not to make a mistake?

We heard a moment ago a reference to the tragic shooting down of the South Korean airliner. The Soviet Union's decision to shoot it down cannot be justified on any basis but we do not know who took that decision. It probably was not taken in Moscow but by someone in the local military establishment. With short response times—we have heard of response times as low as three minutes—one does not look round to find the whereabouts of Andropov or of Reagan. President Reagan might be playing golf, or be indisposed for a moment or be in his car. Someone takes the decision—perhaps a computer takes the decision. It is too late then to start arguing about whether a mistake has been made, because we would all be facing Armageddon.

Under this Government or a Labour Government with nuclear weapons, would a Prime Minister in London ever be the first to press the button? Would we ever use nuclear weapons first? To do so would be a crime against humanity. Would we use them in retaliation, to give us the glowing feeling as we turn into blobs of simmering fat that someone on the other side has had the same experience? If we are not to use them as a first strike weapon, and if we do not see the morality of going for vengeance and using them as a second strike weapon, what is the point of having them at all? What is the point of having these weapons, which are bringing us to the verge of mass suicide and threaten the end of humanity?

Since the second world war we have seen a build-up of more and more complex weapons. We have seen both in the Soviet Union and in the United States a growing industrial-defence empire that has a vested interest in the arms race and a dynamic of its own. It is in the interest of that empire to have more sophisticated weapons. This ever-increasing spiral must be broken. Someone, somewhere, must break it. I realise that there are difficulties with unilateral nuclear disarmament, but perhaps it is easier for the United Kingdom to take a step towards breaking that spiral and, in doing so, to try to bring about some movement towards sanity on these matters.

In recent days and weeks we have seen mass demonstrations against nuclear weapons in several parts of Europe. I was present at the demonstration in London and I can reiterate what was said a moment ago—that those involved in the demonstration were not the freaks of society who were looking for anything to protest against. They were ordinary responsible men and women, parents with children and so on, who were actively concerned about the direction in which the Government's policy is taking us. They were concerned about the weapons that are coming here which will bring Armageddon that much closer. So, no doubt, were the 500,000 people in Holland yesterday who were demonstrating against this decision. Those figures underline the mass concern about the direction of nuclear arms policy. Would it not be a sign of greatness, a sign of imagination, for the Government to stop, to think again and to say, "Perhaps we are wrong with cruise and we are willing to take a step in a different direction in order to de-escalate the arms race."?

I have read the SDP's position on this issue and the suggestion that there is a movement towards a European nuclear club. I say to the SDP that those 500,000 protesters in Holland would not be any happier at the thought that cruise missiles or similar missiles were controlled by Europe. What we must do—I believe that Professor E. P. Thompson is fundamentally right in his analysis—is to move towards a conversion of Europe from a potential theatre of nuclear war, as it is at the moment, and as people openly talk about it in the United States, towards a nuclear weapon-free Europe. That means not only the EC and European NATO countries but the whole of Europe and eventually an attempt to straddle the iron curtain as well, to bring about a nuclear weapon-free Europe. If we are looking for a new European defence alignment along the lines suggested by the SDP, it should be in terms of conventional weapons only and we should ban nuclear weapons altogether from the soil of Europe.

Taking that step would make it easier for the United Nations and other agencies to bring about an inspection system and rules to prevent other countries from deploying nuclear weapons. That would make easier initially a freeze in the United States and the Soviet Union, followed by a step by step reduction in those two countries. That is the only hope for the world.

We need new thinking on this issue. It is clear that this is the challenge to our generation, and if we fail there will be no generation to follow.

7.4 pm

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)

While I respect the views of the Leader of Plaid Cymru I hope that he will forgive me if I remind him that the only nuclear weapons ever dropped in wartime were dropped on a nonnuclear country. I cannot help believing that, had that country been able to reply, those weapons would not have been dropped. For those reasons I have never been able to follow the logic of the unilateral disarmament case and I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's speech tonight did not convince me of its efficacy, any more than I have been convinced in the past.

I crave the indulgence of the House if I make a slightly longer than usual speech. I am the only hon. Member who will have cruise missiles stationed in his constituency by Christmas. Therefore, tonight, I am involved not only in a debate about the deployment of the missiles in western Europe but about their deployment in my constituency. That puts me in a rather special position.

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym) made his speech to the House of Commons in 1979 about the NATO decision to accept the United States cruise and Pershing II missiles to modernise NATO's theatre nuclear capability, in face of the rapid growth in Soviet long-range nuclear capability, in particular the deployment of the three war-headed SS20 missiles, he gave as reasons for that decision first, the need to strengthen the credibility of NATO's deterrent capability, secondly the need to demonstrate the political will of the Alliance to respond to a growing Soviet threat and thirdly to reaffirm the American commitment to the defence of Europe. Four years later, after the most vociferous and high profile peace campaign ever seen in western Europe, and after lengthy discussions between American and Russian diplomats in Geneva at the intermediate nuclear force talks, those three reasons seem as pertinent today as they did in 1979 or when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in June 1980 that the sites in the United Kingdom for cruise missiles would be Greenham Common in my constituency, which is to have 96 missiles, the first of which are to be deployed at the end of this year, and Molesworth in Cambridgeshire. As we now consider the prospect of failure at the INF talks in Geneva, which conclude next week in their present phase, I know that my constituents, like myself, still hope that something positive and something constructive, even at this late hour, can come from those talks. But to accept the Liberal amendment is to accept an amendment about the "never-never" deployment. For while one can find a reason, as in the amendment, for letting the talks run on until the end of the year and thus for putting off deployment, by the same token at the end of the year there can be another reason for putting off deployment still further on the offchance that this new initiative, from wherever it has come—presumably from the Soviet Union—requires that the missiles should not be brought in. That is not a coherent or effective policy in terms of the three reasons which my right hon. Friend gave those years ago.

For those reasons I shall not be supporting the Liberal amendment or adding much credence to it, because sooner or later East and West must come to a conclusion. When I say sooner or later, the East knows that it has until 7 November to meet in some part the West's requirement for arms reduction. If it does not choose to do so, 572 Pershing and cruise missiles will start to be deployed.

I say that because whereas we still cherish the hope that something can come out of the present round of INF talks, were there to be any pre-emption of what may still arise by the missiles being brought into Greenham Common before 7 November, that would do the gravest harm to the commitment of the United States to western Europe and NATO. Therefore I welcome my right hon. Friend's assurance today that he has no plans to bring the missiles in before the end of the INF talks.

It is clear, particularly from what has been said by Opposition Members, that there is a virulent anti-American campaign coming from the Left wing of British politics. That campaign is bound to damage the relationship between the United States and western Europe. Any attempt to bring the missiles in before the INF talks have been shown to have failed would seriously damage the relationship between the Americans and the rest of western Europe. Therefore I welcome my right hon. Friend's assurance that the missiles will not come in until the present phase of those talks is finished.

However small may be the deployment of cruise missiles in the United Kingdom against the total deployment of these nuclear weapons—it is about 3 per cent. of the total—they represent a new generation of nuclear weaponry stationed on British soil but not exclusively under the control of the British Government. But when it comes to the arguments for dual control, we must ask two questions. The first is whether we believe that the American involvement in NATO is the same as ours; if we do not, then we are not talking about dual key but about revising the whole NATO strategy and the place of North America in that strategy.

The second question is whether a diversified command structure, with each of the five countries in western Europe having a dual key—I do not see why we should expect to be the only ones to have it—would help in an emergency or whether it would not allow those who may be the enemies of this country to play on the fears of each of those individual countries to a point where the use of those missiles could not be effective, would not be under unified command and would be unlikely to be used in the way in which it is envisaged they should be used.

Mr. Budgen

How can the position of this country and that of the United States in NATO be the same? The two countries have different power and different interests.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

How could the United States and ourselves have had the same interest in winning the war in Europe or the war against Japan between 1939 and 1945? We found common ground and reached a common objective, and a large part of the world has lived in freedom ever since.

The leader of the Liberal party questioned the arrangement that now exists as a result of the 1952 agreement between Truman and Winston Churchill. I, too, raised the point—that the agreement was about aircraft, not missiles—in a letter to the Prime Minister in March of this year. She replied on 8 April 1983 saying: You observed that the 1952 communique referred to the use of bases and was written at a time when aircraft rather than missiles were stationed in this country. The particular concern which you mentioned arose from the wording of the communique. You said that you had been asked whether the arrangement adequately covered the operational use of cruise missiles which, as you rightly observe, are intended to be deployed away from Greenham Common before being launched. I confirm that the arrangements summarised in the 1952 communique do apply to the missiles when they are dispersed away from their main operating bases in time of tension or war. These arrangements were reaffirmed as recently as two years ago. Perhaps I could also take the opportunity to assure you personally, as I have on several occasions assured the House as a whole, that we as a Government have considered the arrangements very carefully and have satisfied ourselves that they are effective.

Mr. Healey

The Prime Minister made an interesting statement in her letter to the hon. Gentleman. It implies that, contrary to what other Conservative Back Benchers have said, the Government have no say in when the missiles are dispersed, because the joint decision applies only to the firing of the missiles once they have been dispersed from Greenham Common to their firing sites. That is a serious statement, as many Opposition Back Benchers believe that the effective control is the control on the dispersal itself.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

The point was raised earlier about when control became effective. The communique refers to the operational bases and the argument goes that one could not disperse from the base without consent. Therefore it is from the moment when the request for dispersal is made that the question of prime ministerial-presidential agreement comes into play. Had I brought with me the original letter of 14 March, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) would have seen that clearly set out.

I believe that the Americans are sincere about wanting a negotiated settlement at Geneva and that they recognise that in so far as the Grenada incident has done any harm to public opinion, they have every need to show western Europe that they are playing the role of senior partner, not boss, in the NATO Alliance. I find curiously unattractive the attempt to use Grenada as a stick with which to beat the Americans in general. When I was at Greenham Common at the weekend I saw a large banner which read: Out of Grenada. Out of Greenham. That complements exactly many of the sentiments we have heard from Opposition Members today—an attempt once again to beat the old drum of anti-Americanism. Where would our nation be if the Opposition were today the Government of Britain?

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East, to quote Disraeli, used words to hide his thoughts. Sadly, those who spoke behind him made no such attempt. Their attitude to the Americans makes me marvel at the fact that the Americans wish to stay in NATO and play a part in the defence of western Europe.

I come to the antics of those ladies who like to call themselves the peace women and who have been camped outside the gates of Greenham Common for the past two years. I say without equivocation that I find their antics unnecessary, unreasonable and, with their anti-American bias, helpful only to the Soviet bloc. I do not see them helping the cause of peace or nuclear arms reduction and I wish they could recognise that the image they give is the reverse of the one they think they give. For those reasons alone the women are disliked in the locality but their behaviour in Newbury to the residents, the squalor of their camp on the common and their delight in confrontation with the police have made them unpopular to the point where virtually everyone wants to see them leave, and quickly. I warn the leader of Plaid Cymru that if he chose to join them, he would not find that they wanted him because they are rather anti-men and would tell him to buzz off.

If the women have been the worst possible ambassadors of the peace movement—CND has got hold of this message, because it has distanced itself from the peace women—they have served one useful purpose, and that has been to show us just how pathetic is the perimeter fence around RAF Greenham Common in terms of keeping out intruders.

I understand that the type of fencing used is similar to that used outside other defence establishments. I hope that the Ministry of Defence will study carefully the way in which the women have been able to enter the camp more or less at will. Time and again they have got into the camp over the fence and time and again the fence has been improved. It has now been given a sort of barbed wire pelmet and there is a roll of barbed wire on the inside. When the ladies started to cut it last weekend, the troops inside could not get at the fence because of the barbed wire, whereas the ladies on the outside with their bolt cutters were able to cut away happily at the plastic-covered wire mesh.

The ladies say that they did not want to get into the base and that their wish was merely to cut the wire, which they did. Had they chosen to push the wire down when they cut it, they would have had a carpet across the barbed wire on which to run into the base. There are those who say that that does not matter because the missiles would be in a special security area. That may be so, but we must not forget the transport aircraft that are coming in continuously with American personnel and equipment. We must not forget the large stores of aviation fuel that are on the base. Let us thank God that we have had so far a lot of rather wild women cutting the fence and that we have not been confronted by terrorists. If anyone such as a terrorist had wanted to do real damage, I fear that real damage would have been done.

It is important for the House to be in no doubt about the security of the base—both the missile area and the general base—and for my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to tell us who is in charge of the internal security force at Greenham. Will the American service personnel be involved in that force, and under whose law will they be operating? Will they be under British military law, American military law or simply the common law of the land as it is brought into effect by the police?

I am concerned about the deployment of convoys from the base for training purposes in or around Salisbury plain. Many of the roads in the area are not dual carriageways. If we are to be faced with convoys of between 10 and 20 left-hand drive vehicles moving at 18 mph, there will be the most almighty delays on the roads and there will be hazards for motorists going about their lawful business. I think that the Government will have to give considerable thought to deployment. They will have to give greater priority to making the A34 a dual carriageway road along its entire length. At present deployment to Salisbury plain would require the convoy to use a road which in many places is a single carriageway. The narrowness of the roads around the base makes it easy for demonstrators to stop convoys when they wish to do so.

The arrival of the American service men has meant that about 50 per cent. of all private rented accommodation in the Newbury area has been soaked up by them. In consequence, there is dire need for more of that sort of housing. We have heard that within the past week Congress has decided not to bring forward the necessary finance to enable houses to be built on the site of RAF Clayhill at Burghfield. That must mean that there will be further pressure on the housing stock. Newbury district council, together with myself, made representations to the Department of the Environment in May but, if anything, the position has become more acute. The Government will have to give careful consideration to providing finance to Newbury to help it to meet this urgent problem.

I have referred to local matters that relate to the missiles' effective deployment at Greenham by the end of the year as well as to the relationship of the local people with the United States service men. The forbearance and patience of my constituents in face of the provocation of the peace women and of all else that has happened in the area has been remarkable and deserves to go on record. I pay my tribute to them.

If the reasons for the deployment of the cruise missiles seem unchanged since the first announcement in 1979, that is not to say that the circumstances in the autumn of 1983 are precisely as they were in December 1979. The promise that was held out of disarmament talks to run parallel with the build-up to deployment have taken place. They seem no longer to offer any hope of a favourable outcome but the super-powers have given a semblance of genuinely seeking agreement. Western public opinion has been tested as to its reaction to modernising the Alliance's nuclear weaponry, and wherever there have been general elections the party supporting that deployment has won convincingly. So we can fairly say that the people of western Europe have given their approval to the ministerial decisions to deploy these weapons. All the attempts to distract NATO and to cause the United States to delay the deployment of the missiles have come to nothing.

If the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles closes the "window of vulnerability" to which Chancellor Schmidt referred in 1978 and which he believed posed a mortal threat to NATO, the question that now needs to be answered is whether the deployment of the missiles merely marks a rebalancing of the nuclear arsenals held by East and West until one or other introduces something else, or whether it represents a plateau of parity from which each side can descend on a multilateral basis.

When the Soviets started to deploy their SS20s in the 1970s they must have known that their deployment would be identified by means of the endless aerial reconnaisance in which both sides are involved. It is difficult to believe that they did not expect a reaction from the West and that it would not be one of leaving an imbalance in Europe. Perhaps they imagined that a new generation of land-based nuclear weapons would be unacceptable in western Europe thanks to the peace movement. Perhaps they assumed that the West would rely on its superiority in ship-borne nuclear missiles and leave them alone, or perhaps they were modernising their nuclear forces to match a danger that they had foreseen. Whatever the case, they deployed their missiles and then went to the INF talks in Geneva to discuss the reduction in numbers of the same missiles.

There will be some who say that the Russian participation in the Geneva talks was a public relations ploy and that the Soviet Union was playing to the peace gallery. However, there is a school of thought that holds to the view that the Soviet Union is no longer convinced that nuclear weapons give their possessors the preeminence that is generally supposed. It is said that they perceive that these weapons, whose destructive force makes them virtually unusable against any nation that can reply in kind, are not as useful as they used to seem. If that assessment is correct—and who would want to put it to the test?—the restoration of a nuclear balance in Europe by the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles should make peace in western Europe more certain and more assured in future as no one will be tempted to use theatre nuclear forces to gain an advantage.

At the end of the day peace is the goal. If we can achieve it by deploying new generations of weapons from time to time, so be it. But if peace is the most precious commodity of all, surely western Europe and eastern Europe can find a better way and a less wasteful way of safeguarding mankind. That is the challenge that is now facing East and West.

7.18 pm
Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson), in whose constituency is Greenham Common, has taken the opportunity to advance a number of detailed arguments. He has been critical of the women of Greenham Common and I shall confine my response to saying that I admire the stand which the women have taken. They have focused attention on cruise missiles and made an important contribution to the campaign against their employment in Britain.

The deployment of cruise missiles would lead to a dangerous escalation of the nuclear arms race. If the Government go ahead and deploy the missiles and if Pershing II missiles are deployed in West Germany, I believe that the threat of a nuclear war in Europe will be significantly increased. Any Government who are responsible for decisions of that nature will be utterly irresponsible.

The decision to deploy cruise and Pershing missiles cannot be justified on the grounds that the Soviet Union is deploying SS20s. I am opposed to the deployment of those SS20s. However, there is no important comparison between the SS20s and cruise missiles. The cruise missiles represent a completely new generation of nuclear weapons. They are about 10 years ahead, technologically, of SS20s. If hon. Members are inclined to believe the propaganda that cruise missiles are justifiably being deployed in response to the SS20s, I recommend them to read a valuable interim report, prepared for the North Atlantic Assembly by the hon. Members for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) and Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright). In that interesting report they bring out how it was convenient for NATO to use the presence of the SS20s to justify its decision to go ahead with cruise and Pershing.

Mr. Critchley

Will the hon. Gentleman give chapter and verse for such an extraordinary point?

Mr. Strang

The report states: The over-emphasis on the SS-20 was perhaps inevitable because it is easier to discuss publicly the need for LRTNF'— that is, long-range theatre nuclear forces— modernisation by pointing to visible Soviet capabilities than by explaining somewhat esoteric NATO doctrine. If the hon. Gentleman looks again at his report he will see that he and the hon. Member for Woolwich argued that cruise missiles are being justified on the grounds of the policy of flexible response, and it would be so difficult to get that policy across to the people of Europe that it would be better to argue that they were necessary in response to the Soviet SS20s. That is what the report says. It has been quoted on many occasions by many people in support of my point of view.

We must understand why cruise missiles represent such an escalation of the nuclear arms race. They are highly mobile and small. They are about 20ft long. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) explained, they are not verifiable under conventional satellite procedures. There would be no way of telling the difference between conventional cruise missiles and cruise missiles carrying the nuclear warhead.

Above all, cruise missiles have the accuracy to destroy Soviet missiles in hardened silos. That is why they are counter-force nuclear weapons. As anyone will understand, if the purpose of a nuclear weapon is to destroy the other side's missiles in their silos, that can be achieved only if the weapon reaches the Soviet Union before the Soviet Union's missiles leave the ground. That means that counter-force weapons are by definition first-strike weapons. That is what is so terrifying about the decision to deploy the American cruise missiles and to replace Polaris with the Trident 2D5 weapon system. It is also a counter-force system. It is also designed to have the accuracy to destroy the Soviet missiles in their silos.

Mr. Churchill

How can the hon. Gentleman describe as a first-strike weapon a cruise missile that would take at least three hours to reach its target?

Mr. Strang

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the cruise missiles will fly low and get under the Soviet radar. Is the hon. Gentleman denying that the accuracy of cruise missiles is many times greater than that of the SS20s? They have the capability to destroy Soviet missiles in hardened silos. That fact is acknowledged by the Government.

The important point is that the development of the new war-fighting strategy and of counter-force undermines the philosophy of deterrence and mutually-assured destruction. In so far as there has been any stability in the past, it was based on the idea that the Soviet Union would not unleash a massive nuclear strike against the West because it would fear retaliation.

Now weapons are being deployed specifically to destroy the other side's military installations and nuclear missiles. Even if it is not the Government's intention to fire their missiles first or to use the Trident 2D5 weapon system as a first-strike system, the reality is that the Soviet Union perceives that they are counter-force weapons and that they are designed to have the accuracy to take out its missiles. Therefore, in any period of tension there will be enormously increased pressure on the Soviet leadership from the military to fire its missiles before there is a risk of their being taken out by the West's missiles. In due course the Soviet Union will develop its own highly accurate weapons and counter-force capability. The same will apply to the leadership in the West in a period of tension. The fear will build up that if the West takes too long to use nuclear weapons they might be taken out by the counter-force weapons that the Soviet Union might have deployed by that time.

That is all part of the development of the policy of flexible response that is replacing the policy of deterrence and mutually assured destruction, which is related to the NATO polity of being willing to use nuclear weapons first. A couple of years ago a leading member of the United States Administration blurted out the idea that a demonstration nuclear weapon might be fired in Europe. There was a controversy about the possibility of a limited nuclear war in Europe. Even if one believes that it is impractical to halt escalation and that it is unrealistic to think of stopping confrontation at the level of tactical or intermediate range nuclear weapons, the idea that leading figures in the United States Administration can think in those terms is terrifying, when one considers the control that they will have over cruise missiles.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The right host. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) made the criticism of cruise that it has no military value. The hon. Gentleman has just told the House that it is technologically 10 years ahead of anything else, deadly accurate, a counter-force weapon and could destroy Soviet missiles in their silos. Which is the Labour party's view?

Mr. Strang

That is a facile point. The hon. Gentleman knows that I am quoting facts about the missiles, which can be obtained from United States material and the Government's documentation.

Mr. Griffiths

But the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said cruise had no military value, and the hon. Gentleman said it had. Which is it?

Mr. Strang

The hon. Gentleman will have to take up the matter with my right hon. Friend. He is quoting that observation out of context.

Some hon. Members have sought to argue that, if the INF talks break down, it will be the fault of the Soviet Union. I am not persuaded by that argument. The background to the talks on nuclear disarmament is that there is broad equality between the nuclear arsenals of the Soviet Union and the West. I say "broad equality" because it makes sense to include the total nuclear capability of the two super-powers. When one balances the bigger Soviet arsenals—in terms of the explosive power—against the increased sophistication and greater accuracy of the United States weapons, there is broad equivalence, as virtually all arms experts acknowledge.

Therefore, if there is broad equivalence between the nuclear arsenals of the East and West, is it not a little unrealistic to expect negotiations to succeed in which the West argues that the Soviet Union should reduce its deployment of nuclear weapons and in return will not deploy additional nuclear weapons? When it looks as if that will not be successful, it is argued that the Soviet Union should limit its nuclear weapons and reduce its SS20s, and' in return the West will deploy only so many more additional cruise and perhaps Pershing missiles.

Given that negotiating stance, it is not surprising that the talks will not succeed, which I regret. I want talks in which both sides are talking about real reductions in the number of their nuclear weapons.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands—indeed millions—of people throughout western Europe have taken to the streets to demonstrate against nuclear weapons. Several of my hon. Friends and I took part in the massive demonstration in London a week or so ago. All those people demonstrated against nuclear weapons because they realised that we were moving into the most dangerous phase yet of the nuclear arms race. We are witnessing the most dangerous escalation of nuclear weapons. Demonstrators are crying out for western European Governments to be bold enough to halt the escalation of the nuclear arms race, to take decisive steps to reduce nuclear weapons in Europe and to try to reverse the arms race.

I listened to the earlier debate on the intermediate nuclear force talks when the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), who is no longer a member of the Government, made a passionate statement about SALT 1 and SALT 2 and everything that had been achieved.

The reality is that, despite all the talks that have taken place in the past 20 to 30 years, we are building more and more sophisticated nuclear weapons and constantly increasing the risk of nuclear war by accident.

We must have a real change in these policies. We must move in the opposite direction. We need Governments that are bold and will take unilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament. Above all, we must reject the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe.

7.41 pm
Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) has advanced the hoary old red herring that the cruise missile is a counter-force weapon—in other words, a first-strike weapon. As he well knows, it is proposed that 596 cruise and Pershing missiles are to be deployed in western Europe. The hon. Gentleman's premise would imply a decision taken by the United States and the western allies to make a pre-emptive strike with a view to knocking out some 3,000 Soviet strategic and intermediate range ballistic missiles, some of which are land-based and nearly 1,000 based under the sea. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware of the fact that, with present technology, neither side can knock out ballistic missile submarines under water in the present state of the art.

The hon. Gentleman's suggestion that cruise or Trident represents a counter-force capability is absurd and meaningless. The only country in the world with even a partial counter-force capability is the Soviet Union with its SS18 missiles, which specifically relate to the United States land-based Minuteman missiles because of the combination between the accuracy of the SS18, which is less than 1,000 ft and the massive warhead, which can be as large as 25 megatons or 100 times the destructive power of the Minuteman warhead. The SS18's unique combination of large megatonnage and high accuracy gives it its silo-busting capacity, but even that does not begin to represent a serious first-strike capability because there would still be the American Strategic Air Command and submarine-based missiles.

The start of cruise missile deployment represents the culmination of six years of discussion and effort by the NATO allies which originated in Chancellor Schmidt's appeal to President Carter in London in 1977. During that period, the Soviet Union used every strategem of propaganda, cajolery and threat to persuade the NATO allies to abandon their counter to the SS20.

One of the principal arguments put forward by the Kremlin and used by anti-NATO activists in this country—we have heard it advanced by the Opposition in the debate—was that Britain, by accepting cruise missiles, or even by being a nuclear weapon state itself, was in some way making itself a target for Soviet attack. The implication was that if we were defenceless we should not be a potential target for Soviet attack. I am sure that the people of Afghanistan would he delighted to learn of that theory. Their crime was to be defenceless. Can anyone imagine that, had they had the privilege that the British people enjoy of belonging to a large and powerful nuclear alliance such as NATO, they would today be occupied by a Soviet army of 105,000 men which day in and day out burns their crops, destroys their villages and has forced one in four of their 16 million population to flee abroad as refugees? Of course not.

The same argument applies to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is the only example of the use of nuclear weapons in anger. As has been said, it was specifically because the Japanese were defenceless in the face of a nuclear threat that they became the victims of a nuclear attack. Can anyone for one minute imagine that, had the empire of Japan, as it was constituted in the summer of 1945, had a retaliatory capacity to drop nuclear weapons on Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco within the space of 48 or 72 hours, the United States would ever have dropped those weapons? Of course not. It was precisely because the Japanese were naked in the face of a nuclear threat that they were the victims of that threat. Today we are being invited to follow precisely the same course, to divest ourselves of these weapons and to make ourselves as defenceless as were the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But there is a difference. This time the nuclear threat is 10,000 times greater than anything that the Japanese ever faced.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington

The only factor that worries me about the analogy that the Americans might not have dropped the bomb on the Japanese if they had had one is that the logic of that is that the Japanese would have dropped the bomb on other countries who did not have it. In other words, the logic of that argument is that wherever a problem pair of countries exists we ought to escalate the number of countries that have nuclear weapons.

Mr. Churchill

I am not suggesting that. I am saying that a nuclear weapon would never have been dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki if Japan had had nuclear weapons. The idea that we should make ourselves equally defenceless clearly does not appeal to the British electorate, for its verdict on 9 June was thunderously against the concept of one-sided disarmament.

I was surprised that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) advanced so many inaccuracies in his opening remarks on behalf of the Opposition. He made some remarkable statements. In reply to my question, he declared that the Soviets had no cruise missiles. Perhaps, if he did his homework a little better, he would discover that since 1962 the Soviet Union has deployed cruise missiles on various categories of its nuclear and diesel electric submarines and on Bear, Bison and Tupolev bomber aircraft. These missiles have a range of about 400 nautical miles and deliver a nuclear punch. That is certainly a formidable capability and not to be gainsaid.

The impression which Opposition spokesmen often try to convey, that a new category of equipment is being introduced, is untrue. Perhaps the United States is proposing to deploy a more sophisticated guidance system, but the cruise concept is not new.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East suggested also that the United States has more sea-launched missiles than the Soviet Union. The Soviets have 50 per cent more' ballistic sea-launched missiles. However, the United States has 36 nuclear missile submarines, while the Soviets have more than 150, including cruise missile submarines. I expect that the Opposition wish to include cruise missile submarines, even though they may be exclusively on the Soviet side.

The right hon. Gentleman made a key point when he sought to suggest that the NATO modification programme aimed to increase the numbers of nuclear warheads targeted at the Soviet Union. That is the reverse of the truth. As the Secretary of State made clear, in five years time at the end of this NATO deployment there will be 2,400 fewer nuclear warheads than at the start. The purpose of deployment is to keep pace with the developments of modern technology.

Mr. Stuart Holland


Mr. Churchill

I am sorry, but I shall not give way. I know that there are many hon. Members who are seeking to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

There is excessive stockpiling by both sides, but the purpose of modernising NATO's military capability is not to increase that stockpile but to maintain modern technology. Between the last two wars, we disarmed in real terms and by failing to maintain modern technology. Our failure to proceed with the designs for the Spitfire and Hurricane during the middle 1930s as we should have done—we preferred instead to equip our Air Force with the biplanes left over from the first world war—led us directly and inexorably to world war.

Mr. Stuart Holland


Mr. Churchill

Modernisation is important in this context.

Mr. Critchley

Has my hon. Friend ever heard of Lord Swinton?

Mr. Churchill

I have heard of Lord Swinton, but by the time war was declared in September 1939 we had few squadrons equipped with modern aircraft. I am sure that my hon. Friend would agree that we cannot hope to count on another nine-month timespan in which to prepare our defences in the event of a further major confrontation.

Mr. Stuart Holland


Mr. Churchill

I must press on.

The argument for a nuclear freeze has been advanced by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East and other Opposition spokesmen. One of the most amazing aspects of the right hon. Gentleman's surprising speech was that he clearly endorsed Mr. Andropov's most recent disarmament proposals, which would give the Soviet Union a monopoly on medium-range land-based missiles in Europe. Clearly, that is the Labour party's policy. It wants to see a disparity in favour of the Soviet Union, as opposed to NATO. This will be written in for future generations. The Labour party favours a nuclear weapons freeze. That is a defeatist approach to disarmament. NATO has proposed a one third scrapping of nuclear warheads by both sides at strategic level and a zero-option scrapping of land-based medium range missiles in Europe. The Labour party does not want disarmament now: it wants a freeze. It wants to maintain the present position and, by its action, it would let the Soviet Government off the hook of having to make any reductions in its nuclear stockpile. We happen to believe in disarmament, but of the multilateral kind, which is why we feel so strongly that there must be balanced disarmament by both sides.

Many speakers have suggested that the chances of reaching agreement with the Soviets may be remote. I would remind the House of the way in which the antiballistic missile agreement was reached, because there is a close parallel with present circumstances. I believe that it was in 1967 that Dr. Kissinger approached Mr. Kosygin and said, "We would be interested in reaching an antiballistic missile agreement with you." Kosygin gave him a smart flea in his ear, dismissing his proposition with the statement, "The Soviet Union has no interest in agreeing to ban a defensive system. We have never heard a proposition as ridiculous as limiting defensive missiles".

In 1967 the position had completely changed. The Soviets had the ABM Galosh, while the Americans had nothing except on the drawing board. Three years later, when the Americans had invested vast resources, had tested their own ABM missile and started with its deployment, the Soviets said, "Oh, by the way, that suggested agreement, yes indeed, we should be interested in negotiating an agreement with you."

I believe that all agree that the ABM agreement is one of the most important elements of arms control thus far achieved. If the parallel holds good, not until the deployment by our side of a comparable weapon system is well under way will we see a serious response from the Soviets in negotiations.

A theme running through many Opposition speeches is that the United States is not to be trusted. That proposition comes ill from the Labour party. The electorate is becoming used to the sorry spectacle of the Labour party in opposition going back on everything in which it believed when in government. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East conveniently forgets that it was the former Labour Government in 1979 who were in the forefront, together with Chancellor Schmidt, of pressuring President Carter into deploying land-based missiles in western Europe. After men of the calibre of Attlee, Gaitskell, Wilson and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) we come to the present crew, who are determined to forsake everything that their predecessors stood for in relation to Great Britain's independent deterrent and commitment to NATO, including the modernisation of its nuclear capability.

Our great American ally needs no sanctimonious homilies on trustworthiness from such a party, let alone from the right hon. Gentleman, whose defence policy is bereft of purpose and bankrupt of principle.

To suggest that there should be any fundamental change in the arrangements for the control of American nuclear weapons on British soil specifically because we have moved into the missile era is not valid. The arrangements are every bit as applicable for a missile system as they were for the previous generations of aircraft, and that arrangement has proved satisfactory to successive Governments. To those who say that perhaps out in the open countryside the position is different from that on base, I say that each of those missiles will have RAF regiment personnel with it. The idea that such weapons could ever be launched without the approval of the British Prime Minister is far-fetched.

The modernisation of NATO's nuclear capability is essential if we are to prevent the Soviet Union from undermining the rough balance of power which has been the foundation of 38 years of peace in Europe. That balance can be maintained in two ways. The first is to match the deployment of 1,200 SS20 warheads with 596 cruise and Pershing missiles. The second—who can doubt that it is infinitely preferable?—is the achievement of a far-reaching and equal agreement to abandon deployment now of NATO's modernisation. To fall for the freeze argument being offered from the Kremlin would be to destroy an important, possibly a unique, opportunity to achieve a far-ranging and equal measure of disarmament.

8.1 pm

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

The hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) accuses the Labour party of putting Britain in danger of losing everything that it has stood for if it were to have its way. If he has his way, not only would Britain lose everything that it has stood for but the British people would lose their country, lives and civilisation in the holocaust that would sweep up the northern hemisphere.

Today's debate could well mark the point at which the arms race took an irreversible turn and moved inexorably towards such a holocaust. European Governments have always sought the United States' guarantee that it would retaliate in the event of any attack upon the territory of western Europe by the Soviet Union.

During the debate we have heard that cruise missiles have to be deployed to overcome the crisis in NATO. We have also heard that the theory developed in the United States in the 1970s—the theory of flexible response and controlled retaliation at any level—needs cruise missiles and Pershing Its to be deployed to be effective. We have heard that the deployment of cruise is an imperative for that United States' guarantee to continue to be valid.

If that is true—I do not believe it—it raises other serious questions. The hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg), in his maiden speech, argued for the zero option. Implicit in his argument is the muddling of the SS20 with the cruise missile—that in some way they are equivalent and that their deployment allows the West to catch up. That is not so. The SS20 is always fired from fixed launch pads at present. The cruise missile is mobile. Cruise missiles are much cheaper. They cost about £1 million each. Proliferation will not be stopped, but will continue once they are developed. The SS20 is verifiable from satellite photographs. We know how many SS20s there are but we shall not know how many cruise missiles there are when they are deployed. If cruise missiles are not verifiable, what is the point of arms reduction talks? Is it not likely that the Soviet Union would walk out because they would not be meaningful? Is there not a real danger of an irreversible upward twist in the arms race resulting in the destruction of civilisation? As those dangers exist, the Soviet Union will certainly spend even more money to catch up with the West. The differences do not end there. As cruise missiles are at least 10 times more accurate than SS20s, they are not, therefore, purely deterrent weapons; they could be used to strike first.

SS4s and SS5s take a long time to launch, whereas a cruise missile can avoid detection for some time and has a first strike capability. Whether it is sufficient for one side to launch a first strike weapon is another matter, but it is a beginning of talking about first strikes and developing a better first strike capability.

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

The hon. Gentleman said that cruise could be used as a first strike weapon. Is he departing from our friend Monsignor Bruce Kent, who, as long ago as December 1981, in correspondence with the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces, admitted that the cruise missile was specifically not a first strike weapon? To that extent, is he saying that Monsignor Bruce Kent has got it wrong?

Dr. Marek

He may well have said that. I believe that it may be used as a first strike weapon in certain circumstances and that it could also be used as a nuclear war fighting weapon. That would be a most dangerous use. NATO has adopted a policy of first use. Therefore, it is likely that the missile would be used. Any use of cruise as a war fighting weapon in a war fighting role would initially be on the European mainland. After Grenada, I and millions of British people have no confidence that the present American Government would consider our interest if it were to conflict with their own.

Finally, to add to those dangerous policies, Pershing II is to be deployed in West Germany. Its flight time is either seven or 12 minutes and, therefore, we will be unable to talk to our friends or adversaries to find out whether the launch has taken place or can be called back. That would place us in a completely new position, and I am sure that the Soviet Union will adopt a launch on warning policy.

The House should reflect on the causes of the Korean airline disaster, on the computer errors in the United States which have placed nuclear forces on alert in the past few years, and on how far Soviet computer technology is behind United States computer technology. Before I am accused of being pro-Soviet and anti-American, I assure the House that I am neither. I criticise both super-powers because they play the same game according to their own interests. I appeal to the Government to freeze the deployment of cruise missiles and to start serious negotiations with the two super-powers. Otherwise, I condemn utterly the action of the Government if they deploy those missiles.

8.9 pm

Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) quoted selectively from a report that I have been writing for the North Atlantic Assembly over the past four years, no doubt hoping that the House would infer from it that I am opposed to the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles. I am not. At a meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly held in The Hague in October, I introduced the debate, which succeeded by 68 votes to 14 in support of the allied deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe on 1 January.

I am sad that the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), the former Leader of the Opposition, is no longer present on the Back Benches. He is one of the greatest of all Back Benchers. Many of us can remember superb Back Bench speeches from the right hon. Gentleman over the years. I did not think that his performance today was up to the standard of some of his previous speeches, but I am told on reliable information that after a spell on the Front Bench a man is never the same again.

The reasons for the 1979 decision are twofold. First, by the extension of nuclear protection of the United States one would hope that nuclear war, were it to break out, would not be confined to the states of Europe alone. That is another way of saying that the Soviet Union would not have a sanctuary behind which it could shelter in any nuclear war in Europe. The second reason for the deployment of cruise and Pershing was to allow western Europe to escape from the neutralisation of our continent, which might well be a factor of the achievement by the Soviet Union of regional nuclear superiority. Those are the two principal rationales behind the cruise and Pershing deployment argument, and they were clearly shared by the Labour party when in government.

I wish to focus only on the dual key issue. Clearly, some years ago, had we wanted a dual key, the United States would have said yes. But we decided, first on grounds of cost and secondly because we felt that existing arrangements would work, that we did not want a dual key from the United States.

Mr. Strang

I was not for a minute arguing that the hon. Gentleman was opposed to the deployment of cruise missiles. I was simply making the point—I think the hon. Gentleman confirmed it by giving his two reasons for deployment—that he was criticising the extent to which deployment was necessary as a response to the SS20. That was in the report.

Mr. Critchley

The introduction to the report, which is written in great detail and at length, summarises all the arguments for and against the deployment of cruise missiles in Europe over a four-year period. The non. Gentleman was lifting a convenient paragraph from the introduction. We all do it, but not everyone gets away with it.

My point was that when we went to Washington in April on behalf of the special nuclear committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, we asked everyone at the State Department and the Pentagon whether, were the British to change their minds, we would be allowed a dual key.

The State Department, being full of east-coasters-all polite and gifted in diplomacy—hummed and hawed and said that on balance, were we to insist upon it they might consider it. But when we went across the road to the Pentagon to see Mr. Richard Perle, the so-called "prince of darkness" according to the Washington Post, the view from the Pentagon, the White House and the National Security Council was quite different. They were firm in their view that even were we to ask for dual key, we would not be given it because were we to get it and the Italians and Germans not to do so, American foreign policy would be acutely embarrassed.

Following the events of the last week or two, which I might describe as a lovers' quarrel, it is even less likely, with the President riding high, that he would be prepared to give us the dual key were we to ask for it. Clearly, we do not want it, and when the Prime Minister went to Washington in May she persuaded the President to echo her view as to its undesirability, which he did in guarded terms.

Who wants the dual key?

Dr. Owen

I do.

Mr. Critchley

If members of CND are rational beings, they must surely admit that they are not interested in the dual key. They are as frightened of Margaret as they are of Ronnie. They have no wish for deployment anyway and, therefore, it is specious for them to argue this case.

The SDP wishes cruise to be deployed, but wants to be able to distance itself marginally from the Government and to appear to be more caring and concerned. That is a perfectly reasonable point of view.

The third category of people are those who want the dual key for what I shall call, journalistic purposes, the romantic right of our great Conservative party. They have a deep-seated objection to the positioning on our territory of foreign-owned nuclear weapons. No doubt, members of that wing of that party will make their case in due course.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) mentioned in passing the Thor missile, and reminded us that that missile, which was operational in the 1950s, was in fact dual-key. It was dual-key because it was a first-strike weapon, not a second-strike weapon. However, he did not carry that point through. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why is that important?"] It is important because if one had control over a weapon that was first-strike, one that if used would initiate nuclear war, it would demand of the political leaders of the countries in which that weapon system was stationed a somewhat larger concern than a dual control or separate control over a weapon system that is second-strike. It is always easier, in theory at least, to use our own nuclear weapons second than to use them first. It would be agony enough, if one imagines the circumstances that would surround a decision actually taken by western leaders, to use the cruise missile second. The mind begins to boggle.

Mr. Stuart Holland

I cannot let the hon. Gentleman get away with the argument that cruise is simply a second-strike weapon. That is not the way it was described by the Americans in the first instance when it was brought out. Would the hon. Gentleman make the same argument about Pershing? Is Pershing only a second-strike weapon?

Mr. Critchley

Clearly, Pershing, because of its flight-time, is a first-strike weapon. I was talking about the cruise missile. Here, I stand side by side with those two strong members of the church, Mr. Bruce Kent and Canon Ostreicher, who hold that view.

Were Europe to insist upon its own key, we should weaken the credibility of the whole system. The whole idea of having a cruise missile system, which is deployed on European soil, is to connect the American decision-making process to the defence of Europe. Were there to be a second key, and therefore an element of doubt, the effect on Soviet decision-making might well be to persuade the Soviets that they could succeed in getting away with it. Therefore, a series of dual keys would clearly reduce the utility of the whole system.

Finally, no reasonable comparison is to be made with the invasion of Grenada—not Granada; the Americans have nothing against the Bernsteins—and the question of the European deployment of cruise, because clearly, in the defence of Europe, American interest and European interest are identical.

8.18 pm
Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

I should like to make a few comments, first, to the hon. Member who represents Greenham Common, the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson), because of some of the words that he used about those courageous and self-sacrificing women who have made a massive contribution to the peace movement. He said that they were unnecessary. I think that they have done more to bring the problems and dangers of cruise missiles to the attention of the British people than anyone else has done. That is reflected in the fact that nearly 80 per cent. of the British people are against cruise, with or without dual key.

The hon. Gentleman said that they had acted unreasonably. In my opinion, they acted reasonably until they were treated unreasonably by others. They were subjected to the most terrible conditions. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that they were deeply unpopular. They may be deeply unpopular among a few hundred Conservative Members of Parliament, but they are certainly not unpopular among the mass of people, and certainly not among the massive, ever-growing peace movement in the United Kingdom. One hon. Gentleman said that they were anti-men and rejected men. In fact, I have taken part in demonstrations at Greenham Common with the women.

It is said that the women have served one useful purpose—showing how to get through the fence. I should like the Minister to guarantee that anyone who gets through the fence will not be shot. It has been stated that people who go near the nuclear bunkers where the warheads are stored will be shot on sight. I hope that the Minister will give us the assurance tonight that that will not happen in any circumstances.

The deployment of nuclear missiles will make Britain not a safer, but a more dangerous, place. The nuclear threshold will be dramatically lowered by the installation of cruise and Pershing missiles on the continent of Europe. I shall outline four arguments that justify that statement.

The first argument concerns the danger of an accidental nuclear war. I do not like to think that the lives of my children and of the people whom I represent depend on the absolute flawlessness of a computer or radar system in the Soviet Union. I have recently been to America several times to talk to people in Congress and in the State Department. I was told that in the past two and a half years there have been at least 200 errors due either to radar misreadings or computer malfunctions. As has been said, the United States of America is the most advanced technological country on this planet. If that country can make such errors, so can the Soviet Union.

I am worried not that the Soviet Union will respond to a real attack, but that it will respond to the idea that it is being attacked. The Soviets may think that they are being attacked, because they have a radar or computer malfunction. They will then have to go on to some form of alert. The Americans, not knowing why they are responding, will have to go on to a responsive alert. That may confirm to the Soviets that they are actually being attacked, and they have already said that they will launch a warning. "Use them or lose them" is another cliche that is used. Therefore, our lives will be in much more danger when those weapons have been installed.

I do not want to labour the point that has been made about the problem of verification. However, my second argument is that there may be a method of verifying 500 land-based missiles, but that it is impossible to verify the 5,000, 6,000 or 7,000 other cruise missiles to be deployed in the air or on the sea. Therefore, the potential enemy will be continuously on edge. The incident involving the Korean airliner shows just how edgy the Soviet Union is at the moment. The shooting down of that plane should have been seen as a warning to us not to deploy such missiles rather than as a reason to do so.

Thirdly, the deployment of such missiles will create a whole new arms race. Whatever Conservative Members may believe, the Soviets have no missiles similar to cruise or Pershing. There can be no doubt that the Soviets will search for a similar weapon, which may lead to a further massive escalation of the arms race. Therefore, we shall have to make more cuts in spending on health, housing and the social services in order to pay for what might be a further escalation of the arms race.

Fourthly, it is often said that the Soviets went into Afghanistan. However, they did not fire nuclear weapons there. If there is a war, those countries that have nuclear weapons will have to be subject to the first strike. If we have them, we shall be acting as a static aircraft carrier for the Americans and will be subject to an early strike. There is a debate about whether we should have a dual key. I am interested not in whether we have such a key, but in trying to stop the deployment of cruise missiles in Britain.

The argument was forcibly expressed in an editorial in The Guardian today: Our own view has always been that the dual key debate was a distraction, concentrating unhelpfully on sugaring the pill of deployment rather than the real case for and against any escalation at all. I shall not fall into the trap of saying that cruise missiles are better for Britain if the hands of a British Prime Minister as well as an American President are on the trigger. I do not want cruise missiles in Britain at all. I do not want any nuclear weapons here.

I believe that Britain would be safer for me, my family and kids without nuclear weapons. There is a massive contradiction in the argument that we should have nuclear weapons here.

We have assumed tonight that system errors are always by the USA and the USSR, but with rapid proliferation, which will become even more rapid, more and more countries will have nuclear weapons and we shall be even more dependent on there being no technological malfunctions in relation to different battlefields. A number of flashpoints throughout the world could easily develop and lead to nuclear war. That will be made even more possible if more countries have nuclear weapons.

A number of Conservative Members have claimed that those who speak against nuclear weapons are guilty of anti-Americanism. I am in favour neither of nuclear weapons from Washington nor of nuclear weapons from Moscow. It is no consolation to me that they come from one direction or another or that one super-power or another starts a war. I believe that we are safer without nuclear weapons. Someone somewhere must have the moral and political conviction to start the trend towards nuclear weapons reductions. By voting against cruise missiles tonight we could make a contribution to that beginning.

8.28 pm
Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

I am a strong supporter of the Government's defence policy, of which membership of NATO is a key element. I also strongly support the view that a nuclear capability is an integral and essential part of a modern integrated defence system. I support the need to maintain and enhance our relationship with the United States as a key element in our national defence. The United States is our most important ally and has proved to be so on more than one occasion. It serves us nothing to forget that.

We must remember that an alliance such as ours is a two-way business. The United States is a key element in the United Kingdom defence network, but the United Kingdom is a key element in the defence of the United States. The United Kingdom is a vital area in the United States shield in western Europe. It is right that that should be so, and we should remember it.

The case for the deployment of cruise has already been made eloquently by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and many of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I shall not waste time by reiterating the arguments.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) omitted three critical aspects in his speech. As a former Secretary of State for Defence he must have been well aware of the enormous Russian threat and the growing imbalance in missile systems, particularly in theatre weapons. He failed to make any mention of that.

The right hon. Gentleman also did not remind the House that when he was in government he must have supported the deployment of cruise in the so-called Fred Mulley communique. Neither did he remind the House that NATO, including the United Kingdom Government of which he then formed a part, asked especially for land-based cruise deployment in western Europe. There was a specific request that there should be not just air or sea-launched missiles but land-based ones because that showed an American commitment to western Europe. However, the right hon. Gentleman criticised the land-based element of cruise missiles.

I support what I consider the overdue deployment of cruise. I particularly applaud the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that on a net basis we shall reduce by 2,400 the number of warheads, because it shows not only the Russians but the world the genuine commitment of this Government to disarmament, that we are willing to move in this direction. I shall concentrate not on the deployment of cruise but on the issue of control of American missiles based on the United Kingdom.

I believe that dual key is a gimmick and an expensive gimmick costing between $80 million and $100 million for the cruise system as planned. What is more, it is probably too late to introduce it, because it would be enormously wasteful of time and would delay the deployment of the cruise missile system now. It is too late if we are to go ahead with our programme, and if we delayed we should be playing into the hands of the opposition in terms of the Soviet bloc. It is particularly too late if one believes, as I do, that this is a gimmick.

We had dual key for the Thor rockets in the 1950s and 1960s. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) rightly said, the key difference between Thor and cruise is that Thor was a first-strike weapon and cruise is a second-strike weapon. However, there are other differences. The Thor missile was partly British, partly American made, based on British soil and manned by British crews. The Americans asked for the dual key, which was given to them. It was that element of the missile which was made in America to which the Americans got the key, and that was not an easy thing to by-pass in those early days of technology.

The cruise missile is different in that it is an American-made missile, made entirely in America, based on British soil but crewed by Americans. It is we who may be asking for the dual key. With modern technology, that is all too easy to by-pass and render useless, particularly as the Americans have made the rocket. Dual key is out of date and a gimmick because it is too easily by-passed in this circumstance. I hear that the Germans have dual key on their Pershing IAs, but that is not the critical issue here.

The main issue is not dual key but dual control. We are told that the system of consultation that we now have and have had for many years, which has been agreed to by both Socialist and Conservative Governments, equals dual control. However, I am afraid that in the minds of many millions of people the Grenada incident has called this theory into question and there is now deep concern among strong supporters of the Government's defence policy, who no longer believe that consultation means dual control. The unfortunate Grenada incident is misleading. The circumstances were different from the consultations on nuclear missiles. We have a close liaison and a close joint perception of the idea, strategy, use and conditions under which the missiles can be fired—all of which were missing in the Grenada incident.

However, that incident has highlighted an element of risk. Although a small risk does not matter when it involves trusted friends, it may be too big a risk if it is the ultimate trust of a friend. The British people are worried about the joint decision. We must recognise that worry and show them that consultation really means joint control.

On 12 May 1983 the Prime Minister said about the arrangements: We are satisfied that they are effective. The arrangements will apply to United States cruise missiles based in the United Kingdom whether on or off bases. The effect of the understandings and the arrangements for implementing them is that no nuclear weapon would be fired or launched from British territory without the agreement of the British Prime Minister."—[Official Report, 12 May 1983; Vol. 42, c. 435.] I applaud that aim, but the credibility of that statement has been questioned by recent events. The Government owe it to our people to explain the arrangements more fully. That will allay their genuine fears and ensure genuine and full-hearted support.

Mr. Budgen

It is all very well talking about explanations, but can my hon. Friend explain how many American Administration can, in the last resort, be bound by any form of agreement or understanding with the British Government?

Mr. Browne

I am looking for a form of physical control—

Mr. Budgen

My hon. Friend said that the dual key was a gimmick.

Mr. Browne

The dual key is a gimmick, but there is room for some form of physical control short of that—for example, taking the missiles out of the sheds. The little information that we have about the arrangements is not sufficient to satisfy me that joint consultation means joint control.

Although a dual key on a missile is a gimmick, some physical control could be very effective. I sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). I may have explained myself badly. I am trying to explain that the dual key is a gimmick, but that physical control is more easy to understand and, in the end, more credible and more likely to work.

Our fellow countrymen are asking a real and explicit question of the Government, and they deserve a real and explicit answer. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will meet that request with a much fuller explanation of the arrangements. I hope that the Government will try to define much more clearly the exact physical controls that we will have over the cruise missiles stationed in Britain.

8.49 pm
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

The House will agree that we have had a most interesting debate and, in replying on behalf of the Social Democratic and Liberal parties, I must pay tribute to two maiden speeches, from the hon. Members for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) and for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks). The former hon. Member for Bury, South was widely respected and I hope that the new Member will make many more contributions. We heard an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness. We certainly look forward to hearing from him in defence debates because of his strong Vickers' interest. The former right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness was widely respected although he was a man of controversial views. I did not agree with all those views but, nevertheless, he was a good and respected Member.

I wish to devote most attention to the Liberal and Social Democratic amendment and try to persuade hon. Members who are concerned about the control measures for cruise missiles that may have to be deployed in this country that it is necessary now to make a specific arrangement in order to ensure more public confidence. The amendment, of course, speaks of more important issues. I shall deal first with the history of the matter to which reference has already been made. We should not spend too much time on this aspect but it is important to stress that Britain must try to ensure a measure of greater continuity in its defence policy across Governments after elections. We must get out of the habit of believing that it is essential for a political party in opposition to have a defence policy and a view on defence different from the Government of the day.

It is an extremely damaging and fairly recent development in the polarisation of British politics to believe that it is necessary at all stages to have different viewpoints. We must remember that the fundamental issue at stake is the collective cohesion of NATO. That requires member states to co-ordinate their policies across Governments of the Left, the Right and the Centre, and to be able to develop a coherent negotiating position with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact that can stick through difficult political circumstances. That should be stressed and I shall return to the point later.

What did happen in 1977, 1978 and 1979? There are two elements to the NATO modernisation decision. There were anxieties that the existing Pershing missiles would gradually become out of date. They are not yet out of date but that is coming down the track. There were also anxieties about the capacity of F111 aircraft and some of our own aircraft to penetrate Soviet air defences. The issue of theatre modernisation would have come up even if the Soviet Union had not been deploying SS20s. It gradually became a matter of major concern, surpassing the concern about the modernisation of existing weapons, as the Soviet Union increasingly began to deploy SS20s through 1978 and into 1979.

The previous Labour Government agreed to the concept of modernising European theatre nuclear weapons. Of that there is no doubt. What they did not agree to was the particular mix or the numbers. Here it is important to stress that there was a change in the latter half of 1979 in firming up the emphasis on ground-launched cruise missiles and in going for larger numbers than many people had hitherto thought necessary. The previous Labour Government were sceptical about ground-launched cruise missiles. That is a matter of record which will eventually be revealed. In fairness to the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), he and I were both sceptical for several reasons. One was verification, which was also the United States' concern at the time. We were in the run-up to what we hoped would be an agreement on SALT.

It is harder to verify ground-launched cruise missiles than missiles on aircraft which, it can be agreed, will carry cruise missiles, or on vessels, on the surface or under the sea. The second problem, which has always been obvious, with ground-launched cruise missiles, is that they must be deployed off-base, which puts them, in a unique way, into the civilian population, and they are therefore bound to cause concern.

The other issue that seems to have changed in the light of 1979 is the decision to go for such a large number of missiles. It was previously thought, even as far back as November 1978, that we would come out on the lower range, and I believe that in 1979 the then Chief of the Defence Staff, an airman, wanted the case looked at for air-launched cruise missiles. Therefore the Government should not, in asking for support for the 1979 decision, expect many of us who support the need for theatre modernisation to be tied, lock, stock and barrel, to every aspect of that decision. They should also have the sense to realise that there are serious criticisms of some aspects of the mechanics of the decision.

But the politics of the dual-key decision was a point that the last Labour Government certainly considered, particulary the importance of the negotiating element, the idea that while being prepared to deploy, one should be ready all the time to negotiate. That was a central theme and was injected into the thinking by the British Government at the time. I feel responsible for that, and I stand by that belief.

I do not understand why this debate should be taking place on 31 October when the Secretary of State has said that the operational date for deployment is 31 December. We make it clear in our amendment that we do not believe that the bargaining position of NATO should be weakened. It has always been understood that preparations must take place. However, where the British Government and the United States, and maybe other European countries, are showing lack of judgment is in appreciating how all experience with the Soviet Union shows that concessions are made at the very end, when one is right up against the deadline and when it is absolutely clear that deployment will go ahead.

In recent months the Soviets have never shifted from their basic position. They will make reductions in SS20s, they have agreed to an important concession in terms of a much wider discussion on nuclear-carrying aircraft, with an important decision over a limitation in the Asian deployment of SS20s, all significant improvements. But they have said that they would not agree to any of those if a single cruise or Pershing missile was deployed. The big breakthrough will be when they are able to concede that some deployment on our side will be necessary if they insist on deploying many SS20s.

Their belief has been that they could demonstrate that Europe was divided. They did not wish to agree to anything that would undermine the protests and demonstrations that would be taking place in Europe. They were therefore bound to hold out till the last moment, thinking that there might be a chance of getting a major fissure in NATO's decision-making, with one or two major countries being prepared to back off from the deployment decision.

It is incumbent on NATO to be prepared to negotiate right to the very end. Ambassador Nitze is right to make preparations to go on negotiating even up to 15 December. That too should be the firm position of NATO. It is in that context that our amendment deserves the support of the House because it argues for a further initiative from NATO—in other words, from the United States—because the real response in the light of events in recent weeks is for Europe to be asking the United States for a new initiative.

When we argue for a revival of ambassador Nitze's proposals and the famous walk-in-the-woods formula, we do so not just as one political element in this House, the Liberals and Social Democrats. We speak for many people in Europe. In July, in an interview in the Washington Post, Chancellor Kohl said revealingly that whether there is a chance of finding a new impetus here I am not able to judge, but it must be examined further. The German Liberal Foreign Minister, Herr Genscher, has said constantly that this is a possibility. Former Chancellor Schmidt, who is often invoked on these matters, has said publicly that he believes that the walk-in-the-woods formula should have been followed up much more. It is not easy for Germany to take the initiative. The walk-in-the-woods formula was more favourable to the Federal Republic of Germany. It meant that there would be no deployment of Pershing missiles and that they would have had to continue with their cruise deployment. That could not be done immediately. It would not have been easy for the Germans to champion this. That is why the British Government are in a unique position to ask for a new initiative and to revive the walk-in-the-woods formula. They will be failing in their responsibilities if they say that they are not prepared to negotiate right up against the deadline and to respond to the Andropov proposals.

The Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister have said that they are prepared to reconsider the Andropov proposals. There is an interesting article in today's edition of The Times, illustrating that there appears to be a dispute and a struggle inside the Kremlin on how forward the Soviet initiative should have been. There is some evidence that Mr. Andropov wanted to go further and was held back by the generals. He may have been held back because the generals feared that any concession that they made would be dismissed and eaten up and that there would be no give from the other side. This is a time when the western powers should be prepared to demonstrate a measure of restraint. We must however not allow the Soviet Union to be seen to have exercised a political veto on the decision-making powers of NATO. The attraction of the walk-in-the-woods formula is that it does not allow the Soviet Union that veto. However, it demonstrates a restraint, in deploying the Pershing missile system, which is the one that most concerns the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union is concerned about the Pershing system, with some justification. The system has a very short in-flight time. Why was the Pershing range extended? When I was close to these matters I always understood that there was to be a replacement for the existing Pershings, which were getting out of date. The decision to go for the much longer range and to be able to target on the Soviet Union has changed the strategic arguments that are underlying theatre modernisation.

There is no doubt—I take up the question of the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne)—that "dual key" is a term of art. What it means is control. There was not just a key, effective for the Thor missile. I drew the attention of the House to a failure of the actual key mechanism in a Standing Order No. 10 debate on 28 April 1983. In case anyone thinks that the Social Democrats and Liberals are raising this issue only in the light of the Grenada incidents, let me make it clear that we have been arguing about dual key for over two years. We have been pressing the Government on the issue constantly. I do not believe that the issue should be decided merely on what has happened in Grenada. That would be the worst type of response because it would undermine confidence in the United States. We must be careful to remember that there is considerable criticism inside the United States of the decisions by responsible politicians on Grenada. Perhaps the Administration is getting some popular support, but when we criticise the decisions of President Reagan for his Administration, as we have every right to do, that must not be allowed to feed animosity or a sense of delight in humiliating or causing trouble in the basic relationship between Britain and the United States, which is still central to our defence relationship.

Out of incidents such as Grenada there comes a firm resolve of the British people that they want to be sure on certain basic issues. One of those issues relates to the control mechanism and the launch mechanism of a cruise missile.

The Secretary of State for Defence is wrong when he talks about precedents and quotes the Attlee agreement. The precedent of the Attlee agreement was broken by Harold Macmillan when he was Prime Minister in 1958, over the Thor missiles. That was because he realised that there is a significant and substantive difference between a missile that is ground launched from the territory of the United Kingdom, and agreeing to have a base at Holy Loch for Polaris and Poseidon submarines and allowing F111 aircraft, previously B47s, to fly from airfields in the United Kingdom.

The difference is that once the missile is launched, it cannot be recalled. The people who pick it up on their radars believe that it will be used. They know that Britain is a nuclear weapon state. It is understood in Germany, Italy and non-nuclear weapon states, that if we have the dual control mechanism, it will not have knock-on effects for those countries. However, the Secretary of State was in danger of misleading the House in not stressing the fact that the Pershing IA has a dual key mechanism. The actual control mechanism is slightly different. The Lance missile, a battlefield weapon, also has that mechanism. All the missiles operated by British forces or in British territory have a dual control mechanism.

It is extraordinary that the only reason why we are not having a control mechanism is the Prime Minister's obsessive concern never to be seen to change her mind. I beg her to ask herself whether the fundamental issue is not to get the widest possible support for any deployment decision that may have to be taken. I urge the House to consider that. There is no reneging or fudging the issue. We believe that one should negotiate right up to the deadline. A decision will then have to be made. How we make it will depend on many factors. It is right for the House to take wider factors than the dual key into consideration. I passionately believe that we should have a dual control mechanism, but of itself its absence is not a sufficient reason to decide not to deploy. I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) said about that.

One of the things that would weigh heaviest with me is the view of the other NATO countries. I am growing more of the view that we shall need greater European unity on defence and security. One of the lessons of the past couple of years, not only in President Reagan's but in President Carter's Administration, is that the only way to influence the United States within NATO is if the European voice is clear and strong. There is no collective decision-making by the European members of NATO. There needs to be a mechanism if we are to able to argue and talk with the United States not only as friends and allies but as equal partners. If we leave it entirely to each individual member state, we are automatically handing total dominance to the United States. That no longer reflects the reality of the politics of Europe and the growth of European unity, on economic trading and political matters. We must now add the security dimension, not in the sense of anti-Americanism but in the sense of a proper assertion of European strength and unity.

We would have to look at any decision in that context. We shall have to take account of the views of the French Socialist Government, of the left of centre coalition in Italy, headed by the Socialist Prime Minister Craxi, of the Federal Republic of Germany with a Liberal partner in the coalition, and of many other NATO countries. We must take the decision in that wider context.

However, the Government are asking for a final decision two months before the operational deadline with no evidence yet that they are prepared to take a new initiative and to seek an arms control agreement. There is no positive proposal on how they see the START and INF negotiations being merged. There is no clear statement of the recognition that British and French weapon systems, Polaris and French submarines, will have to be taken into account at least by some mechanism. There is no proposal, except the one that I put to the Secretary of State, for a bilateral agreement between Britain and the Soviet Union and France and the Soviet Union in which we would accept ceilings on our weapon systems as part of the overall agreement arising out of the START talks. This is against a background in which it is widely felt that there has not been the pressure for arms control and disarmament that the subject deserves.

The people of this country believe that the Prime Minister has shown less interest in arms control and disarmament than any post-war Prime Minister. I tell Conservative Members that one of the proudest records of Mr. Harold Macmillan was his concern and, indeed, success, over the comprehensive test ban treaty and other matters. We hope that the Prime Minister will go to Moscow, be prepared to enter into a dialogue, open discussions with the Soviet Union and adopt a much more forthcoming attitude. When that happens, the people will have more confidence in the Government's decisions and, more importantly, in the decisions of NATO.

Until that happens, we urge all hon. Members to vote for our amendment. It is firmly multilateralist but, unlike so often in the past, it is multilateralism with teeth. The amendment shows how a multilateral disarmament agreement can be achieved. Furthermore, if there were a control mechanism for all cruise missiles, if they were then deployed it would carry the conviction of the British people.

9.1 pm

Mr. William Powell (Corby)

I agree with much of what the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said. I welcome especially the emphasis that he placed upon the European dimension to the Atlantic Alliance. I am quite certain that a contemporary definition of the Alliance must include the European dimension about which he spoke. The effect of the amendment, however, is, "Yes, but not now." I am unable to support that approach when referring to the deployment of the missiles.

The debate is of special interest to my constituents as the eastern boundary of my constituency is the western boundary of the Air Force field at Molesworth. Therefore, the missiles deployed in 1988 will be within yards of my constituency, if it has not been possible by then to reach a proper agreement with the Soviet Union. If an agreement has not been reached meanwhile, I am certain that my constituents would wish such deployment to go ahead.

As Molesworth straddles a county boundary and the jurisdiction of two different police forces, it will be necessary for the public authorities in this remote and rural area closely to co-ordinate their behaviour towards any action which may occur around the Molesworth airfield. Demonstrators are already permanently in residence. At present they are in Northamptonshire but if they moved less than 10 yards they would be in Cambridgeshire. Should it be necessary, the Cambridgeshire police would have to cross the boundary into Northamptonshire to deal with any problems that might arise. The authorities will have to co-ordinate closely to deal with any disorders which may occur.

I listened with care to the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) who made out a persuasive case, or so he thought, against the use of land-based cruise missiles in Europe. As he spoke, I thought that all his arguments could also apply to the Soviet Union. If land-based missiles are so useless, why is the Soviet Union continuing to build up the numbers? If that is the position—there is nothing new about that argument, as the right hon. Member for Devonport made clear—why was NATO in 1977 or 1979 even contemplating the deployment of land-based weapons?

One has only to state those premises to realise how misguided were the arguments of the right hon. Member for Devonport. Perhaps the only change since 1979 has been the Soviet response to the NATO decision to deploy. Since December 1979, when that decision was made. we have seen a sustained campaign in western Europe against that deployment. There have been many Soviet-inspired bodies behind that campaign. There have been many others as well, but the Soviet Union has tried hard to make us change our minds about deployment and to prevent it.

If we were to decide tonight not to proceed, the Soviets would be those jeering loudest on this continent. At this late hour, we cannot afford to give them that advantage. For years we have made it plain that this action would proceed at the end of 1983 if—and only if—no agreement had been reached in the interim. I hope that we shall continue to try to seek that agreement before December. If we are not able to reach an agreement, deployment must take place. It is appropriate that we should have this debate within two months of the end of the year, because we have made it plain that deployment will take place in December 1983—not January, February or any other time in 1984. We stated well in advance our intentions and the consequences if we were unable to reach agreement. The timing is right, and we should proceed.

9.7 pm

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

Last week, I spent three days visiting our forces in Germany, including a part of the east-west frontier. I saw also some of our great aerodromes. I spoke to many men and women in the forces from the commander-in-chief to the privates and airmen. No one can make such a visit without being aware of the massive forces opposed to us on the most vital part of the front—forces which have greater superiority in conventional arms, tanks, guns and aircraft. At the same time, one cannot help but be struck by the morale and professionalism of our men and their determination to fight, if necessary. I believe that they, not the misguided and sometimes shameful women of Greenham Common, are the true keepers of peace.

While I was in Germany, I did not meet anyone of any rank who did not wish the West to have cruise missiles. It would be monstrous to deprive our forces of these weapons, which have become necessary since the massive introduction of the SS20 missiles by the Soviets. This occurred without any demonstration by the so-called peace movement here.

Much of the debate has been about dual control of cruise missiles on English soil. Since the United States' intervention in Grenada, there has been a renewed burst of anti-American and anti-President Reagan feeling. We heard some of this from the Opposition Benches. No one can accuse me of not having patriotic feelings. Certainly, in my hot-blooded youth I regarded the Americans as rebels, as did Dr. Johnson. Although it is now only a romantic dream, it is a pity that the Americans did not stay under the British Crown.

Today, the cornerstone of our defence and safety must be the NATO Alliance, but we must recognise the vast American preponderance there. I appreciate the deep feelings on this matter of some of my colleagues who, I am told, belong to the romantic Right, to which I thought at one time I belonged.

The United States Government are sometimes inclined to take us for granted. It seems to me that President Reagan has been singularly unfair in view of the support that we and, in particular, the Prime Minister have given to the United States. The alliance with the United States is important to our defence and a good deal, but not all, of our foreign policy.

Differences in the Caribbean must not be allowed to harm our united stance in Europe. The happenings in the fairly small island of Grenada are as nothing compared with the security of the West in Europe. To try to draw an exact comparison between the United States Government's decision to land in Grenada against our judgment and the use of nuclear weapons in our country is thoroughly misleading. We have a specific agreement about the control of nuclear weapons here which should be sufficient. I share the doubts of many people in this country about American foreign policy. Ordinary people's doubts should be heeded.

When I was working in the Foreign Office during the war I saw a good deal of our American colleagues. I served for three years in the Lebanon, and I am doubtful about American policy in that country. In spite of that experience, I do not believe that these differences of opinion should cloud our judgment over collaborating fully with the United States on cruise missiles and all other defence matters in Europe. The stakes are far too high for any other approach.

I suggest that some hon. Gentlemen should go and see the wall in Berlin and the great frontier between East and West with the mines, towers, barbed wire, searchlights, dogs, and troops. On Thursday afternoon—[Laughter.] It is not a laughing matter. Hon. Gentlemen may laugh on the other side of their faces. On Thursday afternoon I saw two German farmers ploughing the land nearly up to their side of the border. There were men with rifles and bayonets trained on those farmers the whole time. That is the reality of life in the East. It is the western way of life, freedom and democracy, for all our failures and those of our American cousins, that we are defending and that is most important.

I want to say something that no one has dared to say. Our troops and airmen are the best in Europe. We set an example in NATO that all the other members follow. Britain has a Prime Minister and a Government who are resolute in standing up to the might of Soviet Russia. Some of our European allies may not be quite so resolute. It is up to the British, in this old civilised nation of ours, to set an example in co-operating with the new and sometimes brash Government of the United States. Let us hope that the American embassy—indeed, the American Government and President Reagan himself—will listen to part of the debate, heed hon. Members' views and appreciate the sensitivity of the issues. The patriot today must stand with the United States. Much as I love England, all that it stands and has stood for, our future is indissolubly linked with the United States.

9.15 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Some Labour Members have listened with extreme care to the opening speech of the Secretary of State for Defence. I want to address a specific question of clarification to him. On the subject of control of these weapons, did we or did we not understand him to say that one reason there could not be dual control was that if we had it for American weapons they would want dual control of ours? I do not think that there has been a misunderstanding on this subject. Therefore, the question then arises: in what circumstances would British nuclear weapons be used if they were to be used in a situation that was unacceptable to the American Government? In what circumstances would we alone decide, without consulting Washington, to use nuclear weapons?

It was the Secretary of State, not I, who raised the argument. If I have it wrong, perhaps he will interrupt me—[Interruption.] I shall let someone else intervene as soon as the Secretary of State says that I have misunderstood him. If he does not do so, one can only jump to the conclusion that we have understood him all too well and that there are in his mind certain circumstances in which Britain would go ahead and use nuclear weapons.

Mr. Steel

That is right.

Mr. Dalyell

The Liberal leader says that that is right.

That brings me, in the last two minutes, to another issue. An R class nuclear Polaris-carrying submarine in the ugly period between the sinking of Sheffield and the landing at San Carlos went 21 deg west and 12 deg south—out of range of the Soviet Union but in range of the Argentine city of Cordoba. It has been in the press, never answered and never refuted, that an important conversation took place between the naval chiefs and the Prime Minister. After the loss of the Sheffield, the naval chiefs said that if the Canberra or Invincible were lost—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman is coming towards the end of his speech, but he must make it relevant to intermediate range nuclear forces.

Mr. Dalyell

The naval chiefs said that if they lost one of the big ships they could not go ahead. The Prime Minister said that defeat could not be contemplated. The naval chiefs said that she had better realise that in that case the operation could not continue, to which the Prime Minister is said to have replied, "In that case, we must show them."

Tinker tells us about "big white jobs". God knows why he would put it in his diaries if there were not something in it. The Prime Minister is said to have gone on to say, that in that case, we should drop a "big white job" on the city of Cordoba. "Big white job" is naval slang for a Polaris missile. That has never been denied. A response, one way or the other, from Ministers is important. That is the logical consequence of those who say that we cannot have dual key because the Americans would have some restraint on us. I note that there has been no reaction to this, so I shall write to the Secretary of State tomorrow asking whether it is true.

9.20 pm
Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

It is my pleasant duty to congratulate the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) on an interesting and agreeable maiden speech. It was allegedly non-controversial, but I disagreed with some of it. However, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his non-controversial reference to Albert Booth, a friend of many hon. Members on both sides of the House. It was generous and kind.

This is a historic debate—perhaps more historic than people really imagine. Within the next few days, if the Government have their way—and I quote from the Guardian report of the Secretary of State's minute to the Prime Minister— Major items of equipment for the first cruise missile flight will be arriving at RAF Greenham Common. Soon thereafter, the first ground-launched cruise missiles will be in place in the United Kingdom—160 at Greenham and Molesworth.

The timing of this is of great importance. It was one of the few things on which I agree with the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). As the Government's motion states, the 1979 twin track decision on intermediate range nuclear forces lays down that in the absence of agreement on the zero option cruise missiles will be operationally deployed in the United Kingdom at the end of 1983. This afternoon the Secretary of State tried to make propaganda out of this timetable. The original timetable for deployment was fixed at the NATO meeting in December 1979, although the ultimate date of December 1983 was purely arbitrary. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) during a previous Defence Question Time, the Secretary of State said: Conservative Members think that four years is adequate if the Soviet Union has any intention of negotiating."—[Official Report, 12 July 1983; Vol. 45, c. 759.] Leaving aside the fact that there are still two months to go, according to the timetable, the right hon. Gentleman must know that his answer was totally misleading, as was his use of the timetable today.

The INF talks in Geneva began on 30 November 1981, following President Reagan's zero option suggestion. Therefore, it is not four years or even two years since negotiations on the zero option have been in progress. Furthermore, NATO originally decided to go ahead with the deployment of cruise missiles—this is an important historical fact—against the background of a Soviet-American agreement in SALT 2 on strategic weapons.

At that time it looked as if the SALT 2 treaty would be ratified by the American Congress. Had that happened, it would have prohibited the deployment of cruise devices—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said earlier—for about 18 months or two years. Every NATO Government knew it, so bang goes the first 15 minutes of the Secretary of State's speech today. In the event, the question of a continued ban on the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles by both sides could have been, and was expected to be, placed on the agenda of SALT 3. Unfortunately, the West inherited President Reagan, and with him the cold war rhetoric that has typified his occupancy of the presidency.

All that makes more extraordinary, and perhaps more disturbing, the Secretary of State's decision to accept the missiles within the next few days. Clearly, the timing of this debate relates to the undignified scramble to get cruise missiles in place. As recently as 20 October, the Secretary of State for Defence minuted the Prime Minister that the missiles themselves might be arriving on 1 November—tomorrow. Despite the fact that we have not reached the deadline, despite the delays which, as I have shown, were not entirely the fault of the Russians, despite the offer of ambassador Nitze at Geneva to keep the offer open until Christmas, the Government have pressed on regardless. No doubt they will try to claim that tonight's vote is good enough authority for breaching NATO's timetable. Why? Are they, like President Reagan, determined that there shall be no agreement in Geneva?

At the same time, it should be understood that the Government have a massive problem in trying to persuade the country that their policy is right. The polls show that an overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens positively refuse to be taken in by Government propaganda. More people oppose cruise—leaving aside the question of dual key—according to the polls, than those who are in favour of it, and the number has hardly budged in the past seven or eight months. Whether the Government propaganda is dished out by women gossip columnists or produced as part of yet another gimmick of the Secretary of State, it makes no difference. People do not see the necessity for cruise, and they are fearful of the power of the President of the United States to deliver from our shores an attack which can destroy our country and which he hopes will leave the United States untouched.

The Government try to make us believe that no cruise missiles could be launched from our territory without the Prime Minister's consent and approval. That is why there has been so much talk—most of it misleading—about various agreements that were made between British Prime Ministers and American Presidents on the use of nuclear bases. Over and again, Opposition Members have pointed out that those agreements—or, as Mr. Harold Macmillan called them, "loose arrangements"—have no relevance to cruise missiles. Today the Secretary of State is offering us a mere repetition of the previous loose arrangements. They referred, as we have many times shown, to bases, not missiles, and they ignore the realities. Loose arrangements or not, F111s in the United Kingdom were put on full alert during the 1973 middle east crisis without consultation with ourselves.

The reality, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) pointed out, is that the President of the United States would be acting unconstitutionally if he were to agree to any dilution of his overall control of American weapons as commander-in-chief of the American forces. That would be outside the constitution. The British people have rightly seen the danger of that control. Let us be quite definite about it: the British people do not trust President Reagan, and that distrust has been amply vindicated by his performance in Grenada.

That distrust is evident even in the amendment to the motion standing in the names of the leaders of the Social Democratic party and the Liberal party. The amendment urges Her Majesty's Government to negotiate immediately on the basis of the United States offer for the installation at British expense of a dual-key system for any Cruise missiles based in the United Kingdom. As the right hon. Member for Devonport said, joint control is an agreement of personal trust between the President and the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman does not believe that that trust exists in the present circumstances, and that is why he asks for a dual key. He accepts that that would be a British expense. My conclusion some weeks ago was that that would cost about £650 million. However, when I quoted that figure, the Secretary of State for Defence corrected me, saying that the sum was not £650 million but £1,000 million.

What would the Government do if they had to pay that sum? Surely they would not cut conventional defence for NATO any further. Indeed, I tell the right hon. Member for Devonport that if this Government were forced into paying for a dual key, their first victim would be the National Health Service, which the right hon. Gentleman helped us to defend just a few days ago. From where else would the money come? From the Navy? It certainly would not come from defence costs. The truth is that, touching as it is to see an amendment in the name of six Social Democrats and all the Liberals, with one rather weighty exception—the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith)—it just will not wash. The amendment is a sad and spurious attempt to obtain some unanimity between the two minority parties.

What does the leader of the Liberal party think that he is doing? In 1981 the Liberal assembly voted by three to two to reject and campaign against the siting of cruise missiles in Britain and to work for a European nuclear-free zone. That was reiterated in the Liberal party programme of 1982. On 22 September 1983 a petition signed by well over half of the delegates Called on the parliamentary Liberal party to implement the 1981 resolution by giving a clear lead in Parliament and the country in opposing the siting of these weapons in Britain. Those were the right hon. Gentleman's instructions.

Mr. Steel

I do not take instructions. Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to tell us what his instructions were?

Mr. Silkin

I shall certainly send to the right hon. Gentleman a copy of the Labour party's policy by which I am bound. [Interruption.] Those are my instructions and I am glad of them. That is called democracy, but the right hon. Member for Devonport would not know anything about that. He knows only about elitism.

Mr. Steel


Mr. Silkin

The right hon. Member for Devonport has not got many troops to worry about, but I am concerned for the leader of the Liberal party, the right hon. Member for Tweedale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel). He, of all people, must not fudge or mudge. It is fudge and mudge, not fudge and nudge, is it not? Nevertheless, I hope that the Liberals will take their courage in their hands and join us in the Lobby tonight against the Government.

Of all the policies advanced by the Secretary of State and the Government, the acceptance of cruise missiles on British territory is the most servile and inexplicable. In the nuclear jungle, the Russians base their defence on land-based nuclear forces. In the 1960s they had the SS4s and the SS5s. By today's technology they are slow, cumbersome and obsolete; nevertheless they were dangerous in their time. NATO's reply to the SS4 and SS5 was to allocate missile submarines to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. At this moment NATO submarines can call on 400 warheads in European waters. That is enough to destroy all vestiges of civilised life in the Soviet Union.

Of course, we are now in the realm of the SS20. The Russians are replacing the SS4 and SS5. Even granting that SS20s are more accurate, the American determination to bring in cruise missiles is still a puzzle. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said, for 23 years NATO has believed that the defence against Russian land-based nuclear weapons is submarine-based missiles backed by the American strategic missile forces. Nothing has changed—nothing.

Sometimes it is said that cruise is a replacement for the F111 aircraft based in Britain and for Britain's Vulcan bombers. The right hon. Member for Devonport made a passing reference to that view. That would be overkill. In any event, the F111s are being upgraded by the new F111 anti-jamming aircraft. British Vulcans have been withdrawn, but they are being replaced by four times their number—that is, by 200 Tornado nuclear strike aircraft.

Sometimes the most curious mathematics is used to justify the introduction of cruise. In a television programme in the spring the Secretary of State and Henry Kissinger talked of Russia having 1,053 warheads trained on Europe and of NATO having none at all. To reach that equation one must ignore the whole of the British and French nuclear forces, Pershing lA and Poseidon C3 and United States carrier-based aircraft. In other words, one is not comparing like with like.

If one really counts warheads trained on Europe and NATO's equivalent, one discovers that there are about 3,800 on each side. That is a rough and dangerous equality, but an equality none the less.

The final justification is always supposed to be that the last thing that the poor Americans wanted to do was to introduce cruise missiles into Europe and that the Europeans went down on their knees and begged them to do so. In an interview with Alistair Burnett on 31 March, the Secretary of State said: It was the western Europeans that asked to have the cruise missies and the Pershing II systems employed in Europe. It was not the Americans. So that the idea that they were planning it does not stand up to examination because it was originally Chancellor Schmidt who first raised as a politician this into the public domain. I have searched through Herr Schmidt's celebrated speech made in London at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in 1977. It expressed considerable regret that SALT 2 was limited to strategic systems and wanted INF systems as well—about which SALT 3 would have been concerned had it come about. Nowhere in the speech is there a reference to asking the United States for cruise missiles, Pershings or anything else. How the Secretary of State can maintain that fiction in the light of the real European attitude is difficult to understand.

In Germany Willy Brandt, with Helmut Schmidt's approval, is in favour of at least six months' delay in the introduction of cruise missiles. The Dutch Parliament has voted for the inclusion of British and French nuclear forces in the arms negotiations, as has the Danish parliament. Only last weekend a royal personage spoke about the introduction of cruise missiles during the demonstration in Holland.

Throughout Europe and in Britain reaction against the deployment of cruise missiles has grown. It has become of historic importance, because, if this Government really wished, they could make a change in the policy. They have the chance to change the policy of introducing cruise into Europe. The deployment of cruise is not a European policy.

Admiral Carroll, the deputy director of operations under General Haig up to 1979, who was in charge of nuclear strategy at that time, said: Anyone who believes that the initiative for deployment originated with Europe believes in the Easter bunny. Obviously the Secretary of State believes in the Easter bunny.

We can see that a new start is being made in the world—it needs to be. There is a growing belief throughout the world in not the probability but the certainty of nuclear war before the century ends. [Interruption.] There is indeed a growing belief. Hon. Members should speak not only to their constituents, but to people all over the world. There is a growing fear that nuclear war is becoming probable, not just possible. It falls to the British Government now to take a new initiative altogether, not in a servile way to fall behind the President of the United States—one of the most dangerous Presidents the United States has had. That is the test, and by that test the Government are failing. By that test, we shall be voting against the Government in the Division Lobby and calling on all hon. Members to join us.

9.41 pm
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Richard Luce)

I can join the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) in warmly commending the two maiden speeches. One was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks), who expressed a clear interest in, and knowledge of, matters of defence, arising largely from the interests in his constituency. He showed a generosity to his predecessor which is very much in the true traditions of the House. The tribute that he paid to Mr. Albert Booth was welcomed by both sides of the House.

I must apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) for not hearing his speech, but I am told that he made a robust restatement of our defence policy and paid a fine tribute, also in the traditions of the House, to his predecessor Frank White.

Mr. Silkin

I join the Minister in thanking the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) for his speech. It was so good that I had not realised that it was a maiden speech.

Mr. Luce

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will also be grateful. Both the right hon. Gentleman and I have shortened our wind-up speeches to allow as many speakers as possible to get in. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will now allow me to get on as fast as possible with the debate.

It is right that the House should have this opportunity to reaffirm its support for NATO's twin-track decision on INF and to confirm its decision that cruise missiles will be operationally deployed here in the absence of an agreement in Geneva on the zero option. Let the message go out clearly and unmistakably tonight that we are as determined as ever to stick to the Alliance's decisions of 1979, which are of such fundamental importance to the maintenance of NATO's deterrence strategy and thus to our national security.

I have listened with care to the contributions made by Labour Members. The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said that the Conservative party always tried to generate an atmosphere of delirium before defence decisions were taken. I did not get that feeling during the debate, which has been a sober and responsible one. That is what the Conservative party wants.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice) said so effectively in a striking speech, there was no word of condemnation from the Opposition Benches, particularly from the Labour party, of the Soviet Union and its activities over the past 10 years or more. On the contrary, it was horrifying to see the dangerous tendency to attack the United States for almost everything that is happening in the world and to forget the many common bonds that exist between us, which are of overwhelming importance.

Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington)

Like Grenada.

Mr. Luce

I shall talk about that in a moment.

Many Conservative Members have a great respect for the robust approach of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) to defence. He spoke of the urgent need for a bipartisan policy on defence, and it is regrettable that we do not have this. I ask him to reflect seriously on the nature of the alliance amendment. It is contradictory. It is not clear whether, if there is no progress towards the zero option for cruise missiles as contained in our motion, he would accept deployment of those weapons. The issue is fudged. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will carefully reconsider his position.

It is right to meet head on the main strand of tonight's debate, which was our relationship with our closest ally, the United States. That was raised by a number of speakers. The point was made effectively by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour)—[Interruption.] I hope that Opposition Members attach importance to this debate, and will have the decency to listen. The point about our relationship with our American ally was also made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Daventry and my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes). However, I will not be drawn by my hon. Friend into questioning whether we were right to grant independence to the United States. But I agree with him that it is disturbing that hon. Members have seen fit to call into question the reliability of the United States as a NATO ally—not only is it specifically committed—

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Luce

I must continue if I am to answer the debate.

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Luce

I shall not give way. I must answer the debate. The Americans are committed under the north Atlantic treaty to the defence of NATO territory. They have demonstrated the genuineness of that commitment in the most practical way conceivable—by the stationing of 300,000 of their service men and dependants in Europe. These men would inevitably be involved from the outset in any hostilities, whether conventional or nuclear. Let no one doubt the American's continued commitment to protect their European allies under the umbrella of their nuclear deterrent forces. They have dispelled any doubts by their decision to agree to the request of their European allies to station medium-range missiles in western Europe with a range to reach the Soviet Union. They do this in the full knowledge that the Russians will retaliate against them if any American missile should strike the Soviet Union, whether or not it is launched from the United States. We rely for our security and freedom on the protection of the United States forces, and especially their nuclear forces. We should never forget that.

We must retain a sense of perspective about the problems that we have encountered with the Americans on Grenada. It is true that the Americans failed to consult their allies properly. We have told them that and they are well aware of our feelings. But we are in danger of forgetting the strength of the consultative process in so many foreign and defence policy issues. Disarmament is an obvious example. As a result of the—

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Luce

I must continue.

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister said that he is not giving way.

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Luce

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a minute. As a result of the detailed and regular exchanges on the INF and START negotiations, American perceptions have altered to reflect fully the anxieties of their European allies. The Americans have listened carefully to what we have said and have been persuaded on important issues. The machinery for consultation within the Alliance is in excellent order.

Mr. Douglas

In a previous incarnation the Minister had the extreme experience of asking the Americans to pass on information, especially through Thomas Enders, to the Argentine Government. He was undermined and cut asunder by them on that occasion. Why does he believe that we should have more faith in them today?

Mr. Luce

That is a precise example of the total lack of perspective of Labour Members. The hon. Gentleman forgets that what we have in common in the free world is of overwhelming importance compared with the other issues on which we have had genuine differences, whether involving Conservative or Labour Governments, over the past 30 years. The suggestion that there is an analogy between our exchanges with the Americans on the eve of their troops landing in Grenada and the consultations that would take place before a decision to fire American nuclear missiles in Britain are, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in the House on 26 October, simply not credible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I repeat tonight that there are quite specific understandings between the British and United States Governments on the use by the Americans of their nuclear weapons and bases in Britain. Those understandings have been jointly reviewed in the light of the planned deployment here of cruise missiles and we are satisfied that they are effective. They mean that no nuclear weapons would be fired or launched from British territory without the British Prime Minister's agreement. It is important to restate that.

Let us remember that it is we, the Europeans, who asked for the Americans to deploy cruise missiles here. They agreed, thus underlining their commitment to defend NATO territory. To ask now for dual key on the grounds that we did not trust the Americans would be a wholly unjustifiable vote of no confidence in our collective security arrangements.

Mr. Healey

Will the Minister explain why, if we trust the Americans in the matter of our security, we are paying them £9 billion to buy Trident missiles for strategic use to defend ourselves?

Mr. Luce

What fascinates me about the point made by the right hon. Gentleman and others is that, over the past 30 years, through a succession of Conservative and Labour Governments, the specific undertakings have worked, and there have been differences of opinion. Yet Labour Governments as well as Conservative Governments have reaffirmed the specific commitment. That is a significant factor. In response to all hon. Members who allege that NATO countries are involved in an arms race or who suggest that NATO is in some way looking for superiority over the Soviet Union in nuclear weapons, I can do no better than remind the House of what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said earlier. Two thousand warheads are to be withdrawn from Europe. Added to the warheads withdrawn in 1980, this means that NATO has, since 1979, decided to withdraw 3,000 warheads from Europe. As a result the number of warheads in Europe will be at its lowest for 20 years. That is a clear demonstration of our commitment to work for the reduction of armaments wherever possible.

My hon. Friends the Members for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) and for Corby (Mr. Powell) referred to the importance of our defence policy. We have long been committed to a policy of defence and security that rests on two pillars. One pillar is our determination that our defence forces should be sufficient to meet all our reasonable needs. The other pillar is our search for international agreement, which will diminish those needs. Security can be achieved on the basis of fewer bombs, fewer missiles, fewer destroyers, fewer tanks and fewer rifles on both sides. That is our fervent wish. The two pillars reinforce each other. Without adequate defences, agreements on arms control will be that much harder to achieve.

Aneurin Bevan once warned against the dangers of being thrust naked into the conference chamber. Without agreement, the maintenance of adequate defences—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This has been an orderly debate up to now. The Minister has a right to be heard.

Mr. Luce

In a speech that I made last week at the United Nations—[HON. MEMBERS: "Get on.''] Labour Members may not be interested in this, but I feel that I should say that I there pledged this Government once again to make whatever contribution we could towards achieving progress in arms control. The great frustration of the INF talks has been the constant refusal of the Soviet Union to do serious business where it matters, and that is at the negotiating table. They have preferred throughout to attempt to negotiate over the heads of the Governments involved by misleading western opinion with an unrelenting propaganda campaign.

Our hope remains that as the Soviet Union comes to realise that the NATO allies will not be diverted or cowed by those tactics, but will proceed towards deployment of the new INF weapons, it will at last begin to negotiate with us seriously, and that is our objective.

Mr. Andropov says that he will reduce the number of SS20s in Europe to 140 on condition that NATO deploys no cruise missiles or Pershing Ils. That would give the Russians 420 SS20 warheads, somewhat more than they had already deployed world-wide when NATO took its 1979 decision. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."' That cannot be said to represent a fundamental shift of position on the Soviet side such as to justify no initial deployment by the West. But, as I say, it should be examined thoroughly at the negotiating table.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that I see the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) proposing to leave the Chamber. If he intends to do so, would he not talk but do so?

Mr. Luce

I share the frustration of the House at the lack of progress in the talks, but I reiterate that there can be no justification for the Soviet Union walking out of the talks when deployment begins. Indeed, if it does so it will be clear evidence that its aim has been to stop western deployment rather than to negotiate a serious agreement.

Since the late 1970s the Russians have been deploying SS20s at the rate of one a week. Despite that, we in the West have continued to negotiate with them. They should see the sense in agreeing to serious negotiations towards the radical reductions that we have proposed. We hope that the Soviet Union will get down to detailed and serious negotiations on this issue.

To answer the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) and the right hon. Member for Devonport, I reiterate that we do not regard the end of this year as a deadline for the negotiations. Our deployments will have begun by the end of the year, but they take place over five years. At any time they can be halted or reversed if progress in Geneva warrants that. I wish to make that absolutely clear. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said last month that the day the leaders of the Soviet Union genuinely decide, through arms control agreements, to make this a safer world, they will be pushing at an open door.

History has a lesson to teach us about international agreements and especially agreements on international security. Bad agreements cannot endure. We need realistic agreements with significant impact; balanced agreements which do not put one side or the other at a disadvantage; verifiable agreements in which both sides can have full confidence about compliance.

But the painstaking process of putting together international agreements may be long and labourious. We must build, brick by brick, a bastion against international tension and conflict. The United Kingdom will follow this policy in all the negotiations in which we are directly or indirectly engaged, including the INF. The door to a solid agreement remains firmly open, and it is against that background that I urge the House to reject the amendment and vote for the Government's policy tonight.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 22, Noes 360.

Division No. 54] [10 pm
Alton, David Bruce, Malcolm
Ashdown, Paddy Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Freud, Clement Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Howells, Geraint Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Steel, Rt Hon David
Johnston, Russell Wainwright, R.
Kennedy, Charles Wallace, James
Kirkwood, Archibald Wrigglesworth, Ian
Maclennan, Robert
Meadowcroft, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Mr. A. J. Beith and
Penhaligon, David Mr. John Cartwright
Adley, Robert Cormack, Patrick
Aitken, Jonathan Corrie, John
Alexander, Richard Couchman, James
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cranborne, Viscount
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Critchley, Julian
Amess, David Crouch, David
Ancram, Michael Currie, Mrs Edwina
Arnold, Tom Dickens, Geoffrey
Ashby, David Dicks, T.
Aspinwall, Jack Dorrell, Stephen
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Dover, Denshore
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Dunn, Robert
Baldry, Anthony Dykes, Hugh
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Batiste, Spencer Eggar, Tim
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Emery, Sir Peter
Bellingham, Henry Evennett, David
Bendall, Vivian Eyre, Reginald
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Benyon, William Fallon, Michael
Berry, Sir Anthony Farr, John
Best, Keith Favell, Anthony
Bevan, David Gilroy Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Biffen, Rt Hon John Finsberg, Geoffrey
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fletcher, Alexander
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fookes, Miss Janet
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Forman, Nigel
Bottomley, Peter Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Forth, Eric
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fox, Marcus
Braine, Sir Bernard Franks, Cecil
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Bright, Graham Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Brinton, Tim Freeman, Roger
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Fry, Peter
Brooke, Hon Peter Gale, Roger
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Galley, Roy
Browne, John Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bruinvels, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bryan, Sir Paul Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Goodhart, Sir Philip
Buck, Sir Antony Gorst, John
Bulmer, Esmond Gow, Ian
Burt, Alistair Gower, Sir Raymond
Butcher, John Grant, Sir Anthony
Butterfill, John Greenway, Harry
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, E. (By St Edm'ds)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Carttiss, Michael Grist, Ian
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Ground, Patrick
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Grylls, Michael
Chapman, Sydney Gummer, John Selwyn
Chope, Christopher Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Churchill, W. S. Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hampson, Dr Keith
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hanley, Jeremy
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hannam,John
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hargreaves, Kenneth
Clegg, Sir Walter Harris, David
Colvin, Michael Harvey, Robert
Conway, Derek Haselhurst, Alan
Coombs, Simon Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Cope, John Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Hawksley, Warren Maude, Francis
Hayes, J. Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hayhoe, Barney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hayward, Robert Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mellor, David
Heddle, John Meyer, Sir Anthony
Henderson, Barry Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hickmet, Richard Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Miscampbell, Norman
Hill, James Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hind, Kenneth Moate, Roger
Hirst, Michael Monro, Sir Hector
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Montgomery, Fergus
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Moore, John
Holt, Richard Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hooson, Tom Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Howard, Michael Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Moynihan, Hon C.
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Mudd, David
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Murphy, Christopher
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Neale, Gerrard
Hunt, David (Wirral) Needham, Richard
Hunter, Andrew Neubert, Michael
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Newton, Tony
Irving, Charles Nicholls, Patrick
Jackson, Robert Normanton, Tom
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Norris, Steven
Jessel, Toby Onslow, Cranley
Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey Oppenheim, Philip
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Osborn, Sir John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Ottaway, Richard
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Parris, Matthew
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Patten, John (Oxford)
Key, Robert Pattie, Geoffrey
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
King, Rt Hon Tom Pink, R. Bonner
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Pollock, Alexander
Knowles, Michael Porter, Barry
Knox, David Powell, William (Corby)
Lamont, Norman Powley, John
Lang, Ian Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Latham, Michael Price, Sir David
Lawler, Geoffrey Proctor, K. Harvey
Lawrence, Ivan Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Raffan, Keith
Lee, John (Pendle) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rathbone, Tim
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lester, Jim Renton, Tim
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Rhodes James, Robert
Lightbown, David Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lilley, Peter Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lord, Michael Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Luce, Richard Roe, Mrs Marion
Lyell, Nicholas Rossi, Sir Hugh
McCrindle, Robert Rost, Peter
McCurley, Mrs Anna Rowe, Andrew
Macfarlane, Neil Rumbold, Mrs Angela
MacGregor, John Ryder, Richard
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Sackville, Hon Thomas
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Maclean, David John. St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Sayeed, Jonathan
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Scott, Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McQuarrie, Albert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Madel, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Major, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Malins, Humfrey Shersby, Michael
Malone, Gerald Silvester, Fred
Maples, John Sims, Roger
Marland, Paul Skeet, T. H. H.
Marlow, Antony Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mather, Carol Speed, Keith
Spence, John Twinn, Dr Ian
Spencer, D. van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Viggers, Peter
Squire, Robin Waddington, David
Stanbrook, Ivor Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Stanley, John Waldegrave, Hon William
Steen, Anthony Walden, George
Stern, Michael Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Wall, Sir Patrick
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Waller, Gary
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Walters, Dennis
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Ward, John
Stokes, John Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stradling Thomas, J. Warren, Kenneth
Sumberg, David Watts, John
Tapsell, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
Taylor, John (Strangford) Wheeler, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Whitfield, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wiggin, Jerry
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wilkinson, John
Temple-Morris, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Terlezki, Stefan Winterton, Nicholas
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Wolfson, Mark
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Wood, Timothy
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Woodcock, Michael
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Yeo, Tim
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thornton, Malcolm Younger, Rt Hon George
Thurnham, Peter
Townend, John (Bridlington) Tellers for the Noes:
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Tracey, Richard Mr. Alastair Goodlad
Trippier, David

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 362, Noes 218.

Division No. 55] [10.15 pm
Adley, Robert Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Aitken, Jonathan Brooke, Hon Peter
Alexander, Richard Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Browne, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Bruinvels, Peter
Amess, David Bryan, Sir Paul
Ancram, Michael Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.
Arnold, Tom Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Budgen, Nick
Aspinwall, Jack Bulmer, Esmond
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Burt, Alistair
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Butcher, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Butterfill, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Baldry, Anthony Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)
Batiste, Spencer Carttiss, Michael
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Bellingham, Henry Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bendall, Vivian Chapman, Sydney
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Chope, Christopher
Benyon, William Churchill, W. S.
Berry, Sir Anthony Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Best, Keith Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bevan, David Gilroy Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Clegg, Sir Walter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Colvin, Michael
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Conway, Derek
Bottomley, Peter Coombs, Simon
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Cope, John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cormack, Patrick
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Corrie, John
Braine, Sir Bernard Couchman, James
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Cranborne, Viscount
Bright, Graham Critchley, Julian
Brinton, Tim Crouch, David
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. Hunt, David (Wirral)
Dover, Denshore Hunter, Andrew
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dunn, Robert Irving, Charles
Dykes, Hugh Jackson, Robert
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Eggar, Tim Jessel, Toby
Emery, Sir Peter Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Evennett, David Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eyre, Reginald Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Fallon, Michael Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Farr, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Favell, Anthony Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Key, Robert
Finsberg, Geoffrey King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Fletcher, Alexander King, Rt Hon Tom
Fookes, Miss Janet Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Forman, Nigel Knowles, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Knox, David
Forth, Eric Lamont, Norman
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lang, Ian
Fox, Marcus Latham, Michael
Franks, Cecil Lawler, Geoffrey
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Lawrence, Ivan
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Freeman, Roger Lee, John (Pendle)
Fry, Peter Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Gale, Roger Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Galley, Roy Lester, Jim
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lightbown, David
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Lilley, Peter
Glyn, Dr Alan Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Gorst, John Lord, Michael
Gow, Ian Luce, Richard
Gower, Sir Raymond Lyell, Nicholas
Grant, Sir Anthony McCrindle, Robert
Greenway, Harry McCurley, Mrs Anna
Gregory, Conal Macfarlane, Neil
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) MacGregor, John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Grist, Ian MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Ground, Patrick Maclean, David John.
Grylls, Michael Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Gummer, John Selwyn McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Hamilton, Hon A, (Epsom) McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) McQuarrie, Albert
Hampson, Dr Keith Madel, David
Hanley, Jeremy Major, John
Hannam,John Malins, Humfrey
Hargreaves, Kenneth Malone, Gerald
Harris, David Maples, John
Harvey, Robert Marland, Paul
Haselhurst, Alan Marlow, Antony
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Mather, Carol
Hawksley, Warren Maude, Francis
Hayes, J. Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hayhoe, Barney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hayward, Robert Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mellor, David
Heddle, John Merchant, Piers
Henderson, Barry Meyer, Sir Anthony
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hickmet, Richard Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hill, James Miscampbell, Norman
Hind, Kenneth Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hirst, Michael Moate, Roger
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Monro, Sir Hector
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Montgomery, Fergus
Holt, Richard Moore, John
Hooson, Tom Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Howard, Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Moynihan, Hon C. Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mudd, David Squire, Robin
Murphy, Christopher Stanbrook, Ivor
Neale, Gerrard Stanley, John
Needham, Richard Steen, Anthony
Neubert, Michael Stern, Michael
Newton, Tony Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Nicholls, Patrick Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Normanton, Tom Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Norris, Steven Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Onslow, Cranley Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Oppenheim, Philip Stokes, John
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Stradling Thomas, J.
Osborn, Sir John Sumberg, David
Ottaway, Richard Tapsell, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Taylor, John (Strangford)
Parris, Matthew Taylor, John (Solihull)
Patten, John (Oxford) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pattie, Geoffrey Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Temple-Morris, Peter
Pink, R. Bonner Terlezki, Stefan
Pollock, Alexander Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Porter, Barry Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Powley, John Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Price, Sir David Thornton, Malcolm
Proctor, K. Harvey Thurnham, Peter
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Townend, John (Bridlington)
Raffan, Keith Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Tracey, Richard
Rathbone, Tim Trippier, David
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Twinn, Dr Ian
Renton, Tim van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rhodes James, Robert Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Viggers, Peter
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Waddington, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Waldegrave, Hon William
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Roe, Mrs Marion Wall, Sir Patrick
Rossi, Sir Hugh Waller, Gary
Rost, Peter Ward, John
Rowe, Andrew Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Warren, Kenneth
Ryder, Richard Watson, John
Sackville, Hon Thomas Watts, John
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wells, John (Maidstone)
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Wheeler, John
Sayeed, Jonathan Whitfield, John
Scott, Nicholas Wiggin, Jerry
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wilkinson, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shelton, William (Streatham) Winterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wolfson, Mark
Shersby, Michael Wood, Timothy
Silvester, Fred Woodcock, Michael
Sims, Roger Yeo, Tim
Skeet, T. H. H. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Younger, Rt Hon George
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Speed, Keith Tellers for the Ayes:
Spence, John Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Spencer, D. Mr. Alastair Goodlad
Abse, Leo Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bermingham, Gerald
Alton, David Bidwell, Sydney
Anderson, Donald Blair, Anthony
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Boyes, Roland
Ashdown, Paddy Bray, Dr Jeremy
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Barron, Kevin Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)
Beith, A. J. Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Bell, Stuart Bruce, Malcolm
Caborn, Richard George, Bruce
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Campbell, Ian Godman, Dr Norman
Canavan, Dennis Golding, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Gould, Bryan
Carter-Jones, Lewis Gourlay, Harry
Cartwright, John Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Clarke, Thomas Harman, Ms Harriet
Clay, Robert Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cohen, Harry Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Coleman, Donald Haynes, Frank
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Conlan, Bernard Heffer, Eric S.
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Corbett, Robin Home Robertson, John
Corbyn, Jeremy Howells, Geraint
Craigen, J. M. Hoyle, Douglas
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunningham, Dr John Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Janner, Hon Greville
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Deakins, Eric John, Brynmor
Dewar, Donald Johnston, Russell
Dixon, Donald Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Dobson, Frank Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dormand, Jack Kennedy, Charles
Douglas, Dick Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Dubs, Alfred Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Duffy, A. E. P. Kirkwood, Archibald
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Lamond, James
Eadie, Alex Leadbitter, Ted
Eastham, Ken Leighton, Ronald
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n SE) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Ellis, Raymond Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Evans, Ioan (Cynon Valley) Litherland, Robert
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Ewing, Harry Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Fatchett, Derek Loyden, Edward
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McCartney, Hugh
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Fisher, Mark McGuire, Michael
Flannery, Martin McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael McKelvey, William
Forrester, John Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Foster, Derek Maclennan, Robert
Foulkes, George McNamara, Kevin
Fraser, J. (Norwood) McTaggart, Robert
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald McWilliam, John
Freud, Clement Madden, Max
Garrett, W. E. Marek, Dr John
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sedgemore, Brian
Martin, Michael Sheerman, Barry
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Maxton, John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maynard, Miss Joan Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Meacher, Michael Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)
Meadowcroft, Michael Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Michie, William Skinner, Dennis
Mikardo, Ian Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Snape, Peter
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Steel, Rt Hon David
Nellist, David Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Stott, Roger
O'Brien, William Strang, Gavin
O'Neill, Martin Straw, Jack
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Park, George Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Parry, Robert Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Patchett, Terry Tinn, James
Pavitt, Laurie Torney, Tom
Pendry, Tom Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Penhaligon, David Wainwright, R.
Pike, Peter Wallace, James
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Wareing, Robert
Prescott, John Weetch, Ken
Radice, Giles Welsh, Michael
Randall, Stuart White, James
Redmond, M. Wigley, Dafydd
Richardson, Ms Jo Williams, Rt Hon A.
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Wilson, Gordon
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Winnick, David
Robertson, George Woodall, Alec
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Rogers, Allan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rooker, J. W.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W) Tellers for the Noes:
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Mr. Harry Cowans and
Rowlands, Ted Mr. Norman Hogg

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House reaffirms its support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 1979 twin track decision on intermediate range nuclear forces; strongly backs the West's efforts to achieve a balanced and verifiable agreement at the Geneva negotiations; but confirms that in the absence of agreement on the zero option cruise missiles must be operationally deployed in the United Kingdom at the end of 1983.

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