HC Deb 24 March 1987 vol 113 c157
13. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a further statement on the implications for Her Majesty's Government's defence policy of the removal from Europe of intermediate nuclear forces.

Mr. Stanley

We are confident that we shall be able to maintain effective deterrence in the event of an INF agreement on the basis outlined by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the House on 12 March.

Mr. Douglas

Is the Minister of State ready to reconsider the answers that he has given to previous questions? Will he accept that an INF agreement is indispensable for getting a scale-down of nuclear weapons in Europe? While we are all concerned about the removal of battlefield and theatre nuclear weapons, that should not be a precondition for reaching an agreement on INF.

Mr. Stanley

It is certainly the case that an INF agreement is very important, but all my answers referred to the shorter-range INF systems, as the hon. Gentleman will clearly see when he looks at the text. I do not think that we need to take any lectures from the hon. Gentleman about the importance of an INF agreement. If we had followed the Labour party's policy of not deploying ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing 2 there would be no INF negotiations today.