HC Deb 04 June 1985 vol 80 cc140-1
5. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost per Falkland Islander of defence expenditure in connection with the Falkland Islands for each of the next five years.

Mr. Stanley

The provision for Falklands costs included in the defence budget is equivalent to £288,000 per Falkland Islander in 1985–86, £234,000 in 1986–87 and £156,000 in 1987–88. Funding thereafter will be determined in future public expenditure surveys.

Mr. Bennett

Would not the Minister have thought that many of the Falkland Islanders would prefer a smaller sum than that to move elsewhere? Why is it so important to give such a sum of money to people in the Falkland Islands to maintain their traditional role in that area rather than to try to maintain the tradition in this country of full employment? If similar sums of money were spent in some of the areas of extremely high unemployment, would that not be far better and would we not protect the traditions of this country rather than waste the money in the Falklands?

Mr. Stanley

Those hon. Members on both sides of the House who visited the Falkland Islands have been struck by the determination of those who live there to continue living under the British way of life. I do not regard this in any way as a possible waste or misuse of money. More than 250 British people lost their lives in the recovery of those islands, and I am certain that it would be quite unacceptable to the great majority of British people not to take steps to defend them thereafter.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Does my right hon. Friend agree that all Conservative Members feel that the Secretary of State was absolutely right to mention the other day in the Falkland Islands that it was to the benefit of NATO that one member of NATO had shown the ability to back diplomacy with skilled and courageous use of force? At the same time, we should make it absolutely clear to the Argentines that the Falkland Islands are not a NATO base and that at present there is no intention of their being one.

Mr. Stanley

It was a good indicator from this country as a NATO member that it made its own determination to protect the interests of British people wherever they might be and to ensure that British territory was not subject to invasion in any part of the world.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Is the Minister not aware that many thousands of people in the north of England will be absolutely outraged at the answer that he has just given? It costs about £200,000 per head to keep Falklanders in the Falkland Islands, yet young people in places such as the northern region have been forced to move to the south-east or the west midlands to try to find work. They could be maintained in their own areas in full-time employment —instead of suffering from 20 per cent. unemployment —for much less than we are frittering away on the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Stanley

I am quite certain that many people in the north-east of England will clearly remember what it cost, both in human and financial terms, to repair the ravages in this country when peace broke down between 1939 and1945.