HC Deb 04 November 1986 vol 103 cc789-90
5. Mr. Corbyn

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what controls Her Majesty's Government have over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bases in the United Kingdom.

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

All bases in the United Kingdom that are used by other NATO allies remain in British ownership and their use is subject to the agreement of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Corbyn

Will the Minister publish a list of designated NATO bases in this country and the rules under which they are used by other armed forces? In the event of the United States or any other NATO country wishing to use a base to bomb another country without the approval of the British Government, would the British Government be able to stop it if they wished?

Mr. Stanley

We publish in Hansard, in response to questions by hon. Members, details of bases that are occupied by the United States forces in this country. As was made quite clear, there can be no question of nuclear weapons being fired from British soil without the consent of the British Prime Minister. We have made it clear also, following the events in relation to Libya, that there are no circumstances in which American aircraft based in this country may be used without our consent in military operations planned by the United States.

Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson

Has my right hon. Friend yet received a report on the ambush of a military convoy from a British base in the early hours of this morning? Is he aware that it will cause great concern among people in this country that such an event can take place? Will my right hon. Friend assure us that he is satisfied that similar incidents can be prevented in future? Have the perpetrators been apprehended?

Mr. Stanley

I have received a report on the events to which my hon. Friend referred. I understand that some arrests were made. I think my hon. Friend will recognise that the police and service men involved showed immense patience and restraint. I assure my hon. Friend that in very different international circumstances from those today we would have to take a different attitude towards the protection of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Did the Minister's original response also relate to United Kingdom territorial waters? Have there been any accidents with United States nuclear submarines in the past 12 months?

Mr. Stanley

My previous answer also related to nuclear weapons fired from within British territorial waters.

Sir Anthony Grant

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us would like Her Majesty's Government to have more control over the security surrounding NATO bases than was shown by half-baked local authorities such as Cambridgeshire, whose failure to enforce the law against the mob of CND and other odd-balls is as infuriating to the residents as it is dangerous to the security of the nation?

Mr. Stanley

I sympathise with my hon. Friend's point. He will be aware that, thanks to his and the Government's efforts, security at Greenham Common and at Molesworth is very much better today than it was some time ago.