HC Deb 24 March 1987 vol 113 cc155-6
11. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the 1987 Defence White Paper.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

No decision has yet been taken. As in previous years, however, I hope that it will be possible to publish in the spring, in good time for an examination by the Select Committee on Defence and a full debate in the House before the summer recess.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is the Minister aware that acknowledged experts in the field fully expect the 1987 White Paper to be yet another exercise in papering over the cracks that have resulted from the salami-style process of cuts during the last seven or eight years of defence expenditure? Does he not feel that the time is right for a full-scale defence review before the election?

Mr. Hamilton

I confidently expect the Defence White Paper to spell out very clearly what are the Government's defence policies, which is more than I can say of the defence policies of the alliance.

Mr. Jessel

Is my hon. Friend able to say whether the 1987 White Paper will refer to the excellent decision of the Secretary of State to reprieve the Royal Military School of Music? Is he aware that this is a great day for Army bands, military music, Kneller Hall and Twickenham? May I thank my hon. Friend, his colleagues and the Prime Minister for their interest in this great decision, which will uphold standards for future generations?

Mr. Hamilton

I cannot comment on what will be in the Defence White Paper, but I can pay a great tribute to my hon. Friend for his powers of advocacy and persuasion in terms of reaching this decision.