HC Deb 28 October 1987 vol 121 cc309-402

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [27 October]: That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1987 contained in Cm. 101.

Which amendment was to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: believes that the plans outlined in the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1987, Cm. 101, and in particular the Government's plans for Trident, are leading to damaging cuts in the United Kingdom's conventional defences, in our contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and in our defence industrial base; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to cancel Trident, which clearly will neither be British nor independent, thereby avoiding a run-down in our non-nuclear defences; welcomes the progress made by the governments of the United States and Soviet Union towards concluding an agreement eliminating all longer range and shorter range intermediate nuclear missiles, including Cruise missiles, from Europe; further believes that the obstacles created by the Strategic Defence Initiative can be resolved and that a further agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union for a 50 per cent. reduction in strategic ballistic missiles can be successfully pursued; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to press, within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, for the speedy commencement of further negotiations to reduce and eliminate all battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe, such negotiations to take place simultaneously with the proposed negotiations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Warsaw Pact on the reduction of conventional forces."—[Mr. Denzil Davies.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Front Bench, may I say to the House that a large number of right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to take part in the second day of this important debate. It would be helpful if contributions could be brief. I have at the moment no authority to limit speeches to 10 minutes between 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock.

3.46 pm
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Ian Stewart)

This is the first occasion on which I have taken part in a defence debate from the Dispatch Box for more than four years. During that time, much has changed. Two things in particular struck me about yesterday's debate. The first was that the unilateralists on the Labour Benches, having lost the argument, are now desperately trying to rewrite history in order to align themselves with current developments in arms control. But we all know that if their antics had succeeded there would be no prospect of a worthwhile INF agreement to-day.

The second thing that emerged so clearly yesterday was the absolutely chaotic state of defence policy on the Opposition Benches. What we might call the revisionist tendency on the Opposition Front Bench is reduced to grumbling about our conventional forces. The hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) spoiled an entertaining contribution on his first occasion at the Dispatch Box by going on to claim that our armed forces were ill-equipped and demoralised. That was certainly true eight years ago, after they had been savaged by a Labour Government, but to-day it is a travesty of the truth.

But even the hon. Gentleman's comments were put in the shade by the amazing call from the fundamentalist wing of the Labour Party for Britain to become a nonaligned power on the ground that the military threat to western Europe was a figment of imagination. I suggest that we should bring the debate back to reality.

Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave a general account of our defence policy, and later my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) commented on procurement. I do not want to go over again the ground that they have already covered, and I therefore propose to devote most of my time this afternoon to the activities of the armed forces. Much of what I have to say will be concerned with activities outside the NATO area or within the United Kingdom, but that does not mean that we should overlook the fundamental importance of our membership of NATO, even though much of our contribution to it is relatively routine.

Alone of the 16 members of the Alliance, the United Kingdom contributes forces to the whole range of deterrent capabilities, from strategic nuclear to conventional forces, and at the same time commits forces to all three of NATO's major commands, in Europe, the Channel and the Atlantic. Contrary to the gloomy predictions made yesterday by the hon. Member for Knowsley, South, we have every intention of keeping things that way. In Germany, we maintain the British Army of the Rhine and RAF Germany. In the eastern Atlantic and Channel, the Royal Navy contributes nearly 70 per cent. of NATO's available maritime forces. Finally, we provide for the air and ground defence of the United Kingdom base, which in time of war would be an essential base for operating in the rear, and for reinforcements.

I am convinced that the effectiveness of NATO depends equally on the cohesion of its European members and on the fundamental commitment of the United States to our common defence effort. The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) argued yesterday that our reason for having our own strategic deterrent was the fear that the United States might become detached from the defence of Europe. But that is not the point. Deterrence is a matter of perception, and the British strategic deterrent is an insurance policy against any aggressor making such a miscalculation. In fact, the United States has recently reaffirmed its central role in the Alliance through Exercise Reforger. During that exercise, the United States moved no fewer than 35,000 men and 4,800 vehicles across the Atlantic to participate alongside European forces in Exercise Certain Strike. There could be no clearer expression of the continuing and vital commitment of America to European defence.

When I visited allied forces taking part in Certain Strike last month I was struck by the progress being made in improving the effectiveness, the readiness and the interoperability between the services of all the nations taking part. The same was true of exercise Central Enterprise, an annual, major, live flying exercise to practice interoperability of central region air forces, to which the United Kingdom also made a substantial contribution. Since we last debated defence issues in February, the Royal Navy has been in the public eye a great deal.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

Will the Minister answer the question that I asked yesterday? On 25 May, representatives of all NATO Governments agreed to reinstate the 3 per cent. real growth in defence expenditure and commitment to NATO. Will the Minister tell us whether the Government still subscribe to that 3 per cent. real growth commitment and, if they do, where will they get the money?

Mr. Stewart

That is an aspiration which remains to be fulfilled. This Government at least fulfilled a major increase in defence expenditure during the first half of the 1980s when we increased expenditure by 3 per cent. a year. The right hon. Gentleman will have to possess his soul in patience about our figures for future defence expenditure until the proper time for their announcement.

Events in the Gulf area, which have attracted most of the attention to the Navy and on which I shall comment further in a moment, should not obscure the fact that a great deal of the Navy's activity takes place within the NATO area. This involves not only our regular commitment to the standing NATO squadrons in the channel and the eastern Atlantic, but participation in NATO exercises.

More than 20 Royal Navy ships and Royal fleet auxiliaries took part last month in the NATO exercise Ocean Safari in the north Atlantic. This is the major maritime NATO exercise of the year, involving on this occasion ships from nine nations exercising deployment, training and integrated operations under NATO command. Among many other naval activities, I should mention the surfacing with two American submarines of HMS Superb at the north pole in May as part of a course of experiments and trials in the Arctic ocean. This was the first occasion at the pole on which a British submarine has surfaced in company with others in this way.

As ever, the Royal Navy has been quick to give assistance when needed, notably in the rescue operation following the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in March. Royal Navy ships and helicopters were quickly on the scene and later, the fleet clearance diving team helped in the harrowing task of recovering bodies. The team earned praise from all sides for its professionalism, stamina and humanity, and I am sure that the House will join me in endorsing that praise. I also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Belgians for the way in which they conducted the rescue operation.

The Royal Navy's fishery protection squadron continues to patrol our fisheries limits and our offshore oil and gas fields. The value of this can be seen from the fact that in the case of fisheries, more than 1,400 hoardings were conducted in the 12 months to last March and over 100 infringements were recorded. In the same period there were 268 search and rescue sorties by Royal Navy helicopters and clearance diving teams disposed of about 200 items of unexploded ordnance.

Friendly relations with many countries have been fostered by ship visits. In particular, I welcome the contribution that the Royal Navy made to the restoration of closer relations between the United Kingdom and Malta. Last year's visit by HMS Brazen gained her the Wilkinson sword of peace, and HMS Broadsword also recently made a highly successful visit to Valetta, both visits coinciding with the anniversary of the arrival of the Santa Maria convoy and the relief of Malta on 15 August 1942. HMS Brazen visited Mauritius last month. She welcomed many islanders on board and received the Prime Minister of Mauritius and their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York.

Recently, the eyes of the world have increasingly been turned towards events in the Persian Gulf. The Armilla patrol has been operating in this area since 1980, much longer than any other European navy. During this whole time, only six British merchant vessels have been attacked, and to date none has been attacked while an Armilla ship has been in its vicinity. This is a record of which the Navy can be proud.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

Could the Minister enlighten us in respect of a report in the Sunday Times on 1 May by Mr. John Connell that Britain had pledged herself to maintain the Armilla patrol permanently in the Gulf as a condition of the Trident agreement in 1982? Can the Minister tell us whether that is true?

Mr. Stewart

The right hon. Gentleman will know that that fell before my time, but it sounds a very implausible suggestion.

The right hon. Member for Llanelli asked yesterday about its task. I can tell him that we have no plans to alter the current basis or area of operations of the Armilla patrol. I visited the ships of the patrol earlier this month and was greatly impressed by the skill and courage of our men. The possibility of attack is every present. To maintain a state of alert for extended periods, with the discomfort of wearing anti-flash gear, in the high temperatures and humidity of the Gulf, imposes a severe strain on the fittest of men. We will continue to try to find ways to reduce the discomfort of the task for those taking part, within the limits that the operation itself imposes. It was represented to me strongly by those on board HMS Abdiel that the air-conditioning systems on board were not designed for the demanding climate of the area. In response to these justified concerns, I am glad to be able to tell the House today that seven more air-conditioning units were despatched to the ship last weekend, and that 16 further units will be sent as soon as they become available.

While recognising the inevitable risk in an operation of this kind, we view the Armilla patrol as a source of reassurance and a contribution to the stability of the area. The same applies to the deployment of the four Hunt class mine counter-measures vessels, operating in support of the Armilla ships, which have successfully disposed of five mines in the waters off Fujayrah. The purpose of their presence is entirely defensive and fully in accordance with the non-provocative objectives of our mission. In protecting the right to freedom of navigation through international waters, we are operating in the interests of all seafaring nations, and in that context we welcome the decisions of the Dutch, Belgian, French and Italian Governments to deploy naval vessels to the Gulf area. We exchange information with our allies on a routine basis and, while each nation properly retains autonomy in the control of its own ships, we are developing increased cooperation with the other western navies in the area. This is the first occasion on which the navies of a number of European allies will be operating together outside the NATO area, and it offers new opportunities of coordinating our activities in the face of a common threat.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

When my hon. Friend says "co-ordinating opportunities", is he assuming that perhaps the Western European Union, which comprises all those nations, will become reactivated to the point of co-operating in some of those far-distant places outside the NATO area?

Mr. Stewart

It is important that the Western European Union has expressed support for what is now being done by the navies of member states, but I cannot see that the Western European Union is a suitable body to exercise any sort of operational control of that kind.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Has the Minister any anxieties about the use of end-user certificates and the possible way in which British arms, either through third parties or other routes, could find their way to the Gulf? In particular, does he have concerns about the reported activites of Mr. Ben Banerjee and other arms middlemen?

Mr. Stewart

The Ministry of Defence has long been concerned to ensure that the end-user certificate procedure is not abused. I remember answering similar questions four years ago when I was a procurement Minister. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Hove is fully alert to the problems in that area. We endeavour to ensure that that does not happen.

Another continuing commitment of our armed forces is that of Northern Ireland. While all three services are involved, here it is the Army, including of course the UDR and the Royal Marines, which plays the leading role in supporting the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the fight against terrorism. Currently there are about 11,500 regular service personnel and some 6,500 UDR personnel in the Province. This includes the two additional battalions provided in 1986. The need for them, and indeed the level of service support as a whole, is kept under constant review, and, of course, we retain the ability to reinforce at short notice if need be. I am glad to be able to tell the House that, since the beginning of this month, we have been able to increase the operational flexibility available to the GOC by providing additional helicopter hours.

I hope that the whole House will join me in expressing our appreciation of the courageous and skilful way in which our service men and women carry out their difficult and dangerous task in Northern Ireland. So far this year, 231 weapons and about 5,800 kg of explosive have been found. Bomb disposal teams have been called out to more than 1,100 incidents, and about 2,300 kg of explosive have been neutralised.

I should like to draw the attention of hon. Members to three incidents in the past month which illustrate the skill and bravery of our soldiers. On 28 September, the alertness of military patrols in Londonderry led to the discovery of a van bomb containing nearly 800 kg of explosive, which was close to final assembly and could have caused severe damage to the city. On 16 October, Army explosives experts defused a van bomb containing over 250 kg of explosive, which was parked outside a police station in Belfast city centre, and was clearly set to explode within minutes. On the following day, they made safe a device containing 1,500 kg of explosive, packed in a slurry tanker near Newtownsaville. This was the largest single bomb ever found in Northern Ireland, and within a built-up area it could have caused destruction up to a radius of 200 yards.

In each of these cases, bravery and speed of reaction prevented possible loss of life and destruction of property on a substantial scale. But, sadly, these many successes have been achieved at great cost. Eleven soldiers have been killed and 85 wounded or injured in attacks this year. Eight of those killed and 10 of those wounded were members of the UDR, and I cannot speak too highly of the courage of members of the regiment who continue to serve their country in the face of a relentless threat to their lives both on and off duty.

Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)

I am sure that my hon. Friend will carry the entire House with him in paying tribute to the Ulster Defence Regiment. I hope that similarly we shall pay tribute to our armed forces, who have sustained an enormous burden over so many years. They have exhibited enormous self-restraint, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree with me that probably no armed forces in the world could have sustained such a burden with the self-restraint that they have shown over such a prolonged period.

Mr. Stewart

I endorse what my hon. and learned Friend has said, and especially his final remark. This speaks well for the professionalism and dedication of our armed forces.

The recent storms in southern England have demonstrated the value of military aid to the civil community in an entirely different context. Over the weekend of 16 to 19 October, about 1,000 service men, most of them soldiers, assisted in dealing with the emergencies arising from damage caused by the high winds in the early hours of 16 October. They have undertaken a wide variety of tasks, including the clearance of fallen trees from main roads and rail links in Kent and Sussex, and from power cables in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, and assisting the electricity board to restore supply to areas cut off by damaged power lines. Generators have been provided to hospitals, nursing homes and old peoples' homes across the area, and in some cases to farms, water authorities and sewage works. Soldiers have delivered meals to people whose mobile homes were destroyed in Folkestone, and they are continuing to provide help to water and electricity boards in the task of clearing up the damage. Since the emergency began, the military have responded to over 500 requests for assistance and we have done our best to ensure that all available resources of equipment and manpower have been put at the disposal of the civil authorities when needed.

We should not forget, however, the frequent calls that we receive in connection with disaster relief operations around the world. Overseas units of the Royal Engineers were deployed from Belize to assist in El Salvador, and Queen's Gurkha engineers from Hong Kong assisted in Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands. The Royal Air Force has also received many calls for assistance. A Hercules aircraft transported clothing to Harare in March for onward transmission by Oxfam to victims of fighting and famine in Mozambique. Closer to home, RAF search and rescue helicopters ferried firemen to fight a blaze on board, when a Liberian supertanker and a Polish cargo vessel collided in the Channel in May, while a Nimrod provided on-scene command and control. Up to the end of last month, RAF search and rescue responded to more than 900 calls for assistance in the United Kingdom this year, resulting in the rescue of 675 people.

Last week, I visited Royal Air Force Germany, which provided me with an admirable opportunity to see at first hand the very high standards of operational efficiency and readiness that are maintained by the RAF.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

I join the Minister in paying tribute to the duties that are carried out by members of the armed forces. I do not wish to discuss matters that are sub judice, but is the Minister aware that there is a worry that bullying, initiation rites and the rest seem to be on the increase in the Army? Would it be possible, if it has not already been done, for a strongly worded circular to be issued to units on this issue? At the end of the day, the amount of bullying would be minor, but if it exists to anywhere near the level alleged, it is extremely disturbing and should stop immediately.

Mr. Stewart

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the adjutant-general has done exactly what he has suggested. The Army, as we do, deplores all forms of bullying. All allegations are thoroughly investigated and, if substantiated, appropriate charges are brought against culprits. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we take a serious view of bullying.

Mr. Winnick

When was the circular issued?

Mr. Stewart

I cannot remember the day on which that was done, but it was in the fairly recent past.

Mr. Winnick

Is a copy of the circular in the Library?

Mr. Stewart

I shall have to refer that question to my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman), the Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, who deals with personnel matters.

I was saying that I visited Royal Air Force Germany last week. A total of seven Tornado squadrons are now fully operational in Germany and these represent a significant enhancement of NATO's deterrent strength.

The ability of our front-line airfields in RAF Germany to continue to operate during wartime will be considerably enhanced with the redeployment from the United Kingdom of 52 Field Squadron (Construction) Royal Engineers, planned for 1989. The squadron, of about 200 men, will be tasked to carry out airfield damage repair and will be based at RAF Bruggen in West Germany. The deployment of this unit to an area where it is most required constitutes a positive and cost-effective improvement to our defence contribution to NATO. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom the first squadron of the air defence variant of Tornado, No. 29 squadron, will be declared to NATO on 1 November.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Have any altered or improved instructions been given to staunch the loss of aircraft on low-flying exercises? Since 1979, we have lost well in excess of half a billion pounds-worth of aircraft, including 11 Tornados, which, at £17 million each, seems rather excessive. Will the Government try to staunch this massive loss?

Mr. Stewart

The Government and the Royal Air Force take the greatest care to minimise accidents that are involved in low flying. This is a matter with which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces is dealing. He and I are well aware of public concern about low flying. This form of flying is carried out solely for essential training purposes and not, as some have suggested, as a form of aeronautical bravado. The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing procedures for the notification and regulation of low flying, including aspects of safety. We remain committed to keeping environmental effects to the minimum. However, the high standards of our air crew come only firm intensive training, and in today's environment that means that pilots must train frequently at low levels to enable them to escape detection by hostile radar or, if detected, to make them less vulnerable to attack.

Finally, I should say that planning is now almost complete for Exercise Purple Warrior, the major joint force exercise due to take place in south-west Scotland between 4 and 19 November. Consultation with local residents and environmental and conservation groups has been extensive, and we shall do everything possible to keep inconvenience and the risk of damage to local interests to a minimum. The exercise is designed to practise joint force operations outside the NATO area, but holding it in the United Kingdom will greatly reduce the cost of deployment and logistics. It will also make this the first exercise in the United Kingdom to fall within the terms of the agreement of the Stockholm conference on security and co-operation in Europe, and on the evening of 9 November I shall accordingly be acting as host to observers from the Warsaw pact and other member countries.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

What is the status of the observers? How many will there be? In view of the Arms Control and Disarmament (Privileges and Immunities) Bill currently before the House, what accreditation will the observers be given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with regard to diplomatic immunity?

Mr. Stewart

I will have to refer that last point to my colleagues in the Foreign Office. The arrangements will be as laid down in the Stockholm agreement and will be virtually the exact counterpart of arrangements made for our observers when attending exercises in Warsaw pact countries, and such visits were made in the summer.

Mr. Douglas

How many observers?

Mr. Stewart

I have not yet seen the exact number. The hon. Gentleman perhaps does not realise the way in which the arrangements are made. However, the number will be determined at the time and there will be no secret about that information when it is available.

I very much hope that implementation of the observer provisions of the Stockholm agreement in this way will contribute to improving confidence and understanding between East and West. Before we can achieve progress on conventional arms control, each side will need to have accurate information about the other's manpower and equipment and the means of verifying such information and keeping it up to date. Unfortunately, we are a long way from that position just now. Lack of agreement on verification has been a major factor in the stagnation over many years of the talks on mutual and balanced force reductions. We are also discussing in Vienna a mandate for new talks on conventional stability from the Atlantic to the Urals, but if such talks are to be fruitful, the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw pact will have to change their policy of secrecy about their own force levels and armaments. I do not see how serious negotiations could take place unless they do that.

Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan)

Is the Minister not being somewhat churlish? There is an opportunity in the initiative for a fresh page to be opened. Is it not unhelpful at this stage to make criticisms which I accept, in the context of the mutual and balanced force reductions, were valid, but which are unhelpful now when we are trying to enter a new era? Why must the Ministry of Defence always insist on rubbishing every opportunity before we get it started and very often leave the burden to the inadequate hands of the American President and all the difficulties that he has?

Mr. Stewart

I was not aware that I was rubbishing anything. I was only calling for more information on which we could make progress with negotiations for arms control.

The Warsaw pact also has a lot of explaining to do. It needs to explain why it has built up such a degree of superiority in the central region of Europe. No one doubts that it has an advantage of 3: 1 in artillery pieces, and of 2:1 in tanks and tactical aircraft. Not only that, but it needs to explain why its military procurement policy is designed not merely to maintain that superiority, but to enhance it. For example, in the three years from 1984 to 1986, NATO countries produced fewer than 5,000 tanks. During the same period, the Soviet Union alone produced more than 9,000. In the case of towed field artillery, the comparable figures are between 1,200 and 1,300 pieces by NATO and over 5,000 by the Soviet Union. Perhaps the peaceful intentions which the Soviets profess are genuine, but if so it is very difficult to see how such an aggressive build-up of armament can be consistent with them.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

Do the figures that the Minister has cited include figures for French armaments?

Mr. Stewart

The figures do not relate to any countries in the Warsaw pact other than the Soviet Union or to countries outside the integrated military structure in NATO.

Mr. Mullin

Do they include French armaments?

Mr. Stewart

I have explained exactly what the figures consist of. They consist of one country on the Eastern side and a large number of countries on the Western side.

One thing is for sure. If the West is to make satisfactory progress in negotiations for arms control, and reach agreements which do not undermine our security, we shall do so only if we make sure that we are not caught off our guard. The Labour party fought the last election on the unbelievable policy that we should negotiate from weakness. That is a policy that flies in the face of all the lessons of history. We must all be thankful that the British people had the good sense to elect a Conservative Government, since we are not only the one party to have a credible defence policy, but, as this debate has shown, we are the only party which can agree on its defence policy at all.

4.15 pm
Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan)

In welcoming the Minister of State for the Armed Forces back to the Ministry of Defence I am not very clear whether he is back to act as a Treasury Minister or as a defence retread. Whatever the capacity, it is encouraging to note that the MOD word processor is operating in the same way and the old lines are coming out.

In his brief resume of last night's debate, the Minister referred to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) as gloomy. That must be the last thing that we could ever accuse my hon. Friend of being, and certainly no one was gloomy as a result of his remarks last night.

Opening the second day of a two-day debate is rather like finally reaching the front of a long queue in a self-service restaurant. One knows what is on the menu as one has seen what those in front have chosen to eat. One knows what one wants, but one is not sure whether there is anything left. That went through my mind as I listened to the Minister. He did not have a great deal to say about some of the issues that concern us, and he dismissed many of the remarks made by my hon. Friends last night as grumbling about conventional procurement. I am sorry to disappoint the Minister, but we will have to grumble rather more about that this afternoon because there are many questions that we want answered.

I do not propose to touch on the Marconi raid. I was less than satisfied with the response last night of the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement. It is clear that the MOD is keeping out of the issue, but the issue will not go away, and the MOD is often accused—I believe rightly—of being excessively secretive. The Ministry will come to regret not being more clear and forthcoming in its consideration of that point as events develop.

Comments were made last night, and they have been made again this afternoon, about the amendments that have been tabled. I want to deal with the official Opposition amendment and spend some time on the implications of the Government's policy on the effectiveness of conventional defences, and particularly on the fleet and the morale of naval personnel. The amendment in the names of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) and some Labour Members is an expression of their opinions. It bears little relation to Labour party policy—certainly to the policy on which we fought the election and the policy that was endorsed almost unanimously at the recent Labour party conference.

The official Opposition amendment considers British membership of NATO as one of the cornerstones of our defence. We are linked, politically, historically and geographically, to the continent of Europe and we share many burdens and responsibilities with our near neighbours across the North sea and the Channel. We must recognise the important naval contribution that the country must make to the Alliance, and we must have regard to our relationship with the northern members of the Alliance. It is our objective to seek to reduce tension and explore possibilities offered by some of the recent statements made by Mr. Gorbachev on arms reductions in the Kola peninsula and northern Norway.

In particular, we are encouraged by the responses from the Norwegian Government, which have been particularly constructive. The fact that they are a Labour Government of the same political persuasion as ourselves does not preclude some support being given to their position by the Danes, but it is significant that the other major northern European member of NATO—the United Kingdom—has been extremely cool on that matter. Indeed, Britain's record over the past two to three years has been moving closer and closer to the bellicose maritime strategy promulgated by the United States—a strategy which we consider to be destabilising and dangerous for that part of Europe.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. George Younger)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House. He is not correct in saying that on this matter the Norwegian Government are of the same political persuasion as the Labour party. The Norwegian Government believe in and support the NATO policy of deterrence based on nuclear weapons. As I understand it, the official Opposition, as we apparently have to call them, do not believe in that now, so there is a major difference between the two.

Mr. O'Neill

Whether consciously or unconsciously, the Secretary of State is seeking to confuse two issues. I am talking about the Norwegian Government's response to the Gorbachev remarks. I freely admit that there are often cascades of initiatives and proposals from the Soviet Union, few of which eventually appear on paper, but at least on this occasion the proposal for the denuclearisation of northern Europe has struck a chord with the Norwegian Labour Government and the Conservative and Liberal—for want of a better expression—Danish Government. On that we would have to agree, but the right hon. Gentleman's other interpretation is not accurate.

Today I want to talk primarily about the continuing significance of the fleet's convoy support role and the slippage in our frigate ordering programme and its implications for the 50-warship Navy, for which there has been a consensus in the House as a desirable aspect of our defence policy.

There is probably no more sensitive area of defence procurement than that of the link between our NATO responsibilities and the sustaining of the 50-warship Navy and the employment problems that are generated by those responsibilities in warship building. In the past few months a succession of reports have made gloomy forecasts about the future of our warship building. Indeed, last month Kleinwort Grieveson said: A decade hence could see only one yard building surface ships and another building submarines. Last night the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement gave us an outline of the Government's thinking on procurement and extolled the virtues of value for money and the value of competition in areas which previously suffered from the inefficiencies that flow from negotiating with only one supplier. The problems facing the Tyne and the Clyde illustrate the consequences of the Government's ordering programme.

In every defence debate since the abandonment of the Nott review, successive Secretaries of State have promised that we would have a 50-warship Navy. To maintain that figure, three warships per year would have to be ordered. We are now told that the only thing that has altered since 1982 is the cycle. There is a new excuse now — that the cycle of ordering and refitting has altered. That is a slightly different interpretation from the one that was placed on it by the editor of Jane's Fighting Ships. He concluded: At the present rate of ordering and deletion, the fleet in 1990 will have 34 frigates and destroyers of reasonable age, plus five Leander class approaching their twentieth birthday and however many of the same class which have by then escaped the knacker's yard but will be in their third decade. Even more disturbing is the fact that the capability of our new frigates and destroyers is not what it could be. The type 22 will no longer be retrofitted with new towed array sonars and cuts have been made in the air defence systems for frigates and destroyers in much the same way as they were before the Falklands. In the week surrounding the Government's response to the Select Committee's report on the lessons of the Falklands it seems that, like the Bourbons, the Government have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

The new type 23, HMS Norfolk, which was launched on the Clyde in July, will not be able to shoot down Exocets if the Sea Wolf missile system fails. Indeed, the experience of HMS London, which was fitted with the mark 3 Sea Wolf, suggests that all is not well even with the type 9–11. Without guns as backup, the type 22 and 23 frigates are vulnerable. That has been recognised by Yarrows, the lead yard, because it is providing its export customers with type 23s fitted with Phalanx rapid-firing guns as the last line of defence. However, from what we can understand, the Navy is not prepared to pay the extra £4 million to £5 million to afford our service men the best protection available. It is all right for foreign navies, but it is too good for the British Navy.

Last night we had a linguistic debate about when a cut is not a cut. When financial constraints prevent the purchase of the best available kit for our sailors, that is serious for our defence. Whether or not it is called a cut, it is undercutting the defence of our service men and undermining the morale that is necessary in a volunteer force such as we have in Britain.

It is little wonder that the combination of a slower rate of ordering and the longer refitting of manpower-intensive craft is causing a reduction in service morale. We now have the vicious circle of more and more trained personnel leaving because of the strain of long separations from their wives and families. They know that the Navy is about 10 per cent. short of officers in all branches—in particular, pilots, observers and engineers — and that that is reaching almost critical proportions in the Fleet Air Arm.

The 1987 edition of "British Warships and Auxiliaries" said: Many sailors might just as well be serving off the Falklands or off the Gulf for all the extra time they get with their families. When ships are refitting in home ports, service men must be at least 200 miles from either their base or the fitting yard to qualify for extra travel warrants home. As a result, many cannot afford more than an occasional weekend trip home, although their ships may be refitting for six months or more. With all those problems, the Navy is becoming a less attractive career for school leavers and graduates.

So far I have spoken in the main about frigates, but the Navy requires a variety of craft, and some of my hon. Friends will want to discuss the products of the yards in their constituencies. Certainly we should be interested to discover, at some stage in the debate, what is happening about the auxiliary oiler replenishment 2 vessel and when the order will be announced, because we were led to believe that it will he some time before the end of October or early November.

It is significant that there has been some slippage in the ordering of minesweepers. If the ordering of minesweepers is not accelerated, more than 20 of the minesweepers and hunters will soon be more than 40 years old.

What will happen about the amphibious and aviation support vessels in the event of hostilities in the northern region of NATO? The Norwegians would depend on the speedy arrival of the United Kingdom and Netherlands amphibious force, consisting of 7,500 Royal Marines and nearly 3,000 Royal Netherlands marines. They will require amphibious vessels and adequate aviation support. The amphibious ships, Fearless and Intrepid, need replacement.

In February 1984 we were told that the future of an amphibious capability was being studied. In December 1986 we were told that there would be a £250,000 feasibility study. The ships are old and wasteful of manpower. The conversion of merchant ships is not acceptable. We have seen, in the Zeebrugge tragedy, the difficulties that can arise with some commercial ships if they are under particular strain. They may not be the best contenders for such work. I do not wish to appear alarmist, but an option, at which many of us have looked with some sympathy, is becoming less attractive. I imagine that that point will have to be considered in the feasibility study, although I hope that it will not be an excuse for the further extension of the feasibility study and that we shall be given a report as quickly as possible on that.

We believe that the Navy requires and deserves two purpose-built amphibious vessels capable of offloading a heavy tonnage of equipment in as short a time as possible. Those ships will have to reinforce an area of Norway some 80 miles from the Soviet bases around Murmansk, and they will be vulnerable to air attack if they take too long to get rid of their stores. We also need new aviation support ships to replace Hermes and Bulwark. As the Royal Marines director of operations said recently, those are the critical ships of the amphibious fleet.

There is a cynical view of the financial constraints under which the Ministry of Defence has to operate, described by the Secretary of State yesterday as: the normal process of taking some items out of the programme and putting in others that are considered to be a higher priority."—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 214.] We now have a rather convoluted and protracted process of ordering and re-ordering. We start with the announcement of an internal examination, followed by a feasibility study — provided that it does not cost more than about a quarter of a million pounds, and provided that it takes at least two years. Then an announcement of a change in the cycle of refits is likely. Perhaps half the original ships will not be built, or will no longer be required in the form originally considered.

There will then be another delay, followed by an invitation to tender. Once the tenders are called in, the contract will be awarded or not awarded, as the case may be. The MOD will probably recall the contract to see whether it can be revised downwards. All the time that that pantomime is going on, sailors are having to spend longer periods at sea, shipyard workers see lay-offs, redundancies and closures coming nearer and nearer, and the naval dockyards have interruptions to their refit cycles. That is the record of the Government's ordering strategy.

Many of us were pessimistic about the privatisation of the dockyards, but we had hoped that there would be a minimum of redundancies, or at least that the contractors had overestimated the likely job losses. We thought it possible that, following vesting day, the contractors would come along and say that they had overestimated the redundancies, and that it might be possible to operate with more people than they had anticipated. However, the announcement that 3,500 jobs at Devonport would go by next April is devastating news for the whole of the southwest. It can be little consolation to the workers from British Rail Engineering Ltd. who have been sacked that their work may now go to the dockyard at Devonport. As Mike Leece, the managing director of the private contractors, told the Daily Telegraph on 12 October: The history of the yard is against us. For 300 years we have put the Royal Navy first and it is an uphill struggle to persuade a customer his work will be carried out even if a warship comes in for emergency repairs. Those of us who spent some time last winter debating the Dockyards Services Bill remember addressing day after day and week after week, a completely indifferent team of Defence Ministers. They were confident that the new yards would be able to get business without any difficulty. and guaranteed that the work available would be sufficient to minimise redundancies and keep everyone happy. However, the Government are ignoring the service that has been rendered to this country by the naval dockyards and the warship building yards. Not only are the Government failing the Navy and our seamen by their inability to order and re-equip our fleet adequately; they are betraying the people who have built and maintained the ships that have protected our shores, our shipping lanes and those of our allies.

The stockbroking firms, the academics and the journalists have written off this great industry. It is often forgotten that the amount of work directly involved in the building of warships bears little relation to the number of jobs far beyond the shipbuilding yards and the contractors and subcontractors who produce the electronics and avionics for the ships. Job losses for the next 10 years are quoted at about 100,000, yet it is likely that in 10 years' time we shall have only one shipbuilding yard and only one yard for the construction of submarines.

The Government are doing nothing about the problem. They are turning their backs on our allies. Answering one of the few points on which he did not pass the buck to the Under-Secretary of State, the Minister once again donned his Treasury hat and told us that there was little possibility of a 3 per cent. increase in conventional expenditure along the lines promised in the pre-election spree commitment of 25 May.

A more worrying question, and one on which we must have an answer tonight, is what happened at the meeting of national armaments directors on 21 October. Our warship building industry has most to gain from the NFR 90 programme and the Euro-frigate going ahead. Our yards would receive orders for about 12 vessels to replace the type 24 destroyers. We should be losing a tremendous opportunity if, because of Government financial constraints — the business of taking one plan out of the budget and putting another in—we turned our backs on such an exciting project, which will guarantee employment into the first decade of the next century. But that is the kind of thing that the Government have been forced to do by their total preoccupation with the funding and construction of Trident.

If only a Defence Minister had the guts to stand up and say, "You cannot have all your defence commitments. The strain on the Navy, the Air Force and the Army is too great to bear the cost of Trident. We cannot get any more out of our defence industries." We have heard the saga of how Scott Lithgow has virtually been bled dry by being continually required by the Government to pare down its costs, to a point where it is likely to fail altogether. I hope that I am wrong, but the general feeling seems to be that the Secretary of State—who, in his days as Secretary of State for Scotland, was a strong supporter of Scott Lithgow—is now using every opportunity to trample it into the mud of the Clyde.

That is a source of regret to the Opposition, because, at the last election, most of the shipbuilding areas returned Labour Members, and it is to us that they look for support and confidence. [Interruption.] Perhaps that is not true of Barrow and Furness. However, other parts of the shipbuilding industry look to us for support, because they know that they can get nothing from the Government. It is a national disgrace that generations of skill, talent and expertise are being thrown away for the sake of the Government's nuclear fixation.

We are asking for a statement from the Under-Secretary, who seems to be doing all the sweeping up today, that the Government have decided—during the next five and a half hours—to change their priorities. I suspect that will not be forthcoming, for I do not think that this Government will change. They will sacrifice our armed forces in Europe as they are sacrificing most of the Navy, and will seek to prevent any form of effective nuclear disarmament involving Britain, because their commitment to nuclear weaponry is such that we cannot meet our conventional commitments and responsibilities.

The standard argument is that nuclear weapons are cheaper than conventional weapons. The truth is that expenditure on nuclear weapons is beggaring our armed forces. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are being denied the support that they require. Therefore, I have no doubt that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join me this evening in supporting the amendment that stands in the name of the official Opposition and in rejecting out of hand the White Paper and all that it stands for.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. A large number of right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to take part in the debate, some of whom have sat for many hours awaiting their opportunity. Brief speeches would be much appreciated.

4.40 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to speak in the debate. I intend to make a few brief and specific points on the motion to approve the statement on the Defence Estimates. Before doing so, however, I have to admit that, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), I am no clearer about the real thrust of the Opposition's defence policy than I was before. I note with interest that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is in his place. I doubt whether he is here to listen to my words. I suspect that we shall hear from him later in the debate. I look forward with fascination to the latest views that he will put forward on defence policy.

Yesterday's debate reminded me of the general election campaign. The majority of the people whom I met on the doorsteps favoured the basic concept of deterrence. They were worried about the Opposition's policy. No matter which part of the constituency I visited or to which category of people I spoke, that message came over loud and clear. The Conservative party and Government's firm stance on defence has to be compared with the total disarray of the Opposition.

Before the start of the general election campaign, many people supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In Norwich and elsewhere they flirted with CND, but during the general election campaign they looked for other policies that they could support, which helped the Conservative party during the campaign. In this debate, the CND's stance is most closely identified with the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence referred.

What worries me about the CND campaign — I say this in the presence of the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock), who no doubt will listen with, interest to what I am about to say—is not that it does not deploy a rational argument; it makes many interesting points in the serious debate about arms control, defence and international relations. My main criticism of the CND is that in pressing its case it has continually deployed emotion and fear, particularly among our young people. That was a mistake, because it has rebounded on the CND. I hope that it will take my criticism seriously. Attention ought to be drawn more often to such criticisms.

Ms. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

I think that it is perfectly rational and understandable for people who are concerned about nuclear disarmament to draw to the attention of the public the tremendous cost in death and destruction in this country if there were to be a nuclear exchange. The Government calculate that there would be tens of millions of dead and injured and that this country would be completely devastated. I believe that that is an emotional matter and that it is reasonable to say so.

Mr. Thompson

The point that I am trying to make is that it is equally valid for those on the other side of the argument to point to the even greater risk of destruction and loss of life through a nuclear holocaust that could be brought about if those policies were ever put into effect. I am not debating which side of the argument would lead to the greatest destruction. I am criticising the unscrupulous use of fear and emotion. It is fair enough to draw attention to the destruction that would be caused if there were a nuclear holocaust, but I do not accept the unscrupulous and irrational way in which that is being done.

The NATO Alliance would be destroyed if the views of the majority of Opposition Members were to be translated into action. It is worth reminding hon. Members that 160 Labour-led local authorities have declared nuclear-free zones and peace parks. The true policy of the Opposition is therefore most closely identified with the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

The hon. Gentleman castigates Labour-led local authorities for declaring nuclear-free zones. However, in the last Parliament the Chief Whip wanted his area to be declared a nuclear-free zone. He led a campaign to prevent the dumping of nuclear waste in his area. What is wrong with the Labour party and Labour local authorities wanting nuclear-free zones when the Chief Whip on the Front Bench of the Tory party also wants them, especially in his backyard?

Mr. Thompson

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there is no connection between my point and the disposal of nuclear waste. I do not intend to be drawn down that path. My first point about the White Paper will not be debated a great deal during the next few hours. The White Paper refers to service personnel leaving the Army, the Navy and the Royal Air Force because of family problems. The White Paper refers to changes in society and attitudes and to the fact that that is causing problems. I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State who is to reply to the debate to take on board the fact that I would support a close examination of this point.

The White Paper refers to the reserves. It is good news to me that we are to continue to expand the Territorial Army, the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Air Force Reserve. However, I ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and his colleagues to recognise further the value of the reserves, to provide greater resources for the reserves and to highlight the relationship between the reserves and the general public. The profile of the reserves is too low. I should like greater priority to be given to drawing the attention of the public to the excellent work that they do.

Furthermore, there should be a close link between the reserves and the concept of civil defence and planning. I am a strong supporter of civil defence. I have asked my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and his colleagues many questions on that subject. In the past there has been greater co-operation between the reserves and civil defence. There should be just as much co-operation now.

The White Paper does not refer to the excellent work of the cadet forces. They do a great deal for our young people, and their work should be given greater priority. More attention should be paid to the work of the combined cadet forces in the schools, the Army cadet force and the other cadet forces that help and do so much for young people. I simply ask for a positive response on that aspect when the Minister replies to the debate.

Finally, I return to the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He referred to the question of chemical weapons and the stockpile that is being built up by the Soviets. Of course, our unilateral gesture in the 1950s was not followed by the Soviet Union. To return to the opening theme of my speech, that gesture presents yet another lesson for CND. We made a unilateral gesture that was not followed. Now however — as was made clear in the White Paper — we are progressing towards a ban on the production, stockpiling and deployment of chemical weapons. That is good news. I support the steps towards such multilateral disarmament. We all want a reduction in those stockpiles. I wished to refer to chemical weapons because they were mentioned by my right hon. Friend yesterday and they offer a lesson for those who are somehow in favour of unilateral gestures.

It is Conservative policy to keep up the strength of our defences, to maintain the independent deterrent, to maintain the strength of our conventional forces and, as I have specifically pointed out., to maintain our reserves and cadet forces. That must be infinitely preferable to the total disarray of Opposition policies. It is therefore quite clear why there was so much support for us in the recent general election.

4.51 pm
Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

Much of the debate until now has centred on whether Trident inflicts, as we on this side of the House believe, crippling damage on the equipment and efficiency of our conventional forces. I want to consider briefly the effect of the Trident programme on our defence and foreign policy.

Most Ministers, in common with the Minister who opened the debate this afternoon, have been somewhat ambiguous and mealy-mouthed about the reasons why the Government support the Trident programme. They have sought to disguise the Prime Minister's motivation by the kinds of phrases that have been used by the Minister this afternoon. Fortunately. the right hon. Lady has been quite unequivocal about it.

I think that the clearest statement that the Prime Minister gave of her views was the one that she made on Moscow television earlier this year to the people of the Soviet Union, when she justified our acquisition of what she called an independent strategic nuclear force on the grounds that Nuclear weapons are the only means allowing a small country to stand up to a big one". There is no doubt that that is the right hon. Lady's view and, to be fair, many ordinary people in the country feel that that may well be the case. That is one reason why they support her.

Of course, if one took seriously what the Prime Minister said, the implications for nuclear proliferation and for an increase in the danger of a nuclear holocaust would be horrifying. Fortunately, hardly any other small countries—I can think of only one—have taken the route to which the Prime Minister has pointed. She has been inspired by that belief. The irony is that because of her conviction that Nuclear weapons are the only means allowing a small country to stand up to a big one the course on which she has led Britain has had bizarre and Because the Prime Minister has now made Britain totally dependent on the United States for the supply and maintenance of its strategic nuclear missiles and for the testing of its warheads, Britain is totally incapable of standing up to that great power on any major issue of defence or foreign policy. I suggest that that is something that should disturb Conservative Members as much as it disturbs us.

The long period during which this dependency on the United States will last is rarely recognised. According to the Government, the initial supply of Trident missiles will not be completed until the next century. Under the rent-a-rocket arrangement, we have to swap those Moss Bros missiles every seven or eight years for other missiles from the American stockpile. That will be so as long as the Trident force is operational, which I trust will be some 30 years from the launch of the first submarines.

At any time in the next 40 years the United States has the physical ability to cease supplying our Trident forces with missiles or to refuse to replace them. Many Members may say, "Yes, it may have the ability, but it would never refuse to supply the missiles or to replace them, because it is committed by treaty to continue to supply them." Such people have short memories. Indeed, the Minister has a shorter memory than most. He cannot even remember what happened in 1982, under his Government's Administration, when the Trident agreement was signed. I should have thought that it was his duty to inform himself on that point as soon as he took office.

The fact is that, under President Truman, the American Administration broke the wartime agreement on nuclear co-operation with Britain as soon as the war ended. In the early 1960s, the Americans broke the agreement to supply Britain with the Skybolt missile because they decided not to go ahead with the production of the Skybolt missile for themselves. I know that that was before the Minister's time, but—

Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will remember that when he was Secretary of State for Defence he relied much more heavily on American armaments for the defence of this country. Does he not remember the Polaris programme that he commissioned relied on American rockets? Does he not remember the F111s? Does he not remember the Phantom aircraft? All of them could have been withdrawn by the Americans if they so wished. What is this sudden change of heart?

Mr. Healey

What is the parliamentary word for tripe? There must be something suitable.

We did, in common with the present Government, buy a fair amount of equipment from the United States. Only the other day the present Government ditched the Nimrod project and decided instead to buy the American AWACS. Everything from the United States, including the Polaris missile, was our property from the moment the transfer took place. That is not the case with the Trident D5 missile, which must be returned to the United States and replaced every seven years. The Government finally had to admit that last night.

We have precedents for the Americans breaking nuclear agreements with Britain when it is in their interests to do so. There are many signs, of which the Government are well aware, that the present American Administration are considering policies—indeed, they are adopting policies—that would make it necessary for Americans to deny Britain the D5 missile.

At Reykjavik last year, President Reagan agreed with Mr. Gorbachev—he reported to Congress accordingly a week later—that their first objective was to eliminate all ballistic missiles from the armouries of both super-powers. That would mean that there would be no D5s to give to Britain. Secondly, in recent weeks it has become clear that President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev are hoping to reach agreement on a 50 per cent. cut in strategic nuclear missiles during the first half of next year—an agreement to be signed at the second summit in Moscow towards the middle of next year following the hoped-for Washington summit.

That agreement, if it is reached —and we would all agree it is highly desirable — will involve a very heavy reduction on both sides of submarine-launched missiles. When Mr. Shevardnadze and Mr. Shultz met last week in Moscow, the Russians offered to limit the number of submarine-launched warheads — not missiles — to 1,500 or 2,000 a side. That offer was welcomed by the Americans as a great step forward.

Do the Government really believe that, after such an agreement, the United States would provide us with missiles that are capable of carrying at least 640 warheads and, if the full complement were placed, 900 warheads? Do the Government really believe that the Americans would continue with the present agreement if they were restricting their own submarine-launched warheads to 1,500 or 2,000? Would they allow us to have 640 to 900, a third or a half of their forces — indeed, a third or a half of the Soviet forces? Does anybody think it conceivable that the Russians would agree to a 50 per cent. cut if the United States was immediately providing Britain with half as many missiles as the Russians and Americans were destroying? I suggest that it is absolutely inconceivable.

The Minister says that he is keen on glasnost. I am also keen on glasnost. Indeed, the Secretary of State came out for glasnost yesterday, but he still will not tell us the most elementary fact about the existing British nuclear force. The American and British experts on the subject think that there are now only two warheads carried in every Polaris missile, yet the Minister refuses to tell us. He keeps talking about the number of warheads carried when Polaris was introduced in 1964, which was three. The Russians claim that Polaris carries six warheads.

What about a little bit of glasnost from the Minister? This is an important fact and he is giving away nothing which the Russians do not claim to know, although what the Russians claim to know differs from what the experts in Britain and the United States claim that they know. Why does the Minister not finally come clean and tell us how many warheads he plans to put in the nose cone of the D5 missiles that he is planning to buy from the United States, because that is of major importance to the prospects for disarmament agreement in the strategic field?

From the Government's point of view, the risk of the Americans breaking their agreement to supply us with D5 missiles is a very real one. If the Minister is not aware of that, the Prime Minister certainly is. That is why, immediately after Reykjavik she scurried off to Camp David, and she went there again this year. She seems to have a season ticket to Camp David because she feels that it is her duty and in our national interest to go at least once every six months to Washington to declare what she calls "implicit confidence in the President's integrity". The last time that the right hon. Lady did that was during the first week of the Irangate disaster.

It is clear that the type of strategic force that the Government have contracted to buy from the United States makes us totally dependent on the decisions of the American Government, who may decide to interrupt the agreement. To discourage the Americans from taking such a step we are now toeing the American line on issue after issue — on disarmament, on defence and, indeed, on foreign policy. It was a Conservative Government, formed by Harold Macmillan, who started a process that was intended to lead to a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests.

The Government have now excluded the possibility of such a ban, and the Secretary of State said that the reason for that is that we cannot go ahead with our own nuclear programme unless we can test the missiles. Although the Government had intelligence information showing that the Krasnoyarsk installation was not a battle command station for a Soviet star wars system, they refused to admit that they had that information. However, since then a group of American congressmen, together with photographers and defence experts, have been to look at Krasnoyarsk on the ground and have verified the information collected by intelligence sources.

Another, and particularly disturbing, example is that only last Thursday the Foreign Secretary described the ABM treaty as an unacceptable constraint on the strategic defence initiative. That was a disturbing remark, which appeared to pass without notice at the time. The plain fact is that all that the Russians are asking for as a condition of proceeding to a 50 per cent. cut in strategic weapons is that the United States Administration should stick to the narrow interpretation of the ABM treaty, which was accepted by every American Administration — Republican and Democrat — until the Reagan Administration, and which is endorsed by every one of our European allies, but about which the British Government do not have the guts to tell the truth.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

I am grateful to my Leeds neighbour for giving way — he was a distinguished Secretary of State for Defence. Will he follow the logic of what he is saying? He has spelt out what he thinks is an unhealthy relationship with America. Years ago I heard him explain why he was concerned that American interests would be switched to the Pacific and that there would be problems in keeping them in Europe. Therefore, is there not some logic in saying that as the right hon. Gentleman, when Secretary of State for Defence, used to believe that Europe needed a fallback on some nuclear deterrent—I have not yet heard him say this—he favours this country's collaboration with France to have a proper European nuclear deterrent?

Mr. Healey

No, and I explained that during my swan song — well, not really my swan song, because I am singing again today. During my last speech from the Labour Front Bench in July, I explained why I had changed my position on this matter. The hon. Gentleman has let the Government's cat out of the bag. The case for a British independent deterrent is the belief that the American deterrent is not reliable. Obviously, the Prime Minister clearly believes that. That is why she said what she did to the viewers of Moscow television. However, the Government are going, not for an independent deterrent, but for one that is bought from the United States over a 20-year period and must be in service for 30 years, during which period the missiles must be returned to the United States once every seven years, and the warheads of which, although they are British, have to be tested on American test sites.

If we take the Prime Minister's view, there is a case for following the French—and I suspect that that is what the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), the ex-leader of the SDP, would like to do. However, that is not what the Government are doing, and it is not even what the SDP is openly proposing today—I mean the ex-SDP. Indeed, I am not aware of anyone in this country in any political area who is proposing that, with the possible exception of my noble Friend on the Front Bench—I refer to the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright), and I use the term "noble" not in the class sense but as an expression of personal esteem — who is about the only chap who will move at a rate of knots towards the Gaullist position on nuclear weapons.

As I was saying before I was so pleasantly interrupted, we have become wholly dependent on the vagaries of American policy. Of course, sometimes it has good effects. The Prime Minister was clearly deeply suspicious—indeed, hostile—to the INF agreement when it was first put forward, and she made that clear in some unguarded remarks. However, once she became aware that the American Administration were determined to pursue it, she fell into line. The Secretary of State for Defence told us in July that he thought that he would have to consider putting cruise missiles on submarines and having more B52 bombers in Britain to replace the capability given up by NATO in the INF agreement. I shall make a prediction: it is now clear that the Americans do not want to follow that route, so we will not hear a peep out of the right hon. Gentleman along those lines from now on.

However, in some ways more serious, because it is a continuing process, is the extent to which the Government's dependence on the United States for a strategic nuclear force is corrupting areas of our foreign policy to which it is not strictly relevant in any way. We were the only ally of the United States to give it facilities for the raiding of Tripoli last year. The reason, obviously, was the nuclear dependency. We have had pusillanimous pussy-footing from the British Government about Nicaragua, El Salvador and the possibility of a settlement in Latin America. Why? It is because they are frightened of offending the American President in case it backfires on his readiness to supply us with Trident.

There is also the inexplicable behaviour of the Government towards the crisis in the Gulf. A few moments ago I asked the Minister about Mr. John Connell's report in The Sunday Times on 1 May that the continuation of the Armilla patrol in the Gulf was a condition of the Trident agreement in 1982. He did not know, but perhaps when he——

Mr. Stewart


Mr. Healey

Oh, so the Minister has found out, has he?

Mr. Stewart

When the right hon. Gentleman intervened during my speech I had not seen the article. However, I thought it highly implausible. I was right—it

Mr. Healey

I am surprised to hear that, because Mr. Connell is one of the most highly regarded of all British defence correspondents. He was writing, not in the Morning Star or even Marxism Today, but in The Sunday Times—an organ—if that is the right word, and I am sure that it is—of Mr. Rupert Murdoch and which cannot be accused of truckling to the Soviet Union or even to the Labour party or the CND. There have been other reports about conditions attached to the Trident agreement; for example, those relating to Diego Garcia. I have no doubt that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will pursue these matters during Question Time, as I shall be doing, in the coming months.

Whatever the reason for our forces being in the Gulf, during Question Time last week the Foreign Secretary told us that our policy in the Gulf is fundamentally different from that of the United States. Perhaps the Minister can tell us how it is different. Indeed, he would be doing a service to the world if he could explain American policy in the Gulf, because the Americans appear to be very uncertain about it. There is common ground in the House, which emerged during Question Time last week, that the greatest danger to Britain's interests and to world peace would be for members of the Western alliance to express partiality in favour of either Iraq or Iran.

The Americans have expressed partiality, and it is a bit thick for the Minister to say again today that we have ships in the Gulf to guarantee freedom of passage through international waters, when two thirds of the attacks on foreign shipping in the Gulf have been carried out by Iraq, not Iran, and when every attack carried out by American forces has been against Iran. In one case it was because Iran had attacked a ship, not in international waters, but in Kuwaiti territorial waters, which a week earlier had been explicitly excluded from the area of American concern by no less a person than General Vernon Walters, the American ambassador to the United Nations. Every time that the Americans have taken military action against Iran they have been congratulated, usually by the Prime Minister, and sometimes by the Foreign Secretary. I have no doubt that the Secretary of State has added his ounce—or milligram—from time to time.

Most disturbing of all is the Government's reason for rejecting a United Nations force in the Gulf. The Russians have offered to contribute to such a force or to withdraw their ships in favour of such a force if the Americans will do the same. The Government say that they favour working with the Russians for a peaceful solution to the conflict and that they want to work with the Russians for an arms embargo against Iran. Why then will they not agree to the setting up of a United Nations force?

We were given the most extraordinary collection of reasons last week, the most striking being the claim that it was not possible to have an international force if the people on the different ships spoke different languages. Come off it! I do not mean you, Mr. Deputy Speakser, but the Secretary of State and the Minister. NATO has several international maritime forces. I have made a note of the languages spoken by the members of those forces. They speak English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Turkish and Greek. I dare say that none of the captains of those vessels speaks Turkish much better than the Secretary of State. Yet, as we are constantly told, that international force, speaking all those languages, has kept the peace for the past 40 years in NATO.

The United Nations had international forces in Cyprus and the Lebanon with the same mix of languages, to which Finnish was added. The Secretary of State's familiarity with that language is, of course, legend in all the bars of Helsinki. If the Government have no better argument than that for opposing a United Nations force in the Gulf, they should stop opposing it and support it. It is by far the best hope of keeping the peace in that area and the only way to ensure that Britain and the West maintain their influence in that part of the world both during the war and after the war is over.

I ask the Government to think again about their Trident programme. It is clear from what the Secretary of State said yesterday that there are very difficult choices on the way. Having faced the same problems 20 years ago, I can tell the Secretary of State that there is no answer to be found in candle ends or salami cuts. That is the way to overstretched services, plummeting morale and operational inefficiency. The only way to make the cuts that the Government have decided as a quantum, with a further 5 per cent. to come in the next few years, is to drop some of the commitments — and Trident should be the first to go.

I conclude with this thought, and I hope that the Minister will give us his observations on it. We need Trident only if we cannot rely on the United States in a crisis, but if we cannot rely on the United States in a crisis. can we rely on the United States to provide us with Trident? There is a clear contradiction there which deserves to be explored. If we continue with the Trident programme, we risk crippling our expenditure on conventional forces for no real military advantage and with serious political disadvantage, which can be summed up as a period of prolonged and humiliating dependence on the United States that will corrupt the whole of our foreign and defence policies.

5.18 pm
Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my first speech in the House in this important debate. In doing so, I pay tribute to my distinguished predecessor, Sir John Wells, who served the constituency with dedication and distinction for 28 years. His period of service will be remembered by his former constituents with respect and affection, as I am sure it will also be remembered by Members of the House. He earned respect for his exemplary chairmanship of many important parliamentary Committees and affection for the colourful way in which he sometimes drew attention to the needs of his constituents. On one occasion, he arrived for the day's business on a horse. On another, he enlivened proceedings in the Chamber by eating an apple—a Kentish apple, of course—during the debate. I hope to follow his example in dedicating myself to the service of my constituents, but I shall not be eating any apples in the Chamber, as history attests rather strongly to the unfortunate results of ladies eating apples where they should not.

My constituency has suffered badly from the recent wind storms. As a horticulturist, Sir John Wells would have understood all too well the misery and devastation suffered by many farmers, expecially the fruit farmers whose industry takes up such a large part of the constituency that I have the honour to serve. I hope that the Government will see fit to provide some compensation, in however cautious and measured a way, to those who have lost their livelihood not just in the immediate term but for years to come, because it will be some time before replanted trees can be expected to produce crops which will generate income.

Leaving the country areas for the town of Maidstone, I am proud to have in that town concrete and tangible evidence of the Government's firm commitment to the National Health Service in the shape of a large new modern hospital. I regret to tell the House, however, that, due to inequitable distribution of funds by the South East Thames regional health authority, that hospital is not being used as fully or as beneficially as it should be. On an appropriate future occasion, I hope to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by my constituents as a result of that inequitable distribution of funds.

I address myself to the debate and to the Opposition amendments in the sure knowledge that I address myself to a subject of the utmost importance and interest to my constituents. I begin by congratulating the Government on the Defence Estimates and particularly on the sound basis on which they have drawn up plans for the nation's security. I believe that the people of Britain will draw great comfort and reassurance from the fact that they are governed by a party which is wholly committed to an effective nuclear deterrent.

I spent many hours yesterday and some today listening to Opposition Members decrying the Trident programme. I thought that they had been sufficiently effectively answered yesterday, but today we have heard the same tired arguments, based on the same flawed logic. Both in their amendments and in the many distinguished speeches that we have heard, the Opposition have claimed that the Trident programme is undesirable because it eats into conventional defence expenditure. There is a severe absence of logic in that statement. It is true that if we did not spend the money on Trident we could use it to purchase conventional weapons or, indeed, anything we liked — sacks of potatoes, biros, pounds of butter, or whatever. If we are to spend Trident money on something other than Trident, we must ask ourselves whether the optional thing that we are purchasing is capable of doing the job of Trident. If it is not capable of doing that job and fulfilling the aims of Trident, it does not matter that we could buy it with Trident money. It is totally irrelevant.

The sole objective of Trident is to deter a potentially hostile force from launching a nuclear attack on this country, or to deter a hostile force with overwhelmingly superior conventional forces from attempting to use that superiority to launch a conventional attack. Therefore, if we are to give up Trident to buy conventional weapons, we must demand that those weapons are an equally effective deterrent.

The statement on the Defence Estimates suggests that, if we devote all the Trident money to conventional weapons, we might be able to buy and maintain 300 tanks for an armoured division. I am sure that it is very laudable and worthy to buy 300 tanks for an armoured division but, when the Warsaw pact countries have a superiority of 30,000 tanks, it will not be a very effective deterrent. We can do the same arithmetical exercise for artillery, where we are outnumbered by 3:1, and in anti-tank guided weapons by 1.6:1. We can continue that exercise, but we shall not end up with a replacement that serves the same aim as Trident. We shall simply replace something designed to do one job with something designed to do a totally different job.

Opposition Members were not terribly kind to the Government last night when summing up. The hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) said that he would not award a CSE pass to the Government for the reasoning behind their Defence Estimates but, after listening yesterday and for several hours today to the Opposition, I do not believe that they have reached a standard of elementary logic which would get them through the 11-plus. Perhaps that is why they have such an antipathy towards that examination. My nephews and nieces at the age of eight or nine, let alone 11, could have told Opposition Members that, if they are given the bus fare to get home and they spend it on a taxi ride, they will not get the same value because the bus will take them only a few yards.

If we spend the Trident money on 300 tanks or whatever—frigates are much beloved of the Opposition —we shall find that we have gone not even a few yards or feet but only a few inches towards an effective deterrent, whereas Trident would do the entire job, so the logic is flawed. If we all took to the hills—as the Opposition came perilously close to suggesting not long ago—and invested our Trident money in bows and arrows, those bows and arrows might outnumber those of the Warsaw pact countries and would be about as useful as some of the arguments put forward by the Opposition.

Opposition Members are trying to have it all ways when they argue that, if we are to have an independent deterrent, it must be truly independent. I am not quite sure what Opposition Members stand for. The distinguished and right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that we do not have a truly independent deterrent because the Americans will do the servicing. We said very clearly—I am sorry that the Opposition did not understand the point—that we shall always have control over some of the missiles. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously believe that, when he sends a suit to the cleaners, he has no clothes at all and must come into the Chamber in a state of sartorial dilapidation because he has no suit?

Finally, in desperation, Opposition Members decided to try to claim that the conventional imbalance was a figment of the Government's imagination, that it did not exist, and in support of that they triumphantly produced a document brought out by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and quoted it with the reverence normally reserved for Holy Writ. They said, "Look, this says something entirely different." I have read that document and I find that within its figures there is ample evidence, which is clearly set out and not at all disguised, that the Warsaw pact enjoys an overwhelming numerical superiority of conventional weapons. I commend page 226 to the Opposition for further study. They may not have got that far.

The amendment submitted in the name of the Leader of the Opposition is serious, because it exhorts the Government to take a headlong flight to abandon and abolish all battlefield nuclear weapons simultaneously with reductions on the conventional side. That is simply and solely the wrong timing. There must be no further reductions beyond the INF treaty agreements. There must be no further reductions in nuclear weapons until such time as the conventional imbalance — whether one believes the Government's document or the IISS document—is eliminated.

In that context, I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister for reassurance later. It is said that the statement on the Defence Estimates was drawn up at a time when the finer ramifications of the INF proposals, particularly the inclusion of shorter-range intermediate missiles, had riot been fully understood. Such are the massive implications for our conventional spending, not only for Britain, which already spends the third highest percentage of gross domestic product in NATO on defence, but for all our NATO partners, that we should be assured that not only will there be no simultaneous negotiations for the reduction of battlefield nuclear weapons, but that there will be a good long cool gap before any agreement that we may reach on conventional weapons while we assess the implications.

So desperate were the anti-Trident Opposition that they said that there was supposed to be an escalation of the arms race. One sees such words in the amendments. That is interesting. An arms race implies that each side is trying to keep up with the other, but as I read it, the number of warheads on Trident is a lower proportion of Warsaw pact warheads than Polaris was when we first had it. So that is not an escalation.

The Opposition used the worn-out argument that because the warheads were independently targeted, we had increased our numbers. However, if one is talking about an arms race, one must also look at what the other side is doing. Surely it is only prudent, when designing a system, to say that if one ever reached the highly undesirable state when one needed to increase one's warheads, one should have the system to make that possible. The cost of the Chevaline operation that was forced upon the Labour Government can be interpreted as the cost of not having sufficient forward defence planning at the time of procurement.

I regret that in this, my first speech in the House, I have had to devote so much time to the wild and woolly arguments of the Opposition. I am also rather surprised that they are still putting forward in the House the Alice-in-Wonderland reasoning that lost them the June election. I say to them: Come back from Wonderland. Do not go through the looking glass with Alice. Instead, stay in front of the looking glass and take a good long look. Do the Opposition's policies reflect public opinion? No. But more importantly, do their policies have any bearing on the real world? Surely the answer must still be no. Thus the Opposition should stand at that looking glass and look in. But my belief is that the general public, as exhibited in poll after poll, have reason to be thankful and grateful to the Government who have drawn up their plans on a sound and effective deterrent rather than being able to offer no strategy and no alternative.

5.34 pm
Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I briefly opposed the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) in the 1983 general election when she was contesting Plymouth, Devonport, and I was campaigning in the city and the dockyard as Labour's defence spokesman, but now I hasten to congratulate her on an outstanding maiden speech, delivered appealingly, with great confidence and with the authority that befits someone who, through her family and education as well as her political campaigning, has close links with the armed services, especially the Navy. But the hon. Lady also spoke provocatively, and I know that many of my hon. Friends will genuinely look forward to her next speech and to her being called in the Navy debate. However, all of us will join in congratulating her on her speech, which was made without notes, without so much as a hesitation or a diminution of verve, or command of her subject, although some of us ached to challenge her.

Britain is to spend more than £19 billion on defence in the year ending next April. In cash terms that is a tiny increase over last year, but in real terms it is a decrease, yet according to the defence White Paper, the Secretary of State for Defence in introducing it yesterday, and all the Conservative Members who followed him, with the exception of the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates), everything is all right with Britain's defences. It is not.

The reality is that the Navy is not getting the ships that it needs to fulfil its assigned roles in NATO, and the British Army remains the worst equipped of the main armies of NATO Europe. The White Paper gives no hope for much improvement—on the contrary. The results of the past three lean years have not yet begun to be felt.

New orders for type 23 frigates have been delayed. Just six ships have been ordered in the past three years. The Navy is becoming overstretched. Participation in NATO exercises has dropped by one third. Maintenance and training are suffering. Ultimately, the Navy may be unable to meet NATO force goals and other national commitments.

Little more than half the 50 minesweeper and hunter orders planned under a £1 billion modernisation scheme will be completed by the 1995 deadline. Ironically, the mine warfare forces were the one part of the Navy that was boosted under the 1982 defence review, which otherwise hit the Navy hard. Six AWACS aircraft have been ordered to replace the abandoned Nimrod, where eight is really the minimum that the RAF needs to keep a constant watch.

The Army does not have enough helicopters, antiaircraft weapons, artillery or missiles, nor really enough men. New orders are being delayed. The Army's Chieftain tanks are obsolescent and need replacing in the early 1990s. No serious money has been allocated to build or buy a successor model in good time. The Army badly needs a multiple-launch rocket system to replace outdated artillery. Spending on all those conventional items should rise if all the lessons of the Falklands war are to be implemented, according to a report on the 1982 campaign published recently by the Select Committee on Defence.

The main question raised by the White Paper is how long the Government will keep the lid on defence spending. The costs of equipment and the cost of men are both rising, yet defence outlays have been virtually flat in cash terms since 1985–86. That gap is nothing like the chasm that is likely to open up between commitment and resources in the next few years. Some analysts believe that funds for new equipment must be cut by more than a third during the next five years. Others calculate that a gap of £8 billion is opening up between what is willed and what is likely to be available to pay for it. However, if one searches for that in the Defence Estimates, one will search in vain.

The hon. Member for Hampshire, East, who is the Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence, put his finger on the button yesterday afternoon when he said: What concerns me is that there is no sign that the Government, not the Ministry, have taken a strategic view on what must be put into our defence resources in the next four or five years."—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 241.] The European fighter aircraft project, which could cost Britain more than £6 billion, has not been included in the latest long-term costings. How can the Government proceed with their full development without cutting another important defence commitment to pay for it? The Secretary of State presumably believes that a cash crisis can be averted by deferring projects and spreading their cost over a longer period. That may well be overoptimistic. The cost of Trident, now moving towards its peak, and the decline of defence spending by 8 per cent. in real terms over the next five years, will squeeze the budget hard.

Nor will cutting some marginal commitments outside the NATO area or the more efficient management of procurement be enough. Equipment costs will continue to escalate, so that the country will either have to pay more proportionately for defence than it does now, or adjust its commitments. Whatever the commitments, the House may depend upon it that it will be conventional arms, not nuclear arms, that will suffer. If past form is a guide, the likeliest conventional area is sustainability.

Page 17 of the White Paper properly draws attention to the need for conventional defence improvement and claims: considerable progress had been made towards a more effective conventional posture". Will the Minister state what the United Kingdom has contributed towards that "considerable progress"? Ammunition stocks are the only item to which one can find a reassuring reference in the White Paper. What of operational reserves, stocks of vital equipment, intelligence, C3 and early warning? On page 17 the White Paper properly justifies the improvement of NATO's conventional defence posture so as to avoid being put in a position of undue reliance on the early use of nuclear weapons". It is becoming increasingly urgent that we should do so to redress the imbalance of forces favouring the Warsaw pact. In so far as that conventional imbalance exists, it is considered throughout the Alliance to be an obstacle in the way of nuclear disarmament.

There can be no question about responding to Mr. Gorbachev and his arms control challenge. Indeed, there seems little doubt that the movement in arms control would not have come about without far-reaching Soviet concessions. To be sure, many of Mr. Gorbachev's proposals and declared concessions have had a rich payoff in enhancing the Soviet image. However, we cannot allow the NATO-Warsaw pact military balance to be held up as an obstacle to nuclear disarmament. Ascertaining an accurate picture of the military balance between NATO and the Warsaw pact is not easy, because it involves a detailed comparison of many quantitative factors. The task is rendered extraordinarily difficult and complex by the asymmetrical nature of the armed forces of the two sides. Therefore, from the outset it is important to keep in mind that no single measurement can possibly give a comprehensive and accurate representation of the military balance between the two alliances.

How does the Soviet Union view the conventional balance? Until recently we have had to rely in the public arena on statements made and proposals tabled at arms control negotiations to build a picture of its assessment of the NATO-Warsaw pact balance. However, during 1987 the Soviet Union has issued for the first time two volumes of a year book "Disarmament and Security 1986". Although the year book has a number of obvious limitations, the significance of its publication and its dissemination in the West should not be underestimated.

Whether we like it or not, and whether or not we acknowledge it—the Government do not acknowledge it on page 4 of the White Paper, or, as it was described by some of my hon. Friends last night, the "potted history of the Soviet Union over 60 years" —the initiative in arms control is being taken by Mr. Gorbachev. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Western Alliance to determine what it actually wants from arms control and to explore every avenue with the Soviet Union on how to get there. There are, for example, increasing signs that the Soviet Union is ready for cautious questioning of its military doctrine and strategy. In May the Warsaw pact proposed military-to-military discussions with the objective of ensuring that the doctrines of both sides rest on defensive principles. Such an overture should not immediately be eschewed.

In conclusion, the decisive test for the future phase of arms control is not yet upon us, but for the first time in post-war history a qualitative change in the military relationship between East and West seems possible. In the next decisive phase of arms control negotiations, both sides will need to demonstrate conclusively that sufficient political will exists to ensure that a serious disarmament process is here to stay. Our Alliance should seize the initiative and test Soviet will to achieve equitable and verifiable solutions.

5.48 pm
Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down)

When you took the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you appealed to hon. Members to be brief. I intend to assist you and other hon. Members by doing so and by restricting my remarks to Northern Ireland.

I wish to join in the fulsome tribute paid to the soldiers of the Regular Army and to the members of the Ulster Defence Regiment who, together with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, courageously face the Provisional IRA, which is a well-trained and ruthless terrorist organisation. The decent and law-abiding people of Northern Ireland fully support the members of the security forces in the battle to rid the Province and the kingdom of those callous and criminal elements and, indeed, to rid the Province of all terrorists, regardless of their political tag. No one in Ulster is safe from the murderous activities of the Provisional IRA. My heart goes out in sympathy to people who live in lonely areas in the Province, such as farmers who serve in the Ulster Defence Regiment and in the police force, because they are easy soft targets for the terrorists.

At the start of today's debate, the Minister gave the numbers of those serving in the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Regular Army who have been murdered this year. Eleven soldiers—eight of them members of the UDR—have been murdered this year. That is a heavy price and it does not conjure up the tremendous agony suffered by their relatives. Our sympathy goes out to all those who have been bereaved or who have suffered as a result of terrorist atrocities.

The continuing violence is a sad reflection on the forecasts that the Anglo-Eire agreement would produce peace, stability and reconciliation. I fear that the agreement has encouraged the Provisional IRA to further atrocities, believing that it needs only one more push to destroy Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. Yet, despite the casualties to which the Minister referred in his opening speech, and despite the atrocities which have been visited upon the security forces and, indeed, the ordinary people of Northern Ireland, the morale of the UDR and the Regular Army is excellent, just as the morale of the Ulster people is high. They will not be defeated by terrorists. That is the message that goes out from me and should go out from this House.

A few months ago when I was on an all-party delegation I met soldiers who had recently served in Ulster and I was impressed by their spirit, keenness and efficiency. They all felt that they had been doing a worthwhile job in Northern Ireland, albeit a dangerous one. Their only complaint was the unfairness of the contest there. In any ordinary battle, they face the enemy dressed in enemy uniform and fight on equal terms, but in Northern Ireland it is a different contest on different terms. At any moment, whether on or off duty, British soldiers or RUC officers could be murdered by the Provisional IRA, shot in the back by a cowardly sniper or blown apart by a car bomb detonated by remote control after they or the police had been enticed into the danger zone as a result of a spurious call.

British soldiers must act within certain strict restrictions, and they always operate under the sanction of being charged with murder if in the heat and fear of the moment they act too quickly. Inevitably, Republican claims are made after every incident when British soldiers shoot an IRA terrorist that the dead terrorist was an innocent bystander or that the IRA man was not given a chance to surrender. Obviously, to me that is nauseating propaganda, bearing in mind that Provisional IRA terrorists torture and kill in cold blood, without the slightest grain of mercy and giving no chance to the soldier, policeman or civilian to surrender. No, they destroy ruthlessly. That is why people in Northern Ireland, like me, are proud of British soldiers.

As the hon. and learned Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck), who served with distinction in the Ministry of Defence, said, British soldiers exercise remarkable restraint. That is something for which they should be credited. Whenever attacks are made on British soldiers, whether on members of the UDR or on regular soldiers, we in this House should always remember the atmosphere in Northern Ireland and the real danger of death to every soldier and citizen. We should thank them for what they are doing in the Province to help bring about the conditions which may lead to reconciliation and political progress. I cannot talk about political progress in this debate, but I know that, whenever there is an atrocity by the IRA, it sets back the day of reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Sir Antony Buck

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning that yesterday I paid tribute to our armed forces and the burdens that they bear. Perhaps I can now pay a tribute of equal strength to those who serve in the UDR and the services of law and order who live in communities which contain terrorists who seek to maintain local discipline by putting a Black and Decker drill through a man's kneecap and by blowing people up haphazardly. Perhaps those people bear an even greater burden than our armed forces.

Mr. Kilfedder

I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. I said at the beginning of my speech that I would be brief, so I shall now close my remarks.

As I have seen so much death and destruction from terrorists' bombs and bullets in Northern Ireland for over 18 years, and as I have lived in that state where the shadow of death hangs over everyone, I am committed to peace and reconciliation there. I hope that we can have progress before long and before many others die. But equally, I should like to see rapprochement between nations. Therefore, I welcome the present climate of detente and I hope that President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev can get together so that we can rid this world of nuclear weapons.

5.55 pm
Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

I hope that the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) will forgive me if I do not take up his points; I want to speak about bullying and brutality in the Army. I do not know what the financial cost of that is, but I know that the human costs are heavy.

We all want tough, well-trained soldiers, but that is entirely different from brutalised young recruits. Already, cruel and indecent conduct has been proved at courts martial. Young men have been kicked and beaten, and physically and mentally broken; they have been transformed from balanced youths into nervous wrecks. They have been subjected to vicious, humiliating and degrading initiation rites which included some forms of enforced nakedness and buggery.

Last night, a woman telephoned me at home about her son who had run away from the Army in fear. She said that he had left the Army and his family. He now has no base, no job and no future. Officially, he is a deserter. In fact he is a petrified youngster. One man wrote to me that he was so threatened in the Army that he tried to take his own life. He is still absent without leave. The House will know about the tragic case of Jeffry Singh who hanged himself at Shorncliffe barracks. His father alleged that he was bullied and brutalised into committing suicide.

It is amazing that we have no idea about the extent of this disturbing problem. The Under-Secretary of State told me that this information was not held centrally and could only be collected with disproportionate cost and effort. However, I know that the Minister is taking bullying and brutality seriously and I welcome the efforts that he and General Mostyn, the Army's adjutant-general, are making.

Both the Minister and the general have listened to the views of a deputation of hon. Members and have taken vigorous action, which I also welcome. Both have described bullying and brutality as "abhorrent" and General Mostyn has told all commanding officers to deal with it.

My views, however, differ from those of both the Minister and the general in a number of respects. They think that the numbers of those who are subjected to bullying and brutality are low. I say that we only see the tip of the iceberg. That is partly because some of the letters that I have received from frightened soldiers and worried parents are anonymous. The writers apologise for not giving their names, but say that I will understand why they cannot. The identical thread running through those letters if fear of bullying, reprisals, the Official Secrets Act and threats from officers and NCOs. It is significant that before the current court martial took place—I cannot comment on it, of course—it was reported that witnesses were temporarily removed from their battalions for their own safety. Why? Because of fear.

Such an atmosphere of intimidation means that few soldiers are willing to complain and even fewer to give evidence. They really are frightened and living in fear. However, without witnesses there can be no convictions, so the actual number of convictions for bullying and brutality is misleading. That number is a gross underestimation of the size of the problem. That is why I say that we only see the tip of the iceberg and why I believe that the problem is far larger than it appears to be at present.

The Minister is happy with the existing arrangements for dealing with these cases. Recently, in a televised debate with me, he said that there is now an independent system under which commanding officers are obliged to investigate every incident, and if it is serious enough they call in the Special Investigation Branch. The Minister may be happy with those arrangements, but he lives in a world far removed from that of petrified young recruits. How are terrified young men to complain to one corporal about the behaviour of another, if that corporal is a friend of the first? All of us who served in the Army know that colleagues and pals had a drink together; so if someone complains to one corporal, his complaint may concern that corporal's friend, which is causing the young recruit to be frightened of both of them. So it is unlikely that a recruit will do that.

Will the young man who has been brutalised really go to the commanding officer's door and say, "Excuse me sir, I have a problem"? It just does not happen. When I was in the Army, the commanding officer was like the Speaker of the House of Commons—he was elevated to a high pedestal. We were afraid of him, we respected him and would not dream of approaching him. No raw recruit will stroll up to a commanding officer and complain. So the Minister is wrong in assuming that the present methods of complaining about brutality and bullying are OK. They are far from that.

On the rare occasions when a commanding officer has received a complaint, it is his decision as to whether to call in the Special Investigation Branch. Where is the independence in that? If the commanding officer decides, that is not independent. I am not saying that the CO would not perform his duty. Often, the commanding officer will do his duty, but he may be blinkered. He may, and does, instinctively side with the officers—senior and junior. Commanding officers, naturally, do not want bad publicity for their regiments. So the present system is not independent, and terrified young soldiers certainly do not see it as such. It is wholly inadequate, as is the system of relying on education inspectors and other types of formal monitoring.

The Army is recruiting young lads of 16 and 17. Many of them will benefit from the physical fitness and disciplined community life, but when the sadists infiltrate, young lives can be destroyed. They are being destroyed now in the Army by brutal and sadistic treatment. That has been proved by courts martial in the past. I cannot comment on current courts martial and those yet to come, but past ones have proved that this offensive brutalisation of young men is going on. It must be stopped. The police do not recruit young men of 16 or 17 and the armed forces did not do so during war. If it is necessary to recruit them—I do not think it is, but if the Minister does—it is essential that there should be a fully effective, independent system of investigating allegations and monitoring the treatment of recruits.

We have a fine Army, but it is tarnished by the cruelty of some vicious thugs. No Minister or general can defend a system that permits that.

I conclude by putting the following proposals to the Minister, I hope he will take them into account, and reply to them later. First, I suggest that there should be a general amnesty for young recruits who have gone absent without leave from regiments in which there has been proven bullying. For example, if a young recruit has found the sadistic, sexual initiaton rites of the King's Own Scottish Borderers intolerable—as has been proved in previous courts martial—he should not be further punished. All such deserters should be reprimanded and then allowed to leave, for their benefit and for that of the Army.

Secondly, a new system of centrally collating all complaints and allegations of bullying and brutality should be set up, so that the Minister knows the nature and size of the problem—or at least more about it—so that he is not just guessing, and probably overlooking, the serious difficulties of young recruits.

Thirdly, a special Army ombudsman should be appointed. Soldiers, or even parents, with allegations of mistreatment or violence should report to him with complete confidence in his impartiality and independence. The ombudsman would have no regimental ties. He should have no friends in high or not so high places and no advantage in urging silence. He could be the one genuinely independent instrument that could rescue the Army's good name. He could change the ethos of bullying and put an end to current malpractices.

Then the Army can get on with its task of producing tough, well-trained, disciplined soldiers, without brutalising recruits. I suggest that the proposed Army Ombudsman look at future problems and be concerned with the long term. This proposal would not invalidate the need for an immediate independent inquiry into the serious allegations that have already been made about bullying and brutality in the British Army. This is a serious problem in the Army. I am glad to know that the Minister is taking action and I know that he will do what he can in good faith. We differ in our analysis. My proposals are a radical departure but I hope that the Minister will consider my suggestions and will let me have his answer in his own good time.

6.10 pm
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

It is always a great pleasure to follow a speech by the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley). He makes his case with great clarity and sincerity and I am sure that in winding up the Minister will comment on what the right hon. Gentleman said. The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him down the same road. I have two or three points to make, but before doing so I pay fulsome tribute to the eloquent maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe). This is the second occasion on which I have been able to pay tribute to a new Kent colleague and it gives me great pleasure to do so.

About 20 years ago, when I was very young and callow, I was a junior officer in the Maidstone Conservative association, and at that time I became an admirer of the predecessor of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone. When I entered the House in 1983 Sir John Wells was a great friend to me and to this day we remain firm friends. My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone is very welcome as his successor and has shown that she will give us much to think about in the coming months.

I am delighted at the mention on page 31 of Cm 101 about the Royal Engineers. This year is the 200th anniversary of the granting of the royal charter to the Royal Engineers, and the sappers have their spiritual home in my constituency where the Royal School of Military Engineering and the depot regiment are located at Brompton barracks. Since the sad demise of my predecessor, Sir Frederick Burden, in July, only the Royal Engineers are extant as members holding the freedom of the borough of Gillingham. Since the closure of the naval dockyard at Chatham, the Royal Engineers have maintained the very strong military ties in my constituency. We all enjoy and admire those ties.

We salute the excellence of the skills of the Royal Engineers and the prodigious support that they have provided for the British Army over their 200 years. We salute the courage of the Sappers responsible for the hazardous task of explosive ordnance disposal. Paragraph 425 sets out in detail the continuing level of such disposal that the Sappers share with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and with units from the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. The Corps of Royal Engineers undertakes construction in remote parts of the world and relief work in worldwide disaster situations. In its long history, the corps has produced many notable soldiers and the Royal Engineers truly live up to their motto which is, I believe, "Ubique"—everywhere. I hope that the Royal Engineers will continue to prosper for the next 200 years. I shall certainly continue to pay my tribute to the Royal Engineers throughout my tenure in the House.

My second point is about arms control. During the past week our hopes have been raised and then dashed. We thought that the obstacles to a treaty on intermediate nuclear forces had been finally overcome. The visit to Moscow last week by George Shultz should have been the precursor to a truly historic treaty that would have represented a turning point — a lowering of the high water mark of nuclear armament. To some extent our hopes were dashed by a seemingly incomprehensible slowing of progress by the Soviet leader, Mr. Gorbachev. Just today, the pace has again quickened and we must pray for a successful conclusion to this phase of arms control.

Does anyone seriously believe that we would have achieved that breakthrough if NATO had not taken its twin-track decision in 1979 and, more importantly, had not followed it through by the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles? Does anyone seriously believe that the Soviet Union would now be willing to withdraw the SS20 and shorter range missiles if NATO had been deterred from the deployment of missiles by the unilateralist peace campaigners?

Why are the Opposition so blind to the lack of credibility of their unilateralist policy? Our lead in abjuring chemical weapons is a bleak and dispiriting warning to those who would lead us down the yellow road of unilateralism. Perhaps I should say it is a warning to those who would have led us down that road had they not received a third bloody nose at the polls on 11 June. In no small way that was due to the incredibility of the Opposition's defence policy. Those same one-sided disarmers would now compound their appeasement by giving up our independent nuclear deterrent, probably with no commensurate reduction in Soviet weaponry or, at best, in return for the Soviets reducing by just 3 per cent. their nuclear stockpile. That would be a reduction of 3 per cent. in return for our giving up 100 per cent. of our independent deterrent. When will the Opposition learn that appeasement only ever whetted the appetite of an imperialistic hegemony?

We all hope that the current INF agreement will lead to reductions in chemical, conventional and strategic nuclear arsenals. However, we must ensure at all times that we are not gulled by Soviet presentation to the world's press and onlookers into giving away an unbalanced proportion of our defensive capability. It would be easy to become fired with enthusiasm for the present agreement and push on to further treaties which would leave us in a position of vulnerability or even jeopardy. We would do well to follow the caution of our German allies. In particular, the class of battlefield nuclear weapons must not be negotiated away without major political developments between the Soviet Union and its Warsaw pact satellites and between the Warsaw pact and the West.

No one who has stood on either side of the Berlin wall could believe that the time has come for us to lower our guard. We are at a turning point. There is a slight easing in relations from the grimmest days of Brezhnev, Chernenko and Andropov. Any small step is welcome, but we are a very long way from becoming once again allies with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's willingness to treat on the INF class of nuclear weapons is borne more out of economic pragmatism than from any real desire to ratchet down the arms race or, indeed, to reduce its offensive and defensive forces.

My third point is a tribute to another defence interest of immense importance in my constituency. In this case, it is a weapons system supplier rather than a unit of the armed forces. I recognise that GEC Avionics Limited is a name that evokes some concern among some hon. Members, mostly because of the dismal Nimrod-AEW saga. GEC Avionics has a major factory in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Medway (Dame Peggy Fenner). It employs about 6,000 highly skilled people from in and around the Medway towns, including my own constituency. GEC Avionics of Rochester has been successful in gaining lucrative export orders for state-of-the-art, high-technology aids for pilots of advanced planes. In the past five years more than £1 billion of exports have been earned from head-up displays, air data computers and, most recently, night vision goggles for the pilots of the United States AV8B advanced Harriers. Sadly and ironically, GEC Avionics has sold very few of these items to the Royal Air Force.

The avionics side of GEC is not the only arm of this great company recently to achieve a major export order from the United States. Earlier this month, in partnership with the American company Rockwell, Marconi Communications achieved an order from the Pentagon worth £1.8 billion for high-frequency, anti-jam radios for most of the United States navy ships, and there is a hope of further orders for other NATO navies. This success contrasts with our disappointment over Plessey's frustrated endeavours to win a contract for Ptarmigan two years ago. These successes by GEC reassure those of us who have argued for the Atlantic two-way street in defence procurement. Our sales to our premier ally are profitable in themselves, but, perhaps more importantly, they cement the very special relationship that Conservative Members value and cherish but which the Opposition, and notably today the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), take every opportunity to undermine and derogate.

The extraordinary amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) finally nails to the mast the Labour party's true defence colours—white tinged with yellow. The Opposition want a neutralised and de-equipped Britain that is out of NATO. That is not what the people want and they showed us that on 11 June. That is not what Conservative Members want. We have pride in our troops, such as the Royal Engineers that I mentioned earlier. We support our allies from a position of strength, and that is why we must retain our independent nuclear deterrent. We must encourage weapons systems suppliers, such as GEC, in their endeavours to develop and sell systems on our behalf. That is why we have devoted and continue to devote so much of our national resources on the defence of our realm.

6.20 pm
Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich)

I take a somewhat more optimistic view of the international arms control environment than the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman). We are debating these important defence issues against a markedly different background from the one that we have been accustomed to in the recent past, and that is because of the impending agreement on intermediate nuclear weapons. It is important to say at the outset that the impending INF agreement involves a number of important precedents. It will be the first time that modern, sophisticated and accurate weapons systems will be not just withdrawn, but destroyed. It will be the first time that we have intrusive verification procedures involved in an arms control deal. It is also the first arms control agreement that involves deep cuts favouring NATO.

It is worth placing it on record that the Soviets will give up something approaching 1,600 warheads, while NATO will lose 348 out of a total of 572. That must be a good deal in anybody's language. In view of some of the muttered criticisms that we have heard on both sides of the Atlantic, it is also worth saying that the deal does not decouple the United States from the nuclear defence of Europe, it does not undermine the ability to have a flexible response and it does not herald some unstoppable slide towards a denuclearised Europe. There are ample nuclear assets in Europe to do the job.

I am therefore somewhat suspicious of talks about plugging the gap that will be left by the removal of the cruise and Pershing missiles. Such talk is extremely dangerous. It makes little sense to negotiate away ground-launched cruise missiles only to bring them back again in an air or submarine-launched form. Having said that, I think there is a strong case for improving the striking power of NATO's manned aircraft by providing them with a stand-off weapon with a range of something like 400 km that could be nuclear or conventionally armed. That is not introducing a new class of nuclear weapons into Europe; it is simply the sensible improvement of existing assets. I very much welcome reports that the Governments of the United Kingdom and France are examining the possibilities of that sort of approach.

One of the possible fallouts from the INF deal is the danger of unjustified euphoria about the progress of arms control negotiations. Certainly, among some in this country, there is a sense of what one might call nuclear Micawberism—the idea that we do not have to take any difficult decisions about the future of Britain's nuclear weapons because something is certain to turn up at Geneva that will prevent us from having to go through that unpleasant business. I think that all of us want to see arms control negotiations progressing. We all hope that they will succeed, but we cannot base the defence policy of this country on hope. Nor am I impressed by the proposition that Britain should retain nuclear weapons simply as a ticket of admission to super-power negotiations and that Britain's nuclear weapons should be solemnly laid on the table at those negotiations as some sort of bargaining counter.

If arms control negotiations do continue to proceed successfully, then obviously a time will come when Britain's nuclear weapons must be included in that process. However, we have to be clear about the objective of such negotiations. As other hon. Members have said in the debate, it simply cannot be a straightforward missile-for-missile reduction deal with the Soviet Union. The logic of that would be to leave the United Kingdom with no strategic nuclear capacity, while the Soviet Union would have quite enough to destroy us many times over. That sort of negotiation would simply be back-door unilateral nuclear disarmament dressed up to look like some sort of negotiated balanced disarmament proposal.

The majority of the British people are quite right when they take the simple straightforward view that, while other nations have nuclear weapons that can and do threaten this country, Britain is entitled to retain a minimum nuclear deterrent of its own that is sufficiently effective to deter any nuclear threat.

It is in that sense that I look now at the issue of the Trident programme. I think it is well known that I have argued since 1979 that Trident was unsuitable as a minimum deterrent for this country because of its cost, its excessive firepower and its over-dependence on the United States. I have argued, as have other alliance Members, that other nuclear systems were more appropriate to Britain's needs. I did not accept that it was a simple choice between Trident or nothing. However, I have to recognise that the situation has now changed.

However eloquent or witty the appeals from the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), I do not believe that the Government are going to scrap the Trident programme before the next general election. When we get to that point in 1991 or 1992, we have to face the fact that cancelling Trident would involve throwing away vast sums of public money already spent or contractually committed to the Trident programme. Any attempt to find a replacement for Trident would simply add more to that bill and, worse still, would involve a damaging delay at a crucial period.

I cannot believe that, if in 1991 we took a decision to find some other nuclear deterrent to replace Trident, we could have that alternative deployed and operational by the time that the first Polaris submarine has to be phased out in the mid-1990s. Therefore, I accept that, at the next election, the choice will be the simple one that it was not in 1987. It will be a choice of either having the Trident system or having no nuclear deterrent at all. In that. situation, I have to bite the bullet and say that it has to be Trident rather than no nuclear deterrent, even though I would be happier if the firepower of Trident was reduced to bring it back to the striking power of the existing Polaris system.

I am glad to see that, in the discussion of Britain's nuclear deterrent, there is now a wider acceptance of the idea that we should see Britain's nuclear weapons in a much more European setting and that in particular we should be exploring the possibilities of practical cooperation with the French on nuclear issues. When the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), other hon. Members and I proposed this in the summer of 1986, there were concerted attempts to rubbish it. I notice that the Government are now quietly getting on with the job of studying just what can be done on a co-operative basis with the French on nuclear issues, and I very much welcome that development.

There is an improved atmosphere in terms of arms control, and there are now much greater possibilities for progress than we have seen for some time. There have been substantial signs of progress in the strategic nuclear weapons negotiations. To an extent, they are held in hostage because of the problems over the SDI system and the negotiations on space and defensive weapons, but even there we are beginning to see a greater willingness by the Russians and the Americans to accept that both sides are deeply committed to research in the field and that both sides therefore have a sense of common interest in trying to work out what sort of research or testing is acceptable to each of them. More important, both sides have a common interest in trying to establish a regime in terms of anti-ballistic missile systems that prevents any sudden break by one side putting the other at risk. I am hopeful still that we can get some sense out of that negotiation.

The Secretary of State was quite right yesterday to draw attention to the problem of chemical weapons. I was sad that he did not refer to the progress in the negotiations at Geneva under the umbrella of the UN disarmament conference. It is the British Government and the British delegation which have played an important part in trying to solve the difficult problems of verification, and I pay tribute to the delegation for its efforts. Even here we have seen a shift in Soviet attitudes that may well indicate a greater willingness to accept a form of challenge-verification of chemical weapons. There are signs of improvement even in that difficult area.

I have always taken the view that short-range battlefield nuclear weapons are the most dangerous of nuclear systems because they are based so far forward, are designed for war fighting and are thus weapons that inevitably lower the nuclear threshold. The NATO military commanders argue that these systems have a deterrent value because they prevent the masssing of Soviet armour on the central front, which is essential to any conventional Soviet attack. In my view there is therefore a powerful argument for saying that we should negotiate about these short-range nuclear systems at the same time as we undertake conventional arms negotiations. In that way, progress in one area can, to some extent, be taken into account in the other. That seems to be a sensible approach.

It is important that, with the greater sense of optimism about progress in other arms control forums, we do not overlook the risks that flow from Soviet superiority in conventional defence in Europe. It was our concerns about the conventional imbalance in the first place that caused us to deploy nuclear weapons to the extent that we did.

As the Minister reminded us, the MBFR talks are winding down to a predictable end after 17 years of not terribly productive discussions. We have the prospect of new discussions involving 23 nations covering the entire area from the Atlantic to the Urals, which will operate within the framework of the conference on security and cooperation in Europe.

We should be realistic about the scale of the problem that faces us in trying to secure the conventional defence progress that we desire. If we are to achieve what we want, we shall have to look for deep and unequal cuts. If we get anything that is less asymmetric than the INF deal, for example, we shall weaken security in Europe, not improve it, and by so doing we shall weaken NATO's defence capability in the conventional area. That underlines all our experience of recent negotiations, which is that arms control alone cannot guarantee stability and security. Control must be accompanied by sensible conventional defence improvements. We know that pressure on defence budgets will not make that easy, and nor will the demographic changes in key NATO nations.

I have drawn attention in previous defence debates to some of the problems that will accompany demographic changes. I have seen recent calculations that suggest that the number of young men in the 15 to 24 age group in the United Kingdom will decline by about 24 per cent. between 1985 and the year 2000. In the Netherlands, the fall will be 31 per cent. and in the Federal Republic of Germany the fall will be a staggering 40 per cent. The same trend will be seen in all NATO nations except Turkey. On the other hand, there is likely to be an increase in potential manpower within the Warsaw pact, with the sole exception of East Germany.

The impact of these demographic changes for British forces is clear. It is evident that the armed services will have to compete in an even tougher market for potential recruits. Account must be taken of the cost of attracting them, and especially the cost of retaining experienced, trained personnel, which will increase dramatically as a result. I am surprised that the Estimates contain only the barest mention of the problem. Paragraph 612 states: the recruiting of other ranks may become more difficult as the population in relevant age groups falls. That seems to be something of an underestimate of the problem that will face us over the next few years.

I think that there would be a measure of support in the House for the idea that, for as long as we can judge, deterrence will rest on a mix of nuclear and conventional defence. Our aim must be to achieve a stable, secure and verifiable balance of forces at much lower levels than those that now prevail, and that desirable objective cannot be secured by arms control alone. Sensible and prudent modernisation and improvement of our forces will be just as important. That underlines the need for us not to regard arms control and effective defence as alternatives that are in conflict with each other. They must go hand in hand if we are to achieve the secure and lasting peace that we all want.

6.36 pm
Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre)

I welcome the Estimates and I wish to deal with certain personnel issues that arise from them. Before doing so, however, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on a most eloquent maiden speech, which was made without notes, on a subject that everyone in the Chamber will agree is a complicated one.

I congratulate also the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) on coming out finally in favour of Trident. It is a pity that so few of his former colleagues in the Liberal party were in the Chamber to hear what he had to say. Much of what he said could well have been said by a Conservative Member. Perhaps that is an omen for the future.

I shall comment briefly on the most amusing speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), a distinguished Member of this place. To put it mildly, he was rather critical of the Trident missile programme. This is interesting. He was critical largely because he felt that it was not an independent nuclear deterrent, but one that relied upon the United States. It is clear that the only essential difference between the purchasing of these missiles and the Polaris missiles lies in the servicing arrangements. However, the right hon. Gentleman maintains that because of this one difference the Trident deterrent is not independent and is entirely reliant on the United States. This is despite the fact that these missiles are to be serviced only every eight years, which gives the Government, or any future Government, a reasonable time to produce other methods of servicing should circumstances change in the United States, and I hasten to add that I consider that to be a most unlikely event.

I welcome the belated recognition by many Opposition Members of the importance of conventional defences as part of a balanced deterrent. During the late 1960s and late 1970s a succession of defence reviews, promulgated by Labour Governments, concentrated solely on the reduction of our conventional defences. Review followed review and missile and aircraft programmes were cut.

I shall take up one or two of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, who during his tenure of office as Secretary of State for Defence relied much more fully than any of his predecessors or successors on purchasing from the United States for our defence needs.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

Does my hon. Friend recall that in 1977 the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for IsIwyn (Mr. Kinnock), voted in favour of a 1.5 per cent. cut in conventional forces and a 3.5 per cent. cut the following year, although he criticised those cuts as inadequate? How can we believe him now when he says that he wants to see more conventional forces?

Mr. Mans

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. During the 1960s and 1970s—more specifically the 1970s—the then Labour Government increased expenditure on our nuclear defence programme by proceeding in a most secretive manner with the Chevaline warhead enhancement programme. It is clear from reports and diaries that even part of the Cabinet of that Government did not know what was going on. It is rather extraordinary that the Labour party is now criticising the Government for not cutting nuclear weapons instead of conventional weapons, when the history of the matter shows that again and again the Labour party cut conventional weapons first.

I want to consider the personnel policy within the Defence Estimates, and more specifically I urge the Minister to review the conditions of service of all service men continually to ensure that retention rates—to which the hon. Member for Woolwich referred—are sufficient to justify the high cost of training our service men. Despite the present level of unemployment, the armed services have in the past suffered a steady drain of skilled personnel to civilian occupations. That trend is particularly evident among those specialisations where training costs are highest—especially in the training of aircrew. With the rapid reduction of unemployment that has taken place over the past year, combined with the demographic changes that will take place in future, there are certain to be shortfalls in skill levels across the board. It is clear that this trend will get worse.

Unfortunately, the recent report by Air Marshal Robson, which attempted to address the problem of aircrew, focused on the terms of service rather than on the conditions of service of service men. Even so, the proposals were accepted only reluctantly and not implemented in full. I suspect that that was the response because certain departments in the armed services still believe that personnel policies can be drawn up and implemented with little regard to the labour market outside the armed services.

The armed services must compete for the same people as outside occupations, whereas the training costs in the armed services are much higher. As a result, it is of paramount importance that the services keep trained personnel for as long as they need them. At the moment, that is achieved through direct or indirect financial sanctions when various service personnel want to leave, or it is achieved through a simple refusal to allow them to leave if they go above the level permitted under the premature voluntary retirement conditions of service.

I believe that that is the wrong way to approach the problem. For instance, the refusal of promotion unless an officer waives his option to leave the service only leads to a feeling of disillusionment about the service in general and about its ability to retain its best and brightest personnel in particular. It is odd that someone who is deemed to have the right qualities to be promoted, based on his record, should be forced to sign away those rights before being promoted.

I suggest a more positive approach towards the armed services retaining the personnel that they want to retain. Because of the high cost of training, that will result in a net gain to the defence budget rather than cost more. Let me state a basic example. It is a well-known fact that it costs about £3 million to train a Tornado pilot to operational readiness standard. It is also true to say that the maximum number of years of front-line service that the RAF can expect from one pilot is 16 years. If we can persuade more people to stay on, for example eight pilots for two years, that would save the cost of training one additional pilot. I realise that that is a reasonably simplistic example, but it shows the relationship between encouraging aircrew to stay on and the huge costs of training new pilots, which is bound to rise year by year.

The first and most obvious step to facilitate that is to remove an anomaly that has caused resentment among a great many service men for a long time. In future, specialist pay should be counted into a service man's salary for pension and gratuity purposes when he leaves the service. That would reward those who have taken on the specialisations and result in a higher retention rate specifically in those areas where skills are in short supply. Also, service men could be paid to stay in the service when they reach an option date, rather than pay them only if they leave and then, perhaps, as has happened in the past, invite them back afterwards when there are not enough personnel left with a particular trade or qualification. That has caused — and would still cause if it were reintroduced — a great resentment among those who decided to stay in the first place.

Following on from that, I understand that there are moves afoot to reduce pension commutation rights of service men. I strongly urge the Minister not to continue with those proposals, as once again they will act as a disincentive for people deciding whether to stay on or leave the service.

Finally, a most irksome aspect of a service man's life involves the petty bureaucratic regulations over allowances, which cause much distress and annoyance, particularly when it is known that enforcement results in an increase rather than a decrease in defence expenditure. Those regulations are many and varied and I shall mention only one tonight. Service men have the costs of storing their belongings when they go abroad paid for by the Ministry of Defence. However, if they wish to take their belongings with them they must pay the removal costs. It is clear that, on average, it is cheaper to allow people to take their belongings with them than to store them. There would be a net gain to the defence budget by taking a clearer view on that matter and allowing service men going on tour to Germany to take their belongings with them. I hope that the Minister will look closely at those regulations and alter them to meet the genuine needs of service men, and at the same time I suggest that no extra cost would be imposed on the defence budget.

I have said that I welcome the Defence Estimates. However, if we are to maintain our defences at their present high state of readiness and retain — and I emphasise this point — the highly qualified service men upon whom that readiness depends, we need to look closely at service men's conditions, and not terms of service, and take more positive moves to ensure the retention of those people, and specifically to retain the best of those service men.

6.47 pm
Ms. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

When I opened this dark blue shiny brochure that passes for a White Paper on the Defence Estimates, I was reminded of a similar Government publication that I received in 1980. I received that as a resident of the district of Newbury where cruise missiles were due to be deployed. That glossy Newbury brochure contained similarly propagandist pink and blue force level reduction diagrams and pictures of nuclear hardware in scenic locations. That brochure also claimed: Cruise missiles are a vital part of the West's life insurance policy. It went on to argue that the aim of using them would be to persuade the Russian leadership, even at the eleventh hour, to draw back.

Cruise missiles are going. In my view, neither the White Paper nor yesterday's debate have thrown any light on how the British Government are reassessing NATO's defence strategy post INF. Yesterday the Secretary of State for Defence talked mysteriously of adjustments. There is no mystery. We all know that sea-launched cruise, air-launched cruise and new tactical missiles are being considered. I believe that that is the response of children who have had their toys taken away. That response fails to examine the vital questions, "Why were the missiles deployed?" and "Will the reasons for their deployment disappear with their removal?"

Why were the missiles deployed? I am sure that the House would be interested in the views of Les Aspin, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in Washington. He said recently that the INF decision was intended to address these doubts by putting some visible strength and credibility back into nuclear linkage. If his opinion is valid, those European doubts, which I understand the British Government shared, would presumably reappear with the disappearance of that linkage. Aspin calls this the conceptual flaw in the pending INF agreement. He further admits that the United States Administration never expected the Soviets to accept the zero option and that it began solely as a masterful public relations stroke". No wonder the Government are discomfited. No wonder they will not come clean on what they mean by adjustments post an INF agreement. They told us that SS20s were the threat. Now General John Galvin, head of NATO's forces in Europe, is saying that the risk of nuclear war will be greater post an INF agreement and the removal of those self-same SS20s.

General Galvin is asking for buttressing. We may not know what the Secretary of State means by adjustments, but I understand that General Galvin is asking for longer-range Lance missiles and air-launched stand-off nuclear missiles such as might be carried in the British Tornado.

Where do the Government stand? Will they now not only oppose the multilateral nuclear disarmament of tactical short-range missiles, but support the addition of new battlefield nuclear weapons? I trust that the Minister will tell the House when he replies. But whatever the Government's posture, it is unlikely to please our German allies, who are desperate to remove the threat of battlefield nuclear war on their territory.

The truth is that no war can be fought in Europe with any hope of gain for anyone. The Soviets know that, and we know that if we are being honest. The potential of an INF deal offers the West an opportunity that the Government have singularly failed to grasp. It obliges Conservative Members to stop whingeing about conventional imbalance and to ask how it can be addressed rationally and constructively, not only in the interests of Western security, but in the wider interest of ending the cold war and developing mature relationships with the countries of Eastern Europe.

The denuclearisation of Europe is possible. Conventional force reductions by the Soviet Union are a possibility. Why did not the White Paper at least analyse the merit of strategies related to such possibilities? I can tell the House why. It is because the Government are committed to a massively expensive useless virility symbol called Trident.

Yesterday the Secretary of State declined to answer my question on the circumstances in which Trident would be used. He does not want it on the public record, because a nuclear exchange involving Trident would result in the deaths of 40 million British citizens and the destruction of Britain. There are no circumstances in which that weapon system could be used in the defence of the British people.

Nuclear deterrence has become incredible. Until Conservative Members are prepared to admit it, they cannot offer Britain a secure defence.

6.53 pm
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

I hope that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) will forgive me if I do not follow her arguments. In her maiden speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) made the clearest case that I have ever heard for saying that Britain's defences must continue to rest, as they have done for almost 40 years, on a nuclear foundation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates) rightly said that the Government were most courageous in the difficult economic years of the early 1980s in maintaining and increasing our defence spending. I agree that, having now had a slight pause in the growth of spending, many Conservative Back Benchers would wish more power to the elbow of our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in his coming discussions with the Treasury.

Most of the debate so far has focused on the amount of resources allocated to defence. I want to focus on the narrower issue of the management of those resources. Part of the reason for the significant outflow of junior officers among the high flyers is disillusionment with the present organisational structure within the Ministry of Defence. As we are just coming up to the third anniversary of its reorganisation in January 1985, this may be a good time to review that.

G. K. Chesterton once said that if one generation chooses to defend the indefensible, the next will dispense with the indispensible. I believe that happened in the reorganisation three years ago. Many desirable things took place, not least the bringing together of the Army, Navy and Air Force staffs into a unified group. But at the same time a number of elementary mistakes were made in the management structure which are doing real harm to the future of our armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence's structure is not always obvious to those outside. Let me briefly explain what the central staffs do. Their main roles are to examine intelligence estimates of the threat, to formulate operational requirements on which the Procurement Executive buys equipment, to examine longer-term policy, to determine overall military priorities and fit them into the long-term costings and to provide the command structure for operations.

One point of distinction is often missed, particularly when looking at procurement. The central staffs are involved in looking at the total fabric of defence. They have to take a view on the overall chess board, looking at the chess pieces of both sides. In contrast, the Procurement Executive is involved only with individual pieces. The importance of that arm's-length relationship can be brought out by taking the case of the Luftwaffe in 1939. That had an effective procurement function which produced large numbers of first-class equipments in a short time. Unfortunately for it, but fortunately for Britain, it did not have a proper central staff set-up with an operational requirements group. The result was that it produced good equipment, but that did not form a balanced and coherent air force, the most famous example being that the Luftwaffe's fighters and bombers could not achieve radio communication with each other during the battle of Britain.

The central staffs were reorganised in 1985, and I want to consider four features of that reorganisation. The first concerns the intelligence staffs. They are obviously critical. We must get the threat right if we are to plan correctly. Astonishingly, the critical position of Director General (Intelligence), the man with overall responsibility not only for briefing the Secretary of State for Defence but for sitting on the Cabinet's Joint Intelligence Committee, the man who took a dispassionate view of intelligence matters, independent of the day-to-day running of the intelligence set-up, was abolished. Instead, the busy Chief of Defence Intelligence, as he now is, has been asked to take on all those extra commitments, without formal access to the Secretary of State. I am sure that in the case of the present Secretary of State that is not a problem, but it illustrates the way in which intelligence was downgraded three years ago.

The second change is more complicated. I mentioned earlier the formulation of operational requirements. It is an advantage for that to be done on a defencewide basis.If one is considering helicopters, for example, there is a lot to be said for looking at them with Army, Navy and Air Force teams together.

Unfortunately, instead of combining three staffs into one, three years ago we decided to combine three staffs into two. We now have a defence staff that carries all the responsibility for formulating those operational requirements and, in another department, for formulating overall military priorities within our programmes. That staff sits side by side with the organisation of management and budget, which has most of the authority for voting money. All the military staffs are in the defence staffs; all the financial staffs are in the Organisation for Management and the Budget. As a result, no submission to the equipment policy committee, where these central staffs meet the Procurement Executive — or, indeed, to Ministers — can be made within one department. Everything, even the most minor items, must start in one department and move on to another.

I shall illustrate in a moment why I think that the present Secretary of State and his team are doing an excellent job. However, that should not blind us to the fact that they have inherited a system with weaknesses from the previous incumbent, and a good deal can he done to improve it.

Let me quote my favourite business writer, Peter Drucker, describing what happens if a large organisation is split up so that different professional groups are in separate departments. This book was borrowed from the Treasury library, so what it says must be true! As soon as it"— such an organisation— approaches even a modest degree of size or complexity, `friction' builds up. It rapidly becomes an organisation or misunderstandings, feuds, empires and Berlin-Wall building. It soon requires elaborate, expensive, and clumsy management crutches—coordinators, committees, meetings, trouble shooters, special dispatchers — which waste everybody's time without, as a rule, solving much. Mr. Drucker goes on to point out that, in such a set-up., innovation tends to die, because no radical solution will: survive the long travel down the corridors of power through all the various committees.

I do not believe that that is now the position in the Ministry of Defence, because of the present Secretary of State's light touch on the tiller. However, I see a danger that we are beginning to move in that direction. We hear from those who have served—and, in some cases, are serving — in military staffs that they would welcome constructive criticism from another department; but, because the Organisation for Management and Budget has no uniform personnel, they feel that all that they get is financial carping.

Conversely—there are no goodies and badies in this regard — people on the financial side feel that the military people have lost all touch with financial reality. I know something about that, because I worked in a finance department for four years. The position is worsened by the fact that we now have seven tiers of checking up. Besides the Organisation of Management and Budget, which first scrutinises the defence staff's proposals,the equipment policy committee, which brings them together with the Procurement Executive and the Ministers, there are sometimes four more tiers. There is the MOD's internal audit team, the Treasury, the Comptroller and Auditor-General's staff — who are becoming more and more active—and the Select Committee on Defence. As a result, there is very little time for the defence staffs to get on with creative work.

The solution is to bring those staffs together under one roof. We must take from the Organisation of Management and Budget the critical staffs involved with operational requirements and with resources and programming, and move them into the defence staff, so that the requirements and overall programmes are put together in one place, under one boss, and can be delegated down the line. The equipment policy committee and, in more substantial cases, Ministers, will then receive recommendations put together through the brainstorming of one unified group.

General Sir Frank Kitson has pointed out that for many years there has been little scope for bright young officers to reach senior positions of power and influence in the MOD. That has always happened in peacetime. There is no tri-service staff college that a junior officer can attend in order to make the best possible contribution to the present centralised defence staff—a staff which, as I have said, I strongly support. Promotion of such an officer is still controlled from his own individual service. He is encouraged — indeed, in some instances, coerced — to continue to play the old-fashioned inter-service rivalry game.

If we want to obtain real value from the excellent step forward of bringing the three services together, we must do it by creating a fast stream of bright young officers who go through a unified instead of a single-service staff college training, and who are answerable for their promotion prospects on the staff side to a unified defence promotion board instead of a single-service one. Most important of all, to prevent such officers from becoming "military yuppies", they should have current field experience. I believe that General Kitson is right, although I would go further than him.

Finally, there is a shortage of numbers in key departments. The reorganisation of 1985 rightly cut out enormous amounts of waste, not only in the MOD but in other headquarters. Because, in two pamphlets, I suggested that that should be done, I feel — from the lowest of worm's-eye views—partly responsible for the unfortunate fact that, in the process of eliminating waste, two or three critical departments within the central staff were cut below the level needed for effective operation. That applies especially to the intelligence and operational requirements staffs. But I am delighted that, under the present Secretary of State, some rebuilding is beginning.

Let me summarise by pulling the four points together. First, I think that we should reinstate the crucial post of Director General (Intelligence). As before, he should be a retired uniformed officer, outside the cut and thrust, and he should report directly to the Secretary of State for Defence. Secondly, I think that we should create a fast stream of bright young officers with the tri-service staff college and promotion board. Thirdly, we should ensure that, within the operational requirements, intelligence and resources and programming staffs, we have enough people to define the requirements and the threat correctly. We shall be able to save hundreds of millions of pounds later if we get the requirement right now. Fourthly, and most important, I believe that we should move the critical financial staffs involved with requirements and programming from the Organisation for Management and Budget into the defence staff, so that the formulation of requirements and priorities can be done under one roof.

I firmly believe that I am pushing on an open door, because that is exactly what the present defence team has just done in the Procurement Executive. Ten or 15 years ago, the Procurement Executive suffered from the terrible Chinese wall syndrome that we now have in the central staff. The financial staffs were in one department; the quality staffs were in another; the contract staff were in a third. One by one, those groups have come in from the cold, and have been unified into the directorates and project teams. The decision by the present Secretary of State to bring the crucial contracts staff into the directorates means that we have a fully unified Procurement Executive, and that is what I should like to see in our central staffs.

For reasons that have already been set out in some detail during the debate, I believe that we have today the strongest armed forces that we have had for a generation, because of the extra resources that the Government have chosen to devote to defence. I ask the Secretary of State and his staff to consider those four recommendations to ensure that that is still the case in the 21st century.

7.9 pm

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on an outstanding maiden speech. One might not agree with everything that she said, but she delivered her speech with great confidence and without notes. It is a great pleasure to welcome another of the far too few female Members of Parliament. Her speech showed that she will have a great future in this House.

We are debating the Defence Estimates against the background of progress in talks on disarmament. For decades there has been immobility. Now it seems that the log-jam is to be broken and that there is to be movement. The conferences at Reykjavik and Geneva have given us hope. We can realistically expect an agreement on intermediate nuclear forces.

A couple of months ago I was able to discuss this matter with the State Department in Washington, and I came away with the view that the State Department is firmly committed to such an agreement. A whole class of weapons will now be removed. Cruise and Pershing will go. Greenham Common will be able once again to revert to being a pleasant part of the English countryside. The super-powers are now talking of a 50 per cent. cut in strategic weapons. We want to move on to progressive cuts in, and the elimination of, strategic nuclear weapons, with effective verification. There should also be international on-site inspection of chemical disarmament, the inspection of space research laboratories and permanent verification posts to monitor the movement of conventional forces. None of this should be jeopardised by moving the arms race into space.

Britain should be giving a lead to and supporting all this. We should welcome the first rays of the sun, the first beacons to illuminate and dispel the funereal gloom with which we have been surrounded. But what is the reaction of the British Prime Minister? It is one of violent opposition. So obsessed is she with the worship of nuclear weapons that, despite previous lip service to the zero-zero option, she immediately scurried to Camp David to oppose and obstruct the whole process. She is opposed to the denuclearisation of Europe. So Conservative policy—the policy of this Government—is out of step with world trends.

The Prime Minister went to Moscow. That is always a good ploy before a general election. We saw it used before, when Macmillan donned his white hat and went to Moscow. There was a sort of love-in with Gorbachev, but that did not extend to removing nuclear weapons. When the Prime Minister had the opportunity to make a broadcast on Moscow television, we heard an astonishing hymn in praise of nuclear weapons. She told us that the only defence of small countries was to have nuclear weapons.

Let us think about that. If that is true, we should give nuclear weapons to all small countries, then everybody could deter everybody else. That is the logic of the present Prime Minister's point of view, but it is absolutely insane. If these awesome weapons were to proliferate and spread in that way, inevitably someone, somewhere, at some time—whether by accident or design — would initiate their use, with cataclysmic results.

Because of that fundamental truth, previous British Governments worked for the establishment of a nonproliferation treaty. Under that treaty we are obliged to work for nuclear disarmament. Article VI of the treaty says: Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. That is what we are committed to under the treaty. Why should other countries abstain if we are not prepared to do so? We undertook to strive to give up our nuclear weapons, but this Government are reneging on that undertaking with Trident, which is a big advance on our nuclear capacity. That is dangerous and deplorable. There is no sensible, respectable or justifiable reason for this country to have nuclear weapons.

It is very instructive to look at the history of British nuclear weapons. During the second world war the research and manufacturing project was a joint British-American effort. That project was transferred to the United States. At the end of the war the Americans refused to give those secrets to us, or to share them with us. The British Government were very miffed. As a result, they decided to build one for themselves.

It is very instructive to ask why. The Cabinet papers reveal why they decided to do so. Was it to frighten or to deter the Russians? No, it was nothing to do with that; it was to impress the Americans. We were told that otherwise they would not treat us seriously or as an equal; that we would no longer be one of the big three. The bomb was therefore seen as our entrance ticket to the conference chamber. It was a status symbol; it was the way to reserve our seat at the top table.

The reason for Britain possessing nuclear weapons is vanity, which is the least reputable of motives. It has not worked. We do not have a seat at the top table; we are not at Geneva; we are not at any of the super-power summits; we are just a spectator; we are informed afterwards by the American Secretary of State when he is on his way back to the United States. Nevertheless, the nuclear arms race has marched on as a form of madness.

At the end of the last war there were three nuclear weapons. Now there are over 60,000 — an incredible overkill. Those warheads have the destructive power of over 1 million Hiroshimas. In other words, we have the power to blow up the world umpteen times. We must ask ourselves whether that is a rational activity for human beings. The world is spending over £1 million a minute on arms. That is insane and obscene, alongside so much hunger, poverty and disease.

Another effect of this huge expenditure in the United States, especially alongside President Reagan's tax cuts, is that it has caused the United States' budget deficit. That deficit has led to the stock exchange crash, which has caused more damage to capitalism than the threat of Communism. The high interest rates that are needed to finance that deficit are ruining the Third world and are leading it to default. They are a threat to the world's banking system.

The huge vested interest in this stupendous arms expenditure—Eisenhower called it the military-industrial complex — has to have an alleged justification. That is what is called "the threat." What is the threat? It is, of course, the Soviet Union. Were it not for the hydrogen bomb, we are expected to believe, the Soviet Union would immediately roll its armies over western Europe, somehow get across the Channel and then roll all over Britain. That is the justification for this huge arms expenditure.

I have always had great difficulty with that notion. It is convenient for those who profit from the arms race, but it is not very convincing to suggest that the Russians want to act in so irrational and insane a way. I watched Peter Ustinov's recent television programmes, especially the last one, in which he referred to the fact that Russia has been invaded many times. It was invaded by Napoleon; it was invaded during the Crimean war; it was invaded during the first world war; and it was invaded during the wars of intervention after the revolution. It was also invaded during the second world war, during which 20 million Russians perished. Peter Ustinov said that the Russian attitude was defensive. I find that to be a much more realistic and convincing appraisal.

Those who live by the bomb say that no major war in Europe has taken place for 40 years because we have the bomb—that the bomb has kept the peace and deterred the Russians. That is rather like saying that on the way to the debate today I saw a black cat and that therefore all cats are black.

There is another explanation for there being no war in Europe for 40 years. It is that the Russians never intended to attack us in the first place, first because that would have been insane and the height of stupidity—and I do not believe that the Russians are insane — and, secondly, because they know that to do so would cause a third world war—in which America would inevitably be involved, as it was in 1917 and 1942—and that they could not expect to win.

The fact that we have had no war in Europe for 40 years has nothing to do with the bomb. Within a generation., France and Germany went twice to war. They will not go to war again, but is that because of the hydrogen bomb? Of course it is not. It is for other reasons. The human race must get away from the notion that the preservation of peace is dependent upon the horror of a nuclear holocaust.

Chernobyl has shown us that whoever uses nuclear weapons will poison themselves as well as any enemy, that they will pollute the planet and contaminate the very environment that gives rise to life. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has explained on many occasions that those who use nuclear weapons will inflict upon us a nuclear winter. It is dubious whether any life will survive after the use of such weapons, but certainly this country would be finished. Six large hydrogen bombs dropped down the spine of this country would render it a devastated, uninhabitable and radioactive ruin. The use of nuclear weapons is not militarily credible and we can only commit suicide by their use.

It is impossible to conceive of any circumstances that would justify the use of such weapons. When the Secretary of State was asked to specify the circumstances in which he would use such weapons, he was lost for words, and quite so. There is no sense in using such weapons.

The sensible and realistic course for Britain is to divest itself of nuclear weapons and have an effective non-nuclear defence. Some say that if we did not have nuclear weapons we would be naked and be open to blackmail. However, the vast majority of nations do not have nuclear weapons. What example is there in history of a country being subjected to nuclear blackmail? Sweden does not have nuclear weapons, nor does Japan. Have those countries been invaded or subjected to blackmail? It is much easier to get to Japan from Russia than to Britain. We are told that the removal of nuclear weapons from Britain would strain the British-American Alliance. However, Japan has no nuclear weapons, and no foreign bases on its soil, but has that put a strain on the Pacific Alliance? Why should anyone claim that a British non-nuclear policy would destroy or destabilise the Western Alliance?

Let us consider some examples. In 1956 France withdrew from the NATO military arrangements altogether and asked for the removal of all United States bases. In other words, France went far further than Labour party policy. Did that decision lead to the fragmentation of NATO or the United States decoupling from Europe? In 1974 Greece withdrew from NATO. Between 1969 and 1972 Canada took decisions to relinquish its nuclear role in NATO. In fact, seven out of 16 NATO countries—roughly half—do not have nuclear weapons or allow nuclear weapons on their soil. Therefore, we are not talking about something that is unprecedented. New Zealand has just adopted the same policy.

If we followed such a policy, we should join those nations marching away from the holocaust and away from the exaggerated fantasies and careless rhetoric of the cold war. We should bear in mind that Milton said: Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live. The removal of nuclear weapons more than anything else is the area in which we should participate and give a lead. If we divested ourselves of those weapons it would be good sense, morally and militarily.

7.23 pm
Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

I declare an interest as a standing member of the Territorial Army and also a potential interest in the SDI programme.

Before I start my speech I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on her outstanding maiden speech. I join many of my hon. Friends in saying that I am absolutely certain that she is a valuable addition to the House and that we shall have many interesting and exciting speeches from her.

I welcome this debate because it is one of great importance to everyone because we all want peace—not peace at any price, but peace with freedom. We realise that we must pay for that freedom.

I would like to restrict myself to three items—first, recruitment, secondly, the SDI programme and finally the arms reduction talks.

On the matter of recruitment I will cut out a lot of what I would have said because of the excellent speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for Maidstone and for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier). They said many interesting things and they have my support. However, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to consider carefully the problems of recruitment in the armed forces and especially the disincentive of overstretch. That problem exists in many ranks and in particular within key ranks of officers and noncommissioned officers. Those people achieve certain skills and are being especially over-stretched. That has an effect on married families and can lead to enticing people to leave the armed forces prematurely. That is an especially great problem when it is combined with the adverse outlook for demographic recruitment potential. We should seek creative ways of bringing people into the armed forces and keeping them in the forces for a length of time commensurate with the skills and teaching that they receive.

I should also like to urge the increased use of the Territorial Army. I do not think that my hon. Friends mentioned this. The Territorial Army is a relatively cheap option if it is correctly used. I know that the Ministry of Defence is using the Territorial Army, but I would urge the Ministry to give greater consideration to its extended use to try to make up and reduce the over-stretch on the regular armed forces. In particular, I wish to refer to what happens when emergencies occur and the problems that we have with Queen's Order No. 2 — the general mobilisation order. I believe that it would be much more reasonable if we could have a graduated mobilisation of people in the Territorials so that that order would not automatically be seen as a general mobilisation.

If members of the Territorials and the reserve forces could be used in conjunction with the regular forces—even in contingencies that would be popularly considered as "bush fires" —that would be helpful. For example, if we had volunteers on the Royal Navy ships in the Gulf that would help. The operation in the Gulf—the long patrols and long periods away—is putting a tremendous strain upon the families of the sailors of the Royal Navy. The use of volunteer reserves in such circumstances might be an interesting proposition.

With regard to SDI participation, I believe that the Estimates reflect our pleasure at the fact that we have regained parts of that programme. The sum of £34 million has been mentioned in the Estimates. However, if that figure is judged in comparison with some of our NATO allies, for example, Germany, that sum appears to look small. If that sum is judged in terms of the sums awarded to some of the states of the United States—the most notable is California—it looks almost infinitesimal.

We must be much more aggressive in pursuing and obtaining participation in the SDI programme. We must seek to equal, let alone better, some of our NATO allies. We have fantastic skills in this country that could be marketed better than the skills of many of our NATO allies, yet we are nowhere near the leading position with regard to SDI participation. In fact, Britain is not in a good position at the moment and I urge the Government to be much more aggressive in pursuing and obtaining this business. Of course this is not easy. It was not until nine years ago that Britain became more aggressive in marketing its products. Now we have a much more difficult thing to market — skills. We have the skills in such high technology areas and we must be much more professional in marketing them.

The Americans make much use of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is probably the greatest centre of technical excellence in the world. That institute is being used by the American Administration as a conduit for obtaining SDI participation for American corporations. I believe that we must concentrate on our centres of excellence in technology. We must market their skills and abilities and ensure that they are used as conduits to enable British corporations to participate in the SDI programme.

With regard to arms reduction, I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright). I have great respect for his views. I was pleased to hear his adoption, even if only by force majeure, of the view that we are correct in pursuing the Trident option. I noticed that at the beginning of his speech, he said we have to deter a potential aggressor from contemplating a nuclear attack upon us. I urge that we think more widely than only a nuclear attack and include chemical, biological and conventional forces. That is the reason for Trident—its hitting power, and its increased range, which makes it more difficult to detect. I do not criticise the hon. Gentleman's speech in any way; I respect it and was pleased to hear it.

Most hon. Members would agree that the arms race is not merely a matter of weapons, but one of mutual distrust. Weapons are merely the symptom of mutual distrust; therefore, to achieve disarmament we have to reduce the existing mutual distrust. The critical element of reducing this mutual distrust is to seek good will on both sides, and to have satisfactory verification, particularly challenge verification. That is the critical element in achieving mutual trust which will lead eventually to mutual and balanced force reductions.

We must think of arms reductions as both balanced and integrated. We must look at nuclear defence not on its own, but as part of an integrated defence system, including chemical, biological and conventional forces. We must not be tempted into thinking that we have achieved something marvellous by banning only nuclear weapons, or one part of the nuclear defence system; we must look at the whole integrated system of defence forces.

We are now on the threshold of a balanced, integrated disarmament era, a thing that was totally undreamed of even five years ago. We are entering an era of movement in arms control and arms negotiation. Indeed, the years 1987 and 1988 are as different from 1984 and 1985 as the blitzkrieg was from static trench warfare. We are moving from a static slugging match, where everyone threw more and more resources into defence, to an era of movement. We have to take advantage of that, and at the same time beware that we are not outflanked. We are on a threshold which involves not only great risks, but great opportunities. We are here not from a strategy of weakness or popular retreat, but as the result of a strategy of strength, good will and the diligent and prudent pursuit of peace with freedom.

It would not be right at this stage to fail to congratulate my hon. Friends and members of the Government responsible for defence and foreign affairs on this. outstanding achievement. It is tremendous, and we should be grateful for it, and I should like to offer my personal congratulations to the Government and to the other Governments who helped to achieve this situation.

Some people have urged that we take an easier option — one of unilateral disarmament — but we should consider the Punic wars. Even in those ancient times, when Rome and Carthage were the two super-powers and Carthage decided upon unilateral disarmament in favour of trade, it was vanquished to such an extent that today historians argue about the precise location of Carthage. And that was in the days before gunpowder, and the Romans did a real number on them. I urge people to talk in terms of unilateral disarmament to read that history.

Today, as we look to an era of balance and integrated disarmament, which has now become a realistic option, one name, above all others, stands out on the world stage—that of Mr. Gorbachev. As part of the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation in December 1984, I had the honour to meet Mr. and Mrs. Gorbachev in varied situations over a number of hours. Much has been written about Mr. Gorbachev, and I shall not repeat the many assessments of his character. However, I wish to share two basic impressions. One is what I feel to be the key position of the Soviets in the arms talks, and the other is what I believe to be two important characteristics of Mr. Gorbachev.

The key Soviet position in the arms control talks is focused on the strategic defence initiative. I gained the overwhelming impression in 1984 that the Soviets were desperate—but desperate—to negotiate even a halt to, but if possible a cancellation of, the SDI programme. The Soviets know the awesome power of an SDI programme. They should know better than anyone because they are the only people with even a rudimentary form of SDI in position. They also know that the key to an effective programme is computer power. The programme does not have to be 100 per cent. effective—even a 60 or 40 per cent. SDI programme would have a great effect on the strategic balance in the world, and even upon the downside of nuclear proliferation. They know that the minimum computer power is the ability to make 40 million calculations a second, and they also know that they will not catch the United States on computer power for years, if ever. They are ahead at the moment, but once the United States invests in an SDI programme it will soon lead the Soviets.

That is a powerful influence in the Soviet's decision-making. They realise that even a semi-effective SDI programme—perhaps only 50 per cent. effective—means that the more that nuclear strategic missiles are reduced, the more that plays into the hands of a relatively ineffective SDI programme, especially if only one side has it. If the Soviets have an SDI programme that is only 10 or 20 per cent. effective, a strategic reduction plays more into their hands than into the hands of the West, which currently does not have an SDI programme in place. If a country is only 20 per cent. effective with today's arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and there is a reduction of 50 per cent., that country becomes 40 per cent. effective at the new level. That is something that we must watch carefully when pursuing arms negotiations.

The Soviets are desperate to negotiate the SDI programme. That was shown at Reykjavik and again this week when they were ready to discuss INF, and then suddenly threw in the SDI card. They hope that the West, through popular pressure in democracies, will yield. Therefore, the SDI has dealt an ace card to the hands of the West in arms negotiations.

There are two characteristics of Mr. Gorbachev on which our negotiators would do well to concentrate. First is his charisma—Western-style charisma—which he has not only the ability but the apparent willingness to exploit through our media directly into our homes. Hardly a day passes without that man, who was unknown in 1984, being on the front page of every serious newspaper. Almost every day of the week he is a major headline on television and radio. We must take that into account, because we could easily underestimate the change that he could achieve in the Soviet Union in motivating management and workers. Combined with the natural patriotism of the Russian people, we could easily be surprised by the rate of change achieved in the Soviet Union, just as many people have been surprised by the rate of change in Communist China.

Mr. Gorbachev's charisma is also exercised in his ability to talk directly over the heads of our negotiators and leaders to grass roots throughout the western world. By using our news media, he could become a world leader for any group in the world that suits his purpose. I venture to guess that he is already one of the most popular leaders, if not the most popular, in the world. How many people in the western world do not know of Mr. Gorbachev? If, during polls, people are asked about world leaders, many appear never to have heard of their own leaders. Mr. Gorbachev, however, is well known in the West and, in a way, he is popular. He has the ability to lull populations into a false sense of security and to talk unbalanced billions of dollars off our defence budgets. He can also split alliances.

Mr. Gorbachev's second characteristic is tremendous self-confidence based on track record and an open-mindedness that has proved successful. His self-confidence has two interesting points — first, the ability to be flexible and, secondly, the ability to be creative. Indeed, he has already been creative. At Reykjavik he wrong-footed the West with his amazing creativity and panache. The Soviets won the public relations battle. If President Reagan had not been such a great communicator he could have been tarred as a warmonger when he returned from Reykjavik.

Mr. Gorbachev can use that tremendous creativity to change the balance of public perceptions in the West. It is now easy for our Western leaders to return from talks with Soviet leaders looking like warmongers because we did not give away everything. That has never happened before. Since 1945, the stone-faced Soviets have said, "Niet, niet, niet", and have always appeared to be the spoilsports. Now, it could easily be a Western leader who is accused of that.

It is important to remember that, because we are in an era of movement on arms talks — one that demands enhanced integrity from Western leaders because they now have to judge what they give away at arms negotiations in the real interests of the West against what will look good and avoid them being branded warmongers. We must constantly remember that our leaders must be careful not to sell out simply because to do otherwise would risk them being called warmongers.

Mr. Gorbachev has heralded a new era of public relations and public perception. Out has gone the brutal Russian bear and in has come a reasonable, responsible and even reassuring Russia. However, the Soviets' longterm goals may not have changed a great deal—if at all—but their methods and style have changed. The West must be alert to that and, above all, be united. The Estimates show that the British Government, for one, are determined to adopt those three criteria. I wish them good fortune in these difficult, challenging but exciting negotiations and in their judgment of the options available to us.

7.44 pm
Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

A week or so ago a Harrier jet went out of control and flew, pilotless, some 200 miles before crashing into the ocean. The Government's defence policy is in a similar state—out of control and heading for disaster. Despite vast increases in spending, adding 5 per cent. per annum since the Government came to office to an already very large budget, it is acknowledged that the armed forces are probably in a worse state, relatively speaking, than they were before the second world war.

The Navy is a good example. On 22 February this year the Sunday Telegraph reported: By the summer, the strength of the Navy will be less than the level planned by Sir John Nott, when he was Defence Secretary in 1981. On 10 July The Independent carried the headline: Navy sending sitting-ducks to sea". A headline in The Times on 10 April stated: The Fleet's Up the Creek". Despite all that, there are to be cuts totalling hundreds of millions of pounds. That money will not be redistributed to the social sector — to education and housing — as I would wish. The cuts are due to financial crisis and mismanagement, and the money is needed particularly to pay for the Government's nuclear obsession—a topic to which I shall return in due course. The cuts will mean more job losses, but there will be no Government action to provide replacement jobs.

The excessive waste in the Defence Estimates is caused by a combination of muddle, mismanagement and inadequate control by the Ministry of Defence, and excessive profiteering by racketeers in the defence industry monopolies cushioned by the Ministry of Defence. There are plenty of examples. In the light of all the talk about glasnost, I hope that the Minister will bring some glasnost to this country and comment on the examples that I shall give.

For instance, the programme to replace the self-propelled howitzer artillery guns with the SP70 ended in disaster, with £88 million of taxpayers' money down the drain. The Army's artillery command computer — the Bates system — is reported to have doubled in cost to some £200 million so far, with further costs to come, as the project has been delayed at least four years and will in any event not achieve what it set out to achieve. The Secretary of State had the nerve to talk about improved contract performance, but where is the improved performance in that instance?

Marconi and its subsidiaries have been accused of fraud, non-payment of royalties and making excessive profits, not to mention the unexplained deaths of three of its employees. The House should have answers to all those points. I congratulate the MOD police on having at long last taken action, but it should have been monitoring those contracts long ago so that such waste and fraud could not take place. More than £1 billion was wasted on the Nimrod early warning system. It is all very well for Conservative Members to say that that began under a Labour Government, but the Tory Government have seven and a half years of waste to answer for.

The AWACS to replace the Nimrod system cost £860 million for six. Another two will push the total over £1 billion, excluding spares. Yet a press report of 5 October stated that a senior Pentagon scientist, Dr. Tom Amlie, had said that the system would 'not last 30 minutes' in a war". According to Dr. Amlie: the unarmed aircraft could be shot down with great ease once hostilities had started … The system's powerful radar, designed to detect low-flying enemy aircraft between 200 and 300 miles away, will act as a beacon to Warsaw Pact fighters carrying missiles which home in on radar signals". It was further reported: AWACS aircraft in Saudia Arabia have twice failed to spot aircraft being flown into the country by defecting Iranian pilots. That is the kind of programme on which we are wasting £1 billion.

We saw pictures of the Tornados in the press today. The Foxhunter fire control radar which enables them to operate does not work, although it has cost £650 million so far. It is already 60 per cent. over budget and the MOD has given it another four years to work, at an extra cost of at least £100 million—so far as we can ascertain, as the figure has been deleted from the major project list in volume two of the Defence Estimates on the ground that it is "confidential." In fact, it has been deleted to cover up the enormous waste of public money.

UKADGE, the United Kingdom air defence ground environment — defence radar operation centres, computers, communication systems and control systems—was expected to cost £400 million, but is already to cost £1 billion or more. Moreover, it is alleged, the system will be vulnerable to electronic magnetic pulses. The RAF's friend or foe identification system does not work either and is still shooting down our own and other NATO aircraft in trials. The waste is immense.

Then there is land use. There are more than 3,000 bases in this country, with a replacement value of £50 billion at 1982 prices. That figure must be much higher now. According to the Ministry's own study, those sites are being significantly underused. In 1986 the Ministry had 14,000 empty homes and 4,000 had been empty for more than a year, despite the severe homelessness problem in this country. What a waste.

Millions of pounds are wasted every time one of the low-flying aircraft crashes. At least £70 million was wasted on the Zircon project.

Mr. Cryer

The Ministry of Defence makes much play of glasnost, but so far it has refused to reveal the total cost of aircraft lost in routine flying accidents since 1979. Is my hon. Friend aware that the cost is almost certainly £1 billion and that at least £500 million of that can be verified, including 11 Tornados at £17 million each?

Mr. Cohen

My hon. Friend is right, and that is just a fraction of the billions that the Ministry wastes overall, as my examples show.

The Ministry of Defence has not even started on glasnost in respect of Zircon, which is not shown in these or any previous Defence Estimates, despite the £70 million that has already been wasted. If any local authority had wasted even a fraction of that amount, its councillors would have been dragged by the scruffs of their necks through the courts, surcharged and disqualified. There is one law for them and another for the Ministry of Defence. That is a scandalous situation. I have referred the waste of money on Zircon to the Comptroller and Auditor General and I shall be watching to see whether he reports. We do not want any whitewashing in that respect.

The Falklands accounted for £2,088 million between the end of the conflict and April this year, as The Times has reported, with a further £257 million this year. The Government have made no attempt to resolve that situation and to bring down those horrendous costs. There have been plenty of examples of waste, so let us have some answers from the Ministry of Defence. Instead of answers, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement gave us platitudes about value for money when he wound up the debate last night.

With regard to the high cost of equipment, I have a report entitled "World Military and Social Expenditure for 1986", issued by World Priorities in Washington and the armaments and disarmament information unit at the university of Sussex, which states: Price increases of 300 to 400 times between 1945 and 1986 have been common for weapons systems performing the same basic functions, such as tanks, destroyers and transport planes. The report puts the matter in perspective. It states that price escalation on this scale in the civilian market would have resulted in an average family car, which 40 years ago cost £704, costing £210,000 today. Inflation in the defence industry has been much higher than domestic inflation.

The Ministry of Defence is the major customer for the defence industry, and it is a soft touch. It is charging high prices and getting away with it. The Ministry of Defence is also a soft touch for such monopolies because it acts as a wedge in any Government — particularly this Government — thus ensuring a continuing arms race, high prices and high profits for those industries. The case for public ownership of those major defence industries is overwhelming, for several reasons. Vast sums of money and vested interests are involved, leading to high prices and excessive profits, there is no real competition or control and the Ministry of Defence is by far and away the major customer. Public ownership would save the taxpayer billions of pounds and help to halt the private vested interests that contribute towards war.

The biggest waste of all is nuclear weapons. Billions of pounds go down the drain on weapons that cannot be used. It is worth analysing the Secretary of State's comment on this point yesterday. He said: Of course it is absolutely clear that we have nuclear weapons in case we are put in a position that they are necessary for the survival of our country or the NATO Alliance."—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 210.] Presumably the Secretary of State is saying that he is prepared to sacrifice this country for the NATO Alliance and for the United States. We could be destroyed. That is the logical conclusion of his statement. The Secretary of State went on to say that we should be prepared to use nuclear weapons. If we use them, it is not a question of survival. To use them would be suicide. Those remarks are an indictment of the Secretary of State and the Government.

The intermediate nuclear forces agreement is a welcome start, but there are a couple of questions that we must ask about it. Will the agreement be circumvented by compensatory deployment in other areas? Will there be cheating? The answer is yes. There are many areas where cruise missiles are being converted from their present land bases to sea and air bases. Aircraft bombers, such as the modular stand-off bomber, are being used for nuclear purposes. There is a replacement for the Lance missile—the battlefield nuclear shell. There has been a vast increase in Trident nuclear warheads, when the super-powers are trying to reduce their arsenals. The world is demanding reductions, but with Trident we are making increases as well as wasting £10 billion down the drain in the process.

It was interesting to hear the speech by the spokesman for the rump of the Social Democratic party, the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright), who is not here now. His colleagues have also not been present for the rest of the debate. He said that his party would be in favour of all those nuclear weapons, including Trident. No wonder the immediate response from the hon. Member for Wyre (Mr. Mans), who followed him, was that should be on the Tory side. All the SDP's policies are pro-nuclear.

Star wars is also a way of circumventing the spirit of the agreement and the demand by the public that we should reduce armaments. The Government are cheating and all the time looking forward to increase nuclear armaments and the nuclear arms race outside the limited range of the agreement. Yet they have the nerve to describe the fact that there is an agreement as a triumph for their policies, when they had no place at Reykjavik or at any of the other negotiating tables. So much for our allegedly independent nuclear weapon. It did not give us a place at any of those tables.

Will there be more nuclear weapons in the world, even after INF, than before President Reagan and the Prime Minister started on their arms expansion? There will still be more nuclear weapons after INF than at the beginning of the Reagan presidency. Therefore, there has not been an enormous achievement in that respect. It is still a massive overkill.

Will INF lead to further nuclear arms deductions in Europe and the world? It should, but the Prime Minister has said that, as far as she is concerned, no way—it has gone far enough. We must fight that. It is an unjustifiable position. We must keep up the pressure for further agreements and get rid of that massive overkill. It has been said that there are over 60,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The annihilation is waiting to happen, and we cannot afford it. We in this country cannot afford the cost or the risk, which is much too great. There is a proliferation of accidents and dangers.

We cannot uninvent nuclear weapons, but we can renounce them. Such a course would be much safer for Britain. We cannot afford the waste in the Tory Defence Estimates. That money should and could be much better used for the welfare of our people. I want a fraction of the money wasted on nuclear weapons to come into Leyton, to improve the housing, the Health Service and the education of the children there. We cannot afford that waste.

The Tory defence policy is like the Harrier that we read about last week. It is heading for a crash, and we do not want the British people to go down with it.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. The winding-up speeches are expected to begin at about 9.20 pm. Several hon. Members who have sat in the Chamber for a good part of the day still hope to speak, so I appeal for brief contributions.

8.5 pm

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

The speech by the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) was extraordinary in many ways — first, because he is a Socialist accountant, which seems to be a contradiction in terms, and, secondly, we heard a Labour Member talking about waste. I began to wonder whether I was listening to someone on the road to Damascus, but what the hon. Gentleman meant by waste was the things that he did not agree with, not waste in the real sense of the word. The hon. Gentleman is an expert on waste as he represents a borough where the rates went up by 62 per cent. this year, so we listened with interest to his expertise.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on her maiden speech. I have never listened to a speech of such fluency and expertise, made with hardly a note. As my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) said, we look forward to her further contributions.

In my election campaign, I put into my election address the phrase: Defence of the nation is the government's first duty. When I spoke in the campaign, on every occasion I stressed the importance of making sure that this country is properly defended. On every occasion my Labour opponent never mentioned the subject. It was only when it was dragged out of him in questions that he even attempted to talk about that most important subject. He was embarrassed, as are Opposition Members, by official Labour party policy.

Before I discuss the topics that have been raised by some Opposition Members, I should like to mention two constituency subjects concerning defence, which are close to my heart. The first is the Royal Naval armaments depot at Milford Haven in my constituency and the related depot at Trecwn just outside it. At the moment they are the subject of an inquiry, known as the Glover inquiry, although I understand that Mr. Glover has since moved on. I appreciate that any inquiry or review into the future of those depots must start from the position of their importance to the future defence of the country. It is important that there is a role for the mine depot — ensuring that we have conventional mines for the Royal Navy for use in our waters for defensive purposes.

However, I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to take into account also the important economic and social consequences of the depot for the town of Milford Haven. The town has 30 per cent. unemployment, and if the depot were to close, or be transferred, it would have a dramatic effect on the town. Nearly 300 jobs are at risk there. I hope that the Minister will take the economic and social circumstances of the depot into account in the inquiry.

The second matter is the RAF search and rescue facility at Brawdy. I am delighted to see that in volume 1 at paragraph 426 of the annual statement reference is made to the Sea King helicopters at Brawdy, which rescued 28 people from the Kowloon Bridge in November 1986. At the moment the search and rescue facility at Brawdy, along with the other search and rescue facilities in RAF and Royal Navy bases around the country, is the subject of a review. I understand that Bristow Helicopters has made an offer to take over the running of those facilities.

It would be wrong for us to privatise that activity—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am delighted that for once in my life I have the support of the Opposition. I am sure that I shall not receive their support for the rest of my remarks.

Although I am a firm supporter of privatisation, I believe that, when we are talking about military matters, where it is important to have military discipline because the helicopters have to be on 24-hour standby and we cannot risk having strikes, it is important that those facilities remain under the control of the RAF.

This has been a fascinating debate for those of us who are new to the House because we have had the enjoyment of listening to several speeches by long-established parliamentarians. I refer in particular to the speeches by the right hon. Members for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). It was interesting to hear what they said and what the official spokesmen did not say. I believe that the Chesterfield amendment is the real voice of the Labour party. I am only sorry that Mr. Speaker did not select that amendment. In a Division we could have seen the split in the Labour party. I am sure that if the amendment had been selected, there would have been strong support for the Chesterfield camp from within the new Labour party.

The speech by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield can be described only as vintage Bennery. He rewrote history. He set up straw men that he then proceeded to knock down. For instance, he talked about the American empire and derided any threat from the USSR. That reminded me of Sydney Webb and the other Left-wing intelligensia who went to the USSR in the 1930s and returned singing the praises of the Russian system. It seems that nothing has been learnt by the Left wing of the Labour party since then. There was no mention by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield about the Russian empire that controls so many countries. The difference between the USSR and the United States is clear. Of course, the United States is not perfect, but to compare that country in any way with a totalitarian dictatorship—for that is what the Communist countries are—and to pretend that a country that has free elections, a free press and free speech is in any way comparable to the USSR or even, in the view of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield, less attractive than the USSR is absurd.

Mr. Cryer

In view of the wicked perils of the Soviet Union that the hon. Gentleman has just described, does he think it wise that his leader, the Prime Minister, should go to the Soviet Union and engage in lengthy conversations with the leadership and appear on Soviet television?

Mr. Bennett

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made an excellent speech on television. It was the first time that the Russian people had been able to hear about the joys and benefits of capitalism. For the Labour party to pretend that there is any comparison between the two systems shows the poor level of thought that exists on the extreme Left wing of that party.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield also said that he did not believe that for one moment the Soviet Union has ever planned a military attack on Western Europe."—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 242.] The right hon. Gentleman is at liberty to believe anything that he likes, and he does believe some strange things. However, the fact remains that in 1945 Churchill warned the Soviets that if they did not stop at the previously agreed lines, action would be taken. Churchill's threat in 1945 established the boundaries of Western Europe as far as the Communist bloc was concerned. However, it did not establish the boundaries of Eastern Europe. The right hon. Member for Chesterfield was careful not to talk about Eastern Europe, but we have seen one country after another fall under Communist influence since 1945. It happened in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Russian military intervention took place in East Germany in 1953 and in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. We have seen what happens whenever those subject people wish to throw off the shackles of Communism. It was on those occasions that we saw the true face of the Soviet regime as it sought to ensure that they remain subject. It is that regime that the right hon. Gentleman thinks is better than the American system and the American way of life.

I challenged the right hon. Member for Chesterfield on this matter yesterday. At column 246 of the Official Report I asked him why he did not resign when his party was in government between 1964 and 1970, and 1974 and 1979 when he was a Cabinet Minister. He sat through 11 years of a pro-nuclear Labour Government as a Minister and had a collective responsibility in the Cabinet from 1974 to 1979. However, not for one moment did he contemplate resignation. He was careful to stay in office. He told me that we all make mistakes.

The right hon. Gentleman makes mistakes all the time. I was delighted when I obtained a copy of his book, "Out of the Wilderness". I am sure that official Opposition spokesmen hope that the last volume will be called "Back in the Wilderness", but if the right hon. Gentleman has his way, it will not be. Page 48 of that book contains a photograph showing the right hon. Gentleman advertising a rally in 1954 for the H-bomb national committee, which was the forerunner of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he makes mistakes. Indeed, he was anti the bomb in 1954, but for 11 years he was willing to serve in a pro-nuclear Government. Perhaps he could explain why he has suddenly found all these principles only when he is in opposition.

I have spent enough time discussing the embarrassment of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield. However, he continued by referring to the famous book of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent, which is entitled "Guilty Men". The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent has had an honourable and consistent record of supporting CND. However, he, too, felt quite happy to serve in the Wilson and Callaghan Cabinets between 1974 and 1979. I collect the publications of the Left Book Club which is why I have a copy of "Guilty Men". What is interesting about that book, which was published in 1940, is that it does not mention the real guilty men before the second world war. I refer to the official Labour Opposition who, from 1936 to 1939, voted against rearmament and increased expenditure on defence in every Defence Estimate debate, just as they will today. They have not changed their colours. Those were the real guilty men before the second world war, and today's Opposition will be guilty if they do not support the Government's policy.

It is interesting to compare the amendment that was tabled today in the name of the Leader of the Opposition with an amendment that was tabled by Mr. Attlee on 9 March 1936. The wording is not dissimilar. Mr. Attlee's amendment proposed that the safety of this country and peace of the world cannot be secured by reliance on armaments but only by the resolute pursuit of a policy of international understanding, adherence to the Covenant of the League of Nations, general disarmament, the progressive improvement of international labour standards".—[Official Report, 9 March 1936; Vol. 309, c. 1841–42.] That amendment was tabled by Mr. Attlee two days after Hitler walked into the Rhineland. That was the way in which the Labour party operated in 1936 and that is the way in which it operates today.

At least the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent has been consistent. It has been interesting to listen to the contortions of the official Opposition spokesmen in the debate. First came the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who retired from the Front Bench just a few weeks ago. His speech was in his usual disingenuous style. He accused the Government of relying heavily on the United States. He made the usual crude anti-Americanisms, which he must make for internal political reasons. He then went on to attack his erstwhile American colleagues. He said that the Labour party would increase reliance on the nuclear umbrella of the United States if we are not to have our own independent nuclear deterrent. One cannot interpret his speech in any other way. Presumably, therefore, we must rely on the Americans. It is interesting to note that when the Leader of the Opposition appeared on "This Week, Next Week" on 29 September 1986 and was challenged about relying on America's nuclear weapons, he said: If we are not prepared to use the weapons system ourselves, we certainly would not be asking anyone else to jeopardise themselves by the use of that nuclear weapon. It would be immoral to do so. However, the next day the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said that the United States is a member of NATO and that possession by the United States of nuclear weapons is obviously a deterrent. Unlike his leader, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East was prepared to rely on American nuclear weapons.

There is a moral dimension to this issue. As a leading European and world power and as a nuclear nation, we have a moral as well as a political duty to maintain an independent nuclear force and to help in our own defence. It is not anti-American to support having our own nuclear deterrent. As a strong world power, we have a moral duty to help in our own defence.

Of course, Opposition Members would rather not talk about the official policy of the Labour party. I listened yesterday and this afternoon to their Front-Bench spokesmen. It is interesting to note that they do not have an official policy on nuclear deterrence. In fact, there was considerable confusion amongst them about the concept of deterrence. That was shown by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) when he backed up his hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) in questioning the Secretary of State. They have a policy that has been cobbled together for internal political reasons and it varies from day to day — [Interruption.] Opposition Members may laugh, but we should look at just one week in the policy-making of the Labour party. If we take the week from 27 September to 3 October 1987, on Tuesday 29 September the official policy of the Labour party favoured a vague review of defence policy. On the following day, Wednesday 30 October, following a speech by the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) which warned about civil war in the Labour party, that unilaterilist policy was abandoned. The Leader of the Opposition said on television that it was a jolly good speech, and added: We are maintaining our non-nuclear defence policy and you know it. I said it yesterday. Within minutes the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) was contradicting the right hon. Gentleman on the same television station, saying: We have announced we are going to have a review … we can hardly announce the conclusions of the review before we have even started it. Naturally, by the following morning the speech of the hon. Member for Brent, East, which had been a jolly good speech the previous day was under attack from the official member of the NEC of the Labour party responding at the Labour conference debate as being immature, and the hon. Gentleman was attacked as exploiting the nuclear issue for his own political advantage.

That is one simple week in the life of the Labour party's nuclear defence policy. The policy cannot remain constant for more than five minutes, depending on which spokesman is called to defend it. It is no wonder that the public believe the Labour party as much today as they did on 11 June. We can see from the Government's position in the opinion polls that, as the gap between the Conservative and Labour parties widens, Labour party policy today has even less credibility.

If the Labour party's policy is now predicated on the INF talks being successful, what will it do if they fail? I hope the talks will not. Will the Labour party then back the retention of cruise—the very reason why the USSR is willing to talk — or will it still insist that cruise is abandoned? What is the Labour party's position on IBMs? Does it now support Polaris and its replacement by Trident, in the words of one hon. Lady, as a "bargaining counter"? Again, why should the USSR listen if it knows that a Labour Government means only to use that as a bargaining counter? The USSR then knows that it can wait and bluff through any negotiations which may be undertaken by a Labour Foreign Secretary. Labour Britain will give them up.

The fact is that the British people know that Labour party activists—I do not say Members of this House— are riddled with barely disguised fellow travellers who would accept any little morsel, or even none, before throwing away our independent nuclear deterrent. It only remains to be said that Labour's defence policy is a mess because it is full of irreconcilable contradictions and riddled with holes. It was rejected on 11 June and it will also be rejected, rightly, at the next general election.

8.22 pm
Mr. David Young (Bolton, South-East)

I am struck by the amount of time the Government have spent attacking the Labour party. If the Labour party's policy is as bad as they say, why should they worry about it? The reason is that the Government are trying to disguise their own failures.

Let me remind Conservatives that they were in government when the Falklands campaign started. Had Argentina invaded a few months later, after the carriers had been sold, Admiral Woodward could not have mounted a fleet. Let me remind them what their preparations were—Argentina is not a major power—that at the end of that campaign some of our batteries were down to six shells per gun. Those were the preparations that they had made for the defence of this country.

The fact is that a country this size cannot sustain both a nuclear and a conventional weapons policy. Therefore, our nuclear policy depends on us going to the American nuclear pawnshop for Trident. But, remember, the Americans are craftily keeping the redemption certificate so that they control any use we make of Trident. Conventionally, we are prepared to rob Peter to pay Paul. That means that none of the services receives the equipment or support which it is entitled to expect. Much of our equipment is out of date. The Army still has 900 Chieftain tanks in service. These tanks put up so much smoke that they are targets from miles away. Is that how we should supply our armed forces?

Much of our radar for air defence is out of date. We now have six American AWACS systems and it is doubtful whether they would cover Britain as we should be covered. In fighter defence we depend on obsolete Phantoms and Lightnings. Under the Labour Government we had ordered Tornado replacements, but because their radar has not arrived, they appear in many cases to be used as trainers. However, I believe that some radars arrived yesterday — only three years after the projected date. Tornados must be the most expensive training aircraft in history. But what were our fighters supposed to do if a war had taken place meantime? They were carrying ballast instead of radar. Perhaps the Government's solution was that they should fly over the enemy aircraft and drop the ballast, in the same way as first world war figher pilots used to take up bricks and drop them on the enemy.

Then there is the question of the trainer ordered from Brazil — the Tucano — presumably for political rather than operational reasons. Its programme is falling behind. The MoD tells us that its policy is to deter a potential enemy. I would think that any potential enemy would be grateful to them; indeed, I would not be surprised to see some members of the Government gaining decorations for services to Russia. We cannot claim that we are deterring if our equipment is out of date, if some of it does not arrive at the right place at the right time and if we are never ready to meet the crisis that the equipment and forces are supposed to meet. That is the challenge that I put before the Government this evening.

Our merchant fleet is disappearing and we have managed to declare redundant many of the skilled men who prepared the Falklands fleet. When our minesweepers go on a limited operation in the Gulf — it should not have been a major operation — they have to wait to be fitted with chaff launchers and other missile deterrents. That is the result of a policy of a Government who Maim they are prepared to defend Britain.

Although in some areas we have smaller forces than the Russians, our greatest assets are the flexibility, initiative and training of the members of our services. But all training, flexibility and loyalty depends on morale. While the Government spend £3 million training an operational Tornado pilot and £1 million on training a navigator. how do they boost morale? They bolster morale by denying the RAF sufficient training, so building up frustration. They support our sailors, who spend months away from their families, by making it as difficult as possible for them to visit their families when they may be stationed on the same island. The Government do not allow additional travel warrants unless service personnel are 200 miles from their families. By cutting local overseas allowances in Germany to save £17 million, the cost of one Tornado—they seem to drop out of the sky all over the place—the Government incur the justified wrath of those serving in Germany whose morale depends on allowances to meet family costs.

Industry after industry has been handed over on a plate to the Americans—witness, for example, the Westland helicopter industry. The biggest employer in my constituency is British Aerospace, which makes missiles, and the company is terrified every time it thinks the Ministry of Defence is reviewing a contract, lest it go to the Americans. There is also a factory in my constituency that is owned by a textile firm called Lantor. The major shareholders in that firm are Tootal in this country and an American firm, Westpoint Pepperell Inc. The company in Bolton has discovered a material that is extremely light, for use in protecting personell in chemical warfare. Into the material are built certain elements that allow it to absorb chemicals; it is a world beater. And what do the Government do? They reward the firm by telling it that they are cutting their ordering capability, to the extent that the American section of that firm is now bidding for contracts. So, as a result of the MOD's policy, that investment programme in Bolton, which has a high unemployment rate, has had to be cancelled. If that is a Government showing loyalty to British workers and firms, I wonder how one hopes to maintain the loyalty of the people on whom one's forces depend.

Our forces are only as independent as our control of the industries that supply them. Once those are put into foreign hands, not only is unemployment created here but people abroad are given the power to rule our forces' policy decisions. If we are not careful, I am afraid that the European fighter aircraft will be cancelled. Once that goes, the orders go to the Americans.

I know that several hon. Members are waiting to speak, but it is important to say that the country must define the global role in which our forces should operate. We are dragged along behind American policy. We were involved in Libya when the Americans chose to attack Tripoli. Unfortunately, the Americans had got it wrong, because the people behind the bombing of the La Belle night club in Germany, for which the American raid was retribution, were the Syrians. That did not stop the Prime Minister supporting the Americans in what was American Government terrorism. Yesterday, we attacked Libya; today we are dragged behind the Americans into what could be a Gulf war; what happens tomorrow? Do we become no more than a section of the operational armed forces of America, controlled and manipulated from Washington?

It is no good claiming to have an independent deterrent if the orders come from the country that supplied it. It would be much better if the Government concentrated on making Britain independent of all countries—including America. NATO was originally founded as a group of equals, each giving what it could afford to the common good, but sharing as equals a common policy-making process. That has now changed to the point at which, under the present Government, NATO has become more like the Warsaw pact—a super-power element decides, and the rest of us are dragged along behind. That is not an association of free men or equals; it is an alliance dominated by a central power for its own interests.

What has worried me in all the negotiations is the Government's attempt consistently to argue that nuclear weapons must be kept. Of all the countries in the negotiations, we are the country hanging on to nuclear weapons for their own sake and making excuses for not getting rid of them. I sometimes feel that the Government would sooner have a nuclear war in which they could say, "You see, even in dying we have been proved right," than make any concession that would enable the world to live in peace.

8.34 pm
Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

I am grateful for having been called this evening, especially as I visited British front-line troops in the spring of this year, together with 15 other Conservative candidates. I am happy to say that all 15 are now hon. Members of the House.

I want to share with the House some of the experiences that we had on that trip and that are relevant to the debate. Secondly, I want to examine political relations as they appeared to be changing in Germany. Thirdly, I shall speak about British dependencies and morale. I am aware that other hon. Members wish to follow me, so I shall keep my eye on the clock.

I am particularly pleased to speak today because I served in Germany with the British troops as an officer in the Army some years ago, and I say from the bottom of my heart that I am delighted that we are, at last, moving towards reductions of nuclear missiles. An INF agreement is very much on the horizon. I believe that it is there only because the Government were prepared to stand firm and force the Russians to the negotiating table, and not to accept the notion put about by Labour Members that we should disarm ourselves before the other side considered doing so.

While in Germany we had the opportunity to talk to German and British troops, and I was surprised at the attitudes of those troops towards any proposed nuclear treaty. Most British troops, of all ranks, with whom I discussed the issue seemed lukewarm towards the idea of intermediate nuclear disarmament, because of the tremendous inequalities and imbalances between conventional forces. If we achieve that INF treaty, we must move on as soon as possible to a treaty that covers conventional and biological weapons. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), who made a distinguished maiden speech this evening, that that must be the next stage. The troops with whom I discussed the matter asked why I was surprised by their lukewarm attitude to nuclear treaties, given that the other side has 57 divisions and we have only 26. The other side has twice as many tanks and aircraft, and three times as many guns too.

It is important to consider the quality and the configurations of the troops that face NATO. It may be thought that the other side has only a conscript army, but that is far from the truth. In Russia, the word "guards" denotes first-class, highly-trained troops, as, I may say, it does in other countries, too. What do we find when we examine the deployment of Warsaw pact troops in Germany? We find that our forces are up against the 2nd Guards Army, the 3rd Shock Army, the 8th Guards Army, the 20th Guards Army, and the 1st Guards Tank Army, supported by East German troops in two army groups. All these units are motorised. The distance that they have to travel to reach our forces is not great; it takes one hour by taxi from the border to the Rhine, and two hours by tank. That is what the German Member of Parliament for Detmold told us, although he said that the Russians did not know about the traffic problems in his constituency. From there, we were fortunate in being able to go to East Germany.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

There is not much traffic in East Germany.

Mr. Tredinnick

The hon. Gentleman is correct, but there is a lot of military activity.

Mr. Hood

Just like Soweto.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Has the hon. Gentleman ever been to Soweto?

Mr. Tredinnick

The hon. Gentleman has made two helpful interventions. He laughs and jokes about Soweto. I have been to Soweto, and he has not. [Interruption.] I had a look at the problems there, too, because it is much better to go and see and form one's own opinions. The changes that have taken place there are another issue.

One issue that came up in Germany—which is far away from Soweto—was the so-called German question. This was brought up on several occasions. I found the nature of the question very strange. I wanted to know what it was, because it was continually being raised. Was it just about East German-West German relations? When one questioned the academics and the distinguished people with whom we had discussions, we found that it was part of a much greater question.

We went for a briefing to the 21st Panzer Corps at Detmold and there was a map on the wall to assist in the briefing. I and some of my colleagues looked at the map, but it was not a map with borders that we recognised because it showed the borders of Germany in 1937. When we talk about the German question, we must understand that many Germans consider the German question as something that deals not just with East German-West German relations. Rather it includes east Prussia, Silesia and the other lands that Germany lost at the end of world war 2. We are moving into a phase of closer relations between East and West Germany, and the sentiment that we found in Germany must be kept in mind as we see the two German nations appearing to form closer relationships.

The hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Mr. Young) spoke about the Falklands. Under no circumstances should we discuss the Falklands with the Argentinians until they have formally ceased hostilities. They have not done so, and must do so first. If we did have discussions with them now it would be interpreted as weakness.

I remind the House that after the Falklands had been invaded, and before the task force was sent, Spain suspended negotiations about Gibraltar. The Spanish Government scandalously used Gibraltar recently to sabotage the carefully negotiated agreement on European air fares. That was disgraceful and we must not let that blackmail influence us.

Finally, I shall speak about morale. We heard about waste from the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen), which is very close to Walthamstow, where a safe Labour seat fell to the Conservatives because of the enormous waste and rate increases in the area.

Mr. Cohen

We shall win it back next time.

Mr. Tredinnick

I doubt that because in London Conservatives tend to hold seats won from Labour and that can be seen from the results of the last two elections.

In conclusion, I say yes to INF, but we must move on to a conventional weapons agreement. Secondly, we should bear in mind that to many Germans' the German question goes beyond East German-West German relations in the sense of the geographical boundaries set at the end of the war. Thirdly, we must remain firm on the Falklands and on Gibraltar. Finally in terms of morale, I draw the attention of the House to figures that show that the premature retirement rate under this Government is much better than it was under the Labour Government.

8.45 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

One of the shortcomings of our parliamentary system is that having set up Select Committees the House too often pays insultingly scant attention to their reports. Colleagues of all parties spend hours beavering away taking evidence, and skilled and conscientious Clerks of the House burn the midnight oil on draft reports, while the rest of us are casual about the fruits of their work. Far too little parliamentary attention is given to the work of the Select Committee on Defence.

My second reason for using my time to return to the report of the Select Committee on Westland is that, whereas many colleagues perceive the Westland affair as the day before yesterday's issue and a few ardently hope that Westland can be swept under the carpet, I subscribe to the old-fashioned view that telling the truth to the House is today's issue. Certainly as long as those involved, however exalted and senior Ministers they may be, are still in office, this is a matter of paramount importance.

Paragraph 184 of the Select Committee's report refers to the Prime Minister's statement recorded in the Official Report of 27 January 1986 given in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) who, as so often before and since in the past 15 years, asked the right question.

The Prime Minister said: I did not know about the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's own role in the matter of the disclosure until the inquiry had reported."—[Official Report, 27 January 1986; Vol. 90, c. 657.] The Select Committee was obviously incredulous, because in paragraph 184 of its report the Committee stated: We asked Sir Robert Armstrong about this; and he thought it 'strange, but I believe that to be the case.' Paragraph 185 says: The Secretary of the Cabinet's description of this as strange is something of an understatement. Parts of a classified document have been made public—a document of the same classification, incidentally, as the papers which Mr. Ponting disclosed. I spent 11 days in the Old Bailey and perhaps I may be forgiven for having my thoughts about that.

The Select Committee's report says: Not only was the document classified; it was advice from a Law Officer to one of his Ministerial colleagues, and its disclosure, in the words of the Solicitor-General, immediately and flagrantly violated' the rule of confidentiality of such advice. The disclosure was also, again in the words of the letter's author, 'highly selective'. I hope that you will not take it amiss, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I insert in my speech that I hope that Lord Havers enjoys better health in his retirement. Some of us are grateful for his many personal courtesies during his distinguished eight years as Attorney-General.

The right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) is one of the ablest lawyers of his generation, a QC who knew about the Law Officer's letters. I do not believe for a moment that it was his original idea selectively to leak a Law Officer's letter.

The Select Committee's incredulity escalates in paragraph 186. It says: It is to be presumed that Mr. Powell and Mr. Ingham were present when the Prime Minister discussed the matter with her office. From the Cabinet Secretary's evidence it appears that Mr. Powell knew that the Solicitor-General's letter was on its way. We know that Mr. Mogg spoke to Mr. Powell and told him that Mr. Brittan wanted the Solicitor-General's view put in the public domain. We know that Mr. Powell and Mr. Ingham refused to disclose the letter from Downing Street. We know that Mr. Ingham knew in advance about the method of disclosure, because it was agreed in a telephone call between himself and Miss Bowe. It must also have been known to Mr. Ingham at that stage that Mr. Brittan had given his authority for the disclosure—otherwise Mr. Ingham was discussing the details of how to make a disclosure that had no Ministerial authority whatsoever. The sequence of events recounted by the Prime Minister is incredible, as it requires us to believe that she never asked a single pertinent question about a scandalous situation that directly affected her Government.

To accept her full explanation it is necessary to believe that both she and Bernard Ingham behaved entirely out of character; that she never thought to ask a man in her office, with whom she worked in conditions of great intimacy, how a leak of major political significance had been affected; and that he, who knew more about the art of leaking than anyone else, had never told her what had happened. At best, it showed that she was a Prime Minister who was apparently unable to control her own officials but who approved of the use of smear tactics against a fellow Minister.

Then we come to paragraphs 187 and 188, to which no proper reply was offered in the Government's response, Cmnd. 9916, as it characteristically skirted difficult issues.

It is the same kind of dismissive, cynical long answer that the Defence Secretary gave to the Select Committee on 29 October last year — cols. 344 and 345 of the Official Report—when he devoted three minutes to the fourth report and 24 minutes to the technicalities of helicopters.

It was this kind of long answer that led the Economist on 1 February to say: In the raucous atmosphere of the Commons on Monday, it was impossible for opposition (or government) MPs to get answers to straight questions. However, it was significant that replies were not given to two crucial questions asked by a Labour shadow spokesman, Mr. John Morris: 'Did the prime minister canvass her advisers or any minister before she requested through her office the solicitor general to write his letter or to put that letter into the public domain? Secondly, when she set up the inquiry, did she know that it was an official leak?' The question had to be fielded by the leader of the house, Mr. John Biffen. Mr. Biffen, a man of unimpeachable honesty, did his best: 'Those points have been dealt with by the prime minister' …. As the Economist said, "They had not," and they never have been.

This is the kind of non-answer that the Prime Minister gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) on 14 July. The Official Report states:

"Mr. Fatchett

When the Prime Minister said on 27 January 1986 in the middle of the Westland affair that she did not expect to be Prime Minister by 6 o'clock that evening what did she mean?

The Prime Minister

That allegation has been made many times. I have nothing further to add to the many statements and replies that I have already given."—[Official Report, 14 July 1987; Vol. 119, c. 965.]

At Question No. 4 for that day, I asked the Prime Minister: Will the Prime Minister make just one reference to the "many times" when she has said that she knew what she had done as an explanation of why she said that she might not be Prime Minister at 6 o'clock that evening?

The Prime Minister

I have repeatedly told the hon. Gentleman that I have nothing to add. He knows full well that I am here and that I am intending to stay."—[Official Report, 14 July 1987; Vol. 119, c. 969.]

Doubtless the Prime Minister was intending to stay, but it does not answer the question.

At paragraph 187 the Select Committee states: 187. It must therefore be the case that Mr. Ingham and Mr. Powell were in a position to tell the Prime Minister on 7 January what turned out to be the principal findings of Sir Robert Armstrong's inquiry more than a fortnight later. They knew that Mr. Brittan had given his authority, because, according to the evidence before us, they were told so by Mr. Mogg. They knew, or certainly Mr. Ingham knew, that Miss Bowe was going to give the information unattributably to the Press Association. They could not, of course, know of the 'differences in understanding' between No. 10 and the DTI which Sir Robert quoted in his inquiry, but these do not carry the same significance as the fact that the disclosure had been authorised by a Cabinet Minister. The Select Committee further stated, at paragraph 188: 188. Yet on 7 January Mr. Ingham and Mr. Powell did not share their knowledge—not with Mr. Nigel Wicks, the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary, not with Sir Robert Armstrong and not with the Prime Minister. Sir Robert told us he believed the reason the Prime Minister was told nothing was that `it was understandable that people would expect the matters to be dealt with in the inquiry and would expect to give their accounts of the matter to the inquiry'. The Committee said that that was speculation on Sir Robert's part. Members of Parliament can be forgiven for being contemptuous about the so-called inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary. Never has a Nelson eye been more adroitly used on behalf of Ministers — shades of Sir Lawrence Helsby and the late Lord Burke Trend.

During the Recess I indulged in the dangerous pastime of reading books, and one I read was Rodney Tyler's "Campaign". Tyler is a man very close to Tim Bell. At page 1, chapter 1, paragraph 1, sentence 1, Tyler began: It was an extraordinary turnaround in fortunes from the moment on 27 January 1986 when Mrs. Thatcher secretly confided to a close associate that she might have to resign, to the occasion, almost a year later, when she found herself, also in great secrecy". Authors usually take great care in honing their opening sentences. But on pages 3 and 4, Tyler is even more explicit. He said: On the eve of the crucial Westland debate she herself felt shaky enough to doubt her future (although some around her later sought to dismiss this as late evening anxieties of the sort that had disappeared by the following morning). It is certainly true that if Leon Brittan had chosen to, he could have brought her to the brink of downfall, by naming the real culprits inside Number 10. Instead, he chose to remain silent. Who are these real culprits? Have they been sacked or shunted sideways into Whitehall's outer Mongolia? Have they ceased to prosper or do they languish like Leon? Not so.

Mr. Ingham went to Vancouver to conduct, as my right hon. Friend for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) put it, anti-Heseltine-type guerilla tactics against the host Canadian Prime Minister.

Mr. Powell, uniquely as far as I can ascertain, while remaining in the same post at Downing street, has become an Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Relations Office.

I have re-read "Not With Honour" by Magnus Linklater and David Leigh, in which it was stated: The Prime Minister knew about the leak. She was pleased it had been done. There was a meeting between Brittan and her after the complaint from Mayhew. Only the two of them were present … Brittan assumed she knew of [the leak's] origins. You must draw your own conclusions. In the summer I saw Mr. Linklater in Edinburgh and he stuck exactly to what he had been told.

Then there is the elegantly written volume by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) who, to use his own favourite word, is one of the "disregarded", but equally well-informed. He described the 1922 Committee in the last week of January 1986 in Committee Room 14. In his book, he said: Leon Brittan's trial in absentia was in the great tradition. Brittan was to be the necessary sacrifice. Mrs. Thatcher's statement that afternoon had, for all its equivocation, fingered her secretary of state. She may have tried to protect him but the result was to leave him naked to his enemies. The atmosphere in the committee room was highly charged. The hon. Member for Aldershot continued: Later that evening there were rumours to the effect that 'Leon will spill the beans'. But he did not. Instead he resigned on the following day, disregarding Mrs. Thatcher's efforts to persuade him to stay put. His speeches since on Westland have been devoted to attacking Heseltine's part in the affair. We want to know what "the beans" are, and the only possible beans are those of truth about the Prime Minister's behaviour. As she confirmed to David Frost during a pre-election broadcast on the Sunday morning, she thought that she might not be Prime Minister on the night of 27 January because she did not know that the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks would remain silent and be a scapegoat or would reveal his role in the affair, and her role, and spill the beans. She did not know that, and that is precisely why she doubted whether she would be Prime Minister at six o'clock that night.

Before leaving the works of the hon. Member for Aldershot, I should draw some attention to the role of the then Government Chief Whip, the present Leader of the House of Commons. In a dramatis personae he states: John Wakeham, the government chief whip. The keeper of the party's interest. Worked first to keep Heseltine within the government, but grew increasingly anxious about the political consequences about so public and violent a disagreement, helped to concoct Mrs. Thatcher's ultimatum which she delivered at the cabinet meeting on 9 January 1986. Shrewd, mild in manner, his contribution to keeping the ship afloat, with two men overboard and the Captain confined to her cabin, was decisive. This is the writing of a Conservative Member. He continues: John Wakeham issued an order of the day which contained the trite if effective message that it was time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. We did. That man, the then Government Chief Whip, is now the Leader of the House of Commons, and those who are Leaders of the House of Commons should never be party in any way to misleading the House. I am afraid that the present Leader of the House, in his previous incarnation, was part of the Prime Minister's behaviour towards the House. The right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks might reflect with Cardinal Wolsey that Had I served but God as diligently as I have served the King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs. I then made inquiries, which brings me to the difficult problem of sources, which is common to journalists and politicians. I have to judge whether angry people were, first, in a position to know and, secondly, telling the truth.

I have come to believe that Mr. Charles Powell, working in Downing street with the rank of undersecretary of state, did his duty. But had he not done so, he would have been shunted out of Downing street, and not put in an unprecedentedly senior post.

I believe that Mr. Powell and Mr. Ingham kept the Prime Minister fully informed about all that occurred as it occurred. That is not surprising, as the selective leaking of a Law Officer's letter was probably the Prime Minister's own idea in the first place.

I do not think that the House should be surprised at this behaviour, because we have seen only recently the ruthless operation in Canada. Had the Prime Minister said otherwise than in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on 27 January, she could have hardly have remained in No. 10 Downing street. I remind the House of what she said: I did not know about the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's own role in the matter of the disclosure until the inquiry had reported."—[Official Report, 27 January 1986; Vol. 90, c. 657.] That had to be said at that point to protect the Prime Minister's position. Had she not made such a claim, the removal van would have been outside No. 10 Downing street.

One question is whether civil servants should be party to such behaviour. I admit that they are put in an extremely difficult position because, understandably, they wish to continue their careers rather than tread the path of Clive Ponting.

I give notice to the House that I propose to pursue this matter as incessantly as possible until an inquiry has been set up and the following examined: Mr. T. P.Abraham, Sir Robert Armstrong, Miss Collette Bowe, Sir Brian Hayes, Mr. Bernard Ingham, Mr. John Michell, Mr. John Mogg, Mr. Richard Mottram, Mr. Charles Powell, Sir Clive Whitmore and Mr. Nigel Wicks. They should come before some form of inquiry or a Select Committee of the House of Commons to answer questions, and I believe that as honourable civil servants they would do so.

If the House says that it is not interested in the truth and that the events that I have set out are past history, I can say only that they do not relate to a minor event. It was an event in which the Prime Minister lost the cleverest member of her Cabinet, the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks. She lost also the greatest expositor to his party conference of a case and one of the few orators of our generation, the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine).

If it is said that we should regard all this as water under the bridge, I can say only that if the House is not interested in the truth, it should be. For a quarter of a century I have had the privilege of being a Member of this place and I believe passionately that Parliament should get from Ministers, however exalted, and from those who are created by the House, and who ultimately theoretically depend on the House, the truth. If we do not get the truth, the whole British system breaks down.

9.4 pm

Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

It is always an interesting challenge to follow the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). However, regardless of our political differences, I believe that this place would be far worse for his absence. For all that, I thought that the House was debating the Defence Estimates. For one horrid moment I thought that perhaps the hon. Member for Linlithgow had slipped to item No. 9 of the Remaining Orders of the Day and Notices of Motions on the Order Paper relating to knitting yarns in the European Community.

The last time that we had occasion to be together in a defence debate, the hon. Member for Linlithgow took my hon. Friend the Minister to task over the matter of low-flying aircraft. The hon. Gentleman has rightly pursued that matter, and it is a concern in many places, not least in my constituency. I did not have the opportunity to intervene in the hon. Gentleman's speech then, because he did not feel able to give way, to remind him that my hon. Friend the Minister has been very helpful in my case, because he advises me when RAF exercises, particularly of a low-flying nature, are to take place over my constituency. His advice enables hon. Members to advise their constituents when such exercises are to take place. That is very helpful, and I want to put on record the fact that that is valuable advice for constituents. I hope that that practice will continue.

Within the Defence Estimates, the Territorial Army is listed as 2 per cent. of the budget. I have developed a reputation for harping on about the TA, partially because I serve and have a particular interest in it. As well as forming 2 per cent. of the Defence Estimates before the House as laid out on page 53 of the White Paper, hon. Members should bear in mind that the Territorial Army presently supplies 40 infantry battalions to our armed forces. That figure is in annex C. Of those 40, five are the newly created phase II enhancement battalions under the TA expansion programme.

When we bear in mind that we are talking about 2 per cent. of the budget for all the Territorial Army volunteer reservists commitment to the armed forces providing 40 infantry battalions with the TA cap badge, it is interesting to note that there are 50 regular battalions. Therefore, I suggest that the Territorial Army is providing very good value for money. That is why I was particularly glad to note that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence recently visited Germany to observe Exercise Keystone — a major Territorial Army and Regular service exercise.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on his visit to the exercise, but I should take him to task. He did not come to see our battalion, the 5th Light Infantry. Although the corps commander had insisted that the exercise should be dry, I am sure that, as the Secretary of State emanates from Scotland, we could have made his reception with the 5th Light Infantry most worthwhile.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have been impressed by the enthusiasm of those taking part in that exercise, particularly the TA. Hon. Members should bear in mind that many people who give up time to take part in TA activities and in particular exercises actually lose pay as a result. It is more than a hobby for many families; it is a genuine sacrifice. Exercise Keystone seemed particularly long, but it enabled part-time soldiers to get into the swing of things. However, it is important for exercises involving travel abroad that those responsible within the Ministry of Defence ensure that the Territorials can return to the United Kingdom in time to fulfil their civilian commitments. There was some doubt whether that would happen after that exercise. I hope that that point will be noted in relation to future exercises.

Undoubtedly, the Territorial Army commitment within our defence services and within the Defence Estimates proves to be a very effective part of NATO. One of the areas of concern to which I have referred previously is that we are more and more centralising the armed forces within the United Kingdom into large Regular depots. The danger is that we will remove from communities within the United Kingdom a form of military presence, and that may be seen as sinister. That is why it is particularly encouraging that the Government have increased the TA by five infantry battalions so that the 40 battalions can maintain a military presence within the communities—as is the case within Shrewsbury—and be seen as part of the community, in defence of the community and in no way as a sinister arm of the Government.

I am a little disappointed that the Defence Estimates contain only four references to the Territorial Army. Initially, that may sound generous, but three of those are brief statistical references in section 2, and the fourth is an even briefer reference on page 37 of section 1. Bearing in mind the size of the Territorial Army and its role within our armed forces, it has been rather neglected in the Defence Estimates.

Before too long, the House, and those within it who are interested in defence matters, will have to consider the future of voluntary and part-time military service within the United Kingdom. At present, recruitment levels are undoubtedly good, and the training, facilities and equipment provided for the Territorial Army are excellent. But, as our national economy is strengthening and booming, it is becoming harder for those involved in Territorial Army activities to obtain leave from their employers, not only for weekend training, because many now have to work on Saturdays, but for exercises.

Some employers who are now proving reluctant to allow employees to take part in Territorial Army activities are suppliers of equipment to the Ministry of Defence. They should take note that it is part of their duty as United Kingdom employers to enable their employees to take part in part-time military service. As many of them rely on Ministry of Defence contracts, it may be necessary before too long to consider a code of practice which would ensure that minimal release for Territorial Army activities could be assured.

Since the last time that we debated Defence Estimates, there has, fortunately, been progress on the relationship between the unemployed who earn money in the Territorial Army and the Department of Health and Social Security offices. Attitudes have varied across the country, and in many places in the past they have been to the detriment of those serving in the Territorial Army. There have been changes in calculating the monetary value of training and drill nights, but the Ministry of Defence must come to grips with the DHSS regarding weekend deductions.

I understand that those who are unemployed but who serve as part-time firemen do not lose financially. That is not the case in the Territorial Army. My right hon. Friends will have had the opportunity not only to meet the generals but many of the men serving in the Territorial Army on Exercise Keystone. If they spoke to those who are unemployed, they may have learnt of the difficulties that their families face when they return to the United Kingdom as a result of the delay in regaining their social security benefits.

It is important for Britain to understand the importance of the services in no less a place than the House itself. In the days when national service gave a number of Members to these Benches, the understanding of life in the services was greater, but that is undoubtedly diminishing. That is why we hear less of the traditional voices from the Opposition Benches, of those who, at one stage, used to represent much more the strong service vote which exists for the Labour party.

The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett), who is not in his place at the moment, has an interest in his local battalion—the 6th Fusilier battalion based in the north-east. All hon. Members who make contact with a Regular or Territorial Army unit will find a warm reception and genuine delight that an interest is being taken in their training and concerns. I hope that that will become much more of a feature across party lines so that modern attitudes in the services can be better understood.

Earlier, one of my colleagues referred to a visit that he paid to Germany as a candidate. Many visits to the armed forces are arranged for candidates, but fewer for serving Members. If my right hon. Friend could address that question in the Ministry of Defence, there may be a greater understanding of the need for sensible Defence Estimates.

In a few days' time, a number of hon. Members—again, I am sure, from both sides of the House—will attend Remembrance day services in their constituencies. One of the stranger titles for someone of my age to hold is that of president of the Shropshire Normandy Veterans' Association. While I was clearly—I hope clearly—born some years after the second world war, it is a title in which I particularly delight, because those brave men served the country with skill and determination. It is especially important for those of my generation, and, I hope, my children, to understand the sacrifice made during that conflict—a conflict that I believe would not have come about had we not listened to the siren voices of unilateralism.

The Estimates will confirm that there is still a conventional imbalance between NATO forces and the forces of the Warsaw pact. As long as that conventional imbalance exists, we must ensure that we maintain not only a nuclear deterrent within NATO, but an independent nuclear deterrent, to ensure that our nation's future and its freedom of speech can never again be put in jeopardy.

9.15 pm
Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I shall be mindful of the time, as the summing up must be done in five minutes.

I was much intrigued by the debate on "rent-a-Trident", as it was called last week — whether we buy missiles or not. Whether that was due to the deviousness of MOD officials or to a lack of perspicacity on the part of journalists, I leave open to question. Yesterday, the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates), a Max Boyce incarnation, proclaimed loudly and defiantly that he had been there. The "there" referred to the base at Faslane and Coulport. It seems that there was a difference of opinion on what was said by MOD officials there. As the hon. Member of Parliament for that constituency, let me say that it might have helped if the MOD had invited me along. I might have been able to impart a balanced or objective aspect to the debate, and the confusion between MOD officials and the press might then have been cleared up immediately.

The right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), a former Secretary of State for Defence, has called Trident a weapon of last resort. I have to ask what has happened to the weapons of primary resort. In our area, the conventional weapons budget is being decreased. There is a 35 per cent. decline. Only yesterday, the managing director of Yarrow said on local television that, if the type 23 frigate orders were not placed, at least 500 of the 4,000 jobs there would have to go.

If Trident is to go ahead, as the Government stoutly maintain, what are their assurances for the jobs at Coulport? It was stated last week in the newspapers that the servicing will be done at King's Bay, Georgia. The Trident missiles will remain in tubes on the submarines for seven years, but the warheads will have to be tested. They will be tested on the United States sites, but will they be serviced in the United Kingdom? If so, will the operational patterns for servicing the warheads be the same as are now used with Polaris?

Those issues are of real importance to my constituency and the jobs there. I can see nothing to support those jobs in this year's public expenditure review. It confirms the rundown in the amount and quality of non-nuclear equipment for the armed forces, as was mentioned in yesterday's debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies).

Trident is just a manifestation of this Government's policies. It is privatisation, with the United States as the vendors. They are the Grand Metropolitans of the defence industry. Conservative Back Benchers say that privatisation is all right, as long as it is not the defence industry and as long as it is not in their back yard. Trident denies to the United Kingdom an effective military strategy for the 1990s. The Government are red-faced, because that was exposed last week.

The White Paper is based on a false premise: the use of nuclear weapons. We are told that nuclear weapons have kept the peace for 40 years. However, we have to consider the statements of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on our intervention in the Gulf. Perhaps the peace has been kept for 40 years because a number of countries that do not speak the same language have banded together. If that is so, vive la difference.

If the White Paper is to have credibility, the Secretary of State must say under what circumstances he will use nuclear weapons. He refused to do so yesterday. The honesty and the morality of the Government's case rest on the answer to that question. Until then, the defence budget, which is heavily weighted towards nuclear weapons, must be rejected. Public investment must be for the. public good. As it is manifestly not so in this instance, the statement on the Defence Estimates must be rejected.

9.21 pm
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

This two-day debate has raised interesting and probing questions. I congratulate and thank my right hon. and hon. Friends for their substantial contributions, in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy). His kindness and generosity in helping new Members of the Opposition defence team is a tribute to his character and personality.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on her maiden speech. It was noncontroversial in parts. I congratulate her also on her long sightedness. She has obviously used one of the tricks of the Chamber, which means that she will serve her constituents well—as did her predecessor, Sir John Wells.

The debate has demonstrated that in all parts of the House there is a strong commitment to the defence of this country. What most insults Opposition Members are gratuitous remarks, such as those of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett). Opposition Members, as can be seen from our record, our general politics and our commitment to this country, are just as committed to the defence of Britain as is any Conservative Member. We may have a different view of how to defend this country, but it is insulting to suggest that Opposition Members are not prepared to defend Britain. If the hon. Member for Pembroke were to come to my constituency he would see many white memorial stones to miners, steel workers and factory workers who gave their lives for the defence of this country. They volunteered to defend their country in the 1930s, when many members of the hon. Gentleman's party and class were consorting with Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. The Opposition do not therefore need any lessons in patriotism from Conservative Members of Parliament.

We are prepared to recognise and accept changes, but it is fairly obvious that the old gung-ho Victorian values still control and shape the policies of the Conservative party. In this White Paper the Government are talking big, but acting small. Although the Secretary of State said yesterday that there would be no cuts, an analysis of the words and figures in the document prove that to be a lie. We see a picture of developing neglect and an inability to maintain our conventional defences.

The defence posture that the Government are trying to maintain is not strategic, credible or economically sustainable. The Government's defence policy is rather like someone who takes out insurance against burglary and every other contingency and then leaves the door wide open. The acknowledged cuts and the delayed decisions show that Britain is incapable of meeting her NATO conventional commitments together with the burden of nuclear modernisation.

Such problems are not recognised only by Labour Members. The Chairman of the Defence Select Committee recognised them yesterday. If anyone bothers to read the hon. Gentleman's contribution in column 241 of Hansard, he will learn that the hon. Gentleman is concerned that the mismatch between commitment and resources is bound to grow as a result of the White Paper. He said: What concerns me is that there is no sign that the Government … have taken a strategic view on what must be put into our defence resources in the next four or five years. It does not require my right hon. and hon. Friends or myself to demonstrate what this Government White Paper is about. It has been done perfectly well by the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee.

Mr. Michael Mates (Hampshire, East)

I was quoting the words that the Select Committee used in its report on the statement on the Defence Estimates of the previous Parliament. I simply want to put it on record that they were the words used by the Committee on the statement on the Defence Estimates 1986, and which the hon. Gentleman could and should have read last year.

Mr. Rogers

I am sorry. I would hate to correct the hon. Gentleman who has such experience, but if he will bother to read his own words he will note that he rose at 7.36 pm and that his speech covered four columns. At the top of the fourth column he said: Having said that, I shall make one or two brief remarks on my own account. The Committee does not exist".—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol 121, c. 241.] He then proceeded to speak on his own account. If the record is wrong, I am sure that he will correct it.

Mrs. Kellet-Bowman

In the column to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred, my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates) categorically referred to the magnificent achievements of the Government.

Mr. Rogers

Indeed. The Chairman of the Defence Select Committee stands condemned by his words, and the Government, too, stand condemned by his words.

Throughout the debate the Government have conjured up the same old sterile arguments about defence spending increasing between 1979 and 1984. That is absolutely correct, and we have not disputed that, I remind Conservative Members that, shortly, 1984 will be four years past. For Conservative Members to carry on as they do makes for sterile discussion and is a waste of time. The real point at issue is what the Government are doing today and what they will do tomorrow.

By the Government's own admission, and according to their facts and figures, they will cut the defence budget. That budget will be cut from £17.2 billion in 1984–85 to £15.9 billion during the period 1984 to 1990 at 1984–85 prices. That is an 8 per cent. real cut, and it cannot be denied, because the Government state that in the Estimates. The Secretary of State has tried to deny it, but paragraph 603 of the Estimates states: the defence budget is expected to decline by some 5 per cent. in real terms over the 1986 Public Expenditure Survey period".

Mr. Younger

Will the hon. Gentleman also give the figure for the real increase over the highest budget of the last Labour Government?

Mr. Rogers

The Secretary of State should not be so upset. It might well be a great comparison with Victorian times, which probably suits the Conservative party.

There is a real cut, and it comes in a budget which is elastic in the sense that the Government are trying to stretch diminishing resources over increasing possibilities, but which is inelastic in economic terms. Its inelasticity stems from the high percentage of the defence budget spent on standing charges such as salaries, wages, pensions, maintenance and the irrevocable commitments to collaborative ventures. When all that is taken into account, it means that the total spend on production of equipment by 1989–90 will have fallen by about 39 per cent. from its 1984 level. The implication is for cancellations, the slowing down of acquisitions and the running on of equipment beyond its economic and operative life.

Mr. Mates

I hesitated before interrupting the hon. Gentleman's speech, because I am aware of the time factor. However, although a certain amount of robust give and take might be allowed, I must put right that complete misquotation. I refer the hon. Gentleman to my speech, when I said that the Government had made a significant achievement. I then said: However, now may be the moment to warn, as the Committee did last year, that the breathing space can only be short, otherwise the mismatch between commitment and resources is bound to grow."—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 241.] I was faithfully reporting what the Committee, of which I was then the Chairman, had warned. They were not freelance remarks. They were the remarks of an agreed Committee.

Mr. Rogers

I wish that I had not given way. I should have realised that the hon. Gentleman is one of the original Heseltinies, so I should have expected him to whinge about these issues.

I recently attended a Battle of Britain memorial service. It was a moving occasion which showed that we had not forgotten the sacrifice of young lives in the battle against Nazism and the Right-wing reactionaries of Europe. It was a privilege for me to represent the Labour party at that memorial service, which was also attended by the Secretary of State.

During the Battle of Britain we had, as well as our brave pilots, the best radar and aircraft in the world. However, today we are relying on a 1941 system for airborne early warning. We must wait until 1991 for a replacement system that will, even then, be inadequate. We cannot go over old ground on the decision to drop Nimrod and purchase AWACS — a decision described in the Estimates as the most significant procurement decision of the year. Both sides of the House are obligated to ensure that that decision does not leave us woefully unprotected. It has meant that at least £860 million must be found from an already overstretched budget to pay for six aircraft— and even then we will not have adequate coverage. Air Chief Marshal Sir David Craig has said that six aircraft are not enough to provide the necessary cover that we require in this country. While we wait, five of our old Shackleton aircraft must be maintained until 1991, even though their radar was designed in 1941. Does the Minister intend to order the two further AWACS that we so desperately need? Are we to have the 165 Tornados, or must we go to the back of the queue until the Saudis have all theirs? What is happening to the second batch of the 40 Harrier GR5s? Are they to be cut, as is widely rumoured?

What is happening to the Tucano project? Yesterday the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), who is not present today, praised that project, but was soon corrected by the Minister. There seemed to be a note of despair in the Minister's voice when he said: There is a few months' slippage on deliveries". I remind the House that 130 Brazilian Tucanos were ordered against the advice of the RAF, instead of the British Aerospace PC9s, which are now entering service in the Saudi air force at a rate of two per month, with a total of 28 this year. Meanwhile, we still do not have our training aircraft. Because of the delays in delivery of the Tucano, air crews have to stretch the life of the Jet Provost, which entered service in 1956, before many of our young pilots were horn.

An important issue was highlighted in the newspapers today. The Minister said yesterday: radars to an agreed interim standard have already been delivered".—[Official Report, 27 October 1987; Vol. 121, c. 270.] What does that mean? Does it mean that they only half work, that they work only half the time or half the distance, or that they see only half what is there? What exactly is meant by "interim standard"? Will the Minister acknowledge today that it will take another four years' work and a further £100 million to put this matter right?

The strictures of time and of the debate do not allow me to say all that I should like to say about the shortcomings in our conventional defence, but I shall refer briefly to the problem of low flying. In this context, I apologise for not having been able to attend when the Minister met some of my Welsh colleagues yesterday. There have recently been a number of tragic accidents in which brave and skilled young men have been killed and an even larger number of relatives bereaved. It is a miracle that no civilians have been killed. Two young service men were killed near Treventer in the constituency of the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells), and it was fortunate that two nearby houses were not destroyed with further loss of life.

I hope that the Minister will examine this problem urgently. There is no increment of skill acquisition in such flights. At 100 ft and 500 mph the only response can be a reflex response, and reflexes can be developed otherwise than by dicing with death. Every such flight is a one-off gamble. A bird strike, a mechanical failure or even sheer bravado can make each flight unique. The Minister must realise that people do not get better at Russian roulette by practising.

It is clear that the real issue is no longer whether we are to have Trident, but whether we can afford adequate conventional defence as well. The Government say that they have an absolute commitment to adequate defence, but it is clear from the facts presented in the White Paper that the cuts will mean that planes cannot fly, ships cannot sail and tanks cannot be moved.

As the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) said in last year's debate: we must view with anxiety the decision to cut defence expenditure".—[Official Report, 1 July 1986; Vol. 100, c. 885.] Like his grandfather, the hon. Gentleman might turn out to be a beacon of rightness against a background of Tory wrongness.

If the outcome warrants it, the Government should amend their policies to take account of the changes. We in the Opposition have a vested interest in defending our country—[Interruption.] As I said before, the mantle of patriotism sits ill on some Tory Members, whose links with the neo-Fascist elements in this country remind us of what happened to their party in the 1930s.

The obsessions, dogma and hatreds of the Tory party and the Prime Minister have trapped them in a ghetto of nuclear bigotry. They are prepared to sacrifice the real defence of this country on the altar of their bigotry. We shall not follow them down that road, and that is why we shall vote against them tonight.

9.40 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Roger Freeman)

We in the Conservative party welcome the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) to his new position. We look forward to many colourful interventions and contributions, but permanently from the Opposition Benches.

This has been a wide-ranging debate. In the few minutes available to me, I shall try to answer as many points as possible. I join other hon. Members in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on her contribution, when she made an eloquent and persuasive defence of Trident. We look forward to many speeches from her in defence debates.

Several hon. Members have spoken about the morale of the armed forces, including the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) last night and the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) today. Fundamental to good morale is the confidence of service men that they are and will continue to be properly paid. The Government have accepted and implemented the findings of every report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, and that is fully recognised by our people.

In consultation with the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence is reviewing the range of allowances payable to service men in carrying out their duties. We are aware that there are several anomalies in those allowances and some areas in which improvements would be welcome. That is a complex area and it would serve no useful purpose to rush what must be a thorough and sensible exercise, but we are determined to bring that review to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wyre (Mr. Mans) referred to the Robson report. I know that he is a former RAF pilot and concerned about the terms and conditions for those who serve in the RAF. The report, which was initiated by the Air Member for Personnel, is being taken seriously by the RAF. Half the recommendations have already been acted upon and the rest are being staffed. I take my hon. Friend's point about the anomaly of the gratuity paid at the eight-year point to short-service commission pilots. I appreciate that it creates tensions. I also take my hon. Friend's point about the anomalies created by paying a storage allowance to service men, but not helping them to move their furniture, equipment and belongings abroad. We are looking seriously at both points.

We are also paying close attention to the accommodation provided for service men, married and single. My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) referred to that yesterday. Expenditure on married quarters more than doubled between 1982–83 and the current year, but I do not underestimate the difficulties of funding all the work which, ideally, we should like to undertake to raise standards. Much of the housing stock is elderly. In other contexts, for example, schools and hospitals, many hon. Members will be familiar with the problems associated with much of the construction work undertaken in the 1960s.

More and more service families expect to own their own homes. That has led to a significant reduction in demand for our married quarters. We have therefore set in hand a programme to reduce the stock of vacant married quarters. Over the next three years we have set ourselves the target of disposing of 7,500 married quarters. That should produce substantial receipts for the benefit of the defence budget as a whole and contribute to the national stock of privately owned houses. We intend that as many as possible of these houses should be sold under the " sales to service men" 30 per cent. discount scheme.

Recruitment for all three services remains buoyant. Competition is strong in a few specialist areas, but that represents national trends. Overall, our recruiting targets are being met. There is no shortage of well-qualified young people wishing to join the armed forces, and with good reason.

We have heard the usual suggestions of gloom from Opposition Members about the premature voluntary retirement rates. I am grateful for the chance to put the record straight tonight. The number of premature voluntary retirement applications and exits from the armed services have been level since mid-1986. The slight upward trend of the early 1980s, which I mentioned in the last debate on the defence statement has been stopped and the rates of PVR applications and exits is still substantially lower than the rates in 1978–79 which were a direct result of the Labour Government's pay policy for the forces. However, the absolute numbers of those leaving the services are still too large. In an ideal world, we should like them to be lower. Naturally, within the overall figures, several areas need to be watched closely, but the figures and the facts speak for themselves. Our armed forces are in good shape and excellent spirits. Recruiting is good, exits are stable and morale is high.

The hon. Member for Clackmannan asked me about the second auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel and when we intend to make an announcement on it. We are currently negotiating the order for the second AOR with Swan Hunter shipbuilders under the conditions that were outlined by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 24 April 1986. We are awaiting a revised tender from the company as the two previous bids that we received were too high. I hope that Swan Hunter will be able to submit an acceptable bid to take advantage of its preferential opportunity to gain the order.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) asked about the European fighter aircraft and whether it was financed and provided for. I assure him that in our defence programme, financial provision has been made for EFA.

My hon. Friends the Members for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) referred to search and rescue. At the moment we are studying two aspects of the military search and rescue facilities. It will help the House if I explain what we are looking at. First, on the present military deployment of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force helicopters, we are trying to deploy those assets as efficiently as possible, in close consultation with the Department of Transport. We hope to be able to announce the outcome before very long. The Government are fully aware of the need to have satisfactory levels of search and rescue coverage around our coastline and in mountainous areas for military and civilian purposes.

The second aspect is the initiative that was taken by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, which came to us with a suggestion for transferring to commercial contractors the search and rescue helicopter service that is currently provided by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Bristow believes that a commercial service would meet civil and military search and rescue needs at less cost than the present arrangements. We are studying these ideas. Indeed, we are bound to study them and we shall take into account the forceful points that have been put to us not only in writing but in the House during the past two days' debate.

I wish to comment briefly on bullying in the Army. That was raised by the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace). All hon. Members would condemn bullying. It is a serious offence, whether committed by non-commissioned officers of junior ranks, or the peer group—soldiers bullying other soldiers—and tough disciplinary action is taken. The right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South made three suggestions: an amnesty for those absent without leave, a central complaints record and an ombudsman for the Army. I shall reflect on his suggestions with my colleagues in the MOD and reply to him. He has made it clear that he does not expect an answer tonight, but at a more convenient time and I undertake to reply to him.

I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Since January 1986, only 20 allegations have resulted in disciplinary action. We have an Army of 150,000 men and an annual intake of 25,000 to 30,000, so we must set this serious matter in context. On entitlement, young soldiers and recruits must understand their rights. We are continually reviewing how young service men and women can be more accurately and comprehensively informed of their rights and how they can exercise them. They have the right to appeal, not only up the chain of command, but directly to their commanding officer.

Mr. Ashley

Although the Minister mentioned that number, does he agree that the allegations are far more numerous than the official complaints made, but do not come to light because of fear?

Mr. Freeman

I was about to deal with the so-called fear of reprisal, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. I am sure that he will agree with me that it is important to encourage service men and women to reflect their anxieties promptly and properly to commanding officers and that those complaints should be investigated independently and thoroughly by the special investigation branch of the military police. Moreover, officers and NCOs should recognise that they have a duty and responsibility to supervise their men at all times. Life in the armed services is tough, difficult and onerous for the officers and NCOs who have a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job making sure that those under their command are properly supervised and reflect any serious allegations properly.

The adjutant-general wrote a private letter in July, but as it is an internal Army letter it is not appropriate to be placed in the Library. He wrote to commanding officers of all units in the British Army asking for a response by 1 December on whether they were clear that there was no intimidation or bullying in their units and, if there was evidence of it, what steps they would take. I should like to see the results and perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if we returned to this issue in the Army debate later in the year when more information will be available.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North and the hon. Members for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) and for Orkney and Shetland raised questions about low-flying aircraft. I am sure that all hon. Members will appreciate the need for realistic training for our RAF pilots. The criticisms made about low flying — it was adequately defended by my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North—were essentially that it was too dangerous and unnecessarily realistic. Most low flying is done at 250 ft and flying at 100 ft is carried out only in three sparsely populated areas. Only 0.5 per cent. of all low-flying missions are at 100 ft and it is carried out prior to further exercises at that height and lower in Canada. In war, our pilots would have to fly lower than 100 ft, faster than they are permitted to fly at present and at night. This training is absolutely essential for them, and the whole House will join me in complimenting our pilots on their skill and bravery. The accident trend is down. The number of accidents in 1987 is the same as for 1986 and the long-term secular trend is down. There have been no civilian fatalities in the 1980s.

Several of my hon. Friends, especially those who serve in the Territorial Army, spoke about the reserves. My hon. Friends the Members for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn), for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) and for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) referred to the need for greater employer support for the reserves, and the Territorial Army in particular. I agree with them. The period from the end of national service in the early 1960s to today constantly grows. Hon. Members' experiences of the activities of the Regular Army and reserves are now rapidly dating. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence is considering how best we can inform and educate the public about the valuable role and service performed by the reserves. We are working closely with the National Employers Liaison Committee, which is so ably headed by Mr. Tommy Macpherson.

My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) raised a number of interesting points about the organisation of the Ministry of Defence since my right hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) arrived there and undertook certain organizational changes. My hon. Friend's points will be noted by officials at the Ministry of Defence. We have introduced tough, value-for-money targets in that Ministry and have saved £30 million already as a result of contractorisation. We believe strongly in delegating financial responsibility to commanding officers. That constitutes part of the reorganisation.

The Opposition's own defence review has, we understand, begun today. It will take some considerable time to be completed, and we wish it well; the House awaits its conclusions. In the meantime. Opposition Members have three choices tonight, because there are three distinct factions within the Labour party.

First, there are the multilateralists, led by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), who wrote in The Guardian on 18 September: I insist that to single out defence as the one inviolable item in our 1987 programme would be absurd. It would be ridiculous to protect even from scrutiny the most unpopular proposal in the manifesto. The right hon. Gentleman's choice tonight is to vote with us in support of the statement on the Defence Estimates.

The second option open to Opposition Members is to support the official Opposition Front Bench. Its view is to cancel Trident and divert resources to increasing conventional expenditure. The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) should now start casting his mind forward to the next election, when Trident will be fully committed and there will be little expenditure to divert from it to conventional expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman may be about to suggest in his defence review the offering of Trident in multilateral negotiations. If he does, it would be a gross discourtesy to the public, for the simple reason that the Opposition also propose to cancel Trident in any case.

The third and final choice open to Opposition Members is to support the unilateralists, led by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who has tabled an amendment that has not been selected. At least the right hon. Gentleman has been unambiguous, consistent and clear in his policy, which is the true policy of the Labour party. I have been trying to discover in which faction the hon. Member for Rhondda is encamped, so I took the trouble of looking at his election address. I looked through it carefully for his statement on defence, but there is a complete blank on defence.

Mr. Rogers


Mr. Freeman

The Conservative party is the only party with a defence policy. It is a policy with a clear commitment and the only sensible, sane and popular defence policy. I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 219, Noes 346.

Division No. 35] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Beckett, Margaret
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bell, Stuart
Allen, Graham Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Anderson, Donald Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bermingham, Gerald
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Bidwell, Sydney
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Blair, Tony
Ashton, Joe Blunkett, David
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Boateng, Paul
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Boyes, Roland
Barron, Kevin Bray, Dr Jeremy
Battle, John Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hoyle, Doug
Buchan, Norman Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Buckley, George Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Caborn, Richard Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Callaghan, Jim Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Illsley, Eric
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Ingram, Adam
Canavan, Dennis Janner, Greville
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) John, Brynmor
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clay, Bob Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clelland, David Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kilfedder, James
Cohen, Harry Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Coleman, Donald Lambie, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Lamond, James
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Leadbitter, Ted
Corbett, Robin Leighton, Ron
Cousins, Jim Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Cox, Tom Lewis, Terry
Crowther, Stan Litherland, Robert
Cryer, Bob Livingstone, Ken
Cummings, J. Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cunningham, Dr John Loyden, Eddie
Dalyell, Tam McAllion, John
Darling, Alastair McAvoy, Tom
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Macdonald, Calum
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McFall, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) McGrady, E. K.
Dewar, Donald McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dixon, Don McKelvey, William
Dobson, Frank McLeish, Henry
Doran, Frank McNamara, Kevin
Douglas, Dick McTaggart, Bob
Duffy, A. E. P. Madden, Max
Dunnachie, James Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Mallon, Seamus
Eadie, Alexander Marek, Dr John
Eastham, Ken Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Fatchett, Derek Martlew, Eric
Faulds, Andrew Maxton, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Meacher, Michael
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Meale, Alan
Fisher, Mark Michael, Alun
Flannery, Martin Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flynn, Paul Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Foster, Derek Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foulkes, George Morgan, Rhodri
Fraser, John Morley, Elliott
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe)
Galbraith, Samuel Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)
Galloway, George Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Mullin, Chris
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Murphy, Paul
Godman, Dr Norman A. Nellist, Dave
Gordon, Ms Mildred Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gould, Bryan O'Brien, William
Graham, Thomas O'Neill, Martin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Patchett, Terry
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pendry, Tom
Grocott, Bruce Pike, Peter
Hardy, Peter Prescott, John
Harman, Ms Harriet Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Quin, Ms Joyce
Haynes, Frank Radice, Giles
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Randall, Stuart
Heffer, Eric S. Redmond, Martin
Henderson, Douglas Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hinchliffe, David Reid, John
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Richardson, Ms Jo
Holland, Stuart Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Home Robertson, John Robertson, George
Hood, James Robinson, Geoffrey
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff Wall, Pat
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Walley, Ms Joan
Rowlands, Ted Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ruddock, Ms Joan Wareing, Robert N.
Salmond, Alex Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wigley, Dafydd
Short, Clare Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wilson, Brian
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Winnick, David
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Spearing, Nigel Worthington, Anthony
Stott, Roger Wray, James
Strang, Gavin Young, David (Bolton SE)
Straw, Jack
Thomas, Dafydd Elis Tellers for the Ayes:
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Mrs. Llin Golding and
Turner, Dennis Mr. Ray Powell.
Vaz, Keith
Adley, Robert Carttiss, Michael
Alexander, Richard Cartwright, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cash, William
Allason, Rupert Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Amess, David Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Amos, Alan Chapman, Sydney
Arbuthnot, James Chope, Christopher
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Churchill, Mr
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ashby, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Aspinwall, Jack Colvin, Michael
Atkins, Robert Conway, Derek
Atkinson, David Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Cope, John
Baldry, Tony Cormack, Patrick
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Couchman, James
Batiste, Spencer Cran, James
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Currie, Mrs Edwina
Beith, A. J. Curry, David
Bellingham, Henry Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bendall, Vivian Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Day, Stephen
Benyon, W. Devlin, Tim
Bevan, David Gilroy Dickens, Geoffrey
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dicks, Terry
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Dorrell, Stephen
Blackburn, Dr John G. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Dover, Den
Body, Sir Richard Dunn, Bob
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Durant, Tony
Boswell, Tim Dykes, Hugh
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Eggar, Tim
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Evennett, David
Bowis, John Fairbairn, Nicholas
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Fallon, Michael
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Farr, Sir John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Favell, Tony
Brazier, Julian Fearn, Ronald
Bright, Graham Fenner, Dame Peggy
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Browne, John (Winchester) Fookes, Miss Janet
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Forman, Nigel
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Forth, Eric
Buck, Sir Antony Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Budgen, Nicholas Freeman, Roger
Burns, Simon French, Douglas
Burt, Alistair Fry, Peter
Butcher, John Gale, Roger
Butler, Chris Gardiner, George
Butterfill, John Gill, Christopher
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Glyn, Dr Alan
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Goodlad, Alastair
Carrington, Matthew Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gorst, John Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Gow, Ian McCrindle, Robert
Gower, Sir Raymond Macfarlane, Neil
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) MacGregor, John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Greenway, John (Rydale) Maclean, David
Gregory, Conal Maclennan, Robert
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') McLoughlin, Patrick
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Grist, Ian McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Ground, Patrick Madel, David
Grylls, Michael Major, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Malins, Humfrey
Hampson, Dr Keith Mans, Keith
Hanley, Jeremy Maples, John
Hannam, John Marland, Paul
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Marlow, Tony
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Harris, David Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Haselhurst, Alan Mates, Michael
Hawkins, Christopher Maude, Hon Francis
Hayes, Jerry Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hayward, Robert Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mellor, David
Heddle, John Meyer, Sir Anthony
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Miller, Hal
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mills, Iain
Hill, James Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hind, Kenneth Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Moate, Roger
Holt, Richard Monro, Sir Hector
Hordern, Sir Peter Moore, Rt Hon John
Howard, Michael Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Moss, Malcolm
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Mudd, David
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Neale, Gerrard
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Nelson, Anthony
Howells, Geraint Neubert, Michael
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Newton, Tony
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Nicholls, Patrick
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hunter, Andrew Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Onslow, Cranley
Irvine, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Irving, Charles Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Jack, Michael Paice, James
Jackson, Robert Patnick, Irvine
Janman, Timothy Patten, John (Oxford W)
Jessel, Toby Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Pawsey, James
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Portillo, Michael
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Powell, William (Corby)
Kennedy, Charles Price, Sir David
Key, Robert Raffan, Keith
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Rathbone, Tim
Kirkhope, Timothy Redwood, John
Knapman, Roger Renton, Tim
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rhodes James, Robert
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Knowles, Michael Riddick, Graham
Knox, David Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lang, Ian Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Latham, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lawrence, Ivan Roe, Mrs Marion
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rost, Peter
Lee, John (Pendle) Rowe, Andrew
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Ryder, Richard
Lightbown, David Sackville, Hon Tom
Lilley, Peter Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sayeed, Jonathan
Lord, Michael Scott, Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Tracey, Richard
Shelton, William (Streatham) Tredinnick, David
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Trippier, David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shersby, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Sims, Roger Waldegrave, Hon William
Skeet, Sir Trevor Walden, George
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wallace, James
Speed, Keith Walters, Dennis
Speller, Tony Ward, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Squire, Robin Warren, Kenneth
Stanbrook, Ivor Watts, John
Stanley, Rt Hon John Wells, Bowen
Stem, Michael Wheeler, John
Stevens, Lewis Whitney, Ray
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N) Wiggin, Jerry
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wilkinson, John
Sumberg, David Wilshire, David
Summerson, Hugo Winterton, Mrs Ann
Tapsell, Sir Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wolfson, Mark
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Woodcock, Mike
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Yeo, Tim
Temple-Morris, Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Younger, Rt Hon George
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Thorne, Neil Tellers for the Noes:
Thornton, Malcolm Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Thurnham, Peter Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Amendment accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 332, Noes 221.

Division No. 36] 10.15 pm
Adley, Robert Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Alexander, Richard Brazier, Julian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bright, Graham
Allason, Rupert Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Amess, David Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Amos, Alan Browne, John (Winchester)
Arbuthnot, James Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Budgen, Nicholas
Aspinwall, Jack Burns, Simon
Atkins, Robert Burt, Alistair
Atkinson, David Butcher, John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butler, Chris
Baldry, Tony Butterfill, John
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bellingham, Henry Carrington, Matthew
Bendall, Vivian Carttiss, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Cash, William
Benyon, W. Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Bevan, David Gilroy Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Biffen, Rt Hon John Chapman, Sydney
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Chope, Christopher
Blackburn, Dr John G. Churchill, Mr
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Body, Sir Richard Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Colvin, Michael
Boswell, Tim Conway, Derek
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Cope, John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cormack, Patrick
Bowis, John Couchman, James
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Cran, James
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Curry, David Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Day, Stephen Hunter, Andrew
Devlin, Tim Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dickens, Geoffrey Irvine, Michael
Dicks, Terry Irving, Charles
Dorrell, Stephen Jack, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jackson, Robert
Dover, Den Janman, Timothy
Dunn, Bob Jessel, Toby
Durant, Tony Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dykes, Hugh Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eggar, Tim Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Emery, Sir Peter Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Evennett, David Key, Robert
Fairbairn, Nicholas King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fallon, Michael King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Farr, Sir John Kirkhope, Timothy
Favell, Tony Knapman, Roger
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Knowles, Michael
Fookes, Miss Janet Knox, David
Forman, Nigel Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lang, Ian
Forth, Eric Latham, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lawrence, Ivan
Freeman, Roger Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
French, Douglas Lee, John (Pendle)
Fry, Peter Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Gale, Roger Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Gardiner, George Lightbown, David
Gill, Christopher Lilley, Peter
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Glyn, Dr Alan Lord, Michael
Goodhart, Sir Philip Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Goodlad, Alastair Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McCrindle, Robert
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Macfarlane, Neil
Gorst, John MacGregor, John
Gow, Ian MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Maclean, David
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) McLoughlin, Patrick
Greenway, John (Rydale) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gregory, Conal McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Madel, David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Major, Rt Hon John
Grist, Ian Malins, Humfrey
Ground, Patrick Mans, Keith
Grylls, Michael Maples, John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Marland, Paul
Hampson, Dr Keith Marlow, Tony
Hanley, Jeremy Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Hannam, John Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Mates, Michael
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Maude, Hon Francis
Harris, David Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Haselhurst, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hawkins, Christopher Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hayes, Jerry Mellor, David
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hayward, Robert Miller, Hal
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mills, Iain
Heddle, John Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Moate, Roger
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Monro, Sir Hector
Hill, James Moore, Rt Hon John
Hind, Kenneth Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Holt, Richard Moss, Malcolm
Hordern, Sir Peter Neale, Gerrard
Howard, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Neubert, Michael
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Newton, Tony
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Nicholls, Patrick
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Onslow, Cranley Stevens, Lewis
Oppenheim, Phillip Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Paice, James Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)
Patnick, Irvine Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Sumberg, David
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Summerson, Hugo
Pawsey, James Tapsell, Sir Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Porter, David (Waveney) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Portillo, Michael Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Powell, William (Corby) Temple-Morris, Peter
Price, Sir David Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Raffan, Keith Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thorne, Neil
Rathbone, Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Redwood, John Thurnham, Peter
Renton, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rhodes James, Robert Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Tracey, Richard
Riddick, Graham Tredinnick, David
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Trippier, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Twinn, Dr Ian
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Roe, Mrs Marion Waldegrave, Hon William
Rost, Peter Walden, George
Rowe, Andrew Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Ryder, Richard Walters, Dennis
Sackville, Hon Tom Ward, John
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sayeed, Jonathan Warren, Kenneth
Scott, Nicholas Watts, John
Shaw, David (Dover) Wells, Bowen
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wheeler, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Whitney, Ray
Shelton, William (Streatham) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wilshire, David
Shersby, Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann
Sims, Roger Winterton, Nicholas
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wolfson, Mark
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wood, Timothy
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Woodcock, Mike
Soames, Hon Nicholas Yeo, Tim
Speed, Keith Young, Sir George (Acton)
Speller, Tony Younger, Rt Hon George
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Squire, Robin Tellers for the Ayes:
Stanbrook, Ivor Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Stanley, Rt Hon John Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.
Stern, Michael
Abbott, Ms Diane Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Buchan, Norman
Allen, Graham Buckley, George
Anderson, Donald Caborn, Richard
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Callaghan, Jim
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Ashton, Joe Canavan, Dennis
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barron, Kevin Clay, Bob
Battle, John Clelland, David
Beckett, Margaret Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Bell, Stuart Cohen, Harry
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Coleman, Donald
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bermingham, Gerald Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bidwell, Sydney Corbett, Robin
Blair, Tony Corbyn, Jeremy
Blunkett, David Cousins, Jim
Boateng, Paul Cox, Tom
Boyes, Roland Crowther, Stan
Bray, Dr Jeremy Cryer, Bob
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Cummings, J.
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Dr John Heffer, Eric S.
Dalyell, Tam Henderson, Douglas
Darling, Alastair Hinchliffe, David
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hogg, N. (Cnauld & Kilsyth)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Holland, Stuart
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Home Robertson, John
Dewar, Donald Hood, James
Dixon, Don Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Dobson, Frank Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Doran, Frank Hoyle, Doug
Douglas, Dick Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Duffy, A. E. P. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Dunnachie, James Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Eadie, Alexander Illsley, Eric
Eastham, Ken Ingram, Adam
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Janner, Greville
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) John, Brynmor
Fatchett, Derek Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Faulds, Andrew Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mô)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Kilfedder, James
Fisher, Mark Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Flannery, Martin Lamond, James
Flynn, Paul Leadbitter, Ted
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Leighton, Ron
Foster, Derek Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Foulkes, George Lewis, Terry
Fraser, John Litherland, Robert
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Livingstone, Ken
Galbraith, Samuel Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Galloway, George Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Loyden, Eddie
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) McAllion, John
Godman, Dr Norman A. McAvoy, Tom
Gordon, Ms Mildred Macdonald, Calum
Gould, Bryan McFall, John
Graham, Thomas McGrady, E. K.
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McKelvey, William
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McLeish, Henry
Grocott, Bruce McNamara, Kevin
Hardy, Peter McTaggart, Bob
Harman, Ms Harriet Madden, Max
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mahon, Mrs Alice
Haynes, Frank Mallon, Seamus
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Marek, Dr John
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Rooker, Jeff
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Martin, Michael (Springburn) Rowlands, Ted
Martlew, Eric Ruddock, Ms Joan
Maxton, John Salmond, Alex
Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Meale, Alan Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Michael, Alun Short, Clare
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Skinner, Dennis
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Morgan, Rhodri Spearing, Nigel
Morley, Elliott Stott, Roger
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe) Strang, Gavin
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Straw, Jack
Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Mullin, Chris Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Murphy, Paul Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Nellist, Dave Turner, Dennis
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Vaz, Keith
O'Brien, William Wall, Pat
O'Neill, Martin Walley, Ms Joan
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Patchett, Terry Wareing, Robert N.
Pendry, Tom Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Pike, Peter Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Prescott, John Wigley, Dafydd
Primarolo, Ms Dawn Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Quin, Ms Joyce Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Radice, Giles Wilson, Brian
Randall, Stuart Winnick, David
Redmond, Martin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Worthington, Anthony
Reid, John Wray, James
Richardson, Ms Jo Young, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Robertson, George Tellers for the Noes:
Robinson, Geoffrey Mrs. Llin Golding and
Rogers, Allan Mr. Ray Powell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1987 contained in Cm. 101.

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