HC Deb 26 February 1985 vol 74 c167
19. Mr. Bruce

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how much he anticipates spending to maintain security at RAF Molesworth up to the arrival of cruise missiles.

20. Mr. Pike

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated annual cost of security at the Molesworth base.

Mr. Heseltine

Missiles will not be delivered to RAF Molesworth until about 1988 and in the meantime the security operation will be such as to ensure that the construction programme is completed on time. It is too soon to say what this operation will eventually have cost.

Mr. Bruce

Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that the cost is likely to be substantial, and that it is a rather distressing cost? Is it not the right time to recognise that he should freeze expenditure on and deployment of nuclear weapons to ensure progress in the nuclear disarmament talks?

Mr. Heseltine

The hon. Gentleman does not appear to have caught up with the news. The Soviet Union has been modernising its intermediate range weapons for a considerable period of time—far longer than the West. It has now come back to the conference table in no large measure because the West is determined to maintain its deterrent, against the advice of the Opposition.

Mr. Pike

Would not the Secretary of State do better to save expense on the security of Molesworth by recognising that the majority of people do not believe that Britain should have cruise? Should we not take into account the fact that the United States would use cruise if it was threatened but this country was not threatened? The matter is completely controlled by the United States and, if put to the test, there is no doubt that it would use cruise.

Mr. Heseltine

I am interested to hear the hon. Gentleman reject so firmly the policy upon which all Labour Governments since the war have relied. The only consequence of not proceeding as we did at Molesworth would have been to inflict a quite unwarranted burden on the citizens of Molesworth and the surrounding areas, who would have been obstructed — legally and illegally — by supporters of the policies in which the hon. Gentleman believes, at immense cost to the ratepayer and the taxpayer.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Does my right hon. Friend intend to install a weld-mesh fence around Molesworth, as he has agreed should be installed at RAF Greenham Common, and when will the later be installed?

Mr. Heseltine

No one knows better than my hon. Friend the consequences of not proceeding with the dispatch that the Government showed at Molesworth, because my hon. Friend has had to suffer, on behalf of his constituents, the intolerable behaviour that has surrounded Greenham Common. We are now proceeding with the installation of a weld-mesh fence at Molesworth, and I have before me plans to consider such an operation at Greenham Common.

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