HC Deb 11 July 1989 vol 156 cc797-8
10. Mr. Sumberg

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received on the retention of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations from individuals. The British electorate has consistently endorsed NATO's policy of deterrence based on a mix of nuclear and conventional weapons and the maintenance of an independent British strategic deterrent.

Mr. Sumberg

If my hon. Friend receives any representations from members of the Labour party who are also members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, will he tell them and their leader that it is both illogical and ridiculous to maintain that they can be members of CND and yet support the British nuclear deterrent?

Mr. Hamilton

My hon. Friend is right. Belief in unilateral disarmament is clearly written into the rules of CND. Members of CND believe that we should get rid of our deterrent as soon as possible. That cannot be combined with belief in a British deterrent.

Mr. Litherland

Has the Minister honestly read the speech of President Gorbachev to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week? If and when he does, he must surely come to the conclusion that the real warmonger in Europe is the Prime Minister.

Mr. Hamilton

It is extraordinary for any hon. Member to make a remark like that when the Soviet Union has a totally undemocratic system in which scant regard is paid to individual rights. When one considers the disparities in terms of the armed forces on both sides, there is no doubt in my mind as to who is in a better position to fight a war.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend agree that the British independent deterrent is necessary not just in relation to the Warsaw pact countries but in relation to those areas of the world where non-proliferation is not a term that is used, including countries such as Iran and Libya? Would it not be the height of folly to abandon our ability to deter attacks and assaults from such countries?

Mr. Hamilton

I could not agree more. There is a great risk that if we had a Labour Government we would get rid of our own independent deterrent, our nuclear weapons, and find ourselves being blackmailed by other countries that had such weapons.