HC Deb 26 April 1988 vol 132 cc303-23 10.15 pm
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Mellor)

I beg to move, That the draft Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range missiles (Inspections) (Privileges and Immunities) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 28th March, be approved. The order is to be made under section 1(2) of the Arms Control and Disarmament (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1988 and was laid before the House in draft on 21 March. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has considered the order and made no comment other than to draw the attention of Parliament to the explanatory note prepared for the Committee by the Foreign Office. As the House knows, the Arms Control and Disarmament (Privileges and Immunities) Act is principally concerned with the granting of diplomatic privileges and immunities to observers and inspectors carrying out functions in the United Kingdom under the terms of the Stockholm agreement, but it also provides for the extension by means of an Order in Council of such privileges and immunities to inspection personnel involved in other future Arms control agreements.

The Government made it clear at the time that the INF treaty was one such agreement for which recourse to this provision of the Act was envisaged. The verification provisions of the INF treaty are detailed, as befits an agreement of its importance. One of its essential features is that United States and Soviet inspectors, while fully complying with the terms of inspection protocol and respecting the sovereignty, laws and regulations of the countries in which they operate, should be able to carry out their functions effectively. Hence the requirement for diplomatic privileges and immunities which this Order in Council is designed to provide.

The aim of the order is to enable the British Government to fulfil the obligations that we have undertaken in respect of the verification of the INF treaty. The House is familiar with the nature of those obligations and the reasons why they take the form they do, and I shall not rehearse the background again now. Suffice it to say that the basing country agreement that we and other NATO partners have signed with the United States and the exchange of notes with the Soviet Union contain comprehensive and detailed provisions defining the basis on which access is permitted for INF inspections and protecting the United Kingdom's sovereign rights on our territory.

The privileges and immunities to be conferred on Soviet inspectors and aircrew for the protection of their official functions when conducting INF inspections will cover only activities carried out in the United Kingdom. That is for the period from their arrival at the point of entry until their departure from the United Kingdom. The Order in Council also confers certain privileges and immunities on the equipment and aircraft used by the INF inspectors and aircrew. Naturally, those privileges and immunities are no more extensive than those required under the basing country agreement——

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I do not want to be pedantic, but the order refers to Inspectors and aircrew members and goes on: except articles the import or export of which is prohibited by law or controlled by quarantine regulations". Surely that implies some sort of basic inspections; or have I got it wrong?

Mr. Mellor

The hon. Gentleman is as perspicacious as always. He is absolutely right. We are entitled to exercise the normal controls even over people who come on official visits, just as we do with other visitors. For instance, the list of people must be submitted to us and we would have the right to object if we chose.

The privileges and immunities that are conferred are no more extensive than those required under the basing country agreement and they correspond directly to the privileges and immunities annex to the basing country agreement, which has been in the Library for some time. That reproduced verbatim the relevant parts of the protocol between the United States and the Soviet Union. Nor do the privileges and immunities exceed those conferred by the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.

The United States Senate will vote on the ratification of the INF treaty in the next few weeks. There has been extensive debate there and, indeed, throughout the rest of the NATO Alliance on the merits of the treaty and its verification and inspection provisions. All the indications that we have are that the vote in the Senate will be overwhelmingly in favour of the treaty. We expect United States and Soviet instruments of ratification to be exchanged during the President's visit to Moscow at the end of May.

Sir Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

I strongly support the order, but can my hon. and learned Friend explain why it is wise to take this step before the United States Senate has voted on the ratification? If, perchance and unhappily, the vote there goes the wrong way, we shall have ratified an order which is unnecessary.

Mr. Mellor

Parliamentary time does not permit this to be done and later if the treaty comes into force, as it is likely to do, immediately after the President and Mr. Gorbachev have exchanged the instruments of ratification. The treaty comes into force as soon as that is done. The order has to go to the Privy Council. If the treaty does not come into force, the House will have wasted one and a half hours. It wastes a lot of time, and an extra hour and a half will probably not make much difference.

The order will enable us to fulfil our part of the obligations in respect of the treaty as soon as it comes into force. On that basis, I commend it to the House.

10.21 pm
Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

It goes without saying that we welcome the order, just as we welcome the treaty from which it flows. We welcome the Bill which led to the order and we, unlike many Conservative Members, have been real enthusiasts for Arms control and disarmament measures. We congratulated the President and the General Secretary when the treaty was signed and, all along, we have been keen supporters of this and other aspects of nuclear disarmament.

This is a fascinating order. It is important in itself and for its details, but it also raises the issue of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty. Since the day it was signed in Washington, there have been developments to which the House's attention should be drawn.

On page 22 of the protocol referred to in the order regarding immunities and privileges for inspectors, subsection 6 of item VI states the general rules for conducting inspections, which I consulted in some detail. An interesting phenomenon occurs there. We learn there —we did not learn it from the Minister—that the Red Army inspectors and their aircrew shall be allowed to travel within 50 kilometres from the inspection site with the permission of the in-country escort". The size of the party can range between 10 and 30, accompanied by a maximum of 10 aircrew, who presumably will have to drive along the M4 as well as pilot the aeroplane from Moscow airport. Subsection 6 also says that the party shall be accompanied by the in-country escort. It goes on: Such travel shall be taken solely as a leisure activity. I took the trouble of getting a map of the south of England—an area of the country of which I am not vividly aware. That circle of 50 km takes in the countryside from Oxford to Southampton, from Swindon to Reading, and includes the constituency of the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), who is the chairman of the Conservative 1922 committee, and the constituency of the hon. Member for Devizes (Sir C. Morrison), who is the vice-chairman of that committee, as well as other outposts of civilisation such as Beaconsfield, Chippenham, Salisbury and Aldershot.

Mr. Mellor

I do not want to take up much of the hon. Gentleman's valuable time. He has raised a point of such obscurity that I did not know about it. Apparently, he spent time reading when he could have been eating porridge. The ruling applies only to continuous monitoring inspection and will not apply to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robertson

That is not the case. I cannot believe that that would be the intention of Her Majesty's Government and of the civil servants who so fortuitously supplied that bit of information to the Minister, who should be eating humble pie. I do not understand why Soviet Red Army escorts and inspectors should be denied the opportunity of going to Guildford and Swindon. The protocol says: Such travel shall he taken solely as a leisure activity. We look forward to the interchange of Red Army and United States air forces fighting over the pubs of southern England.

Those inspectors, enjoying the immunities and privileges accorded by the order, will be ensuring compliance with a treaty explicitly designed to eliminate —I emphasise the word "eliminate"—an entire class of American and Soviet land-based nuclear missiles with a killing range of between 500 km and 5,500 km. We are told that that was the successful culmination of a process known as the twin-track decision of 1979 pursuing the deployment of cruise and Pershing II missiles as a means of stopping and reversing the deployment of Soviet SS20 land-based missiles on our continent.

In the autumn, flags flew and bands played in Washington, the signatures were appended, and according to the famous words of Mr. Larry Speakes, the world was a little safer as a consequence. Even the Prime Minister, who departed the moment that the Minister came to the Dispatch Box, concluded that that was a historic Arms control measure. [Interruption.] The idea that the Prime Minister trusts anybody, least of all the Minister, is a matter of considerable speculation. Perhaps she trusts him in the House, but I do not think that she will allow him out of the country again.

The architect of an historic Arms control measure—the world's first and only nuclear disarmament treaty—reckoned without the cynicism of the military minds and their political shadows who never believed in the negotiating back of the twin-track decision and merely wanted an excuse to fill in yet another rung in the ever-extending ladder of escalation with yet another breed of unusable mass extermination weapons. Having disposed of cruise, Pershing II and all the SS20s, out of the backwoods they troop, led by the Prime Minister, waving the flag of modernisation in front of them to hide the new parade of nuclear artillery that they intend to inflict on the world. That is the real tragedy of the present disarray within NATO.

Instead of celebrating the new treaty and the progress that it represents in reducing the threat from Euro-missiles and instead of taking the progress and getting rid of the existing unstable and dangerous short-range battlefield nuclear weapons across Europe, we are now to engage in a new western internal battle over what new weaponry can cover the targets in the East, so recently relieved from that threat.

Out of the NATO council's 1983 communiqué from Montebello comes a blizzard of interpretations of the word "modernisation." Chancellor Kohl and a range of German opinion, that extends from the far Left of the SPD and the Greens to Franz Josef Strauss, have no intention of putting Germany, either West or East, back in the killing fields, by not just updating the battlefield Lance missile that Lord Carrington said, referring to modernisa-tion, would simply make them less destructive in power but more accurate but by doubling or nearly trebling their range so that the missiles will be within spitting distance of the limits laid down by the INF treaty, whose provisions we are to reinforce tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) and I have just returned from a trip to East and West Germany. We can vouch for the considerable feeling there about being landed, yet again, within range of those short-range missiles. Even President Mitterrand supports Chancellor Kohl and the Germans. Only our Prime Minister stands alone, as ever, isolated in her hawkishness, ready to embrace any and every additional nuclear pipe dream that the military can invent.

In resisting the third zero and implacably opposing the chance to abolish battlefield weapons, which can hit only the two Germanys—hence their understandable lack of enthusiasm for their modernisation at this stage—the Prime Minister hands a major propaganda weapon to the Soviet Union and at the same time loses the chance to reduce a clear and overwhelming Soviet superiority in this area.

Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the Soviet Union is modernising its nuclear weapons?

Mr. Robertson

The right hon. Gentleman knows from his experience that the Soviet. Union has 1,400 missiles in this class, compared with only 88 Lance missile launchers in the West. A third zero option would remove a 14:1 Soviet superiority. If we took up the chance of the third zero, we should eliminate the Soviet Union's modernisation of that generation of missiles. We are looking a gift horse in the mouth and handing to the Soviet Union a major propaganda victory.

The Prime Minister was quoted in Die Welt a couple of weeks ago as telling a small group of listeners in Brussels that British troops on the Continent must not be "stripped of their clothes." They, with their 88 Lance launchers, are facing an array of 1,400 short-range battlefield Soviet missiles, yet they are to be stripped of their clothes, if we agree to the third zero option.

If resistance to an agreement on battlefield weapons kills the spirit of INF, much worse is afoot to undermine and subvert the INF treaty. However much the Montebello decision on modernisation is perverted and misinterpreted, the sudden appearance on the agenda of a new air-launched stand-off missile—a cruise missile carried half the distance to target by a plane—clearly circumvents the INF treaty.

Even the otherwise enthusiastic nuclear supporters in The Economist on 19 March asked: Is modernisation a dodge? The air launch cruise missile, when its range is added to that of the delivering aircraft, raises a half-justified eyebrow. That is the understatement of this part of the decade. Of course it does more than that. On 26 January the Secretary of State for Defence said that the Montebello decision related to updating and modernising the existing nuclear weapons."—[Official Report, 26 January 1988; Vol. 126, c. 155.] I emphasise the words "existing nuclear weapons".

Any stand-off, air-launched cruise missile would be a new, untried generation of weapon. In no way can its development and our own agreement with the French to proceed with a joint development—reputedly reached in December 1987 between the Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), and M. Andre Giraud, the temporary French defence Minister—be seen, nor should it or will it be seen, as being modernising existing weapons, because they are the invention of brand new weapons themselves.

On 21 March, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces stated in a written answer that SACEUR was recommending the depolyment of a tactical air-to-surface missle."— [Official Report, 21 March 1988; Vol. 130, c. 8.] That is a volte-face on what was said by the Secretary of State. Speculation in the press yesterday and today, and answers given at Question Time today by the Secretary of State for Defence suggest that such a missile plan is on the table for the Nuclear Planning Group in Brussels today.

The consideration of those new, powerful, long-range missiles is clearly and unmistakably a circumvention of the INF treaty. In this debate of all debates we should condemn it for the dangerous and fraudulent evasion of responsibilities to the world that it represents.

The inspectors coming to this country with the diplomatic protection and immunities that the order will confer will be visible evidence in the leafy lanes of temporarily Tory southern England of the capacity of political will to triumph over mindless logic. A move towards sanity and safety was started by President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev in Reykjavik and it came to fruition in the form of the INF treaty in Washington. It could and should have started an escalation of Arms control deals for which the world is crying out. Instead, the constant belligerents, with whom the Prime Minister is in the front rank, are not trying to find ways of evading and undermining any progress made and of rebuilding stockpiles and systems.

Meanwhile, in all the forums of disarmament throughout the world, no real progress is being made. The chemical weapons talks are bogged down because the Americans object to the reasonable verification provisions that the Minister's own Government have proposed. The conventional stability talks have been halted before they even started because the unrealistic conditions laid down sharply hinder the dialogue—a dialogue that could easily provide answers to many problems.

The non-existent talks on a comprehensive test ban treaty have been aborted by those who want better and better, bigger and bigger, and more and more accurate and nastier weapons. The anti-ballistic missile treaty—the last major Arms and nuclear control treaty—is under a microscope as people squabble about the minutiae of interpretation, simply to justify one president's obsession with an unworkable and expensive system, which can lead only to escalation of the arms race.

Our debate might have been a cause for celebration and for welcoming the Red Army inspectors who have come, not for war but to ensure peace. It is sad that they have come amidst squandered chances of making a safer world for us all.

10.39 pm
Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)

I am sorry that the Opposition had to be so churlish in their welcome of the document. I know that it must be rather bitter for them to accept that the first step in the reduction of the nuclear armouries of East and West should be the result of the Government's efforts, but that is the fact of the matter, and it would behove them better and do them more honour to give credit where credit is due. Any reduction in the nuclear armoury of the world must be to the good of all the people of the world, and I feel that party politics should be left out of the matter.

However, there is a second reason for my welcoming this draft statutory instrument. It is one more step along the road of arms reduction that started with the signing of the INF treaty in Washington last December by President Reagan and Secretary-General Gorbachev. As I told the House in a previous debate, I was given a conducted tour of RAF Greenham Common earlier this year, and was shown by the United States officers the three areas of the base that will be open to the Soviet inspection team who will be coming to verify the departure of cruise missiles.

I was told about the Portakabin-type structures which were being built for the Soviet aircrew—estimated to comprise 10 people—and for the five inspection teams of two inspectors each. I was told that the inspection teams would have the right to inspect any room in the three areas within the base which could house an object 11 ft long and 21 in in diameter: in other words, a cruise missile. They would also have the right to look into the hangars in which the missiles are currently stored. I was also told that as soon as the treaty had been ratified by the United States Senate and the Supreme Soviet, the Russian team could be expected between 30 and 90 days later. I welcome the indication from my hon. and learned Friend that that ratification is now imminent.

I was further told that, when the reduction in cruise missiles begins, they will go—one flight of missiles plus launcher vehicles at a time—from Greenham to the Davies Montham air force base in Arizona, where they will be met by another Soviet verification team responsible for seeing them cut up. The missiles will be split down the middle; the wings will be clipped off and crushed, and the warhead immobilised. The launch vehicle will be cut up and the guidance system removed. That is what will happen when the INF treaty comes into effect.

In this brief debate, I wish to raise some questions that arise, at least in my mind, directly from the statutory instrument and the agreement. I am immediately struck by the fact that neither the agreement nor the instrument refers to intermediate-range nuclear missiles; both refer simply to intermediate-range missiles. Similarly, they both refer to shorter-range missiles, the word "nuclear" being left out.

I was of the opinion that INF stood for "intermediate-range nuclear forces". I wonder why the word "nuclear", which seems so crucial, has been omitted. If I understand the significance of the words as currently printed, both the agreement and the statutory instrument relate to any missiles, whether they have nuclear or conventional warheads.

Mr. Mellor

indicated assent.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Minister confirms that. It seems to make the treaty far more wide-reaching. By the same token, there seems to be no reference to whether the missiles should be land-based, sea-based or air-based. Again, we seem to be ruling out all those missiles, conventional or nuclear, whether based on land, sea or air.

Perhaps I have not understood the document correctly. In that case, I ask my hon. and learned Friend to say something about this when he winds up the debate. But in the papers before us tonight there is no definition of the word "missile", or of the limitations to the statement relating to intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

Mr. Mellor

Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend. The answer is that the payload that missiles carry is quite another matter. It is the missiles themselves, as we have already determined, that are treaty-limited. I would say, on my hon. Friend's other point, that it is wrong to look for definitions in this document. This document is a subsidiary document. The document before the House is simply to permit us to facilitate the inspections of the two facilities. For the real definitions, we have to go to the master treaty itself.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that guidance. I thought when I picked up the document, which described itself as "the Agreement", that that was in fact a definitive document. Therefore, what he has said is most useful guidance.

May I return to the statutory instrument, and ask whether my hon. Friend would clarify these words in subsection 2 of clause (1), at page 2: that a person refused continued recognition by the United Kingdom as being entitled to privileges and immunities under the circumstances provided for in article IV, paragraph 4 of the Agreement shall thereupon cease to be regarded for the purpose of this Order as an inspector or aircrew member, as the case may be. Do those words mean that the United Kingdom has the power to refuse diplomatic entry to either a Soviet inspector or aircrew member—and I am quoting from the agreement— if they have ever committed a criminal offence in the United Kingdom, or been sentenced for committing such an offence, or been expelled from the UK". Would it also apply, if one of those people, either in the inspection team or in the aircrew, was a person who had been guilty of those same offences in any other NATO country, or at least in countries which are signatories to the treaty? It appears to me that it would simply relate to whether the person concerned had been guilty of an offence in the United Kingdom. I must say that, if one of the members of the Soviet inspection team had been expelled from another NATO country—for the sake of argument, for spying—I would consider him an unwelcome guest at RAF Greenham Common. I wonder, therefore, whether it is more embracing than appears to be the case.

What if a Soviet inspector or aircrew member misbehaves at Greenham or at Molesworth? Suppose, for example, he is caught taking photographs of something outside those three areas to which I have already referred. Does the United Kingdom have the right to insist that such a person shall be asked to leave, or would that be a matter for the Governments of the United States and the Soviet Union? Again, that does not seem entirely clear from the documents before us.

By the same token, because the aircraft bringing the Soviet team is not subject to our Customs procedures, and to those responsible for quarantine, what would be the position of a member of a Soviet aircrew if he brought in a pet animal and kept it in a cage, or, in the case of a dog, he allowed it to stay in the aeroplane but it ran outside the aircraft? Would he come within the quarantine rules or do those rules apply only if the Soviet inspectors and aircrew leave Greenham Common and go outside the base area?

Those are just a couple of questions that have occurred to me from the statutory instrument, which I hope my hon. Friend will be able to answer. They are very small and insignificant points when set against the consequences of this document. I would not wish them in any way to detract from the great importance which I place upon this instrument.

10.48 pm
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

I welcome the Arms Control and Disarmament (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1988 under which this statutory instrument is made and I welcome the statutory instrument. I suspect that all the members of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments who have reported the measure would also extend a welcome to it.

The Joint Committee has reported the measure simply on the grounds of elucidation. There is no criticism of, indeed there is implied praise for, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office because it provided the Joint Committee with a memorandum with the statutory instrument and we thought it of sufficient use to other Members that it should be printed and drawn to the attention of the House in our 21st report, which was published on 29 March.

Because the procedure for the statutory instrument is fairly unusual and invokes the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, which implements the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, we thought it useful that the table provided by the Foreign Office, which shows the articles of the draft order, the parallel article in the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations and the section of the basing country agreement which was provided in a table at the end, should be made available in addition to the rest of the memorandum. I hope that the House thinks that that is a useful sort of reference. The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) might wish to refer to it at his leisure as a useful guide which would otherwise not be available.

I want to speak for two or three minutes on something which has nothing to do with the Joint Committee because the Joint Committee does not consider the merits of a statutory instrument. It considers only whether, for example, the Government have exceeded their powers and whether in this case something needs elucidation in order to help the House and other members of the public.

The hon. Member for Newbury was rather churlish about my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson). He clearly welcomed the measure, but it covers only about 4 per cent. of nuclear warheads and therefore cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be seen as other than a beginning on the road to nuclear disarmament. That is a road for which the Labour party has been arguing for many years, so we welcome it when the Soviet Union and the United States embark on an agreement which, of necessity, invokes the United Kingdom because some of the missiles are stationed here.

We very much welcome demonstrations at Greenham Common and Molesworth—which I have joined—to protest about the presence of those missiles here. When negotiations produce an agreement, and subsequently a statutory instrument, which provides for the verification of the dismantling and removal of those missiles, we welcome them enthusiastically.

The Government try to claim credit, but the credit really belongs to the United States and the Soviet Union. The Government should recognise that the initiative was taken by the Soviet Union.

Mr. Mellor

A farrago of nonsense.

Mr. Cryer

The Prime Minister described Mr. Gorbachev as a bold and courageous leader when she met him at Brize Norton. She has taken a different view of him since, but none the less she praised Mr. Gorbachev for taking this sort of initiative. That should be recognised.

Sir Peter Blaker

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that, if Britain had followed the Labour party's policy and got rid of the missiles in Britain in a one-sided manner, the Russians would have responded by saying, "Absolutely splendid. We shall throw away ours too."?

Mr. Cryer

When the right hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the Ministry of Defence his view was that the Russians were ready to come and take us over. That view is not shared by other people; it is not shared by me. Therefore, the argument is clearly that if we had got rid of cruise missiles first, that would not have impeded the Soviet Union in its quest for negotiated agreements. [Interruption.] The Government Chief Whip says that all this talk is silly. I must ask him and the Minister, if this talk is silly, and if all nations want or need nuclear weapons in order to stave off the threat of the Soviet Union, why was the United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed by 133 non-nuclear nations? Under the treaty those nations are pledged not to manufacture or deploy nuclear weapons. Why do that number of nations worldwide take that stance if it is silly for us to do so? Is it not silly for them to do so? That question has never been satisfactorily answered.

Does the Minister agree that that statutory instrument and the arrangements for inspection, dismantling, general verification and removal of cruise missiles will help to strengthen and reinforce the United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which has been signed by 133 non-nuclear nations? If the Minister thinks that, and he agrees that the statutory instrument is a step towards strengthening that treaty and persuading those nations not to follow our example and manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons, does he not think that that step would be even further reinforced by the cancellation of Trident, which increases our nuclear power by 4 per cent. to 10 per cent.?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going very wide of the instrument. Perhaps he would contain his remarks.

Mr. Cryer

Certainly, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall conclude this section by saying that the parallel is very clear. I am interested in the Minister's comments, because I am sure that he recognises the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, as he recognises the importance of the statutory instrument, and he would not wish to prejudice the United Nations agreement.

My next point concerning modernisation was also mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton from the Front Bench. We welcome the fact that the Minister has put the statutory instrument before the House, but we have strong reservations about moves by the Prime Minister to undertake modernisation. They seem to many people to be a replacement by other means of the cruise missiles that are being removed by the very means set out in the statutory instrument. Therefore, we must express clearly to the Minister our objection to modernisation. It is an act of very bad faith by the Government and is against the aims and objectives of the United States and Soviet Union in the agreement.

The statutory instrument and its associated agreement, which is available from the Vote Office, set out the terms and conditions in great detail. The hon. Member for Newbury said that he is not quite clear about one or two things. Perhaps that is partly because the instrument and the agreement are so detailed and make every visitor the subject of such scrutiny.

The immunities and privileges can be withdrawn, and rightly so. But I must ask the Minister whether he is satisfied that the Visiting Forces Act 1952, which allows 30,000 United States soldiers here a fair amount of immunity, for example from our legal system, should not be reviewed in the light of this sort of treaty and statutory instrument, with the aim of reducing the immunities and privileges. They were granted far too widely in a moment of cold war tension, by a Government who had not taken the people into their confidence fully at the time.

I accept that the process started by a Labour Government, but the legislation was embarked upon by a Conservative Government in 1952. I accept that there was a consensus view of the cold war, although it was not entirely shared by the whole of the Labour party. Is it not time for a review in the light of discussions that have resulted in an agreement and in this statutory instrument, which lays down certain conditions?

We welcome the measure, but those of us on the Labour Benches will he working very hard to press the Government to go further down this road of nuclear disarmament. More important, so too will the millions of people who recognise that nuclear expenditure is wasteful and potentially disastrous, and who want to get rid of Trident.

11 pm

Sir Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

I do not know anything that will bring home so clearly to the British people the immense achievement of the INF agreement than the arrival of Russian service men engaged in inspecting the bases of the United States air force. That fact—a remarkable one when one considers the history of the past 30 years—is by any measure a dramatic achievement which, I would think, would receive the unanimous support of the House.

The headquarters of the United States third air force is in my constituency. Of my constituents, 23,000 are Americans, and I have known them intimately for the past 25 years while I have had the pleasure to be in the House. In a sense, this treaty is a tribute to them, for they have contributed the essential portion of the Western nuclear deterrent which has brought the Soviets to the conference table.

I have some experience in this. When I worked for Mr. Macmillan at No. 10 Downing street, I was a modest observer of his achievement when, as Prime Minister, he went to Moscow and broke the mould of the cold war. There followed from that the first test ban treaty, signed by Lord Hailsham. Following that, work was done on the Antarctic treaty. This is not the first but the second denuclearising treaty, for there was agreement on preventing the establishment in the Antarctic of nuclear weapons many years ago. There was the work done by Lord Mulley—I pay tribute to him—who, among others, worked for a Labour Government and went a long way towards achieving an agreement on nuclear weapons, which still unfortunately eludes us. Most of all, there is this intermediate treaty.

Over the decades, the one common theme in all these efforts to achieve a measure of balanced and credible disarmament has been the policy so well expressed by Churchill when he said, "We arm to parley." The whole object of Western policy has been to maintain our strength in order to provide a deterrent, not for war but for peace. If anything has been demonstrated by this treaty, it is that that policy is now paying off.

In what I hope is an uncontentious speech, I must say that it would have served neither our country nor the cause of world peace so well if we had taken the advice of those, not necessarily on the Labour Front Bench, who would have had us, the Americans and British alike, abandon our nuclear weapons in the hope that the Soviets would follow suit. There is no evidence to support that; the evidence is that by arming to parley we have achieved a result.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

If the hon. Gentleman's theory is that we have armed to parley, how is it that we end up with more Arms at the end of the parley than when we started?

Sir Eldon Griffiths

There is no theory about it; we have armed, we have parleyed, and we have achieved a result. I hope that the whole House will welcome that.

I wish to comment on the practical aspects of this, following on from my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson), who has Greenham Common in his area, just as I have Mildenhall and Lakenheath in mine. The task of maintaining the American bases and providing for cruise missiles has never been easy. It has fallen to me all too often to be at the receiving end of the violent attacks on our American allies. At the time of the Libyan strike there was posted through the letter box of virtually every home in the area around Mildenhall, which I have represented for 20 years or so, a leaflet which showed a great arrow arching down from space and exploding across my villages, with the suggestion that something called Reagan-Thatcher had placed the people of Suffolk in the front line and that there would be blood in the streets. That was the legend.

The Americans have been vilified and attacked, not least by the BBC in programmes such as "Airbase". There have been total and monstrous attacks on the young American service men who work in Britain. It has never been easy to maintain the American presence here, but I know that it has helped us to negotiate together the first step towards nuclear disarmmament.

I hope that we shall continue with the double-track policy that has served us so well. It is vital—this will not be easy to maintain—to keep the Americans committed here in the United Kingdom. With the low dollar and pressures on Congress and the American Administration generally to reduce their forces overseas, there will be voices urging American service men to go home.

I hope, too, that the NATO Alliance will stay solid. There can be no doubt that a measure of nervousness is creeping into the Federal Republic of Germany. If we are to achieve peace, it is essential that the NATO Alliance remains united, strong and resolute. It is because that has been achieved so far that we have the treaty before us and will be having Soviet inspectors on our soil. The second achievement is dramatic and is the pay-off for the sensible policies that have followed by the Conservative Government. They have been followed by some Opposition Members, and it is only unfortunate that far too many of them have sought to abandon them.

11.7 pm

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends—[Interruption.] I think that proportionately there are as many of us in the Chamber as there are representatives of any other party —I join the welcome that has been given to the order. The momentous treaty which was agreed in December 1987 —the INF agreement—was achieved in spite of the policies of the Government rather than because of them.

The treaty is the first to eliminate a class of nuclear weapons, and that is of enormous significance. Secondly, it represents a considerable breakthrough in terms of verification. As the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) illustrated, Soviet service personnel will be coming to Britain to inspect American bases and to ascertain the number of missiles that are to be found within them. In years to come, the purpose of the procedure will be to seek the elimination of these weapons. This is an important breakthrough, and I hope that it can be added to and built upon when we come to deal with other areas of weaponry where verification procedures are important in securing agreements.

When we are intent on eliminating a class of nuclear weapons, the process of verification is that much easier. It is comparatively easy to spot whether someone is cheating if only one missile is discovered after a date when all such weapons are supposed to have been eliminated. If, as we hope, we arrive at an agreement to reduce strategic nuclear weapons—it is clear that not all categories of them will be reduced—there will be many problems in estimating numbers of warheads permissile. However, we hope that the breakthrough on verification that is represented by the INF treaty will provide a worthwhile starting point.

It is my understanding that warheads are not to be destroyed under the treaty, which seeks to eliminate missiles. Can the Minister confirm that the fissile materials in the warheads will not remain in the United Kingdom but will, along with the missiles, be taken back to the United States?

Will United Kingdom officials accompany Soviet and United States officials when the inspections take place at Molesworth and Greenham Common? Can the Minister confirm that the order brings into being with regard to the inspection teams the normal rules of diplomatic privileges and immunity? That should also mean that we will have power to object to, and indeed expel, any inspectors if there is good reason for doing so.

Two other points have already been touched on, principally by Opposition Members. First, it will be regrettable if what has been heralded as a major breakthrough in disarmament turns out to be the catalyst which leads to a new generation of more sophisticated nuclear weapons. If we have nuclear weapons—nuclear deterrence is accepted by my party—there is a need to ensure that we do not have disarmament by obsolescence, but that we update existing weaponry. But there is a fundamental difference between that and, under the guise of modernisation, entering on a new generation of nuclear weapons which, to all intents and purposes, undermine the whole basis of the INF treaty.

The second point is slightly off the straight and narrow, but perhaps the Minister will say a few words about it. I know that the Government give a high priority to trying to achieve agreement on the production and deployment of chemical weapons. Important verification problems are involved. The Americans asked for mandatory inspections and I understand that the Soviet Union has now acceded to that. Yet the problems of trying to conclude a treaty on chemical weapons still exist. Up to now, the Government have made considerable efforts to try to bring about agreement. Is there anything in the procedures agreed under the INF treaty which would be useful in trying to achieve acceptable verification by all sides for chemical weapons?

As we have seen from recent events in the Iran-Iraq war, trying to pursue verification to the point of perfection on chemical weapons should perhaps take second place to trying to stop their proliferation. It is an important issue and I should be glad if the Minister would say something about the current standing of talks.

11.12 pm
Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) in paying tribute to Lord Mulley, although on a slightly different point from the one he mentioned. It was Lord Mulley, when he was Secretary of State for Defence in 1979, who started the process of introducing cruise missiles into this country, leading to the twin-track policy, which has led to the document which we are now considering. It is strange that the Labour party has been so reluctant to take the credit which is due to Lord Mulley and, therefore, to the party for this result.

What would have been the effect of the Labour party policy of one-sided nuclear disarmament if it had been adopted? We would not have this document before us tonight because we would not have achieved it. NATO would have been thrown into disarray. The Soviet Union would have stood back and watched, chuckling, the process of NATO destroying its own capability. For 10 years or more I have repeatedly, in debate, asked people who support the one-sided disarmament policy what country they think would have followed Britain's disarmament policy if it had been so foolish as to disarm in a one-sided manner. I have never had an answer.

Mr. Mellor

Perhaps I might say to my right hon. Friend, whose speech I am greatly enjoying, that we have before us the example of chemical weapons referred to by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace). We laid down chemical weapons 30 years ago, but the Soviet Union has used the intervening 30 years to build up massively its capability.

Sir Peter Blaker

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point that I have frequently made.

One has only to ask oneself whether the Soviet Union would have followed our example to know the answer. Indeed, Mr. Andropov, when he was General Secretary in the Soviet Union, said that the Soviets did not believe in one-sided disarmament.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)


Sir Peter Blaker

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way. Other hon. Members wish to speak.

Mr. Andropov said that the Soviets did not believe in one-sided nuclear disarmament. They were not naive people. One has only to ask whether China, France or the United States would have followed our example to know that the question answers itself.

This document is the result of NATO standing firm and that has led to the process of negotiation. Negotiation is precisely the opposite of the process advocated by the Labour party in recent years.

Negotiations have centred on two points, the first of which is reciprocal and balanced reductions. As I have been explaining, it is ridiculous to imagine that by one-sided nuclear disarmament we can obtain balanced and reciprocal reductions. One cannot achieve from one-sided disarmament an agreed measure of disarma-ment. It defies logic to suggest such a result.

Secondly, this document is about the process of verification. As the West has insisted for many years, verification is at the heart of Arms control or Arms reduction. Both the reciprocal reductions and the verification can be obtained only by a process of negotiation. Both Mr. Andropov's statement and the reality of the process which has led to the formulation of this document make nonsense of Labour party policy.

11.16 pm
Ms. Dawn Primarolo (Bristol, South)

I shall try to make my comments brief, although some things need to be said.

There is no doubt that the Labour party welcomes both the INF agreement and this order as part of that agreement, hut, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) said, it is a tragedy that we are not discussing more this evening and that we have not progressed further down the path of negotiation. Opportunities are being lost and it appears that the Government, as a result of the Montebello agreement, are taking action that circumvents the INF agreement and puts the agreement on Arms reduction at risk.

Hon. Members are aware that, through defence questions over the past few months, I have sought to obtain clarification from the Minister on exactly what is happening with the upgrading. I am told that it is a modernisation programme. It is not a question of being churlish, or not giving credit where credit is due, or putting the blame at people's door, unless it deserves to be there. It is a question of discussing in a mature and responsible way an agreement vital for our future and for our children's future.

The Minister referred to our "full obligations" in complying with the treaty and to access for verification. Our full obligations are those of continuing negotiation, to put meaning into the agreement, to fulfil the requirements of that agreement, and to use it to progress arms reduction.

As we have been told, the term "modernisation" has suddenly taken on numerous different meanings. Modernisation implies replacement or upgrading of new systems that are broadly similar to our present systems. However, that is not true of the systems agreed at Montebello which we are told will be deployed. They are a new class of nuclear weapons which offer great challenges and undermine the INF agreement. We are talking about the air-launched and the sea-launched cruise missiles and the new Lance missiles.

When we have a modernisation programme with the potential to circumvent an important treaty, we should think carefully about it in developing our commitment to Arms reduction. It is clear that the new deployments will boost NATO's nuclear capabilities. That is not in doubt. Many descriptions of the new types of missiles which are being developed demonstrate that point clearly.

An advertisement in the Washington Post for the McDonnell-Douglas aircraft was headed: In 1982, America started building a framework for INF. It's rolling off the assembly line now. The advertisement continued: Just as some of our missiles in Europe are being marked for dismantling, the first new F-15E Eagles are being built. The timing is perfect. Independent defense experts say the fit with America's post-INF strategy is perfect. And yet procurement of this valuable deterrent has been reduced. The advertisement went on to explain how this aircraft could be used to keep the same capabilities in a climate of supposed nuclear reduction.

There is great strength of feeling in the House and in Britain generally about negotiations for Arms reductions, of which the order is a part. A Gallup poll commissioned by an organisation not well favoured by the Government —the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—was carried out between 14 and 19 April. It showed that 65 per cent. of those polled opposed NATO's plans to modernise nuclear weapons.

So that Conservative Members can be assured that the questions are not loaded to give the response that we would like, I shall read them. First, the poll asked: The United States has agreed to remove nuclear cruise missiles from Greenham Common as part of an agreement with the Soviet Union. Do you approve or disapprove of replacing them with new sea or air launched cruise missiles based in Britain? That provision was part of the Montebello agreement. Thirty-three per cent. approved and 51 per cent. disapproved. Secondly, the poll asked: The United States and the Soviet Union have just agreed to remove 1,000 nuclear warheads from Europe. Do you think that NATO should modernise its nuclear weapons that are left, or should they start negotiations for further reductions in their numbers? Sixty-five per cent. wanted further reductions through negotiation, not escalation.

Although we welcome the order's possibilities, it does not fulfil, as the Minister said it would, our obligations to attempt through modernisation to circumvent the agreement which we unanimously welcome. We ask the Government to reconsider their position, especially on modernisation, and to give true meaning to all our responses on nuclear weapons and ensure that future negotiations on reductions add to the INF agreement. We ask the Government to do this quickly, as we all seem to agree on this strategy.

11.24 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I begin with one pedantic question. It refers to paragraph 4 of the annex, which I mentioned during the Minister's speech. If quarantine regulations are to be enforced and prohibited goods looked for, presumably some powers of search are needed. If we are not careful, things could develop sourly into some sort of fiasco. Those who welcome the agreement would find that regrettable. So what is the position in relation to search?

Like many of my age group, I was in the Army of the Rhine from 1950 to 1952. The House will forgive me if I say that this is a moving moment. That was the time of the Korean war, and there were two or three days when many of us thought that we could easily be frizzled in tanks. It was an ugly period, and only those who have been through such a experience can understand how welcome tonight is, and what a dramatic change it represents.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths): 30 years ago no one would have thought that this would happen. It would have been a pipedream for the service men of that generation and for those who entered the House at the time of the spine-chilling Cuban missile crisis. This is no more than a start, but it is a significant start.

I was grateful for the tributes paid by Conservative Members to Fred Mulley, who was a much underrated Secretary of State for Defence and member of the national executive committee of the Labour party.

As for chemical weapons, I refer the Minister to the report by David Fairhall in The Guardian of 25 April, and ask two questions about it. Fairhall says: The Ministry of Defence is expected to announce the visit within the next 10 days". That is the visit of the Soviet delegation concerned with chemical weapons. Is that so? Can the Minister say anything about the British visit to Shikhani on the Volga, described by Fairhall as the centre for Russian chemical weapons?

I promised my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) that I would share the time with him, so I end with this question: given this sort of negotiation with the Russians, is there not some advantage in the Government pursuing their scientific problems with them? Those in the Kremlin must have at the forefront of their minds the general problem of the Aral sea and what to do about the Siberian rivers. If we are to be positive, should we not tell the Russians that we recognise their problem, which involves feeding the burgeoning population of Uzbekistan and a possible ecological catastrophe? We should ask what help we can give. I am glad that a Foreign Office Minister is to answer the debate. I should like to know, by letter if not tonight, what attitude we are adopting to this major problem of the Russians.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds is right: this is the second treaty; the Antarctic treaty was the first. With the ever-increasing number of scientific reports on the ozone layer above the Arctic as well as the Antarctic, should not there be co-operation on that problem, too?

11.29 pm
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

I am glad that hon. Members on both sides of the House have said that, 10 years ago, nobody would have thought such an order possible. We have a fully verifiable treaty involving inspection teams to ensure that missiles are being destroyed.

It worries me a little to hear the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) mentioning two questions in a poll sponsored by CND. I would have liked those questions to start not only with a rider about our dismantling missiles, but with a reference to the fact that the Soviet Union is modernising all its nuclear and conventional weapons.

There has been much comment about one weapon system. I should like to make one simple and obvious point that has been made often, but which seems to be lost sight of, especially on the Labour side of the Chamber. It is that, as long as the Soviet Union has overwhelming conventional superiority, the West cannot afford not to have up-to-date tactical nuclear weapons.

11.30 pm
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I warmly welcome the order and the treaty. The order shows that the treaty has happened and that something will be achieved. I find it rather strange that Tory Members are desperately searching for proof that the Government had something to do with the treaty. Having condemned all Soviet peace proposals for the past five years, they now favour everything in the treaty.

As far as I can see, the only practical contribution made by the British Government was the provision of Chablis and salmon for Mr. Gorbachev when he came to Brize Norton and the eternal saving of the village school because it was visited by Mrs. Raisa Gorbachev.

The Government's actions since the treaty was agreed have been the very antithesis of a welcome for it. The Prime Minister has said that she pressed the NATO Council of Ministers to agree an upgrading and modernisation of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. She agreed a further Arms race in Europe and the stockpiling of weapons outside INF, thus putting another treaty further away.

We are entitled to ask the Government what practical steps they are taking to ensure that a further treaty, which includes sea and air-launched missiles, is made. It is important to note that the diplomatic immunity that is being granted is necessary only because we have US bases here. Inspection is necessary because, apparently, there is so little British Government control over them. We are entitled to know what steps the Minister is taking to ensure that there can be British inspection of what goes on in American bases.

Earlier today, we were told that there are only 66 United States bases here. That figure is hotly contested. A CND publication shows that there are 157 United States installations and more than 30,000 service men. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) said, those service men enjoy diplomatic immunity through the Visiting Forces Act 1952. We are entitled to know what control there is over such bases and what goes on in them.

We live in a world where 133 countries have renounced the use of nuclear weapons and do not feel it necessary to have them. We live in a world where a large number of countries feel able to cut Arms expenditure. Indeed, some do not even have standing armies. Yet apparently we need to spend £19 billion on defence when there is no perceivable enemy. We find it necessary to spend vast sums of money on nuclear weapons outside the terms of the INF treaty and we have a Government who are busy promoting the nuclear and conventional arms race.

I find it obscene, wrong and vile that in a world racked with hunger, poverty and division between industrial and non-industrial countries, we should have a Government obsessed with spending so many resources on a weapons system and on armaments that can lead only to further imbalances in the world, which cannot bring peace, but can bring the likelihood of war nearer.

Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Corbyn

No. I am about to finish.

I hope that the Minister will tell us what plans he has for a further stage of nuclear disarmament talks, for the removal of nuclear weapons from this country, and above all to promote worldwide nuclear disarmament which is desperately needed.

11.35 pm
Mr. Mellor

By leave of the House, I should like to reply to some of the points raised in the debate, which once again has shown the extraordinary degree to which the Labour party is unable to command any confidence whatsoever on the issue of defence. Labour Members seem incapable of learning anything from their crushing defeats in the last two general elections which, as much as anything, were about the inadequacies of their defence policy.

The objectionable thing that stood out in all the speeches of Labour Members, except that of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), is their willingness to be sceptical about the Government of the United Kingdom and to be sceptical almost to the point of paranoia about the United States Government, and their toe-licking subservience to every argument that falls from the lips of Mr. Gorbachev. I read in my telegrams from Moscow what Mr. Gorbachev is saying and then, lo and behold. a couple of weeks later it is parroted back from the Opposition Benches.

I shall deal with some of the serious contributions to the debate and answer some of the questions. Then, in the time that is left, I shall deal with the points made from the Labour Front Bench.

Once again I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) and his constituents on their forbearance in the national interest in standing firm at Greenham Common against all the efforts of those on the Left to disrupt any possibility of getting a genuinely consensual agreement with the Soviets instead of giving the Soviets what they wanted without them having to bargain away a single missile.

The USSR, in its exchange of notes, undertakes to comply strictly with the inspection protocol. It must remove immediately any inspector objected to by the United States or ourselves. It has no right to bring in anything prohibited by the quarantine regulations in paragraph 4.

I would say to the hon. Member for Linlithgow that there is no power of search. The inspectors are inviolable, as are diplomats, because the order, in effect, gives them temporary diplomatic status. [Interruption.] I see that the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) repeats from a sedentary position the question about the Visiting Forces Act 1952 that was raised by the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), who, with the charm that we have all come to love, gives his opinion to the House and then leaves before the Minister has a chance to reply.

The Visiting Forces Act removes from United Kingdom jurisdiction only service men who are subject to the jurisdiction of their own national authorities and those who have diplomatic immunity. The inspectors will have diplomatic immunity and, in effect, will be diplomats.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) asked me three questions. The answer to each of them is yes.

The hon. Member for Hamilton said that he was speaking about the disarray within NATO. He was really paying tribute to the disarray within the Labour party. The hoops through which even some of the more moderate Labour Members are expected to jump to maintain their positions on this issue are quite extraordinary. It appears that the brave attempts of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who leads for the Opposition on foreign affairs, to rewrite Labour's defence policy have failed—hence the fact that the hon. Member for Hamilton has been standing on his head, like a younger version of Father William but not being particularly convincing about it.

The hon. Gentleman began by referring to the south of England as "temporarily Tory". That would have provoked hilarity in a normal speech, but it was about the most sensible thing that he said because it was the least removed from reality. He referred to the present disarray within NATO, but NATO has never been better able to cope with the strains and pressures of the future than it is at the moment.

In November 1986, the Prime Minister met President Reagan and the next four stages of the Western strategy were agreed: INF, START, conventional talks, chemical talks. That was followed by the Reykjavik NATO Council at which that strategy was endorsed as NATO policy. The first leg of that endorsement has been satisfactorily concluded with the signing of the INF treaty. The START treaty is under way and talks are in progress to establish a conventional stability mandate. All that was further ratified and endorsed by a highly successful and unanimous NATO summit two months ago. If that is a definition of disarray, it is the kind of disarray in which the Labour party, because of its problems, would like to find itself.

Although the hon. Member for Hamilton attends conferences and has studied this matter for a number of years, he still seems to be astonishingly wayward with the facts. He claims that the German politicians to whom he referred are in favour of a triple zero. That does not begin to be the case. The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that the Federal Republic of Germany subscribed to the agreement, as did all the other NATO members. at the North Atlantic Council meeting in June 1987, which referred to it being in conjunction with the establishment of a conventional balance and the global elimination of chemical weapons, tangible and verifiable reductions of American and Soviet land-based missiles, nuclear missile systems of shorter range, leading to equal ceilings. It is understood throughout the NATO Alliance that the question of shorter-range missiles will be determined at the end of the process for reducing the conventional imbalance that heavily favours the Soviet Union.

That is the problem with which Opposition Members completely fail to come to terms. They refer to circumvention of the INF agreement', but that is legal nonsense, because that which is treaty-limited is treaty-limited, and that which is not treaty-limited is not treaty-limited and cannot be treated as such by the use of slack words such as "circumvention".

What about the Soviet increases? When do the Opposition condemn those increases? There will be complete modernisation of all their ground-based strategic missile forces in the next 10 years. During the 10 years in which Montebello led to a reduction in NATO's nuclear forces from 7,000 warheads to 4,600, the Soviets built up their missile systems. The number of Fencer nuclear-capable attack aircraft has been increased from 240 to 1,000. Even in the era of glasnost——

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 ( Exempted business).

Question agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range missiles (Inspections) (Privileges and Immunities) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 28th March, be approved.