HC Deb 19 February 1986 vol 92 cc327-75
Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. As we are running somewhat late and as there are many right hon. and hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate, may I call for short speeches.

4.27 pm
Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

I beg to move, That this House regrets Her Majesty's Government's support for the Strategic Defence Initiative.

In some ways the strategic defence initiative is probably the most important issue in the field of foreign and defence policy, disarmament and high technology that the House has discussed for many years. Its supporters and opponents will at least agree on that.

On 23 March 1983, President Reagan made a speech in which he asked for a fundamental change in the basic policy upon which western security has been built since the second world war. He made this speech without any consultation with any of his allies, although NATO's nuclear planning group was meeting at that time. He said that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations by threatening their existence … peace could not rest much longer on the threat of mutual suicide. The President dedicated himself to produce a defence against nuclear ballistic missiles which would make: nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. Later in Baltimore, he told schoolchildren that "the hand of providence" inspired that speech.

The President never explained how ballistic missile defence would protect the world against nuclear bombs which were carried on aircraft, such as those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by cruise missiles, by individuals or in the hold of ships. He never explained how abolishing nuclear weapons would control conventional forces, which in an all-out war could inflict horrific damage, or how he could achieve any of his objectives without reducing the political tensions that have been the cause of the arms race. However, we can all agree that at least it was a noble vision, which has been endorsed by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The strategic defence initiative that we are now discussing is very different from what President Reagan proposed nearly three years ago. The American Administration now say that the purpose of research is not to replace nuclear deterrence but to enhance it—to make the mutual suicide pact even more binding than it is today, and to threaten the survival of other nations more effectively. It is already clear that the Administration's aim for the next 30 years at least will be to protect not the peoples of the world, but American land-based missiles, which are one of the components in America's strategic nuclear triad. For the foreseeable future, the official American apologia for SDI now recounts, offensive nuclear forces, and the prospect of nuclear retaliation will remain the key element of deterrence. Therefore, simultaneously with SDI, the United States Government are beginning to deploy a whole arsenal of new strategic nuclear weapons—the MX missile, the D5 submarine-launched missile and the Midgetman mobile missile. They foresee an immense increase in funding for research and development into what they call advanced strategic missile systems, which are a new arsenal of weapons that will enter service in the late 1990s when the first strategic defence is planned to be available. That must mean a stupendous acceleration of the arms race, greatly increasing the risk of nuclear war and making disarmament more difficult.

Indeed, the case against the President's present proposals was made most eloquently by the President in his original speech when he said: If defensive systems were paired with offensive systems they could be regarded as fostering an aggressive policy, and nobody really wants that. The point that the combination of defence and offensive forces would appear to increase the possibility of a first strike against an enemy was repeated by him in his interview with Soviet journalists only last October, when he pointed out that it would make a first strike more feasible. The point was put most dramatically by ex-President Nixon when he said of the SDI: Such systems would be destabilising if they provided a shield so that you could use the sword. That is the basic case against the attempt to produce a ballistic missile defence, which is the purpose of the SDI.

It is not surprising that the SDI has been opposed in a somewhat coded way, not only by our Foreign Secretary in his remarkable speech in the middle of last year, for which I paid him tribute, but by two of the past three American Presidents—Presidents Carter and Ford—three of the past four American Defence Secretaries —Secretaries Brown, Schlesinger and McNamara—and all six of the surviving American Defence Secretaries who are opposed to breaking the ABM treaty, which would be necessary if a star wars system were to be deployed.

Faced with that threat which, to use President Reagan's words, could make a first strike by the United States more likely, it is not surprising that the Soviet Government have made it clear that they will not sit on their hands. If SDI proceeds, they will increase the number of offensive missiles in the hope of swamping American defences, as the United Stated did by introducing multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles when the Russians first began deploying ballistic missile defences in the late 1960s, and, as Secretary Schlesinger, in a powerful. article attacking SDI, pointed out, as any Western Government would do in similar circumstances. Indeed, the Chevaline programme, which was introduced by the Conservative Government in the early 1970s, was introduced as a response to the Soviet deployment of an ABM system around Moscow.

That is not the only Soviet reponse. The Soviet Government will also seek to develop weapons which would either put the American space-based system out of action—the most likely weapon for that would be some sort of space bomb which would circle the world permanently—or make the system ineffective, for example by introducing fast burn into their intercontinental missiles so that the boost phase, which is the first target of the American system, would be reduced from five minutes to 50 seconds, and would take place entirely in the atmosphere, which it is much more difficult for the proposed American laser weapons to penetrate. Finally, the Russians have made it clear that they would plan to develop their own space-based defensive systems.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

I have listened carefully to the right hon. Gentleman and I agree with him. But he has not mentioned the time scale for the development of the SDI by the Americans.

Mr. Healey

From discussions with General Abrahamson and others I understand that the Americans hope to start deploying some sort of ballistic missile defence within about 10 years, although the first system may be based on land rather than in space. The fact that the Americans are known to be researching into such systems makes it sensible for the Russians to start preparing against them now, just as western countries, faced with the possibility of Soviet systems, immediately started taking action either to swamp them or copy them.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)


Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)


Mr. Healey

I shall give way from time to time, but I do not wish to conduct a seminar. I have no doubt that you, Mr. Speaker, will note the anxiety of hon. Members to speak.

American official sources have made it clear that in the next 10 years, if the arms race proceeds, the Soviet Union will be able to increase the number of its missiles much faster than the United States simply by keeping existing production lines open. Indeed, it could increase the number of its warheads from about 9,000 to 30,000 within 10 years, especially if the United States abandons the SALT II agreement, which would restrict the number of missiles, as the American Defence Department has asked the President to do.

Even that is not the full horror of the prospect before us. The United States has now admitted that it is examining the possibility of putting nuclear weapons into orbit to use as pumps for X-ray lasers. It has already carried out many tests for that purpose on its testing grounds in Nevada. It is already exploring nuclear weapons as an element in its SDI, although earlier it always said that the SDI would be an entirely conventional system.

We must never lose sight of the fact that the technologies that are now under examination could be used for offensive as well as defensive purposes. In response to papers produced by several American university teams, a spokesman for the American strategic defence initiative has already admitted that any laser weapon powerful enough to destroy a missile in the atmosphere could, with some redesigning, be used to incinerate a city. Even the non-nuclear lasers contemplated by the United States could produce climatic effects as horrific and catastrophic to humanity as the nuclear winter—a concept with which people are now becoming familiar.

Faced with that terrifying prospect, any European Government should be using all their efforts to stop the arms race from entering that new phase while there is still time. Despite the publicly expressed hostility of the French Government to the SDI, and despite the deep and public divisions in the German Government about the SDI, the British Prime Minister decided to jump the gun on all her European allies and not only to endorse the programme but to offer to put British scientists at its disposal.

The Prime Minister sought to justify that sell-out by two arguments. First, she told us that the President gave her satisfactory undertakings at their meeting in December 1984 on the deployment of a space-based system. The second argument was that it was impossible to monitor an agreement to ban research into such a system. However, it is already clear that the American Administration have not the slightest intention of honouring three out of the four undertakings that they gave to the Prime Minister in Washington 14 months ago.

The first condition was that America would seek not to achieve superiority but to maintain the balance of strategic forces. On 1 February 1984, Secretary Weinberger told Congress: If we get a system … which we know can render their weapons impotent, we would be back in a situation we were in, for example, when we were the only nation with the nuclear weapon. He considered SDI as effectively giving the United States the monopoly that it had in 1945. That is not maintaining a balance in strategic forces.

Secondly, the President undertook that the deployment of a system related to the SDI— in view of the obligations that America accepted under the ABM treaty —would have to be a matter for negotiation with the Soviet Government as a fellow signatory of the ABM treaty, and with America's allies. President Reagan was clear about the matter. On 6 November last year, in answer to questions, he said that if Russia did not agree to amend the ABM treaty to permit the deployment of a space-based defence system, he would go ahead and deploy it anyway. When asked by journalists whether he would permit the Soviet Government a veto on deployment, he said, "Hell, no."

Mr. Weinberger made the same point in less colourful language. A year ago he stated: I am ruling out the possibility of giving up on strategic defence, either in the research stage or if it becomes feasible in the deployment stage. He refused to give up the possibility of deploying SDI under any circumstances if it proved feasible.

As the House will recall, it was that refusal even to consider negotiations that blocked all progress at the recent Geneva summit on disarmament of strategic nuclear forces. That in turn makes nonsense of the fourth undertaking, that East-West negotiations should aim to achieve security with reduced levels of offensive systems on both sides.

Both sides are now planning to increase greatly the number of their offensive systems and to increase new types of defensive weapons. There is no chance of progress on strategic nuclear disarmament unless the United States is prepared to negotiate about the abandonment of the strategic defence initiative. The tragedy is that that has become clear just at the time when the new Soviet proposals for disarmament—perhaps engendered to some extent by the fear of the SDI deployment—represent major concessions in the Soviet position, not least on intermediate nuclear forces, where the Soviets have accepted the zero option, which was first put to the Russians by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and myself when we met Mr. Brezhnev in 1981. It was also put forward by President Reagan on behalf of NATO in discussions with the Soviet Union about a year later. Since the war there has never been a time when the prospects for progress on disarmament have been more propitious. There is now a real chance of doing that to which the American and Soviet Governments committed themselves when Mr. Shultz and Mr. Gromyko agreed a year ago to end the arms race on earth and to prevent an arms race in space.

The Prime Minister's excuse for supporting the SDI as a research programme is that it is impossible to monitor or verify a ban on research and that the Soviet Union is carrying out research into ballistic missile defence in any case. As I pointed out when we previously debated this subject during the debate on the Queen's Speech in November, although research carried on inside people's heads or inside laboratories is impossible to monitor without access to those laboratories, such research cannot go far without physical tests, or "demonstrations" as the Americans call them. Tests of components in a possible system that take place outside laboratories can be monitored by satelite photography and other means and are continuously monitored by the American and Soviet Governments at present. The Russians have at last offered to draw a distinction between research in laboratories and brains and the type of tests outside laboratories that can be monitored, without which such research cannot proceed very far.

The Americans have listed such tests as having been carried out by the Russians. They have described some of the preparations that they say the Russians are making to produce a ballistic missile defence. However, I understand that their interpretation of the Krasnoyarsk radar—their prime exhibit—is not shared by the British Government. I hope that the Secretary of State will come clean on that matter in his reply. Evidence given to the Defence Committee by some officials made it clear that we do not endorse the American interpretation of Krasnoyarsk. The Russians have agreed to dismantle the Krasnoyarsk system if Britain dismantles similar systems at Fylingdales and Thule. Many people believe that they are as contrary to the ABM system as is the Krasnoyarsk radar.

Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)

The right hon. Gentleman was responsible for many years for Fylingdales. Was it part of an ABM system?

Mr. Healey

No, it was not then, but the right hon. Gentleman and his Government agreed to develop Fylingdales as a phased array radar of a type very similar to that at Krasnoyarsk. That is a new development which the Russians have already claimed is contrary to the ABM treaty, on exactly the same grounds as the Americans claim that Krasnoyarsk is contrary to the treaty. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman does not dispute that fact.

Mr. Heseltine

Perhaps I would if the right hon. Gentleman gave me the chance. I was deeply involved in the matter. The purpose of the modernised Fylingdales is no different from the purpose over which the right hon. Gentleman presided.

Mr. Healey

That is precisely what the Russians argue about Krasnoyarsk: that its purpose is to track objects in space, not to—[Interruption.] Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would love to conduct a seminar because I know that education and instruction is widely required by Conservative Members.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)


Mr. Healey

No, I have dealt with the question of the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine)—

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman is getting carried away. The essential difference is that Fylingdales existed before the ABM treaty and Krasnoyarsk did not.

Mr. Healey

Of course Fylingdales existed before the treaty, but it is being developed in a way that is incompatible with the treaty. That is precisely the complaint made by the Soviet Government. If the right hon. Gentleman is sensitive about his complicity in the matter, and if he believes, like the Americans, that the Krasnoyarsk radar violates the treaty, let the British Government agree to the Soviet proposal to cease development at Fylingdales, Krasnoyarsk and Thule, which seem to be a perfectly sensible proposal that would not harm Western security and would relieve many people of what I believe to be legitimate anxieties.

If the West is really worried about Soviet research into ballistic missile defence or anti-satellite systems, where in some respects the Soviet Union is further advanced than the United States, it could kill those systems stone dead by accepting a ban on observable tests. None of the Government's excuses for supporting such tests hold the slightest amount of water, since they are fully capable of being monitored.

The strategic defence initiative has become the major obstacle to stopping the arms race. It is widely agreed that it would be possible with existing means to monitor a comprehensive test ban, especially since the Soviet Government have agreed to on-site inspection. But the SDI requires nuclear tests underground of X-ray laser bombs, some of which have already been carried out in Nevada. Mr. Miller, a top scientist at Livermore, has argued in public that even the non-nuclear components of the proposed SDI require testing in a nuclear environment which can be produced only by the explosion of nuclear weapons.

The tragedy is that this opportunity to stop the arms race may be the last unless we can pop this genie back in the bottle now. What must worry many hon. Members is that the major obstacle to a reduction in strategic weapons is the American attachment to the SDI, just as the major obstacle to accepting the Soviet proposal for the zero option on intermediate nuclear forces is the British Government's determination to go ahead with the Trident programme, although there is growing opposition even in the services to continuing that programme, since, as the right hon. Member for Henley will recall, one reason why our forces cannot afford helicopters produced by Westland is that, in a few years' time, 30 per cent. of the new equipment budget will be taken up by Trident.

Her Majesty's Government and the American Government together have erected a massive road block on the way to peace. All this has been compounded during the past few months by the grubby conspiracy of the British Government to encourage British scientists to leave vital British programmes of civilian research, such as the Alvey programme, and work instead on SDI research for the American Government. It is yet another sell-out to American pressure— one of vital importance to the future of British industry.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) will deal at greater length with some problems surrounding the agreement made by the Secretary of State for Defence, which General Abrahamson was pursuing during his recent visit to London. I hope that he will tell us a little more about the agreement, since I understand that he met General Abrahamson yesterday.

The memorandum of understanding that the Government signed with America on this matter is scarcely worth the paper on which it is written, because such memoranda can be overridden at any time by the American Congress, as Congress overrode the wartime agreement to share nuclear technology when it passed the McMahon Act, and as the Americans overrode another agreement when they cancelled the Skybolt project on which an earlier Conservative Government were relying to replace the aging V bombers. As the right hon. Member for Henley may remember, a few years ago, the Americans unilaterally broke the memorandum of understanding to produce an airfield attack weapon, the JP233. Indeed, it may have been before his time. That memorandum was signed by his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym) whom he has joined on the Government Back Benches. They seem to be a depository for former Defence Ministers.

But even if the memorandum of understanding is not overridden by the United States, it is vital that the House should know what its provisions are. We know only one thing about the memorandum: that the former Secretary of State completely failed in his stated objective to guarantee $1,500 million-worth of work for Britain. We must rely entirely on leaks, most of which are coming from the United States. However, some have come from the familiar source—the Department of Trade and Industry —which let it be known during the negotiation of the agreement that it was unhappy about the right hon. Gentleman's failure to obtain satisfactory assurances on intellectual property rights and on technology transfer.

Connoisseurs of British politics will be intrigued by the fact that there was what psychologists call role-reversal on that occasion. The right hon. Member for Henley was trying to sell out to the Americans, and his comrade in adversity, the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, was trying to protect European technology. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that circumstances alter cases, although I found his posing as a great European odd when I considered his record on the memorandum of understanding on the SDI and his position on the purchase of the Trident missile.

We have been told by leaks that the Department of Trade and Industry was immensely unhappy about the provision to enable British scientists to use the knowledge which they acquire in this research and to produce products which can be transferred to other countries in commercial sale.

No information is available to the House about the provisions. There are no military security grounds for denying the House this information, and there is every reason for its having the information. Is it the case, as one of the American leaks has claimed, that intellectual property rights and technology transfer will have to be settled case by case in company-to-company contracts, and therefore the British Government have acquired no guarantees whatever in this field which will protect British interests?

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany have said in advance— they have not yet signed the memorandum of understanding—that they will not cough up any of their own money. One of the leaks I have read says that Her Majesty's Government have agreed to provide one third of the money for any Government-to-Government contracts from the British Treasury. That is a matter of immense importance to the House. Hon. Members have every reason to be told the truth, yet we are denied it.

We are also told that there are penal cancellation clauses in this agreement in an attempt to bind any future Government to implement its provisions. I am certain that any future House of Commons will demand the same right as the American Congress has often exercised, to override a memorandum of understanding about which it has been given no information whatever.

The central issue on this agreement is a general and simple one. We all know that Britain has a substantial lead over the United States in some of the new technologies, particularly those relating to fifth and sixth generation computers which, it is hoped, will have artificial intelligence and be capable of learning. It is essential—I hope the right hon. Member for Henley agrees, in the light of his recent speeches—that we should use this unique advantage in high technology to build a European base so that Europe can compete on equal terms in these areas with the United States and Japan.

We should not sell out to the United States, and particularly to American defence interests from which there will be only a small commercial spin-off, even if we are allowed under the agreement to make use of the spin-off. I noticed the other day that the assistant head of research at IBM, who can be regarded as a fairly independent authority on these matters, says that the right word is not "spin-off', but "drip-off." The amount of commercial advantage which even the Americans will get out of this diversion of research and development from civilian to military research will be small compared to the colossal resources which it is planned to invest in it.

In an earlier debate my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) said that to make these points is not to be anti-American; it is anti-British not to make them. It is time that this Government got off their hind legs and started putting Britain first. The Prime Minister and the Government as a whole have shown a feckless indifference to British interests. That has characterised the whole of their industrial policy, which we have been debating at length in recent weeks, and it threatens the very survival of the manufacturing side of our economy. Feckless indifference to the interests of peace by supporting the SDI is even more dangerous.

I ask the House to vote for the motion. At least it is one means of stopping the sell-out to American pressure which is corrupting every area of our public life, both at home and abroad.

4.56 pm
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. George Younger)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: 'takes note of the extensive Soviet research effort in ballistic missile defence; agrees that the Strategic Defence Initiative research programme is prudent in the light of this effort; and welcomes the participation of United Kingdom industry and research institutions in that programme.'.

Until the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) got well into his speech I was somewhat puzzled by the vague and indeterminate nature of the motion that he put down for today's debate. I now see that it has provided an excellent and perfect background for the splendid extravaganza with which he has delighted us, and it has given him plenty of scope to paint a colourful picture of his own that bears little relationship to the facts. Having built up that picture, he spectacularly knocked it down with one flick of his wrist.

I should prefer to spell out as clearly as I can the facts about where we start in this important debate and why the Government have taken the line they have about their particpation in the research activity associated with the SDI programme. As the House will know, the central purpose of British security policy over the last 40 years has been to maintain deterrence within a framework of stability in international relations. This basic approach has stood the test of time, and it is the approach that provides the surest road to continued peace, but on whichever side of the House we sit we must recognise that neither time nor technology will stand still.

As circumstances change, and as new technical horizons are opened, we must be ready to review the way in which we execute our basic policy and, if necessary, to make adjustments to take account of the new situations in which we find ourselves. There is nothing radical, extraordinary or new about that. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East played a valuable role, which I well remember, in the debates that resulted in the reformulation of the basic NATO strategy in the 1960s. Those debates, resulting in the policy of flexible response, reflected the fact that circumstances had changed since the 1950s when nuclear weapons had first come to play a central role in the security policies of the NATO Alliance. The Alliance properly took account of the changed situation and the strategy which emerged provided a sound basis for Alliance policy thereafter. In my view it has done so, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

The debate about the strategic defence initiative is about a further evolution in our strategic thinking to take account of changes since then, both in the scale and capability of offensive nuclear forces and in the technologies available for possible defences.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Does the Secretary of State agree that, unlike previous systems, there is no way in which this system can be tested? What reply has the right hon. Gentleman to those at the department of artifical intelligence in Edinburgh and at Imperial college who say that, in the absence of a spare planet, this system—which involves space-controlled automatic weapons—can never be tested? That is the difference. It is not evolution at all.

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his view on that, and so, indeed, is Dr. Thompson, whom he has often quoted. Dr. Thompson has his views on the matter, but it is worth noting that after he expressed his views, Edinburgh university made it clear that they were not necessarily the views of the university, but were Dr. Thompson's personal views. I have no objection to that. If the hon. Gentleman listens to my argument as a whole, he will get an answer to the whole question of the rationale of why we have to take account of the reality of what is happening, and not the situation as we might wish it to be.

The essential question is whether defensive systems have a role to play in maintaining deterrence and ensuring strategic stability, or whether we should continue to deter strategic nuclear attack solely by the threat of retaliation. This issue is, of course, not new. Both the USA and the USSR worked on defensive systems in the late 1960s. It became clear that the technology then available would not provide cost-effective defences against the weight of attack which the super powers could pose against each other. The right hon. Gentleman touched on that point. Both sides accepted a different twin-pronged approach—numerical constraints on offensive sytems, coupled with strict limits on defensive deployments. That resulted in the signature of the 1972 SALT I and ABM treaties. Each side relied for its security against strategic nuclear attack on the threat of retaliation from its own nuclear forces, which were themselves virtually immune from preemptive attack.

Those treaties have provided the strategic framework under which we have lived ever since. They make up the concept known as mutual assured destruction or, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs more accurately and realistically described it, mutual assured deterrence. The Government attach great importance to the integrity of the SALT and ABM treaties, which marked a real achievement in an agreed approach to ensuring a stable and peaceful world.

It follows that we believe that their terms should be strictly complied with by all the parties to them. That is why we very much welcomed the US commitment to pursue its SDI research programme in accordance with a strict interpretation of the ABM treaty and not to undercut the unratified SALT II agreement as long as the Soviet Union exercised equal restraint.

It is, of course, entirely to be expected—indeed., it is all too typical—that the focus of the Opposition motion should be on the United States strategic defence initiative. We shall hear much today—we have already from the right hon. Gentleman —of how it is the United States that is upsetting the approach agreed in the 1970s. We shall, perhaps, be left with the impression from some speakers that the Soviet Union, on the other hand, has respected that approach and wants nothing to do with strategic defences. The reality is very different.

It is demonstrably not the case that the Soviet Union has eschewed the possibility of strategic defences. It was the Soviet Union that chose to make full use of the provision for the limited deployment of such systems permitted under the ABM treaty by deploying an ABM system around Moscow — a system which it is currently modernising and expanding to the extent allowed by that treaty. In the days when those on the Opposition Benches were still being really serious about defence, it was precisely that Soviet deployment that led them — responsibly and properly — to proceed with the Chevaline programme for our strategic nuclear deterrent. The right hon. Gentleman's famous memory was not quite correct today. Although it was a Conservative Government who decided to go ahead with Chevaline, it was a Labour Government who made the arrangements and allocated funding. He cannot get away from that.

Perhaps this limited ABM deployment might at first have been explained away as a hangover from the earlier Soviet R and D effort in the 1960s, but it is now being upgraded. Above all, we have to address the long-standing Soviet research programmes into the range of technologies relevant to ballistic missile defence — lasers, particle beam and radio frequency weapons, kinetic energy weapons, surveillance and target detection and so on.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces placed in the Library on 26 November 1985 a paper on that Soviet programme, which I commend to the House and to hon. Members who have not read it. The facts that it sets out are, I believe, not in dispute. The key point is that this is not a new Soviet programme; it is not a response to the SDI— far from it, it long pre-dates it—it is not something peripheral to the Soviet effort in defence research; it is a key component of it.

Mr. Healey

Of course the Russians have been carrying out that research. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman has confirmed that their research experiments have been monitored by means available to the West—just as the Russians monitor ours. Therefore, a ban on observable tests would be feasible.

Has the United States not been spending money in that area, at least since 1965? It did not stop after the signing of the ABM treaty; it did not have to. Indeed, this is the first year of its research into those systems when spending has risen above the average for those years —the second year of SDI. Both sides have been pursuing research in those areas, but neither had even conceived the possibility of developing the sort of system in which the Americans are now engaged.

Mr. Younger

I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He is using the same technique as he used earlier. It is no part of my case to say that the Soviet Union has been investigating these matters but the United States has not. I have not said that, I do not believe that, and I do not think that it is a tenable position. Nor is it any part of my case that either the Soviet Union or the United States is, at this stage, intending to go beyond anything allowed by the ABM treaty. Research is, of course, allowed under that treaty.

I am making the case—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with it—that there is no ground for saying that the Soviet Union has not been investigating the whole question of strategic defence. It has been doing so, and it is doing so. It is also suggested that the United States may be doing so.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is it not true that official published American sources from the highest quarters of the Government have made it clear that the Soviet Union is spending more than 50 per cent. of its budget on strategic defence systems? The largeness of its armoury in offensive systems makes us realise how great is its commitment to strategic defence systems.

Mr. Younger

My hon. Friend is right. We have made that point clear. It is now agreed between both sides—which is important to my argument — that both the Soviet Union and the United States of America have been indulging in that form of research. They have not even contended that they are not doing so. It is not a peripheral matter—it is a key component of what the Soviet Union is doing.

The explanation for that is, I believe, self-evident. The Soviet Union wishes to explore the scope that new technologies might offer for an effective, active defence of the Soviet homeland against nuclear attack—defence against ballistic missiles which would complement the substantial effort which, unlike the West, the Soviet Union has already been putting into civil defence and defence against aircraft.

Let me emphasise that I am not arguing that the Soviet Union is about to deploy such a defence or that there is an intention at this time to do so in the future. It is, perhaps, simply a question of it keeping its options open. What is incontrovertible is that the Soviet Union has not accepted for all time the existing relationship between offensive and defensive forces at the nuclear level.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

Will the right hon. Gentleman address his mind to the statement by the President of the United States on 23 March 1983, that if research went ahead and reached fruition the United States would be willing to share the fruits with the Soviet Union?

Mr. Younger

Indeed, that is one of the remarks made by the President. However, that is not the subject of our debate, which is on whether it is right, or wrong, for the United Kingdom to participate in the research programme associated with SDI. With great respect to the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, a large part of what he said this afternoon was addressed not precisely to that question, but to the possible results of a complete deployment and development of weapons systems which might or might not result from future research into that sort of technology.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

The Secretary of State has just repeated the crux of his argument—that today we are dealing purely with the research programme. Does he accept the point made by the Home Secretary, that research programmes tend to take on their own unstoppable momentum? Therefore, is it not appropriate that we should examine the possible consequences of such research programmes?

Mr. Younger

That is appropriate. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to that, but it is not appropriate to make the assumption that because the research programme has finished and has proved it can do certain things, we can proceed with development and deployment. It has been made clear that not only is that miles off in time, but that it may never happen. In any case, neither we nor the United States would intend to do anything without consultation with allies and negotiations with the Soviet Union. That is a clear dividing line which we must have before us when we consider the big issues which are raised by the whole matter.

Mr. Healey

Does the right hon. Gentleman not take seriously the statement by both President Reagan and Secretary Weinberger that if they cannot get the Russians to agree to change the ABM treaty they plan to deploy in any case? Does he not take that threat seriously? Is it not inconsistent with the undertaking given to the Prime Minister in December 1984?

Mr. Younger

I thought that that was fairly well answered in the television programme in which the right hon. Gentleman appeared on Sunday. It was in answer to a question that the President made that remark. He was being asked whether, if the whole thing fell apart and the Russians refused to discuss the matter, he would just roll over on his back and say, "I cannot negotiate further." In any event, the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that that is a well-known debating trick. He is trying to draw a conclusion from asking the old question, "When did you stop beating your wife?" If the President had given another answer he would have gone into any negotiation which might eventually take place, having given away every card in the pack. The right hon. Gentleman knows that and must accept it.

How then should the West react to the Soviet effort which we, like the right hon. Gentleman, believe is in existence? Should we bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it does not exist?

Should we at the other extreme decide now to abandon the existing concept of mutual deterrence which, as I have said, has served us well? The answer surely is that we, too, should explore these technologies and that we, too, should address, just as the Russians do, the benefits and the drawbacks of alternative approaches to strategy. That is precisely the approach which the British Government have adopted in addressing the implications of the strategic defence initiative.

The strategic defence initiative is not a strategy or an operational concept which is about to be implemented. It is a research programme looking at the feasibility of developing cost-effective strategic defences. It is above all a prudent hedge against the substantial Soviet activity which I have just described. It is for that reason that the Government support the SDI research programme. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

As for the outcome of SDI research—an outcome which will not be apparent for many years—neither the United States nor the United Kingdom Government have formed or could form at this stage any judgment. Indeed, it would be premature to do so. We do not know, nor can we know, what sort of results will emerge, or what sort of conclusions might be reached. The United States Government have made it clear that they have no preconceived notions about the defensive options the research may generate and that they would not proceed to development and deployment unless the research were to indicate that defences met strict criteria of survivability and cost-effectiveness. Even then they would do so only after close consutation with their allies and negotiations with the Soviet Union.

There has already been much debate on both sides of the Atlantic about the possibilities for placing a greater reliance on defensive rather than offensive systems. That debate will certainly continue, and it is right that it should. The issues are of paramount importance. For our part, the Government believe that the current structure of mutual deterrence provides a sound and effective basis for providing that degree of stability in international relations which is an essential prerequisite to continuing peace and security.

Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that he is making basic assumption throughout his whole argument that the concept of deterrence is somehow a stable concept? In reality, throughout the development of weapons systems has there not been an in-built tendency to make the systems much more sophisticated? Is riot the latest SDI research programme yet another contribution to the instability of deterrence itself? Is not the combination of a defensive system and an offensive system making invalid the mutual deterrence which he has projected?

Mr. Younger

I am not sure on which side of the argument the hon. Gentleman is. We are discussing the development of a defensive system and whether that destabilises the balance that we have been used to. The deterrent system that we have been following has secured an acceptable balance for some time. Of course, anyone with such systems will try to modernise them and make them more sophisticated. The question is, do we ignore that and pretend that it does not happen, or do we take our part in it to try to keep the balance of deterrence which is so important?

Any step towards changing that essential framework should be taken only after all the implications have been fully thought through and carefully weighed. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs outlined in his lecture to the Royal United Services Institute last year the issues which need to be addressed.

The Government's approach continues to be guided by the four points which were agreed by the President and the Prime Minister at their meeting at Camp David in December 1984 to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. First, the United States and Western aim is not to achieve superiority, but to maintain balance, taking account of Soviet developments. Secondly, SDI-related deployment would, in view of treaty obligations, have to be a matter for negotiation. Thirdly, the aim is to enhance, not to undermine, deterrence. Lastly, East-West negotiation should aim to achieve security with reduced levels of offensive systems on both sides.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

The right hon. Gentleman has stressed the defensive nature of the SDI. Has he read the report by R and D Associates of Los Angeles, which is an influential think tank on defence matters? It made the point that laser weapons being developed as part of the SDI are more likely to be used to incinerate enemy cities than to defend cities in the United States.

Mr. Younger

The hon. Lady will perhaps read in Hansard that her right hon. Friend mentioned that. The only point I make is that presumably that might be examined. The question is not whether that happens, but whether we have any control over it. That is the key point.

From the four points that I have outlined it will be seen that the Government attach great weight to the arms control implications of strategic research and possible deployments on both sides. Whatever the eventual outcome of such research, it is clear that, for the foreseeable future, Western security will depend upon the maintenance of nuclear deterrent forces. The immediate task, therefore, is to try to get reductions in the levels of these forces while maintaining strategic stability. That is the Western aim at the negotiations in Geneva.

The Soviet Union, however, continues to seek to hold agreement in this central area of strategic reductions hostage to a ban on the SDI, or a ban on space strike arms, as it terms it. The Soviet Union has mounted a major campaign to try to cast doubt on the motivation behind the SDI, notwithstanding its own research activities in related fields, and to foster alarm in the West about the consequences of pursuing it. We have seen these scare tactics before, over cruise missiles prior to their deployment in 1983. We have seen the benefits which a firm response can bring. We will continue to take a more balanced view, and will encourage the Soviet Union to do the same. Research work on ballistic missile defence will continue on both sides as it has since the 1960s. Nothing that we say today will alter that. There is no reason why this work has to be a stumbling block to arms control agreements if both sides do not wish it to be so. The United States has made it clear that the SDI research programme will be conducted in full conformity with the provisions of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. The United States has also made it clear that if SDI research yields positive results it would, after consulting the allies, consult and negotiate with the Soviet Union, in accordance with the terms of the ABM treaty, on how deterrence could be enhanced through a greater reliance by both sides on defensive systems.

If the Soviet Government want more certainty before committing themselves to arms reductions, they should take up the United States' invitation to discuss in the Geneva negotiations the relationship of offensive and defensive systems. In this way, each side could establish sufficient confidence in each other's intentions and in the framework of their security relationship to enable mutual reductions to be made in their massive strategic arsenals. The right way forward is through such discussions, but so far the Soviet Government have refused to go down this path.

It is within the framework of the four points, including our clear commitment to strategic stability and to arms control, that the British Government have viewed the question of participation in SDI research. As I have pointed out, this research, on both sides, covers technologies of relevance not just to ballistic missile defence. It embraces technologies which will be widely applicable in the battlefield of the future. Neither the British Government, nor our high technology companies, could afford to stand apart from such research. Nor have they done so. Within our defence research establishments and within other research institutions outside the Government, work has been under way in areas relevant to the SDI because these are areas relevant to our own defence effort and to the civil economy in the future.

We could have chosen as a Government to stand aside altogether from the SDI. Had we done so, we would have forgone the opportunity of an information exchange with the United States of immense potential benefit to our future defence programme. We could have abandoned the approach of Anglo-American defence co-operation which, under successive Governments, has served us so well. We could not, of course, have prevented British companies or universities from participating in the SDI if they had wished to do so, but they would inevitably have had to do so solely on United States' terms.

Instead, we have chosen the path of regulating and formalising our participation in a way which will provide a substantial opportunity for British companies and institutions to compete on equal terms with their United States counterparts. This was the approach enshrined in the memorandum of understanding signed by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), and Mr. Caspar Weinberger in December. This memorandum and the detailed agreements under it set out procedures for the participation of British institutions in United States funded work in a way which enables them also to use the fruits of this work for our benefit. It also facilitates a wider information exchange. Of course — and properly — it provides arrangements to safeguard security on both sides where this is necessary. It would be quite wrong and wholly unrealistic to proceed otherwise.

The United States Administration have emphasised their wish that there should be substantial British participation in United States-funded work. While they can provide no guarantees of the scale of our participation, their commitment is clear. What is now needed is a response for British companies, with the help of the British Government, fully to exploit this opportunity. We for our part have established within the Government an office to support SDI participation. We are anxious to work in partnership with industry and I am delighted that a presentation this week on opportunities for participation was over-subscribed twofold. It is early days in the programme, but some contracts have already been placed, including two in optical computing. Discussions are well advanced on a wide range of further opportunities for early British participation in the programme.

I maintain that the Government's approach is firmly based on the reality of the present situation—the reality of the need to take account of Soviet actions as well as of Soviet public statements and the reality of the need to take account of technologies which are not only of potential relevance to our future conventional defence effort but open up new possibilities, no more than that, for the relationship between strategic offence and defence in the long term. It is right that we should address those realities properly and fully, and it is right that we should ensure that this country has a research base capable of underpinning both its defence effort and the civil economy of the future.

It is inevitable, I suppose, that the Opposition should have sought to tackle these issues by focusing in a one-sided and anti-American way on the strategic defence initiative. If we were to follow their path, we should isolate ourselves from reality and weaken our capacity to work towards a safer and more secure world for all—both in the East and in the West. For those reasons, I urge the House most strongly to support the Government's amendment.

5.24 pm
Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

The Secretary of State for Defence has attempted to reply to the devastating opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), but no one hearing both speeches could imagine that he has succeeded. The Secretary of State has not applied his mind to any of the immediate points that my right hon. Friend put to him. He has not attempted to explain why the understanding with the American Government about how British participation is to take place should remain secret. Nor has he explained why so many infringements have been permitted of the original terms agreed between the Prime Minister and the United States President. To the extent that he has sought to do so, it has been by repudiating the words of the United States President, who has said on a number of occasions, as have many of his supporters, that he intends to go ahead with the programme in any event.

If the claims for the strategic defence initiative programme were fundamentally correct, there would be a case for that claim, but the British Government clearly do not accept that. It seems that they still retain some fondness for the Foreign Secretary's criticisms of the original proposal. In this context, it would have been proper for the Foreign Secretary himself to reply to the debate, just as the Government should properly have provided the time for this debate and for the Foreign Secretary to deal with the profound issues that he has emphasised. If the Foreign Secretary's criticism—it is no use trying to pretend that it was not criticism—of, for example, the impossibility of making a distinction between research and development because if the research went ahead the pressure for development would become overwhelming was a substantial criticism, it remains so today.

The Government have not made the slightest effort to discuss in the House or in the country the serious arguments made not just by the Opposition but by the Foreign Secretary himself. That speech by the Foreign Secretary was widely regarded as a most valuable contribution to the debate. I wonder whether that debate was transferred to the Cabinet or whether it followed the course so frequently adopted by the present Administration whereby major issues which should be debated in Cabinet are hurried through, hushed up or pushed into secret agreements so that debate in Cabinet and in the House is prevented.

The whole way in which the Government have dealt with these matters exposes their failure to discuss the issues in the country. At times, the Secretary of State for Defence talks as though the strategic defence initiative is just a minor logical development of what has gone before, but everyone knows that it is something quite different. The American President and Defence Secretary have presented it as something quite different. That being so, the whole matter should have been debated in the House. The only contribution that the Secretary of State for Defence has made will be to ensure that the discussion will proceed on very many future occasions.

The Secretary of State for Defence talks about reality and the way in which the Opposition approach these matters. I wish to make only a short speech, but I should like to quote at some length the comments that have been made about this, brought up to date not by the Opposition —although they vindicate all that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East has said — but by Lord Zuckerman, chief scientific adviser to the British Government for several years and a man whose integrity, intelligence and copious knowledge of these matters no one has ever dared to question. He probably knows more about combined military, defence and scientific implications than anyone else on the face of the planet. He has always tried to give his views as clearly and openly as he as he can. He describes the reality of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke somewhat differently.

Lord Zuckerman has described how many of these matters featured in the debates that took place before the signature of the ABM treaty in 1972. One reason why Professor Zuckerman is so worried is that what is happening will destroy that treaty. Very few treaties prevent the world from going ahead full speed in the nuclear arms race. He is worried that the ABM treaty will be destroyed just as some of those treaties, such as the nonproliferation treaty or the comprehensive test ban treaty, are also in jeopardy. The American Government are injuring and tearing up the ABM treaty, and the British Government are helping them. All the right hon. Gentleman's pious words about his desire to sustain that treaty are disproved by the reality of what has happened.

What happened in 1972? They had a discussion about defensive systems. That is why they came to the ABM treaty and why it was so important. That process is described by Professor Zuckerman in a recent article. He wrote: The result was the ABM Treaty of 1972, a treaty that limited ABM deployment to two sites only—later changed to one—in each country. The treaty did not bar development work that improved the radars, computers, and defensive missiles deployed within the two sites, but specifically prohibited the development of any type of space-based ABM system. Stability was then the order of the political day. It is that stability that is now being threatened and broken by the course recommended by the American Administration, which, tragically, is approved of by the British Government.

Professor Zuckerman examined the arguments. The main argument that has been put today, and which is incorporated in the Government amendment, is that the Russians have been doing it anyhow, so we should do it. If that were true in the precise terms in which they say it, it would be a very powerful argument. I have not the slightest doubt that the Government will rely on it to the maximum. That is why Professor Zuckerman, who knows a good deal more about these issues than the Government, has dealt with the matter. He says: One major justification continues to be heard: that the Russians are engaged on work that corresponds to different elements of the SDI program, and that in many ways they are ahead of the United States. We have also been told that some Russian actions have already breached the terms of the 1972 ABM Treaty. Specific violations are spelled out in impressive brochures. The Russians counter by pointing to American actions which in their view are breaches of the treaty. They have even offered to suspend work on the much spoken of, and highly vulnerable, vast phased-array radar system which they are building at Krasnoyarsk if the United States abandons its program to modernize the radar complexes which it has at Fylingdales in the United Kingdom and Thule in Greenland. Their spokesman argue that these modernization plans, and particularly the rebuilding of Fylingdales as what is rumored to be a 360 degree phased-array radar complex, is far more questionable than what the USSR is doing at Krasnoyarsk. This is Professor Zuckerman examining the facts—the realities to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He continues: A further accusation by the administration is that the USSR has committed a far greater investment of plant space, capital, and manpower to advanced BMD technologies than the US has. This extravagant claim is not borne out by a CIA document about Soviet efforts which was presented to the Armed Services Committee of the Senate on June 26, 1985. Indeed, the document expresses doubt about the applicability of even a network of Krasnoyarsk systems— regarded as the most serious breach of the 1972 treaty — for widespread ABM deployment. Dr. Garwin, in a follow-up to testimony presented to a congressional study group on October 10, 1985, has also pointed out that the better part of the large Soviet program on strategic defense is devoted to the upgrading of its anti-aircraft defense system. This is not a judgment given by a partial mind. It is given by Professor Zuckerman, and is concerned with developments that have already taken place. Of course he is horrified at the possibility that we shall see destroyed one of the very few treaties that works — the ABM treaty. The right hon. Gentleman said that he wants to preserve it. Professor Zuckerman continues: It was therefore unfortunate that immediately before the Geneva summit, Robert McFarlane, then the head of the National Security Council, declared that no aspect of the development of space-based BMD components is prohibited by the 1972 ABM Treaty, and that what was intended about testing and development merely implied a shift from the technology that was available at the beginning of the 1970s to what can be undertaken today. What Professor Zuckerman underlines most of all in his article—indeed, it is the conclusion of his article—is that it is absurd, it is highly dangerous, for Britain, the United States and other Western countries to weaken the 1972 agreement, and to make it capable of more flexible interpretation. The amendment puts exactly such an interpretation on the treaty. Professor Zuckerman accuses the American Administration of weakening enormously the way in which the ABM treaty is applied and can be applied. If the SDI programme goes ahead, the ABM treaty will be torn up altogether.

This is the situation at which we have arrived. Professor Zuckerman concludes his article with some very serious words. There have not been so many treaties that guard against the pace of the nuclear arms race. There have not been so many treaties that have actually worked, but there have been a few and some of them are now threatened. Unless the British Government wake up and do something at the last moment, the comprehensive test ban treaty may go. The non-proliferation treaty is also threatened. The British Government do not appear to have done anything about that. The ABM treaty is now threatened, and the right hon. Gentleman's words will not do anything to protect that treaty, particularly if they conflict with the deeds — and the deeds are the signatures which the British Government put to the secret agreement with the United States. Why did they want the British Government to come along and sign on the dotted line? That has been used by the American Administration to support not only the first next step along the road, but the whole programme that they are seeking to carry through, which would involve the destruction of one of the very few treaties that guard against the renewal of the race in the most intemperate and dangerous manner.

Mr. Younger

Does the right hon. Gentleman's case not completely collapse when one recognises that the ABM treaty clearly and specifically and in so many words makes it clear that research is perfectly compatible with full adherence to that treaty?

Mr. Foot

The right hon. Gentleman should study what Professor Zuckerman has said. His advice is available to the Government—

Mr. Wilkinson

Read the treaty.

Mr. Foot

I will read the treaty. I will also read Professor Zuckerman's comment on this aspect of the treaty. I know that Conservative Members do not want to hear it. Here is the point about whether the treaty has been broken: Adhering to the strictest interpretation of that treaty has therefore become a vital consideration for all of us—not some so-called liberal intepretation of the way its terms were drafted, however legally argued, not some new version, as Gerard Smith has put it, but the treaty in the sense in which it was negotiated by the two sides. Were some demonstration test of a novel BMD component by either side to result in a unilateral breach, it would be but a short step to the abrogation of the few other treaties that have been so painfully negotiated in order to try to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

The accusation that the Government are engaged in a breach of the 1972 treaty comes not only from the Opposition but also from Professor Zuckerman, and it is backed by supporting evidence that is available. It is an outrage of the first order that at such a critical moment in the world's history the British Government are more interested in money than in how new treaties are to be made. Money is the only thing that counts, and the Government are more interested in making a deal than in achieving a proper supranational agreement between nations that will stop the nuclear arms race altogether. The secret understanding that the Government have made—which will eventually be dragged out into the light of day —will not assist in obtaining a proper agreement. It is a dangerous and wicked diversion that will be exposed in the end.

5.41 pm
Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant)

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) in a sense demeaned himself by suggesting that the Government have gone down this path solely because they are interested in money. That lowered the level of the debate to a deplorable standard.

This is an issue of the utmost importance, and there are sound and considerable reasons why a view may be taken on whether the right hon. Gentleman's argument is right or wrong. However, I am sure that money is not one of the reasons.

In that context, the Marshall Institute of the United States—a very respectable and independent organisation —in response to the question, Does SDI violate the ABM Treaty? said: SDI is a research program whose stated goal is research on ABM defenses. However, the ABM Treaty does not limit goals. It only limits certain activities. The Department of Defense experiment that successfully demonstrated the 'smart bullet' concept at Kwajalein last June was in accord with the ABM Treaty because the Treaty allows ABM tests from areas specified as missile test ranges and so designated by the parties. (Article III.) The United States has designated Kwajalein as a missile test range. The Marshall Institute concludes—this is relevant to the argument of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent: We may bump up against the Treaty in three or four years —if, for example, we begin to test space-based components. But for the next several years there is no conflict between SDI and the ABM Treaty. The Soviet 'Star Wars' program will also bump up against the ABM Treaty soon. Some experts say it has already done so. That is the answer to the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent.

There is an exception to almost every rule in life, and on this occasion I am happy to be able to say that I welcome the Leader of the Opposition's choice of subject for debate. Instead of the usual "Who done what and when" saga, we have an opportunity—alas, all too brief —to debate what is to my mind the most important decision facing the West today. Indeed, it faces both super-powers, because I also take the view that a fundamental Western interest is the survival of the Russian people as a whole long enough for them to understand, evaluate and eventually escape from the yoke of their self-imposed tyranny. That is in the interests of the civilised world.

The perspective of this decision on SDI on both sides extends well into the next century and clearly embraces that possibility. Our purpose is not merely the survival, but ultimately the legitimate enlargement, of the free world by the voluntary actions of convinced peoples.

The decision is not ours to make. It has been made by the United States, and inevitably our decision is merely one of participation. But it is important that both should be right and fully justified. Both are decisions not only of greater importance but also of greater complexity than any which this House has addressed for many years. It is quite ludicrous that we should devote a mere three hours to a subject that could well justify a two-day debate. Once again our priorities reflect the lamentable unwillingness of this House to involve itself in scientific and technological decisions of great moment, partly because we do not understand them, and partly because we are so badly briefed.

Virtually all the briefing of any weight or consequence is, alas, American. There has been much discussion, but most of that—until General Abrahamson arrived in the United Kingdom this weekend — has been in the technical press. I have with me—it is a document that I commend to the House as an outstanding example of technical briefing— the report on anti-satellite weapons and counter-measures and arms control prepared for the United States Congress by the OTA. It is both a formidable and formidably important analysis, and there is one conclusion to which I draw the attention of the House.

After examining the seven major policy options—not just the one to which the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent referred—the OTA concluded: The opportunities and risks that might result from developing or not developing ASAT weapons or from pursuing or not pursuing ASAT arms control cannot be simply stated … the choices will require a delicate balancing of strategic economic and political interests. Reasonable persons can and will disagree as to the most appropriate nature of this balance. That is a central conclusion to this debate. I support the objective and the programme, but I have serious reservations, some of them technical and some political.

My technical reservations are based fundamentally on what are known as the Parnas memoranda. Professor Parnas, who resigned from the SDI software panel, has in a series of formidably powerful papers argued that neither the software nor the hardware will prove sufficiently powerful, reliable or effective. His case is that the goal is unattainable.

I have seen no really convincing or persuasive reply to those memoranda. I should like to see such a reply, because nothing is more damaging to the reputation of science or technology, be it in the military or any other sphere, than attaching to it a series of expectations that are thought to be wildly unrealistic. We should reflect for a moment on what the computer system has to do.

Mr. Dalyell

A considered reply to the Parnas memoranda ought to be placed by Defence Ministers in the Library of the House within a month if there is to be a sensible discussion of this issue.

Mr. Lloyd

I accept much of what the hon. Gentleman says. A considered reply is certainly needed, as is a full debate. The discussion is too important to be glossed over. I have not yet seen a reply. There are others who believe that it exists. If it does, we should have it so that we can argue the case.

There are also a number of other quite fundamantal matters about which reasonable persons can and will disagree. I want to concentrate on four. The first is the potential of the technology. The second is the character of what is today called C3I— command, communication control and intelligence. The third is the 100 per cent. criterion —whether it should be 100 per cent. successful if it is worth doing. The fourth is the spin-off justification.

I am powerfully persuaded by the documentation that I have seen — especially that of the OTA — that the technology has advanced to the point where the President is justified in attempting an ordered retreat from the "MAD" scenario — mutual assured destruction. The acronym is most appropriate, and the retreat if successful would be a triumph for the human race. However, I am convinced that even if a 100 per cent. layered defence proves finally to be unattainable, it is perhaps worth spending $60 billion to $ 100 billion to ensure that nine tenths of the human race survive the onslaught of a nuclear catastrophe.

My concern does not end there. The decision can never be left even to a 100 per cent. perfect computer system, however much it may depend on both. In this context we have most disturbing evidence from no less a person than Richard Beal, who until his death in 1984 was the senior director for crisis management systems in the White House.

At the Harvard conference on this subject, Mr. Beal made the following revealing reservations: We have very few analytic tools for the very high-level people. There are at most 20 people in the whole of the USA who can understand and cope with the complex decision systems in crisis management … I would describe crisis-decision making as organised anarchy … in a crisis, your tools become unclear to you, their uses become unclear and you apply them inappropriately. The crisis decision-maker can never say 'keep your eye on the meatball' because he doesn't know what the meatball is. My proposition to you is that, in all probability, whether it is the Secretary for Defense or the Secretary of State … he's wrong … you have to operate on the premise that when you are in a crisis decision, he is likely to be wrong. Mr. Beal goes on to say that when the crisis is nuclear All the factors are a quantum jump. The magnitude of the data categories you have to deal with just gets staggering. That is a profoundly disturbing commentary, but it is the heart of the system, and the situation is not very reassuring. Will we solve this problem by spending $60 billion on SDI, or whatever it takes? I think not. Other solutions are also required and will have to be sought. Without those solutions not even a 100 per cent. effective anti-ballistic missile system will guarantee the survival of our society or civilisation.

Therefore, I am not confident that a 100 per cent. defence is within sight. The only thing that will offer that is a sane world in which the pursuit of truth is given priority over the pursuit of power. That remains a distant goal. Is it worth pursuing 90 per cent.? The answer to that must, I think, be yes, or if, as a result of any serious collapse of stability or judgment, the system ever had to be used, that 10 per cent. would mean the difference between the collapse and survival of our civilisation. There is no high enough insurance premium that we can pay to achieve that objective. Moreover, I accept the powerful logic of the argument that no super-power would launch a pre-emptive strike in the certain knowledge that 90 per cent. of its missiles would not reach its targets.

Finally we come to the spin-off argument, the main justification so far for British participation. In my judgment, this has a limited validity — there will undoubtedly be a spin-off, but it is uncertain and capricious. The spin-off from our own massive defence research and development is lamentably small, however significant it may be in relation to the total expenditure involved. I see no reason to expect that it will be significantly greater with SDI. Therefore, we must base our decision to participate on a much more secure basis—a profound confidence that the decision of the United States Government is soundly based— but we cannot neglect what we know of similar work in the Soviet Union. Everything that I have read reinforces my opinion that what is happening in this sector in the Soviet Union cannot be neglected or ignored by any reasonably objective person. If there is to be an option, we would prefer that option to be in the hands of the saner, more responsible half of the world. Even if that is not wholly successful, a limited success will increase the effectiveness of the West's defence, re-arm democracy and reduce our vulnerability to the pre-emptive strike. The option, the window of opportunity, will not remain open indefinitely, and we should seize it with both hands.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. This is a short debate and many right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye. Brief speeches would be greatly appreciated.

5.53 pm
Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Like the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Lloyd), I welcome the opportunity presented by this debate. Up the corridor in the other place, there are many more opportunities to discuss this matter, often at the instigation of my noble Friends. I do not mean to criticise the Labour party when I say that I regret the timing of the debate, for we do not have an opportunity because of the absence of the Foreign Secretary, to hear him speak. We would have looked forward, had he been present, to hearing his critique of the SDI.

I do not wish to devote too much time to the technical difficulties or even the impossibilities of the project to which the hon. Member for Havant has referred. Nobody seriously talks about the possibility of a shield that would be 100 per cent. effective. However, I find talk in terms of 85 to 90 per cent. efficiency worrying. People seem to think of 85 per cent. success as being an achievement, and become blasé about the fact that one bomb, let alone 1 per cent. of 15 per cent., would devastate our civilisation.

Many people in academic and scientific life have fundamental doubts about the feasibility of producing a successful anti-ballistic defence on the scale imagined. Not only are there feasibility problems, as the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has pointed out, but there is the unique problem that SDI is incapable of being tested. For many people in academic and scientific life, an ethical problem is posed, if they use research funds to pursue an object that, in all honesty and good faith, they believe to be unattainable. It is also a moral challenge to us if such vast resources are to be channelled into chasing what could turn out to be an illusion, when so many earthly problems could be alleviated by spending only a small fraction of the $26 billion earmarked for this research.

What alarmed me most about the response to the amendment moved by the Secretary of State for Defence was the way that he boxed in the issue to purely a research project. We cannot look at this research in a vacuum. It proceeds inevitably against a political background and inevitably it will influence the political environment. It is important that we address some of the problems of political strategy now.

In my intervention in the speech of the Minister, I quoted the words of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, which I shall repeat. In his March speech on the SDI he said: The history of weapons development and the strategic balance shows only too clearly that research into new weapons and study of their strategic implementations, must go hand in hand. Otherwise, research may acquire an unstoppable momentum of its own, even though the case for stopping may strengthen with the passage of years. Prevention may be better than later attempts at a cure. Lord Zuckerman has already been prayed in aid by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot). In a debate in the other place Lord Zuckerman said: We must remember that the nuclear arms race is, and always has been, a race in R & D. The technological people who work in weapons laboratories … are not going to slow it down. The race can be slowed down and monitored only by political decision." — [Official Report, House of Lords, 30 January 1985; Vol. 459, c. 697.] That is why it is important to address, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) did, the implications of this research project.

If we proceed with research and go on to develop and deploy SDI, it could have a destabilising effect, and could cause an effective barrier to arms control. Proponents of the system have argued that the West must deploy SDI research because equivalent Soviet research is going on apace. That point has already been made today. However, if the argument is that SDI will enhance stability and deterrence, what is wrong with the USSR unilaterally deploying such a defence shield? We know the answer because we had it from the hon. Member for Havant. He said that the Russians might use the security of the shield to hide behind and launch a first strike attack on the West.

It is said that the West would not use that advantage if it deployed SDI. That point has been reinforced by the agreement between the Prime Minister and President Reagan at Camp David, particularly in that part which said: The United States and the Western aim is not to achieve superiority but to maintain balance, taking account of Soviet developments. Some scepticism has been expressed on this side of the Atlantic and in the House as to how genuine an expression of intention that is, but what we think is irrelevant. The critical issue is the perception of the Soviet Union. If it thinks, as it appears to do, that we would hide behind the shield and launch a first strike, and that the United States is trying to re-establish the power that it had when it had a monopoly of the atom bomb, almost inevitably it will make a response.

At the very worst the Soviet Union could respond by trying to make a pre-emtive strike in anticipation of a possible deployment, but more likely it would seek ways of countering the perceived threat. The Russians could seek to deploy a similar space defence system, although I doubt whether the Russian economy could withstand the enormous cost involved in that. More likely, they would try to defeat the objective of strategic defence by using technical means such as those already referred to by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East in reducing the boost phase in a missile launch, developing new kinds of decoy missiles or developing a means of taking out some of the shields' space installations. Perhaps most obviously of all, they could increase their missiles to saturation point to ensure that a good number would successfully penetrate space defences — a response which also has the attraction of being cheaper than the parallel defence initiative and which would cost the United States more to keep up.

Dr. Robert Bowman of the Institute for Space and Security Studies, writing of his experiences when he was in charge of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in the 1970s, said: Every time we designed a dollar's worth of defence, we found it could be neutralised with a nickel's worth of offence. As the Secretary of State said, one of the criteria for judging the success of SDI will be its cost-effectiveness. If that is one of the tests, it will have a difficult job in passing that test. It is largely accepted that it is cheaper to deploy missiles of offence rather than meet the enormous costs involved in this defence inititiative.

In the meantime, what incentive is there for the Soviet team in Geneva to negotiate deep cuts in strategic weapons if they fear that at some stage in the future they will have to build them up as a possible means of overcoming or getting round an American space shield? Supporters of the SDI project claim, with some justification, that it was the research programme which brought the Soviet negotiators back to Geneva. It would be a tragic waste of an opportunity to find an arms control agreement if an unwillingness to make any significant move on SDI became the rock on which the talks foundered. I agree with Professor Laurie Freedman that it would be easier to get Soviet agreement on a straightforward arms reduction than to the construction of a complicated new balance between offensive and defensive systems. Opportunities are available to us today for successful arms reduction talks which could well be imperilled if there is no significant move on SDI.

Coming now to British participation in the project, I accept that there are great fears that we shall lose some of our unique advantage in computer technology. An article in this week's issue of Jane's Defence Weekly by Mr. Paul Walton must give us some concern about restrictions which could be imposed on possible further developments in research projects in Britain if they were linked with SDI. There has been no great evidence of any important civil spin-offs. We all fear—Opposition Members, anyway—a misuse of resources, both financial and intellectual, at a time when we should be crying out for civil research and development to find a new base on which we can recreate our manufacturing industry and also, in the military field, to develop emerging technologies as a means of enhancing conventional defences in Europe.

I also complain of the Government's attitude vis-à-vis the United States. We are becoming increasingly tired of a number of events which suggest that they adopt a "me, too" attitude — that what is good for America is inevitably good for Britain, with no critical analysis of the issues involved. It is not even that we are being dragged along on the United States' coat tails. Rather it appears that from time to time the Prime Minister is running to catch on to them. It is not anti-American to say that we have had enough of it.

In the context of SDI, one can legitimately ask what it offers Britain. If we believe, as my party does, that we should be building up the European pillar of NATO, a United States oriented project offers us little or nothing. It could weaken NATO. We have already seen that our Prime Minister has rushed into an agreement while some of our European NATO allies are hesitating more. If the stage of possible deployment is reached, that could put even further strain on the NATO Alliance. As the Foreign Secretary said last March, how would protection be extended against the non-ballistic nuclear threat, the threat posed by aircraft or cruise missiles, battlefield nuclear weapons or, in the last resort, by covert action? How would it give protection to the very threats to which western Europe is most exposed?

If Britain has a role to play in all this, it should not be as the hanger-on trying to catch a few crumbs from the rich man's table, but rather as an old and candid ally of the United States, pointing out the potential dangers of the path that it is going down. That is an opportunity that we should be taking, not waiting for the end of a research phase when, as I have said before, the momentum might have become unstoppable.

Mr. Younger

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he do the House the honour of making it clear whether he, the Liberal party and the SDP are for or against British participation in the SDI research programme?

Mr. Wallace

The right hon. Gentleman pre-empted my final sentence. For the reasons that I have given, my right hon. and hon. Friends will support the motion tonight and show our objection to the strategic defence initiative.

6.5 pm

Sir Patrick Wall (Beverley)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that we are debating British cooperation in SDI research, and that is what I intend to do. I shall not make use of highly selective quotations as produced, by the Opposition. However, I understand that the Federal Republic of Germany is about to follow our example by signing an official agreement, so we are riot alone.

I want to bring the House back to what is happening. First, what is the SDI? It is basically a non-nuclear form of defence against ballistic missiles. As has been said, it is a research programme. Surely a non-nuclear defence programme should be supported by the Opposition, the Left and CND, but, unfortunately, it is not supported by any of them.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) virtually asked whether it would work. During recent discussions in America I found that people who believe in SDI say that it will work and those who do riot believe in it and think that it is a bad idea say that it will not work. If the Americans can put a man on the moon they can achieve what they want in SDI, and in a much shorter time than my right hon. Friend seems to think. I have heard four or five years suggested by some experts.

How is the research proceeding? This is important. First, there must be surveillance satellites to have a look at the whole picture and there is no paticular difficulty in that. Secondly, there is the boost phase lasting about two to five minutes when the maximum heat is generated. There, the research is on chemical lasers and electromagnetic rail guns from satellites. Thirdly, there is the post-boost stage, lasting seven to 10 minutes. That is when the boosters fall away and the 10—or fewer—MIRVs are deployed together with the decoys, possibly up to 100. At that time the ballistic missile is about 125 miles up. Research there is concentrating on pop-up X-ray laser missiles from submarines. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is right to say that that is the only nuclear aspect. The boost for this missile, about 125 miles up, is a small nuclear generator which produces the laser. That is the only nuclear part of the programme.

Fourthly, there is the mid-course phase, which lasts 20 to 26 minutes, and experiments are taking place on ground-based lasers or particle beams reflecting from mirrors in satellites. Lastly there is the re-entry, or terminal, phase when the missile is 30 miles up, which will last two to three minutes. The F15 and the "Smart Rock" missile have already been experimented on successfully and experiments on flechettes and particle beam electromagnetic guns are proceeding.

I have mentioned those experiments because we in Europe, and certainly we in Britain, are ahead of America in many specific issues of that experimentation. For example, we are ahead on electro-optics. We are ahead on some aspects of radar particle beams and lasers and on the reflection from mirrors. On all those issues, Europe, and Britain in particular, is ahead of America. Therefore the Americans want to co-operate with us just as much as we want to co-operate with them. The Americans are spending $3,500 million in the 1986 financial year on the SDI and the Soviet Union is I am told, spending 10 times as much. I remind the House that the Soviet Union started its programme in the late 1960s, so it has a good lead.

I shall go briefly through some of the arguments. Star wars is nothing to do with SDI. Its about anti-satellite satellites, and there the Soviet Union is well ahead of the West. It has been argued that SDI provides protection for America, not for Europe. An intercontinental ballistic missile fired from central Russia may be targeted on London, Rome or New York—no one knows. If ICBMs are stopped during the boost phase, Europe and America are protected. The experts have informed me that this system is designed to bring down long-range rockets but that short-range rockets are easier to bring down, for various technical reasons. This means that the terminal phase would have to take place in Europe because short-range rockets would be fired against Europe.

It has been argued that the SDI is destabilising. The USSR has been experimenting since 1966 on forms of the SDI. What would happen if the USSR achieved a perfect defence system and the West did not? The West would be open to nuclear blackmail to which it would have no answer. That point has not been brought out in the debate. The USSR could have achieved a perfect defence system before America but, now that America has woken up and is doing something, she will get there first. She deserves our generous co-operation. If the SDI strengthens the deterrent in America and Europe, I do not see how it can be destabilising. The Soviet Union is experimenting with anti-satellite systems and has 10,000 surface-to-air missiles. Its air defence system is stronger than any other country's. It has been argued that the SDI is decoupling. If it strengthens both America and Europe, it cannot be decoupling. The SDI would be de-coupling, and therefore be the end of both of us, only if the USSR got there first.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland referred to 100 per cent. defence. The experts have told me that it is highly unlikely that 100 per cent. protection will ever be achieved. It is also highly unnecessary. A 50 or 60 per cent. defence capability is enough. A country that knows that 50 per cent. of its missiles on each target will be brought down is unlikely to start a nuclear war. Therefore, we do not need a 100 per cent. defence, and no one expects it to reach that level.

Arms control has been mentioned. Recently, I visited Geneva and talked to various organisations attending the conference on disarmament. I believe that the Soviet Union will make concessions on intermediate nuclear forces to split Europe from the United States. The Soviet Union will then say, "We shall implement these concessions only if the Americans drop the SDI." I believe, following discussions in the Pentagon and on the Hill, that it is impossible for the Americans to drop the SDI. They will go ahead whatever Europe does. There is, therefore, a danger that the Russians will use this blackmail to try to separate the United States from Europe.

The non-proliferation point has been argued, but the SDI is non-nuclear and that point is not of concern in this debate. I believe, despite what some hon. Members have said, that the technological fallout will be high. I do not believe that any country that wants to be in the first rank in terms of technology can avoid co-operating in this scheme.

I shall not refer to the 1984 Thatcher-Reagan agreement because reference has already been made to it. All I will say is that the Americans and the Europeans are extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for starting off the project with some important rules.

The strategic defence initiative with a non-nuclear defence will lessen the threat from ballistic missiles and will eventually enable most ballistic nuclear missiles to be abandoned. Surely that is what we want. The main debate during the North Atlantic Assembly's plenary session in October in San Fransisco was on SDI. A composite resolution was tabled which catered for most tastes and therefore allowed people to vote who otherwise might not have done so. The eighth and operative paragraph of the resolution stated: To support US research in SDI consistent with the provisions of the ABM Treaty. The vote on the resolution was 91 in favour, 12 against, with 28 abstentions.

6.14 pm
Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) on his first speech as Secretary of State for Defence. Although I do not agree with everything he said, I think that he gave a competent performance.

I am opposed to development and deployment of SDI, but on grounds that differ greatly from those so far advanced by my colleagues. I should like to make it clear that I reluctantly support the United States' research programme and participation by British companies in that programme, if possible.

As the debate has shown, there are many concepts of the strategic defence initiative— for example, that it will be available only for silo protection, that it will be available for city protection, and that it will be available for complete protection, which is the 100 per cent. umbrella concept. No one knows what will emerge. The hon. Members for Havant (Mr. Lloyd) and for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) are highly sceptical that there will be anything like a 100 per cent. umbrella.

Hon. Members have quoted various sources. In addition, distinguished former American Secretaries of Defence such as Mr. Harold Brown and Mr. James Schlesinger take that view. I dissent to some extent from the view put by the hon. Member for Beverley because I believe that anything less than a 100 per cent. shield would be an appalling waste of resources. I would not want 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. of the Russian warhead inventory landing on NATO countries. That would be the end of civilisation as we knew it.

The 100 per cent. shield would involve not just the SDI but the Americans in reconstituting defences against the manned bomber and creating, ab initio, defences against submarine-launched cruise missiles. That is the element of the threat about which the Americans are most concerned. The cost of creating a threefold defensive system of that sort will be not hundreds of billions of dollars but thousands of billions of dollars—an obscene amount.

I am unhappy about the Reagan concept of the 100 per cent. shield because it is incompatible with the concept of nuclear deterrence. I believe in that concept. That is not a fashionable view in my party at the moment, but I see no reason to change my mind. If one could create an impermeable shield around the United States there would be considerable implications for Europe's defence.

It has been said that it might be possible to create an effective defence against incoming ballistic missiles for western Europe. I am even more sceptical about that than I am about the possibilities of creating such a defence for north America. It is far more difficult to defend Europe against the manned bomber or cruise missiles than to defend the United States. A manned bomber that wanted to reach cities in Canada, let alone those in the United States, would have to cover 4,000 miles of tundra. Nothing could be easier to find in thousands of miles of tundra where the only other warm presence is a polar bear and where there is nothing else metallic. Of course, the fog of war in western Europe would be totally different from war in North America. The Secretary of State knows that it is impossible to guarantee the defence of these islands against attack by manned bombers. I am glad that he has acknowledged that.

It has been argued that SDI is destabilising. I tended towards that view at one time, but I am no longer so sure. It would certainly be true if one envisaged a scenario in which on one day the United States had no effective defence against ballistic missiles and then a short time afterwards had something very close to an effective defence, but that is not likely to develop. As we have heard today, and as everybody knows, Soviet research has been taking place for years in those areas.

In my judgment, it is almost certain that Soviet capabilities lag behind American capabilities, but their capabilities will develop just as the Americans' have. I find it inconceivable that the Americans will be able to produce an effective system of this sort and the Soviet Union will be left with the cupboard bare. I do not think that the accusation of destabilisation is a very powerful argument to use against the SDI programme.

I am a strong supporter of the ABM treaty. I am glad that my right hon. and hon. Friends have acknowledged that in the past. I believe that it is the best way to preserve the principle of deterrence. If we lose that treaty, which we might, the principle of deterrence falls by the wayside.

Several things have been said today about President Reagan's views on these matters. However, we can all take comfort from the fact that President Reagan will not be around for the final decisions, or for more than a couple of years—at least as President. It is certain that funding in the United States will be doubtful after 1988. So far, only one of the likely presidential candidates in 1988 is committed to the programme—Mr. Bush. As far as I know, none of the others has committed himself to the programme, and certainly the members of the Congress with whom I have discussed the matter are extremely reluctant to contemplate the huge amounts of money that would be involved, not only in continuing the research programme but going forward to full development.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has come into the Chamber, because I was about to say something about Krasnoyarsk. I would not want to say anything in his absence and I certainly would not want to give him a seminar on any subject, but the difference between Thule, Fylingdales, and Krasnoyarsk is not necessarily what is contained in the phased array radars but the siting of them. Thule and Fylingdales are on the periphery of the territories they are protecting and Krasnoyarsk is in the middle. That is a considerable strategic difference.

Mr. Healey

Of course; that is why Krasnoyarsk is a technical breach of the treaty, and I said that. The American argument is that it is intended for the control of a space defence system of the type the Americans are trying to develop. As I understand it, that is not a view held by the British Government, who have refused to endorse the American view. Many people doubt that even the Americans could master the computer technology required for their system, and the idea that the Russians could master it is preposterous.

Dr. Gilbert

I am glad that once again my right hon. Friend and I are in total agreement. I hope that the new Secretary of State will be more forthcoming on the matter of Krasnoyarsk than his predecessor, despite several appearances to be questioned by the Select Committee on this matter.

I am totally opposed to the deployment of the SDI. I think that it would be a most appalling waste of resources. It could make the world less safe. Fortunately, I think it is most unlikely to fulfil President Reagan's vision. But I must say that I support American research in that area. In present circumstances, I do not see that the Americans have any choice. It would be nothing but irresponsible of any American Administration to abandon their research while faced with continuing Russian research. It does not matter who started it; the important thing is where we are now.

If the Americans are to continue with the research, I see no reason why British companies should not share in it. There are obviously problems with respect to property rights and COCOM and they are matters which I hope will be investigated by the Select Committee on defence. It had already started investigating those matters before it was side-tracked by other recent matters. All of those things need to be considered with the greatest concern. We should not support the development of prototypes and every effort must be made to negotiate away any further development in that area. As of now, I must say that I think that the United States has no choice but to proceed with the research.

6.25 pm
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip, Northwood)

I am glad that the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) put the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) right on Krasnoyarsk. It was more than a technical error in his speech; it was a fundamental flaw. It was actually even worse, because the Krasnoyarsk radar is situated away from the periphery where it would be well located for battle management were such a capability to be in existence. It is its proximity to potential targets that is so important. A technical breach of the treaty, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East calls it, is a very serious matter. Building a major facility of this kind in a place which is clearly and demonstrably against article 6 of the ABM treaty is a matter which the United States must take into account when making its assessment of Soviet intentions.

I think that the more awesome the weapons of massive destruction that are targeted against us, the more important it is for us to seek a defence against them. It is a moral dimension to the argument, something which the President of the United States has always preached. It is not just a technical matter or a matter of keeping up with the Soviet Union. There is a clear will on President Reagan's part, and on the part of his Administration, to try to remove some of the awesome threat that hangs over mankind. The mutual balance of terror has assured the peace, but we cannot be certain that it always will. If by accident or miscalculation the deterrent broke down, I would much rather have 85 or 90 per cent. of defence, or even 50 per cent. as my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) said is effective, than none at all. No one can convince me that total vulnerability enhances deterrence. The reverse is the case.

When the manned penetrating bomber was the main instrument of Western deterrence, we thought it appropriate and wholly right, as did the then former Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, to seek a measure of defence against it with our fighter forces, and we still do. Yet, strangely, in his speech he criticised the SDI because, he said, it was a means of defending missile silos and launch sites and not populations. The fighter forces, in the days when Fighter Command sought to protect the V bomber bases, did just that. However, if the SDI is fully implemented—that is, if the research programme proves to be successful and the technology is found to be attainable and we can move from point defence systems to a full panoply of multilayered space-based defence systems—we shall have a global system of defence which will protect populations as well as launch sites. It will protect not only our friends and allies, but neutrals and other countries which could be subject to ballistic missile attack. It really is a very exciting prospect.

As we have devoted so much energy and such huge sums of money to developing offensive systems of mass destruction, would it not be better if, in these days, we used at least part of our intellectual energy and part of our resources to see whether we can use our new technologies to defend populations? We could not achieve 100 per cent. defence, but the SDI will greatly minimise the prospect of pre-emptive attack, which is what we most fear. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley made clear, no potential aggressor will ever be certain that he can destroy any particular target. In other words, the capability for retaliation will remain and deterrence will be enhanced.

As was so well explained by my hon. Friend, who is so expert on these matters, the alliance has long depended upon the United States' nuclear guarantee. Without it we should have been naked and there might conceivably have been aggression against western Europe as there has been against Afghanistan and other neutral countries bordering the Soviet Union. It is the certainty of United States' nuclear retaliation on our behalf that has preserved the peace.

If our American friends feel that by invoking a nuclear response in defence of western Europe they are not, as a consequence of that retaliation on our behalf, ensuring the incineration of their cities, the more likely it will be that they will be prepared to go nuclear and defend western Europe. If, however, the United States feels that the destruction of the North American homeland is certain if it invokes nuclear retaliation on our behalf, the United States President would be unlikely to invoke the response that we need. That is why the United States nuclear guarantee is enhanced by the SDI.

We come to the question whether the SDI will accelerate the arms race and diminish prospects for arms control. It is my belief, as it is the belief of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), that the Soviet economy will be less able than NATO to sustain an arms race, if that is the way it wants to go.

It is my earnest hope, and that of the United States Administration and my right hon. and hon. Friends in Government, that this prospect is too awesome to contemplate. Rather than proliferate offensive systems and maximise the penetration potential of its strategic weaponry, it would be better for the Soviet Union, in the face of strategic defence, to seek to build down its offensive armoury. There could then be a genuine prospect of a breakthrough in arms control.

We have been waiting for that breakthrough for a long time, and it has not happened. After NATO's deployment of cruise missiles, the Soviets walked out of the Geneva talks. It was only when the President insisted on going through with SDI, and was not diverted from its purpose, that was it clear to them that they had better come back and talk.

I wholly applaud the clear exposition of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, who said that there were good grounds for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and her Government to support the United States Administration in the endeavour of the SDI. It is an allied endeavour. In the sphere of strategic deterrence, arms control and the balance of power it is a small world. In space terms, this planet is a very small globe. People must learn to think in different terms from those with which they were brought up.

In last year's debate on the Royal Air Force I urged it to place much greater emphasis on a space-based defence systems than it does at present. The United States Air Force has a space command. We must move in that direction, not to increase the arms race, but to increase our joint defence potential.

I whole-heartedly support my right hon. Friends' reasoned amendment.

6.34 pm
Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

It is important that we understand what has moved the United States to undertake a close examination of the possibilities of strategic defence. We should examine them critically and decide whether we support tonight's motion which challenges them.

President Reagan's decision seems to have arisen from several factors. The first was the deterioration of the strategic balance that has occurred since the signing of SALT I in 1972. It was then our hope and assumption that, with the stringent limits on defence against ballistic missiles embodied in the treaty, the negotiation of significant reductions in strategic offensive nuclear arms would be possible. That has not proved to be the case.

The number of warheads on Soviet strategic ballistic missiles today is four times greater than when SALT I was concluded. Furthermore, the Soviet capability to destroy hard targets quickly has increased by a factor of 10. That growth in offensive capabilities is contrary to what the House of Commons expected in 1972.

At the same time, the Soviets have been pursuing major efforts on the defensive side. Over the past 20 years, they have spent about as much on strategic defence as they have on their massive offensive nuclear build-up. They have deployed extensive air defences and the world's only operational ABM and anti-satellite systems.

Moreover, the Soviets have for many years devoted extensive resources to investigating many of the same technologies that are now being brought together in the SDI research programme but without the public debate that we are having today.

The aggregate of Soviet offensive and defensive activities since 1972, some of which are in violation of, or raise troubling questions about, compliance with existing arms control agreements, is persuasive evidence that they did not accept the concept of stable mutual deterrence on which the House believed the ABM treaty to be premised.

A second factor leading to the SDI was the technological advances which have taken place since 1972. Great strides have been made in effectiveness and cost reductions in many areas relevant to ballistic missile defence, such as microelectronics, data processing and sensors. They may now make possible defensive systems that were beyond the reach of the technology of 15 years ago. Technology is thus opening new possibilities for strategic defence and may offer survivable and cost-effective defensive systems.

The third factor behind the SDI is the current requirement by the West to undertake a profound reevaluation of the basis of its defence thinking in the nuclear age. Soviet force levels are now superior to those of NATO in each component of the triad on which Western defence policy is based—conventional arms, INF and strategic nuclear arms. The maintenance of stability through arms control and agreement in Geneva has been rendered even more difficult given the assymetries of force structures and levels on both sides.

When new technologies offer the West a way out from under the shadow of that new threat —one in which deterrence would be based more on the ability to defend rather than to retaliate with predictably tragic devastation —and when it might be possible to offer a better and brighter vision for the future, we have an obligation to search for it. But what if the SDI continues to get in the way of East-West agreement? What if it proves to be destabilising, given the vital importance of strategic balance in maintaining deterrence?

What if the SDI leaves western Europe much more exposed militarily, and thus leads to decoupling? What if the SDI becomes politically devisive as the Soviet Union seeks to exploit unease within the Alliance, as she did over the deployment of cruise missiles? What if the SDI induces a Maginot line mentality in space, as the Foreign Secretary has apprehended? What if the SDI gives added impetus to the French Eureka programme? What if the convenient arrival of certain technologies and the prospect of billions of dollars sloshing around in defence procurement have gravely affected our thinking and judgment? Would it not then become a classic case of technology driving policy rather than the other way around?

That is borne out by the widespread fear that high spending on strategic defence may result in less money being available for conventional forces. Paul Nitze has argued on behalf of the United States that a shift of only 1 per cent. in resources is involved. Does that not give a misleading impression, because the gap between resource allocation and force planning remains ominously wide?

Only 70 per cent. of NATO force goals are realised in national programmes, yet across the Alliance there are budgetary constraints ahead. The most serious deficiency at present is in sustainability, as the Supreme Allied Commander, General Rogers, has frequently given public utterance to. It is in ordinary bread and butter items, such as ammunition stocks, hardened aircraft shelters, improved reception facilities for reinforcements and so on. Therefore, it is not only the impact of a vast lavishly financed space-based programme on conventional arms programmes that is of concern, but the shift of priority that it may indicate.

Conventional insufficiency has the most serious implications for the nuclear threshold, as every hon. Member 'knows. Might not the enormous sums that are being allocated to the SDI be better employed to enhance deterrence than to risk undermining it?

Stripped of technical jargon and sophisticated language, the appeal of the SDI for the layman lies in the possibility that it might at long last enable us to bottle the nuclear genie. To shift from mutually assured destruction to mutually assured security has an irresistable appeal for us all. To achieve even the transitional stage of a mix of offensive and defensive systems with a diminishing nuclear content is an alluring thought. However, doubts and worries are widespread, not only in Europe, but in the United States. Some of the questions raised during the debate may defy answers at present, but they are of such critical importance that they must be faced. We cannot shrug them off as the Secretary of State did today.

6.42 pm
Mrs. Anna McCurley (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Last autumn I spent some time in the United State and met some scientists, including Dr. Richard Gavin and Dr. Sydney Drell. who were sceptical about the SDI. It was more the technical than the strategic problems which held the attention of the majority.

We do not know yet whether the SDI will work and whether 15 systems can combine in perfect harmony. The point of the research programme is to find a way in which it can work. It is said that physics may not be without limits, but the ability of human genius to overcome obstacles is so far unlimited, and the will to do something is always important in finding solutions. This massive and imaginative programme needs political will, not carping discouragement or hard judgments based only on speculation.

The SDI is the challenge of all time. It is an exciting new challenge to render nuclear weapons obsolete, to have defensive defence which kills other weapons but does not destroy civilians and industrial targets as offensive nuclear weapons can, and which poses a probability problem for a hostile power, which could never claim to know that it could achieve its military objectives.

The SDI is sometimes known as the great experiment. The question whether it will work on a systems level and whether it can work as a strategy is important. Every strategy depends on treaties and co-operation for control, and no system can be 100 per cent. effective. Everything that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said could happen, might happen, but at present, if deterrence fails, there is nothing to stop USSR missiles from reaching their targets.

Mutually assured destruction is a precarious balance for the world to operate on, and the number of nuclear weapons has mushroomed dangerously since the war. We must call a halt to that increase and to the intellectual impasse which has been created in its wake. General Abrahamson has said that if only a few nuclear missiles land it is very different from 8,000 landing, and that a defensive deterrent is fail safe, whereas an offensive deterrent is fail deadly. That is the profound difference in concept.

One of the major objections to the 15 major experiments that are planned is that the programme may violate the ABM treaty signed by the super-powers in 1972. The treaty was an acknowledgement by both sides of the futility of building terminal stage intercept systems to guard against warheads delivered by ballistic missiles. At the time it seemed to be a major step towards stopping the arms race, since the offence would no longer be required to saturate the defence.

The treaty permitted each side to build defences on a single site. The USSR chose defence around Moscow, and the United States chose defences in North Dakota, which I visited while in the United States. The treaty allows for research into ABM systems, but prohibits the building of new components. Amendments and reviews are permitted under the treaty and the strategic defence initiative. In its present form the SDI is technically compliant. A decision on development will be made by the United States within the confines of the ABM treaty. The Soviets, who have been in this area for many years, seem to be in danger of flouting the treaty, but the United States has offered to share the new technology and monitoring with the Soviets. I believe that the SDI programme has helped to achieve that, and that the peace initiative was prompted by the SDI.

Finally, the major criticism is: why should Britain wish to protect the United States alone? My hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall) gave sound reasons for our participation in the programme, and already the initiative for the defence of European aerospace has been mooted for approval in Europe. It is a valuable consequence of the SDI, and it could also help to overcome the limitations which we might face on the transfer of technology through export controls, despite the memorandum of understanding with the United States. We have been promised a share in the $26 billion, and we should ignore that at our peril as it is a great challenge and stimulus to British technology. If firms can compete and win, it is to our benefit.

We must go ahead to see whether the system will work. In the fulness of time scientists will make the technology work, but politicians must make the strategy work. It is our only hope of releasing ourselves from the present capricious game of nuclear stockpiling. Britain's involvement is a must, both in the United States system and in a programme for Europe, which would enhance our security in western Europe.

6.48 pm
Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

When President Reagan made his televised address on 23 March 1983 it had an enormous impact on the American electorate. It was designed to do so because at that time Americans were becoming increasingly worried about the effect of nuclear war, and increasingly appreciating that the survivors would envy the dead, and that the idea of fighting a nuclear war was unthinkable. Increasing numbers of Americans were supporting the freeze movement. In essence, that address was an excellent piece of political propaganda. It influenced the American electorate to advance the idea that the American Government could develop a system that rendered nuclear weapons obsolete and meant that in future Americans would no longer have to fear the effect of a nuclear attack. The first question that must be asked is whether there is any realistic prospect of achieving a so-called shield that would render the United States invulnerable to nuclear attack. The answer is no.

A measure of how skilful the propaganda has been is the tendency that exists to forget that we are talking only of long-range ballistic missiles. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said in his opening remarks, that technology has no relevance to cruise missiles. Even if the system were effective in providing the protection that its advocates suggest, would it render long-range ballistic missiles impotent and obsolete? Again, the answer is a categorical no. I do not speak out of arrogance, because of my knowledge on those matters, but on the basis of statements by leading scientists in Britain, Europe and the United States. Those leading scientists are agreed. Professor Jack Ruina, professor of electronic engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who previously worked for the American Defence Department, stated clearly that the whole idea was absurd. The system cannot achieve the objective laid down by President Reagan.

Throughout Europe and the United States there is much interest in the money that will be invested in the huge programme. British scientists are interested in the money. I pay tribute to those British scientists who have taken a principled stand and who are not prepared to accept the money or to continue with the research, because they would be a part of the SDI programme. However, many scientists take a different view and would accept the money.

I am worried about the enormous impact of American defence money on Britain's research and technology base. One reason for Britain's relative industrial decline has been the fact that far too high a proportion— 53 per cent. and rising—of Government-funded research and development is in the military sphere. It is a mistake to increase that percentage even further. I fear the consequences of greater American funding, influence and control over Britain's basic scientific research and development. I cannot believe that that would be in Britain's interest.

There is much concern about the secrecy aspect and the fact that Americans will impose conditions on the results of the research, thus making it less available to benefit British industry.

Obviously, results will be achieved from all that money and tremendous advances will be made in scientific and technological work that has been funded by the programme, but will that make nuclear war more or less likely? All the evidence shows that nuclear war would be more likely. Time does not allow me to develop all the arguments to substantiate that statement. However, I have often argued that the whole philosophy of mutually assured destruction is being undermined by the development of new accurate weapons, which are designed to destroy not populations but military installations and command centres. The development of partial protection for missile sites will enhance instability.

We must recognise the likely Soviet response. If necessary, the Soviets will deploy more offensive weapons and they will develop less vulnerable ballistic missiles by such developments as shortening the boost phase and incorporating more decoys. The Soviet Union and the United States will soon have the capability to destroy satellites and thus attack a defensive system. SDI is a destabilising development.

I wish to discuss the impact on arms control. I respect the statement of the Secretary of State for Defence. I am sure that he is committed to the 1972 ABM treaty. However, the SDI is not a continuation of research in the United States and the Soviet Union. The SDI is a massive programme with a special goal. It is hard to believe that it will be stopped in the 1990s. There will be too much pressure to go forward. It has already been said that the United States will not give the Soviet Union a veto. Having done all the research and having acquired some capability to provide some protection, there will be enormous pressure to go further and begin deployment.

Instead of the Government being in the lead in Europe in relation to the SDI, they should be in the lead in getting a positive response from the United States to Mr. Gorbachev's latest proposals, which came out of discussions between the United States Government and the Soviet Government. Those proposals are enormously important. It is sad that notice has not been taken of the significant concessions that Mr. Gorbachev has built into those proposals, which are tailored to objections put forward in the past by the United States and Britain.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East referred to zero option, which is the removal of intermediate range weapons and not only moving SS20s into the Asian sector but destroying them. The Soviet Union accepts that if Britain and France do not modernise, they can keep their nuclear weapons without them being counted in. The extension of the nuclear unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests, the commitment to new verification procedures and the suggestion, I think, that research on SDI will be allowed to go ahead provided that it is no more than that, are important concessions.

If we are serious about making progress and reducing the threat of nuclear war, instead of going down the road of the SDI we should make the maximum effort to bring maximum pressure to bear on the Soviet and American Governments to negotiate on the basis of the latest proposals, so that we can achieve real reductions in their nuclear arsenals.

6.56 pm
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)

I support the view of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I congratulate him on making such a fine presentation of the Government's case. I am delighted that a Foreign Office Minister is to sum up, because some of my comments are addressed more to the Foreign Office than to the Ministry of Defence.

I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends agree that our support for the Government's position should not stop us expressing concern about the implications of SDI and the need to face the problems arising from those implications. Anxiety has been expressed today and by members of the North Atlantic Assembly whom I met in Brussels during the weekend about whether there will be a genuine two-way transfer of technology, less money for conventional defence, the effects of strategic stability and for Britain, the impact of the extension of strategic defences on the effectiveness of the French and British nuclear deterrent and the defence of western Europe.

Reports from Geneva suggest that, as a part of the package of disarmement proposals, the United States would agree to remove all its medium-range nuclear weapon systems from Europe and that the Russians would withdraw their SS20s behind the Urals and would not in the initial stages insist on immediate reductions leading to the dismantling of the French and British nuclear forces. However, the understanding is that there would not be any steps taken by the British and the French to modernise their nuclear deterrent forces. For Britain, that means goodbye to the Trident programme, on which work has already begun.

I recognise that the United States' prime objective in the negotiations is to seek immediate cuts in offensive strategic forces with no restrictions on defensive research. I hope that the British Government will make it clear to our American allies that there can be no question of our deterrent being used as a bargaining chip least of all in the early stages of disarmement negotiations. We shall wish to see firm and verifiable evidence of the Soviet build-down before our nuclear forces can be the subject of negotiation.

The mind boggles to contemplate the withdrawal of intermediate nuclear forces from Europe after all the fuss of installing cruise and Pershing in western Europe. The Duke of York's experience was nothing on this. The withdrawal of medium-range SS20s behind the Urals does not preclude their redeployment west of the Urals directed at western Europe. Nor should we forget that such an arrangement would leave intact the SS21 missile and the SS23 missile, which has a range of up to 500 km.

That highlights an anxiety in western Europe, which has been expressed especially in West Germany. It is well known that our conventional forces are insufficiently strong to resist a Soviet conventional attack. At best, they could not prevent conventional Soviet forces from overrunning all of West Germany and extending into the Netherlands. At worst, we would lose such a war, which is one reason why Conservative Members and a few Opposition Members recognise the need for nuclear weapons which, by their presence, would deter an attack. The use of tactical nuclear weapons would stop a conventional attack in its tracks.

I hope that the Government will continue to make it clear to the United States that, in its desire to achieve a build-down in nuclear strategic weapons on the way to a better balance of offensive and defensive systems, which is what SDI is about, it should be careful not to weaken prematurely the present delicate balance of military power, with its mix of nuclear and conventional forces, which has been the cornerstone of nuclear strategy for the past 30 years. Nor in the negotiations should the United States forget that a nuclear-free Europe would not be a chemical-free Europe. We in Europe have no chemical capability; the Russians have.

Although I understand why research into SDI must and will continue—there is no way of stopping it and I would not wish to stop it—on our way to a nuclear-free world, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will do all that he can to minimise the destabilising effects that SDI may have on the defence of western Europe, not least in the context of the Geneva negotiations.

7.1 pm

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

In view of the limitation on time, right hon. and hon. Members will forgive me if I do not deal with all of the points that have been raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House in this short debate.

The short history of the Government's endorsement of SDI and their over-hasty involvement in its commercial and industrial implementation is shameful and humiliating. Once again, the Government have demonstrated their subservience to American defence and foreign policies and to American commercial and industrial interests. They have acted in a manner that far transcends Britain's proper duties and obligations to a major NATO ally.

The sorry tale started on 21 December 1984 when the Prime Minister, at Camp David, hitched Britain's tottering and tattered wagon to star wars. As always on such occasions, there were fine words to mask exactly what was being done. The agreement was ridiculously and pompously described as the Camp David accord. Many nice phrases and words such as "research" and "enhanced and extended deterrence" were used—phrases that had hardly been heard before and some of which had not been dreamt of before. But that is the history of the nuclear arms race. The words, phraseology and philosophy—if it can be called that—follow the technological decisions.

The Secretary of State for Defence talked about the flexible response debates in the 1950s and 1960s. I remind him that there has been no consultation on SDI. No other NATO country was consulted before President Reagan announced the initiative. Indeed, it had not even been thought of in those other countries. To equate the present position, where decisions were taken unilaterally, with what happened in the past is a travesty of the history of that period.

After the Camp David accord, the message in Washington was clear: Maggie had been squared and the poor old Brits were in. In the New York Times on 16 March 1984, about a speech by the Prime Minister to Congress in February—the House will remember that she told the President that we in Britain thought he was wonderful—a reporter said: Mrs. Thatcher's speech was widely interpreted as offering almost unqualified backing to SDI. From then on, with the honourable exception of one speech by the Foreign Secretary—the speech, and the Foreign Secretary, were promptly squashed—no attempt has been made to analyse, debate or confront the enormous military and strategic implications of SDI. All the talk now is about money, contracts and dollars.

In fairness to him, I should say that the Foreign Secretary tried. On 15 March last year, he produced a courteous but devastating criticism of the strategic defence initiative. He said that research could acquire an unstoppable momentum; it has done so repeatedly throughout the nuclear arms race. He said that political decisions could be pre-empted by technology; they always are. The technology comes first and we sit here and try to rationalise and fit the technology into a political or military strategy. He said that offensive weapons might increase to overwhelm defences; that will certainly happen unless people sit down soon and negotiate a treaty to prevent it. He said that SDI could cause strains within the NATO Alliance.

However, well before the ink was dry on that speech, a ton of bricks fell on the poor Foreign Secretary's head. It started with The Times on 18 March, which called the speech muddled, mealy-mouthed, luddite and ill-informed. It pompously told us of the anger of the inner circle of the American Administration. The Times clearly has a hot line to the White House and the Pentagon. But worse was to follow. The American ambassador called at Carlton gardens and, a few days later, at a conference in London of the loony Right—a conference that was welcomed by the Prime Minister and President Reagan—Mr. Richard Perle, who is I believe a Pentagon apparatchik, made an astonishing attack on the Foreign Secretary of a major NATO ally. He arrogantly said of the speech: Length is no substitute for depth. That was that. No member of the Government defended the Foreign Secretary, as far as I am aware. There was no statement from the Prime Minister defending her Foreign Secretary—

Mr. Healey

She apologised.

Mr. Davies

She apologised, as my right hon. Friend has said. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary did not defend himself, and has said little, if anything, about SDI ever since. At that point, the humiliation and the capitulation were complete.

The drama moves to 23 June last year, when the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) went to the Pentagon. I remind the House that the former Secretary of State for Defence was, at that time, homo Americanus. He had not yet evolved into his new phase of European man. Perhaps there were stirrings deep in the forest. He went to get some contracts from his friend Caspar. His intention was to get £1.5 billion-worth of contracts, but, as we all know, he came back completely empty-handed. No matter. There was no pride left by then and in December the Government rushed to sign with Mr. Weinberger what has been called a memorandum of understanding.

Mr. Weinberger got almost everything he wanted from that agreement. He got access to British research and technology which, we understand, will probably be classified by the Pentagon and, if it is useful and valuable, it will disappear for ever behind the wall of the star wars programme. In the Pentagon there is a gentleman called Hoppler and he has a list, not a little list, called the military critical technologies list. He classifies whatever he wants to classify and he will classify any research and technology that he needs for star wars.

Why cannot the memorandum by published? Why can it not be placed in the Library so that we can decide for ourselves whether there is any protection for British intellectual property rights and other rights? Quite apart from classification and far more important, Mr. Weinberger got Britain to become the first country to sign on the dotted line of the star wars programme. No other country has followed Britain's lead, although I understand that the Federal Republic of Germany may sign fairly soon.

In this debate much has been said about research. It has been said that star wars is all right and is all about research, that in 10 years there may be a problem but everything is all right now and everybody is in favour of research. "Research", as Dylan Thomas might have said, is a comfortable and cosy word. It conjures up nice warm images of slightly dotty chemical teachers and pipettes and bunsen burners and litmus papers being dipped into beakers. I am told that there is no litmus paper at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California. I have checked and found that the laboratory carries out laser lethality tests. The researchers fire particle beams which destroy matter itself and they or their cohorts detonate hydrogen bombs or certainly nuclear weapons—six have been detonated already—to experiment with one of the star wars systems. The researchers or their cohorts fire rockets to destroy rockets.

I accept that it may not be possible to draft a treaty to control fundamental scientific research in this field. I am the first to concede that no treaty could stop the manic outpourings from the mind of Dr. Edward Teller. I wish that that were possible, but it is not. Equations are of no use without technology, and technology is of no use unless it is tested and developed to find out whether it works. Instead of rushing into an endorsement of star wars, the Government and our European allies should have brought pressure upon the Americans to sit down with the Russians to negotiate a treaty to stop the tests, demonstrations and developments. As the Foreign Secretary said, they should be stopped before they gather an unstoppable momentum. With good will and application, it is possible to create by negotiation that kind of treaty, and a start could be made by agreeing to a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. That would not stop the star wars programme, but at least it would deal it a heavy blow. The Government do not even want a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

President Reagan has spoken of the immorality of nuclear weapons, and in that famous speech he said they should be made impotent and obsolete. That was the dream, but it rapidly became a nightmare. SDI has become star wars. To what are the Government committed? Are they committed to the dream? Do they believe that nuclear weapons are immoral? Do the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister believe that nuclear weapons should be made obsolete and impotent, or are the Government merely going along with the nightmare in order to make a few dollars and a few pounds?

We have heard little over the past months about the dream or the morality or the necessity to make nuclear weapons obsolete, but we have heard much about contracts and money and dollars. Unless a treaty is negotiated, soon there will be a development on both sides of offensive and defensive systems. The Americans will build their imperfect defence and no doubt the Russians, in their own way, will follow. The Americans will build offensive systems to get around the imperfect. Russian defence and no doubt the Russians will build offensive systems to get around the imperfect American defence. President Reagan's nightmare will become a reality.

The Government stand condemned because they have abandoned the high road—if they were ever on it—and have taken the low road. They stand condemned because they meekly acquiesced in agreeing to a system and a strategy about which they had no prior notice and no consultation within NATO and with our allies. The Government stand condemned because all they can do now is grub around on their hands and knees on the sidewalk scratching about for a few soiled and tainted greenbacks.

7.16 pm
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tim Renton)

In the midst of what is agreed to be an important and serious debate, I was astonished to hear the overblown language of the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies). It is clear that on the Opposition Front Bench we have not one, but two Welsh windbags.

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) asked about the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I know that he would have liked to take part in this important debate, but he is accompanying Her Majesty the Queen on her state visit to Nepal, and that date was in his diary long before the Labour party decided to have this SDI debate.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) implied that three of the four Camp David points agreed in December 1984 between President Reagan and the Prime Minister, which remain the basis of the Government's policy and which have recently been reaffirmed by the State Department, have already been broken. That is not so. The United States research programme and our participation in it is at the heart of the debate. The first Camp David point, which the State Department subsequently reaffirmed, is that the United States and Western aim is not to achieve superiority, but to maintain the balance, taking account of Soviet developments. It underlines the need to continue the research effort in the West in order to match and to hedge against the well-established Soviet programme.

The Soviet programme is long-standing and extensive. There has been research by the United States over the same period, but it is a simple fact, which the House will recognise, that scientists will continue to investigate new technologies. The human mind cannot be prevented from thinking, inventing, exploring and expanding the potential of the future. Perhaps this potential will never be realised, or perhaps it will be fully implemented to the greater good of the international community, but in any case the process will continue. Surely, in a democratic system like ours, our people and our researchers and scientists cannot be prevented from being involved.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Renton

No. Another debate is about to begin. It would be the wish of hon. Members on both sides that I should not give way. The only reason why I do not give way is that a Labour-inspired debate is about to begin.

The technology that we are debating is at the forefront of knowledge. My hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Sir P. Wall), in his powerful speech, said that the United Kingdom must be involved in this type of technology if it is to remain an advanced industrial nation. We certainly should not underestimate the benefits of such research for contracts and jobs for this country. Two SDI contracts have already been concluded following signature of the memorandum of understanding, and others are nearing signature. I have to tell the right hon. Member for Llanelli that, for reasons of confidentiality, the House will understand why I cannot go into further detail.

The contract signed by Ferranti, Heriot Watt university and other organisations in the future will undoubtedly foster the prospects of additional jobs in high technology industries. I was surprised and pleased to hear the right hon. Member for Leeds, East say during a television broadcast at the weekend that he would not object to British researchers becoming involved in the US programme. Precisely a year ago my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister expressed the same sentiment, although perhaps more enthusiastically, to the United States Congress. Why, then, does the right hon. Gentleman cavil today at the Government's approach? I realise that a great soul like him—Emerson's words—has simply nothing to do with consistency.

Mr. Healey

We cannot and should not try to prevent companies or individuals from working in the American programme if they wish to do so. However, I object to the Government encouraging British scientists to leave programmes, such as the Alvey programme, which are vital to our future, to work in American defence industries, where the results of their researches may not be available for commercial use.

Mr. Renton

That is an area in which the right hon. Gentleman's little knowledge is very dangerous. We are at the beginning of an interesting phase in which involvement in the development of this technology—whether or not it comes to anything beyond the research stage—is important for key British companies. I am grateful for the support of the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert), who is an ex-junior Defence Minister. I wish that he could persuade the ex-Secretary of State to his view.

The Government's approach is favoured by our allies. I must tell the right hon. Member for Leeds, East and the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) that the Germans and the Italians are already well advanced in considering participation. A German team, led by the Economics Minister, was recently in Washington, and they are moving towards a decision. Equally, the French have made it clear that while they do not wish to participate as a Government, private companies are free to do so.

The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) asked about technology sharing with the Soviet Union. The Americans have spoken of such collaboration, and President Reagan has envisaged technology being shared at an appropriate stage as offensive forces are reduced. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East dismisses that idea as impracticable. He is entitled to his opinion. The President has been steadfast in his view, and, given the choice between the right hon. Gentleman's judgment and belief in the President's sincerity, I know which I would choose. Of course, that stage has not yet arrived, and may not be reached for many years. However, to dismiss it as impracticable is a sad reflection of the traditional ostritch-like tactics of the Opposition.

The Americans have made an equally far-sighted offer that the two sides join in an open laboratory arrangement and provide information on their research programmes and facilities for mutual benefit. The Russians have not yet responded, but we hope that they will. As many who have spoken in the debate have said, the time is ripe for new initiatives. That approach could lead to a breakthrough on verification—one of the core elements in any successful arms control agreement.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said that the SDI could be the rock on which the disarmament talks founder. That is clearly the Soviet position. The USSR says that if the United States does not abandon its research programme it may not agree to cut its nuclear forces. Is that acceptable, or even logical? I believe that it is neither. For years, while research into ballistic missile defence-related technology has been taking place in both countries, neither side has postulated that force reductions were dependent upon stopping such research. The Russians signed and ratified SALT I and the ABM treaties in 1972. In 1979 they welcomed and signed the SALT II agreement. They re-entered negotiations — albeit belatedly—on nuclear forces in the 1980s. Yet during all that time, research continued. Did they, on those grounds, refuse to participate? They did not.

There can be no reason in principle why the work by both sides, which has been in progress for some time, should suddenly, at the Soviet whim, become a stumbling block to arms control agreements. For its part, the US has made it clear that the SDI research programme will be conducted in full conformity with the provisions of the ABM treaty and other legal obligations.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr. Lloyd) both for his important speech and for his statement —with which I agree—that there is no conflict between the SDI and the ABM treaty, at least for the next few years and while research continues. If the SDI yields positive results, the United States will, after consulting its allies, consult and negotiate with the Soviet Union. Its aim in those exchanges would be to establish how deterrence could be enhanced through a greater reliance by both sides on defensive systems.

If we are to move towards a mix of offensive and defensive systems, the Americans want any transition to be a co-operative process with the Russians—hence the importance of negotiating about deployments. However, the results of research, and therefore of any such negotiations, may well be many years away. At Geneva, in the meantime, the Americans have already called for bilateral dialogue about the way in which offensive and defensive forces relate. The Russians appear reluctant to take up that offer, but if they seek more clarity about the strategic future that dialogue could help them.

I stress that the purpose of the Western alliance remains wholly defensive. We have pledged ourselves never to use any weapons other than in response to an attack. Those weapons exist to deter the potential aggressor. Given our overall defensive purpose, the attractions of a world in which defences may come to play a greater part in maintaining deterrence are understandable. That point was well and clearly made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson). The results of US and Soviet research will not be known for many years. The debate on stategic stability and defence will, meanwhile, continue. We accept and welcome that. There are questions to be asked and, at the appropriate time, to be answered.

Mr. Gorbachev's recent proposals are disappointing in some areas, because part of his position remains unchanged. However, there may prove to be new and interesting elements, and at least the Soviet leadership may now be prepared to do business at Geneva. That is where its intentions must be tested and its rhetoric converted into concrete results. I shall be going to Geneva next week to address the conference on disarmament. I expect to meet both the US negotiating team and the Soviet representatives. I shall tell them that the Government applaud their efforts and look forward to their success.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said that the Liberals would vote against the Government amendment and for the Labour motion. What will the SDP do? Its Members have been conspicuous by their absence. However, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said on 12 June: Let us have research and development by all means."—[Official Report, 12 June 1985; Vol. 80 c. 936.] It will he interesting to see whether there is a split in the alliance over its defence policy. If so, it will not be the first time, and it will not be the last.

The other thing that has distinguished the debate is the virulent anti-Americanism of the Labour party. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East implied that the SDI research was in some sense anti-British. What has come over instead has been the typical anti-Americanism of the Labour party. In a speech to the Dutch Labour party last Friday, the leader of the Labour party reaffirmed his total opposition to the deployment of cruise missiles in Holland, thus rejecting that part of the offensive nuclear shield which has been NATO policy since 1979. Today the Labour party will vote against research and defensive systems. If it were to have its way, that would indeed be the shameful and humiliating position for the United Kingdom of which the right hon. Member for Llanelli spoke. If Labour were ever to be in government again, Britain would indeed be left to go naked into the conference chamber. It is for that reason that I hope the House will vote overwhelmingly against the motion.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 272.

Division No. 79] [7.30 pm
Abse, Leo Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bermingham, Gerald
Alton, David Bidwell, Sydney
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Blair, Anthony
Ashdown, Paddy Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Boyes, Roland
Ashton, Joe Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Buchan, Norman
Barron, Kevin Caborn, Richard
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Beith A. J. Campbell, Ian
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis Leighton, Ronald
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Litherland, Robert
Cartwright, John Livsey, Richard
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Clarke, Thomas Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Clay, Robert Loyden, Edward
Clelland, David Gordon McCartney, Hugh
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) McGuire, Michael
Cohen, Harry McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Coleman, Donald McKelvey, William
Conlan, Bernard MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Maclennan, Robert
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) McNamara, Kevin
Corbett, Robin McTaggart, Robert
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) McWilliam, John
Craigen, J. M. Madden, Max
Crowther, Stan Marek, Dr John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cunningham, Dr John Martin, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Maynard, Miss Joan
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Meacher, Michael
Dixon, Donald Meadowcroft, Michael
Dobson, Frank Michie, William
Dormand, Jack Mikardo, Ian
Douglas, Dick Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dubs, Alfred Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Duffy, A. E. P. Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Nellist, David
Eadie, Alex Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Eastham, Ken O'Brien, William
Evans, John (St. Helens N) O'Neill, Martin
Ewing, Harry Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Fatchett, Derek Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Faulds, Andrew Park, George
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Parry, Robert
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Patchett, Terry
Fisher, Mark Pavitt, Laurie
Flannery, Martin Pendry, Tom
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Penhaligon, David
Forrester, John Pike, Peter
Foster, Derek Powell, Rt Hon J. E.
Foulkes, George Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Radice, Giles
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Randall, Stuart
Garrett, W. E. Redmond, Martin
George, Bruce Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Richardson, Ms Jo
Godman, Dr Norman Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Golding, John Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Gould, Bryan Robertson, George
Gourlay, Harry Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Rogers, Allan
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Rooker, J. W.
Hancock, Michael Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Hardy, Peter Rowlands, Ted
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Ryman, John
Haynes, Frank Sedgemore, Brian
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Sheerman, Barry
Heffer, Eric S. Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Hoyle, Douglas Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Snape, Peter
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Soley, Clive
Janner, Hon Greville Spearing, Nigel
John, Brynmor Steel, Rt Hon David
Johnston, Sir Russell Stewart, Rt Hon D.(W Isles)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Stott, Roger
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Strang, Gavin
Kennedy, Charles Straw, Jack
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Kirkwood, Archy Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Lambie, David Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Lamond, James Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Leadbitter, Ted Tinn, James
Torney, Tom Williams, Rt Hon A.
Wainwright, R. Wilson, Gordon
Wallace, James Winnick, David
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Woodall, Alec
Wareing, Robert Wrigglesworth, Ian
Weetch, Ken
Welsh, Michael Tellers for the Ayes
White, James Mr. Sean Hughes and
Wigley, Dafydd Mr. Ron Davies
Adley, Robert Dorrell, Stephen
Alexander, Richard Dover, Den
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dunn, Robert
Amess, David Dykes, Hugh
Ancram, Michael Emery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom Evennett, David
Ashby, David Eyre, Sir Reginald
Aspinwall, Jack Fairbairn, Nicholas
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Fallon, Michael
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Farr, Sir John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Favell, Anthony
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fletcher, Alexander
Batiste, Spencer Fookes, Miss Janet
Bendall, Vivian Forman, Nigel
Benyon, William Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Best, Keith Forth, Eric
Bevan, David Gilroy Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fox, Marcus
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Franks, Cecil
Blackburn, John Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Freeman, Roger
Body, Sir Richard Fry, Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Galley, Roy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Goodlad, Alastair
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gorst, John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gow, Ian
Bright, Graham Grant, Sir Anthony
Brinton, Tim Greenway, Harry
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gregory, Conal
Bruinvels, Peter Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bryan, Sir Paul Grist, Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Ground, Patrick
Buck, Sir Antony Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, Alistair Hampson, Dr Keith
Butcher, John Hannam, John
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Hargreaves, Kenneth
Butterfill, John Harris, David
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Harvey, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Haselhurst, Alan
Cash, William Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hawksley, Warren
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hayes, J.
Chapman, Sydney Hayward, Robert
Chope, Christopher Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Churchill, W. S. Heddle, John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Henderson, Barry
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hickmet, Richard
Cockeram, Eric Hicks, Robert
Colvin, Michael Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Conway, Derek Hind, Kenneth
Coombs, Simon Hirst, Michael
Cope, John Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cormack, Patrick Holt, Richard
Corrie, John Howard, Michael
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Critchley, Julian Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Crouch, David Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Dickens, Geoffrey Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Dicks, Terry Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Hunter, Andrew Norris, Steven
Irving, Charles Ottaway, Richard
Jackson, Robert Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Jessel, Toby Parris, Matthew
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Pawsey, James
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Pollock, Alexander
Key, Robert Porter, Barry
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Powell, William (Corby)
King, Rt Hon Tom Powley, John
Knowles, Michael Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Knox, David Price, Sir David
Lamont, Norman Proctor, K. Harvey
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
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lester, Jim Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lightbown, David Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lilley, Peter Roe, Mrs Marion
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Ryder, Richard
Lord, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lyell, Nicholas St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Macfarlane, Neil Shersby, Michael
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Sims, Roger
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Maclean, David John Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Soames, Hon Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Spence, John
McQuarrie, Albert Spencer, Derek
Madel, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Major, John Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Malone, Gerald Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maples, John Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Marland, Paul Taylor, John (Solihull)
Marlow, Antony Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mates, Michael Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Mather, Carol Thurnham, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Mellor, David Trippier, David
Merchant, Piers Twinn, Dr Ian
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Viggers, Peter
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Waddington, David
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Moate, Roger Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Monro, Sir Hector Wall, Sir Patrick
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Waller, Gary
Moore, Rt Hon John Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Wheeler, John
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Wiggin, Jerry
Moynihan, Hon C. Wilkinson, John
Mudd, David Wood, Timothy
Neale, Gerrard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Needham, Richard Younger, Rt Hon George
Nelson, Anthony
Neubert, Michael Tellers for the Noes:
Newton, Tony Mr. Archie Hamilton and
Nicholls, Patrick Mr. Tony Durant.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House takes note of the extensive Soviet research effort in ballistic missle defence; agrees that the Strategic Defence Initiative research programme is prudent in the light of this effort; and welcomes the participation of United Kingdom industry and research institutions in that programme.