HC Deb 24 March 1987 vol 113 cc156-7
12. Mr. Terlezki

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received seeking the deployment of an increased number of short-range nuclear weapons; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stanley

We have no records of any such representations recently. However, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in the INF debate on 9 March, NATO has called for a ceiling in Soviet shorter-range INF missiles in the 500 to 1,000 km range, with a United States right to match them.

Mr. Terlezki

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is extremely dangerous to negotiate only about medium-range missiles and not to take into account the short-range missiles—the SS1, the SS23 and the SS12, which have a range of 1,000 km? Bearing in mind also that in conventional weapons the NATO countries are outnumbered by the Warsaw Pact by 3:1 and 2:1 on land, sea and in the air, should we not take that into account to protect our country and our freedom?

Mr. Stanley

My hon. Friend is most certainly correct. As I said previously, it is part of the NATO position that the INF agreement has to deal also with the constraints on the shorter-range systems.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Will the Minister of State clarify what he said in answer to question 10? He seemed to go further than the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence when he said that short-range missiles were an integral part—"integral" was, I think, the word that he used— of an agreement on intermediate-range missiles. Is that the Government's position? If they are an integral part of that agreement, and if no agreement is reached on short-range missiles, presumably there will be no agreement on intermediate-range missiles.

Mr. Stanley

All that I said is entirely in accordance with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and also by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I shall remind the right hon. Gentleman of exactly what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said in the House on 9 March about the INF. He said: That is why part of NATO's negotiating position since 1982 has been that any INF agreement should include constraints on SRINF missiles of the 500 km to 1,000 km range, which means the Soviet Scaleboard and SS23 missiles. The NATO proposal has remained broadly the same over those years. It calls for a ceiling in Soviet systems of this range, together with a United States right to match them. It is an essential condition for any equitable INF agreement, but the Soviet Union has yet to agree it."—[Official Report, 9 March. 1987; Vol. 112, c. 40–41.] That is the position.