HC Deb 28 June 1988 vol 136 cc183-4
8. Ms. Primarolo

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy not to acquire for British forces any warheads previously removed from cruise missiles under the terms of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty; and if he will make a statement.

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

The warheads for cruise missiles being withdrawn under the terms of the INF treaty are the property of the United States Government, and their disposal is therefore entirely a matter for them.

Ms. Primarolo

Could not some of the nuclear-capable warheads of the multi-launch rocket system that Britain is now acquiring, or some of the American base nuclear weapons in this country, be recycled as cruise missiles, which were supposedly negotiated away under the INF agreement? The Department of Energy in the United States told Congress that that was likely to happen. Therefore, will the Minister give a categorical assurance that it will not happen to any weapons, British or American, based in this country?

Mr. Stewart

I think that the hon. Lady may be referring to nuclear material contained in warheads. As regards warheads from cruise missiles, I should point out that we are getting rid of ground-launched cruise missiles from this country under the INF treaty. We have no plans to acquire submarine or air-launched cruise missiles for our forces, so the hon. Lady's worries do not arise.

Mr. Sayeed

Will my hon. Friend continue to do his level best to continue to reduce the cost of defence procurement?

Mr. Stewart

Certainly, in such modest ways as I can contribute to that worthy objective. However, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, who is more directly concerned with these matters, will have heard my hon. Friend's remarks.

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