HC Deb 11 April 1989 vol 150 cc732-3
14. Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next expects to meet the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and what subjects he intends to discuss.

Mr. Younger

I expect to see Dr. Woerner at next week's meeting of NATO's nuclear planning group in Brussels. We shall discuss a range of subjects of mutual interest.

Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his informative reply. Will he be discussing the SRAM-T missile and whether the Government intend to fit it to NATO aircraft and ultimately to the European fighter aircraft? Is he aware that General Ronald Yates in evidence to a congressional sub-committee indicated that the missile was designed to restore capability lost by the INF treaty? Do the Government accept that restoration is necessary and will Britain play its part in that? Does he consider it justified, given the credit that the Government have tried to take for being party to the INF treaty?

Mr. Younger

I do not expect to discuss that issue with Dr. Woerner when I meet him next week, but I should make it absolutely clear once again that the INF treaty applies to ground-based intermediate-range missiles. We fully support that treaty which adopted NATO's proposals. There is no question of our wishing to go back on that treaty in any respect, but we have to maintain for our future defence a range of options that we could use if we were threatened with an attack which we could contain by no other means, and in that we are supported by the entire NATO Alliance.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

As the proportion of Soviet GDP spent on defence has increased in recent years, does my right hon. Friend agree that NATO's defence policy must be predicated on what the Soviets do and not what they say?.

Mr. Younger

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. We must look quite realistically at the capabilities of the countries concerned, and we must equip ourselves to defend ourselves in all foreseeable circumstances. Expressions of increase or decrease on the Soviet defence budget are not worth very much until we know the level of that budget.

Mr. Wilson

When the Secretary of State meets the Secretary General of NATO will he discuss the targeting policy for nuclear weapons for the duration of the Queen's visit to Moscow? Does he agree that there would be a certain irony in extending the hand of friendship on one side and, on the other side, threatening the use, implied or real, of nuclear weapons?

Mr. Younger

I do not think there is any likelihood of my discussing with Dr. Woerner any aspects of nuclear targeting during the Queen's visit to Moscow.