HC Deb 23 February 1988 vol 128 cc132-3
2. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a further inquiry into the disappearance of the log book from HMS Conqueror, in the light of recent allegations that the log book was deliberately destroyed.

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

As I have already explained in correspondence with the hon. Member, the official concerned categorically denies the allegations. The fact is that he was not, in 1982, nor has he ever been, in a post which would have given him access to naval log books. On that basis, no case has been made out for reopening the inquiry.

Mr. Williams

Is it not the case that the commander of the Conqueror reacted with incredulity to the order to torpedo the Belgrano, that that order had to be repeated three times over six hours and that the messages between Northwood and the Conqueror would have been recorded verbatim in the log book, and that is why the Government ordered its incineration?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand what control room log books are about. They are about technical matters, such as the course, depth and speed of a submarine at a particular time.

Mr. Dickens

Does the Minister agree that the sinking of the Belgrano was operationally correct and necessary, and that the Argentines have agreed that, placed in similar circumstances, they would have done exactly the same? Why do the Opposition persist in trying to discredit the Royal Navy, when they should be proud of it?

Mr. Stewart

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right, but one does not have to be a Member of the House for very long to know that most of the Opposition's ideas about defence are wonky.

Mr. Dalyell

What on earth could have prompted the former Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), to opine that he wanted to make sure that there was not a Watergate round here"? Who could he have had in mind for the role of Richard Nixon?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman can speculate on all sorts of things, but I cannot follow him on that.

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