HC Deb 19 June 1984 vol 62 cc173-240


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [18 June]: That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1984, contained in Cmnd. 9227.—[Mr. Heseltine.]

Which amendment was to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: believes that the plans outlined in the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1984, Cmnd. 9227, avoid the real and fundamental issues relating to the defence and security of the United Kingdom; is convinced that the enormous and increasing cost of buying the Trident nuclear system from the United States will mean further cuts in, and a weakening of, our conventional non-nuclear forces; deplores the fact that the White Paper contains no initiatives to stop and reverse the escalating and dangerous nuclear arms race; and calls upon the Government to work within NATO for a change from its existing strategy to a strategy based on the no-first use of nuclear weapons, to cancel Trident and to remove all nuclear bases, including cruise missiles, from the United Kingdom.".—[Mr. Denzil Davies.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Speaker

I do not need to remind the House that we are starting the debate rather later than expected. As I have a very long list of right hon. and hon. Members who wish to take part, I think that brief speeches will be greatly appreciated by the House.

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

In opening the debate yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State covered the main policy themes set out in the defence Estimates. Today I wish to focus on some specific aspects of central importance to Britain's defence.

I suggest that there can be only one logical and responsible starting point for the debate — a cool and dispassionate assessment of the potentially hostile military capabilities ranged against us. We cannot afford to take rhetoric, emotion or wishful thinking as our starting point. Although we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on the far horizon — on the firm goal of a world vastly freer of hideous weapons than it is today—we must start from a position of realism, hard experience and clear-headedness towards what is ultimately the most important responsibility of any Government.

The realities and the past experience are uncomfortable, but to ignore them is to take refuge in illusion. The historical reality is that since the second world war the military power of the Soviet Union has been used to deny political independence to no fewer than seven countries around her borders, including one — Afghanistan —within the past five years. The present reality is that there is concentrated in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union a combination of nuclear, chemical and conventional capabilities of awesome destructiveness. The present reality is also that, as stated in the defence Estimates, Soviet defence spending is some five times higher than the published figure and constitutes between 14 and 16 per cent. of GNP—about three times the NATO average.

Right across the entire spectrum of military capabilities — nuclear, chemical, conventional and whether front-line weapons or logistics or war stocks or command and control and communication systems—the unmistakable and totally consistent pattern of Soviet procurement is of numerical increases in most areas and significant qualitative improvements everywhere. Some people try to explain this by saying that the Soviet Union is merely responding to improvements in NATO's own capabilities, but this just does not stand up to examination.

The Soviets' military capabilities are vastly in excess of any conceivable purely defensive needs. In a number of key areas, although I acknowledge not in all, it is the Soviet Union that has initiated a major escalation. The SS20 by virtue of its range, mobility and speed of response represented a quantum jump in intermediate nuclear force capability. Similarly, the new SSX24 and SSX25 will give the Soviet Union the first mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles. She has built up massive stocks of chemical weapons, totally dwarfing those of the United States, which has neither increased nor modernised her own since the end of the 1960s.

Numerically, the Soviet. Union has the largest nuclear ballistic throw-weight in the world, the largest number of nuclear-powered submarines, the largest number of diesel-powered submarines, the largest offensive mining capability, the largest number of tanks, the largest number of artillery pieces and the largest number of combat aircraft. Those are the harsh, uncomfortable, distasteful realities about which we hear precious little, if anything, from Opposition Members, but they are realities to which the Government believe it would be wholly irresponsible to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

The Minister referred to the SS20 as a quantum jump beyond its predecessor. Does he agree that the cruise and Pershing 2 missiles which are being deployed in western Europe are also a quantum jump beyond the SS20?

Mr. Stanley

As the hon. Gentleman well knows, the SS20 deployment was well under way before the NATO deployment started.

While we hear little about the Soviets from Opposition Members, we hear a great deal about the Americans. It is extraordinary to Conservative Members that the Opposition can be so determinedly silent about the Soviet Union, whose weapons are targeted against us, and yet so determinedly hostile, it seems, towards the Americans, whose weapons fortunately protect us. That continual sniping at, and misrepresentation of, the Americans is profoundly regrettable. Happily, I am in no doubt at all that it is quite unrepresentative of the views of the British people as a whole.

If the Opposition really want to send American nuclear forces packing back across the Atlantic, as their amendment says, I can only say that they have learnt nothing from two world wars. They have learnt nothing of the dangers to Europe of becoming isolated from the United States, and they have not learnt that the security of Europe and of the United States is indivisible.

Of the Opposition's various policies, there is none more baleful than that of requiring American nuclear forces in this country to return home. That policy is illusory, inconsistent and hugely damaging in defence terms. It is illusory because it is justified on the ground that getting rid of the Americans will enhance our security, when, in fact, it will reduce it. It is inconsistent because it is a policy of continuing to shelter under the American nuclear umbrella through our membership of NATO, while at the same time denying the Americans the ability to base nuclear weapons in Britain.

It would be hugely damaging, because the removal of American nuclear forces from the United Kingdom would not stop there. It would reinforce demands for the removal of American nuclear forces from other European NATO countries. It would also reinforce demands for, and in my view would lead to, major reductions in American conventional forces in Europe as well. The removal of both nuclear and conventional American forces from Europe would enable the Soviet Union to take a giant stride towards achieving its key political and military objective in western Europe—to undermine confidence in, to weaken, and if possible to sever the transatlantic Alliance.

The most important military fact of life in western Europe is that the American presence on this side of the Atlantic is the linchpin of our security. It is the one factor above all that gives credibility to deterrence, and it is the best guarantee of the continuity of our own free way of life, which is in such stark contrast to the very different way of life on the other side of that wall.

Without the American nuclear presence in western Europe, the temptation to the Soviets to resort to nuclear blackmail of the European members of NATO would be significantly greater, and there is no European substitute in sight for the 300,000 American servicemen in western Europe and their highly sophisticated equipment, coupled with the certain promise of large-scale further reinforcement from across the Atlantic.

Instead of knocking the Americans, it should be a matter of some relief—indeed, of appreciation—that the European members of NATO have as an ally a country with the biggest economy and industrial base in the world, one that has the same commitment to freedom as we do, and one that is prepared to regard our defence as its own.

I now wish to speak of our own forces, and shall begin with our nuclear forces. Most of the speeches in yesterday's debate were taken up with Trident, and I make no apology for returning to that subject today. The Government remain firmly committed to the Trident programme, because the arguments for Britain having an independent strategic deterrent—arguments which were accepted by previous Conservative and Labour Governments alike—are as compelling today as they have been throughout the whole of the Polaris-Chevaline era.

Britain's strategic deterrent gives our own country a key addition to its own defences. Our deterrent is valued both by the European members of NATO and by the Americans. As was well said in a previous debate: The Navy, by using what Professor Martin has called 'the shrouding quality of the sea' is able to deploy a hidden dissuader of considerable importance to NATO's strategic deterrent not solely in terms of punch, though this cannot be ignored, but as much because it represents the only European contribution to NATO's strategic deterrent and underpins the multinational and interdependent nature of the alliance." —[Official Report, 9 March 1970; Vol. 797, c. 923–14.] Those observations, as valid today as they were then, were made by a former Navy Minister arguing the case for the Royal Navy's strategic nuclear role. The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) would do well to re-read his own speeches.

Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

Why is that?

Mr. Stanley

Yesterday I listened with interest when the right hon. Gentleman argued that Britain should have no independent strategic deterrent at all.

Dr. Owen

If the right hon. Gentleman read that into my speech, he must not have been in the Chamber. I made it perfectly clear that Polaris should continue until the end of its natural life. If, at the end of that time, it was necessary to consider a replacement, I outlined the form of that possible replacement — the deployment of Tomahawk cruise missiles, a strategic system with a range of 1,500 nautical miles.

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for confirming what he believes, but he used the phrase, "if it is necessary". There is no commitment by the right hon. Gentleman to retaining an independent nuclear deterrent. As to the choice between Trident and Tomahawk, the alternative ways of replacing Polaris have, of course, been evaluated with very great care.

There is no doubt whatever that the most cost-effective way of meeting our requirement for an invulnerable, strategic nuclear system which would have an absolute deterrent value is through a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

It is claimed that if we have Trident we shall have to cut back on conventional weapons, but that, I suggest, misses the key point. The central question is not whether if we have Trident we shall have less to spend on conventional weapons—that is obviously the case—but whether the sum of money to be spent on Trident will be a better addition to Britain's and NATO's defences than the same sum of money spent on conventional weapons. That is the key question, and, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently stated in the House, our view is that the sum being spent on Trident will give us an amount of deterrence which we could not possibly get by spending the same sum on conventional weapons.

There was a lot of fairly fanciful thinking in the Opposition speeches yesterday about the supposed tradeoff between scrapping Trident and improving our conventional defences. Listening to some of those speeches, one could be forgiven for thinking that one had only to scrap Trident to produce an almost unlimited increase in Britain's conventional forces—a new armada of ships for the Royal Navy, a doubling of BAOR, swarms of extra Tornadoes, and the nuclear threshold being raised all along the central front. The reality is distinctly less dramatic.

All that we would be able to do by scrapping Trident would be to increase our conventional expenditure over the next 15 years by some 3 per cent. That is only a small fraction of the increase that we have already achieved since 1979. What sort of a deal is that? Do we really want to exchange a relatively small uplift in our conventional capability, spread over the next 15 years, for the permanent and irreversible loss of our own strategic deterrent, and for the equally permanent and equally irreversible loss of the only European contribution to NATO's nuclear deterrence? Our answer emphatically is no.

I suggest that the Tornado programme provides a useful point of perspective. In real terms, the Tornado programme is more expensive than Trident. It will give us 385 Tornadoes, delivered over 10 years. That is very welcome, but by way of perspective the Soviet Union's aircraft factories are producing about 1,000 new advanced combat aircraft every year. Not to proceed with Trident now would mean Britain unilaterally abandoning her nuclear deterrent. Happily, on this matter, the instincts of the British people appear to be much more soundly based than those of Opposition Members.

I was struck—indeed encouraged—by the results of the recently published "British Social Attitudes 1984 Report". People were asked two very interesting questions. They were asked, first: Do you think that having our own independent nuclear missiles makes Britain a safer or a less safe place to live? Only 28 per cent. thought it made Britain less safe, but more than twice as many, 60 per cent., thought it made Britain safer. Significantly, that 60 per cent. included not merely a majority of Conservatives, but a majority of both alliance and Labour supporters.

The second question was more sophisticated and the answers even more interesting. People were asked whether Britain should rid itself of nuclear weapons while persuading others to do the same, or whether Britain should keep its nuclear weapons until we persuade others to reduce theirs. Only 19 per cent. wanted Britain to rid itself unilaterally of its nuclear weapons, and a massive 77 per cent. wanted Britain to keep them. That 77 per cent. comprised the great majority of Conservatives, the great majority of alliance supporters and, once again, the great majority of Labour supporters.

We are in no doubt that, on the need to retain Britain's deterrent, the British people are right and the Government are right. The people who are wrong, I believe, are those on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Gordon Brown (Dunfermline, East)

Does the Minister agree that a third question in the survey asked whether people wanted to retain American nuclear bases in Britain and that, by a vast majority, there was a rejection of the Government's policy, particularly with regard to cruise weapons?

Mr. Stanley

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the cruise question, I agree that opinion is more equally divided. What I found interesting on the cruise question was that, despite the enormous propaganda campaign against it, and despite the apparent unanimity of the official Opposition on it, nearly one third of Labour Supporters want cruise to remain in the country.

Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

What was the figure?

Mr. Stanley

I shall happily give the figures, if the right hon. Gentleman so desires. The question asked: Do you think that the siting of American nuclear missiles in Britain makes Britain a safer or a less safe place to live? On the Labour side, of those described as Labour partisans, 32 per cent. thought that Britain was safer by having American missiles in this country.

Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

Will my right hon. Friend verify that it was a Labour Government who asked for land-based cruise and American rockets to be based in this country?

Mr. Stanley

The position according to the published record— we do not know what went on in the non-published records and we will not know for some years —is that the previous Labour Government were firmly committed to INF modernisation in some shape or form.

I now deal with our conventional forces. As will be clear from the Estimates, our policy is to do all that we reasonably and sensibly can to strengthen our conventional forces while retaining our nuclear deterrent. I would suggest that our achievements in this area, at a time of world-wide recession, are pretty remarkable.

In this financial year we shall be spending over £2 billion more on defence, excluding Falklands expenditure, than would have been the case if we had simply left defence spending at the same level in real terms as it was in 1979. By 1985–86, again excluding the Falklands, the Government will have increased defence expenditure by nearly 20 per cent. in real terms. We have the highest defence spending as a percentage of GDP of any European member of NATO, apart from Greece, and we have the highest defence spending per head of all the European members of NATO without exception. Frankly, for the Opposition parties to criticise this Government of all Governments for insufficient expenditure on our conventional defences is simply ludicrous.

I listened carefully to the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Devonport who has clearly decided that this is a promising time for the alliance to try to develop a punchy gloom and doom line on defence. The right hon. Gentleman's concern for our defences would have carried a little more weight if he had reminded the House that, when he was last speaking from this Box, defence provision was nearly one fifth lower in real terms than it is now.

I must put the right hon. Gentleman straight on one point. He claimed repeatedly that the Government are planning on defence expenditure actually going down in 1986–87. It is a misleading claim, because it is arrived at by counting in the Falklands addition. Falklands expenditure is, of course, declining by 1986–87, with the completion of the airfield, among other things. Excluding the Falklands addition, defence expenditure is not planned on the basis of any reduction in 1986–87.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Is the latest estimate for the Falklands airport still £215 million?

Mr. Stanley

I answered a question about that a few days ago. The present estimate is as we stated previously, which is based on the figure which we have given previously in the House.

Mr. Dalyell

Is it still £215 million?

Mr. Stanley

That is the best estimate that I can give the hon. Gentleman as of now.

Dr. Owen

Is the right hon. Gentleman denying the figure in the public expenditure White Paper, confirmed by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in a written answer of 13 March 1984, that defence expenditure for 1986–87 will be £15,590 million, taking the base year of 1982–83?

Mr. Stanley

As I said to the House, that figure includes the Falklands addition. The reason why I suggest that the claim made in the House yesterday is misleading is that it is not right to include the Falklands addition, because the Falklands addition is a one-off piece of expenditure involving major capital works, such as the airfield, and, as will be seen in the White Paper, the Falklands addition is declining. Therefore, the proper way to ascertain whether the defence expenditure base is increasing is to do it on a Falklands-exclusive basis.

The one piece of common ground in the debate appears to be that our conventional forces should be strengthened. I suggest that the point of difference is that Opposition Members are latter-day converts to that policy — and latter-day converts with varying degrees of reluctance.

The record on expenditure on the conventional side could not be clearer. The 1974 to 1979 Government, which featured on this Bench the right hon. Member for Devonport, supported in the Lib/Lab pact period by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), managed to reduce defence expenditure by 4.5 per cent. in real terms over that period. In contrast, the present Government will have increased defence expenditure by nearly 20 per cent. in real terms by 1985–86. Since 1979, the Opposition have fought the 1983 election on a policy of slashing our conventional defences — a policy reaffirmed at their policy-making party conference last year. The Opposition had their opportunity to increase conventional spending in the 1970s, and they reduced it. We have our opportunity now, and we have increased conventional spending massively.

I want to conclude by referring to our arms control policies. The motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition complains of a lack of initiatives in the Estimates to stop the nuclear arms race. It then proposes a series of one-sided disarmament initiatives — the scrapping of Trident, the scrapping of cruise and kicking out the Americans—which would not help to stop the nuclear arms race, but would materially reduce NATO's security.

It simply is not correct to say that the Government have taken no steps to try to stop the arms race—and not just the nuclear arms race either. It takes two to make an agreement. If the Soviet Union either will not come to the negotiating table or insists on maintaining a position of military superiority rather than equilibrium, the negotiating room for manoeuvre that is sensible and responsible is somewhere between very limited and non-existent.

There is no doubt, however, that if the Soviet Union is interested in balanced and fair measures of arms control and arms reduction, the negotiating field is wide open. There is also no doubt that the British Government are playing a positive and constructive role in those negotiations.

The START talks can be resumed at any time without pre-conditions and with the American offer for both sides to cut strategic ballistic warheads by a third lying on the table. The Soviet Union can return to the INF talks at any time, where the zero option—or, failing that, reductions to equal numbers of INF weapons at any level—lies on the table. At the Geneva conference on disarmament, the new United States draft treaty on banning chemical weapons world wide lies on the table, a negotiation to which Britain, since 1982, has contributed three important sets of proposals to deal with verification.

At Vienna, at the MBFR talks, NATO's important new proposals, made in April this year, to try to resolve the long-standing dispute about the size of Warsaw pact forces in eastern Europe also lie on the table. At Stockholm, at the European security conference, a comprehensive set of confidence building proposals made by NATO—again, to which Britain made a significant contribution—also lie on the table. The Government are doing and have done all that they responsibly can to get balanced arms reductions talks moving.

The Government are not prepared to be irresponsible. There is a fundamental distinction to be made between arms control proposals that would preserve balance and thus maintain peace, and arms control proposals that would undermine balance, risk our security and ultimately jeopardise our free way of life. The Government will do their utmost to achieve progress with the former, but they will not embrace the latter, and they are right not do so.

The defence Estimates are both realistic and, in many areas, radical. They are realistic in acknowledging the scale of the potential military threat facing the West and also in responding to that threat. They are radical in the major strengthening of our defences being achieved and also in the management of the defence programme to secure greater fighting capability and better value for money.

This is not the time either for the full-blown unilateralism of the Labour party or for the half-baked unilateralism of the alliance. This is not the time for reneging on agreed NATO deployments or for giving our most important ally notice to quit. It is a time for keeping our hand on the plough and the furrow straight so that we do not jeopardise the peace with freedom with which we have been blessed these 40 years.

6.4 pm

Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

I congratulate the Minister of State for the Armed Forces on becoming a Privy Councillor. It is a great honour that is well deserved.

The Minister dealt ably and pleasantly with a very bad case. The White Paper begins with the twin assertions that for the past 35 years NATO alone has maintained the peace in Europe, and that history shows that a nation that desires peace in freedom cannot simply rely on the hope that it will be left alone. Despite the Secretary of State's endorsement of those assertions yesterday, neither of them has a sound historical basis — although there are other lessons that history teaches us, not least that what may be true of the last 35 years is no guarantee that it will be true of the next 35 years.

It is not the Secretary of State's subjective view of history that should influence us, but the experience of those who really know. After all, many of the Ministers and senior officials who have had day-to-day responsibility for Western defence have hardly left office before they are telling us that NATO's persistent reliance on nuclear weapons has created the very dangers that we are trying to avoid.

That applies not only in this country. In the United States there is evidence from, among others, Admiral Noel Gayler, who, until 1976, was the Commander-in-Chief of all the United States forces in the Pacific. There is evidence from Mr. Robert McNamara, the former Secretary of State for Defence, and from Professor McGeorge Bundy, who was formerly the special assistant for national security affairs to two presidents. The latter two people, together with George Kennan and Gerard Smith, wrote an article in April 1982, which, among other things, said: The one clearly definable firebreak against the worldwide disaster of general nuclear war is the one that stands between all other kinds of conflict and any use whatsoever of nuclear weapons. In our country, the same testimony has been given by former high officials in the MOD. We know about Lord Carver, and Lord Zuckerman has made his views clear in "Nuclear Illusion and Reality". He said: What would be left of Europe and the USSR after an all-out nuclear exchange would not have been worth fighting for. Nor would there have been any justification for the price that the USA would have had to pay for coming to Europe's aid. We had a warning only last week from Sir Frank Cooper, formerly the permanent secretary at the MOD. He urged the abolition of cruise and all battlefield nuclear weapons. But the one statement above all others that has influenced me most was that of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten, who summed it up so much more starkly than anyone else when he said: Wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. Their existence only adds to our perils because of the illusions which they have generated. The other day, in a profound and witty contribution that some of us heard, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, at a conference of the Council of Europe——

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

I am sorry to intervene, but the right hon. Gentleman was leaving the lecture from Lord Mountbatten in which he said also that it was very important to keep a balance of nuclear military power on both sides.

Mr. Silkin

That does not affect what I quoted. Lord Mountbatten was saying that reliance on nuclear weapons was the very thing that was creating the danger.

The other day, in a profound and witty speech, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, at a conference of the Council of Europe, referred to what he called the MEGO factor. MEGO stands for "My eyes glaze over". This factor is supposed to occur when a speaker produces evidence that — however true — the listener finds it difficult to assimilate. All politicians go on MEGO trips from time to time. When we refer to the dangers of nuclear war and use the same expressions—nuclear holocaust, nuclear annihilation or whatever—the eyes of the world may perhaps glaze over. Yet the scientific reality is more frightening than any words we could find in this House, and no country is now exempt from the dangers of nuclear winter.

A year ago I had a conversation with a leading Australian politician. He said that one of the factors that prevented people in Australia from taking the nuclear arms race as seriously as he would have liked was their belief that this was a quarrel between two superpowers in the northern hemisphere and that, even if the superpowers resorted to nuclear conflict, the Australians would be unaffected. The recent controvery over the British nuclear tests at Maralinga all those years ago has changed all that. For the first time, as the December issue of "Australian Outlook" pointed out: Although there continue to be powerful constraints against a global nuclear war, the increasing tension and arms race between the US and the USSR suggest that some precautionary planning is required in Australia". In other words, even in Australia, which regarded itself as totally immune from all this, the dangers have become manifest and people have begun to understand what is involved.

This has been amplified by the revelations of Professor Carl Sagan and his colleagues who, in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, showed us clearly that, in the event of nuclear war, there will be no hiding place anywhere on the planet—any sort of recognisable life will be utterly destroyed. In case the professor and his colleagues are considered to be overstating their case, we have the words of Andrei Sakharov last year: A very large nuclear war would be a calamity of indescribable proportions and absolutely unpredictable consequences, with the uncertainties tending towards the worse … All-out nuclear war would mean the destruction of contemporary civilisation, throw man back centuries, cost the deaths of hundreds of millions or billions of people, and, with a certain degree of probability, would cause man to be destroyed as a biological species".

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the whole purpose of, and reason for, deterrence is to ensure that such an horrific scenario can never become a reality?

Mr. Silkin

Certainly that is the purpose. I do not complain about the good will behind people's views. What I was about to ask was whether deterrence will be effective. I am entitled to ask that question. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point.

Of course, I well understand that the rulers of both superpowers are perfectly aware of the risks they run and are in their own way genuinely trying to prevent the ultimate catastrophe. But they are going about it the wrong way. The trouble is that they think that they can settle the problem between themselves. That is why, despite much exchange of verbal abuse about their respective incursions into Afghanistan or Latin America, they are prepared to treat those actions as lying within their opponent's spheres of interest and refrain from intervening too much. The dangers lie in the disputed zones, in the middle east and in Africa—the zones outside the recognised spheres of influence. It is in those areas that the nuclear fuse might be lighted.

The United States and the Soviet Union are well aware of the dangers. But how are they to make contact with one another in order to avert them? They try to do so by shouting in the dark. President Chernenko calls for a "no first use" declaration to show that the Soviet Union does not want a nuclear solution. President Reagan speaks of the 20 million Russians who died in the second world war, when we were all allies, to show that he appreciates he Russian concern. But neither of them receives a constructive answer.

What is preventing a real detente is the fear that each side has that any concession made to the other will be regarded as a fatal token of weakness. It is vital, therefore, that there should be an independent mediator capable of bringing the two sides together—a mediator in whom they can both confide changes in their position without advantage being taken of them by the other side.

Unfortuntely, Britain — under successive Governments, I would accept—no longer occupies that central position, despite her prestige as a senior member of the Commonwealth and as a founder member both of the United Nations and of NATO.

Two related factors stand in the way. First, as a nation we have been unable to come to terms with the loss of great power status. The purchase of Polaris missiles gave us the illusion of being a superpower, but at an enormous cost to our conventional weapons budget. Now that the end of Polaris has become a pretext for the beginning of Trident, with its ever-escalating cost, the falsity of this illusion is increasingly being recognised by a variety of experts.

The second factor is that the desire of Britain to possess nuclear weapons, despite the rhetoric, is not about deterring the Soviet Union from attacking our island—an argument that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has dealt with very effectively in recent speeches and articles. Our original reason was much more about influencing Washington than influencing Moscow. It was, to quote one of the most illustrious of Labour statesmen, about preventing Britain from going naked into the conference chamber". That excerpt from Aneurin Bevan's thinking has been quoted ad nauseam. What is not quoted so often is his qualification that if the policy of possessing nuclear weapons failed to give us an influence for peace the policy should be abandoned.

What Britain hoped for at that time was that it could bring the two superpowers together in a reversal of the nuclear arms race. Indeed, there was a spell in the early 1960s — I freely admit it — when Britain showed a beacon to the world in helping to bring the superpowers together to sign the 1963 test ban treaty. But that was in the early days. Now, despite our possession of nuclear weapons—indeed, I would say because of it—we are no longer able to have the influence that ought to be ours.

For years Britain has played no part in negotiations in Geneva or, when it was most needed, in START in Vienna. This is because the Russians now regard us as wholly in the camp of the United States, while the United States regards us as a poor relation—useful so long as we agree with the Administration's policy and a boring nuisance when we do not. The rest of the world simply does not find it credible that a nuclear weapons state can act as a bridge between other nuclear weapons states.

The White Paper recognises none of those dangers. On the contrary, it seems so full of self-congratulation that it cannot even understand that the situation between East and West is now more dangerous than it has ever been in history. What is missing from the White Paper is the slightest idea of what strategic influence the United Kingdom could bring to bear to encourage the superpowers to draw back from the brink. So others are now asking the question that Britain should be asking. Others have taken the initiative.

On 22 May this year, the leaders of India, Mexico, Tanzania, Greece and Sweden issued a joint declaration to all five nuclear power states. The declaration contained these words: We will do everything in our power to facilitate agreement among the nuclear weapons states. We will continue to keep in touch with one another about the best ways and means of achieving this objective. We will be consulting with the leaders of the nuclear weapons states and with other world leaders as well as pursuing discussions through United Nations channels … There can be no assurance of safety for one side only. That is why we attach such importance to a halt in the nuclear arms race that allows for renewed talks on nuclear disarmament. The five leaders offered their services as intermediaries to all the nuclear weapon states, but, of course, in particular to the superpowers. They called especially on the United States and the Soviet Union, but also on the other nuclear weapon states, to halt all testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and to offer adequate measures for verification. The coupling of those two steps — nuclear halt and verification — in fact met the major concerns of the two superpowers.

The declaration was immediately welcomed by His Holiness the Pope, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, by the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, by Willy Brandt, by the President of Argentina, by the Prime Ministers of Spain, Finland and Canada, and, in our own country, by Cardinal Hume, who has made a statement of personal support and encouragement. The Archbishop of Canterbury has also said that he is most encouraged by the initiative.

As far as the Governments of the nuclear weapon states are concerned, the United States' Administration were the first to reply. The State Department opposed the idea of a nuclear freeze. It must be said that that represents no change in its policy. However, the speed of the reply, the fact that the reply stated that The US respects the sincerity of purpose and commitment to peace of the world leaders who issued it, and discussions that have followed, give us some slight grounds for believing that the Administration would not be totally averse to the mediation of the world leaders.

The Soviet Union was slower to reply, but made a rather longer statement. After expressing the view that its own specific programme of measures would be the best way of moving towards peace—that will come as no surprise to any of us—it nevertheless went on to state that it would be prepared to co-operate in this matter.

The Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, eight days after the initiative, stated: The people of different countries [must] take their own destiny in hand … and co-ordinate their efforts to press the superpowers to end their dangerous arms race. Here we come again to the unasked question in the White Paper—what should the United Kingdom's role be in the nuclear age? Judging by the response of the British Government on 24 May to the world leaders' initiative—not very much. The Government's response was: We are fully aware that a nuclear holocaust, if it were allowed to occur, would be an unprecedented disaster for mankind. I am glad they have got that far. It continues, and I can almost hear the Secretary of State saying this: But it serves no useful purpose to induce a misplaced sense of panic or fear about the likelihood of this happening … The greatest contribution to preserving stability at lower levels of military force would be through the negotiation of balanced reductions in the levels of US and Soviet nuclear weapons. What an answer. It mentions no other nuclear weapons at all. Faced with perhaps the most dynamic challenge of our times, the British Government opt out. The sad truth is that the British Government and Britain are no longer part of the solution. Britain has unfortunately reverted to the unsatisfactory role of being part of the problem; and, while it stays supine, the torch that Britain carried during that short period in the 1960s, when the world seemed to be moving towards detente, has now passed elsewhere.

The defence White Paper this year could have been one of vision and imagination. It could have seized the moment. It could have recognised that the world is living through the most dangerous part of its history. It could have put Britain back again along the path of world peace. It could have given hope in a world that is steadily getting more cynical and desperate. But it did not. Instead, it repeated every cliché of the past five years. So far from answering the question as to what should the United Kingdom's role be in the nuclear age, it did not even ask the question.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State said: The White Paper might have addressed those issues more fully" —[Official Report, 18 June 1984; Vol. 62, c. 43.] He told us that, if he is still Secretary of State, he intends to do so in future years. Our task is to see that the generations yet to come will be able to live out those future years in peace. The challenge is not tomorrow; it is with us today. For that, if for no other reason—there are many other reasons—it is right that we should condemn the White Paper, and I ask the House to reject it.

6.25 pm
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (Surrey, South-West)

I am glad to be speaking in this important debate. I hope that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) will bear with me if I do not take issue with him today, the first time that I am speaking here.

Maurice Macmillan, my predecessor, served his country, this House and his constituents with dedication and honour. He had a distinguished parliamentary career, representing first Halifax from 1955 to 1964, then Farnham, and then Surrey, South-West, from 1966. Among his positions in government, he served in the Treasury and was Secretary of State for Employment. He was a man of vision who was prepared to exercise independent views. Locally, he and his wife, whom everyone in the constituency knows as Katie, worked tirelessly for his constituents. He is greatly missed there and here.

It is a daunting task to follow in the steps of a Member of Parliament of such calibre. I share the experience of Maurice Macmillan of coming to this place to join a close relative. A difference that might be noted is that the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), my close friend, is not Chancellor of the Exchequer—yet. That was the position that the then Harold Macmillan held when my predecessor made his maiden speech.

My constituency is an especially beautiful and essentially rural area, spread around the three well preserved old towns of Godalming, Haslemere and Farnham. Before the most recent boundary changes, much of it was admirably represented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell). A new hon. Member could not follow two more worthy and honourable predecessors.

Successive generations have been determined to protect and defend the environment and the character of the area. Their efforts benefit the 88,000 people who live there now, as well as the many who visit. Edmund Burke referred to a Conservative as having the disposition to preserve and an ability to improve. I hope in time, both here and elsewhere, to help to find solutions to the many problems that face the constituency. Among them are the needs for adequate roads, for greater safety and to avoid congestion, the question of the development of gas, the future of education and health services, the preservation of the countryside and the wide range of issues that face individuals and families. A Member earns respect and political credibility by constituency casework.

I shall be a vigilant campaigner, although perhaps not such a prolific writer on rural matters nor such a radical as William Cobbett, who was born in Farnham more than two centuries ago. Carlyle called him a pattern John Bull of his century. In at least two ways William Cobbett had a great deal to do with the present House of Commons. He began a series of reports of Parliamentary debates which we now know as Hansard. Mr. Hansard, his printer, later bought the publication from him. Cobbett was also a leading figure in the reform movement that produced the Reform Act 1832. He was elected to the reformed House of Commons, but he never felt at home here. Indeed, he died within three years of being elected. I aim to survive and serve for longer than that. William Cobbett joined the army at the age of 19, and within three years had been promoted to regimental sergeant major, which returns me to the subject of the debate.

Surrey, South-West has major links with the services and defence industries. The statement yesterday by the Secretary of State for Social Services announcing improved pensions for war widows will be welcomed. The practical guide "Selling to the Ministry of Defence", laying open MOD procurement policies, has been well received. Overcoming ignorance of procedures of procurement and reducing the undesirable advantage of established suppliers have been important initiatives.

The steps taken by the Secretary of State to open tendering at all levels of procurement and supply provide opportunities for many smaller firms which previously felt excluded from what can be a major source of business. The White Paper states that some 45,000 new contracts, many under £10,000, were placed last year by the MOD purchasing branches. Competition is often the best form of co-operation. It leads to better value for money. The Secretary of State reminded us yesterday that savings of up to 30 per cent. could be obtained by the simple process of competitive tendering.

We are in a period of transition and there is a tension between two ends that we are trying to achieve. One is breaking down subcontracts for outside tender and seeking more sources of supply, with the encouragement of competition, which provides opportunities for more domestic firms as well as being cost-effective. Secondly, we are looking towards the long-term need to establish longer production runs and move towards European — and, hopefully, NATO—common procurement.

As we make progress, I am sure that we shall look back with amazement at the waste involved in the different national standards and requirements. We need to move towards greater harmonisation—an inelegant word but a necessary process — in defence procurement. Imagine what the American army would be like if different divisions had different bullets or if neighbouring regiments had tanks with different motors. It would be laughable and wasteful, and obviously so.

Let us be absolutely clear at what our defence policies are aimed. It is the preservation of peace with freedom and security. For nearly 40 years this has been achieved in Europe. It is founded on a determination to preserve liberty and defend democracy. It is based not just on equipment, materials and men, but on a national political will.

This debate on the White Paper is a function of a free society, exposing Government policy to the process of scrutiny and the challenge of debate. What could be more unnatural in a closed society such as the Soviet Union, which has shown a consistent contempt for its own people and citizens? As my right hon. Friend pointed out in his opening remarks, about three times the percentage of GNP is committed to defence spending in the Soviet Union, but there is no opportunity for the people there to question what is done in their name. A member country of the Warsaw pact does not have the freedom to leave the pact or act autonomously in the way that NATO members do.

Perhaps worst of all, the Soviets cannot tolerate the views of someone such as Dr. Salcharov — this was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Deptford—being put forward in public. They may have attempted, with limited success, to silence him, but he is only the tip of the iceberg of Russian men and women who have been banished or incarcerated for their political views. It is a brutal system demonstrating a disregard for human life and freedom, stifling all open thought and intimidating weaker nations.

There is a danger that we in this country may begin to take our freedom for granted. Rather than politically subversive versions of so-called peace studies, we should concentrate on preparing our young for citizenship, both national and world citizenship. It is important that the facts set out clearly in the White Paper are widely known. I want young people to know about the balance of forces mentioned by my right hon. Friend in his opening remarks. Why do the Russians have twice as many battle tanks as we have and 30 times as many offensive mines? Those questions should be asked. A visit to Berlin for every school leaver could be a salutary experience and could help more of our younger citizens to appreciate the significance and fundamental importance of defence policies to our nation. They need to understand that peace is not built just on good wishes.

Maurice Macmillan served his country gallantly in time of war. With others, he worked consistently for European unity in peace. Like him, I believe that our membership of the EEC consolidates and strengthens the democratic foundations of western Europe. It makes another war in western Europe unthinkable.

Many will share my regret at the disappointing turnout at the recent elections for the European Parliament. Debates may be less exciting than the drama of the battlefield, but the fact that 10 sovereign states are now committed to resolving their differences by force of argument rather than by strength of armament is a major achievement of this age.

On the first occasion when my predecessor spoke here as the hon. Member for Farnham, he warned against an appalling willingness to put our future at risk just for the sake of making the present look better."—[Official Report, 9 May 1966; Vol. 728, c. 83.] I believe that this debate, including, as it does, challenges to Government proposals and policies, will lead to successive improvements in defence decisions. That is the role of Parliament — proposal, discussion, debate, decision and then review.

For several decades there has been overall bipartisan support in Parliament on defence matters. I hope that Labour Members, now that they are better represented in the European Parliament—and perhaps French Socialist Members of that Parliament will be able to influence them —will begin, once more in opposition, to support the policies which they long advocated in government.

Discontinuity is dangerous. It creates uncertainty in the minds of friend and foe alike. I have no doubt about the broadly based political support in the country for effective defence policies. Clarity, conviction and continuity are crucial to enable us adequately to discharge our national and international responsibilities in the furtherance and maintenance of peace.

6.37 pm
Mr. Gordon Brown (Dunfermline, East)

My first and pleasant duty is to congratulate the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) on the quality and excellence of her maiden speech, which will be remembered as a highlight of this debate.

Although I did not agree with the points that she made, particularly towards the end of her remarks, it was exactly what a maiden speech should be — eloquent and thoughtful, independent and forthright, showing a breadth and depth of knowledge of her constituency, historically, geographically and socially. In paying tribute to her late predecessor, she reflected the esteem in which he was held by hon. Members in all parts of the House.

We cannot have failed to have noticed the connection between the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) and the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West. Husband and wife teams are becoming more familiar in this Parliament. My hon. Friends and I hope that it will not inevitably be the case that husband and wife need vote in the same Lobby on all occasions. We look forward to hearing further contributions from the hon. Lady.

The dominant theme of this debate has been the concern expressed by hon. Members about the escalating cost of the Trident programme, a project which is unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound. It is a project which, while escalating the risks of nuclear war, puts at risk the integrity of our conventional defences. It is a project the implications of which in cost and security are not fully disclosed in the defence Estimates.

Not only in Trident but in other areas, the defence Estimates are more remarkable for what they obscure than for what they reveal. They are less than forthcoming, in particular, about important changes now being discussed for the royal dockyards—proposals that affect the jobs of more than 20,000 civilians and are of far more consequence for our conventional defences and national security than the much discussed hat-swapping exercise affecting the status of a handful of senior officials in the Ministry of Defence.

I refer to the proposals for the privatisation of the dockyards contained in the report prepared by Mr. Peter Levene: proposals that have recently been debated at length by a committee chaired by the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, proposals that are now being examined by the Secretary of State, but proposals that have so far been hidden from the House. They involve the most radical restructuring ever of our naval dockyards, with grave consequences for the efficiency and readiness of our Navy. Yet those proposals have far less to do with improving efficiency in the royal dockyards than with implementing the Prime Minister's instructions to privatise at all costs.

In my view, those proposals will usher in a new era of disastrous industrial relations in previously harmonious workplaces and will put at risk the jobs, career prospects, conditions of service, and Civil Service pensions of thousands of expert, loyal and dedicated civilians who would be subjected to the hazards of what would become a casual labour market.

What are Mr. Levene's proposals? First, it is proposed that key areas of royal dockyard work should be handed straight over to the private sector and be detached from the royal dockyards. Secondly, it is proposed that the running of the dockyards, including the refit of the Polaris nuclear submarines, be handed over to private sector companies on a franchise basis. Thirdly, it is proposed that additional privatisation be achieved by farming out a large share of the work currently done in the royal dockyards to private sector contractors.

The defence Estimates tell us nothing about those far-reaching proposals for privatisation. Nowhere in the two volumes of the defence Estimates is any reference made to the discussions or examinations now being carried out. At no time has the Minister appeared before the House to inform us of the appointment of the committee and of the advisers who are examining the proposals. At no time have Ministers volunteered to the House how expensive the draft proposals for privatisation are. Instead, Ministers seem to wish to present us with a fait accompli without giving us a Green Paper, an open invitation for evidence to be submitted, a Select Committee examination or any proper parliamentary scrutiny of the decision and the means by which it is to be reached.

The Government are being secretive, because they have much to be ashamed of. Last July, my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) and I were told that the numbers working in Rosyth dockyard would increase. In December, I was promised that there would be new investment, more apprentices and a full workload for the dockyard. As late as Easter, the same assurances were being given. Now we find that those promises are conditional. Recruitment, investment and training will go ahead only if the recommendations of the Levene report do not.

On what evidence is the Secretary of State proceeding to make such drastic changes? All that we have to justify those proposals is a six-page report from Mr. Peter Levene, which is only 4,000 words long, and is based on only four weeks work and on only a few hours spent visiting the Rosyth and Plymouth dockyards. Yet that report seeks to overturn the recommendations of every review of dockyard management since the second world war, and to destroy centuries of dockyard tradition and service. It is a six-page flimsy report that asserts rather than demonstrates any case for privatisation, but yet proposes privatisation in the three different ways that I have described.

There is nothing in the Levene report or in any ministerial statement to suggest that privatisation would bring any benefits to the dockyards, the Navy or the country. There would be no savings to the public sector borrowing requirement, as under the Levene proposals all new investment would remain the responsibility of the state. Even more importantly, no one — neither Mr. Levene nor any Minister — can show that the prices charged in the private yards would be lower, that the quality of work in the private yards would be superior, or that our submarine and warship refits would be carried out more expeditiously.

I have with me a Ministry of Defence document that was written at almost exactly the same time as Mr. Levene was preparing his report. It says that the price for a refit in a private sector yard can only be fixed as the work emerges". The study said of private firms: it is difficult for them to submit realistic tenders". If the Government do not know whether private yards would be cheaper, or more cost-effective, if they cannot expect them to submit realistic tenders and if the final prices can only be fixed as the work emerges—if, in other words, the Government are writing a blank cheque to private industry —why why have they already made up their mind about the benefits of privatisation?

With no evidence, and in contradiction of all previous expert reports, how can the Government insist that privatisation will save the taxpayer money, guarantee efficiency or anything else? Indeed, surely Ministers are aware that a previous Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement in a Conservative Government, when asked his views about the relative efficiency of the dockyards and the private sector, clearly stated: the most obvious comparisons are wholly in the royal dockyards' favour". In the mid-1970s, the Chief of Fleet Support had to report of a similar exercise the commercial refit cost us something like 25 per cent. more than if it had been done in a Royal Dockyard". Such a conclusion was confirmed as recently as 1980, when the Speed report had to conclude: the comparison moved in favour of the dockyards the larger and the more complex the project became. If there was any evidence that the private sector was cheaper or more cost-effective, we would have heard it by now. The truth is that there is no national or international evidence for that assertion and no evidence to support the view that handing over the dockyards on an agency or franchise basis to a private contractor would yield any benefit to the nation. Every serious, respectable study of the matter during the past 20 years has clearly concluded that there is no evidence to support the agency proposal being advanced.

In 1971, the Mallabar report was quite clear when it said of a proposal similar to that of Levene: it was the way to get the worst of both the commercial and the government department worlds. We would certainly not recommend it for the dockyards". In 1980, during the lifetime of this Government, the Speed report said of such a scheme: the disadvantages are that the management would have little incentive to make itself more efficient while the usual justification for an agent is that he has the resources and skills of the parent firm to fall back on. In the case of the dockyards the reverse is more likely to apply. We do not therefore favour this option". What has changed since the reviews of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s? Is it the Navy that has changed or the dockyards? I submit that it is the Conservative party, and the Front Bench in particular, that has changed, as it blindly pursues the myth of free market competition at public expense.

If the Government are to reject the advice of admirals, naval experts, and senior officials, and if they are to overturn all the available evidence, both internationally and nationally, at whose command are they acting? The author of the new proposals, Mr. Peter Levene, is well known in the international arms world. He is chairman of the company that sells £25 million-worth of arms to this Government every year. Indeed, he sells arms to 50 regimes throughout the world. He is also vice-chairman of the Defence Manufacturers Association, a pressure group for the private sector of the arms industry. He has retained all those interests while advising the Secretary of State.

Why is the Secretary of State inclined to accept Mr. Levene's advice and overturn that of all the recognised experts in this field? Mr. Levene is not known for his expertise in dockyard or naval matters and is certainly not known for his expertise in security issues, although I suppose that it must be said to his credit that he took four weeks out of his doubtless busy schedule to prepare his report, including one or two hours spent visiting Rosyth and Plymouth dockyards. However, that does not seem to have given him much respect for a scheme of management which in his eyes has only one outstanding feature, which is also its principal shortcoming—that it is not run by the private sector.

For Mr. Levene, the dockyards are wrong by definition and can be put right only by applying the dogma of privatisation. I understand that, despite his pressing commitments, Mr. Levene has offered his services as a ministerial adviser for no direct remuneration. But when I asked the Secretary of State, who is not in the Chamber, for assurances that Mr. Levene, his companies, or the Defence Manufacturers Association of which he is vice-chairman would not benefit financially from the proposals that he has made, he could not give me that assurance.

Advisers, even temporary advisers, with backgrounds in sales of arms should be above suspicion — in the manner of Caesar's wife, rather than the Prime Minister's son. Never before has the commercial sector so penetrated the higher echelons of Government administration and, with more that £20 billion-worth of public assets in the shop window, never before have a Government had so much to offer their friends in the private sector.

Considerations of commercial advantage are to take precedence, according to Mr. Levene, over considerations of national security. At no point in the Levene report is consideration given to the national security implications of what he proposes, to the implications for policing the Official Secrets Act, and to the readiness of the Fleet if the dockyard were to fall into the hands of multinationals or foreigners. This is a matter that the Speed report identified as one of the major problems. Is it not the height of Conservative hypocrisy that trade unionists lost their right to trade union membership on the pretext of national security, but considerations of national security are now to be subordinated to those of commercial advantage?

The workers at Rosyth dockyard and other dockyards have a wider conception of what is in the national interest than this Government. They know what would happen under a private contractor. Rosyth dockyard rose to the challenge of the Falklands campaign, responded with speed and flexibility to the unprecedented stream of requests from the Navy, working flat out, manager and worker alike, to do everything asked of them, and in record time. Would a private contractor, floundering in the first few months of a four-year contract, have done half as well? Would a firm, at the end of its time, wanting only to get out, have been inclined to try? If refitting nuclear submarines and keeping the Navy at sea were as simple as running a hamburger stand, Mr. Levene's franchise methods might be worth some consideration. Those who care for the royal dockyards and the Navy know better.

There is justifiable anger among thousands of workers in Rosyth and Plymouth. It is anger at the uncertainty that has been created, at the inferior conditions of working that would result from the Levene proposals, at the redundancies that would ensue and at the dispersal of a skilled work force whose loyalty is a crucial asset to our national defences, especially during emergencies.

Those of us who said in the last election campaign that the blind pursuit of privatisation would destroy dockyard jobs whereas Labour's non-nuclear defence policy would not are being proved right. If these privatisation proposals were accepted, the Secretary of State for Defence would become nothing more than the Secretary of State for Defence of the private sector. Those who understand that what is good for a few entrepreneurs is not necessarily good for the Royal Navy, those who recognise that the national interest is more than the sum of the interests of the private parts of the economy, those who have a wider and deeper concept of what patriotism is than Ministers will fight these short-sighted, doctrinaire and frankly unpatriotic privatisation proposals. In doing so, we shall have not only the loyal, efficient and expert work forces of the dockyards behind us, but the whole country.

6.53 pm
Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)

I hope that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the detailed and difficult subject of the dockyards. I look forward to hearing what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say about this in the wind-up. No doubt it would be more appropriate for us to go into dockyard matters in greater detail when we have, as I hope that we shall, an individual Navy day debate.

It is a pleasure to be speaking in this debate, particularly as I have had the advantage of hearing the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley). She made, as one would expect, an elegant speech, which was particularly appropriate for a Member for her constituency, because her predecessor, to whom she referred in elegant terms, was a regular speaker on defence matters. I am chairman of the Conservative party defence committee and her predecessor was a constant attender of, and contributor to, that committee. It would be great fun to have my hon. Friend also as a regular attender to that committee in future. The House will congratulate her on her speech, which was full of sound sense, and appropriate for one following in the footsteps of such a distinguished Member of Parliament. We hope to hear from my hon. Friend on many occasions, giving us the benefit of her wide experience in many spheres.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) made an interesting speech, and I look forward to my hon. Friend the Minister dealing with it in due course. However, one of the main points that I find puzzling in the attitude of the Opposition is their approach to the nuclear issue, on which the right hon. Gentleman touched. Why was it that, when in government, they thought it appropriate to update our Polaris weaponry? Polaris submarines are getting old now and it is not credible, as some SDP Members suggested, to go on running the Polaris force ad nauseam.

Even 10 years ago, when I was Navy Minister, they were sound, but there were difficulties in their maintenance. When a boat gets above 20 years old, as Polaris is now, a great deal of money has to be spent, and some of that money was spent by the Labour Government. Not only was our Polaris force maintained by them, but it was updated. One of these days, I hope that the Opposition Front Bench will deal with the reasons behind the Labour Government doing that. They had the opportunity to phase out the force, but they did not do it, and went so far as to update the nuclear force. They must have done so for reasons that they thought sound, so why are the same reasons not applicable today?

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)

It may be re-selection trouble.

Sir Antony Buck

That intervention may be a little cynical, but there is some element of truth in it. I hope that in the Opposition wind-up this problem will be tackled.

This is the second day of the defence debate, and I was able to be in for much of the debate yesterday, although I had long-standing engagements and was not here throughout. We had an extraordinarily good day's debate yesterday, with some splendid speeches, particularly from the Conservative Benches. I know that I am prejudiced. There were, however, contributions of nearly equal merit from the Opposition Benches, although not from the very Back Benches. I have yet to hear the hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) make a speech that is in accordance with the harmony that there so often is across the Floor of the House on defence matters. His defence policy is epitomised by the colour of his shirt and socks, which are red. His defence policy would be that which exists in certain Scandinavian countries—to send a telegram saying, "I surrender". Fortunately, that is not the official policy of his party, although it may be of some of its members.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

I should like the hon. Gentleman to explain exactly what he meant by his last remark.

Sir Antony Buck

The hon. Gentleman can read it in Hansard tomorrow. If he has any difficulty in understanding the remark, I shall be glad to interpret it for him. I think that he will find that what I said was clear. If he has any difficulty in understanding it, I shall examine the record myself and make whatever explanation he may think necessary.

The debate started in the traditional way, with the Labour party putting forward its policies and going away from its past commitment to any reliance on nuclear weapons. In the next speech from the Opposition Front Bench, we should like to hear further about their avowed policy to see total withdrawal of all nuclear bases from this country. I find it difficult to see how they will negotiate this appropriately with our NATO allies, and with the Americans in particular. Do they think it a courageous attitude to say that our NATO bases will not be nuclear, while continuing to shield under the umbrella of the United States of America? That is not the most gallant of attitudes to adopt.

A question asked during yesterday's admirable debate was whether it was appropriate for us to maintain our numerical commitment to 55,000 men in BAOR. Doubt was expressed about the commitment, but my hon. Friends indicated that they have come round to a belief in the commitment, and so have I. I thought that the figure of 55,000 was perhaps pitched too high, and that, so long as we maintain a substantial commitment on the continent, it might be appropriate for us to orientate our defence effort more towards the maritime.

Having been to the northern flank and to the central front, I now think it would be wrong not to maintain the 55,000 commitment, but we are bearing a considerable defence burden. We maintain 55,000 troops in BAOR; we have a paramount role in the naval sphere; and we also make a substantial effort in the air.

The Government should put pressure on our NATO allies for a fairer sharing of the burdens. That is illustrated by table 4 in volume 1 of the White Paper, which shows the proportion of gross national product spent on defence by the various NATO countries. In Greece, for reasons which are special to that country, the figure is 7.1 per cent. For the United States of America it is 6.9 per cent. We are next with 5.4 per cent. Then there is Turkey with 4.9 per cent. and so on. In Germany, the figure is 3.4 per cent.

Here are we maintaining, rightly, a very important maritime role; we are maintaining a nuclear deterrent as well through our submarines which, in the normal course of events, are deployed to NATO. Why should we pay so much more than our German or other allies?

The same point is causing certain comment, to say the least, in the United States of America where the contrast with what Europe does is even more stark than is the contrast with what we do compared with the rest of Europe. The time has come for the Secretary of State for Defence, the Foreign Secretary and all senior members of the Government, including the Prime Minister, to put proper pressure on our NATO allies to see that the burdens of defence are spread more evenly. The United States of America is taking a similar view about the unequal burden that it has to bear. It is particularly important that the Americans are reassured that we are willing to play our proper part in defence. The decoupling of America from the Alliance would be disastrous for it.

Some of us have just come back from a symposium originated by the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, on seapower, called Sea Link. It was held in Annapolis. There a certain restiveness was obvious because the Americans feel that we in Europe are not playing our proper part in the defence of Europe and the West. It does not apply to us so much as to our continental brethren. I hope that our Government, together with the Americans, will try to ensure that the other countries in NATO step up their defence effort with a view always to getting disarmament talks going again. A legitimate point has been made. We want an indication of what pressure we are putting on the Russians to come back to the negotiating table for another round of START and the MBFR talks. We must counter the belief in unilateralism. We will never get these mutual and balanced force reduction talks or get any progress with START if the tough top men in the Politburo see us unilaterally giving up our arms. There should now be an initiative on the part of the Government to try to get these talks going again.

In the coming years I hope that we shall see a recasting of NATO to work towards the abolition of the geographical boundary. It does not make sense to have the Northern Tropic as the boundary of NATO. It is riot, however, practical politics to have an immediate alteration.

Lord Carrington will be taking up the post of Secretary General of NATO any time now, and NATO's gain will be this country's loss. I regard him as being perhaps one of the more serious fatalities of the Falkland Islands affair from the point of view of his "domestic" political career. He is much missed in home politics. As I have said, our loss is NATO's gain, and he will do a great job there. He has a difficult man to follow in the great Dr. Luns.

Perhaps it is not inappropriate to pay tribute to the work that Dr. Luns has done, because he has been a great friend of this country. He was at the symposium in America to which I referred. There is no doubt as to his enormous affection for this country, nor about the value he has been to the Alliance and this country, especially in settling disputes, particularly those involving Iceland. We look forward to an interesting time in NATO. I am sure the whole House would wish to join in sending the best of good wishes to Lord Carrington in taking up his job and in thanking also Dr. Luns for what he has done over the years.

Going from the broad horizon to a more domestic note, the greatest burden that our armed forces have to bear on an ongoing basis, to use the dreadful jargon, is the commitment in Northern Ireland. It may be appropriate for us to hear further on that from the Front Bench in due course. I do not think any armed forces but ours could sustain such a burden. They are living in difficult conditions all the time, being stoned sometimes and shot and killed, too. They have sustained that burden over many years. I hope that a tribute will go out to them from both sides of the House for the work that they are doing in Northern Ireland.

The Minister should perhaps say something about the new pattern of deployment in Northern Ireland. I think we have got it right with fewer battalions doing rotating tours for about four months, which hardly gives them time to collect intelligence. There is a larger number of resident battalions now. It is appropriate in any defence debate that a fulsome tribute should be paid to the work that our troops are doing in Northern Ireland.

Our forces are held in the highest esteem throughout the world. This was enhanced by their superb performance in the Falklands. The way in which they bear great burdens in Northern Ireland is also admired very much by everyone in the United Kingdom.

7.8 pm

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

I should like to associate myself with the remarks that have been made about the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley). She made a speech of charm, fluency and humour. If it is not too chauvinistic a remark to make, I might point out that she has a great advantage over her colleagues from the point of view of an hon. Member who must perforce, because of the shape of the Chamber, spend all his time in it looking over at the other side of the House. I say that with great respect to the hon. and gallant, or legal or something, Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck).

I also observe that the hon. Lady is something of a philosopher. She attempted to give us her concept of Conservatism, a challenging thing in itself. I think the expression she used was, "conserve and improve". I recommend to her my personal patented definition, which is that Conservatism is a consensus of prejudices moderated by remorse. Experience will show that I am rather more accurate than she was.

There has been much reference already, both here and in the debate in another place, to the failure of the defence White Paper to spend much time considering what one might call the other side of defence—the need to look continually for ways to achieve arms control and the need to evaluate the appropriateness or otherwise of proposals such as a freeze and nuclear-free zones. The Government have not paid much attention to the general approach to disarmament or the kind of strategy that they bring to the talks in Stockholm and Vienna. Indeed, although we know in outline the sort of objective that the Government wish to see reached at the Geneva conference, that, too, is only fairly superficially dealt with in the White Paper.

The second main criticism that people have raised across the board, as well as hon. Members on both sides of the House, is that Britain is over-committed in her defence obligations. Certain consequences obviously follow from that. The third defect is the absence of any appreciation of the need for a more effective and collective European influence within NATO and how that can best be achieved. I do not think that the anodyne paragraphs on pages 4 and 5 of the defence Estimates, which are outlined in blue for some reason, are any substitute for that.

Time is short, so I shall comment briefly on only two matters, over-commitment and the effective European influence within NATO. The House knows from our amendment on the Order Paper that the alliance takes the view that the essential priority must be to raise the nuclear threshold and to concentrate much more on developing our conventional forces within Europe.

The Minister suggested that scrapping Trident would make only a limited contribution. I question this. So do others. For example, the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), who was involved in the initial decision to order Trident, has clearly changed his mind. The hon. Gentleman has an honourable record in the House and speaks out clearly for what he believes in. He is very knowledgeable about these matters. He wrote earlier this month in Jane's Defence Weekly that he had come to the conclusion that neither the United Kingdom nor the Royal Navy could afford Trident. That argument is very strong. It is not just an alliance argument. The cost escalation is evident. The original estimate of £5 billion has already doubled. I know that some of that increase is due to currency fluctuations, but that does not alter the fact. Then again, there has been some change in the original estimate of how much work would be done within the United Kingdom, with a reduction from about 70 per cent. to about 50 per cent. Not many offset orders have come in. There has been Rapier, but not too much has been coming back. All those factors should be taken into account when considering the Trident programme.

There is the additional burden of the Falklands defence, which is a new factor within the British budget. The defence will cost £1.2 billion over the next two years, and that inevitably further distorts the picture.

We would argue that now is the time for a political initiative on the Falklands. Leaving that aside for the moment, there are two points of substance: first, that the cost of Trident is so excessive that it is a distorting factor and, secondly, that the Falklands is a distorting factor. The Government are not facing the fact that, although they are apparently overtly committed to building up our conventional defences, many people argue that those two considerable factors will make it impossible for the Government to do as much as they should.

The Minister's description of alliance defence policy was peculiarly inaccurate. He described us as half-hearted unilateralists. Certainly our view is that to proceed with Trident is incompatible with training and equipping adequate conventional forces, but if the United Kingdom believes in NATO we should surely be concerned with strengthening the Alliance where it is weakest — in conventional defence—rather than wasting our precious and limited resources on purchasing a prestige weapon.

At the same time, we are adding yet more to the existing surfeit of nuclear weapons. In that sense, the cancellation of Trident could result in the strengthening of NATO and would make the defence of the United Kingdom stronger rather than weaker.

Mr. Richard Ottaway (Nottingham, North)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that to spend money on a system that is recognised by defence experts as ineffective is the biggest waste of money of all? By that I mean Polaris, which all the experts say has become progressively more ineffective over the years.

Mr. Johnston

Yes. I would not replace Polaris, if it were up to me. We have consistently taken that view, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows.

On Europe, I shall quote Dr. Henry Kissinger's penetrating remarks. He wrote recently: When one country dominates the alliance on all major issues — when that one country chooses weapons and decides deployments, conducts the arms control negotiations, sets the tone for East-West diplomacy and creates the framework for relations with Third World — little incentive remains for a serious joint effort to redefine the requirements of security or to co-ordinate foreign policy. The predominance of the United States within the Alliance has concerned many people who are very far from being anti-American. There is no doubt that under President Reagan resistance to America has become much more outspoken in Europe. It has been largely a question of the thrust of the President's military policies, and what has been perceived, fairly or unfairly, as a half-hearted approach to disarmament.

When one remembers that the American view of the Alliance as seen by John F. Kennedy was of an Alliance with twin pillars, one sees that we are in a very different position now. Consequently, Europe must learn to speak and act together on disarmament and security, difficult though that is. We find it difficult enough to get on with the European Economic Community, far less on what is in the end a much more sensitive touchstone—the whole matter of defence. Nevertheless, unless we get this sorted out, we shall not be able to have a constructive influence on the United States.

The hon. and learned Member for Colchester, North touched on that point. He did not exactly put it like this, but I am sure that he meant that we could hardly expect — I am putting it more felicitously than the hon. Gentleman—to be able to exercise any sort of benign influence upon the United States if the United States in turn is of the view that we are not making an adequate contribution to our defence and depend too heavily upon it.

If one argues that Europe should play a more active role in her own defence, the question is how that should be done. Clearly it would not be in just one area, as the European Community, the NATO Council of Foreign Ministers, and even the Western European Union all play some part.

The Government must be aware that the prize is not just the capacity to exert influence over the United States, although that is a considerable prize, but it is also the opportunity for European industry to supply a new generation of standardised weapons, and the whole economic spur existing within that. If the United Kingdom is to play an effective part in such an approach, that would mean a commitment to working with our European neighbours on foreign policy, procurement and standardisation of equipment, as well as on integrated defence policy and the promotion of European unity.

That brings me back to Trident. We would have to recognise that the possession of a so-called independent deterrent, to be expensively acquired from the United States, which will not be committed to NATO, does not contribute significantly to the Western deterrent, but impedes both European unity and disarmament negotiations. The independent deterrent is, in fact, a blatant piece of unilateralism. It is a unilateral act in itself. The Liberal-SDP alliance believes that the view that we have put forward in our amendment represents a balanced and constructive way forward for Britain within the Western Alliance.

7.20 pm
Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

There is a silver lining to every cloud. I regret not being in the Ministry of Defence, but that enables me to welcome freely and wholeheartedly the Secretary of State's White Paper. It is genuinely innovative and a positive contribution to strengthening the effectiveness of our armed forces, particularly chapter two on the management of defence. This is the first time that it has been dealt with, and it is long overdue.

In the White Paper, my right hon. Friend has highlighted how he has moved 5,000 men from the tail of the fighting teeth of the armed services in Europe. He has improved the capability of our naval forces by about 20 per cent. for emergencies, and any other national or NATO commitment that we might face, simply by keeping eight ships which were due to be mothballed and two frigates which otherwise would have been scrapped.

I also welcome, very much from a constituency point of view, the creation of an extra Challenger tank regiment. That is first-rate news for the nation's defence, and particularly for jobs in Leeds and the safeguarding of jobs at the royal ordnance factory. I hope that Ministers will persevere in the tremendous efforts that they have already made to get foreign orders for what is the best tank in the world, although it is costly. I trust that foreign orders will come as a result of ministerial efforts and that jobs will be safeguarded in the city of Leeds.

Yesterday some of my right hon. and hon. Friends seemed to join in the exercise of debunking my right hon. Friend's reorganisation of the Department. It is long overdue, and he must press ahead with it. Many of the criticisms, even from noble Lords who used to be Chiefs of Defence Staff, seem to be based on not having read the document "MINIS and the Development of the Organisation for Defence".

Before people start attacking the proposals, they should know what they are about. The scale of the increase in defence spending that we have undertaken— from the time we came to power to 1986 it will be 23 per cent. in real terms—cannot be justified unless we ensure that we are getting the best value for money. Those increased resources should not go into more bureaucracy or more top brass for the Ministry. They should go, not into the system, but into the fighting effectiveness of our armed forces.

In the MOD system there is duplication. Bands are trained separately in each service, as are the catering staff. There are separate dental hospitals and false teeth factories. There is overmanning at the centre, with too many high-ranking officers doing essentially clerical jobs. There is not only duplication, but a blurred line of accountability. There is a pressing need for co-ordination of advice on strategy and of military operational priorities. Each of those things should not be done separately under each of the service chiefs as well as at the supervisory level of the CDS. In the end, three or four proposals go to the Secretary of State so that he can make a choice. I cannot imagine a system that is less productive and less efficient at getting the right priorities at the end of the day. Therefore, all power should go to the elbow of the Secretary of State if he perseveres with that reorganisation. It is what the public want.

This matter is dealt with in "MINIS and the Development of the Organisation for Defence", but the criticism of the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Mr. Johnston) and others is that in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1984" we have not gone into the issue of disarmament and where the arms race is going. We should applaud the fact that, for the first time, the Secretary of State is establishing an arms control unit within the Ministry of Defence. In other words, there is a separate source of advice on arms control and disarmament measures from that in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall.

Whatever that Department's view of the world —some people have strong feelings about that—it can only be beneficial that the best advice is given to the Secretary of State for Defence, who is at the forefront of the nuclear battle — not the Foreign Secretary — who faces demonstrations and who has to argue the case for and against the nuclear deterrent. Given the state of nervousness of the public and people in Europe, it is crucial that the Secretary of State for Defence has the best possible advice to convince the public that, in arguing for nuclear defence, the Ministry and the Government are totally committed to ensuring that the arms escalation process is slowed and that eventually all sorts of nuclear weapons are removed or their numbers reduced.

One of the problems with the traditional method of arms control is that stockpiles of hardware and innovations may be controlled by the numbers game which we have tended to play, but that in turn encourages the development of software innovations. For instance, we have seen the Americans intercepting warheads in space. In a sense that is a counter-productive measure and is increasing instability in the relationships between the great powers. We must consider that matter closely.

What is needed is not just the numbers game, but broad diplomacy and an attempt to build up the element of trust between the two superpowers, where there is less trust than ever, and to seek agreement on a wide political framework, not just on warheads or launchers. No one wants to see the Americans out of Europe. No one wants Europe to be independent, in policy, of the United States. However, that is not to say that we in Europe should be subservient to American policy and interests. There is a pressing case for people, not just in Europe, but in this country, to act. Our Prime Minister should take an initiative with the Soviet Union. No one is better placed than my right hon. Friend, because the Soviets seem disinclined to talk to the Americans. The process of negotiation should begin, rather than each side maintaining this ratchet of rhetorical abuse.

The Trident issue dominated the debate yesterday. It is fashionable for leading articles in the The Guardian, The Times, even the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, and even for many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, to go into the business of knocking Trident. It all comes down to the fact that it is easy, given the nature of long-term defence procurement, to build up a "worst case scenario" when one can hypothecate beyond the year 1986. One can say that we might be level-funding defence, or, if the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) is correct about false inflation factors, that there might be less expenditure on defence, but that is a long way off. Coincidentally with that reduction or stabilising of expenditure, there might be extra expenditure on more submarines, new aircraft replacements, more ships and so on. Those might be the peak years for the impact of Trident on equipment expenditure.

It is argued that, therefore, something has to give, but two points are overlooked. One is that the basic problem of Trident has been not just the exchange rate, but inflation. Why do we concentrate on the inflation factor for Trident and forget about it for other equipment? There are the same pressures on all defence equipment, and budgets outgrow the estimates.

Opposition spokesmen say that in the key years at the end of the decade Trident will be a crippling burden on the equipment budget. The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber said that the Trident programme would distort the defence budget. Will it do that? At its peak — on average it will amount to 6 per cent. of the equipment budget—at the end of the decade it will account for 10 per cent. of the budget. What is distorting about that? We are just past the peak of Tornado's impact on the equipment budget. Which of my right hon. and hon. Friends or which Labour Members have been conscious of the distorting effects of the Tornado programme on defence equipment expenditure? However, Tornado is demanding 16 per cent. of the defence equipment budget while Trident, at its peak, will account for only 10 per cent.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)


Dr. Hampson

I would rather not give way to the hon. Gentleman, as I said I would make a short speech.

What is marginal expenditure and what is not? There is inter-service rivalry and some want more service men on the front line, while others want more ships, more submarines, improved aircraft capability and new missiles. Everyone wants more and better of everything that he can get. All service chiefs have in their forward programmes every conceivable weapon system on which they can get their hands if money is provided for them. We cannot continue to expand the budget, which has increased by 23 per cent. in real terms from 1979 to 1986. Some programmes might have to give.

Why do we assume that Trident is on the margin? Why is it thought that it is the margin of expenditure that we should sacrifice? Trident is underpinning our entire defence strategy. Government after Government since the second world war have continued to ask, "Why should we assume in Europe, including the United Kingdom, that every American Administration will immediately commit themselves to risking American citizens and American lives in a counter attack to any conventional attack by the Soviet Union anywhere in Europe?" Why should they do that? It seems that there is an extra guarantee in our area of defence and that there will be uncertainty in the minds of Kremlin planners as long as the centre of decision taking at a nuclear level in Europe is separate from that in Washington.

It seems that defence planners in the Kremlin hypothecate all strategy and planning on the premise that the European powers will move quickly into a nuclear position. All their positioning and planning is based on that premise. Why should we allow the Soviet planners to have the easy option by removing the alternative which we currently have of a nuclear deterrent and permitting them to plan on the assumption that they will have a superiority of conventional weapons?

For all those reasons, it seems that we still require some form of nuclear defence. We have been reminded that Lord Mountbatten said that wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. Of course they cannot. The whole point of having nuclear weapons is to stop wars starting. If we do not have that ultimate deterrent, we have the risk of a conventional operation of some sort starting. It is the process of starting which leads the escalator into a nuclear response.

How would it look from the Soviet side if we cancelled Trident and had no independent deterrent? The Soviet Union would then see our new conventional response. If we spent the Trident money on conventional weapons, how would that appear to the Soviets? They would see for that amount of money—it would not be a huge amount—a few more tanks, some more highly sophisticated aircraft, a few more submarines and a few more ships. Do Labour Members seriously suggest that that would appear to be a much more credible deterrent to Soviet military strategists than the Trident programme? I cannot believe that it would. As I have said, what matters most to Soviet planning is the existence of a nuclear strike. If we are to preserve the peace, I cannot as yet see any credible alternative to a nuclear independent deterrent, and that means going for Trident.

7.34 pm
Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

I shall conform to Mr. Speaker's request for short or shortish speeches. The result of taking scissors to my rather longer speech is that it may seem to lack any uniformity of theme. However, those who listen carefully will find that there is uniformity on the Government's ineptitude in defence decision making.

It appears to be the vogue this afternoon to give definitions of Conservatism. It was Abraham Lincoln who said that a Conservative is someone who sits and thinks and mainly sits. Having heard the remarkable attitude of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck), it seems that a person's attitude to defence can be discerned from an analysis of his socks. That rather confirms Lincoln's analysis. I can see the most appalling pair of yellow socks on the Conservative Benches, which are being worn by the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh). Litigation will obviously be a matter of course over the next few days.

Mr. Leigh

The colour of my socks does not sum up my political thinking.

Mr. George

My socks are blue.

The White Paper stresses competition, which is a theme that ran through the evidence of the Secretary of State to the Select Committee on Defence. It is a theme which runs through what he has been saying over the past few years. It is stated in the White Paper that competition is vital for achieving the best value for money, the most efficient use of industrial resources and the stimulation of innovation and new ideas. That is why I was surprised and delighted when I heard of the Government's decision to purchase Challengers from the royal ordnance factory at Leeds. Does the spirit of competition apply to that purpose? Thankfully, it does not.

We are all aware that the tanks that have been ordered are those which the shah did not require. Is the decision consistent with the policy which the Secretary of State has been shouting from the rooftops? Is this yet another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, or is the Secretary of State fattening up the royal ordnance factory at Leeds as a prelude to a profitable sale to the highest bidder in the months ahead?

I have said many times that I believe in the public sector production of armaments, with that sector working alongside the private sector. It is regrettable that the Government have decided almost to obliterate the public production of armaments. I was a member of the Standing Committee which considered the privatisation of ordnance factories. That is one part of the long journey in which we shall take part, other parts of which will be the privatisation of the dockyards and the shipbuilders. It is unacceptable that the Government intend to create a monopoly in the production of weapons of war within the private sector when the public sector has been involved in that production for many centuries. It has been producing armaments efficiently and cheaply and I believe that the Government are taking ideology and dogma to excessive limits in their decision to privatise further.

When I consider the proposed privatisation of British Shipbuilders, I wonder what is going on with the Government. It seems that once again they have got their Nimrods in a twist. The twin pillars of Conservatism—privatisation and competition—appear to be in conflict. There is a clash of principles. There are those in the Government who would like to see British Shipbuilders flogged off and the creation of a monopoly within the production of warships. That would be the most profitable solution for the Government. Secondly, there are those who believe in selling off British Shipbuilders and creating competition. There are rival schools of thought within the Government and it will be interesting to see which will ultimately emerge the victor.

The defence White Paper contained a good deal about the Government's decision on the standby or mothball squadron. The way in which it has been presented gives the impression that the Government made a reasonably rational decision and now, having had further thoughts on the subject, are abandoning the initial decision. What is the truth of the decision to reverse? When Sir John Non was in charge of the Ministry of Defence — his occupancy of that dangerous position was rather temporary—the rationale in his infamous defence review was that some of the ships currently in service would be put into the standby squadron from which they could be brought back into service within 30 days and crewed by shore-based sailors.

There was rationality in that process. That was the decision of the left hand, but the right hand was doing something different. It was reducing the number of shore-based sailors. Consequently, if the ships had been mothballed and manned by shore-based sailors, there would not have been the personnel ashore to man them within the time constraints which the Government would have imposed. Therefore, because the Government failed to find the shore-based personnel, they were compelled to keep the ships in active service.

I am delighted that the ships are not being mothballed, but I hope that people will realise that the Government's decision was not based on rational principles but, like many of the Government's decisions — despite the Secretary of State's magnificent organisational wall charts, which make his room look like an extended version of Cinemascope—was made for the wrong reasons. If reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence is necessary, it is at the political level and not the military or bureaucratic levels. The Minister smiles. He has the elixir of life in the Ministry of Defence, and has survived all the vicissitudes of that office. He is the Mikoyan of the Politburo, who has entered the Bermuda triangle of the Ministry of Defence and has flown on with success.

That brings me to air defence. When the Government were in opposition in the late 1970s they exacted much mileage about the alleged weaknesses of our air defence. When they came to office, they brought many quick fixes. We remember when the Lightnings were to be taken out of mothballs, and the arming of the Hawks with Sidewinders. That has been a painfully slow process. The Hawk is a great plane within the scope of its design. It may be a great morale booster, and it may inflate the figures for planes available for air defence, but we must put its role in a broad and realistic perspective because it has severe limitations. The greatest of those is that it lacks radar.

If the planes headed off in the general direction of the adversary, and were set against far more sophisticated planes, their inadequacies would be sadly revealed, with adverse consequences for the pilots. We should not place too much emphasis on the addition of Hawks to our air defence. They are useful for point defence, but the nature of modern war with fighter aircraft is that by the time the adversary is near the airfield its load will have been delivered, with lethal consequences.

Much has been said about Trident. However, the Government will face problems, because they cannot have both Trident and adequate conventional defences. The Secretary of State seems to believe that, by central reorganisation and by improving procurement, extra cash can be squeezed from the system and we can have an adequate conventional defence to match our enhanced nuclear capability. History will show that to be grossly over-optimistic. Only a limited amount can be achieved through greater efficiency.

Many aspects of conventional defence are being sacrificed, despite what the Government say, because resources are going elsewhere. Our plans for identification friend and foe equipment are inadequate. We spend enormous sums on the purchase of sophisticated aircraft — between £14 million and £15 million apiece — and £2.5 million on the training of a Tornado pilot. We must ask ourselves whether we are getting the balance right. I have thought about this carefully, and believe that our lack of adequate IFF equipment is serious.

In a recent RAF exercise, many paper casualties, which could have been real casualties, were shot down. The number of planes shot down on our side was unacceptably high, and a large number of them were shot down by our own side. That brings a new dimension to the expression "shooting oneself in the foot" and to the concept of the fog of war. During that exercise there was a real pea-soup fog. Until we have adequate IFF equipment, we need to fear our own air force as much as that of our adversary. The Government will not wish to see the Few even fewer. Much work must be done to research, identify, purchase and place on our planes adequate equipment to improve efficiency and provide greater security for our pilots.

In conclusion, the White Paper contains little about arms control—possibly because little progress is being made in that direction. I hope that that will be reversed. We must do all we can to get the Soviet Union to return to the negotiating table, but not at any price. There must be negotiations. During the next few years much depends on the establishment of a better international atmosphere, with both sides recognising the resolution of the other to defend its interests. They must see the futility of military action against the other, and seek to preserve parity of arms. They must seek to find a compromise, and initiatives must be reciprocated. Only then shall we see greater security at a diminished cost. Only when our resources can be devoted to our respective domestic economies and to assist in resolving the critical problems of the North-South dimension shall we achieve some of our major objectives.

There are many problems, and many ways of proceeding towards improved East-West relations. Whatever route is chosen, it will be long and laborious. Confrontation is not necessary. We can strive for greater security. We must recognise that improved relations are a precondition for obtaining that security.

7.48 pm
Sir Paul Bryan (Boothferry)

As we have been asked to keep our speeches short, I shall confine myself to one subject—the Merchant Navy. The subject has already been powerfully dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Sir H. Atkins), Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence, robustly supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) whose knowledge of anything to do with the sea is unsurpassed in the House. I do not intend to repeat what they have said.

My right hon. and hon. Friends' complaint was not that the Merchant Navy had been found wanting. Far from it. When most recently called upon in the Falklands campaign, it went to war without question. The ships were made available immediately. Those involved at the beginning asked little or nothing about Government powers, contractural conditions, and so on. The ships were needed, they went. The crews were needed, they volunteered. There were more merchant ships than Royal Navy ships in the operation. Co-operation between the two Navies was effective and apparently effortless. That, of course, was the result of well-established standing procedures.

Those procedures continue, no doubt improved by the Falklands experience. The numbers and types of ships required for direct support of military operations in the NATO area have been assessed by the Ministry of Defence, and there has been consultation between the Department of Trade and Industry and the General Council of British Shipping. The ships are not earmarked by name and the figures are classified. As is well known, the vessels required in support of military operations in the NATO area for transportation of men and equipment have been planned for some time. For this operation, the ships are earmarked by name and the plan is subject to regular review between NATO Governments and their ship owners.

So far, so good. But as more and more alarming figures showing the decline of the merchant fleet are published by the GCBS one is bound to ask whether the Government are satisfied that the availability of British flag or British-controlled tonnage is regularly checked against requirements and the specifications of such vessels vis-a-vis their military use regularly reviewed. One must also ask what assumptions have been made about availability, bearing in mind the positioning of ships for their commercial operations and the speed with which they could become available for military purposes.

There are signs that the supply of certain types of tonnage required for these various purposes is becoming very tight in terms of United Kingdom registered ships. Indeed, having regard to ships' positions and taking little account of attrition, it would already be difficult to meet some of the requirements. The Government seem rather complacent about the difficulties that might be encountered in securing the use of ships registered in the dependencies and those under foreign flag, but evidently controlled from within the United Kingdom. There may also be vessels under dependency registry which are not controlled from the United Kingdom and which, at a time of emergency, might be pulled back under neutral or non-friendly ownership.

One also wonders about manpower reserves and reserves of merchant seamen. In the past, on the outbreak of war, this country was always able to draw on a wealth of trained talent in the population among people who had been in the Merchant Navy at one time or another, but that reserve must now be dwindling as rapidly as the fleet itself is declining.

Throughout our history, especially through the last two great wars and the Falklands campaign, we have become so accustomed to the co-operation between the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy that we have taken it for granted. As it has been so recently effective, it may seem churlish to ask whether it can continue. The Secretary of State, perhaps somewhat taken off balance by the questions put to him in the Select Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford, seemed to take refuge in the assumption that as he had heard nothing to the contrary all must be well.

The doubts that we are expressing in this debate are widely reflected in the shipping industry. Here I declare an interest as a director of the Furness Withy group. At a time when, for obvious commercial reasons, the British merchant fleet is diminishing at an alarming rate in the face of competition, mainly from the far east, ship owners are mystified as to why the Government should choose his moment to deal a body blow to the industry through the abolition of capital allowances. As general fiscal policy it is sound, but I very much doubt whether its effect on the shipping industry was seriously considered. I imagine that the industry was probably judged as just another interest group, along with the film industry, cable television and the rest.

I concede that to qualify for exemption from the new tax regime an industry should have not only to make a strong case but to prove itself unique, and in the past the shipping industry has always succeeded in doing just that. Introducing the Budget of 1957, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he could not yet make a general restoration of investment allowances. He continued, however: But there is one exception that I propose. He went on to describe the peculiar problems of the shipping industry and increased the investment allowance for capital expenditure on new ships. He then stated: I must repeat that this is a unique step for a unique industry which is the life line of our country."—[Official Report, 9 April 1957; Vol. 568, c. 995–96.] The time has surely come when the Government cannot put off much longer answering the thorny question, "Is shipping still the lifeline of this country, and if so, should not there be an expressed policy for its future?" Ship owners cannot be blamed for having doubts about the Government's position. Quite apart from the unexpected fiscal blow, the Merchant Navy is not even mentioned in the defence Estimates—an omission that was severely and rightly criticised in the Select Committee report—and there is no Government assistance to maintain any part of the fleet for military or emergency requirements. Our fleet has thus to compete with foreign flag operations which benefit from various kinds of tax assistance, or from protectionism, such as those described by Mr. Menzies Wilson in his presidential address to the GCBS, when he gave examples such as the Jones Act which protects the entire United States coastline, a Norwegian law requiring our supply boats but not Norwegian ones to take a pilot and a French rule that 50 per cent. of oil shipped to France should be shipped in French tankers. There are many more examples.

Personally, I should like the Select Committee on Defence to choose the Merchant Navy as a subject for special study. Some evidence might have to be taken in private for security reasons, but it would give much needed assurance to the public and to the industry that the role of the Merchant Navy is not taken for granted and that Members of Parliament are genuinely aware of its problems.

7.57 pm
Mr. Michael Hancock (Portsmouth, South)

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech today. I come hotfoot from Portsmouth with a message for both sides of the House, but I should first pay tribute to my predecessors, Ralph Bonner Pink and Frank Judd, my constituency having been formed by the amalgamation of substantial parts of Frank Judd's constituency of Portsmouth, North and the previous constituency of Portsmouth, South represented by Ralph Bonner Pink.

In Ralph Bonner Pink the city of Portsmouth and the House of Commons enjoyed the services of someone dedicated to public service. He carried out his duties with integrity and honesty and with great support from the city of Portsmouth. I knew him for 15 years. For much of that time we both served on Portsmouth city council. He is a great loss to the city and it is a tragedy that his death occurred such a short way into a term of office in this House.

Frank Judd served the city well as a Member of Parliament for 13 years. In the early part of my political life I looked to him for support and guidance and I learned a great deal from him about the politics of people. He was a fine constituency Member. As a politician in this House, I hope that I shall emulate the impression that Frank Judd made on me as a young local councillor.

The message that brings me to my feet was spelt out time and again by the three main candidates in the recent by-election in Portsmouth, South. The issue of defence was argued at public meetings, press conferences and on the doorsteps. It was done so by the Conservative party candidate, who had a difficult enough task, because in the past Portsmouth has been let down by the promises made in Tory party manifestos, particularly in the election material distributed on the Government's behalf in the city.

There were promises about defence jobs, a commitment to naval spending and a commitment to the defence industries of Marconi, Plessey and Vosper. For one reason or another best known to the Government, things have fallen far short of what was initially promised. Mr. Rock, the unsuccessful Conservative candidate, in his first or second press conference, gave an assurance that not one job within the Portsmouth dockyard or naval base would be lost through compulsory redundancy from October onwards. He said that he gave that assurance with the permission of the Secretary of State for Defence. I hope that the Minister will give a firm assurance from the Government Front Bench tonight to back up that statement on jobs and the threat to Portsmouth.

When Mr. Rock's predecessor sought election in 1979, he promised the city that no job would be lost in Portsmouth dockyard and that Portsmouth would be—as it is seen to be by the people of the city—the defender of the realm and the bastion of naval power. He assured the city that Portsmouth would continue to be the country's premier naval base. Yet within two years of that election promise, Sir John Nott was savaging not only the dockyard and naval base, but the defence industry generally in the city.

The people of Portsmouth need the assurance that I have requested of the Minister. They do not want it through newspapers or press conferences. It should be given here, where the responsibility lies.

The Labour party's attitude to defence also came up. Time and again its candidate went on record as to where she stood. She was a member of CND, in favour of unilateral disarmament, even in favour of NATO, but not in favour of American bases in this country or of cruise.

The real dilemma faced by the people of Portsmouth, South was the false promises of the Government candidate on the one hand and the forked-tongue approach of the Labour candidate on the other. I am glad to say that those people saw the sense of the alliance's approach to defence. The defence policy advocated in our manifesto, both in this by-election and in the general election, was based on realism and a commitment to NATO. Not only did we say that we were in favour of NATO, but that we had a commitment to accept some of the responsibility that goes with belonging to NATO.

That meant that we welcome, as Portsmouth did two weeks ago, the NATO fleet consisting of a sizeable element of the American sixth fleet. The aircraft carrier Eisenhower paid its third visit in two years to the city, and the people of Portsmouth welcomed those sailors as fellow members of NATO and defenders of the free world. The commitment of the citizens of Portsmouth was spelt out loud and clear to those visitors.

Many of the people who voted for me saw through the shallowness of the Labour party's commitment, which is in favour of NATO but does not welcome American ships or bases in our country. The Labour party does not want the responsibility that goes with being a member of NATO. Instead, the people of Portsmouth whole-heartedly accepted where we stand. By accepting that responsibility, we also accept that those bases should be here. We accept that a nuclear deterrent is essential if we are to prove to aggressors that we have the potential to defend our people.

Defence and jobs are of key importance to my constituents. They would not lightly have forgiven me had I accepted this office without taking this opportunity to spell out to the House the problems that they face. They want an assurance from the Government that their jobs are safe, not only within the naval base but in the other dockyard-related industries around the city. They want to see Vosper Thornycroft thrive and look forward to a frigate contract being given to that company. They also want to see Marconi and Plessey continue to prosper.

I read the maiden speeches of my predecessors with some interest, particularly the speeches of those who were elected to the House in the 1960s. They described Portsmouth as a city with only one major industry—the dockyard. In the main, that is still true today, although the problem is now defence in its wider context. It is that from which the people enjoy their economic stability.

My election is a clear sign that the people of Portsmouth have rejected the two alternatives with which we are faced in the House today. It would be nonsense for the alliance to support the Government because of their commitment to Trident, which will undersell our ability properly to advocate conventional forces to defend our country. It would be equally foolish for alliance Members to support the Labour amendment, which is the complete opposite of what we stood for in the recent by-election—a stance that was whole-heartedly supported by the SDP and Liberal Members who came to fight the campaign.

I read with interest the Government's intention in the Estimates to do more for health, education and accommodation for the services, and I look no further than my own constituency to see how inadequate those provisions are for the people who depend so much on the Government for assistance. I again urge the Minister to look seriously at the Government's intentions on the welfare of service families and the well-being of the children of service men living in large garrison towns such as Portsmouth and Gosport.

When I rose to speak, I felt like Voltaire, who, when asked on his death-bed whether he would renounce the devil, said, "This is no time to make enemies." I suppose that a maiden speech is no time to make enemies, but the people of Portsmouth would not have been pleased with my election five days ago had I not taken the opportunity of telling the House of how they feel about the inadequacies of both the other parties on defence. I am living proof that a vote for the alliance in Portsmouth was a vote for sane defence policies that are based on realism and that are very acceptable to the electorate.

8.8 pm

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on his maiden speech. It was a short time ago that I was in a similar position, and he surmounted that not inconsiderable hurdle with great skill. However, I must tell him that a number of his constituents, particularly the chief petty officers in the Royal Navy, would have been appalled to see him speaking with both hands in his pockets. The hon. Gentleman jumped in where angels might fear to tread, unfettered as he is by the traditions of the House. I congratulate him on a forthright, interesting and forceful speech, which I have no doubt his constituents will much appreciate. I assure him that the remarks that he made about his predecessors were appreciated by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

I am glad to be able to speak in the debate in which my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) has made her distinguished maiden speech, on which I congratulate her.

I am satisfied that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has the management of defence, in its broadest terms, under control. Few hon. Members are better equipped to run that great Department, and all of us may be thankful for that. I still have considerable reservations on whether the procurement budget is completely under control, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have the matter well in hand.

If we are the prime customer of United Kingdom industry, we should be able to command the finest and most competitive terms from those companies, which in my opinion in many cases take their business with the Ministry of Defence as a God-given right. In short, I believe that the problem is not the management of defence, but the management of strategy. I know that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have spent, and are spending, a good deal of time addressing this matter.

One of the questions which exercise me most centres on whether the impact of new technology on the strategy and on military art is evolutionary or revolutionary. I believe that the impact of these new technologies is revolutionary, but the key point is that it is not so much the existence of the new technologies which is critical as the recognition of the awareness of the impact of the new technologies on defence planning, what it means for us, and, above all, the decisiveness that will be needed to exploit these advantages. We welcome the benefits which the new technologies can give us, but we must not in any event allow ourselves to be hindered by the historic latent conservatism of the Ministry of Defence. We simply must have the capacity to change concepts, equipments, and, above all, the balance and the tasking of our forces if this is seen to be necessary.

Within this context, NATO has reached the point where the strategic assumptions upon which it has been operating, the force structures and the institutionalised concepts that it has generated, and the joint policy that it has developed are likely to prove inadequate to cope with the problems of the next decade. Time has moved on, and priorities have changed dramatically and will change in the global and broad strategic scene. This is the real problem in defence planning in the country and in NATO. I acknowledge that changes cannot and must not be made quickly, but time is not on our side, and the sacred cows, with which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is an expert at dealing, must be trotted out for parade and inspection and, if necessary, slaughtered and dismembered.

In respect of our own position, does the search for efficiency really lead to greater effectiveness? Our forces are highly efficient—that is not in any sense in question — and they are extremely effective, but are they effective in the right areas? Are they effectively and correctly tasked?

The White Paper, as far as I can see, contains no real sense of definition of strategic values. Will my right hon. Friend take time to explain to the House what exactly is our defence strategy in its broadest terms? This cannot be covered by generalities like the deterrent. This is not enough. Where exactly are we going with British defence policy? What view is taken of the new and emerging technologies which will have a dramatic effect on the armed forces of the country? How will new technologies replace or complement existing conventional military technology, strategy and the evolution of the military art? What is the definitive view in the country of battlefield nuclear weapons in the European environment? In general, what is missing from the White Paper is a political strategic dimension, although I say again without any hesitation that, in terms of looking for a better way of spending a lot of money, the White Paper has a great deal to recommend it.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will not fall into the trap that some of his right hon. Friends in other Departments did of cutting in all directions without having thought through the long-term and essentially vital strategic implications. My right hon. Friend has an unenviable task. He will have to upset the services by the fact that one of them will do better than the others. That in itself is not a bad thing. He will have to upset us in the House—he has broad shoulders—he will have to upset public opinion, and he will have to upset British industry. It is fortunate, indeed, that he is so excellently equipped to undertake without fear or favour these kinds of aggravations. It is not enough to say that with proper management there is no need to make the kind of hard choices that must be examined. The inherent dichotomy between forward defence and flexible response must be resolved, or sooner or later it will rise and strangle our strategy and foreign policy,

Now is the time for a thorough review of NATO's structures and deployment, and within that context we cannot dodge the question of the force levels that we maintain in western Germany. Substantial pressures are building up on both sides of the Atlantic in a number of important areas, particularly with the news that the Americans could be seeking a reduction of 100,000 men on the ground in NATO.

Apart from that, the question of advancing towards no early first use as a NATO doctrine requires a host of strategic changes and decisions to be taken on the ground. In my opinion, that must bring into question one of the biggest sacred cows of all—the costly and financially destabilising Trident venture. The House should ask how we are to mesh our assets into any future European defence community, and we need a real assessment of whether the Trident programme will place a heavy reliance on nuclear overkill. As the main focus of our defence policy looks likely to continue, rightly in my opinion, to be on NATO, to which 90 per cent. of our defence effort is committed, the House should insist as a minimum requirement that a review is prepared, pulling together the entire 1967 concept, dissecting it and the progress that has or has not been made, and then dragging it a stage forward.

The objections to undertaking a comprehensive review of NATO strategy will be entirely bureaucratic. This will centre on the inadvisability of raising once again difficult and sensitive issues which have caused the Alliance many unnecessary problems in the past. Clearly these are arguments which cannot and must not be sustained today when the political and military relationships between East and West and the Third world are undergoing rapid and extraordinary changes.

It is, of course, excellent news that Lord Carrington, who has such considerable experience of foreign affairs and defence, will be able to shake off the caution, inertia and, I have to say, torpor which currently exist within the NATO organisation. In so far as the House is concerned, a thorough strategy review will not resolve the fundamental problems that we have, but, as to NATO, unless the defence planning is dealt with, the bases for the development of a force posture both adequate and affordable, and at the minimum level, will continue to elude us.

Looking to the future, all I can see is the certainty of uncertainty and the absolute requirement for flexibility of our defence forces. This House must and should demand a fuller and more definitive plan for defence strategy and objectives.

8.20 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

I associate myself with the compliments paid to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock). He was worried that his candour might make him enemies in the House. I assure him that if he addresses himself in future with the degree of preparation and brevity that he exhibited tonight, he will make few enemies.

I also associate myself and my party with the congratulations offered to the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley). I can do no more than echo her wish that her survival in the House will be long and productive.

It is almost a year since I made my maiden speech during the debate on the defence Estimates. Since then, the House has seen fit to elect me to the Select Committee on Defence. Some hon. Members justified my selection by saying that it was proper that the Committee should include someone who lived with the problem facing our security forces operating in Northern Ireland. Therefore, at the risk of appearing to be too parochial, I feel obliged to concentrate my few remarks on the security forces that operate in the most unconventional of conventional roles—acting in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the war against terrorism in that part of the country.

Paragraphs 126 to 129 of the statement deal with Northern Ireland and refer specifically to the Ulster Defence Regiment. The right hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir H. Atkins) paid a generous tribute to those men and women when he spoke yesterday, and I know that his real concern for the welfare of the UDR will be appreciated.

Perhaps it is appropriate to point out that since 19 July last 11 off-duty members of the UDR have been murdered, as have 10 members of the RUC—four while off duty—six members of the RUC reserve—two while off duty—and eight regular soldiers—two while off duty. One off-duty member of the Territorial Army has also been murdered. All those men have died at the hands of Republican terrorists. It brings the total sacrifice of the security forces in Northern Ireland since 1969 to 719. None of those figures takes into account former members of the police and of the Army, many of whom have been and others still are being murdered.

The Secretary of State will understand, in the light of those figures, why I would have liked to see a full chapter devoted to the discussion of the role or our conventional forces. I am disappointed that there is no indication, after 14 years, that the Ministry of Defence has made any decision on the terms and conditions of service for full-time UDR soldiers.

The UDR is shouldering an increasing part of the burden of support for the RUC, which has allowed a reduction in deployment of regular major units from 26 to eight. But many of the full-time soldiers would revert to part-time if there were an economic recovery in the country—not because they are not dedicated to their task, but because they have no proper career structure, a factor that also inhibits the recruiting of the more able young men who would make good officer material.

As the right hon. Member for Spelthorne said, in addition to the strain of being at risk 24 hours every day, 365 days each year, those young men have the constant anxiety of wondering whether they will be permitted to re-engage at the end of each three-year term and whether, if the trouble ended—as they all hope it will—they will have a job. Indeed, any of those young men wanting to accept a more secure job now run the risk of being shunned by employers because they are a security risk.

I believe that the Barnett report deals with a career structure for the UDR soldier, and I am told that is in the hands of the Ministry of Defence. Can the Minister tell us whether the Secretary of State has looked at this problem and if and when the Ministry of Defence will establish a proper career structure for the full-time UDR soldier?

Another problem is minor in proportion, but highly sensitive. I would not seek to hide, nor would the Army, the fact that a few soldiers have committed, or allegedly committed, serious crimes. Let me make it clear that, while I deplore any infringement of the law by those whose job it is to uphold it, I find it none the less heartening that those lapses are surprisingly few considering the situation which has existed for the past 15 years. What amazes me is that when an alleged offence occurs, we allow our soldiers to be placed in custody cheek-by-jowl with members of the IRA, INLA, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces has told me that, where an offence allegedly occurs that arises from a soldier carrying out his duty he could be accepted into Army custody; otherwise that could not be done.

Like Lord Justice Gibson giving judgment and Lord Denning commenting on the recent dismissal of a murder charge against three members of the RUC, I fail to understand how, in the first place, the law is so inadequate as to permit members of the security forces to be charged when they are carrying out their duty.

But even if they are believed to have acted outside the law and require to be charged, could one imagine any circumstances where, during world war 2, we would have incarcerated a serving soldier, irrespective of the alleged crime, in a German, Italian or Japanese prison camp, or, during the Cyprus campaign, with EOKA terrorists?

Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Wakerley, who served for two and a half years as senior legal adviser on the staff of the GOC at headquarters Northern Ireland, recently wrote in The Times that he argued continually but unsuccessfully against the policy of the Director of Public Prosecution's Office in this type of case to prosecute members of the security forces before the same special no jury courts which tried the terrorists, even on evidence which was tenuous in the extreme. It is a well established principle under our system of law that a person should be brought to trial on a serious criminal charge only where there exists a reasonable chance that he will be convicted. In the absence of any other convincing reason, it seemed to us in Northern Ireland that soldiers were prosecuted either simply to test whether their constitutional duty had been performed properly or—even more disturbingly—in order to demonstrate to the vested interests that the DPP's Office could be relied upon to be even-handed as between the forces of law and order on the one hand and the enemies of the state on the other … Our proposal at that time to allow the military authorities to exercise jurisdiction over soldiers by convening a court martial to try any case where the evidence justified a prosecution was rejected out of hand by the civil legal establishment"— and, I believe, by the Northern Ireland Office— although such procedure was routine where the army was engaged in similar anti-terrorist operations outside the United Kingdom. I ask the Minister to examine carefully whether the interests of our serving soldiers are being sacrificed for reasons of political expediency by the Director of Public Prosecutions under direct, or indirect, influence from the Northern Ireland Office. In practice, should our soldiers, though rightly subject to the law, be subjected while on remand to physical attacks from co-located terrorists or humiliated by being locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, as they are at present, because they dare not venture out? Should the Ministry of Defence accept its obligation to our soldiers at least to seek military custody in remand cases so that our soldiers do not have to endure over 12 months virtual isolation—something that is not inflicted on terrorist remand prisoners?

I wish that I could deal more fully with other aspects of the conventional role of the security forces. I should have liked to deal with the MOD's facility to provide sufficient manpower to assess the increased competition which it hopes to engender in tendering. If I did, I think I would try the patience of hon. Members who wish to speak.

I hope that the Minister will take on board some brief points. Do the Government recognise the role played by the Royal Navy in support of the civil power in Northern Ireland as it patrols our coastline and performs other duties? If we succeed in raising the level of security on our land frontier, the significance of that role will become even greater.

What plans are there to replace the outdated vessels on station in Northern Ireland, especially the two Loyal class converted tenders? Is the Minister satisfied with the adequacy and safety of the two other vessels—the Bird class patrol boats?

Will the Minister confirm that there is to be a genuine and sustained increase in frontier security to hinder the unabated flow of weapons and explosives and the continued genocide of my constituents? Four of the 11 off-duty part-time soldiers murdered this year were my constituents.

Will the Minister tell us how many helicopters are on deployment in the Falklands and how many in Northern Ireland? I mentioned that point last year. If anything, the situation is deteriorating. Our soldiers' lives are being jeopardised through lack of helicopter hours.

These matters may not appear to have the importance of other weighty topics raised today, but the welfare of all our soldiers will, I hope, be dealt with by the Minister in his reply. Nothing that we debate can have any significance without our highly professional forces, whom we too easily take for granted. Nothing in the Minister's reply will influence more strongly the way in which my party will vote today.

8.34 pm
Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly today. I should like to comment on the closing remarks of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). I support him in emphasising the importance of the individual service man, without whom our defence forces are worth nothing.

I fully and whole-heartedly support the Government's plans to expand the Territorial Army. My enthusiasm for the Territorial Army stems from personal experience in two TA units in the years between 1959 and 1965, followed by further service with the cadet force.

On opening a kitchen drawer the other evening I discovered a copy of The Times dated 5 March 1970, which referred to a debate such as this. After six years of Labour Government, we were debating the rundown of the volunteer forces. Indeed, condemnation was being expressed of the deliberate nature of the rundown of the reserves to the level where they are barely adequate to bring BAOR up to wartime strength, the disbandment of the Territorial Army in its old form, and the abandonment of almost any form of home defence. According to that report, the TA was half the size that it had been in 1964, and civil defence and the auxiliary fire service had been put on a care and maintenance basis.

Fourteen years later, it is good to see that, according to the Estimates, the Government have recognised the importance of the volunteer spirit. I whole-heartedly welcome what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday when, in his opening remarks, he spoke of the increased emphasis on our reserve forces. I believe firmly in the role of the Territorial Army, the RAF auxiliaries and the Royal Navy and Royal Marine reserves, in addition to the Home Service Force and the cadets.

I believe in that role not only because of the importance of those forces in defence plans—contingency and other plans—but because of the opportunity that they provide for people to serve the community, and also because of the way in which such service increases understanding of defence issues, weapon systems and the need to prevent the outbreak of war — something which we are all determined to avoid, and are working to avoid through realistic policies and actions.

In the second phase of the Government's expansion plans there are to be six new infantry battalions. I welcome that, although as an ex-infantry man I regret the fact that none of them is to be based in East Anglia. However, the leaders of the Territorial Army in Norwich and the surrounding area are pleased with the new plans and are welcoming them with enthusiasm.

I pay tribute to those in my constituency and elsewhere who give up time as volunteers in the Territorial Army and the other reserve forces. I pay tribute to their families and their employers as well—to those who support them in their endeavour. We should do all that we can to encourage employers who support those who give up their time to serve the community in this way.

I am informed that the recruiting for the Territorial Army in East Anglia has been good, although there has recently been a little downturn, perhaps because of the improved employment situation. Recruiting for the cadets is also going well—in particular, the recruiting of girls into the cadet forces, which is a welcome innovation.

The reserves cost very little in terms of the total defence budget. The return of that investment in terms of good will is excellent. However, today Territorial Army commanders are coping with an annual turnover of about one third of their manpower. That wastage must be detrimental to training. I believe that it is a mistake to try to obtain our volunteers on the cheap. Clearly pay and bounty must be a factor in recruiting volunteers and retaining them, at least in the early stages of their Territorial Army career. I believe that a more generous approach can and must be applied, and will produce benefits. I therefore support what my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) said yesterday. He expressed a wish for even stronger Government support for our voluntary services.

The Government have stated recently that the reserves deserve the full support of the whole community. They should have even greater support and commitment than is outlined in the Estimates. I assure my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the response to which he referred will be forthcoming. That will be good for the defence of Britain and good for the people involved.

8.39 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I ask the Minister to take heed of the speech of the hon. Member for Boothferry (Sir P. Bryan) on the issue of British shipping. Those of us who have anything to do with the National Union of Seamen and the General Council of British Shipping know that what the hon. Gentleman said about allowances is only too true. I shall cut my comments short and simply endorse what the Minister's political friend said on behalf of a great number of us.

Because the Navy Estimates, like, I gather, the Army Estimates and the Air Force Estimates, will have to wait until the autumn, perhaps I could ask a question in regard to annex C on page 46 of the White Paper. When did the submarine Conqueror commence its present refit and when is that refit likely to be completed? Two years is a long time for a refit. I know that I cannot ask about the cost, but I think that I am entitled to ask for an explanation of why it is taking quite so long.

I should also like to raise a question concerning the use of the SAS satellite channel. I believe that a book that has recently been published, entitled "Sources close to the Prime Minister", deals with an issue that is important for all of us. On page 172 the authors, Cockerell and Hennesey and Walker, have written: The reporter who identified most closely with the Prime Minister's view of his duty was Mr. Max Hastings. He faced almost no difficulties in getting his despatches through, while others — who took a more critical line — faced immense obstacles. A number of despatches to the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Guardian and the Press Association never reached their destinations at all. In contrast, Mr. Hastings was even allowed to use the SAS satellite channel to dictate a report direct —a unique privilege. Is it true that that unique privilege was afforded to Mr. Max Hastings? If it is true, why was it afforded? If it is not true, ought not the Government to take steps to deny it?

We have been asked to be succinct, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps I might refer to my speech of Friday 8 June, when I kept no one else out by speaking for one hour and 15 minutes. I shall refer to that speech, so that others can speak today. At column 599, yet again, I asked for a governmental comment on the book by Bruce Arnold, which is published by the reputable firm of Hamish Hamilton, which has libel lawyers. It was said in that biography of the Prime Minister, entitled "Mrs. Thatcher: A study in Power", that Margaret Thatcher told a lie. Just one. I believe that the Prime Minister is under an obligation to do something about that as it is a biography of her. I shall leave my argument at that as the case was outlined in my speech.

At column 600 in the same speech, I asked for a Government comment, which was not given, on the allegations in "Sources close to the Prime Minister" in regard to the manipulation by the Ministry of Defence and other Government Departments of the Franks committee report. It is all there in column 600. I simply repeat the question.

In column 612, I asked a third question, which I shall now repeat: why have I not received answers to certain questions surrounding the sinking of the General Belgrano from the Secretary of State for Defence? The argument is set out in column 612. It is easy to give such answers as they can be got simply by looking at the log book of the Conqueror.

There is another important issue that many people who do not share my views on the sinking of the Belgrano agree with. It concerns changes in the rules of engagement. It was held by Admiral Woodward that he requested just one change in the rules of engagement. As I understand it, that is what Ministers have been saying for more than two years. However, we have all heard—it has been printed in the papers, so it is public knowledge — that the former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), pressed by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, talked in terms of routine changes in the rules of engagement — "a reasonable routine practice," said the right hon. Gentleman. He is quoted in The Scotsman of 12 June as saying: This was one of the many changes in the rules of engagement made during the course of the war. He said that such changes were made as a matter of routine. Professor Erickson and many other commentators have raised many eyebrows on this issue. It raises for the National Union of Seamen the safety of our ships. If Britain merely changes the rules of engagement on a whim, that has all sorts of consequences. Who is right? Are the Ministers who have spoken in terms of one or very few changes in the rules of engagement? Is Admiral Woodward or the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East right? Someone is right and someone is wrong.

I wish to raise in a little more detail the matter on which I interrupted the Minister in his opening speech. It concerns the cost of the airport at Mount Pleasant. People now call it the Margaret Thatcher international airport in the south Atlantic. Are Ministers firm about the airport costing only £215 million? I understand from various sources that there are great stopgap problems in the provision of materials, that there are delays to the structure of the concrete that is needed for the foundations, and that that is raising all sorts of hitherto scarcely suspected problems that were predicted by some experts but were swept aside by the opinions of others.

I am told that the two quarries in the Falklands—one for quartzite and one for tillite—have proved deeply unsatisfactory. I am told that there are ribs of sandstone and clay particles in the sand that makes it technically extremely difficult to produce the quality of concrete that is required.

I am also told that the Government have therefore been faced with using ships to take aggregate on the 13,000 km journey, at a cost of about £1.5 million a time, to the south Atlantic.

They are taking rock and other heavy materials from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere because nobody in south America will provide such materials and it is politically unacceptable to get it from South Africa.

Are the Government sure that the £215 million will be kept to? How many journeys do they envisage for the carriage of heavy material? Is it true that at least 300,000 cu. ft. of material for concrete will have to be taken from quarries near Oxford and Bristol through Avonmouth to the Falklands? Laings has gone on record as saying: Many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rock are needed for the contract, including material for the sub-base, aggregates for the dry lean mix concrete, and for the pavement quality and apron area concrete. It has also been made clear that the tillite and quartzite is far more difficult to mine than the Amay Roadstone company had hitherto expected.

It has also been said that both the wintry conditions and the substantial quantities of clay that have been found, together with the quartzite containing bands of sandstone, have made it unreal to suppose that the Falklands can locally provide the materials that were originally taken for granted.

I am told that when it is made into concrete, the rock found locally on the Falklands becomes flaky and is, therefore, unsuitable for high grade concrete. I am also told that 0.5 million tonnes of sand is needed, as Falldands sand is unsuitable because it contains clay particles.

Is that denied by Ministers? I suspect that it may not be. To be fair, I asked similar questions of the then Labour Government some 15 years ago in relation to the proposed staging post at Aldabra atoll in the Indian ocean, on which my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and others were keen at the time. Bob Mellish told me two years later that the doubts that I had raised were amply endorsed in his Ministry of Public Building and Works, and the project did not go ahead.

All that I had said at the time about the nature of the material under the hard skin of coral atoll being unsuitable for making runways proved to be correct. If I was right about Aldabra 15 years ago, my track record cannot be that bad. I suspect that I am right on this occasion in relation to the building of the airport on the Falklands.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

My hon. Friend is frequently right.

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend makes a flattering intervention, for which I thank him.

I suspect that I am right, and, if I am technically right, there will be an enormous effect on cost in view of the fact that the Government are sticking to their estimate of £215 million for the airport.

I am also told that the six cement testers who are on the Falklands say that the quality of the material that they now have is too smooth and may break up completely given the Falklands winters and the pressure from TriStars and other heavy aircraft landing. Further, I am informed that the two large crushing plants are running into all sorts of difficulties and that the quality of the rock has proved much poorer than expected by the companies concerned in their original inquiries.

Why has Mr. John Parr-Burman, the airport project director, had to fly to the Falklands in a great hurry? Is it to evaluate a crisis? Some explaining must be done because, in answer to seven parliamentary questions—the details of which I will spare the House—I was told: The 6,600 tonnes of graded aggregate is being transported from Bristol in the Orepesa and Beacon Grange as part of the contractor's normal shipping programme. Both vessels are British owned, managed and crewed and British registered. The aggregates, to the normal standards required for structural concrete, will be used at the Mount Pleasant airfield and were obtained from the Bristol and Oxford areas. It is not the practice to reveal costs for individual components of the work".—[Official Report, 8 June 1984; Vol. 61, c. 428.] It may not be the practice to reveal costs for individual components, but I am entitled to ask these questions because, with the estimate of £215 million being adhered to, if half of what I have said in the last few minutes is accurate, the costs will soar. After all, we are talking about lugging extremely heavy aggregates, sand and other material from the northern to the southern hemisphere.

This state of affairs was not allowed for in the original plan. When it was decided that we needed what we might as well call the Margaret Thatcher international airport in the southern hemisphere, there was no suggestion that the carrying of such bulk would be necessary. I suspect that the silence of Ministers indicates—I will not say "as usual"—that, as often before when I have raised technical points about costs, I may be right again.

I do not know whether Ministers have been reading the Sunday Telegraph in recent weeks. When Mr. Peregrine Worsthorne, with whom I have debated this subject on several occasions—on separate sides, I hasten to add—writes an article headed Argentina—why we should make peace", it is clear that if the Government will not listen to Opposition Members, at least they might begin to listen to the Sunday Telegraph when they are told that they must do something in the south Atlantic. For reasons of time, I shall leave it at that.

8.56 pm
Mr. Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon)

It was appropriate that the first day of the debate on the defence White Paper should have taken place on 18 June, the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Having sat through many long passages of rhetoric and having been much instructed yesterday, when I arrived home I looked at an admirable history of the battle by a namesake of mine to see what had happened on 19 June. I read that by late afternoon on that day, not a single healthy soldier was left on the field. There were one or two sightseers, and a few dead Guardsmen lay among the cabbages and turnips. I concluded that there could be no parallels between the situation at Waterloo and the situation in this Chamber. Certainly the Secretary of State would never regard his Back Benchers as an infamous army. Yet I read that from time to time a figure would half raise itself, and then, with a despairing groan, fall back again. Having been called to speak in the debate, I will proceed to more general matters.

The White Paper sets out impressive achievements. The emphasis in it on management bears very much the hallmark of my right hon. Friend and the Government are to be warmly congratulated on the political steadfastness with which they have proceeded to install intermediate nuclear weapons since this House debated the last defence White Paper. There can be no doubt of the will of the Government to provide adequately for the defence of the realm.

Yet the White Paper slides around or ignores some critical strategic questions of which I know the Government are fully conscious, and I share the regrets of some of my hon. Friends that the White Paper does not address itself to some of these issues. While Labour Members refer to "real and fundamental issues" which have been neglected, it is not the unilateralism to which they resort at the end of their amendment that I have in mind.

The White Paper is a lucid and reasonable account of NATO orthodoxy. It is a rationalisation of the status quo. But that status quo is not sustainable. We shall not be able to persist with the distribution of responsibilities between America and Europe in the defence of Europe to which we have been accustomed. The Americans will insist that the Europeans take a much fuller share of the burden of their own defence. Who is to say that that is not fair? Moreover, it will be necessary, because present dispositions are inadequate to meet the needs.

In America, increasing numbers of responsible politicians are no longer prepared to tolerate the disparity in expenditure on defence between their own country and the European countries. The White Paper gives the figures for per capita expenditure on defence. The figure for America is $962. The contrast with Europe is striking. Happily, the United Kingdom is at the top of the European league, spending $435 per head on defence, but then we range down through France with $396, to Germany—which is obviously, for historical reasons, a special case —at $364, the Netherlands $294 and Italy at $181.

American politicans ask why they should continue to be prepared to ask of their people that their whole economy should be laid under stress—and we might add, why the world economy should be laid under stress—so that they can spend disproportionate sums on defence while, very arguably, the Europeans are not pulling their weight. More specifically, questions are asked by senior and respected people, such as by Senator Nunn of the Committee on Armed Services. A month ago, he asked why, if the Europeans would not provide more than a week's worth of ammunition reserves, American troops should be asked to prepare for a contingency in which they might fight alongside them. Again, why will Europe not provide adequate bases for the aircraft that the Americans will contribute to the Alliance?

The Administration have no truck that I am aware of with those American politicians who contemplate a withdrawal of American troops from Europe. Indeed, the President excoriated them in a recent speech as "new isolationists", and drew attention to the disastrous consequences that had flowed from American isolationism in the late 1930s. But those isolationists exist. It is, perhaps, a burgeoning line of thought in America which will not go away, and we must be aware of it and respond to it.

Again, Americans resent what they take to be a supercilious and morally shifty attitude towards them on the part of many Europeans in failing to provide responsibly their contribution to their own defence. They resent the fact that too many Europeans rationalise their unwillingness to play their full part by characterising the Americans as naive and belligerent, and that Europeans place themselves in a rather priggish and morally cosy fashion between the two superpowers and suggest that one is as bad as the other. The Leader of the Opposition is a notable exponent of that approach.

The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Mr. Johnston) referred to the very important article by Dr. Kissinger in Time magazine of 5 March. Dr. Kissinger spoke of Europe disarming itself psychologically, and suggested that a generation of politicians in Europe who had chosen, in a time of relative prosperity, to depend upon the Americans for the greater part of their defence displayed all the attitudes born of guilt—particularly a tendency to sneer and to flaunt their independence. He went on to argue that it would be necessary for the Europeans gradually to take full responsibility for certain key elements in their defence, particularly conventional ground defence. He suggested that the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe should be a European, and that Europeans should take the leading part in arms control negotiations relating to weapons stationed on European soil. In those ways he felt that Europeans might be impelled to confront the real issues that they are too prone to fudge.

Those are very important challenges that should be debated in the House. I hope that my right hon. Friends will increasingly respond to them in a public manner. I am, of course, glad and proud that Britain's contribution to European defence is right at the top of the league, that we have played a leading part in rallying European efforts, and that since 1979—under a Conservative Government —defence expenditure has increased in real terms by 20 per cent. I am also glad that we are willing to play our part in the reactivation of Western European Union as a forum for the political consideration of the issues that underlie defence policy. The meeting of WEU in October will have an agenda of major importance.

One item on it should be an analysis of the doctrine of flexible response. The White Paper rehearses that doctrine, but naturally enough it does not criticise it or discuss its inadequacies. But given that we do not have, in NATO, the conventional strength to match or even effectively to deter a conventional attack, it is becoming increasingly apparent to thoughtful people that we shall face a choice of early surrender or early resort to nuclear weapons. In a situation of strategic nuclear parity, that implies mutual assured destruction.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State suggested that this element of uncertainty would continue to operate as an effective deterrent. That would be so if we were dealing with rational people. However, Hitler was not rational at any time, least of all when he invaded Russia in 1942. It is essential, if we are to apply the philosophy of flexible response, that we should be able to deter at every level. We have faced this at the intermediate force level, and we shall have to face it at the conventional level. Developments in emerging technology raise important opportunities and challenges in this respect. We may otherwise face an extremely dangerous moment with public opinion when people wake up to the degree to which our present dispositions imply an early resort to battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe. If they come to be aware of this, we shall face serious political pressures towards neutralism.

The second fundamental shortcoming in NATO orthodoxy and in the exposition of it in the White Paper is that it underestimates the global interests and global dependencies of NATO members and the global threat to their security. The geopolitical scene has altered out of all recognition since 1949, but NATO reflexes have not done so. In 1949, not only were there imperial structures to secure Europe's interests in the world, but there was the unchallenged maritime supremacy of the West. As the White Paper points out, since 1970 the Soviets have constructed 100 nuclear submarines and also a maritime surface fleet capable of world-wide operation. Through their proxies, they are able to bring to bear conventional strength at many points in the world where they were not able to do that 25 years ago. They conduct a continuous campaign of propaganda, disinformation and subversion.

Most critically, the Soviets are pursuing a resource war, as General Haig termed it. They have gone a long way towards encircling the Gulf. Although there have been recent setbacks, they have gone a long way towards building a systematic network of powers sympathetic to them in the southern third of Africa, the source of critical raw materials that are vital not only for our military strength but for our wider economic strength. Europe is far more dependent on sources of raw materials from that area than America is. No doubt his successors in the Kremlin recall Lenin's maxim, "Sever the raw materials flow from the colonies, and you cut the spinal cord of the empire".

The White Paper does not sufficiently acknowledge what would be the reality—that a war, even if it began in Europe, would not be confined to Europe, or to the north Atlantic. There would be strikes at the American rear from the Pacific, there would be a Soviet thrust down into the Gulf, there would be a major attempt at interdiction of our lifelines around the Cape, and at the very least major harassment in the Caribbean.

Freedom of navigation through the Panama canal and the stability of Mexico on America's border are criticial interests for American security. If they are criticial to American security, they are critical to us as well, and the more that American attention and resources have to be diverted to the Caribbean and central America, the less they are available for the direct protection of Europe.

NATO strategy is of forward deployments in Europe with a capacity for rapid and substantial reinforcement, but in the event of reinforcement in Europe being needed from across the Atlantic, some 75 per cent. of men and materiel would pass through the strait of Florida. Since 1979, the Soviet Union has made its major push in central America and the Caribbean, in powerful support for the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, in the support that we saw for the Bishop regime in Grenada, and in the construction of important airfields in those two places. Those processes were matched between 1981 and 1983 by a tripling of the previous average annual level of arms support to Cuba.

These developments are an obvious and serious threat to the security of this country and of Europe. However, the response of too many political leaders in Europe at the moment of the American intervention in Grenada was equivocal, nerveless and censorious, if not downright condemnatory.

I regret that the White Paper discusses insufficiently these global matters. The jargon phrase "out of area" in today's circumstances betrays a somewhat blinkered and dated view. Admittedly the White Paper says that we cannot ignore threats to security from "out of area", but then there is a certain bathos in the description of out-of-area deployments in paragraph 450: naval deployments last year included the continuation of a patrol of two frigates plus a float support in the Indian ocean, available to come to the assistance of merchant shipping should free passage in and out of the Gulf be threatened.… We have also continued to maintain a guardship in the Caribbean. Again, in the discussion of 5 Airborne Brigade, it says: Any additional capabilities required for 'out of area' deployments will be provided by the detachments from other formations assigned to NATO. I have asked for substantial additional commitments in the conventional sphere and in our global out-of-area capacity. I do not think that what we have seen represents a sufficiently substantial response. Of course, substantial responses mean money on a large scale. As things are., we see that American defence expenditure forces up interest rates and produces instability which could, in a vicious circle, lead to the requirement for yet further defence commitments in different parts of the world.

Our own Government have taken a decision not to renew the commitment to increase our defence expenditure by 3 per cent. in real terms beyond 1985–86. As the White Paper says: we can no longer afford to make military activity on a global scale a main priority of our defence effort". I am conscious that hon. Members with vastly greater experience than I have on the subject wrestle with the problem of resources and of having to make hard choices in an apparently severely constrained budgetary situation. Yet there are oddities. The peoples of western Europe rightly have priorities very different from those of the peoples of eastern Europe. They are not prepared to spend 16 per cent. of GNP, as the Russians do on their so-called defence. Yet western Europeans are willing to pay what is necessary for their defence. In Europe we have one and a half times the population of the Soviet Union and twice the GNP.

Why, therefore, do we struggle and fail to provide defence resources adequate to our needs? It is partly because we do not tell the story with sufficient clarity and skill. Certainly at the end of 1982 the NATO information budget was at the nugatory figure of some $2 million. I do not have an up-to-date figure, but it is pathetically inadequate as a budget to inform people of the nature of the Soviet build-up, which is reminiscent of the building of the Nazi war machine.

General Rogers says to anyone who will listen that an extra 1 per cent. expenditure on conventional strength would make the difference needed significantly to lift the nuclear threshold. Some countries are willing to spend what is necessary and some apparently are not. America is prepared to spend 6.9 per cent. of its GDP on defence. Creditably, Britain is prepared to spend 5.4 per cent. Other western European countries show a range of only 4.2 per cent. in the case of France, down to 2 per cent. in Spain. If there was the will, the additional 1 per cent. on conventional spending necessary in the analysis by General Rogers could be mustered.

There will be hard implications for public expenditure if we accept this. I hope that members of the Government will be very careful about dangling prospects of tax reductions before the British people. I make a distinction between the tax reductions that are necessary to revitalise the economy to build the economic strength to be able to afford the defence effort we need and any further tax reductions that may be seen as a reward for virtuous stoicism. It will be necessary to sustain expenditure and this will not be easy politically.

Perhaps the best feature of the White Paper is its recognition that we can go very much further in achieving value for money. The Secretary of State talked yesterday of a 30 per cent. benefit being achieved in costings as a result of competition, and he is pursuing that policy. We must also consider—this will be even more difficult politically—how much money we are wasting through the fragmentation of NATO procurement. So long as each individual member of NATO insists on maintaining at least a semi-independent defence industrial capacity, we shall continue to have prodigious waste from duplication in research and development and from short production runs. The politics of changing all that will be very difficult, but it is necessary to do so. Important economies can be achieved through standardisation of NATO equipment.

I very much welcome my right hon. Friend's emphasis on good management and improved value for money. I welcome the lead that he is taking in the Independent European Programme Group, but we must rise high above our industrial nationalisms. Together with the Americans, we must end the possessiveness and secrecy about new technology, which is wasteful and which tends to generate mistrust. We really ought to be able to match the resources of the Warsaw pact nations and even to leap-frog them.

I hope that the "star wars" development will turn out to be an instance of technological leap-frogging that will be of great benefit, but it would be premature to suppose that the implications of the new technology are that we can do without Trident.

There must be a much more thorough-going sharing and a much better considered division of labour within the NATO Alliance. We must also welcome the Japanese into a much more extensive global alliance.

I think that it was General de Gaulle who said, "Treaties are like roses—they fade, they fade." It was certainly he who, as early as 1958, suggested that NATO should consider broadening the area that was traditionally marked out as its bounds.

The difficulties that we are experiencing—the crisis of public expenditure in the NATO countries, the inadequacy of existing deployments, the intransigence of the Russians, the gap in our understanding between Europe and America, the instabilities in the Gulf and in Central America—should impel the NATO leaders to rethink their common security interests and how they can organise to meet them.

9.17 pm
Mr. Robert Atkins (South Ribble)

I have but three minutes in which to make a point which everyone knows I have made before. It has particular importance in view of my hon. Friend the Minister of State's procurement visit tomorrow to Paris and, indeed, the meeting of the Defence Ministers in July to discuss the European fighter aircraft. This is a continuing saga and was going on before my election to the House. I make no apology for repeating my concern about the matter today.

There have been recent stories in Aviation Week, which is very rarely wrong on the matter, about the desire of France to take a large share of the proposed programme. If we are to believe reports, France is talking about taking 46 per cent., as opposed to our 22 per cent., with West Germany taking 16 per cent. and Italy taking 10 per cent. of the programme. That would be unacceptable. We want a genuine partnership on the European fighter aircraft. We need that for a variety of reasons, which I do not have time to develop.

There are problems about budgetary issues, over the aircraft's precise military role and whether we should have an air superiority fighter or a ground attack fighter, which the French would like. There are problems on weight and performance factors and problems over which engine we should have. We must resolve these difficulties as quickly as possible. The early 1990s is the required in-service date. At present, Tornado aircraft are not being sold and, as the last Tornado is already off the drawing board, there is a great need for this new aeroplane to fill the gap.

I am almost fed up with arguing for the project. I am not being critical of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, because I know the depth of his commitment to the aeroplane, whatever its initials may be, but this must be a collaborative project and one which goes ahead in the very near future. My constituents deserve to have their skills recognised and enhanced.

Herr Fichtmueller, the head of Messerschmidt Boelkow Bloehm, said recently: There is a certain momentum to this programme which must be used. It must be used now. Herr Steinburger, the vice-president of Turbo Union, which makes the engines for Tornadoes, said: If we cannot afford this aeroplane, when will we ever be able to afford a major development programme of our own? I want this aeroplane to go ahead. I have argued for it in the years that I have been in the House. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will continue to fight his corner for it, because it is vital for this country's national interest and the interests of my constituents that we get it.

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

I congratulate the hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) on his speech. I suggest that if his hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) followed the hon. Gentleman's example, he might catch your eye more frequently, Mr. Speaker, and more of his hon. Friends might have got into the debate, which was the reason why the Minister and I agreed to make shorter speeches.

Yesterday we had what I felt was a rather dispirited speech from the Secretary of State. It reads reasonably, but I felt that his usual fire was gone. Even when he was attacking the Opposition, his heart was not in it. The reason is not hard to find. It is that the Government's defence policy has lost its way and is in tatters. The Secretary of State has abandoned the guidelines of Sir John Nott. One of the newspapers said that he has tiptoed away from them. If that is so, he has tiptoed away like a pantomime villain, with his finger on his lips. The audience — the whole country — knows that he is to blame for the lack of coherent defence policy.

One by one, the Secretary of State has reaccepted and extended the commitments with which Sir John Nott sought to dispense, but he has not had the resources—the money, ships, assets or men — properly to carry them out. Like the pantomime villain, he tiptoes away, hoping to find a refuge until the next reshuffle. He hopes that he will be away before his inconsistencies are discovered.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies), who opened the debate yesterday, suggested that the Secretary of State would go to Stormont. We would love to know who would replace him at a reshuffle. One thing is certain. Whoever comes will be faced with half-thought-out policies, a staff that is demoralised and in disarray and massive departmental overspending. The right hon. Gentleman will leave his legacy of the Department of the Environment at the Ministry of Defence. His successor will have to clear up the mess.

This is the policy that comes forth from the Estimates that we are discussing. It has more to do with the economics of the grocer's shop than with the defence needs of the nation. The Secretary of State has failed to give the House or the nation a sense of purpose. He has denied us an explanation of the philosophy the changing strategic and political assumptions upon which the policy is to be judged. Only if the right hon. Gentleman gave it could we properly assess his priorities and the correctness of his allocation of resources. His policy lacks the vision to enthuse the services or inspire and carry the confidence of the young of the nation, many of whom, against a background of no job opportunity, find the justifications for defence expenditure, particularly nuclear defence expenditure, unacceptable and sickening.

As the Select Committee on Defence said: We strongly recommend that future White Papers include a review of long-term political and strategic prospects, both within the NATO area and beyond. It is not enough for governments to regard British defence capability as a general resource. That is the attitude that the Secretary of State has taken. He treates our defence capability as a general resource with no thought and no ideas.

On every issue with which the excellent report of the Select Committee deals, the Committee tears to shreds the Minister's policies. It has yomped all over the Secretary of State's ideas, with devastating effect. That is no more apparent than in the MINIS mark 2 ideas. The confusion has come from the Department of the Environment to the Ministry of Defence.

The White Paper calls for MINIS to achieve cuts in overheads and improved accountability, and to encourage delegation and a more efficient use of resources. As aims, those are perfectly acceptable. However, that is not the reality. In the debate in the other place, Lord Cameron of Balhousie, former Chief of the Air Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff, said: This general movement to a stronger central organisation for defence is nothing new. He added later: The next step, which is removing all the policy-making elements from the service departments and denigrating the Chiefs of Staff, is going too far. The plan is that individual service chiefs will lose their policy staff elements and be made responsible only for the morale and administration of their services—responsibility without power. The chiefs become no more than glorified inspector generals of their various services."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 13 June 1984; Vol. 452, c. 1158–59.] A strange person for me to call as an ally, but Lord Cameron of Balhousie does so, is Casper Weinberger. When before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, he said: There must be participation in policy making by those who will be responsible for executing it". The ideas which have come forward so far from the Secretary of State suggest that the sharing of power and responsibility will be lost by the service chiefs who will be responsible for carrying out the Government's policy. It is no wonder that the Select Committee on Defence stated: we must enter one further caveat. It quotes the Secretary of State as saying: The restructuring, if it proceeds upon the lines indicated, will have a profound effect on the resource allocation potentially, but I cannot say what the effect will be". Earlier the Select Committee stated: Nevertheless, organisation, whatever its advantages, will not be a panacea. It should not be seen as more than a means to an end. Moreover, the Secretary of State himself recognised that his proposals would be valueless unless carried through by his successors. They would be valueless because their effectiveness is something that the Secretary of State cannot describe. This is part of the legacy that will fall to the right hon. Gentleman's successor, whoever he may be. He is destined never to be a lord Mayor and always to be a man with the bucket and spade.

It is on Trident that the vulnerability of the Estimates is perhaps most obvious. The Minister of State said that the Government are firmly committed to the nuclear deterrent. How firm is firmly committed? Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that we are firmly committed? Does he have no doubts whatsoever?

Yesterday we spoke at length about Trident. I do not want to go into great detail about the cost save to say that £9.4 billion is a great deal to spend on a weapon which last week became obsolete. When the United States rocket from a Pacific atoll destroyed Minuteman, which was launched in California—the destruction took place in outer space—Trident's defence relevance had come to an end. The 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty is as good as dead. It has been killed by the United States of America. The Secretary of State knows it and the Select Committee knows it.

Following the Secretary of State's evidence to the Select Committee, the Committee reported as follows: The Secretary of State did not quarrel with the observation that 'we are about to invest very substantial resources in a new generation ballistic missile system. In the event that both super-powers were to proceed down this road of defensive space-based systems, this not only could be de-stabilising as between the super powers but, if effective, it could negate what we have in mind to do"' It could negate Trident. The hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) deduced from that that, if ABM systems go ahead, Trident is lost. In effect, the Secretary of State is saying to President Reagan, "Please do not go ahead with 'star wars' so that I can have my Trident". It is far too late to take that approach.

As soon as the United States started its ABM research and the rocket which took off after the Minuteman was successful, the 1972 treaty was dead. The USSR is bound to follow and its reasearch will yield development, as surely as night follows day. Trident will then be obsolete. The House is worried how far down the expensive road of Trident building and development we shall go before the Government cancel it, as cancel it they must. That is probably another dirty job which the Secretary of State will leave to his successor.

Sir Humphrey Atkins (Spelthorne)

The hon. Gentleman appears to know more about the intentions of the United States Government than any other hon. Member. He argues that they will go ahead with these propositions. He has not taken into account what we know about Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives. Does he know more about the United States Government's intentions than we do, and if so will he please tell us?

Mr. McNamara

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. The United States has embarked on a research programme and has demonstrated its ability to take out a ballistic missile in outer space. It is therefore placing the entire Russian ballistic missile system in jeopardy. The USSR will embark on the same research, from which development will come. That is the history of the development of these terrible weapon systems. That is why I am entitled to say that the United States Government have killed the 1972 treaty. That is the logic of the case and the argument.

The procurement policies and attitude of the Secretary of State cause further confusion. My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) spoke about the Secretary of State's activities regarding dockyards. Perhaps the Secretary of State will reply to that later. The Secretary of State rightly wishes to get the best value for money, and the best weapons and services for the Armed Forces. We do not quarrel with that principle. But we wonder whether the means by which he seeks to achieve his policy is effective or whether it suffers from so many contradictions that it is bound to fail immediately.

The Secretary of State laid down his four principles, with which I shall not delay the House. As the Select Committee said so laconically, "It is not surprising that many people in industry regard this particular policy as controversial." We must consider why that is so. First, the Secretary of State is looking for competition in an area of high technology, where expenditure soars rapidly and the degree of competition is limited and likely to decline rather than to grow. There is already the possibility of the merger between British Aerospace and GEC. That merger will mean that 20 per cent. of MOD expenditure will go to one firm. That is £1.6 billion from £8 billion. That does not leave much room for competition.

It can be argued that such a merger, which will create a defence giant, will be good for the country in competition with Europeans and, especially, United States rivals. That argument may be acceptable because one may feel that such a firm will get a toe-hold in the American market. Unfortunately, the American market, with a few minor exceptions, is the most closed and protected defence market in the world. Not only is the possibility of getting substantial contracts there unlikely, but, as is feared in British defence industry, small firms, such as Ferranti and Plessey, and other middle-sized specialist firms will be susceptible to being taken over and pushed out because they will not have the means, ability or power to compete with a giant such as GEC-BAe. The Ministry of Defence must pay careful attention to that aspect because if small specialist firms are taken over by large firms competition will be reduced and the specialisation—the very raison d'être that kept them there—is likely to be lost to the nation for good.

In examining the proposals coming forward we must consider whether companies will seriously bid for work for which they have not done the research and development. Tooling up on other people's ideas is a very expensive activity. We must also ask whether the development work will be taken on by companies if they are not guaranteed the production after carrying out the research and development.

The Select Committee set out certain ground rules which should be followed by the Ministry of Defence in trying to sort out the strange tangle of contradictory ideas produced by the Secretary of State. The Committee's most important comment was that the economies of scale that might flow from research and development and long production runs were likely to be lost as a result of the Secretary of State's new policy. That would be disastrous for the defence industries and for the nation because it will increase rather than decrease the cost, which the Government and the country can ill afford. The policy will require extra staff to monitor and evaluate contracts and extra assessment will cause delays. Moreover, the lack of any reasonable assurance of future contracts will make firms reluctant to spend the necessary time on research and development or on development, a point noted by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) in his maiden speech when he spoke of the important defence industries in his area.

We have been privileged to hear a number of distinguished maiden speeches today. We have seen the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) around the House and enjoyed her company for some time, but we enjoyed her speech even more. It was careful, well constructed and thoughtful, although if she stands by some of her conclusions she will be spending a long time on the Back Benches—and none the worse for that. The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South made a more robust speech having come straight from the hustings. Having come to the House in similar circumstances, I remind both hon. Members that all the best people first come to the House as a result of by-elections. We suffer the effects of close media attention to the way in which we clean our teeth or even, in my case, whether I changed a nappy properly. Certainly the media give us no rest. Fortunately, however, neither hon. Member will have woken up as I did to read in what was my normal bible, the then Manchester Guardian, that there were nine reasons why Labour would lose North Hull and that I accounted for eight of them. Both hon. Members contributed well to the debate and made important speeches which deserve careful consideration by the Minister.

Ministers must also reply to the important points made about the merchant fleet. At Sea Link 84, the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) and I asked the assembled dignitaries — admirals, NATO heads, civil servants, Ministers and academics—whether they could give a positive undertaking that there was sufficient reinforcement for the merchant fleet to fulfil our NATO obligations now. The question was greeted with a lowering of heads, a shuffling of feet and a general blushing because they could not give that commitment. That being so, it is incumbent on the Minister today not to shuffle the matter off with some bland statement about being sure that we can do it but to give positive examples of the way in which the Government are facing the threat to the reinforcement of Europe caused by the diminution of the Western-controlled merchant fleet.

I wished to make many other points, but I will finish on this one. The Secretary of State is trying to have a £25 billion defence policy with £18 billion to spend. He or his predecessor will be forced to do what the Select Committee has hinted at. He will have to re-examine the whole basis of his policy. He will be forced to come to some of the awkward and disagreeable conclusions that John Nott had to come to. If he does not get more money, he will be unable to carry out his commitments.

The right hon. Gentleman does not have the resources. As a result, his priorities will go all to pot as, like a perpetual bankrupt, he tries to balance one account or cheque against another. He will be unable to do so.

That is why we believe that the policy outlined in our amendment is sensible. Trident is obsolete even before the keel is laid, and cruise has done more damage to NATO than the Warsaw pact has done during the whole existence of that foreign alliance. People in Europe and the United States are questioning the whole purpose of the Alliance. One of the reasons is lack of imagination and consideration and the Government's failure to seize the opportunities of the new technologies to get away from a policy that is based purely and simply on nuclear deterrence. That is a policy for wiping out future generations, not preserving them. That is why we are voting for our amendment and against the Estimates tonight.

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

I begin by welcoming the two maiden speeches that we heard today. In an able and lucid speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomely) gave us a practical guide to various forms of standardisation of which the Ministry would do well to take careful note. She spoke of the three principles of clarity, conviction and continuity. Her own speech was characterised by clarity and conviction. As to continuity, we hope that we shall hear much more from her in these debates in future.

The other maiden speech came from the fresh-from-the-hustings hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock). It has already been said that he brought the vigour of the hustings to his remarks. Many who heard him would say that it was close to the line of being controversial for a maiden speech, but none the less it was welcomed for the vigour and clarity with which it was declaimed. We were glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman and to know that he will contribute to our debates, as we would expect anyone from Portsmouth to do.

The hon. Gentleman asked for an assurance on future redundancies. I am glad to be able to tell him that there are no plans to issue any more redundancy notices to employees at the Portsmouth naval base. He will be aware of the companies that operate in the Portsmouth travel-to-work area. Many of them, particularly Marconi and Plessey, have been successful over the years, and I see no reason at all why that should change in the immediate future.

Like the House, I was glad that we had a contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson). He welcomed the new Challenger tank order as well as the reorganisation that has been set in train by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

The hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) made various references to the Levene report and said that apparently I had been considering it for some days. I have not. He diagnosed the problems, but I must tell him that we are still looking at Mr. Levene's report, and no decisions have yet been taken.

The hon. Gentleman and the House should consider why, with increasing frequency, there are reports on the royal dockyards. The hon. Gentleman referred to the report bearing the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). I think he will confirm that. despite all the will to win, and despite the contributions made in the Falklands, a great deal can still be achieved by increased efficiency and increased managerial awareness of modern techniques, and I think that some help is needed for the dockyards in that area. We will be informing the House of our ideas and plans in due course.

My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) welcomed the Territorial Army's enlargement to 86,000 by the end of the decade, and I am glad to have his endorsement of our proposals.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) gave me, if I may say so, a customary list of detailed questions, which will be responded to, as all his questions are. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has been listening carefully to what he said about Mount Pleasant airport. That also will be the subject of replies that will reach him in due course.

My hon. Friend the Member for Boothferry (Sir P. Bryan), in a powerful speech, added his voice to those that were raised yesterday on behalf of the Merchant Navy, drawing attention to the vital need in strategic and defence terms for a strong Merchant Marine. As the report of the Select Committee will confirm, when my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and I appeared before the Committee some weeks ago, my right hon. Friend said that a major study was in progress on the Merchant Navy, and this will be made available in due course. We do not in any way feel complacent about the situation in relation to the Merchant Navy. I am only sorry if the House has that impression, because it is not the case. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has the matter well in hand.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept the view of the Select Committee and of the General Council of British Shipping about the trend in the diminution of the British flag fleet?

Mr. Pattie

The trends that have been spoken about are pretty clear in the sense that there has been a diminution over the years. The House will want to know the Government's view on the matter. As I was telling the House, my right hon. Friend is addressing this issue at present.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck) paid a tribute to Dr. Luns, the retiring Secretary-General of NATO, with which I am delighted to associate the Government, and gave his good wishes to Lord Carrington, who takes over that post in the near future. I know that the House will echo my hon. and learned Friend's good wishes. My hon. and learned Friend also paid a handsome and well-deserved tribute to the role played by the British forces in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

All the points raised by hon. Member for Fermagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) will be closely studied. I should like him to feel that we have noted carefully what he said. I do not think that he would expect me to respond in a few moments, because, if I may say so with no discourtesy to the House, the points are too important to be replied to in a winding-up speech. We have to make certain that we study them carefully, and that will be done.

The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Mr. Johnston), who spoke for the Liberal party, claimed that we were in some way impeding European unity by our possession of Trident. I notice that he never mentioned France and its possession of strategic nuclear weapons, but perhaps they come under some different categorisation, and we were not told what that was.

The hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George), in his usual cogent manner when speaking on defence matters—he is one of the closest students of defence in the House—made one of the most important single points that we have heard during the two days' debate. He referred to the problem—and it is freely acknowledged —of IFF—identification friend or foe. It is the ability of aeroplanes to assess whether an incoming aeroplane is a friend or a foe. There are difficulties between the NATO Allies as to which system should be adopted. It is an extremely technical, but important, matter and the hon. Gentleman was right to raise it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames), in an interesting and thought-provoking speech, spoke about the importance of new technologies. He made the important point that the MOD is the customer and that we have the right—one might even say the duty—to insist that we obtain terms and contracts which we feel are right and appropriate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) told the House that he had reservations about various parts of the White Paper. I thought that he was a little churlish to criticise us for using phrases such as "out of area", because the orientation of the White Paper is NATO and, therefore, by definition to the NATO area. Such jargon phrases are used without wishing to imply that we do not think that defence outside the NATO area is of no significance.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins), in wishing me well tomorrow, may want to know that it is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who is going—I go merely to carry his briefcase. I know that my right hon. Friend has heard my hon. Friend's remarks and we feel that we have had our cards marked for the negotiations with the French.

Many of the comments made during the two days' debate have centred on the perceived problems of expenditure levels at the end of the decade, especially in relation to Trident. Several hon. Members have offered alternatives—that is still one of the panaceas being grasped. I do not wish to detain the House by talking about average figures over the whole programme, but I must say—it has been mentioned on several occasions, but is worth repeating—that at its peak Trident is expected to reach 11 per cent. of the equipment programme. That, by definition, means £11 in £100, which leaves £89 for the remainder of the procurement programme.

There is a tendency for people to take White Papers, to read a list of new programmes, to aggregate them and to imagine that they will all be paid for in the same year. Every one of the programmes has a particular spend profile, and if a programme has been approved by my right hon. Friend for the core programme that means that the spend profile fits in well with all the other programmes.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford lucidly enunciated a list—the EH101, the type 22, the type 23 and the replacement for Fearless—and asked how we could possibly contain those. The answer is that we have planned to contain them.

Mr. Keith Speed (Ashford)

My hon. Friend mentioned 11 per cent. and, indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned that figure to the Select Committee. Will my hon. Friend accept something that was hinted at by the Secretary of State, which is that it will be 30 per cent. plus of the Royal Navy equipment budget? That is why I mentioned the Navy procurement projects.

Mr. Pattie

If my hon. Friend consults the current naval authorities, with whom I hope he is in contact, he will find that the programmes to which I referred are approved, are scheduled and will occur.

The hon. Member for Walsall, South made an important point in connection with competition—more important than he realised—when he said that he had noticed that the Secretary of State had decided to order 62 more tanks for a fifth Challenger tank regiment. The hon. Gentleman asked what had happened to the competition policy. Was there competition in this case? No, there was not. Was it a case of the right hand and the left hand?

The only way in which we could have ensured competition in the case of the fifth Challenger regiment would have been to set up another company, which could then have made a bid. That would have taken one and a half or two years, and in that time the company which manufactures the tank would have found itself in serious difficulties. We would therefore have found ourselves back in the same position, with only one company to deal with.

My right hon. Friend's drive for competition is not a drive for competition at all costs and in all cases. There is to be an emphasis on competition. It is to be the imperative and the emphasis. We want competition, except in cases where it would be nonsensical and would involve a cost penalty. That is the only sensible attitude. If we force people to make competitive quotes when there is no second source, or the source would take a long time to set up or the cost would be greater, that is not cost-effective, and we would expect in due course to receive the strictures of the Chairman of the Select Committee.

It is in the area of competition that we expect to be able to make any headroom that is necessary in the procurement programme at the end of the decade and the start of the next decade, which is the time about which most people are anxious. This is not just a case of competitive quotations. By competition, we mean a different relationship between the Ministry and industry whereby we delete the gold-plating, we do not try to overstate the requirements, we are more cautious about what we are trying to achieve, we involve industry in a partnership and we advance on a more cautious basis.

In that way we shall eliminate some of the more serious penalties and cost overruns, which have run into several hundreds of millions of pounds over the years as we have tried to find new technologies which would be relevant in 15 or 18 years' time. The more cautious we can be—the more incremental and evolutionary our approach—the better our chance will be of eliminating through closer control of procurement the cock-ups—to use the vulgar phrase—that have occurred in the past. In that way, we believe that we can make headroom.

There is at present a review of the procurement executive in train, for which I am responsible. The authors of the review will report to my right hon. Friend in the very near future, in the hope that when he presents a further White Paper on the subject of the MOD reorganisation to the House before the summer recess—a treat in store—he will include in it some outline proposals for new ideas on the procurement executive.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford drew attention to other areas in which we could save money. He followed the line of the leader writer of The Times, who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) reminded us, dusts down his article three or four times a year. My hon. Friend identified the support facilities for our troops in Germany — wives, families, nappies, schools and so on. How about bringing them all back? He did not remind the House that those facilities would be required in the United Kingdom in any case.

I believe that one of the best ways in which we can look after the front line is by looking after the people who serve in the front line. If the people at the front line are unhappy about their wives and families, they will not be content doing the job asked of them. My hon. Friend also asked about making our reinforcements more mobile and going for more troop reinforcements. That is never a good idea. NATO commanders always prefer to have in-place forces rather than forces that have to be reinforced. My hon. Friend also asked about the brittleness of our relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. That matter was decided in 1980.

I ask the House to reject the Opposition amendment and to support the White Paper, which we believe is accurate and realistic.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 164, Noes 351.

Division No. 374] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Ashley, Rt Hon Jack
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Ashton, Joe
Anderson, Donald Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Barnett, Guy Lambie, David
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Leighton, Ronald
Bell, Stuart Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Benn, Tony Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Litherland, Robert
Blair, Anthony Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Boyes, Roland Loyden, Edward
Bray, Dr Jeremy McCartney, Hugh
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) McKelvey, William
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Buchan, Norman McNamara, Kevin
Caborn, Richard McTaggart, Robert
Campbell, Ian McWilliam, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Madden, Max
Canavan, Dennis Marek, Dr John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Clarke, Thomas Martin, Michael
Clay, Robert Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Clwyd, Ms Ann Maxton, John
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Meacher, Michael
Cohen, Harry Michie, William
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Mikardo, Ian
Conlan, Bernard Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Corbyn, Jeremy Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Craigen, J. M. Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Crowther, Stan O'Brien, William
Cunliffe, Lawrence O'Neill, Martin
Cunningham, Dr John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dalyell, Tam Park, George
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Parry, Robert
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Patchett, Terry
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Pavitt, Laurie
Deakins, Eric Pendry, Tom
Dewar, Donald Pike, Peter
Dixon, Donald Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dobson, Frank Prescott, John
Dormand, Jack Radice, Giles
Douglas, Dick Redmond, M.
Dubs, Alfred Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Duffy, A. E. P. Richardson, Ms Jo
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Eadie, Alex Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Eastham, Ken Robertson, George
Ellis, Raymond Rogers, Allan
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Rooker, J. W.
Ewing, Harry Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Fatchett, Derek Rowlands, Ted
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Ryman, John
Fisher, Mark Sedgemore, Brian
Flannery, Martin Sheerman, Barry
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Forrester, John Short, Mrs (W'hampt'n NE)
Foulkes, George Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Skinner, Dennis
George, Bruce Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Golding, John Spearing, Nigel
Gould, Bryan Stott, Roger
Gourlay, Harry Strang, Gavin
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Straw, Jack
Harman, Ms Harriet Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Tinn, James
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Wareing, Robert
Home Robertson, John Welsh, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) White, James
Hoyle, Douglas Wigley, Dafydd
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Wilson, Gordon
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Winnick, David
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Janner, Hon Greville
John, Brynmor Tellers for the Ayes:
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Mr. James Hamilton and
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Mr. Frank Haynes.
Adley, Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Aitken, Jonathan Dover, Den
Alexander, Richard du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dunn, Robert
Alton, David Durant, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dykes, Hugh
Amess, David Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Ancram, Michael Emery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom Fairbairn, Nicholas
Ashby, David Fallon, Michael
Ashdown, Paddy Farr, John
Aspinwall, Jack Favell, Anthony
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fletcher, Alexander
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fookes, Miss Janet
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Forman, Nigel
Baldry, Anthony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Batiste, Spencer Forth, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Beggs, Roy Fox, Marcus
Beith, A. J. Franks, Cecil
Bellingham, Henry Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bendall, Vivian Freeman, Roger
Benyon, William Gale, Roger
Berry, Sir Anthony Galley, Roy
Best, Keith Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Body, Richard Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Glyn, Dr Alan
Bottomley, Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gorst, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Gower, Sir Raymond
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Greenway, Harry
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gregory, Conal
Braine, Sir Bernard Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bright, Graham Grist, Ian
Brinton, Tim Ground, Patrick
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Grylls, Michael
Brooke, Hon Peter Gummer, John Selwyn
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hancock, Michael
Browne, John Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bruce, Malcolm Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruinvels, Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Bryan, Sir Paul Hanley, Jeremy
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hannam, John
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, Kenneth
Budgen, Nick Harvey, Robert
Bulmer, Esmond Haselhurst, Alan
Burt, Alistair Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Butcher, John Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Hayes, J.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hayhoe, Barney
Carttiss, Michael Hayward, Robert
Cartwright, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cash, William Heddle, John
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Henderson, Barry
Chapman, Sydney Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Chope, Christopher Hicks, Robert
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hind, Kenneth
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hirst, Michael
Clegg, Sir Walter Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cockeram, Eric Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Colvin, Michael Holt, Richard
Conway, Derek Hordern, Peter
Coombs, Simon Howard, Michael
Cope, John Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Cormack, Patrick Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Couchman, James Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'Idford)
Cranborne, Viscount Howells, Geraint
Critchley, Julian Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Crouch, David Hunt, David (Wirral)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dicks, Terry Hunter, Andrew
Dorrell, Stephen Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Irving, Charles Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Jackson, Robert Ottaway, Richard
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Page, John (Harrow W)
Johnston, Russell Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Parris, Matthew
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Patten, John (Oxford)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Pattie, Geoffrey
Key, Robert Pawsey, James
Kirkwood, Archy Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Penhaligon, David
Knowles, Michael Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Knox, David Porter, Barry
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, Peter, (Fareham) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lord, Michael Rifkind, Malcolm
Luce, Richard Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Lyell, Nicholas Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Macfarlane, Neil Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
MacGregor, John Rossi, Sir Hugh
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Rowe, Andrew
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Maclean, David John Ryder, Richard
Maclennan, Robert Sackville, Hon Thomas
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Madel, David Sayeed, Jonathan
Maginnis, Ken Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Major, John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Malins, Humfrey Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Malone, Gerald Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maples, John Shersby, Michael
Marland, Paul Silvester, Fred
Marlow, Antony Sims, Roger
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Skeet, T. H. H.
Mates, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maude, Hon Francis Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Soames, Hon Nicholas
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Speed, Keith
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Spencer, Derek
Meadowcroft, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mellor, David Squire, Robin
Merchant, Piers Stanbrook, Ivor
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanley, John
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Steel, Rt Hon David
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Steen, Anthony
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, Norman Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Moate, Roger Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Monro, Sir Hector Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Montgomery, Fergus Stradling Thomas, J.
Moore, John Sumberg, David
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Tapsell, Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Taylor, John (Solihull)
Moynihan, Hon C. Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Neale, Gerrard Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Needham, Richard Temple-Morris, Peter
Nelson, Anthony Terlezki, Stefan
Neubert, Michael Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Normanton, Tom Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Norris, Steven Thornton, Malcolm
Onslow, Cranley Thurnham, Peter
Oppenheim, Philip Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Tracey, Richard Watts, John
Trotter, Neville Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Twinn, Dr Ian Wells, John (Maidstone)
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Whitfield, John
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Whitney, Raymond
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Waddington, David Winterton, Nicholas
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Waldegrave, Hon William Wood, Timothy
Walden, George Woodcock, Michael
Walker, Cecil (Belfast N) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Walker, Bill (T'side N) Yeo, Tim
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wallace, James Younger, Rt Hon George
Waller, Gary
Walters, Dennis Tellers for the Noes:
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Mr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Carol Mather
Warren, Kenneth
Watson, John

Question accordingly negatived.

Questopn put:—

The House divided: Ayes 332, Noes 176.

Division No. 375] [10.15 pm
Adley, Robert Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Aitken, Jonathan Chapman, Sydney
Alexander, Richard Chope, Christopher
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Amess, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Ancram, Michael Clegg, Sir Walter
Arnold, Tom Cockeram, Eric
Ashby, David Colvin, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Conway, Derek
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Coombs, Simon
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Cope, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Cormack, Patrick
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Couchman, James
Baldry, Anthony Cranborne, Viscount
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Crouch, David
Batiste, Spencer Currie, Mrs Edwina
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dicks, Terry
Beggs, Roy Dorrell, Stephen
Bellingham, Henry Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bendall, Vivian Dover, Den
Benyon, William du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Berry, Sir Anthony Dunn, Robert
Best, Keith Durant, Tony
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dykes, Hugh
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Body, Richard Emery, Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bottomley, Peter Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Farr, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Favell, Anthony
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fletcher, Alexander
Braine, Sir Bernard Fookes, Miss Janet
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Forman, Nigel
Bright, Graham Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brinton, Tim Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Forth, Eric
Brooke, Hon Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Fox, Marcus
Browne, John Franks, Cecil
Bruinvels, Peter Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bryan, Sir Paul Freeman, Roger
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gale, Roger
Buck, Sir Antony Galley, Roy
Budgen, Nick Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bulmer, Esmond Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Burt, Alistair Garel-Jones, Tristan
Butcher, John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Glyn, Dr Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Goodlad, Alastair
Carttiss, Michael Gorst, John
Cash, William Gower, Sir Raymond
Greenway, Harry Major, John
Gregory, Conal Malins, Humfrey
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Malone, Gerald
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Maples, John
Grist, Ian Marland, Paul
Ground, Patrick Marlow, Antony
Grylls, Michael Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gummer, John Selwyn Mates, Michael
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Maude, Hon Francis
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hampson, Dr Keith Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hanley, Jeremy Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Hannam, John Mellor, David
Hargreaves, Kenneth Merchant, Piers
Harvey, Robert Meyer, Sir Anthony
Haselhurst, Alan Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hawksley, Warren Miscampbell, Norman
Hayes, J. Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hayhoe, Barney Moate, Roger
Hayward, Robert Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Heathcoat-Amory, David Monro, Sir Hector
Heddle, John Montgomery, Fergus
Henderson, Barry Moore, John
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hicks, Robert Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Moynihan, Hon C.
Hind, Kenneth Neale, Gerrard
Hirst, Michael Needham, Richard
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nelson, Anthony
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Neubert, Michael
Holt, Richard Nicholls, Patrick
Hordern, Peter Normanton, Tom
Howard, Michael Norris, Steven
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Onslow, Cranley
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Oppenheim, Philip
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Ottaway, Richard
Hunt, David (Wirral) Page, John (Harrow W)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hunter, Andrew Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Parris, Matthew
Irving, Charles Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Jackson, Robert Patten, John (Oxford)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Pattie, Geoffrey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Pawsey, James
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Porter, Barry
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Key, Robert Powley, John
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Knowles, Michael Price, Sir David
Knox, David Proctor, K. Harvey
Lamont, Norman Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Lang, Ian Raffan, Keith
Latham, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lawler, Geoffrey Rathbone, Tim
Lawrence, Ivan Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Renton, Tim
Lee, John (Pendle) Rhodes James, Robert
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lester, Jim Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Rifkind, Malcolm
Lightbown, David Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Lilley, Peter Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lord, Michael Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Luce, Richard Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lyell, Nicholas Rowe, Andrew
McCurley, Mrs Anna Rumbold, Mrs Angela
MacGregor, John Ryder, Richard
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Sackville, Hon Thomas
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Maclean, David John Sayeed, Jonathan
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Madel, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Maginnis, Ken Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Tracey, Richard
Shersby, Michael Trotter, Neville
Silvester, Fred Twinn, Dr Ian
Sims, Roger van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Skeet, T. H. H. Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Viggers, Peter
Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S) Waddington, David
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Speed, Keith Waldegrave, Hon William
Spencer, Derek Walden, George
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Squire, Robin Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Stanbrook, Ivor Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Stanley, John Waller, Gary
Steen, Anthony Walters, Dennis
Stern, Michael Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Warren, Kenneth
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Watson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Watts, John
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Stradling Thomas, J. Whitfield, John
Sumberg, David Whitney, Raymond
Tapsell, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Taylor, John (Solihull) Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wolfson, Mark
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wood, Timothy
Temple-Morris, Peter Woodcock, Michael
Terlezki, Stefan Yeo, Tim
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Younger, Rt Hon George
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Thornton, Malcolm Tellers for the Ayes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. Carol Mather and Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Clwyd, Ms Ann
Alton, David Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Anderson, Donald Cohen, Harry
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Ashdown, Paddy Conlan, Bernard
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Ashton, Joe Corbyn, Jeremy
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Craigen, J. M.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Crowther, Stan
Barnett, Guy Cunliffe, Lawrence
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Cunningham, Dr John
Beith, A. J. Dalyell, Tam
Bell, Stuart Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Benn, Tony Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Blair, Anthony Deakins, Eric
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dewar, Donald
Boyes, Roland Dixon, Donald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dobson, Frank
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Dormand, Jack
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Douglas, Dick
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dubs, Alfred
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Duffy, A. E. P.
Bruce, Malcolm Eadie, Alex
Buchan, Norman Eastham, Ken
Caborn, Richard Ellis, Raymond
Campbell, Ian Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Ewing, Harry
Canavan, Dennis Fatchett, Derek
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Cartwright, John Fisher, Mark
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Flannery, Martin
Clarke, Thomas Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Clay, Robert Forrester, John
Foulkes, George Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fraser, J. (Norwood) O'Brien, William
George, Bruce O'Neill, Martin
Golding, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gould, Bryan Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Park, George
Hancock, Michael Parry, Robert
Harman, Ms Harriet Patchett, Terry
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Pavitt, Laurie
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Pendry, Tom
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Penhaligon, David
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Pike, Peter
Home Robertson, John Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Prescott, John
Howells, Geraint Radice, Giles
Hoyle, Douglas Redmond, M.
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Richardson, Ms Jo
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Janner, Hon Greville Robertson, George
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Rogers, Allan
Johnston, Russell Rooker, J. W.
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rowlands, Ted
Kirkwood, Archy Ryman, John
Lambie, David Sedgemore, Brian
Leighton, Ronald Sheerman, Barry
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Short, Mrs R(W'hampt'n NE)
Litherland, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Spearing, Nigel
Loyden, Edward Steel, Rt Hon David
McCartney, Hugh Stott, Roger
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Strang, Gavin
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Straw, Jack
McKelvey, William Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Maclennan, Robert Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
McNamara, Kevin Tinn, James
McTaggart, Robert Wallace, James
McWilliam, John Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Madden, Max Wareing, Robert
Marek, Dr John Welsh, Michael
Marshall, David (Shettleston) White, James
Martin, Michael Wigley, Dafydd
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Williams, Rt Hon A.
Maxton, John Wilson, Gordon
Meacher, Michael Winnick, David
Meadowcroft, Michael Wrigglesworth, Ian
Michie, William Young, David (Bolton SE)
Mikardo, Ian
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Tellers for the Noes:
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Frank Haynes.
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1984, contained in Cmnd. 9227.