HC Deb 11 March 1986 vol 93 cc796-7
9. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he next plans to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts to discuss the defence expenditure of member states.

Mr. Younger

Defence expenditure is the responsibility of national Governments. My NATO colleagues and I will discuss allied defence planning matters at the spring meeting of the Defence Planning Committee.

Mr. Atkinson

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the majority of NATO member states have failed to honour their 1978 commitments to increase defence expenditures by 3 per cent. in real terms to prevent NATO from falling further behind the Warsaw Pact? How is it planned to hold those member states to account?

Mr. Younger

My hon. Friend is correct in saying that many of our NATO colleagues have not succeeded in fulfilling their commitment to a 3 per cent. real terms increase in defence spending over the past six years. That will certainly be a topic for discussion between my colleagues and I when we next meet. I note what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Dalyell

Could we be clear? Is the Secretary of State saying that he heard nothing from the British embassy in Washington about the visit of Mr. Clarance Robinson and that Mr. Clarance Robinson never asked for security clearance?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Has this anything to do with NATO?

Mr. Younger

I can confirm that we heard nothing of the visit of that gentleman, but we have asked for a report about it.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Has my right hon. Friend given any consideration to the effects on our NATO colleagues involved with the potential manufacture of the European fighter aircraft if Spain votes to withdraw from NATO and therefore feels constrained to pull out of the European fighter aircraft project?

Mr. Younger

I share my hon. Friend's concern. It will be up to the Spanish people to make the extremely important decision whether to remain within NATO. The question whether Spain would, or would not, continue as a partner in the European fighter aircraft project would have to be addressed if the vote this week were to go the wrong way.

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